New Hands On Children’s Museum will be spectacular addition

The Olympia City Council has selected Pease Construction Inc. of Lakewood to construct the new Hands on Children’s Museum on Port of Olympia property in downtown Olympia. The contractor hopes to break ground about Oct. 1, with the museum set to move from its Capitol Campus location to the new headquarters in late 2011. What a historic moment. The City of Olympia will own the shell of the building and has agreed to pay Pease Construction $3.1 million. The Hands On Children’s Museum will pay for the exhibits and furnishings for the 27,000-square-foot structure, which will have an additional 30,000 square feet in outdoor exhibit space. Galleries will include exhibits on Puget Sound, healthful living and forests. The signature piece of the outdoor exhibit will be a 130-foot water feature that starts as an artesian well, becomes a spring and ends in a pool that children can get into. A driftwood fort construction area, children’s garden and fire circle for storytelling are also planned, along with an area filled with sand, gravel and water. “Not only does this project result in stemming economic development,” Assistant City Manager Jay Burney said, “it is a great way to develop community.” And the terrific thing about the $18.5 million museum is its co-location with the new LOTT Clean Water Alliance headquarters. Together, the two public facilities will serve as a focal point for educating future generations about natural resources and the need to protect them.

Thurston County sheriff’s deputies arrested a Henderson Boulevard man after he allegedly made repeated phone calls to 911 operators without an emergency, but instead “generally rambled,” and discussed “his ideas for solving the world’s problems,” a Thurston County prosecutor said. The man was warned to stop making the 911 calls because he did not have an emergency, but he continued to call, chief criminal deputy James Chamberlain said. The man was arrested on suspicion of felony telephone harassment. Prosecutors declined to file felony criminal charges against the 57-year-old man, however, because he had made no specific threat to the 911 dispatchers, Thurston County Criminal Trials Division chief Andrew Toynbee said. The man was released from jail after the Prosecutor’s Office declined the case. Jim Quackenbush, director of communications for Thurston County CAPCOM, said that unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people to tie up 911 phone lines with repeated nonemergency phone calls. “It’s important for people to note that we have a limited number of trunks we can take 911 calls on,” he said. Clearly, the nonurgent calls are jeopardizing the lives of people who have a true emergency and may not be able to reach dispatchers because all the lines are tied up. Quackenbush said that he and others employed in the state’s 911 call centers have lobbied the Legislature to pass specific laws barring people from repeatedly tying up 911 lines with nonemergencies. That should be a priority for the 2011 Legislature.

A long-sought dream of the Olympia Film Society has finally been achieved with the purchase of downtown’s historic Capitol Theater. The film society has been a tenant in the building for years. “This is a momentous time in our history, and every individual who’s ever been a part of the OFS family has good cause to celebrate,” board president Isaac Overcast said. Theater manager Audrey Henley said, “This is the home we wanted.” A big thumbs up, too, to owner Gary Holgate of Chehalis, who sold the theater portion of the building at 206 Fifth Ave. S.E. for $300,000. Holgate was willing to break the building into separate parcels, which allowed the film society to make the purchase without trying to come up with more than a million dollars for the entire property. Capitol Theater’s history stretches to 1924 and the days of grand vaudeville and movie houses. The film society, a nonprofit, member-driven organization, was founded in 1980 and has been screening movies in the theater since 1986. Being a tenant in the building limited the film society’s opportunities for fundraising. Grant agencies were reluctant to give money for theater upkeep to a group that didn’t own its theater, Henley said. “It’s giving us more opportunity to say that we’re actually owning the facility that we’re living in,” she said. “That is a whole other world for us. ... We’re not even sure what it’s going to mean.” We’re willing to bet that it means a refurbished theater and a bright future for the Olympia Film Society and its loyal patrons.