Brian Mittge commentary: Pick the best but also celebrate the rest


This week The Chronicle began its popular annual competition called The Best of Lewis County. It’s one of the many fine things our local newspaper does to help us communicate and celebrate the great people, places, businesses and events of our area. 

I’m fully in support of The Best of Lewis County and encourage you to nominate your favorites and vote as the competition progresses. Find the link at 

OK, now that I’ve said that (and I mean it, honestly), let’s start our own competition. 

I think I’ll call it “The Rest of Lewis County™.”

Let’s celebrate some of the unremarkably wonderful things in our community — the kind of hidden nook or easily overlooked bright spot that you enjoy almost without noticing it. 

Send me your votes for the winners and send me nominations for contestants in these or your own categories! Let’s luxuriate in the dime-store gems that add some sparkle to our everyday lives. 

OK, the contestants are...


The Rest of the Mint City

1. Walk into the downtown Chehalis store called Jerry’s Clock Shop at the top of the hour. You’ll be glad you did as you are greeted with a glorious cacophony of chimes, clangs, gongs and chirps as his expansive collection of cuckoos, grandfathers and wall clocks all proclaim the wonders of the newly arrived hour. 

2. Pass by the Chehalis United Methodist Church at the top of the hour for a church bell concert of hymns and the tones that sound off the time. 

3. I only discovered the Grand Staircase of Chehalis a few years ago, after being taken there by a friend. It’s a hidden hiker’s delight that climbs halfway to the top of the hill from the intersection at the southeast corner of the library. It feels like a secret journey every time I ascend.

The Rest of the Hub City

1. The new walking path at the China Creek flood control project off Gold Street takes you through highly engineered mini-dams, gorgeous trees alive with birdcalls, and graffiti-strewn wreckage from a long-forgotten sawmill. It’s a hoot. Kudos to the city of Centralia for making it happen.

2. The boat launch at Fort Borst Park is a humble ramp guarded by blackberry briars, but it is invaluable as one of the few public access points to the Chehalis River. Happiness can be found floating that lazy waterway, upstream or down. 

3. The crazy elaborate tile compass rose embedded in in the sidewalk of the 200 block of Tower Avenue in downtown Centralia has always fascinated me. It says “Galvin,” so I don’t know if it’s a reference to former Mayor Galvin of Centralia (notable in that he asked all businesses in town to shut down for the funeral of town founder George Washington in 1905) or if it’s a strange reference to Centralia’s little kid brother, the crossroads hamlet of Galvin, a few miles west. 


The Rest of South Thurston County

1. There’s a lot to like in the Stone City, but my favorite shop sign has to be the Tenino Time Machine, an “antiques and oddities” shop that, in true time traveler fashion, announced that it was established in 2032. 

2. The new decorations inside the roundabout at U.S. Highway 12 and Anderson Road make it the prettiest piece of streetscape I’ve seen in a long time. The Chehalis Tribe outdid themselves. From a traditional canoe to greetings in the native Chehalis language to a giant woven basket, it’s a fitting homage to the tribe’s history and culture. 

3. The blue camas flowers that grow each spring in the prairies of south Thurston County are among my favorite native plants. Like tiny starbursts, they are tasty as well as pretty, forming an important food for the native people of the area. 

Honorable mention: The Promise Carper Trail, a half-mile path through the woods alongside Rochester High School, is a fitting homage to a wonderful woman. I knew Promise Carper, a woman of dignity and faith, when I was a young child and she was in her 90s. She was living at that time in Salkum with her daughter, Ila Beckwith. Kudos to Lily Morgan of Troop 1920 who built the Promise Carper Trail for an Eagle Scout project. I’d love to learn more if anyone with knowledge wants to reach out to me. 


Coming next week: Part 2, featuring “the rest” of south, east and west Lewis County. 

Send me your ideas and votes!


Dad joke of the week:

I’ve enjoyed grilling this summer on my new barbecue, so with the right sausage maybe I could be voted the Wurst of Lewis County. 


Brian Mittge loves the little things. He can be reached at