Grab the kids, grab the pets and join the fun today

For 83 years, kids, parents, families and – most important of all – tens of thousands of pets have paraded through the streets of downtown Olympia on the third Saturday of August.

The 2012 Pet Parade is under way this morning. Kids and adults have dressed their favorite pets according to this year’s theme, Cartoon Crazy, and are lining up in Heritage Park. At 10 a.m., they will march through downtown en route to Sylvester Park for ice cream and the awarding of prizes for the most creative parade entries.

It’s an annual tradition, like Lakefair and the Procession of the Species, made possible by The Olympian, the Olympia Downtown Association, the Bruce Titus Pet Project and Olympia Federal Savings.

There’s still time to come downtown and join in the fun.

Three buildings at the Thurston County Fair are getting new roofs, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Department of Agriculture. This is a welcome and needed addition to an important county asset.

The Thurston County Fair has been an early August attraction since 1871. Despite record temperatures, nearly 30,000 people attended this year, generating about $178,000 for the self-funding fair program.

Although the fair itself runs only a week, the fairgrounds are used year-round by groups as diverse as 4-H, model railroad enthusiasts, woodworkers, a club of three-wheeled motorcycles and flea markets.

Thanks to a working fair board that will provide most of the labor to repair roofs on the Peterson Barn, Simon Barn and the Deck Building, the fairgrounds are getting another upgrade.

Judical elections are always difficult to predict, because most voters have little experience with the court system and consequently have a limited understanding of how to measure one candidate against another.

This challenge for voters is most prominent in statewide Supreme Court races. But that does not fully explain how Bruce Danielson, a candidate running against Supreme Court Justice Steve Gonzalez in the recent primary election, got 42 percent of the vote without doing any campaigning or raising any money.

Researchers at the University of Washington are analyzing the primary vote in this race to determine if there is any statistical support for the theory that Danielson’s votes came from those with a bias against Gonzalez’s obviously Hispanic surname.

We hope that’s not true, but how else can the vote be explained?

There is continued good news from the real estate sector in Thurston County. The number of homes sold in July increased by more than 14 percent over last year. Adding to the good news, pending sales spiked by even more, up 32 percent over 2011. That bodes well for this month’s real estate activity.

The Great Recession began with a housing market collapse – triggered by high-level financial misconduct – and it won’t end until that industry fully recovers. News that real estate brokers continue to see a positive trend should give hope to us all.

There are more homeless school-age children in Thurston County, and all across the state, than there were five years ago. A study by the Columbia Legal Services advocacy group found 26,000 homeless students in Washington.

The study reports 1,126 homeless students in Thurston County during the 2010-11 school year. The good news is that number represents a 2.8 percent decline from the prior year. The bad news is that it is still up 52 percent from 2006-07.

The partnership between the City of Olympia and the Family Support Center on the Smith Building will help address this problem locally. When it is operational, the new facility will provide emergency shelter for families with children 17 and younger.