Steve Smith fills locksmith void

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A local businessman has opened the proverbial door to a new locksmith service.

Walla Walla Lock & Smith is a mobile operation offering just about every type of locksmith service, with the exception of chip keys, said owner Steve Smith.

Smith recently relocated from Montana, where he operated Bigfork Lock & Safe in the Flathead Valley. He said his family roots in the Walla Walla area date back to the "covered wagon era." He became reacquainted with the community, where his mom is also a resident, several years back and even bought a home here for his future retirement.

But his move to the community was sped up after the death of longtime local locksmith Tracy Bennett.

Bennett became well known over the last 23 years as the owner of Bennett's Locksmith and Key shop. He died Jan. 18 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Smith said the void in locksmithing left by Bennett's passing prompted him to move to Walla Walla. A locksmith for 32 years, he operated his own business in Santa Barbara, Calif., for about 25 years before selling that business and opening a new one in Montana. Smith can be reached at 522-4232.

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To some people, a little R R means "rest" and "relaxation."

For the owner of Suncatcher Studio Fine Crafts in Milton-Freewater, it means "rest" and "revamp."

Owner Jo Lowe plans to close the shop at 508 N. Main St. during the month of February, according to an announcement in the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce's Valley Business News.

The re-opening is slated for March 2, with guest artist Heidi Koch, who will showcase her gourd art and felted dolls, with Jim Willis, featured photographer for Blue Mountain Photo Club. A reception for the artists will be March 13.

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The owners of Coffee Connection Cafe have returned after a temporary hiatus.

Greg and Laurie Clayton are back from a trip to Jamaica. Their downtown Walla Walla eatery was temporarily closed in January for the occasion. The operation at 57 E. Main St. can be reached at 529-9999.

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Two new members have joined the board of directors for Tourism Walla Walla.

Justin Wylie of Va Piano Vineyards and Jennifer Skoglund, manager of the Walla Walla Regional Airport, are the two newest faces on the board.

Their appointments were announced Wednesday during Tourism Walla Walla's annual meeting, which took place at Walla Faces winery.

Wylie and Skoglund are joined on the board by three four other members. Ron Anderson, manager of the Marcus Whitman Hotel amp; Conference Center; Jay Brodt, advertising director for the Union-Bulletin; and Mark Hess, executive vice president/chief operating officer for Baker Boyer Bank, were re-elected for three-year terms. Michele Rennie of Girasol Vineyard amp; Inn was named the new chairwoman of Tourism Walla Walla.

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

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