Tourism Walla Walla to look ahead, back at meeting

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A look back at 2010 and a peek into the future of local tourism efforts will be the focus of Tourism Walla Walla's annual meeting next Thursday.

The latest tourism news will be shared over a spread of food and beverages in an event that runs 4-6 p.m. at the Walla Walla Community College Health Science & Performing Arts Center.

Tourism officials say 2010 was a "bounce-back year" for visitors, who returned to the Valley at a 9 percent clip over last year. Several new initiatives were started or completed to help with that.

Next week's event will be a chance to hear about those. After a catered social hour, a series of presentations will be made.

Tourism Walla Walla Chief Executive Officer Michael Davidson will deliver a quick "year in review." Other presentations will come from representatives of Shakespeare Uncork'd and consultants working on the Regional Signage Program.

Admission is free, but RSVPs are requested. For more information, contact Tourism Walla Walla at 525-8799.

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The Whitehouse-Crawford will celebrate the new year with a menu fit for royalty.

The Walla Walla restaurant, located in the historic 1903 planing mill building at 55 W. Cherry St., will offer fresh Maine lobsters, Northwest truffles and caviar, in addition to its regular menu Friday, said chef and co-owner Jamie Guerin.

The restaurant will stay open past midnight New Year's Eve and toast the new year with sparkling wine for guests.

The dinner will be the last hurrah at the restaurant before a short winter break. Guerin said Whitehouse-Crawford will be closed for two weeks starting Jan. 1. The break should give patrons time to build up an appetite for a special event late in the month: A new burger night slated for Jan. 25. More details will come after the restaurant re-opens.

For New Year's Eve reservations, call 525-2222. For other New Year's options, check out today's Marquee section.

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A holiday break comes to an end for the Community Council's 2010-11 Study Committee.

Next Wednesday the group will resume its weekly meetings, exploring possible prevention efforts to offset local gang activity and membership.

The sessions take place Wednesdays, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the YWCA, 213 S. First Ave. The meetings are open to the public.

The study is led by Chairman Rick Griffin. Each week through March, the group will focus on one facet of the issue, according to an announcement. Early presentations have provided an overview of the regional gang issue between Burbank and Dayton, from the Snake River to Milton-Freewater; discussed the impacts on communities and schools; and provided perspectives from law enforcement and the judicial system.

Presentations-to-come will be made by representatives of the Juvenile Justice Center and Department of Corrections, by gang members and members of their families, and by those already working on these issues.

Programs that have worked in other communities will also be presented.

The findings will be published next summer with specific recommendations for action. For more details, call 540-6720.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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