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Aviary still needs support

I happened to be in downtown Walla Walla on Flag Day. I was totally taken with the beauty of our town. The flags, especially the large flag at First Avenue and Main Street, waved gracefully in the breeze, and the spring green of the street trees was accentuated with the hanging baskets of flowers.

The next day when I finished my Jazzercise workout, I watched a flock of cedar waxwings in Mill Creek on the north side of Spokane Street. Those dapper birds were competing with the violet-green swallows for their supper of flying insects. The birds reminded me of the beauty of the Pioneer Park Aviary.

The June city of Walla Walla "At Your Service" published in the Union-Bulletin shows our community has contributed over $62,000 to saving the Aviary since last December. The challenge donation I made has been more than matched. Funding for 2011 has been achieved, with many, many people of all ages and backgrounds contributing. That is an amazing feat considering the economy.

However, saving the Aviary is not a done deal. Sustainable ongoing funding is needed. If you haven’t already done so, check out the Friends of Pioneer Park Aviary Website, print the Adopt-A-Bird donation form and send it to the Friends of Pioneer Park Aviary, 55 Moore St., Walla Walla, WA, 99362. If you have ideas on funding of the Aviary, please share them, too.

My Adopt-A-Birds are the peacocks and the coscoroba swans. The certificates for the adoptions can be framed. The educational information about the birds was very interesting. Also included was a letter acknowledging the tax deductible donation.

So let’s keep on keeping on with funding and ideas so the graceful and charming avian creatures can remain in their home at the Aviary in our beautiful Pioneer Park. I hope you will be visiting the Aviary often this summer.

Donna Johannessen

Walla Walla

WW Summer Dance Festival to premiere

What a summer for the arts! Powerhouse Theatre opened to raves, Seattle Women’s Chorus appeared to side-splitting effect, the Symphony’s Mares ’n’ Music was a delight, the Chamber Music Festival was top drawer, "Hairspray" has entertained hundreds, and now, on July 29 at 7 p.m., the premiere of the Walla Walla Summer Dance Festival at Cordiner Hall.

One night only, Walla Wallans and guests can feast on three professional dance companies and a special appearance by native son — and soloist with Staatstheater Darmdstadt (Germany) — Peter de Grasse. Joining him are principal dancers from Oregon Ballet Theatre, Eugene Ballet Company and Spectrum Dance Theater, Donald Boy, artistic director. As an added treat, the globally acclaimed Mr. Boyd will attend the festival.

Walla Walla is unique in its pioneering history of supporting the arts and blessed that its resident dance instructors have built such a great foundation of talent and interest in, not to mention an audience for, the dance. Vicki Lloid, Nancy Wells, Idalee Hutson-Fish, Kathy Halfacre, Michael Anderson and others before them, including the indefatigable and iconic Tilla van Biema have inspired generations of young Walla Wallans and are treasures in our midst. Going back to the days of the Keylor Grand Theater, our community has welcomed the best of the professional arts world.

WWSDF hopes to make a significant contribution to the arts scene by presenting great professional dancers and choreographic work. Our goal is to enhance and celebrate the dance experience of our talented dance community and those who love it.

Springing forth from the 41-year-old dance-intensive, Summer Dance Lab at Whitman College, the festival is deeply rooted in Walla Walla’s dance history. Co-Artistic Directors John Passafiume and Lydia Tetzlaf, 2-month old baby in hand, with the guidance of local artists and activists Jackie Wood, Deborah Holmes, Karen Morton, Ed Foster, Julie Isaacs and others, hope this first festival will grow into something much larger, combining with other arts organizations to make Walla Walla a destination for performance art lovers.

Theater, dance, music, fine arts, film, and more not only enrich the lives of all who embrace them, they serve to counter the forces arrayed against civilization even in a near paradise like Walla Walla. Gang members, intolerant ruffians, all of us can learn to love, shine and accept our neighbors through the arts.

On July 29 I hope everyone will step into dance! Details available at wallawallasummerdancefestival.org.

Parke Thomas

Walla Walla

Our nation is in crisis

The crisis comes from ultimatums. The Republicans say they will not even consider doing away with the "Bush-era tax cuts" (on the wealthy), and not raise the debt ceiling.

If this happens the U.S., for the first time in its history, will fail to pay its debts. This will cause a domino effect, interests rates will rise, those who receive government checks (Social Security, Medicare, armed services personnel, etc.) will not be paid.

It is estimated that 650,000 people will be laid off immediately, with others soon to follow, (this does not take into account the worldwide impact).

When interest rates rise borrowing becomes difficult, if not impossible, for individuals and smaller businesses. Gas prices will rise. In short, we will once again be totally at the mercy of the financial industry, and the House has already voted to defund the Financial Regulatory Act, passed right after the last financial failure.

In our history, the United States was strongest when we had a strong working/middle class. Since ’79, the working-class wages have steadily gone downhill. The working/middle class has taken the hits from tax cuts to the wealthy (2001, 2003, 2010) to the tune of trillions of dollars.

Our economy needs help, but it all can’t come from tax increases, and we may have to bite the bullet on a few things, but before you hurt one citizen (as in "We the people of the United States of America"), I want back every penny of the money we give to corporate America. Our government is suppose to be "of the people, by the people, and for the people," not corporations.

My suggestions is flat tax where every man, woman and child pays the same taxes, with no "special deductions" for anyone (including corporations), going back to the Clinton-era tax standard. Raise the cap on Social Security and tie the age to a longevity scale. Do away with all corporate welfare. Then and only then do we look at social welfare programs.

Bruce McCutcheon

Walla Walla

Mayor-commissioner government worked

A trip back when and how our mayor-commissioner city government worked.

Walla Walla had a street crew that resurfaced city streets. It was called chip seal. The streets were kept in good shape and they stayed that way.

Even the alleys were graded, oiled and top course spread over the oil.

Our sanitation crews emptied garbage cans and ash cans, which were in the alleys, not in the streets.

In the fall, crews picked up leaves manually and there was no mess left when the crew moved on.

I remember one employee — Big Ed. I marvelled how easy he could toss a can full of ashes up into the truck to be emptied.

Then there was Mr. Myrick, who swept the downtown streets. Year in year out and always with that stub of a pipe between his teeth.

The work was done, there were funds to supply materials and equipment to work with — and usually with money left over.

The city commissioners took great pride in their ability to oversee their respective departments.

One such man was Sam Maxson, who saw to our city parks and their care. I was told he got out and worked side by side with his men.

That’s how he knew what was needed to accomplish the work and what supplies were needed. You cannot do that by sitting on your duff in a office all day with your computer.

Without a brush, a can of paint is worthless.

How can someone tell me what the directors and chiefs do to warrant $110,000-plus a year along with $148,000 for city manager.

However, we can be proud of our city employees who keep Walla Walla up and running in spite of no pay raise in three years.

It seems the more we try to improve how we do things, the less gets done. That’s progress, I guess.

Rex W. Miller, Sr.

College Place

Time to make real changes

Most of our elected officials, who took the oath of office and promised to represent us, have plugged their ears and decided to represent themselves.

They have now pledged allegiance to their respective parties, being careful to put a spin on everything they do to assure re-election. We have asked them to reduce inflation, protect our freedoms and our country, develop a responsible energy program, save and promote the creation of jobs and to stop spending and wasting our money. I have some suggestions.

We can reduce inflation by stopping the borrowing and by not printing more money.

We can protect our freedoms and our country by firing the current head of Homeland Security and appointing someone who is willing to address the reality of the border problem; by bringing our troops home and putting enough of them on the border; by forcing the Attorney General to spend his time rooting out government corruption instead of ignoring the Constitution and going after the American people via gun control laws and imposing more restrictions on our civil liberties.

We can start a responsible energy program by drilling for oil in the continental U.S., not offshore; by assigning idled NASA engineers the task of developing alternatives to the gasoline engine with a definite deadline (JFK did that and we put a man on the moon).

Create and save jobs?

We can stop spending and wasting our money by reducing government spending and getting entitlements under control (yes, I get a monthly "Social Security" check, but I’m willing to take a cut if that is necessary). Stop subsidizing "too-big-to-fail" corporations. Reduce the amounts we "give" to foreign governments, most of which are our enemies. Make our representatives read every spending bill before it is discussed or voted upon. Assign "Obama Care" to the garbage heap of history and by revising the tax code!

Do I believe Congress will do these things? Of course not, at least not with the present people in power. But the optimist in me says that some day . ...

Bill Owens

Milton-Freewater

Generosity of donors appreciated

My mom is letting me use her email and I just wanted to let everyone in Walla Walla who came and supported the Juvenile Arthritis Lemonade Stand my friends and I hosted on Wednesday at Walla Walla Builders Supply how much I appreciated their generosity.

Our goal was to increase awareness about Juvenile Arthritis and to raise $1,000 for the JA foundation's KAT-FISH camp.

Well, I have to tell you that because of everyone's awesome donations (and the cool write up by Vicki Hillhouse), my friends and I raised over $3,000 - in just three hours.

When my parents told me how much everyone had donated for the cause my friends and I were so excited! We worked very hard on this event and I just wanted to say we really appreciate everyone's support in Walla Walla. It means a lot.

My friends who helped were: Hannah Peha, Ellie and Abbie Rothstrom, my little brother, Jack Wanichek, Gracie Pies, Alison Cranor, Bri Stonebraker, Parker Dressler, Jerrit Peha, Jordan Pies and Kiley Baldwin.

Allison Wanichek

Walla Walla

Aversion training for dogs questioned

I was extremely disappointed to see the article by Don Davis about rattlesnake aversion "training."

The physical and psychological effect of using shock collars on dogs is very well documented. From the burns and even death that can come from the shock collar to the dog and people aggression that can result from such a negative response to new stimuli.

A dog does not always understand that a snake is the cause of the shock, often times the dog will associate the shock with the people who are around or the location they were in or even the shirt or hat you were wearing the day the shocks were delivered.

There is an alternative to that sort of cruel, dangerous and inhumane "training," and this is to actually train your dog.

Science has proven positive training is more effective and better for your dog's well-being. A recent study showed that one in four dogs when confronted by aggressive training techniques would eventually respond with aggression in return. A strong positively condition recall, heal or leave-it command is better for your dog, your relationship with your dog and your soul.

Suzy Hewitt

Walla Walla

Action to clean up mall encouraging

I've lived a few residential blocks away from the Blue Mountain Mall for more than 20 years now. This once-proud bastion of American commerce has devolved in recent years to its present state and I've been known to refer to it as the "Black & Blue Mountain Mall."

I was encouraged Wednesday to read that the city of Walla Walla is attempting to take action and clean up this eyesore.

The timing of the mall's floundering couldn't have been worse in terms of public relations value. The opening of the new four-lane section of U.S. Highway 12 and the connecting arterial, Myra Road, should have made for a wonderful entry way to the College Place and Walla Walla communities. But with the EPA clean-up of the salvage yard on Myra Road and the floundered mall project - not so much.

It's a shame, really, because the view down Myra Road doesn't do either community justice.

I am hopeful the city of Walla Walla will receive a positive judgment from the courts. I am anxious to see work begin in earnest on the mall property. The sooner the better, as far as I'm concerned.

Fred A. Moore

College Place

Preserve beauty of Blue Mountains

Tired from helping put on a luncheon on Tuesday, I decided not to attend a meeting scheduled that night. As I was sitting on the sofa reading the two evening newspapers, the East Oregonian and the Union-Bulletin, I picked up Section C of the U-B (the Walla Walla Valley Weekly).

As I turned the page to C3 a most beautiful picture of the Blue Mountains taken by Sandi Roddick, a Walla Walla Community College photography student, filled my eyesight and I was mesmerized. I continued to look at this marvelous picture.

Suddenly I was energized. I got up and drove over to the Blue Mountain Alliance meeting, taking the newspaper with me. I needed to let them know that all over America there are unsung heroes, and they are numbered among them as well as the people of Umatilla County.

The Walla Walla Valley is very historical - Lewis and Clark and the Oregon Trail. The view shed of the Blue Mountains needs to be securely preserved.

At the last Umatilla County commissioners meeting, I heard the Confederated Tribes state they plan for the next seven generations! Think about that.

Praise for Umatilla Planning commissioners, Umatilla County commissioners, Blue Mountain Alliance, the Confederated Tribes, the city of Milton-Freewater, the everyday people who signed petitions, the local business owners, the cowgirls and cowboys, the landowners, the retired people, the busy employed, the young adults for starting a process to preserve the view shed of the Blue Mountains. .

The Blue Mountains need to be securely set aside as a special place of beauty to view for at least the next seven generations.

Ann Jolly

Milton-Freewater

US founded as colonies

There has been much disputation about our founding religious beliefs. It depends. We were not founded as a nation, but as separate colonies.

The different colonies represent different political disputes that were current in Great Britain at the time of their colonial founding in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was easiest on the British society, at the time, to send the rabble-rousers into the wilderness.

This is from the earliest "History of the State of New Jersey," by Thomas F. Gordon, published 1834, its been my pleasure to read. Page 44, XXII "...that no one should be incapable of office by reason of his faith and worship. ... It would be difficult to find (pg. 45) any instrument, in representative government, more democratic, or more liberal, in matters of religious faith. Not even a belief in the Deity, was necessary to human equality, whilst the state (sic) of New Jersey, excludes from office all who do not profess belief in the faith of some Protestant sect."

The dissenters and outcasts from Europe who built these colonies over 150 years before our founding had strong ideas about religious dissenting. The founders who added religious tests seem unprincipled by comparison. Since the founding it has always been about political power and exclusion of the opposition.

It is not the Declaration or Constitution alone where you will find understanding. Read the different constitutions of the different colonies - you'll find the U.S. Constitution borrowed some of its best ideas from them liberally.

Chas Vigneron

Walla Walla

Bike lane needed on Reser Road

As a daily pedestrian who travels Reser Road to get just about everywhere, I feel the need to expose certain safety concerns I'm sure many others in the area share. On an average day, I pull over to the side of the road three or four times to avoid cars and still nearly get hit.

I see young kids, runners, walkers, bikers and horseback riders everyday I go out. I think it would be in the best interest of the public to put in a bike lane from the elementary school all the way out to Depping Road.

If there was a bike lane, I'm sure more kids would ride or walk to school and more people would get out and exercise.

Kristen Hair

Walla Walla

Are we going to let freedoms slip away?

We as Americans celebrate the Fourth of July as our independence from the tyranny the Great Britain government placed upon our founding forefathers and foremothers. They fought the Revolutionary War and won freedom from this tyranny.

With their faith in the Lord God Almighty and their discussion by coming together to form this union of states, they were able to write our founding documents.

The Constitution of the United States of America, the Declaration of Independence, the Mayflower Compact and the Bill of Rights were written with the guidance and intervention of the Lord God Almighty.

This is exactly what the Pilgrims, our founding forefathers and foremothers, stated. We hold these truths to be self-evident. We have the freedoms we enjoy because of the sacrifice of our founding forefathers and foremothers and their dedication to the Lord God Almighty. We have enjoyed these freedoms for over 200 years.

Now we have an administration in office in the White House whose aim is to create new founding documents and change our freedoms. These people had the aim all along to destroy America's freedoms for its people.

These are evil acts coming out of minds that are set on changing America and creating a nation where these people have absolute power over us, the people, to do exactly what they want when they want.

This is tyranny. Are we going to stand by while this happens to our country? Are we going to be as brave as our founding forefathers and foremothers and fight this tyranny?

We need to stand up and be counted. Our representatives in the U.S. Senate ignore us and do exactly what they want to win votes when necessary and do what they want period the rest of the time.

We have the power of the vote and the power to express ourselves. Are we going to let our freedoms slip away too easily? Let's stand together and fight this tyranny.

Sharon Benzel

Walla Walla

Letters welcome

Our address is P.O. Box 1358, Walla Walla, WA 99362.

If possible, e-mail letters to letters@wwub.com.

Letters must be less than 400 words.

The writer's name and city will be published. But to be considered for publication, the letters must be signed and include the full address of the writer and a daytime telephone number.

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