ETCETERA - Task force teaches youngsters to buckle up safely

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More than 275 kindergarteners in Waitsburg, Walla Walla and College Place classrooms benefited in February by a visit from members of the Walla Walla County Traffic Safety Task Force.

The children leared through the "Buckle Up Helper" program not only how important it is to buckle up every time they get in a vehicle but how to do it correctly . For kindergarten students, that typically means using a booster seat, said Nancy McClenny-Walters, program coordinator, in a release.

The Task Force has shared this program in area schools since 2002 and more than 4,600 students have learned about "Eggie, the unbuckled egg" and what happens when he doesn't buckle up correctly.

Nancy said she enjoys this part of her job. "I love kindergartners! They are excited about learning, anxious to do things right and want to learn how to be ‘buckle up helpers' themselves. It can also be interesting. They are pretty honest at this age - sometimes telling us their parents don't make them buckle up or use a booster seat."

During this past decade, Nancy said the state's child passenger safety law has changed a couple of times. Right now, Washington's children must remain in a "child-restraint system" until age 8 or when they're 4 feet 9 inches or taller.

"What some parents don't understand is that even at 8 years old their child may still not fit an adult lap and shoulder belt correctly. If that is the case, children are required to use their booster seat until it does. Children are also required to ride in the back seat where it is practical to do so until age 13."

"Booster seats have become a part of the ‘growing and going' routine nowadays. It used to be that kids viewed a booster seat as a ‘baby seat' and we had to convince them that only older kids were privileged enough to use one," she said. "After we explain to them why it is important to be ‘boosted' in their seat and how a booster seat makes that lap and shoulder belt work the way it is meant to, they are fine with using their booster seat."

For more information on classes or proper car seat use, contact the Traffic Safety Task Force at 524-2936. Task Force classroom visitations continue through March.

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Cascade Natural Gas named former Walla Wallan Eric Martuscelli, 40, as its vice president of operations, effective Jan. 1. Eric will be based at Cascade's headquarters in Kennewick, according to a release.

"Eric has done an outstanding job for the company over the years and we have every confidence that he'll continue that performance in his new position," said Frank Morehouse, Cascade's executive vice president and general manager.

In particular, the 1990 DeSales High School alum will oversee company operations throughout Washington and Oregon with a focus on providing safe and reliable service to its customers.

In his new role, Eric will provide executive leadership, direction and coordination of activities for the gas distribution operations, including distribution engineering, and marketing and sales support; oversee both regulated and non-regulated products and services; and coordinate operations with customer service and mobile services.

He joined the company in 1992 at the Walla Walla District. Moving to Bend, Ore., in 2002, Eric held positions of increasing responsibility. His most recent position was manager of Cascade's Southern Region, which covered Cascade's Oregon operations.

The son of Dominic and Kathy Martuscelli of Walla Walla, Eric and wife Laurie have two children, ages 12 and 8.

A natural gas distribution company, Cascade serves approximately 260,000 residential, commercial, industrial and transportation customers in 96 communities in Washington and Oregon, according to the release.

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Themed garden kits that instruct children how to grow their own food from seed to harvest will be sold to raise funds for the Walla Walla Camp Fire USA Council.

From Monday-March 30, orders will be taken for the Growums garden starter kits, said Kaitlin Kirk, Camp Fire communications coordinator, in a release.

The kits contain everything needed to start growing a "Pizza," "Stir-Fry," "Taco," "Herb," "Salad" or "Ratatouille" garden. Every kit also includes free online, animated, instructional lessons from the Growums cast of characters. Kits can be registered online for a more interactive and fun experience for families.

Growums garden starter kits are $10. Visit www.Growums.com to learn more about the kits.

Forty percent of the proceeds from Growums will support the Walla Walla council, 10 percent will support Camp Fire USA National; and another portion of the proceeds will help feed needy children.

To purchase a starter garden, stop by the Camp Fire office at 414 S. Park St.

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Washington State Potato Foundation is accepting scholarship applications for its Excellence in Agriculture Program and Boise Paper and Packaging is also sponsoring a $3,000 scholarship as part of the program, said Jet Titus with Boise Packaging at Wallula, in a release.

"WSPF has not gotten any applications from Walla Walla candidates in the past and I wanted to make sure that Walla Walla families and students were aware of this tremendous opportunity for financial assistance," Jet said.

"One of the key objectives of the scholarship is to help promote a greater understanding of the importance of balancing sustainability issues from an environmental, social and financial perspective," said Destry Henderson, manager of Public Affairs at Boise Paper. "This is a key focus within all divisions at Boise, Inc. and selected applicants will be asked to provide their perspectives on the topic as part of the application and evaluation process."

Established in 2000, WSPF promotes pride in the agriculture industry though education programs and scholarships throughout the State of Washington and the Foundation and its supporters are committed to bolstering the quality of the workforce throughout the State.

More than 150 students have been awarded a almost $350,000 in funds to support their academic pursuits, Jet added.

The Excellence In Agriculture Scholarship Program is open to college and trade school students in the Washington and Oregon potato growing regions. It awards gifts of $1,000-$5,000 to up to 20 students annually. Top candidates may be eligible for recurring scholarships. Other candidates (who receive single-year awards) are eligible to apply for multiple years, but must complete a new application packet with new letters of reference each year.

Applications should be postmarked by March 19. Scholarship winners will be notified by mail prior to May 10. To apply, contact Jet at 206-569-4588 or visit WSPF on Facebook.

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For contributions to the community several Athena residents receive First Citizen and Young Adult awards during the annual Athena Chamber of Commerce banquet Jan. 23, including Delbert Durfee, Wilma Trout, Morgan Entze, Jonathan Hansell and Paula Thompson. Zimmerman's Auto Body received the business award.

First Citizen Delbert Durfee was honored for efforts in running the church food bank, serving dinner to returning military and volunteering at orphanages in Mexico. Wilma, a lifelong city resident, was recognized as a First Citizen for co-chairing the annual Athena Cancer Walk, service as an American Legion Auxiliary member and her role in starting Athena's Centerville Medical Clinic.

The young adult award winners are all seniors at Weston-McEwen High School: Morgan has been a class or ASB officer all four years in high school. She is a member of Pipes and Drums, active in volleyball, basketball and softball and has contributed numerous volunteer hours to her school and community.

Jonathan also contributed many volunteer hours while touring with school and honor bands and is a member of Walla Walla Valley Band. He is a member of Christian Church Young Disciples Youth Group.

Paula belongs to the high school and honor choirs, FFA and Pipes and Drums. She is a Highland Dancer member and has earned numerous academic awards and is also a volunteer in the community.

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Area students in fifth through eighth grades competed in the Narcissa Prentiss Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution's History Essay Contest by writing about "A friend who participated in the war of 1812 and took a stand for America."

Winners include fifth-graders: Abigail Peters, Rogers school, LoraLee Thomas, teacher; Brayden Miller, Waitsburg, Diane Coulston, teacher.

Sixth grade: Lauren Marie Bergman, home school; Christian Wallace-Bailey, Rogers School, LoraLee Thomas, teacher.

Seventh grade: Mary Grace McKeirnan, and Mitchell Lesmeister, both of Sager School, Ted Knauft, teacher.

Eighth grade: Mason Smith and Andrew Ungerecht, Sager, Ted Knauft, teacher.

This is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, often called the Second War of Independence, Sarita said. Most of the essays were written as a friend of first lady Dollie Madison, who saved the portrait of George Washington when the White House was burned, or Francis Scott Key, who wrote the poem "Defence of Fort McHenry," which later became the lyrics for the national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Several of the essayists told the story of the flag that Key saw flying over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore. The flag, 40 by 30 feet in size, was sewn in a brewery that could afford the space it needed.

Five of the winning students read their essays at a chapter meeting, said Sarita McCaw, essay chairwoman.

Sarita said her chapter is awaiting news from the state DAR contest to see if there are any local winners there this year.

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Ten Walla Walla High School students competed with students on more than 63 teams from around the region in the 21st annual Bonneville Power Administration Regional Science Bowl Feb. 4 in Portland. Students attending the event were Teresa Olivos, Paola Flores, Seth Hall, Cristina Sosa, Edwin Flores, Nadia Sierra, Erika Torres, Ana Andrade, Marcos Medina and Marilyn Mendoza.

Science Bowl is a quiz-style question-and-answer competition that challenges students on math and science concepts, according to their coaches, Bill Erickson, who works here for Bonneville Power Administration, and wife Diana Erickson, bilingual coordinator for the Walla Walla School District.

This bowl is the largest event of its kind in the United States, Bill said in a release.

The weekend competition marked the seventh year a team from Walla Walla has competed. With support from First Presbyterian Church in College Place and Pacific Power and coaching from Bill and Diana, students from Wa-Hi's Latino Club and Exploring Post 311 have consistently represented Walla Walla in the competition. Exploring Post 311 is a Learning for Life program, a subsidiary of the Boy Scouts of America.

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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