Scaffolding's removal is a welcome sight

Steve Cooper, owner of the 92-year-old building at 422 Capitol Way S., is one happy fellow these days.

The scaffolding is finally coming down from the Olympic National Bank Building that Cooper co-owns. When the Nisqually Earthquake rumbled through South Sound on Feb. 28, 2001, the building sustained considerable damage. Cooper had to fight the insurance company for years to get a settlement so that repairs could be made. In the meantime, the scaffolding and blue tarps stood as a constant reminder of the quake's toll on downtown Olympia. With the settlement reached and most of the exterior work complete, the scaffolding that has been in place for 18 months has come down. How terrific is that? Newcomers to South Sound who had never seen the white, two-story, 11,000-square-foot building without the scaffolding are marveling at its sculptured beauty. The classy structure should be ready for occupancy by summer. That will be a great day, and no one will be more pleased than co-owner Steve Cooper.

A simple family squabble got completely out of hand when a North Bonneville man used a stun gun on his 79-year-old grandmother-in-law. The argument centered on appropriate discipline of the man's 7-month-old son. According to police reports, Aaron de Bruyn, 26, was cited with fourth-degree domestic violence assault and was released from the Skamania County Jail one day after his arrest. The argument began when the infant tried to reach behind the family's entertainment system to grab the electrical wires. De Bruyn told the boy "no" a couple of times and gave the child a swat on his diapered bottom. De Bruyn said his grandmother-in-law, Rosemary Garlock, told him that was child abuse and threatened to have the child taken away. He said he then told Garlock to leave and she refused. Instead of calling 9-1-1 to have the woman escorted from the home, de Bruyn counted down from 60 then fired his Taser, hitting the woman in the shoulder with 50,000 volts. "She yelped, because getting Tased hurts," de Bruyn said. "She started screaming at the top of her lungs to call 9-1-1." De Bruyn did what he should have done in the first place and called authorities to have the woman removed. He, too, was removed from the home and taken to jail on the assault charge. We don't have to guess what the topic of conversation will be at the next family reunion.

Priest Point Park, one of Olympia's favorite recreational sites, is back to normal after the December windstorm that toppled many trees. All trails are open and facilities are repaired a little more than a month after the windstorm blew through the region and closed the park for several days. "We sustained damage to a number of trails because of downed trees and limbs everywhere," said David Hanna, associate director for the city's Parks, Arts and Recreation Department. He said he's unsure how much it cost to clean up the damage from the Dec. 14-15 storm but that the biggest expense was labor. In addition to cleaning the trails, crews checked the stability of trees left standing. "There's just so many old trees out there; our crews just wanted to take the time to ... make sure the trails that are open there are absolutely safe," Parks Director Linda Oestreich said. That's reassuring.

A partially built gas-fired power plant near Elma is about to be taken out of mothballs and completed. Work should be finished next year, and at full capacity the plant should produce enough energy for 540,000 homes.

Chicago-based Invenergy officials say gas prices are about half what they were in August 2000, when construction on the plant was halted. Also, the need for new power resources is starting to pick up after virtually no growth in electric load in the region from 2000 to 2004. That meant the 600-megawatt plant was financially feasible and cleared the way for construction to resume. About 350 workers will be hired to finish the power plant. When complete, the plant will employ 23 individuals.