Action needed to save Aviary

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We have a small window of time in which to save the Pioneer Park Aviary, and we need your help.

We here in Walla Walla are blessed by a wonderful geographical location, man-made and natural amenities, and an intelligent, thoughtful and caring population. And one of the most critical aspects of our continued vitality is that Walla Walla is an attractive place for families and raising kids.

In many parts of this great country, small towns are dying, and not just from the loss of economic base. When young people go away to college or for a job, or go away to serve their country, they don't come back home to many of those small towns. And eventually, many seniors will move away to be nearer their children and grandchildren. With few amenities and few activities, new people are not attracted to these areas either, so some towns slowly dwindle and wither.

Look at Walla Walla. We are constantly seeing new-to-the-area people moving here, we constantly see people who went to school here coming back to raise their families, and we see young people out of college or the service coming home.

This helps stabilize our area, our economy, our home values and the spiritual vitality of our area.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of our community, and certainly most used and enjoyed, is our beautiful parks and recreation areas. Thanks to the vision of those who came before us, we are blessed with wonderful parks, and Pioneer Park is certainly a jewel amongst them. And I would proudly offer that the Aviary is a jewel within a jewel, a treasure for all.

Everyday sees people of all ages enjoying the beauty, the serenity and the joy of the gorgeous Aviary. If you haven't been there lately, do yourself a favor, go. Reflect, count your blessings, and be at peace for a while.

The Aviary was started 27 years ago by private citizens using private funds. Now, due to state and local revenue shortfalls, the city needs our help.

It is incumbent of our community to again come forward to save this treasure, not just for ourselves, but again for those who come after us.

To that end, a group of citizens has formed "Friends of Pioneer Park Aviary," a truly grassroots effort to provide a structure for fundraising and survival of the Aviary. We need to support the day-to-day operations for probably two years, about $110,000.

We have had a great start in that direction thanks to our generous community and the efforts of "Friends of Pioneer Park Aviary."

On Jan. 15 at 6 p.m at the Elks Club we are having a big fundraiser, a silent auction and we'll unveil our adopt-a-bird program. For more information, we're on Facebook, and our web address is friendsofpioneerparkaviary.com.

The Aviary is a regional asset, we are its caretakers. Please join us and help us for yourself and your families, our families and those who will look back at us with thanks some day.

Craig Keister, owner of Tra Vigne at 212 E. Main St., is the spokesman for Friends of Pioneer Park Aviary.

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