First Salmon is great for entire community

More than 500 people watched as four Squaxin Island tribal members carried a chinook salmon on a fern-draped cedar plate as part of last weekend's First Salmon Ceremony. The tribal members climbed into a canoe and paddled well offshore before returning the carcass to the water. The centuries-old tribal tradition of releasing the spirit of the first-caught salmon has been handed down from one generation to the next. By welcoming the first-caught salmon, eating it with respect and sending its spirit back to sea, tribal fishers lay the foundation for a successful fishing season. The tribe opens the ceremony to the public. As David Lopemen, a tribal elder, said, "We want the community to understand us more and we want to show them that we respect them." Another part of the ceremony is feeding the hundreds of guests a meal of salmon, clams, fry bread, potato salad and baked beans. Tribal chairman Jim Peters said, "When we do this, we think of our ancestors and how they did it this way. We share with the community, our friends and tribal members - it's a really good feeling." Thanks to the tribe, the First Salmon Ceremony has become a community celebration for all to enjoy.

More than a dozen ballots sent out for Tuesday's primary election didn't contain the right information on a fire district levy measure in the Yelm/Rainier area. "The average citizen might not know about it; that's my concern. If there's someone out there who didn't get the right ballot, we have no way of knowing," said Southeast Thurston Fire Chief Rita Hutcheson. Ken Raske, Thurston County deputy auditor, said 14 households on Squawwood Lane, 106th Lane Southeast and Chatwood Drive received ballots without the levy question. A defective ballot also was mailed to a home on Military Road, Raske said. He said there was a coding mistake on the addresses. "It was a data-entry error," Raske said. Sorry! In elections there is no room for clerical errors. Voters want to trust the integrity of the entire electoral process and when some voters - it doesn't matter how many - receive a faulty ballot, it undermines voter confidence in the entire system. In this particular case, the error was caught in time to correct the problem by reissuing ballots.

Rebekah Richter and Amanda Solberg, both 10 and members of Junior Girl Scouts, organized an adoption fair to highlight the plight of the cats, dogs and birds housed at Thurston County Animal Shelter on Martin Way. They earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award, the highest bestowed on a Junior Girl Scout, for organizing the adoption and fund-raising event. Both Amanda and Rebekah said they are animal lovers and said that was their motivation, not the award. The girls had approached Animal Services, which operates the shelter, about their idea and then began planning for the five-hour fair. They approached local grocery stores, whose managers donated gift certificates the girls used to shop for food they sold at the fair. All proceeds will go to the purchase of supplies for the shelter. During the fair, the girls took pictures of the owners of newly adopted animals, charging $2 per photo to benefit the shelter. They also accepted donations of cash or supplies for the shelter. The results: Amanda and Rebekah raised about $170 for the shelter, and 17 animals were adopted during the fair.

Most people are aware of chop shops where stolen vehicles are stripped of their parts which are either sold, installed on other vehicles or sold as scrap. It looks like law enforcement officers have busted a boat chop shop, thanks to a little sleuthing by Olympia resident Steve Boone. Boone was flying in an airplane when he saw his $180,000 stolen, 34-foot boat in Jefferson County. Boone gave law enforcement officers instructions as the boat was towed from a marina to a rural residence where at least one other stolen boat was discovered. Police say Boone's quick thinking might have helped them uncover a boat-theft ring. Boone really beat the odds on this one.