A doggone good time

Thumbs up - Parade participants

One week ago today about 1,000 youngsters and pets paraded through downtown Olympia streets for the 80th annual Pet Parade. Cloudy skies and lower temperatures greeted participants and spectators who lined the eight-block parade route, but spirits were high. And talk about creativity. There was the adorable little girl in white wings who was missing her two front teeth. She explained to judges that she was the “toothless fairy.” Lochlan Glass, 7, and his Australian silky terrier, Pookie – both in goggles – were pilots in an incredible homemade airplane. They were a big hit in the float category. And then there were the “team” of dachshunds who impersonated Clydesdales pulling a beer wagon. Pets ranged from a grasshopper and a bee, to ponies and goats pulling a wagon. Big dogs, little dogs, cats, guinea pigs – all had a role to play in Saturday’s parade. The Flint family of Shelton – James, Paula, Wesley, Katie and cousin Alecia Plant – certainly took the “Back to the Beginning” theme to heart. They distributed “dog gone news” from their wagon along with two chocolate labs – Coco and Snicker. The “news” being handed out were photocopies of The Olympian’s coverage of the Pet Parade in 1939. Linda Whitcher of Olympia, who attended the parade with her 8-year-old black lab, Abby, unfurled her issue to learn that her mother, Jeanette Matson, had participated in the 1939 parade. The parade, which is sponsored by The Olympian with support from the local business community, counts three and four generations of some families as participants. In fact people start calling the newspaper in January asking when Pet Parade will be because they plan family reunions around the festive event.

Thumbs down - General Administration

It looks as though the state Department of General Administration has botched another Capitol Campus project. The planting of a historic butternut tree got off to a controversial start and may be headed for a sad ending. The tree was a sapling from a butternut tree seedling carried across the country by black pioneer George Bush, who traveled by wagon from Missouri, then planted the butternut in 1845 on his Tumwater homestead near the Deschutes River. The 60-foot tree, on property owned by former Undersheriff Tony Sexton and his wife, Marilyn, is the oldest documented butternut in the country. It produced a 16-foot sapling that General Administration officials asked to plant on the campus. Sexton believed GA was honoring pioneer Bush and gave his permission, only to discover GA planned to plant the tree in honor of another pioneer — the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. As if the switcheroo wasn’t bad enough, now it looks as though the sapling might not survive. “I wouldn’t write if off 100 percent at this point, but it’s not looking good,” said Michael Dolan, owner of Burnt Ridge Nursery in Onalaska. “We’ll know by next spring, if not sooner, if it will survive.” So what happened? The tree was transplanted late in the year after it had started to bud. Ideally, it would have been root-pruned last year to prepare for the move in the dead of winter, while it still was dormant. But that didn’t happen. Sexton also questions whether the sapling was properly cared for after it was moved, which, he said, should have included a daily watering regimen. General Administration officials insist it was watered and tended to regularly. “The tree was not neglected after the planting,” said Neal Wolbert, a historic-tree lover and the owner of Wolbert’s Landscape Healthcare. The ill-timed transplanting and drought-like summer weather likely led to the tree’s demise, Wolbert said.

Thumbs up - Port profits

In the first half of the year, the Port of Olympia was able to generate an operating profit of nearly $440,000, according to port officials. They credited more activity at the marine terminal (which continues to operate at a loss) and efforts to control costs across all its business units with the rosy economic news. It’s a drastic turnaround from the same period last year, when the port reported an operating loss of about $475,000, largely because of slow business at the marine terminal. Marine terminal activity has picked up this year because the Weyerhaeuser Co. began exporting logs through the port bound for Japan, more than doubling the number of ships that have visited the port this year over last year. Five more ships and barges are expected to visit the port before the end of the year. “It was a good first half of the year, but the second half of the year should be better,” said Kevin Ferguson, the port’s finance director. The port is forecast to generate an operating profit of $1 million by year’s end, he said. Although the port earned net operating income of $437,207 through the first half of the year, the marine terminal operations still showed a loss of $220,693 in that period. Ferguson attributed the marine terminal loss to the fact that Weyerhaeuser’s log-export operations weren’t completely up and running yet.