ETCETERA - Quartet's Valentine 'joy of singing to people about love'

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The possibilities are many for Valentine's Day gifts. Among those, folks in the Walla Walla Valley have the option of a singing Valentine presented by Sweet Adelines quartet Blueprint.

"It's our favorite day of the year. It's just a joy to sing to people about love," said member Jenny Miles, who provides the bass vocal range.

"Nothing says ‘I love you' more effectively than a song." The Valentines will be delivered at offices, businesses, restaurants and homes.

The foursome will sing a suitable Valentine number a capella and gift a red carnation and handcrafted card with a personal message.

Singing Valentines will be delivered between 9-11 a.m., 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2:30-4:30 p.m. Feb. 14. Or, to schedule an alternate time, call Blueprint's bass, Jenny Miles, at 525-9041.

The other singers are Lynnette Brown, tenor; Ilona Pease-Verwer, lead; and Barbara Knopp, baritone.

The order and $30 payment are due by Feb. 13. Mail orders made to Blueprint Singing Valentines, c/o Jenny Miles, 618 Hobson St., Walla Walla, WA 99362, will be confirmed by text, email or phone.

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As an avid "plunger," Joanna Lanning got soaked in near-freezing water - but for a good cause.

She participated in her second Polar Plunge for Washington Special Olympics Jan. 21 in Kennewick at Columbia Park.

"The generosity of those who pledged to my plunge was overwhelming and I appreciate every dollar," she said. She raised $800 last year and set her fundraising goal to $1,000 this time.

"I am so grateful and happy to say I raised $1,500. It was a great day - the temperature of the Columbia River was 34 degrees. It literally took your breath away. It was definitely worth it as it is very rewarding to help raise funds for this wonderful organization," she said.

As a Silver-level donor of $500-$2,499, Joanna was entitled to receive a Special Olympics Washington fleece pullover jacket.

Those too chicken to plunge cheered participants from the sidelines in the "Chicken Coop." Plungers could warm up afterward with a complimentary cup of Ivar's clam chowder.

Organized by law enforcement agencies throughout the state to benefit Special Olympics Washington, Polar Plunge 2012 raised $51,901 in total donations. Contributions provide year-round sports training and competition for 9,500 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. More details about the Kennewick Plunge and making donations is available at kennewickplunge2012.kintera.org.

Many in the Walla Walla area will know Joanna for her work as caretaker of the Pioneer Park Aviary.

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An ongoing effort to keep the pheasant population and habitat alive and well not only now but for future generations is orchestrated by members of Pheasants Forever.

Each year the Blue Mountain Chapter, part of the national non-profit group, hosts a banquet to raise funds to support their work in the Walla Walla Valley. The event this time, a dinner, raffle and auction, will be Feb. 25 at the Walla Walla Fairgrounds, according to chapter President Jim Sonne.

The local chapter recently donated $500 to Walla Walla Gun Club's new shooting range project, said WWGC Secretary-Treasurer Bob Bloch. "We are very grateful to them for this generous contribution," Bob said.

The WWGC website has a link on its first page that allows folks interested in attending the banquet to print an order form for tickets at wwgc.homestead.com/Pheasants_Forever_2012_ banquet_reg_form.pdf

Theater work while a student at Walla Walla High School, 2005 alumna Geneva Skeen said, has stood her in good stead.

Geneva took what she learned into her work as gallery supervisor with Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibits, a gallery that focuses on progressive arts. There she works with artists to set up their exhibits.

Recently she worked with artist Susanne Lacy, collaborating with others in organizing and setting up the visuals and audios for Lacy's "Three Weeks in January: End RAPE in Los Angeles" piece.

It debuted in January and Geneva assisted L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief Charlie Beck in stamping sites of rapes reported every day on a giant city map on display.

The current work recreated key aspects of "Three Weeks in May" from 1977 -another art project that exposed the true incidence of rape in Los Angeles. The work focuses on where Los Angeles is now, 30 years into the anti-rape movement, and how it will end violence against women in coming decades, according to information at www.losangelesgoeslive.org.

The daughter of U-B special publications editor Thomas P. Skeen and Autumn Skeen of Walla Walla, Geneva was responsible for updating the map daily during the three-week project.

While living in Walla Walla, Geneva appeared in summer musicals and sang in a Wa-Hi choir. She majored in critical theory and social justice and minored in theater at Occidental College in Los Angeles and graduated in 2009. She also studied theater for a year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

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The election of a king and queen is on the agenda when Park Plaza retirement community, 1400 Dalles Military Road, Walla Walla, hosts the senior public at a Valentine's Day party from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 12.

Partygoers will enjoy live music, a complimentary chef-prepared dinner and the election of Park Plaza's royalty for the event. The cost is $10 per person.

To RSVP, or to learn more, please call Park Plaza at 509-525-6513.

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Flapjacks will be featured at Rising Sun Clubhouse's community pancake breakfast fundraiser Feb. 18, said Nicolette Harral, RSC director.

The hotcakes will be flipping from 8-10 a.m. at Applebee's, 1604 Plaza Way.

The all-you-can-eat feed also includes sausage, orange juice and coffee for $7 per person.

Tickets are available from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday at the clubhouse, 35 W. Chestnut St., or other arrangements can be made by calling 529-0120. A limited number of tickets will be sold at the door the morning of the event.

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Leave it to a Walla Walla resident to win a top award. My Google alert for any mention of Walla Walla in the news brought in a Feb. 1 article from the Eastern Riverina Chronicle ... in New South Wales, Australia. Lifelong Walla Walla (Australia) area resident Elmore Stoll garnered the Greater Hume Shire's Citizen of the Year honor.

"Many of us thank God for this country but it is up to us to help God," he said about making Australia great. "We can't sit on our hands; we've all got to do our part."

He has contributed in many ways to his community, such as a ladder at Morgan's Lookout and a play area near a park at Billabong Creek, according to the story. He volunteers at his church and its second-hand shop and in several other organizations.

Walla Walla, N.S.W., is a tiny town 81 miles south of Wagga Wagga and northeast of coastal city Melbourne. It had a population of 581 people in 2006, according to Wikipedia. It's situated at 643 feet above sea level, has an average high of 88 degrees in summer but the thermometer can shoot up to 110 degrees; and it has an average low of 55 degrees during winter. Students come from all over to attend St. Paul's College there.

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Walla Walla Jake Reller, a senior at Western Washington University in Bellingham, received a $1,000 College of Fine and Performing Arts scholarship for the 2011-2012 academic year.

The scholarship is awarded to students who have declared and/or have been admitted as a major in the College of Fine and Performing Arts.

The son of Howard and Nancy Reller of Walla Walla, Jake has earned a 3.6 GPA while majoring in studio art with a concentration in print making and plans to graduate in 2013.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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