This is the second article of an interesting series concerning Yelm which is being printed in The Daily Olympian. The articles, written by a Daily Olympian reporter who visited Yelm several times, are being printed for the purpose of acquainting the residents of Olympia with some of the activities of a city which is a pleasant place in which to live, and which is important industrially.
By Bill Fox. The Olympian. January 10, 1949
In the neighboring community of Yelm, 22 miles southeast of Olympia, Nathan Henderson is Mayor. He has served in the position for two years, and was recently re-elected to a four-year term. Mr. Henderson is married and has two children, one nine years old and the other, five. Both are boys. They resemble their dad and have the same mild manner, quiet disposition.
Mayor Henderson’s favorite project is a park for Yelm. The tentative plans provide for a large memorial playground and shade area, to be built on eight city-owned lots.
“It is the City Council’s hope that Yelm can erect a memorial statue to the veterans of WWII,” the Mayor said. “However, financing the affair presents quite a problem. We hope that Yelm can see its way clear to subscribe the cost of the park, approximately $8,000, but this is all in the planning sage, as yet.”
The City Council has contacted The War Assets Dept. for a suitable statue, and it has been suggested that The American Legion furnish a bronze plaque.
The park would contain tennis courts, swings, slides, ball field and all the other familiar playground equipment, in addition to shade trees and places where Yelm residents could relax and talk of their favorite topic, dairy farming.
Mayor Henderson heads a council type government, with five men serving on the board. Each of the city fathers has his own occupation, in addition to his civic duties. This is, the Mayor believes, an excellent working arrangement, because the councilmen continually are in touch with the residents in all phases of community life. Mr. Henderson operates the B and H Service Station, just around the corner from the Administration Building. The group of civic leaders meets monthly to consider everything from civic enterprise to new methods of garbage disposal.
“With only one meeting a month, we find that the increasing demands of the growing community are almost too much to handle,” the Mayor pointed out, “and we are thinking of having two sessions each month to alleviate the situation,” he said.
According to Mayor Henderson, the Yelm vicinity contains about 5,000 acres of irrigated, tillable land on which berries, beans and corn are the chief products. The area has one cannery and three receiving stations, from which the produce is distributed throughout a large area.
The population figure for the town of Yelm itself is only 489 persons, but as any resident will tell you, there are thousands more live in the immediate vicinity, outside the actual limits of the city. These are the ones who buy and sell in Yelm. Almost 600 of them are school children and attend grade or high school in the town.
Frank A. Bowers is principal of the high school, and Harry Southworth heads the grade school. There are 165 students in the upper division classes and 400 in the elementary grades. Marvin S. Stevens is superintendent of the Yelm school district.
Six years ago, a new high school was erected at a cost of $110,000 and was so constructed that future expansion will require a minimum of work. The building is laid out in a u-shape, with each wing receiving a maximum amount of natural light. Classrooms are in keeping with the most modern designs for efficiency and student comfort.
The Yelm district operates eight busses, picking up children from the area in a radius of 15 miles. Counting the superintendent and principal, there are 11 teachers at the high school and 14 in the grade school.
In high school, Mr. Stevens is the art instructor and Mr. Bowers teaches algebra and geometry. History is handled by Edgar Prescott, John J. Spencer is the athletic coach, dividing his time between physical education and general science.
A graduate of Olympia High School, Mrs. Marie Hoff, teaches English, assisted by Miss Evelyn Coubrough, who also has classes in Spanish.
Miss Eugenia Fairbanks is the commercial subjects instructor and Miss Joan Witscher is head of the vocational home economics classes.
Martin Teeter presides over the Voc. Ag. Dept.; Mrs. Jean Grinde is the librarian and Anton Hillesland heads the music department of both grade and high school.
Principal Bowers favorite topic of conversation is getting a set of lights for the high school football field. The Student Council, headed by Rodger Miller, student body president , also pushing the project.
Yelm High School has a full schedule of football, basketball and baseball and belongs to the Pierce County League.
“We were next to the bottom in the league football standing this year,” Principal Bowers explained.