YAY: JONATHAN STEWART
Former Lacey football star Jonathan Stewart showed you can achieve stardom and still go home with the greater good in mind. The running back for the Carolina Panthers was back in South Sound before the July 4 holiday, helping City Gates Ministry give away nearly 500 pairs of free shoes and socks in downtown Olympia. Stewart and others with Samaritan’s Feet hosted a Shoes of Hope giveaway for those in need and that included washing people’s feet.
BOO: QUEETS FIRE
Anyone doubting the impact of this spring and summer’s heat should consider the fires blowing up ancient hemlock and Sitka spruce trees in the Queets River valley where the Olympic National Park typically gets an unthinkable 200 inches of rain yearly. News reports last week told of flames smoldering in the bark for days, emitting smoke until the forest giants topple with a crash. Experts say shrinking snowpack may lead to more fires even on the wettest side of our state.
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YAY: SOUTH CAROLINA
It took an awful murder of nine black parishioners by a white extremist to spur it. But South Carolina’s legislature answered a request from that state’s governor, Nikki Haley, to authorize removal of the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds. This deeply divisive symbol of the South’s heritage, which includes the Civil War-era defense of slavery, had flown there since 1961. The flag was removed Friday and heads to a museum where, as President Obama has noted, the relic belongs.
BOO: REP. MANWELLER
Earlier this month state Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, put his foot in his mouth instead of a lobbyist-paid meal. He claimed on Facebook – falsely it appears – that Senate Democrats were drinking and “inebriated” on the Senate floor when they voted against suspending Initiative 1351’s class-size mandate early on July 1. Manweller’s claims went unsubstantiated, and Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, called them a “fabrication.”
YAY: KATIE KNECHT
We want to give Katie Knecht credit. Since late 2012, the Belfair mom who grew up in Tenino anonymously produced a Facebook page, Olympia Memes, which poked fun at life in Thurston County. But she also helped spur volunteers to carry out community events like the Oly Clean that picked up such trash as syringes from around the city. Knecht went public with her identity last week because she’s trying to turn her page into a nonprofit organization that can formally raise funds for her community projects.
BOO: DEAD IS GONE
Maybe it was just time. Members of the Grateful Dead celebrated their 50th year and the 20th anniversary of the death of Jerry Garcia last month. The four remaining members – Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir – played together for the last time at Soldier Field in Chicago. We knew we were going to miss them when they were gone.
An 8,500 year old skeleton was found by college students near the Columbia River 19 years ago. Called “Kennewick Man” by anthropologists, the skeleton has finally been linked by DNA tests to Northwest native tribes, who have long wanted the “Ancient One” returned to them for burial. Gov. Jay Inslee supports their quest, and we hope their wishes will be respected promptly.