ETCETERA - Friends turn birthdays into humane society benefit

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Since their birthdays are close together, Griffin Hood and cousin Max Titus planned to celebrate with one party. Once they found out friend and classmate Lacey Owens would be having her party the same day, they combined all three.

"The boys have been in the same class at Sharpstein Elementary since kindergarten. They all play together at school and have the same group of friends," said Griffin's mom, Bridie Hood. "As a result, they always have a very similar birthday party guest list."

Two years ago, Griffin and Max chose to have a joint party. "We all felt funny about parents needing to bring two gifts, so we talked to the boys about asking for donations instead of gifts. Surprisingly, the boys both were excited about the idea," Bridie said.

She and husband Mike Hood talked it over with Lacey's parents, Steve and Robin Owens, and Max's folks, Jet and Julie Titus, who decided to hold the party on June 5, on the last weekend before the last day of school.

The trio invited all their classmates and asked that instead of gifts the kids bring donations for animals at the Blue Mountain Humane Society.

Partygoers brought a wealth of donations to the event, from food, treats and toys for dogs and cats to kitty litter, food dishes and cash.

"I am very proud of the kids. They had a great time. When we dropped off the donations, we got to pass out treats and toys and walked dogs and petted kittens," Bridie said.

The kids will be in fourth grade this fall. For more details about BMHS, call Cecilia Donalde, customer service manager, 7 E. George St., 509-525-2452.

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Former Walla Wallan Scott Edmonds and wife Vanessa Ramirez Edmonds are settled in Las Vegas, Nev., where they are teachers.

The son of Kathy and Mike Allasina of Spokane and the late Jim Edmonds, Scott graduated from Walla Walla High School in 1994, served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, and graduated from 2002 from Western Washington University in Bellingham. He is a fifth-grade teacher at Daniel Goldfarb Elementary School.

The daughter of Sergio and Rosemary Ramirez of Las Vegas, Vanessa graduated from University of Nevada at Las Vegas and is a fourth-grade teacher at the same elementary school. The couple wed on Jan. 30, 2010, at St. Viator Catholic Church in Las Vegas. They honeymooned on a cruise to the Caribbean in March.

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Despite competing with two other auctions on the same day, the June 5 Ferndale Grange auction brought in $2,500. The teardown will go on because of Bob Humbert's discounted labor for that project, said Leslie Lovell, communications specialist with InterMountain Communications.

A leveled area where the Grange stood will be used for badly needed parking, Leslie said in a release

Sharee LaRue-Wright, vice-chairwoman of the Milton-Freewater Unified School District Board, said "Don Miller did a fabulous job as auctioneer. And people were so excited to get the great prices. There was a lot of fun and laughter." Sharee was assisted by Glenda Jones, Heidi Thomas, Macy Thomas, Marcia Akes, Colton Akes, Patton Wright, Ryan Radke, Marilyn McBride, Ralph Brown, Carolyn Creek and especially Mary Jo Sult, who did a tremendous amount of work for the cause before and during the auction.

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In the past 10 years, Fort Walla Walla Museum has seen 50,000 participants visit courtesy of its School Tour Program. It offers admission-free tours to public, private and home-schooled students with aid from sponsors, said Paul Franzmann, communications manager.

At the start of spring and fall semesters, the Museum invites area schools to book tours of the 15-acre commemoration of regional heritage.

"The response is extraordinary, producing participants from across Washington, Oregon and Idaho," Paul said. Visitors have come from as far as Ashland, Ore., and Shaw Island, Wash., or more often from within approximately three hours of Walla Walla.

Tour Coordinator Bill Lake and volunteer docents welcomed 20 Japanese middle school students as the Museum's visitation season opened April 1.

Through May 25, 42 schools made use of the School Tour program, which represented nearly 2,000 participants. Schools from Bellevue, Wash., and Imbler, Oregon arrived. Schools as large as Pasco's Maya Angelou Elementary sent more than 150 students on a visit; and an Idaho-based home school sent four.

Another 18 tours were booked before schools in the area recessed for summer, fully two-thirds of the typical 5,000 annual participants are anticipated, all interested in learning more about "The Cradle of Northwest History," as the region has been known for more than 100 years, Paul said.

"We know that coming up with funds for field trips can be hard on strapped school districts," he added. "These days, it can be hard on a lot of families to cover that cost, too. When you realize, according to our surveys, that well more than 80 percent of these kids have never visited a museum before, that makes a cost-free school visit critically important on many levels."

Kids gain a big picture of their part in the area's ongoing history. Paul said they're "more likely to be vested in their communities' future. With the knowledge that kids just like them grew up here and went on to major accomplishments in so many fields gives them an ‘I can do it, too' outlook. Finally, kids who grow up going to museums are far more likely to take their own children to museums, perpetuating so many good things. This is win-win for the kids, the teachers and their schools, and all these communities."

Current program sponsors include Boise's Wallula Mill, Blue Mountain Community Foundation, Mary Garner Esary Trust, Milton-Freewater Area Foundation and Pacific Power Foundation. Tours can be booked by calling the Museum at 509-525-7703.

Students' thank-you letters to program sponsors engage children in acknowledging receipt of something valuable, an exercise in writing formally and a wrap-up to the overall experience.

Destry Henderson, Boise's communications manager notes, "As this is my first year with Boise, and therefore this is the first time I've been on the receiving end of the many ‘thank yous' we receive from kids who visit the museum, I have to say I'm impressed. I'm glad our contribution has touched so many kids."

A free 2010 Teachers Guide to the Museum is available as a download at www.fortwallawallamuseum.org/education.htm. For more details, contact the Museum at 509-525-7703, e-mail info@fortwallawallamuseum.org or see fortwallawallamuseum.org.

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I love the e-vine. Terry and Donna Lynn Davis, self-described Portland fans of Walla Walla's Hot Poop at 210 E. Main St., (one from years back in Walla Walla), e-mailed store owner Jim McGuinn a note about another former Walla Wallan.

"Barry Fontenot keeps flying our store's colors," Jim said via e-mail. As a photographer, Barry was hired by TV star Holly Madison of "Holly's World," a reality-based television series that debuted on E! in December. She formerly starred on the reality show "The Girls Next Door" as girlfriend of Hugh Hefner and who lived in the Playboy mansion.

She recently decided to do a calendar featuring herself and hired friend Barry to do the photo shoot of her. Barry is seen at the shoot wearing a Hot Poop T-shirt and Jim's observation is that "Personally, I find it hard to believe that people would divert their eyes from Hugh Hefner's former girlfriend long enough to spot our T-shirt.

"Playboy Magazine founder and publisher Hefner once told Barry that he had a Hot Poop T-shirt in his own wardrobe collection. Barry didn't have the heart to tell Hefner he had given it to him earlier after he had complimented Barry on the Hot Poop T-shirt he was wearing." If like Terry and Donna you can divert your attention from the buxom bikini-clad babe, you can spot Barry's shirt on this video at www.comcast.net/video/holly-s-world-spread-em/1519582319/Comcast/1518846488/ .

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Longtime local photographer Ken Nichols came into possession of a column from Down Under that mentions our area and interaction with Edward Chvatal of Walla Walla. The article ran in the May 22 New Zealand Listener, which is described as the country's only national, weekly current affairs and entertainment magazine. It covers the country's political, cultural and literary life. Columnist Rebecca Macfie wrote about issues this area was experiencing with water, agriculture and industry under the headline, "Walla Walla ding-dong."

"In the dry Walla Walla Basin in Washington State, tensions over water were rising. Demands on rivers and aquifers were growing, fish species were under threat, streams were running dry in summer and water rights were over-allocated. Farmers and conservationists were headed for a water war, and the Federal Government was threatening to intervene."

She notes that agricultural, tribal and conservation interests thrashed out a collective vision several years ago. "Knowledge was shared and consensus built with the aim of improving river health and delivering more reliable irrigation water for farmers. Conservation easements were created, riparian planning undertaken and fish passageways constructed around dams."

You might be wondering about a connection and here it is: Irrigators in New Zealand got wind of the collaborative approach taken here during a recent Christchurch conference. That's when Edward, vice-chairman of the Walla Walla Watershed Management Partnership, spoke to conference delegates, emphasizing that trust and co-operation had been essential to averting a crisis in our water-stressed region.

Rebecca writes that in Canterbury, N.Z., biodiversity is being lost to intensive agriculture "at the fastest rate since European colonisation," rivers and aquifers are under pressure, people are marching in the streets over water, and "the lessons from Walla Walla seem apt."

She discusses at lengthy various issues that they're having to deal with and concludes that "collaboration is hard, slow work, and you don't always get everything you want. But it produces far better and more durable results than endless litigation and conflict. Of course, New Zealand's irrigators and farmers know that - the man from Walla Walla told them so."

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Milton-Freewater Rotary Club members heard a presentation June 15 from Larry Schmuhl, program manager of the USS Ranger Foundation.

Larry talked about plans to bring the USS Ranger CV-61, a former movie star, to the Portland area as a memorial and visitor site. The first of the Ranger line was commissioned in 1777 and was commanded by John Paul Jones. The seventh of the USS Ranger line was decommissioned in 1947 and the eighth USS Ranger (CV-61) was commissioned in 1957 and decommissioned in July 1993. One of four Forrestal Class super carriers, she is 1,071 feet long with a 271-foot-wide flight deck, and a draft of 37 feet at full load.

When fully manned, she supported a ship's compliment of about 2,700 and the airwing component of another 2,500. Slated to become a museum ship, Ranger is currently at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Wash. CV-61 served in Vietnam, Somalia and Desert Storm, and was used in filming of the movie "Top Gun."

Rotarian Robby Robbins took notes on Larry's talk and noted there are currently seven sites around the country where carriers are either operational as museum sites or under review for location at new sites. Some are supported by private funding, others through state support and others though contracts with the cities where they are located.

Ranger Foundation has done extensive research to find a suitable location in Portland and ultimately came up with a site at the Chinook Point area on the Columbia River.

Ranger Foundation is reviewing support items that need to be in place, such as a pier, mooring platforms and on-shore facilities for utility hook-up, all of which would create jobs for local workers. Long-term maintenance and repair facilities are also under review .

The ship has been maintained with nearly intact operations spaces, living quarters and engineering equipment that would add to the value of seeing these areas as they were during active duty periods, Robby noted.

Once open, the Ranger Museum and Memorial would require a paid staff of 60 to operate the museum and it would create opportunities for private businesses to operate an on-board gift shop, cafe, catering and possibly other concession facilities.

The ship also has the configuration to allow it to accommodate large groups for parties, banquets, and could support short-term ‘live aboard' events for groups such as the Boy and Girl Scouts. Other uses could include use as an emergency preparedness center in case of a major disaster. For details, contact Larry at 503-558-8519 or larry.schmuhl@USSRanger.org . Online see www.ussranger.org .

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