Whew! Fort WW Museum meets its visitor stats goals

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For a dozen years, Fort Walla Walla Museum has received visitors each year from all 50 states and nearly 30 foreign countries. In 2006, staffers were excited when the annual goal was reached in mid-June, earlier than anyone could remember.

In 2007, the streak appeared to be in jeopardy as the Museum’s season reached the half-way mark, then two-thirds, and even the three-fourths date, and no one from Rhode Island had signed the Museum’s guest register in Exhibit Hall 1.

"The New England states are the toughest to record" said Don Locati, Museum operations manager and a veteran of 10 of those years. "Places like Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island have relatively low populations and are a really long way away."

This year, Museum staffers were a bit worried that as Labor Day approached and the most distant travelers begin to grow scarce, the streak might finally be broken.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Staff members Anne Stotler, Bill Lake and Paul Franzmann joked with Don that perhaps offering a "Maine discount" in the Museum Store might produce a Pine Tree State visitor to keep the streak alive.

The worry was wasted. A closer look at the guest register revealed a ‘Mainer’ had signed the book in late June. And the final states of Kansas and West Virginia recorded in mid-July.

The Museum now hopes to break its all-time record, set last year, of visitors from 42 countries. The count stands at 26 through July.

"Recent statistics indicate that Museum visitors annually spend more than $2.5 million in the region," Don said.

"As Walla Walla’s reputation as a desirable destination continues to grow, the income generated through tourism has become increasingly important to the regional economy. We are particularly proud to be that kind of asset to our community."

•••

Soon to be 100 years old, College Place resident Dorothy Smith has maintained an adventurous spirit of independence throughout her life, a friend notes.

A group of her neighbors will help celebrate her centenary status during a birthday dinner at a favorite local restaurant.

Mrs. Smith was born Sept. 18, 1909, in Michigan, where she grew up a "tomboy" and attended schools.

She traveled to several different states with her parents during those years, as they moved occasionally.

Her independent nature was evident when as a young woman Dorothy backpacked around Mount Hood alone.

She completed four years of nurse’s training.Throughout her nursing career she worked in Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada and in Washington and was an Army nurse in World War II, stationed in Bristol, England.

She was an operating room supervisor for 25 years at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. She chuckled when she revealed she was known there as "the calcified battle-axe," as she ran a tight ship, so to speak.

After moving to College Place, she spent 20 years in volunteer work at Walla Walla General Hospital. In younger years she played piano and organ and gardened. She finally "retired" in the early 1990s.

She was an active member of College Place Village Church for many years, until declining mobility kept her more at home.

At 93, she acquired her first computer, which she still enjoys for e-mail and making greeting cards for friends and family.

She still loves people, and makes others feel comfortable when in her company. She goes walking when she’s able, often accompanied by her daughter or a neighbor.

"When visiting with her, that good ‘ole spirit of independence still comes through," a friend e-mailed.

•••


To drum up support for student athletes, each week Walla Walla High School cheerleaders are creating themes for home football games.

One recent theme was to invite Walla Walla School District staff to the game. Cheerleaders presented a small token of appreciation to staff and recognized them at half time. The cheerleaders created an invitation for staff members to send to the schools and are hoping to increase attendance at games.

"The girls are working really hard to work with the community to support our student athletes," said Julianne Anderson, cheer coach.

•••

Walla Walla Symphony’s Free Instrument Lending Library strikes again. Rob McIntyre, the sole remaining music teacher in the Athena/Weston School District, sent an appeal to his community for instruments for his sixth-grade beginning band.

More kids enrolled this year than he had instruments for.

Rob plays various instruments, including bagpipes, and went with the Athena-Weston High School Pipe and Drum Corps on its recent East Coast tour.

"That sort of need is just what the lending library is meant to fill," said J.D. Smith. On Sept. 3, J.D. delivered six clarinets, five flutes and one baritone horn to Rob.

J.D. said it shows the oldest symphony orchestra west of the Mississippi is working hard to keep music education in the schools.

J.D. originated and is coordinator of the lending library, a grant-funded operation that’s been around for three years. The kids who borrow instruments aren’t charged anything.

Of the 200-plus instruments, the library has 172 on loan, including 21 violins to the Milton-Freewater school system and 40 violins to fourth-graders in Waitsburg.

At the end of the school year kids return them for another year’s renewal if they still wish to play them.

Most of the schools in Walla Walla have students playing lending library instruments, as well as Broetje Orchards and several home-school systems.

Right now the inventory is sparse, with about five clarinets, two flutes, three snare drums and a dozen violins of mainly 3/4 size. To borrow or make financial contributions, contact J.D. at jd@wwsymphony.org or lacey@wwsymphony.org or call 509-529-8020 to borrow or donate.

"Donations of instruments or cash are very much appreciated. We are dedicated to youth music education and are the same 103-year-old orchestra that just produced the first-ever Walla Walla Free Rock and Roll Camp, so we are looking for donations of any types of musical instrument." They check over each instrument and repair as necessary. Walla Walla Symphony is a non-profit organization. The donated instruments are appraised and donors receive a letter of acknowledgement for tax purposes.

•••

Thirty-nine Walla Walla High School Latino Club members spent two Saturdays in volunteer clean-up work at the Walla Walla Fairgrounds to help get ready for the Walla Walla Frontier Days Fair. Club members performed the initial cleaning of the pavilion area by sweeping and mopping floors, cleaning glass cabinets, hauling unused items downstairs and cleaning bathrooms. Latino Club members donated more than 200 hours of community service during the project. This is the fourth year Latino youths have worked at the fairgrounds prior to the fair. The Wa-Hi Latino Club also has a display at the fair, according to District Bilingual Coordinator Diana Erickson.

The Latino Club fair display features a lot of pictures of the club’s activities, she said. Ten members put in over 51 combined hours setting up the display located on the second floor of the pavilion in the Scouting area at the west end of the youth area. They arranged displays for the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Explorers Post Latino Club. Club members also had an entry in the fair parade.

•••

Walla Wallan Charles Potts is on the faculty for an upcoming weekend poetry event in Tieton, Wash., just outside Yakima.

LiTFUSE combines writing, improvisation, meditation, camaraderie, natural beauty and readings to ignite your muse. Charles earned the Washington Poets Association Lifetime Achievement Award.

Charles will talk about what makes writing prophetic and spiritual, according to novelist and critic E.M. Forster, and himself, as portrayed in his 1998 essay, "A Reason to Read: The Structure of the Spirit."

It became the introduction to Pacific Northwestern Spiritual Poetry, which Charles edited, according to www.litfuse.us . Samples of spiritual/prophetic poetry will help poets identify characteristics of such poetry and explore their affinity to it.

Noted Northwest practitioners of this verse include Sharon Doubiago, Stephen Thomas, dan raphael, Karen Waring, Edward Smith and Walla Wallan Teri Zipf. Charles will be joined on the faculty by George Bowering, Canada’s Poet Laureate emeritus; Carolyne Wright and Judith Roche, American Book Award winners; Tara Hardy, Seattle Grand Slam Champ; Mike Hickey, Seattle Poet Populist; AK Mimi Allin, poet of Green Lake; Leonard Orr, TS Eliot and Blue Lynx prizes finalist; Carol Trenga, movement and meditation for the creative spirit; and Swil Kanim, musical muse.

The event is Sept. 25-27 in Tieton’s Harvest Hall and the Warehouse Atrium and Gallery. The registration fee is $130, which includes the Saturday banquet. The Friday master class with Bowering is $50 or $75 if not registered for the LiTFUSE weekend. Registration information and an event schedule are at www.litfuse.us .

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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