Commuter rail a few steps closer to Thurston County

Let’s not get our hopes up, but the recent opening of a Sounder train station in Lakewood in Pierce County moves the South Sound a step closer to commuter rail service.

It took Sound Transit 16 years of discussion and planning to open the Lakewood station, and bringing trains across the Pierce-Thurston county line involves additional complexities around financing and agreements with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.

But it does bring rail 8.5 miles closer than the north Tacoma station that was the previous end of line.

Extending the service to Olympia makes tremendous sense. Getting cars off the Olympia-JBLM-Tacoma Interstate 5 corridor would certinaly improve the quality of life for South Sound commuters, both those coming into Olympia as well as those going out.

During legislative sessions, it would benefit lobbyists and lawmakers traveling up and down the Puget Sound.

A partnership with Intercity Transit could increase local bus ridership, providing the regional transit entity with additional revenue to finance expanded service.

But, let’s get real. Sounder rail service to Olympia is many years into the future. South Sound elected officials must start the conversation now and get the wheels rolling.

It’s hard to imagine what goes through the mind of a person who steals the steering wheel of a historic ship.

The 99-year-old schooner Adventuress was moored to the public dock at Olympia’s Percival Landing earlier this month, preparing to take 24 students on a three-day educational program. The night before she was scheduled to set sail, thieves climbed aboard and stole the 3-foot-diameter wheel.

The Adventuress is a Puget Sound icon, owned and operated by the nonprofit Sound Experience, which provides maritime experiences for young people. It takes a particularly heartless, or perhaps ignorant, criminal to steal from such a worthy program.

Doing something good for our community sometimes requires skills that engaged volunteers don’t posses.

That’s why a number of South Sound organizations have teamed up for a Social Good Event, a workshop designed to teach community-building skills. Software developer Joe Justice will teach the four-hour workshop from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, at Black Hills High School.

The coalition of organizations are focused on a project to encourage nutritious eating and increasing the daily physical activity of Thurston County residents.

Learn more at facebook.com/ achievesocialgood.

Having children vaccinated against common diseases benefits the entire community. Not only is the child protected, but immunizations limit the incidence of ailments and their transfer to others.

Washington used to rank dead last among states for child vaccination rates. Thanks to legislation making it more difficult for parents to exempt their children, the state is now above the national average.

Some parents objected to immunization for religious reasons, although some acted on false information connecting vaccines to autism. A study making that link has been debunked.

Rejoice, chocolaholics! Rejoice!

A new study by the New England Journal of Medicine has found a connection between the amount of chocolate consumed in a nation to the number of Nobel Prize winners that nation has produced.

It’s not surprising that Switzerland leads the world in both chocolate consumption and Nobel Prize winners. The United States ranked midway down the list of chocolate lovers, but in good company with Belgium.

Researchers set out to prove that flavanols in chocolate, which also exist in green tea, slow the rate of mental decline as a person ages.

No word on whether dark chocolate helped more than milk chocolate, or whether adding almonds or peanut butter to the coco made a difference. We’re doing our own study into that.