Postcards from the mid-seventies depict the intersection of Yelm Ave (east-west) and the road to Rainier (north-south). Shortly after these photos were taken a tricolor traffic light replaced the “flashing” light. The post cards were purchased at Pickett’s Drugstore.
A Chehalis-based hardware store may soon be expanding into the old Rite Aid location in the Nisqually Plaza.
The City of Yelm received an application for a business license from Sunbirds Shopping Center in the former Rite Aid building next to QFC supermarket.
Also, a local sign company recently inquired to the city about assembling a sign for Sunbirds at that location.
Awaiting final approval, spokespersons for Sunbirds have declined to comment on the move, as have the owners of the building, Barclay’s Realty of Beverly Hills, Calif.
During a visit last week, city employee Gary Carlson said that Sunbirds staff told him that the old Rite Aid interior wouldn’t be seeing any major remodeling requiring a building permit. So far, their entry into Yelm has been quiet.
“They’re keeping it pretty close to the vest” he said.
A spokeswoman for Rite Aid corporation confirmed that Rite Aid finalized a deal with a
prospective renter of the building. Rite Aid’s new building across Yelm Avenue on Vancil Road was completed earlier this year, and Rite Aid moved in April 15, leaving the old building empty, its windows papered over.
“We have subleased the space,” Rite Aid spokeswoman Sarah Datz said. “It’s going to be a hardware store”.
Rite Aid acquired the lease to the building when it took over PayLess drugstores in 1996.
For a new business to occupy the old Rite Aid location, it must sub-lease the property from Rite Aid, until the old lease runs out in about a year.
After that, a new lease will have to be conducted with Barclay’s Realty, the owners of the
Nisqually Plaza space. Gus Salloum, a spokesman for Sunbirds, said earlier this year that the store is a general merchandise store that carries a variety of items, including hardware, tools, shoes, boots, and clothes.
Sunbirds also sells sporting goods, gardening items and hardware.
Currently, there is only one other Sunbirds location, National Avenue in Chehalis. Sunbirds’ Chehalis store has been open for 15 years, after closing for a short time in 1996 as a result of the flooding.
The former Rite Aid spot is considered desirable because of its ample parking and location.
Ollie McVittie, son of a farmer residing near Yelm, aged 16, departed from home Sunday, and began his travels by taking a wheel belonging to Mrs. Clark, a neighbor, and $5.50 of money from his mother’s drawer. He left the wheel at Yelm and took the train for Tenino, where he was apprehended and sent home. It seems that many boys have started out at a less age and made a better beginning.
Poor Yelm! The reason given for the refusal of the Northern Pacific to afford a passenger depot at that point is that the company is interested in booming a rival town instituted by the Salsich Lumber Co., only a mile and a half from Yelm.
Four Inducted into new YHS Hall of Fame
By Jenna Loughlin
February 21, 2003 Nisqually Valley News
Yelm High School unveiled its new Hall of Fame with an induction ceremony during which three Yelm alumni were honored for their athletic ability along with one coach.
Dave Wolf, center for the state champion 1958 boys’ basketball team, Aaron Kalama, 1963-67 multi sport athlete and Patsy (Walker) Pointer, 1977 girls’ track state champion were all chosen to bet he first athletes selected for the Hall. Bill Ward, also from the 1958 boys basketball team, was the first coach inducted.
“These people show us that nothing is impossible when everyone works together,” said the high school’s Athletic Director Ron Barnard.
Each inductee was given a plaque with their high school senior picture and a brief paragraph describing their achievement, a duplicate of which will be hung in the gym hallways by the boys’ and girls’ locker rooms.
Before the honorees themselves were handed the microphone, someone introduced them to the crowd.
For Ward, Wolf gave a description of what it was like to have him as a coach.
“He took a bunch of raw kids and turned us into champions,” Wolf said. “He was maybe the most influential man in my life.”
Ward then talked about the season and what made the team so special. “We had to win 17 straight games to get the title,” he said.
“These people would not quit. They even snuck into the gym on weekends. They were dedicated and they had a winning attitude.”
“This team was a winner all the way. They were an incredible group to coach and it was my honor to do so.”
Next, a quite excited Bob Wolf came up. “I’ve waited so long to roast him,” Bob said of his younger brother Dave.
However, Bob was rather nice, describing what life was like in Yelm during the 1958 run along with the accomplishments of his brother.
“Yelm closed down,” during the 1968 playoffs, Bob said, adding that throughout the whole season, his parents store, Wolf’s Department Store, had a window dedicated to the team, posting its record and game scores.
He also mentioned Dave’s being named to the All-state team, his time spent at Stanford and the University of Puget Sound on a law degree and most recently, the failing mill he purchased in Oregon that he has turned into a success.
“You’ve been a real inspiration to me,” Bob said.
“Thank you, Bob, I think,” Dave said after his brother’s speech. Of the introduction itself, “I am proud to receive the award for our team,” Dave said. “Gary Beggs, Al Heath, Dennis Kinney, George Coulter, Mike Gould, Phil Peoples, George Hobart, Barrie Wilcox and John Stark.”
“Basketball is really a team sport. You don’t get there by yourself.”
Dave joked that, even though it might seem like it has, not much has changed.
“I didn’t like running stairs then, I don’t like running stairs now. I couldn’t pass behind my back then. I can’t pass behind my back now. I couldn’t dunk then, and I can guarantee that I can’t duck now. I was and still am very proud to say I am from Yelm. It’s a wonderful place to live and a wonderful community.”
Kalama’s mother, Zelma McCloud, accepted the award for her son who was tragically killed in a car accident two years after his graduation from high school in 1967. Superintendent Alan Burke remembers Kalama’s reputation as the two were in high school at the same time, though in different districts.
“He was about as good as anybody around here,” Burke said. “He loved playing sports,” McCloud said. “It came to him naturally.” McCloud also said that Ward was probably one of Kalama’s favorite coaches.
“I am grateful for this honor and grateful for the school to remember him,” she said.
Wrestling coach Gaylord Strand spoke about Pointer, describing her as a “pioneer” since she was competing just as Title IX was being introduced and as a “female phenom.”
Strand listed off numerous records Pointer set, many of which are still standing, and wondered how much better they could have been if the track had not been made of cinder.
“She was something that was really great,” said Strand.
“I couldn’t have done it without the support of my community,” Pointed said, after which she got a little chocked up and teary eyed.
“She’s never at a loss for words at home,” joked her husband, Gary Pointer.
Patsy Pointer mentioned that her coaches taught her that, “In order to be great, you had to work hard, you had to be honest, you had to have integrity and couldn’t let your head get over you.”
“I was scared to lose,” Pointer said.
“I am very humbled,” she said, adding, “I miss being home.”
Yelm is Becoming Commercial Center Growth: New Businesses From Surrounding area in North Thurston County
By Cecilia NguyenThe News Tribune January 30, 2002
Rural Yelm is acquiring some big-city amenities Yelm is at the center of much of the commercial and retail development in North Thurston County, with the construction of a Safeway grocery store, Rite Aid pharmacy and movie theater in the past five years.
Most recently, Starbucks opened a coffee shop off Yelm Avenue, the city’s main commercial and retail street.
Yelm is becoming the commercial hub for a lot of the rural communities in this area. Yelm city administrator Shelley Badger said, “The big reason for the growth is because our location. We are the center of a very large rural area.”
Retailers who once traditionally looked retail centers in Olympia and Tacoma quickly realizing Yelm’s potential. In 1999, the Yelm Cinemas’ developers performed an area market study. It identified a far larger consumer base than just Yelm’s 3,289 residents. The study estimated 65,000 people within a 15-mile radius, 640,000 people within a 25-mile radius.
“What surprised us was the numbers were so high,” Yelm Cinemas spokesman John Thompson said.
Since the movie theater’s opening in December 2000, attendance has exceeded market study expectations, Thompson added.
“This is a growing area with an expanding economic base,” Thompson said. “Other businesses are starting to figure out that Yelm might be the place to locate.”
The additional tax revenue funded most of the city’s essential services last year, Yelm officials say.
In 2001, Yelm residents paid the city $555,000 in property taxes. That same year, the city collected $727,000 in sales tax revenue and $480,000 from the business and occupation tax. Sales and B&O taxes provide more than half- $1.2 million – of the city’s $2.3 million operating general fund budget, Badger said.
Badger commended past elected officials and the current City Council for their realistic planning approaches and foresight.
Officials prepared Yelm for the impending developments by upgrading the city’s infrastructure, such as increasing its wastewater treatment capacity, she added.
Yelm also continues to work on gaining more water rights and improving its systems to accommodate growth.
The next task for city officials, Badger said, is to address Yelm’s growing traffic problems.
The council is searching for a solution to address the high volume of vehicles that drive along Yelm Avenue, which turns into Highway 510. Constructing an alternate route to bypass Yelm Avenue is one option, officials say.
Badger speculates as Yelm’s commercial core expands, more shoppers will discover they can accomplish most of their shopping locally.“People used to have to drive to Olympia or Tacoma to get what they needed,” Badger said. “The choices are increasing here.”
City officials acknowledge hearing residents voice their fears that Yelm’s small-town atmosphere could diminish with added economic development. No formal anti-growth movement has formed so far.
“From time to time we hear people say, ‘It’s not like what it used to be Badger said. “But we also hear positive comments saying, ‘It’s nice to be able attend a movie and shop in town.'”
And Thompson believes Yelm’s close proximity to the smaller Thurston County communities meant the city was destined to grow. “Yelm’s growth was inevitable -whether we wanted it or not,” Thompson said. “It’s just a matter of whether it was planned growth.”
Yelm’s most famous resident is 35,000 years old, attracts an international following and lives — so to speak — in a fenced, sprawling mansion just outside town.
He is Ramtha, a reputed ex-warrior from the lost continent of Atlantis who comes to Thurston County via a channeler named J.Z. Knight.
Since moving to Yelm in the early 1980s, Knight has sparked local curiosity and attracted thousands of followers — dubbed “Ramsters” by local residents ,— to the southeast Thurston County town. Her followers have included actresses Shirley MacLaine and Linda Evans.
Ramtha preaches a New Age philosophy centering on self-reliance and the quest for what he considers a full knowledge of God. The movement has encountered little public resistance from local residents, most of whom describe Ramtha’s devotees as gentle, well-educated and cooperative.
“I have never met anybody who’s against it. They just find it intriguing,” said Marly Steckler, who tends bar at the downtown Yelm’s Stop Inn Lounge.
Nobody knows exactly how many Ramtha devotees have moved to Yelm, but estimates range from the hundreds to more than 1,000. At least a few followers hail from as far away as England, Australia and New Zealand.
Thousands of people flock to the mansion for major events, which can cost as much as $1,500, but even routine gatherings can draw a crowd.
Last Tuesday evening, cars began arriving as early as 5 p.m. for a 7 p.m. “Advanced Consciousness and Energy Workshop” with an admission price of $30.
One sore point is traffic along state Route 507, which increases dramatically whenever a Ramtha meeting lets out. The problem might worsen: Knight appears to be increasing the frequency of her gatherings, and she has submitted plans to pave a 540-vehicleparking lot and convert her 24,000 square-foot riding arena to a meeting hall.
Knight keeps a low profile in town, but court papers filed in a recent divorce showed that Ramtha Dialogues brings in about $3 million a year. According to the documents, she and her husband spent about $40,000 a month and had 17 vehicles, including two BMWs, a Mercedes and a Rolls-Royce.
The mansion has six fireplaces, a swimming pool, a sauna and a tanning salon. It has been valued at $1.5 million.