News Columns & Blogs

Tax help, the outdoors and Pet Parade are on Olympia's mind

There are many reasons to love living in Thurston County, and high among them is the large number of compassionate individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping those less fortunate.

For an prime example, look no further than the free tax preparation help offered to low-income families by the Thurston County Asset Building Coalition. People earning less than $44,000 can go to one of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites around the county from now until April 15 and get expert advice on how to keep their money.

Free tax preparation is being offered today, for example, from noon to 6 p.m. at Westfield Capital mall. Tomorrow, eligible families can get help at Panorama City or the Timberland Regional Library in Tumwater starting at 1 p.m.

A complete listing of locations, dates and times is on the coalition’s Web site,

Lee Wojnar, of O’Bee Credit Union, one of the many coalition members sponsoring the free tax program, says the idea is to provide a resource for individuals in need and at financial risk. Makes you proud to be an Olympian.

 • You don’t have to live in Olympia for long to realize that conservation and enjoyment of the outdoors rank high on residents’ priorities. But even the Olympia branch of the Mountaineers club didn’t expect the unusually large enrollment in their annual Wilderness Skills course led by Jim French.

About 100 outdoor enthusiasts are attending the four-week course at the Knox Administration Center, which is more than double the normal class size. Olympia chairman Mike Kretyzler isn’t sure what is driving the heightened interest this year, but as an advocate for safe travel in the wilderness, he’s pleased with the turnout. The Wilderness Skills Course is a prerequisite for many of the other courses offered by the Olympia Mountaineers.

 • Whether you’re an employee or a business owner, you’re wondering what is going to lead us out of this lingering economic recession. A group of 60 Thurston community leaders were called to a workshop at Great Wolf Lodge last weekend by Graeme Sackrison, president of the Thurston Climate Action Team, for a glimpse of how clean technology might provide the economic boost that we need.

TCAT program director Ramsey Zimmerman and the consultants from Olympia-based Climate Solutions group made a compelling case that green energy technology will drive the jobs and the strategic opportunities for the next economic cycle.

And Washington state is falling behind. Last year, seven new plants to manufacture photovoltaic products (solar technology) were built in Oregon. Only one was built in our state.

The Clean and Green Thurston workshop participants created a road map for action to align government policies to attract investment capital here. You’re going to be hearing a lot from the Thurston Climate Action Team in the coming months.

 • When the weather turns wet and cold, it’s fun to think about something that occurs when it is hot and sunny. Pet Parade, for example. Yes, employees at The Olympian are planning this summer’s parade.

Pet Parade 2010 will take place Aug. 21. We are taking names of volunteers and sponsors to help us stage this display of many-celled heterotrophic organisms, often dressed in human clothes.

George Le Masurier, publisher of The Olympian, can be reached at 360-357-0206 or