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Rick Eskil

Stories by Rick

Election letters will soon be flooding into Union-Bulletin

Election season has hit. Candidates are starting to declare ahead of the one-week filing period that begins May 12. On the U-B Viewpoints page and in the Perspective section the campaign letters have started to trickle in. It won’t be long until the dam breaks — metaphorically speaking — turning that trickle into a flood.

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Giant wheat piles: How do those work?

The drive from Walla Walla to Pasco has become pretty routine for a great many folks in this Valley. I’ve made it more times than I can remember.

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Why have water towers?

What's Up With That columnist Risk Eskil looks into the region's water system to see why some places still have old-school water towers.

Foley was extraordinary lawmaker

Rep. Tom Foley wasn’t a politician, he was a lawmaker with great political skills.

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Walla Walla history takes an odd turn

When the sandstone facade of the 1902 Odd Fellows Temple was moved to Heritage Park, a subtle change was made.

Why does hospital give free tattoo removals to gang members?

Those lotions and potions pitched as revolutionary ways to remove tattoos quickly and painlessly for a low, low price (plus shipping and handling, of course) have always sounded sketchy to me even — if it is seen on TV.

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‘Chef’ a term of art

A love of food and a zeal to create separates chefs from cooks.

The term “chef” seems to be used frequently today, perhaps too frequently. Or maybe I’m more sensitive to the term living in Walla Walla’s wine-and-food age.

Rose Street flap is no surprise in Walla Walla

The current brouhaha over eliminating a lane of traffic when Rose Street is repaved gives me a strong feeling of deja vu.

WHAT'S UP WITH THAT - High-speed pursuits: Necessary or too dangerous to public?

Local police say they follow strict guidelines.Jeff Callow's yellow 1971 Chevrolet pickup is -- or was -- a familiar sight in Walla Walla, particularly along Howard Street, which is close to where Callow lives.But nobody would have ever expected to see Ca

Today's gravel, tomorrow's roads

The sound of gravel crunching under tires and bouncing off the undersides of cars has become common this summer, particularly in the areas just outside the city limits.

State road work pulls over for holidays

It's ironic most highway construction takes place in the summer when folks are on the road.

WHAT'S UP WITH THAT? - Let's play three: Fair concert stacks up acts

The Band Perry, LoCash Cowboys and Joey+Rory: What's up with that?

Summer - at least on the calendar - is upon us and that means the Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days isn't far away. This year's opening night concert seems to be getting a big push on the radio. I heard a spot the other day urging me to buy my tickets to s

WHAT'S UP WITH THAT ?: Fall cold snap still stings for grape growers

A two-day cold snap in November might have destroyed between 20 percent to 40 percent of the Walla Walla Valley's wine grape crop.

WHAT'S UP WITH THAT: Sidewalks at the prison? Seriously? Seriously!

WALLA WALLA -- "Can someone please tell me why we needed a sidewalk next to the penitentiary. I am open to hearing any reasonable explanation."

Six presidents have visited Walla Walla County over the years

Editor's note: This is a reprint of an August 2003 story that appeared in advance of a visit to the region by then-President George W. Bush.President Dwight D. Eisenhower slept here. And so did President Rutherford B. Hayes.President George W. Bush, howev

U-B readers put the kibosh on ‘letter of the month' contest

Should the Union-Bulletin highlight letters to the editor that move or delight readers by having an 'official” letter of the month?I asked that question about a month ago and heard from a few readers in print and in person — all of whom thought it was, we

Jeannette Hayner remembered as strong voice for state

The former Senate majority leader is remembered for her work to solve a mountainous fiscal crisis much like the one the state faces today.

WALLA WALLA -- Former state Senate Majority Leader Jeannette Hayner died Friday at the Eagle Meadows Assisted Living Community at the age of 91.

October's flood of letters was amazing — keep 'em coming

To say the Our Readers' Opinions column — the letters to the editor — is merely popular is like saying the Blue Mountain Mall needs a little work. Both statements are true but don't begin to describe the situation.The Union-Bulletin was engulfed with lett

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Publishing all of Our Readers' Opinions is a top priority at U-B

Local elections -- specifically the races for Walla Walla County sheriff, Columbia County sheriff and Columbia County prosecutor -- (plus the current Inland Octopus mural/sign flap) have resulted in a flood of letters to the editor. No, make that a full-b

This 'Wall Street' steals your money, too

I'm always skeptical of sequels, particularly those made long after the original.

WHAT'S UP WITH THAT - Pump problem, not Bigfoot, behind center-line blur

On a warm summer evening just before dark I was heading east on Taumarson Road and noticed the center line looked blurry. Bright but blurry. Then I crossed Plaza Way to Prospect Road and again the yellow center line was out of focus.

Minnick's run a national bellwether

A centrist Democrat in a Republican Idaho, the former Walla Wallan is up for re-election to Congress

A Walla Walla native's bid to be re-elected to Congress has captured the attention of the nation's political observers for a couple of reasons.First, it's interesting. U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick is a political oddity — a Democrat elected in Idaho, a very cons

Letters to the editor help drive spirited election debate

It's election season, which means the letters-to-the-editor column — Our Readers' Opinions — will soon be overflowing.In fact, we've already seen an increase in letters regarding the race for county sheriff, which is clearly one to watch. And while a numb

WHAT'S UP WITH THAT? - Two-toned road begs questions

What's up with that?

After months (and months) of construction, Abbott Road just to the south of Murr Sports Park is finally open.

WHAT'S UP WITH THAT? - Here we go 'round the roundabout

WALLA WALLA -- Walla Wallans enjoy trying new things. When a new restaurant opens it's busy -- really busy -- for weeks, even months.

WHAT'S UP WITH THAT - Walla Wallans keep NASCAR rollin'

About two years ago I was channel surfing when I caught my favorite wave — ESPN — and saw a NASCAR crew chief being interviewed. Now, I generally would move on as car racing isn't, well, baseball or football.But on this day I noticed the crew chief's name

'Darkness' brightens Gibson's career

Mel Gibson isn't as likeable as he once was. Drunken antics tend to take the shine off your star -- even in Southern California (aka Lala Land).

MOVIE REVIEW - 'Up In The Air' soars, but beware of turbulence

While "Up In The Air" is a well-written, well-acted and well-directed film, it's not a feel-good movie. Frankly, it's a bit of a downer.George Clooney stars as Ryan Bingham. a shallow, self-absorbed man who makes a handsome salary flying around the countr

Effects wow but story limps in 'Avatar'

When a film brashly asserts that it will change moviemaking forever, one feels the urge to either take its king of the world arrogance down a notch or hail it as the masterpiece it claims to be.But -- and forgive us if this sounds too much like the dial

'The Blind Side' entertaining, heart-warming

If you saw and enjoyed The Blind Side -- as I did -- you might want to read the book by Michael Lewis.While the movie that this true story is based on essentially follows the book, it only focuses on Michael Oher's amazing life, in which he went from be

NOW PLAYING - 'Law Abiding Citizien' unbelievably dumb, violent

It's been too long since I've been to the theater and seen a good movie.So, I went to the theater the other day -- and, unfortunately, I'm still waiting for a good movie.Law Abiding Citizen stinks.The film is unnecessarily violent and outrageously stupi

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NOW PLAYING - Slow at first, 'District 9' enters captivating territory

District 9 is an entertaining, thought-provoking film that's worth seeing. It's also really weird.

Common ground: Political competitors work for VA

Independent commissions that are formed to make recommendations on the closure of government facilities are supposed to take politics out of the process.Often, it has the opposite effect.That's certainly the case in Eastern Washington. But not in the usua

Can they save the VA?

In 1987, U.S. Rep. Tom Foley was House majority leader. When officials at the VA threatened to close down the Walla Walla VA medical center, Foley squashed the move. Does anyone have the political clo

ANALYSISIn 1987 the top officials at the U.S. Veterans Administration were intent on closing Walla Walla's VA medical center.Tom Foley was intent on saving it.Foley won. He had the political muscle.