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Sheila Hagar

Stories by Sheila

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VA chaplain brings end to ‘Heaven on Earth’ career

Ben Vegors, 91, steps down as the longest-serving VA chaplain in the nation.

WALLA WALLA — If only Ben Vegors' mother could see him now.

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Band to play at Walla Walla University stays together for music, service

WALLA WALLA — They’ve been together nearly 20 years and still like each other and what they do, said Switchfoot bassist and co-founder Tim Foreman.

Mixed pair makes its public debut

Altogether we had a yard-plus and a few ounces shy of 13 pounds of babies who were sporting enough hair to brush, cut and style.

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The homeless jigsaw puzzle

Walla Walla has a plethora of social services, but the plight of some homeless people defy solutions.

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‘Coming out blazing’

Rikki Union has been dealt many blows but refuses to accept that as her lot in life.

Walla Walla veterans home clears another hurdle

WALLA WALLA — Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a bill authorizing the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs to operate a veterans home in Walla Walla.

Updated: State to pay $740,000 in inmate's death

WALLA WALLA — The state Department of Corrections has agreed to pay $740,000 to the family of an inmate who died in custody at Washington State Penitentiary after suffering from a painful and treatable illness.

Anonymous donor offers ray of hope for Rising Sun Clubhouse

WALLA WALLA — An anonymous donor has given financially-strapped Rising Sun Clubhouse a new lease on life, for at least several months. On Monday, $15,000 was handed over to Harvey Crowder, interim director of Walla Walla County Department of Community Health, to be given to the clubhouse.

Quest for marker leaves no stone unturned

Iridescent blue flecks of sky speckled throughout the sparkle of black diamond. Labeled “Emerald Pearl” granite, the name paled to reality. The sample square glowed like a living organism, oozing dazzle.

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Clubhouse pushed toward brink

Finances, always a concern at the Rising Sun Clubhouse, have the gathering place for the mentally ill in difficult straits.

Rising Sun members find a good fit with group

WALLA WALLA — There are 38 scars on Ashley Mace’s arms, some of them woven under newer tattoos. Cutting was once how she relieved stress, the 20-year-old college student said.

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Walla Walla-area group tackles food insecurity

Members will recommend ways to ensure residents have the food they need and the means to choose, store and prepare it.

WALLA WALLA — If America could learn to embrace more of the food it produces, phrases like “food insecurity” might someday be off the table, two produce specialists feel.

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Sixteen-year-old a sweet gift to family

“God,” I screamed. “I am exhausted. I am crazy busy. I can’t do any more. If I’m supposed to do this, you’re going to have to show me in a big way. BIG. Do you understand, God?”

Financial woes beset county-owned services building

Low rents, payments on a $2 million loan and building repair and upkeep don’t cover costs, commissioners learned.

WALLA WALLA — Officials said Monday a county-owned building seems to be operating like a financial house of cards.

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As Serenity Point founder can attest, there is a way out of addiction

Pat Flores turned his life around, then began turning around other people’s lives.

WALLA WALLA — Pat Flores understands addiction, how it demands unsavory actions, ruins lives, decimates families. How it creates a hole that goes deeper and deeper — and he’s been down there, he said. But when someone, or a team of someones, can offer a ladder, Flores knows many people will start that long climb.

Addiction treatment providers reel under ACA, low Medicaid rates

WALLA WALLA — A perfect storm of Medicaid math and an unintended consequence of the health-care overhaul is set to cast its shadow over Walla Walla and the rest of Washington.

Legislature misfired with Medicaid

Seeing more Medicaid clients just means you lose more money,’ Walla Walla County’s health administrator says.

WALLA WALLA — The perception of what the Affordable Care Act would mean for chemical dependency care in Washington state is meeting reality, and officials say it’s not a pretty picture.

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Wildhorse fireworks burn away worries of rain

The rain clouds that had hugged the Blue Mountain all afternoon had finally moseyed over to Wildhorse Resort & Casino, bringing healthy gusts. But that wasn’t about to stop master pyrotechnician and Homeland Fireworks owner Bruce Lawson from creating another special fireworks extravaganza for the resort’s 19th anniversary on March 8.

Sen. Patty Murray pushes for VA home money

WALLA WALLA — U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on Wednesday pressed administration officials for answers about care for veterans, including how funding will be achieved for the planned Washington State Veterans Home at the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center.

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Insurers: ACA demands full reimbursement for kids' eyewear

Insurers say ACA requires full reimbursement of even the most expensive designer eyewear for children.

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Guitar Festival grows into regional event of note

WALLA WALLA — Robin Barrett wants Walla Walla to hear music in the streets this month, weeks before the street concerts start up or wineries begin seasonal patio music series.

Plenitude of projects sprout in muddy back yard

With no new bark on top, the ground rose up to meet every sole, happy to be brought into the warm house. I became a shrieker. “WHO DID NOT WIPE THEIR FEET? SOMEONE WILL DIE.”

Gymnasium gets new lease on life

WALLA WALLA — Brand new doors in the Walla Walla Housing Authority gymnasium will swing open at 5:30 p.m. today for a ribbon-cutting hoopla signaling culmination of the first phase of renewal for the much-used building.

Stressed body lets food go to waist

Suddenly there was a glop of marshmallow cream under my skin. Jell-O under my shirt. A bizarre pillow of wiggly jelly rivaling St. Nick’s.

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Class reveals sweet secrets of chocolate

Chocolate, if chosen wisely, can be a savory, guilt-free experience.

WALLA WALLA — Chocolate is destined to tempt palates forever, believes Emily Castillo. Her point is perhaps most fervently made on a Valentine-infused weekend that officially began Friday and lingers through Presidents Day.

Walla Walla General Hospital completes staff cuts

WALLA WALLA — A string of layoffs at Walla Walla General Hospital has ended with 20 people losing their jobs.

Milton-Freewater latest to let city employees carry guns on job

A few other rural cities and counties in the nation have adopted similar rules over the past year, citing safety.

MILTON-FREEWATER — The morning after officials adopted a measure allowing city employees to carry guns while on the job, City Manager Linda Hall had a few words for her staff and the community.

Milton-Freewater employees get OK to carry guns at work

The City Council approved what the city manager calls a ‘landmark decision.’

MILTON-FREEWATER — City employees can now pack a gun on the job under an amendment the City Council passed Monday.

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Circus love

Lizzy Harvey shares her love for circus arts to instill confidence and self-trust in youths.

WALLA WALLA — Evelyn Sisk, or “Evi,” could not be more clear why she’s enrolled in Walla Walla Parks and Recreation’s “Circus Arts” class. “I was really interested in the circus,” the 9 year-old explained. “I wanted to be interactive with people older than me … and I really wanted to learn to do flips.”

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Walla Walla warming center an overnight haven for homeless

About 20 people used the warming center at First Congregational Church on Thursday night, from “very young adults” to older veterans.

Homeless warming shelter extends operations through cold spell

In winter weather, the needs are many and solutions fairly simple.

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College Place family raises two sons with heart defects

Untreated, their heart defects could have killed them, but for now, the McCulloch boys have ‘fairly’ normal life expectancies.

WALLA WALLA — The first cardiac specialist to see inside Caden McCulloch’s heart laid out a plan to deal with the unborn child’s multiple medical issues, including congenital heart defect.

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The ‘ultimate’ Elvis to shake up Wildhorse

Elvis Presley impersonator Justin Shandor puts on his blue suede shoes.

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Sitting-room saga reveals painting addict's true colors

If a cure only existed, I could have another 600 hours or so in my lifetime to do other things. And that’s just thus far.

Provider chosen for Walla Walla County mental health services

WALLA WALLA — Yakima-based Central Washington Comprehensive Mental Health has been chosen to provide services to eligible residents of Walla Walla County.

Health care provider cleared in inmate death

WALLA WALLA — A local physician assistant has been cleared of unprofessional conduct in connection with the treatment of a Washington State Penitentiary inmate who later died.

Flu season in full swing

Nineteen people are reported to have died in Washington from this season’s flu, health officials said Wednesday.

Walla Walla General Hospital in midst of leadership layoffs

WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla General Hospital is undergoing a reorganization that will pare down its numbers of managers and administrators.

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Salvation Army opens new food bank in Walla Walla

WALLA WALLA — A year-long journey to create a food and learning center here has come to fruition with the opening Saturday of The Salvation Army’s new food bank.

Family bonds grow ever grander with every visit

It’s going to be raining babies this year for our family.

Mental health care options expand in area

Walla Walla’s ‘desert’ for mental health care is beginning to bloom.

3D Healthcare Services among new mental-health providers

Milton-Freewater resident Daniel Eslinger opened a Walla Walla office of 3D Healthcare Services in December, one of three new providers in the city.

Tri-Cities center opens WW mental-health branch

Eden Medical Center in the Tri-Cities has seen the same dearth of providers in Walla Walla. It recently brought a branch of its “Neuropsychology Program” here to meet the need. Kishore Varada is the physician assistant overseeing its local services.

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Food banks struggle to fill shelves with protein

WALLA WALLA — In the world of food bank users, it’s more about what makes the tummy happy than concern over nutrition. Potatoes over produce, pasta instead of pears.

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Tour in Walla Walla reveals ‘unseen’ homelessness (with slideshow)

The Walla Walla Council on Homelessness tour shed light on the scope of the local problem.

WALLA WALLA — “Stay Out of Can! No Dumpster Diving! I Will Report You!”

County merges health, human services

Uniting the two departments could save more than $400,000 in administrative costs.

WALLA WALLA — County commissioners voted Monday to make one-plus-one equal … one.

Reporter survives flu’s best shot

As a health reporter for this newspaper, I don’t actually dispense medical advice, but report on those who do. And every year, like clockwork, I trot out warnings about the upcoming flu season and recommendations from public health officials. I try to make sure readers know where they can most conveniently get vaccinated against influenza.

Dangerous flu virus creeps into Valley

WALLA WALLA — It’s here, make no mistake.

Firstborn son goes from prodigal to laudable

Last year, almost exactly 12 months ago, I laid a burden at your feet. You didn’t ask for it, but I could no longer lift the weight of my son’s absence alone.

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For whom the kettle bell rings

Donations are down, but bell ringers know every little bit helps the needy.