Looking Back: Take a Trip Through Our Community’s Rich History


Enjoy these snapshots of articles written in past issues of the Nisqually Valley News from 45, 35, 25 and 15 years ago, respectively.

A Look Back at This Week, 45 Years Ago:

- Ralph Provencal, architect with the city of Yelm, presented a cost comparison at a city council meeting between constructing a new community center building or securing what was called the Inghram house from the state. He concluded the most bang for the city’s buck would be to relocate and renovate the Inghram house for community use.

- The 4-Corners area held its annual Easter egg hunt near the Four Corners Store, drawing 710 participants. The winning gold egg finders were Ann Crow of Yelm, age 2; Craige O’Neal of Yelm, age 3; Lorene Tate of Tacoma, age 4; Dennis O’Shilds of Yelm, age 10; Lesia Rodrigguez of Tillicum, age 11; and Jimmy Golden of Yelm, age 13.

- “Mr. and Mrs. Dean Smith” announced the arrival of their first child, James Dean, weighing 7 pounds and 5 ounces upon birth at Olympia’s St. Peter Hospital.

- The “State Game Department’s” lowland lake fishing season was set to begin on Sunday, April 25, 1976, with 700,000 anglers expected to participate with about one-third being juveniles.

- Yelm-Rainier Head Start announced it was hosting a baked food sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 24, 1976, with proceeds set to help purchase new playground equipment for the school.

- The Yelm High School golf team dropped their league match to North Mason on Friday, April 16, 1976.

- Tornado tracksters dominated the area leaders with Wayen Christensen holding the 100-yard dash mark with 10.6 and Randy Arnold’s 220-yard outing of 24.7.

A Look Back at This Week, 35 Years Ago:

- Local festival “Horses in Harness” was set to be held at Rainier’s Sportsman’s Park on Sunday, April 27, 1986, featuring an all-entrants parade, a single-horse draft horse pulling contest and a log-skidding competition, among other festivities.

- Prairie Elementary School advertised for its school musical, “Inside the Chocolate Factory.” The play featured shows on April 22, 23 and 24, 1986, with 68 children and 20 staff members participating.

- Yelm Middle School’s math team placed first at the Skookumchuck league Math Olympiad, ousting teams from Centralia, Chehalis, Tenino and Rochester for the top spot.

- Chris Burnett, son of Jeff and J.Z. Knight, was elected Associate Student Body president at Yelm High School. In a speech prior to the election, which was held using voting machines borrowed from the Thurston County election board, he reportedly said, “I want to go for it. Your votes will make it happen.”

- The Washington state Legislature passed a law making the feed given to livestock at a public auction tax exempt.

- “Bike for Breath,” a bike-a-thon fundraiser to aid the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, was scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 17, 1986, for which Laura Clark was appointed chairperson.

- The Yelm Middle School Whirlwind baseball team picked up a double header win over Pioneer Middle School in April 1986.

- Yelm High School’s girl’s track team achieved their first league win over the meet’s host, Thinclads, with a score of 77-55. 

A Look Back at This Week, 25 Years Ago:

- A young boy’s valiant fight against cancer prompted reporter Paul Kinney to write: “If the past two years of Ryan Johnson’s life were a quilt, the patches would consist of long, sterile halls, nauseating treatments, hair loss, painful injections and waiting, lots of waiting.”

- James D. Clinton, 36, died instantly April 19, 1996, after a northbound semi-truck leapt the retaining wall of I-5, landing on Clinton’s southbound Ford Taurus.

- Reporter Patty Kinney’s review of a local theater company’s play read: “Fiddler on the Roof, Stagestruck West’s most ambitious project to date, deftly chisels a family portrait, hones it to perfection and promises to imprint the saga on the theater goer’s heart.”

- Lake Lawrence residents voted to use the herbicide Rodeo to help control the lake’s choking water lilies in an effort to open the place up for swimming and boating.

- The Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce was set to hold its fundraising auction, “Glitz and Grape,” a gala evening, Monday, April 29, 1996. Tim Gorman, president of Yelm Telephone Company, was known to auction off his time and labor as he washed and waxed community members’ cars.

- Debra Grant, a midwife who had served the communities of Yelm and Eatonville for 17 years, traveled to Jamaica to serve those less fortunate with her skills. “One big difference between the states and the third world is there is no real pampering of the women,” Grant told the Nisqually Valley News. “Historically, women do what the Jamaican midwife says. ‘Shut up and have your baby.’”

- Dirty Dave’s pizza restaurant changed its name to “Pizza Depot” and updated its exterior.

- Rainier trackster Joni Seversike won three individual events and Michelle Kimbal had two victories, but the girl’s track team still only placed third out of four teams at a Wahkiakum hosted Central B league meet.

- Roy NASCAR driver Kevin Tustison got both first and fourth in the NASCAR Charger main event at South Sound Speedway in April 1996. That is, former champion Paul ‘Pappy’ Welch took Tustison’s car to victory, while the latter placed fourth in a vehicle owned by Seattle’s Mark Spicer

- Yelm High School junior Nate Ostrander was named athlete of the month for March, 1996.

A Look Back at This Week, 15 Years Ago:

- Roy police, aided by federal drug agents, served two search warrants that put four alleged drug dealers in jail and three children in the custody of Child Protective Services.

- Yelm High School students held a fundraiser selling piano keys to try to afford a grand piano, which was priced out of the budget for the new performing arts center.

- The first of two open houses on the potentiality of the “Thurston Highlands,” a 5,000-home master planned community, was held at Yelm Middle School, garnering the interest of 50 enthusiastic people.

- Yelm City Council was on the hunt to fill two open council seats.

- Local businesses Ronda’s Coffeehouse, Red Nails and Young’s Teriyaki were the targets of petty burglaries, but nothing substantial was stolen.

- Yelm resident Harold E. Gillespie, 29, pleaded guilty to hitting a pedestrian with his vehicle and smashing up a Yelm police car. He was sentenced to seven months in jail.

- After operating in Lacey for years, J&I Power Equipment, Inc., opened its first branch location in Yelm in April 2006.

- The Yelm baseball team won three games in a row back in April of 2006, putting the Tornados in playoff contention.

- The Yelm girls tennis team suffered a string of losses, but bounced back with a victory over Aberdeen in April of 2006.


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