Many thanks to carriers in food drive

Thumbs up - Food drive

Mail carriers in Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater collected 147,000 pounds of food during their annual Letter Carrier Food Drive to benefit the Thurston County Food Bank. A big thumbs up to the carriers who toted the cans of beans, soup and vegetables along with their normal cargo, and the volunteers who spread out across the community to collect the donations. Kudos, too, to the thousands of South Sound residents who made the effort to put sacks filled with groceries near the mailbox to be collected by the carriers. Robert Coit, executive director of the Thurston County Food Bank, said this year’s collection was up 25,000 pounds from a year ago, and double the food collected two years ago. He credited the plastic bags distributed in advance by carriers. “It worked like magic,” Coit said. He said the 147,000 pounds of food will last about three months and provide enough food for 20,000 patron visits. “Hunger is on people’s mind. They get it,” Coit said. “I’m truly blessed that we have that kind of community. Because of their generosity we’re able to keep serving more people. Fantastic!” We agree. It was a great effort all around.

Thumbs down - Eyesore

The auction of the former Boulevard Nursery site has been delayed for two weeks, but there is no sign that the owner has any intent of cleaning up the public eyesore. Neighbors have labeled the 1-acre parcel an eyesore. Boulevard Nursery Garden and Gift Shop at 2021 Boulevard Road S.E. closed last August. Since then, the property largely has remained vacant. Neighbors say it has become a dumping ground for garbage and has attracted vermin such as rats. A notice of trustee’s sale filed in February shows that business owner Jeff Nevin of Nevinland LLC owes about $127,000 on the property, according to Thurston County auditor data. The property was scheduled for auction May 15, but the date has been delayed until 10 a.m. June 5 at the Thurston County Courthouse, according to Tacoma attorney Darren Krattli. Chris Grabowski, an Olympia code enforcement officer, said if Nevin could be reached he likely would be fined for “at least three clear and separate code violations,” including the presence of trash and debris on the site and the danger posed by “partially disassembled structures.” About the best the community can hope for is a change in ownership to a responsible individual who will make site cleanup a priority.

Thumbs up - Habitat

South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a $25,000 fundraising push to complete its 15-home development on Olympia’s east side. That’s a remarkable achievement and a huge step toward the goal of creating affordable housing in South Sound. Seven homes are finished in the Fairview Cottage development, at 1800 Fairview St. N.E. Four more are under construction, set to be completed this summer. The Raise the Roof fundraiser, which ran through Friday, will help fund the final four homes, which are expected to be finished in summer 2010, according to development director Susan Newman. Habitat is an ecumenical Christian, nonprofit organization that builds homes for low-income people. Those who are selected to receive homes, must invest a minimum of 500 hours of “sweat equity” in the construction project, from painting walls to pounding nails. They also must attend homeowner classes with subjects such as dispute resolution and finance. Homeowners pay their mortgages to Habitat, and if they sell the home before living in it for 20 years, a percentage of the equity goes back to Habitat. When the four homes under construction are finished, the local Habitat chapter will have built 38 homes. That’s an outstanding accomplishment but as Executive Director Curt Andino said: “The last thing we ever want to do is stop building.”