State will miss Garst’s passion for clean energy

The OlympianDecember 9, 2013 


The South Sound lost an inspiring environmental leader last week to cancer. Sam Garst was a founder of the Thurston Climate Action Team (TCAT), a longtime director on the Washington State Parks Foundation board and a champion of Initiative 937 that established renewable energy standards for the state. He was 937’s top signature gatherer.

Garst worked for the federal Department of Agriculture during President Jimmy Carter’s administration, leading the agency’s lobbying efforts for the energy bill. He built one of the first carbon-neutral homes in Olympia.

The statewide Northwest Energy Coalition gave him their Headwaters Award in 2012. He helped found the TCAT to continue his passion for clean and affordable energy. He will be missed.


The world lost an inspiring leader. Nelson Mandela’s fight against oppression, for which he served nearly 30 years in a South African prison, inspired and enabled others to persevere through unfathomable tribulations. Although he died Thursday, Mandela leaves a legacy of a lifelong quest for justice, tempered by messages of reconciliation and forgiveness.

The world can honor that legacy by continuing to celebrate the annual Mandela Day, an annual call to action to follow the human rights icon’s example and “take responsibility for changing the world into a better place, one small step at a time.”


Olympia’s Northeast Neighborhood has been getting a lot of attention lately. “This Old House” magazine recently named the area of craftsman bungalows, World War II-era cottages and Tudor Revival architecture one of 16 “Best Old House Neighborhoods” in the nation. Then KING5-TV did a segment on its “Evening Magazine” program.

The magazine said, “The Olympia Heritage Commission, a state-funded organization, offers local homeowners workshops on weatherizing and maintaining historic structures, and the city offers tax incentives for rehabbing period houses. With all its got going for it, we suspect this neighborhood won’t remain under the radar for much longer.”

Mike Dexel, president of the neighborhood association, credited the strong community spirit of residents. Well-deserved.


While he served as state attorney general, Rob McKenna advocated strongly for government transparency. He championed citizens’ access to public records and touted the benefits of open government.

It seems odd, then, that the former AG wants to conceal information about the proposed coal export terminal in Longview. McKenna, now in private law practice, is working on behalf of coal-mining interests in Montana and North Dakota. In that role, he’s lobbying the state Department of Ecology to conduct a narrower review of the Longview proposal than it’s doing at the other proposed site in Whatcom County.

It seems to us that more information, not less, is needed to assess the impact of transporting 44 million metric tons of coal through the state. More than 163,000 submissions to the DOE from the public agree with that view.


Olympia City Councilman Jim Cooper has a new job as president and CEO of United Ways of Washington, the trade association for 23 local United Way organizations across the state. Cooper formerly served as the executive director of Together. As a longtime advocate for substance abuse and violence prevention, he’ll bring a strong public policy background to UWW.


We’ll confess to having watched our share of stupid cat videos on the Internet, which are relatively harmless. They’re just mind numbing. But a series of potentially harmful videos are gaining popularity that push the so-called cotton-ball diet. It shows people how to dip cotton balls in juice or other tasty liquids and swallow them. It makes a person feel full, but creates all kinds of health risks.

The Olympian is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service