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Karlene Ponti

Stories by Karlene

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Walla Walla past is old hat at Kirkman

Back in the day, you could walk into a Walla Walla restaurant, pick up a menu and order cinnamon toast for 15 cents and an omelette for 45 cents.

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Civil War artifacts on display at Fort Walla Walla Museum

A large kettle that held a hot meal to comfort a battle weary soldier a long way from home.

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Borne by the land

A Valley family with a long agricultural past makes its mark in today’s wine world.

MILTON-FREEWATER — Cecil Zerba and wife Marilyn have an urge for growing.

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Tuned into the lunch crowd

A place to enjoy some of the Walla Walla area’s best musicians and singers while munching a brown bag lunch?

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Publishing with tenacity

Many dream of writing just one book in their life. Shanna Hatfield can do that in a few weeks.

Shanna Hatfield knew she could do better. So she did. And she’s still doing.

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Creativity keeps local photographic artist in game

As a photographic artist, J. Franklin “Jim” Willis has found the Walla Walla Valley to be an ideal canvas for his colorful, dynamic landscapes of texture and light.

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Couple learns what's key to running family business

WALLA WALLA -- A few years ago Andy Hetterly and Nikki Hunter were living and working in Portland -- he at a tire shop and she in an insurance office.

Paper books hold allure locally as gifts in digital age

Damn the recession, full speed ahead.

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Walla Walla's gypsy boutiques

Two local women break new shopping ground with their refurbished trailers.

First came food trucks. Then came gourmet food trucks.

Pantries full of kindness

Holiday family get-togethers often come with the stresses of cooking a big family meal.

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The community pride club

Wa-Hi’s Latino Club goes beyond being an in-school cultural interest group.

You see them working to get the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds ready for the annual fair.

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Jules and Jamie

Turning a wild horse into a best friend is a big job that starts with mutual trust.

Sometimes true love arrives unexpectedly.

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Little Theatre's dynamic doers

The theater life for Brian and Becky Hatley has been a family affair.

The movie "White Christmas" opens with a scene set in 1944. That's also the year Little Theatre of Walla Walla held its first production.

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Walla Walla Valley Bands keeps toes tapping year-round.

It doesn't have 76 trombones -- at least not yet -- but Walla Walla Valley Bands is hitting high notes in membership as more and more musicians join the volunteer local mainstay.

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Walla Walla Valley's piano man

Piano tuner Clinton Dickerson strikes a chord with local music lovers.

When you listen to a piano in a church, school auditorium or performance hall in the Valley, odds are you can thank Clinton Dickerson for the quality sounds you hear.

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Vet techs put heart in pet projects

Veterinary technicians are "in demand" to give follow-through care for pets.

It takes heart to provide professional care for an animal, a loving child’s heart.

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Teaching to the choir

Norb Rossi says desire and work trump talent in building an award-winning choir.

Photos of smiling students and stacks of choir sheet music cram Norb Rossi’s tiny office at Walla Walla High School while music and singing from an adjacent classroom drift in.

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Job searches today mean breaking from traditional methods

If you're of working age and unemployed today, this is not your father's -- or mother's -- job market. Maybe not even that of your grandparents' day.

Cindy Love's sparkling idea

Cindy Love's clown persona, Sparkle, has been brightening faces for 25 years.

Cindy Love was a second-grader in California when she and her sisters entered a clown contest.

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Local quilter featured in show

Despite the “Lucky 13” theme this year, it’s not the whims of fortune that have kept the regionally popular Walla Walla Valley Quilt Festival going for that number of years.

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The earth beneath his feet

Warren Rood didn’t have to dig deep to find something he and his children could do together.

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The hustle behind fair bustle

It's not over for fair volunteers until everything is taken down and stored.

Before you know it, all that you see, taste, touch, smell and hear at The Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days will become just a happy memory.

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Walla Walla's real deal

Guitarist Gary Winston keeps his strings attached to his hometown.

WALLA WALLA -- When The Beatles performed on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1964, the world changed. Walla Walla-born and raised Gary Winston's life was no exception to that phenomenon when he saw their American debut on TV as an 8-year-old.

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Creativity blooms in glass garden

Art therapy has an outdoor angle.

Repurposed glassware is helping residents at Eagle Meadows Assisted Living and Retirement Community enjoy more creativity. The result is a glass garden, sparkling in the sun, something the residents can enjoy, both for its beauty and for their sense of accomplishment.

Contras have a line of fun

Contra dancing has been a popular multi-generational folk activity in the Valley for years.

Contra dancing, an entertainment staple in Walla Walla for decades, requires a few simple basics if you want to participate.“You have to know your left from your right," said Howard Ostby, one of the regular callers for gatherings. “And be able to count t

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Art, business merge downtown

The art of marketing and the marketing of art has intersected on First Avenue in downtown Walla Walla. Several merchants along the block between Main and Alder streets have tapped into the once-a-month First Friday ArtWALK with something they call Fridays on 1st. During the street fair/block party First Avenue is closed off at 3:30 p.m. so vendors can set up booths. The event starts at 5 p.m. and runs to 9 p.m., with live music starting at 6 p.m.

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Milton-Freewater Farmers' Market on the grow

The locally grown produce and crafts market is attracting more vendors in its second year.

An assortment of vendors and organizers have gotten the second year of the Milton-Freewater Farmers’ Market off and running. The market, offering fresh produce, flowers, art, hand crafts and more operates on Wednesdays from 4-7 p.m. Administrator Susan Dohrmann and on-site manager John Zerba are enthusiastic about this year’s possibilities.

Milton-Freewater Farmers' Market on the grow

The locally grown produce and crafts market is attracting more vendors in its second year.

An assortment of vendors and organizers have gotten the second year of the Milton-Freewater Farmers' Market off and running.The market, offering fresh produce, flowers, art, hand crafts and more operates on Wednesdays from 4-7 p.m.Administrator Susan Dohr

All for the love of an onion

The Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival has bloomed over the past three decades.

Who'da thunk two women dressed as onions as part of a taste-off for national bragging rights for best sweet onions would lead to one of Walla Walla's signature festivals."It was an invitational tasting competition on Main Street," said Carolyn Keyes, one

Business Monthly Bio: Brad Nielson

Business: Optometrist and owner of Nielson Eye Care at 208 N. Second Ave., Walla Walla

A family's long row to success

El sombrero has grown from a dream to a Northwest chain of five restaurants.

WALLA WALLA - Two decades ago things looked bleak for Carlos Arceo and his extended family's new business venture in Walla Walla.

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Preschool celebrates 50 years in Walla Walla

Betty's Preschool starts its sixth decade of preparing children for a life of learning.

Betty Lodmell's preschool is one for the ages -- three generations worth, in fact. Celebrating the Walla Walla school's golden anniversary this year, she's enrolled second generation students and this fall is looking forward to teaching a grandchild of a former student she once had in her classroom.

Preschool celebrates 50 years in Walla Walla

Betty's Preschool starts its sixth decade of preparing children for a life of learning.

Betty Lodmell's preschool is one for the ages -- three generations worth, in fact.Celebrating the Walla Walla school's golden anniversary this year, she's enrolled second generation students and this fall is looking forward to teaching a grandchild of a f

Business Monthly Bio: Kathleen Buford

Business: AAA Washington service center manager in Walla Walla

New leader merges into driver program

WALLA WALLA — Jim Hall has become district coordinator for the AARP Driver Safety Program, taking over from Elsie Thompson after she retired from her volunteer workThompson's dedication as coordinator has brought her the recent honor of being chosen as on

Working the family dream

A family sets down roots as new Valley produce farmers.

Like the tomato vines at their family farm, Jeff and Amy Dietrich's vision to have a place where they and their children could raise their own food keeps growing, ripening and bearing fruit.And now their cornucopia is spilling into many of Walla Walla's r

Walla Walla youth music festival will benefit school music programs

An idea a classic pianist and an indie band drummer hatched on a bus ride to Walla Walla will bring forth a youth music festival in April on the YMCA lawn.

Volunteers keep hospital healthy

St. Mary currently benefits from the services of 95 volunteers, who last year worked 15,092 hours.

WALLA WALLA — Hospitals don't run on paid, specialized medical talent alone.Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla is no exception.'They provide that extra element of great service," said Lindsey Oldridge, St. Mary Foundation and volunteer coor

Opening kids' eyes to science

Science is happening. Everywhere.It's used in everything, from agriculture to cooking to disease research to engineering to studying the origins of the universe.And in today's world, one with ever-increasing technology and demands to meet the needs of the

Rodeo aims to rein in abuse

Combine a serious issue and a fun community event to raise awareness about it, and in Walla Walla you get a top collegiate rodeo.'Riding Against Child Abuse" remains the theme of the 43rd annual Walla Walla Community College Rodeo March 9-11 at the Walla

Cupid gets second chance with couple

Kathy Grose and Gene Michaels will marry again on Valentine's Day, more than 30 years after their first marriage failed.

WALLA WALLA - That was then, this is now.Kathy Grose and Gene Michaels were married decades ago and Feb. 14, they will remarry. Now, both in their 50s, older and wiser, they reawakened the love they discovered so long ago."We met at work in 1974 in Culver

Where friendliness is in store

Old-time neighborhood traditions blend with modern convenience in small community markets scattered around the Valley.They attract regular customers who come in for coffee, conversation and a daily helping of friendliness.Though the days of gathering arou

Business Monthly Bio: Heidi Cohan

Heidi Cohan owner of Scrapbook Elements, 515 E. Main St.

Walla Walla rock 'n' roller is here to stay

Guitarist Craig Tarwater's back in town, showing he can still really shake it down.

So you want to be a rock 'n' roll star.Maybe guitar lessons from someone who's shared the stage or recorded with music legends such as the Byrds, Jackie DeShannon, Canned Heat, Iron Butterfly, The Doors and Buffalo Springfield will do the trick.Walla Wall

VFW takes on vet homelessness

The slogan 'Support Our Troops" to Walla Walla's Veterans of Foreign Wars post means more than send-off ceremonies when men and women go to war and welcoming back those who return. It also means continuing to be at their side long after sounds of battle h

A long Walla Walla love affair

Gene and Betty Soper also share a love of horses, music and helping others.

At 87 and 91, respectively, native Walla Walla Valley residents Gene and Betty Soper love horses, humor and all things western.And after 45 years of marriage they sometimes say the same things simultaneously:'A farm girl that married a city boy," they bot

Walla Walla's library is a community gathering place

Books? Of course.Music CDs and movie DVDs? Check.Computers? Got those, too.

Business Monthly Bio: Darcey Benzel

Business:Owner of Green & Jackson Medical and Equipment Sales, 1365 Dalles Military Road.

From movies to the Why-MCA

Jentzen Mooney started the YMCA's Creative Club to help kids build mental connections

For a newcomer to Walla Walla and the YMCA staff, Jentzen Mooney hasn't wasted any time making his mark.Drawing from his experience in Los Angeles as a computer graphics wizard in the movie industry, as YMCA technology instructor he now has local youths p

Hoping for a home for the holidays

It's the holiday season and thoughts often turn toward home and family. And toward pets, too.For a lonely, frightened animal in the Blue Mountain Humane Society shelter, ears perk up, noses twitch and hope fills broken hearts when potential new owners pas