History fest to unfold at Fort WW Museum

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A glimpse of 150 years of local history can be seen for free at Fort Walla Walla Museum this weekend during the operation's annual admission-free open house.

Visitors to the Myra Road museum Sunday can see 30 exhibits, experience a special Living History Town Meeting, enjoy music and entertain the children with the Kids Play Fort during the event running 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The Living History discussion begins at 2 p.m.

"The community does so much for us and we like throwing the doors open to let everyone in for free on this day," said Fort Walla Walla Museum Communications Manager Paul Franzmann in a prepared statement.

Nestled in the "Cradle of Northwest History," the museum is featuring a special exhibit, "Honoring the Red, White and Blue: Patriotic Beadwork of the Plateau People." "The Art of Norman Adams: A Retrospective," honors the work of one of Walla Walla's native sons, according to the announcement. Other exhibits include one of toys, one commemorating the 1936 centennial that marked the arrival of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman to the region and upgrades to several others, including a changeover of items in the Heritage Fashion Runway exhibit.

Next year will be the sesquicentennial celebration of the city of Walla Walla. A little background on 1861, according to the museum: The coldest winter on record set the tone for the year with snow on the ground well into March and millions of dollars in livestock consequently dead. Gold-seekers, sparked by the discovery of gold in Orofino, Idaho, flooded the community as the last bastion of civilization before heading to the fields.

The breakout of the Civil War proved polarizing in a community that was already considered by some to be inhabited by cutthroats. Fist fights were common among supporters of the Union, including soldiers stationed at the Fort, and the local settlers from southern states.

That was also the year the community's first public school opened; the first newspaper in the state, The Washington Statesman, was published in Walla Walla; and the first theater was built.

Does it seem like the cost of operating your vehicle is traveling down a bumpy road?

You're not imagining things. According to a new study released by AAA, the cost of owning and operating a vehicle in 2011 has increased -- and not just because of rising gas prices. Though insurance and maintenance costs have decreased, the cost of tires has risen 15.7 percent on average for sedan owners, and depreciation has also risen, results of the study showed.

The expense of operating an average-size sedan has climbed 1.9 cents per mile to 58.5 cents, or $8,776 per year, based on 15,000 miles of annual driving, the report showed.

"The rise in costs of raw materials, energy and transportation has led to notable tire prices increases in recent years," AAA reported. "Also contributing to higher average tire costs is a trend by automakers to equip their sedans with premium grade tires as original equipment."

Increased fuel economy by some manufacturers has not offset the spike in gas prices, which have led to an 8.6 percent increase to 12.34 cent per mile on average for sedans, the results showed. Depreciation is the largest cost for vehicle owners. That expense averages $3,728 yearly for sedans driving 15,000 annual miles.

AAA has published its study since 1950, when driving a car 10,000 miles a year cost 9 cents per mile and gas was 27 cents a gallon. The auto, travel and insurance organization compiles driving costs for small, medium and large sedans. The costs are based on the average expense for five top-selling models.

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

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