ETCETERA - Whitman alum tapped by National Fire Protection Agency

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A Whitman College aluma's experiences as a volunteer firefighter in Washington state and smokejumper in California, are being put to good use.

The National Fire Protection Agency just named Rachel Smith to an NFPA committee that develops professional qualification requirements for wildland firefighters.

The international non-profit organization aims to reduce the threat of fire by creating universal standards and codes for buildings and fire safety procedures.

"This is a major committee governing the wildland fire community," Rachel said. "NFPA standards go a long way in helping making communities safer and I'm pretty excited to be able to work with this organization."

Rachel grew up in Everett, Wash., the daughter of Barb and Phil Smith. She earned a degree in bioethics in 2003 from Whitman.

"I was really lucky to get to spend four years in Walla Walla. I lived off campus most of my time at Whitman, and enjoyed getting to know my neighbors, not just other students."

She returns to town as she's able. She was an invited speaker several years ago at a Whitman summer college event, mostly geared toward alumni.

"Whenever I visit, I always get blueberry pancakes at Clarette's and go to the Mill Creek Brew Pub at least once. Also, I'm crazy about Walla Walla wines," Rachel said via e-mail.

"I regularly drive 30 minutes across town here in Los Angeles to go to a wine store that stocks L'Ecole 41 and Tamarack Cellars."

A Thomas J. Watson Fellowship she received in 2003 to study international forestry and fire management, took her on a year-long global journey during the fire season to such places as Guatemala, Spain, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. She is working toward a Ph.D. in fire ecology/environmental science, policy and management at University of California, Berkeley.

The NFPA committee's work on a set of much-needed minimum job performance requirements and documents is expected be published in 2012 to be adopted by fire agencies across the world.

Beginning at 18, Rachel fought fires in California and the American west. She was a firefighter and medic on the Tulalip Bay Indian Reservation and was a hotshot one summer with the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon.

She founded and is president of www.firescaping.org, a non-profit organization that provides risk abatement information to homeowners and residents. Her website, www.rachelcsmith.com also notes she's adjunct faculty at Pasadena City College.

She's published several papers, wrote commentary for NPR's Morning Edition in 2007; was interviewed by ABC's 20/20 and made it twice on the College of Natural Resources blog.

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Interested in the theater, just not appearing onstage? Little Theatre of Walla Walla offers numerous opportunities to match the skills and interests volunteers bring to the table with a variety of projects.

LTWW's September issue of The Informer says the theater is 100-percent volunteer operated. For example, its volunteer coordinator for the season is Brian Sheridan. No experience is required for most of the jobs and training and mentoring are offered. Contact Brian at brian.sheridan@Little Theatre of Walla Walla.org for additional details.

Some of those volunteers took the dream of a turntable and made it a reality for the theater's 66th season.

The result is 20 feet in diameter, built in 10 sections that can break down for storage. Harold Lee put in 40-plus hours of welding on the 460 feet of steel incorporated in the structure. Assembly began in mid-August and after more than 200 hours of donated labor, the turntable was finished. Brian Hatley, president of the LTWW Board of Directors, son Jonathan Hatley, Bernie Frazier and Harold did the majority of building. Finishing touches were added by veteran actor/director Kevin Loomer, Al Chang, Rich Hinz, Robert Randall and Tiffany Peal.

The portable turntable "will be the envy of many community theaters," Jean Weber noted in The Informer. It will debut during the production of "Sherlock Holmes The Final Adventure." This has 8 p.m. performances Sept. 24-25, Oct. 1-2, 8-9 and a 2 p.m. matinee Oct. 3. Admission is $12. Call 529-3683 or see www.ltww.org.

"More Fun Than Bowling" is next, with performances Nov. 19-20, 26-28 and Dec. 3-4. Auditions for this one will be Sept. 28-29. Contact Cheryl Sutlick at 525-12756 or e-mail funbowling@Little Theatre of Walla Walla.org.

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A Washington State Fair Commission representative scours fairgrounds across the state intent on awarding Black & White Special Award ribbons to sites that depict distinction.

For the 10th year in a row, the Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days has garnered one, said Cory Hewitt, fair manager.

"What a prestigious feat," Cory said. "In the past, several different areas of the Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days have received this coveted award and they've done it again." The State Fair Commissioner honored the crew who made the fairgrounds look great for the Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days.

The state commissioner said he looks for a park-like atmosphere. "Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days were by far the top fair. The grounds were immaculate, planters in full bloom; care has been put into the trimming of grass, trees and shrubs; everything was obviously well maintained."

Craig Strange, Fairgrounds maintenance foreman, said "My crew takes great pride in showcasing the grounds and they are honored to receive this ribbon."

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Aly Fazzari has helped grandfather Bill Trujillo when he volunteers at The Valley Cupboard for Valley Christian Church in Milton-Freewater. Understanding the need for food by those hit by hard economic times, Aly got permission from parents Ed and Margaret Fazzari of Walla Walla to seek donations of food to help others, instead of getting birthday presents.

She celebrated her 10th birthday on Sept. 6 with five of her closest friends and family members, including Leah and Lauren Ruthven, Michaela Phillips and Alejandra and Carmen Ibarra. Thus, Valley Cupboard benefitted from 81 pounds in donated food from Aly's party, Margaret said.

"Aly is a very caring little girl with a big heart and we are so proud of her," Margaret said. The Assumption Catholic School fourth-grader is the granddaughter of Mike and Doris Fazzari of Walla Walla and Bill and Vicky Trujillo of Milton Freewater.

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An art contest sponsored by the Walla Walla Basin Watershed Council will celebrate watershed contributions, including clean water, water for apple orchards, habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife and places for recreation.

Using the format of an apple crate/box label, the theme this year is "Water and Apples."

"The contest is an ongoing educational effort to help children, parents and teachers gain awareness of the importance of the Walla Walla Watershed to the well-being of our orchards and communities," a release said.

Watersheds are defined as an area from ridge top to ridge top that drains water into a river.

Classrooms can tap into a presentation about the contribution of the watershed to the local apple industry by contacting the Watershed Council.

The contest is open to students in grades six-12 in the Oregon portion of the Walla Walla Basin Watershed, which includes Milton-Freewater and Weston schools. And home school individuals and groups, public schools and private schools are encouraged to participate.

Submissions must be the entrant's exclusive work in idea, concept, design and execution.

Winning $15 each, 12 entries will be selected for publication in a year-long calendar.

For specific details about art work and submission requirements, contact the Walla Walla Basin Watershed Council office at 810 S. Main St., Milton-Freewater; call 541-938-7086; or e-mail Bob Chicken at bob.chicken@wwbwc.org .

Entries must be delivered or postmarked to the office by Oct. 29. Winners will be notified in late November.

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Barbara Taylor wondered about a Sept. 19 column item, which mentioned that this year the month of August had five Sundays, five Mondays and five Tuesdays. That part proves out, but that it only occurs once every 823 years is way off base.

""How could that be right, I thought to myself. I checked it out. Once a year one of the months has five Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays," Barbara said.

According to the perpetual calendar she Googled, in 2009 March had five each Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays; and in 2011 May will be the month for five each of the three days in a row; in 2012 it shows both January and July having five of each of the Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. The next time August sports five Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays according to the perpetual calendar at timeanddate.com is in 2027, which is 17 years from now. Thanks for the amendment, Barbara!

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Walla Walla High School's Debate Team is readying for the school year, Coach Jean Tobin noted in the Walla Walla Public Schools in Review online Sept. 10.

Teammates attended a debate camp in Wenatchee Aug. 16-18, including Rosa Tobin, Marisol Beck, Maddie Bronstein, Kera Parsons, Carrie Moore, Hope Grant-Herriot, Julia Cosma, Bryan Preston, Machado Mijiga and Calvin Brigham. Parent Annie Capestany and Jean also attended.

Students from Eisenhower (in Yakima) and Wenatchee High schools also attended. The camp helps students develop a stronger understanding of different forms of debating: Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Public Forum Debate and Student Congress.

A variety of issues were addressed, including off-shore oil drilling, trying juveniles as adults in the criminal justice system and the Armed Forces "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Wa-Hi debater Marisol attended the Whitman (College) Debate Institute this summer where she studied and competed in public forum debate. She researched and debated the recent immigration law passed in Arizona, off-shore oil drilling and current policies on whaling.

The Wa-Hi Debate Club held a mini Wa-Hi debate camp on Aug. 12-13 at Green Park Elementary. Kevin Loomer, Walla Walla Community College theater instructor, presented on speaking techniques and strategies. As a team, members practiced impromptu speaking and rebuttal skills.

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The non-profit Girls Council in Walla Walla is offering a safe home for at-risk girls through its "Cottage House" project.

In operation since 2006, Girl's Council has already served more than 150 local girls by offering girls groups to at-risk girls ages 9-18, many who attend school in the Walla Walla School District.

"These groups teach girls crucial skills to manage their feelings and behaviors and empower them to take charge of their lives," an online item noted in the Sept. 10 Walla Walla Public Schools in Review.

The organization's next goal is to build a Walla Walla-area residential ranch-like home for girls.

"The Cottage," once it's up and running, can house up to six girls and will feature 24-hour staffing.

The home will be a safe place for girls ages 12-17 "where they can grow and become empowered within a structured, nurturing environment." On Oct. 30, Girl's Council is sponsoring its first annual Harvest Moon Auction and Dessert Showcase at The Marc. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the event will apply to "The Cottage Project." Support can be offered by donating high-quality, new items between $50 and $100 for the silent auction or larger items for a live auction. Tickets for the event are $25 per person. The group is raising $450,000 in seed funds; see www.girlscouncil.org/the_cottage_project.

Contact Marci Knauft at mknauft@wwps.org, Brandi McIntire at bmcintire@wwps.org, Karen Neher at kneher@wwps.org), or Heather Strader at hstrader@wwps.org to make a donation or purchase tickets.

Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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