Migrant Head Start enjoys repurposed, gifted planters

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The Migrant Head Start program in Milton-Freewater is reaping the benefits of renovations at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center.

The Walla Walla hotel at Second Avenue and Rose Street has donated planters to the Oregon Child Development Coalition, a nonprofit organization that serves about 200 children in Milton-Freewater between April and November.

According to an announcement from the hotel, the children took a recent warm day this month to fill the planters with colorful blossoms.

The planters were removed from the historic hotel as part of the beginning phase of renovations for a big celebration next spring. That's when the hotel will observe the 10th anniversary of re-opening after a massive overhaul between 1999 and 2001.

A new landscaping design under the supervision of Bryce Rugraff of The Plant Company is in the works. Another part of the first-phase plans is the reconfiguration and addition of new furniture pieces in the hotel's public spaces, according to the announcement. Shelby Rugraff and Peggy Raymond from Raymond & Rugraff Designs are helping with that process.

Repurposing the planters was possible with the help of Dorothy Shaw, an education supervisor with the Oregon Child Development Coalition.

"We are so pleased to see our planters put to good use and become a fun project for these kids," said Brenda Mussman, who is overseeing the first phase of the anniversary project. "We very much appreciate being able to participate in community partnerships such as this."

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Dayton Wine Works will celebrate its grand opening on Dayton's Main Street this weekend.

The new winery tasting room and patio is located at 507 E. Main St. That space was previously home to Patit Creek Cellars, which now operates its Tuscan-style tasting room at the Walla Walla Regional Airport industrial park.

According to information on the web, Dayton Wine Works offers a full varietal line plus specialty labels for those who enjoy hunting and fishing. There's a self-serve patio on the hill overlooking downtown Dayton's Main Street.

The winery will host a grand opening today from 4-8:30 p.m. Festivities will continue throughout the weekend with the tasting room operating noon-8:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Those who wear costumes will have their tasting fees waived. For more information, call 382-1200.

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Halloween's here, but a group of motorcycle enthusiasts is already planning for Christmas.

The R.I.D.E.R. Toy Run will take place Saturday, and anyone on wheels is invited to make the journey.

Participants are asked to bring an unwrapped gift for a child and meet at noon in the Lorenzo's parking lot. Kick stands go up at 1 p.m.. The direction of the ride depends on the weather. If it's sunny, the group will ride through the countryside with a final jog down Main Street for all to see.

The trip will end at St. Vincent de Paul's, where the gifts will be delivered. The group will then travel to the Eagles on Second Avenue for chili or chili dogs. For more details, call 301-0767.

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More consumers are apparently getting into the spirit of the spooky holiday this year.

According to the National Retail Federation, Halloween spending is expected to bounce back to 2008 levels after a scary recession-induced pullback in 2009.

American will spend an average $66.28 on costumes, candy and decorations this year. That's up from 2009's $56.31. About 40 percent of people plan to dress up in costumes. That's the highest percentage of people in the survey's history.

"In recent years, Halloween has provided a welcome break from reality, allowing many Americans a chance to escape from the stress the economy has put on their family and incomes," said National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay, in a prepared statement. "This year, people are expected to embrace Halloween with even more enthusiasm, and will have an entire weekend to celebrate since the holiday falls on a Sunday."

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

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