ETCETERA - Ex-WW police officer erases graffiti with sodablaster

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A former Walla Walla police crime prevention officer is making a difference in Hermiston. As the code enforcement officer there, Kelly Parsons has been employing a sodablaster to remove graffiti in the area.

All it takes is protective eyewear, a particle mask and ear protection, an air compressor, baking soda and a high-pressure tank and hose with a deadman valve on its control nozzle. The device can be used to remove paint and rust without harming sheet metal, glass, or chrome.

Kelly told Holly Dillemuth of the Hermiston Herald that he's "fighting graffiti, one fence and one wall at a time. Even if his ammunition is baking soda."

He blasted clean a recently tagged store and car wash. Their machine was acquired through a local donation.

"This has been a nice tool to have," he said in the article.

The department also uses chemical remover on graffiti tags, but the sodablaster appeals to Kelly as it's easy on the environment.

Grants helped the Hermiston police department purchase a 16-foot trailer to haul a diesel air compressor that's used to power the sodablaster.

The power of the device is "enough to take your skin off," he said.

A minimum of residue is left over after the baking soda disintegrates the majority of the spray paint. To prevent re-tagging, Kelly disguises the area. "The material is less aggressive than sand or walnut shells, used by other departments," the article noted.

He told the Herald that tagging "on city and private property can breed more violent criminal activity."

"What it does assure is we're not going to tolerate it," he said. "Hermiston - it's a nice place - and I'll be doggoned if I see it run into the ground by a bunch of guys who have nothing better to do."

He averages 16 hours a month with the sodablaster in Hermiston where graffiti abatement is 70 percent of code enforcement.

"We've got a group that's trying to identify themselves and potentially mark what their territory is," he said. "Basically what we're telling them is, ‘this isn't yours, this is ours.'"

The Walla Walla Police Department is looking to acquire such equipment to use in this area, said Tim Bennett, public information officer and Crime-Free Rental Housing coordinator.

"We don't have one, but we are certainly open to obtain a donated one and paint sprayer. We currently have a fantastic group of volunteers who were covering graffiti earlier this week. Having the proper tools would help a lot."

In fact, it's a goal of the Walla Walla Area Crime Watch, an area-wide non-profit that benefits area law enforcement. "They are hoping for a generous donation," he said.

For more about the local effort, call Tim at 524-4381 or email tbennett@ci.walla-walla.wa.us

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Lioness Club of Walla Walla has a new slate of officers to lead the service group for the 2012/2013 year: Phyllis Whidden, president; LaVonne Reser and Sherry White, co-vice presidents, Shareen Knowles, treasurer; Veva Hepler, secretary; Frances Roth, tail twister; Jane Samples, lioness tamer; and Belle Washington, chaplain.

From a field of 80 "highly qualified candidates," the club awarded scholarships of $500 each to "two amazing young women," Kayla Leinwebber and Abby LaRue.

Kayla graduated this spring from Walla Walla High School with a 3.99 GPA. She will attend Washington State University.

Abby graduated from Desales Catholic High School with a 4.04 GPA and will attend Seattle Pacific University.

"Want to have lots of fun and meet new people? Come see what the Lioness Club is all about," Veva said via email. The club will meet at 6 p.m. Oct. 9 in the Merriam Street Apartments Fireplace Room. "Enjoy a free dinner, cooked by a marvelous chef, and get involved in lots of fun and rewarding activities," Veva said.

For more information call Phyllis Whidden at 509-540-2229 or Veva at 509-522-0687.

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In a gesture of the most bearable kind, Royal Neighbors Teddy Bears Chapter 2333 donated a collection of stuffed animals to the Walla Walla Police Department.

Organized by local chapter board member Teri Sanner, the cuddly critters were presented to Police Chief Scott Bieber June 21 by area children.

Officers give the bears to children who have gone through a traumatic incident, said Tim Bennett, public information officer, in a release.

A Teddy Bears for Kids project notes that children can be faced with sudden illness, accidents, the death of a loved one, sexual abuse or neglect.

For more details, contact Tim at 524-4381.

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From Gig Harbor to Pomeroy, an article in The Olympia newspaper offered up a smorgasbord of places from which to staycation in our state, including a string of towns that starts with Walla Walla.

The story made suggestions based on the price of fuel and proffered touring historic downtowns around the state.

"There are numerous fun and interesting small historic downtowns across our state. Some are listed on the National Register of Historic Places; some are nationally certified Main Streets, and many have both designations," Allyson Brooks wrote in the story.

If you're on the west side, downtown Olympia, listed on the National Register, is a nationally certified Main Street. There's shopping, dining and self-guided walking tours.

She added that a fleet of 100-plus canoes will leave Swantown on On July 29 at Swantown, more than 100 canoes will be landing as part of the 2012 canoe journey, hosted by the Squaxin Island Tribe. This is a rare event for the Olympia area, and the arrival of the canoes will be spectacular."

Want some maritime history? Historic Gig Harbor's swimming in it. Check out the working waterfront with its historic ferry landing by the Tides Tavern, circa 1910.

After an offhand reference to our town, "Many people already recognize Walla Walla as a perfect place for a wine-tasting vacation," Allyson suggests travelers continue east to Waitsburg, which has been around since 1865.

A two-block section of Main Street is on the National Register with structures dating from 1880 to 1930. She rates the restaurants there as superb.

Another historic downtown is in neighboring Dayton with the Columbia County courthouse, "a large and imposing Italianate structure that is the state's oldest operating courthouse." Don't miss the historic railroad depot and Boldman House Museum.

The 1889 Pataha flour mill near Pomeroy is another treat, "one of the only remaining 1880s flour mills in the state."

The beat goes on, with many smaller towns offering historic cores and places worth visiting, including LaConner, Port Angeles, Chelan, Coupeville, Centralia, Prosser and Wenatchee.

Just a note about our area: In addition to Walla Walla's tree-lined Main Street, filled with many restored older buildings, restaurants, sidewalk cafes, wineries and shops, don't miss Kirkman House Museum, Fort Walla Walla Museum and Park, Whitman Mission National Historic Site and Walla Walla Children's Museum; Frazier Farmstead Museum in Milton-Freewater; and Bruce Memorial Museum in Waitsburg.

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Three local students earned placement on Gonzaga University's spring semester 2012 dean's list. Students must earn a 3.5 to 3.69 GPA to be listed: Danielle Fazzari and Michael Higgins, both of Walla Walla; and Miguel Preciado, of Touchet.

In addition, a number of area students made the president's list for spring semester at Gonzaga. Students must earn a 3.7-4.0 GPA to be listed: Cameron Davis, College Place; and Madeleine Roach, Janella Bermudez, Claire Elmenhurst, Shelby Osborn, William Thorne, Nathan Gallinat, Danielle Hall, Shelby Osborn, James Graves and Alexander Hedine, all of Walla Walla.

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Walla Wallan Erik Skorina graduated cum laude from Union College in June 10 during its 218th commencement exercises in Schenectady, N.Y.

A mathematics major, Erik earned a bachelor of science degree. There were 530 graduates receiving degrees at the event. They heard MSNBC talk show host Dylan Ratigan, a 1994 alum of the college, give an upbeat and energizing message for graduates nervous about leaving college to face the harsh realities of a world markedly different from the one when they entered Union.

Founded in 1795 as the first college chartered by the New York State Board of Regents, it offers liberal arts and engineering programs to 2,100 undergraduates.

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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