Sand in the City is a hit for Olympia

Thumbs up - Sand in the City

The Hands On Children’s Museum staged its popular Sand in the City event last weekend, drawing 43,960 spectators to the Port of Olympia Plaza. On Friday, spectators watched as hard-working volunteers pounded 240 tons of sand into boxes, making sure to add plenty of water so the sand would compact. Then under the watchful eye of architects, the volunteer craftsmen began turning the lumps of sand into magnificent sculptures. The overnight rain dampened the carvings, but sunny skies on Saturday and Sunday coaxed thousands of visitors to the Olympia waterfront to see the sculptures, listen to live entertainment and eat some great food. Youngsters participated in more than 40 hands-on art and science activities. Executive Director Patty Belmonte said visitors came from 48 states and 30 countries. Angella Tillis, originally from Montana, took part in Sand in the City for the first time with her two sons, Elijah and Carmelo. She said she liked the event for its festive atmosphere and hands-on approach to having fun, as well as its proximity to Budd Inlet where visitors can check out the boats. Events such as Sand in the City help make Olympia more sophisticated than other similar-size cities in Washington, Tillis said. We agree! Sand in the City has become a premier event for the Olympia community, netting about $100,000 for the museum’s free and reduced-price admissions program.

Thumbs down - Hospital upheaval

Capital Medical Center has lost another chief executive officer. Mike Motte’s departure was quick. He announced his exodus on a Friday and was gone Monday morning. His attorney said Motte left the hospital to rejoin his family in South Carolina where his family still owns a home. The good news is that Motte has been replaced on a temporary basis by Joe Sharp, who served as the hospital’s chief executive from 1998 to 2006. It was a stable time in Capital Medical Center’s history. Unfortunately, the west Olympia hospital has seen a succession of CEOs and interim CEOs since Sharp’s departure. That’s not been a good thing for the hospital or the community. It also might have been a factor in the strained relationship between Cap Med and Providence St. Peter Hospital on Olympia’s east side. The two hospitals are at odds over Capital’s request to perform certain heart procedures, which St. Peter officials say will take business away from the nonprofit hospital and jeopardize subsidized care. Hospital leaders have also clashed over St. Peter’s plan to open a family practice operation near Capital’s family practice office. The highly publicized clashes are a far cry from the days when Sharp and Scott Bond, then CEO at St. Peter Hospital, collaborated on multiple issues. That served this community well. Capella Healthcare of Franklin, Tenn., owner of Capital Medical Center, owes this community some stability at the hospital and a CEO committed to friendly competition, not a replay of the hospital wars that were waged two decades ago when St. Peter was trying to keep a second hospital from opening.

Thumbs up - Celebration

Members of the Nisqually tribe and history buffs celebrated Washington’s roots Sunday at the site of one of the first European trading posts in the Puget Sound area. The Fort Nisqually Site Celebration, which has been held annually for three years, included the Nisqually tribe for the first time. It was terrific to have the tribe join in the festivities. The ceremony offers an educational experience for the entire South Sound community. The tribe, the historical occupants of the land, opened the celebration with a blessing and traditional songs, and held a salmon bake. History tells us that the Hudson’s Bay Co., a British trading company, moved Fort Nisqually to the site on what now is Center Street in DuPont in 1843, after operating the fort on two other sites nearby in the previous 10 years. The trading post closed in 1870, but at its peak, hundreds of people had business there, either working for or trading with the post, historian Drew Crooks said. “This was always a multicultural community,” he said. Employees from England, Scotland and Hawaii married Nisqually tribe members, and fur and other goods were headed to Britain, Russian Alaska and Mexican California, he said. “This was a meeting place that all people of many cultures came to for economic and social reasons,” he said.

That fact was driven home by Nisqually tribal elder Joseph Kalama, who opened the celebration with a blessing. He said that his great-grandfather, John Kalama, was a native Hawaiian employed by Hudson’s Bay Co. who had migrated to Washington Territory from what then was the Kingdom of Hawaii. John Kalama married Mary Martin, the daughter of a Nisqually chief, and established many trading posts used by Hudson’s Bay Co. Last Sunday’s celebration included people re-enacting many tasks that would have been necessary for the fort. Among them were woodworkers, metal workers and thread spinners.

The Fort Nisqually Site Celebration is an outstanding way to connect today’s generations with the past. The celebration helps history come alive and the entire South Sound community is enriched by the historical reenactments and the retelling of historical stories and events.