Relay For Life luminaria bright idea benefits food banks Etcetera 6-23-13


Not only did the annual Relay For Life of Walla Walla raise funds for the American Cancer Society, but it also benefitted Blue Mountain Action Council with an ingenious two-pronged nonperishable food drive.

The relay, which was from 6 p.m. May 31 to noon June 1 on Martin Field at Borleske Stadium, featured luminaria bags that lit the path for participants walking the track.

The bags usually have sand in them to prevent their being blown down.

This time the planning committee used donated canned goods to keep the bags earthbound, bringing in about 1,000 items weighing 1,409 pounds that went to BMAC for distribution to area food banks.

Luminaria bags are lit after dark at every local Relay For Life event, according to a release. Relay participants and donors remember loved ones lost to cancer and honor those battling the disease by dedicating luminaria bags that have been personalized with a name, photo, message or drawing in memory or honor of a friend or loved one who has been affected by cancer.

Luminaria can also be dedicated in support of a relay participant. Each luminaria candle represents a person, such as family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers.

For more details about this event, see, like them on Facebook at or follow them on Twitter @WWRelayforLife.Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions.

Tom Hebert had a large hand in the recent success of Cowgirls Ranch Racing, Waitsburg’s Celebration Days signature event on May 18, said Lisa Naylor with the planning committee.

Tom, a Pendleton resident, self-proclaimed gadfly and horseman, was joined by Casey Paul and Wilbur Ellis, the latter two who provided water for the very dry race track to ensure horse and rider safety, Lisa said. “They did so willingly and after three other organizations were unable to do so,” she said of Casey and Wilbur.

Eight riders and their horses showed their stuff racing for prize money on May 18. “And akin to Mount St. Helen’s eruption 33 years ago that day, it was a blast,” Lisa said.

Tom’s vision to employ cowgirls — rather than small men in silk — to race down a rural dirt track was unique in national, regional and local horse racing circles,” Lisa said.

The Washington State Horse Racing Commission and Washington Legislature ended support for small track racing, killing the annual pastime; running thoroughbred horses with paramutuel betting these past two years.

They like the idea of expanding horse events in the state.

As the Waitsburg community approached 2013 and the centennial of its signature event, going without the horse races was not an option.

Tom’s foresight lit a fire under a local nonprofit, the business community and the mayor, Lisa said, and Cowgirl Ranch Racing was born.

“Women hadn’t raced horses for decades and it was time to let the ladies show their stuff. The community worked together, through all its fits and starts, and offered a variety of family entertainment for Waitsburg Celebration Days, building on its horsy past. Hebert was an inspiration and we thank him for his vision, patience and perseverance.”

Park Plaza senior housing residents on Dalles Military Road had the best time participating in National Police Week in mid-May when five members of the Walla Walla Police Department paid a call, said Lisa Norton in a release.

They played bean bag baseball, a game the residents play weekly. On another day, residents took an hourlong tour of the new police station. “We met the police chief and saw some of the inner working of the police station, Lisa said.

Participants included Capt. Chris Buttice, Officers Tim Bennett, Brent Barberich, Scott Skramstad, Brent Barberich, and police department volunteer Ben Workman; plus Lisa, Sandi Olson, Ted Keen, Volus McEachern, Joyce Dicus, Lana Spurlock, Amy Harris, Vicki Ruley, Edolene Joliffe, Pat Keen, Helen Vandenburgh, Helen Beesley, May Gillis and Rose Walters.

Jeffrey “Jeff” Luckstead, received his Ph.D. in economics during May 5 commencement ceremonies at Washington State University.

An alum of the Walla Walla High School Class of 2002, Jeff earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in applied economics from the University of Idaho, according to his parents, Mary and Steve Luckstead of Walla Walla.

His doctoral dissertation is “Essays in Policy Analysis: Strategic Trade Theory and the Elimination of Agricultural Subsides.”

Jeff accepted a tenure track faculty position as assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He will moved there from Pullman with wife Jenny Jo in late July. They married on Aug. 10, 2012.

Jeff’s appointment begins with fall term in August. He was awarded three years of startup funds to establish his research program, his dad said in an email.

Theresa Labriola, Hanford coordinator for Columbia RiverKeeper, recently spoke to assembled Walla Walla Sunrise Rotary members about the organization’s work, according to a report by Rotarian John McKern.

The nonprofit citizens group aims to protect and restore the water quality of the river and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean, she said.

“RiverKeeper’s vision is for a Columbia with healthy salmon runs that can support traditional harvest by Native Americans and nonnative fishermen.

“They believe a broad range of diverse interests will bring back a Columbia River that parents can let their children play in without fear of toxic exposure.”

With the river’s border of vibrant bands of riparian habitat and rich diversity of native fish and wildlife,River Keeper’s vision is for a Columbia River Basin that the people of the United States and Canada can be proud of.

Theresa said the Hanford Site is the most contaminated place in the Western Hemisphere. During and after the development of the atomic bomb used in World War II, the United States dumped billions of gallons of radioactive waste on the banks of the Columbia and into the river itself. Today, waste in unlined cribs and trenches has spread into large pollution plumes and dozens of storage tanks have leaked high-level nuclear waste.

Vast areas of groundwater are poisoned and, in some places, flowing into the Columbia River. The U.S. Department of Energy’s mission at Hanford is now focused on cleanup. Some major cleanup actions are complete but most of the waste remains, she said.

The Hanford Reach is the last free flowing stretch of the Columbia available for salmon spawning. Upriver bright fall Chinook spawn in the reach, and in some years produce over 20 million juvenile salmon.

Over several decades, river and fishery managers have worked to provide flow to protect the salmon production of the Reach.

Waters released from Lake Roosevelt and regulated through Priest Rapids Dam protect the spawning adults and the development of the resulting eggs. However, information from Theresa showed seepage from the nuclear site leaking into the river in the spawning area.

She suggested that Rotary members write the Department of Energy to encourage budgeting more money for the cleanup because far too little was being spent to get the job done.

It was suggested that real root to the funding shortfall was the current Congress which is not providing adequate funding to the Department of Energy, and that it would be more effective to write to our senators and representatives.

A brochure titled “Hanford & the River” provides a history and overview of the contamination and encourages readers to get involved: sign up for action alerts, attend public hearings spread the word and join Columbia RiverKeeper.

Theresa earned her law degree from Vermont Law School and a bachelor’s in education and ecology from Cornell University. For more information visit:

Sunrise Rotary meets at 6:45 a.m. Wednesdays for breakfast and community interest programs at the St. Francis Community Center, 722 W. Alder St. For more details, contact President Hank Worden at or 525-8771, or online see

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


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