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Only 1 block - and 3 decades - to the Oregon Supreme Court

Only 1 block - and 3 decades - to the Oregon Supreme Court

From her window in the Oregon Supreme Court Building, the state’s newest Supreme Court justice can look across State Street in Salem to the Willamette University campus where her higher-education journey began 31 years ago.

Meagan Flynn, already Judge Flynn as an Oregon appellate court judge since October of 2014, was sworn in last week by Chief Justice Thomas Balmer after being named by Gov. Kate Brown to the state’s highest court. She’ll have a new office but the surroundings will be familiar since both the supreme and appellate courts share the same courtroom.

The governor said in a statement that “Flynn has earned a reputation as a smart and thoughtful judge while serving on the Oregon Court of Appeals and is regarded as fair-minded and compassionate.”

Indeed those who know her would echo that, particularly her parents who left her standing on the sidewalk in front of Willamette waving goodbye 31 years ago. And as Betsy and I drove away then and headed back to Seattle, past the Supreme Court building, Oregon’s oldest government building, we had no way of imagining it would be where she would eventually office.judgemeaganflynn

As readers of The Harp have guessed by now, this is a personal column, a reflection on our daughter, mother of two of our grandchildren, who wears the judge’s robe.

Meagan had a goal of being an attorney from early on because her role model was her cousin, Sheila McKinnon, who was then a successful Seattle attorney.

Some of the following is reflections about Meagan from an earlier column I did when she was appointed to the Court of Appeals judgeship.

I recalled that as she prepared to graduate from Holy Names Academy in Seattle, where she was salutatorian of her class, I urged her to apply to Stanford because her friend, who was valedictorian, was applying there.  

"It would be cool if you could say you were accepted to Stanford," I told her, even though I knew she had already decided she wanted to attend Willamette.

To my surprise, though likely not hers, she was accepted to Stanford and I feared she would decide she wanted to go there since it would have been a financial challenge for us at that time.

But the ducks on the stream at Willamette, which were the initial attraction the day she first visited the school (although its academic reputation and its law school had roles in the final decision), had already drawn her interest to Willamette.

Good thing, since that's where she met her husband to be, Dan Keppler, who was also intent on become an attorney, though eventually Gonzaga law school won out for both of them and after graduating they built partner-role practices at separate small firms in Portland. Along the way also came two daughters.

Meagan always had a competitive bent, which she usually did a good job of hiding, except as a seventh grader in Piedmont, CA, when she found that a male student was challenging her for top student. Her jaw always locked a bit when the male student’s name came up in conversations. The two of them ran for 8th grade class president (except the title was commissioner general) in a hotly contested race that she won, expressing smug pleasure at coming out on top.

The call from Governor Brown was the second from an Oregon governor for Meagan since then-Gov. John Kitzhauber was on the line one evening when she answered the phone. The story comes from her husband, Dan, since Meagan is not one to talk much about herself.

As Dan related of the telephone conversation: “’Hi, Meagan, this is John Kitzhauber.’ ‘Hi, Governor.’ ‘So do you want to be on the appellate court?’ ‘Yes, I do.’ ‘Congratulations, Judge.’”

Of course, due diligence had preceded the call, as it did with the appointment to the highest court late last month.

When she was sworn in to her Court of Appeals post in 2014, the judge administering the oath was the same judge whom she had gone to work for as a clerk 20 years earlier, soon after he had taken his oath as a then-new appeals court judge himself. He brought to her swearing-in session a picture of that first clerk-judge meeting in 1994.

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Meagan is taking her place on the state’s highest court as its youngest, as well as newest, member.

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Gonzaga basketball coach Mark Few puts to rest axiom that 'nice guys finish last'

Gonzaga basketball coach Mark Few puts to rest axiom that 'nice guys finish last'

One of the most noteworthy accomplishments of Gonzaga coach Mark Few in his team's inexorable march toward the NCAA National Championship game, despite falling short in the finale, may have been the destruction of the oft-quoted axiom that "nice guys finish last."

That "nice guys" comment obviously isn't a reference to the angry Bulldog mascot, Spike. But it is the agreed-on description of Few, who grew up in a small Oregon town, the son of a Presbyterian minister, and who didn't leave behind the lessons of his youth.

Despite the fierce competitiveness    of his players that has been on display for the nation to see during the past few weeks, they are described by a GU trustee who has spent an extensive amount of time with them as "selfless, disciplined, family."

Gonzaga and Few fell short of their quest for college basketball's pinnacle in their Mondaynight loss to North Carolina in the NCAA championship game and the pain will burn for a time for the coach, his players and fans.

But his nice-guy trait was on display, despite the pain of the loss, in the post-game nationally televised interview when Few declined the opportunity to blame the referees for the loss with a couple of calls generally viewed as in error, saying instead "the referees were excellent."

And as Jack McCann, a longtime GU trustee who offered me the above characteristics of the team, said to me in a phone conversation before the final game, "nothing should diminish the joy of the journey that this season represented." He meant not just for Few and his team but also for the family of supporters, fans and boosters.

Indeed McCann, a GU trustee since 1997 and founder of the prominent South King County land-development firm, the Jack McCann Co, and other trustees and close supporters have proven themselves part of the GU family over the years.

That includes hosting the coaches and players at their vacation homes, including getaways to Cabo to McCann's beach home and the neighboring Cabo home of Mike Patterson, prominent Seattle attorney and also a trustee. But Few doesn't use Cabo trips as a recruiting tool!

And McCann was quick to sign off in the early 2000s on the idea the players should travel on charter rather than commercial flights before that idea was on the radar screen of most schools.

As John Stone, a successful Spokane developer who came up with the idea of offering his private plane and convinced two others to offer theirs on away-game trips, explained to me in our phone conversation "it became a way to make sure the players were back home in their beds that night and in their classrooms the next day. They are student athletes of course, not just athletes."

McCann was among the trustees and friends who over the years that followed that first private-plane travel year put up the $100,000 apiece to both pay for the flights and allow the supporters to travel on the plane with the team and have seats near the bench for those away games. By the mid-2000s, that was the routine for travel.

And it was Stone who pointed out the importance of the "family" role played by the Greater Spokane community in chipping in $6 million of the $26 million it took to build McCarthey Athletic Center, the 6,000-seat facility on the campus, competed in 2004, that opposing teams dread visiting. 

The community involvement was in the form of a "seat license" plan where members of the Spokane community committed to $4,000 to $5,000 a year to license certain seats in "the kennel" where the seats come right down to the floor.

Few's Oregon upbringing in Creswell a stone's throw from Eugene and the fact he graduated from the University of Oregon created one of the untold human-interest stories that media usually thrive on but someone missed this time.

With Gonzaga and Oregon in the Final Four, I was surprised there wasn't a lot of focus, at least some focus, on the possibility that if the Bulldogs and Ducks each won the first game, Few would have been trying to beat his alma mater.

In fact, another story is the possibility that Few might have been coaching Oregon rather than Gonzaga in this Final Four, but that story is known only in a close circle.

The conversation in basketball circles, and among Gonzaga supporters, over the years of NCAA tournament appearances, has been when would Few be attracted to a bigger opportunity.

After all, having been at Gonzaga since joining the coaching staff as a graduate assistant in 1989, becoming full-time assistant a year later and becoming head coach after the school's Cinderella 1999 drive to the Elite Eight, Few's tenure has been an unprecedented loyalty to what has been viewed as a mid-level program.

The fact is that McCann, sharing the story with surprising candor, was personally aware of a full-court press Oregon's athletic director and famous alum Phil Knight put on Few several years ago to return to his alma mater. But the effort was unsuccessful in attracting him away from Gonzaga.

Supporters are aware the time may come when Few is attracted to a new challenge at another university, but everyone now knows it won't be the lure of a more respected basketball program.

Only nine schools have matched Gonzaga's 2017 record of 37 victories in a season. And Few is one of a handful of coaches to achieve 500 victories, all at the once lightly regarded Spokane school.

Few and his wife, Marcy, have three boys and a girl and in perhaps the most significant example of the importance of family to him is the story of when Few was once asked by a sports writer if the start and end of each basketball season represented the most exciting and most downer times each year.

He replied that the most exciting time each year was when his kids got out of school and he had a whole summer to spend with them and the most disappointing time was when they returned to school in the fall. So much for the appeal of fame and glory.

Gonzaga's desire for sports recognition actually dates back almost a century to 1920 when the Spokane school, with fewer than 200 students, embarked on a quixotic quest for football fame by hiring a big-time coach, Gus Dorais, who had teamed with Knute Rockne at Notre Dame to perfect the forward pass.

It was a quest, I once referred to it in a Harp some years ago, as an "Ozymandian delusion," that brought Gonzaga an improbable post-season appearance two years later against West Virginia in a 21-13 Christmas Day 1922 loss that earned Gonzaga top visibility in the next day's New York Times sports section.

That was the only moment of national football glory for Gonzaga, though the program continued until the outbreak of World War II in 1941 when it was discontinued and never brought back. During its 20-year run, Gonzaga football produced some players who became nationally prominent and one, Ray Flaherty, went on to become, for a time, the most successful coach in the National Football League in the late '30s with the Washington Redskins.

Gonzaga basketball, however, is secure now as a program nationally respected. And the "Nice Guy" and "family" characteristics engendered by Few, the school and the supporters may well become the most envied part of what Gonzaga has brought to college basketball.

McCann refers to it as "a magic carpet ride" for all the segments of the "family."
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 (The above column is a personal column since my wife and I are graduates of Gonzaga and some of those I quote, Stone and Patterson, are not only friends but attended the same high school, Gonzaga Prep, and same grade school, St. Aloysius, where Few's sister is law is now principal. It doesn't get any more incestuous than that!) 

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Mariners' 2017 opening day recalls '92 opener and its import

Mariners' 2017 opening day recalls '92 opener and its import

When the Seattle Mariners take the field for their home opener April 10, there will be at least some in the crowd who will recall that it was opening day 25 years ago when there was finally a cautious optimism that the uncertainty about the future of the franchise had been resolved. A team of local owners had been assembled, buttressed by a Japanese businessman devoted to Seattle, awaiting hoped-for approval from Major League Baseball.

And it's on occasions like a quarter-century anniversary of a major event that those involved in creating outcomes like the saving of a major league franchise for Seattle find that little-known facts of the story come to the forefront of memory for sharing.

Thus this Harp will be dedicated to a collection of several such stories related to that Mariners' accomplishment that made opening day 1992 special for not just the 56,000 fans on hand but also for supporters across the region.

There was an appropriate major celebration at Safeco Field last May to recognize Slade Gorton for his essential role as a U.S, Senator in finding local buyers for the Mariners in 1991 after then-owner Jeff Smulyan announced he was planning to sell the team, triggering a clause giving 120 days to find local owners.

It was in December of 1991 that Gorton learned that his effort to convince Nintendo CEO Hiroshi Yamauchi to invest, not as a baseball fan but to repay the community that he felt had helped his company become successful, had paid off.

And it was January 23 of 1992 that the announcement of the group of local investors to be named the Baseball Club of Seattle and led by the Japanese billionaire would buy the team to keep it in Seattle.

But it would be two months beyond opening day in 1992 before The MLB ownership committee would recommend approval of the purchase of the team by the Baseball Club of Seattle. So, as Randy Adamack, Mariner Senior Vice President for Communications, noted to me "While there was more optimism that April about the franchise staying here, the approval issue still had people holding their collective breath."

The 120-day clause and the local-owners search provide interesting memories for those most closely involved, and retired Mariners president Chuck Armstrong shared a couple of them in a telephone conversation this week.

Armstrong was attorney and advisor for George Argyros, the Southern California businessman who had purchased the Mariners in 1981 from the original ownership team, and Armstrong served his first stint as president of the Mariners when Argyros sent him up from Southern California a couple of years later.

The 120-day provision had actually been inserted in 1985 when Argyros and King County Executive Randy Revelle were negotiating a change in the Kingdome lease and Argyros suggested it as a "closer" to get county council approval.

Armstrong recalls that the reason for suggesting the provision was that Argyros "didn't want to go down in history as the guy who sold to a distant owner and thus let the Mariners leave town without providing time to find local owners."

"He was okay with a new owner living elsewhere, as long as he didn't move the team," he added.

Armstrong recalls "George never gets credit for that 120-day clause, but he had learned that nothing happens in Seattle, because of the endless focus on process, until things are in extremis and when something reaches that point the community would respond."

Bur Argyros did become basically loathed in Seattle in 1987 when he sought to buy the San Diego Padres to be closer to his Southern California home after the death of owner Ray Kroc. armstrong notes that it was the suggestion of Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth's, who said he would find someone to buy the Mariners.

Then in 1989 came the offer from Smulyan that set in motion everything that followed.

Armstrong was also involved in trying to help sell the Japanese ownership to MLB, remembering that he called his friend, George W.Bush, then managing partner of the Texas Rangers, explained the challenge and asked if his father, President Bush, might be interested in helping with the issue.

"One day the phone rang and a woman said 'the president is calling.' I asked 'President of what?' and she said a little icily, how about President of the United States.'"

Armstrong said it turned out that Baseball Commissioner Faye Vincent had worked for the elder Bush in the oil fields and they had remained friends.

"I can't honestly tell you what, if any, role the president took in our issue, though both Bushes indicated they had no problem with a Japanese owner" chuckled Armstrong, who as the only one of the new local ownership who knew anything about running a baseball team was brought back as president on July 1, 1992. He retired three years ago.

One of the most interesting stories and one that I've felt should be shared ever since I first heard it, is how new CEO and majority owner John Stanton had wished with all his might to be part of the ownership team in 1992, but told me some years ago "I didn't have the money."

For those who might find that startling or amusing, remember that wireless pioneer Stanton had recently departed McCaw Cellular with Craig McCaw's blessing to launch Stanton Communications with his wife, Theresa Gillespie, and they had sunk all their capital into that venture. The company would in 1994 become Western Wireless, which went public in1996 and spun off VoiceStream Wireless in 1999.

"We had the opportunity to invest in 1992 and passed because we were funding payroll for about 100 employees out of our personal checking account," Stanton emailed me this week.  "In 2000 we had the opportunity to buy John McCaw's interest in the team. And we have been involved since then."

McCaw's 1992 investment had represented a substantial piece of the original commitment by the 17 owners and it wasn't until he decided to sell that he shared the fact he had only invested for the sake of community and that he hadn't really been a baseball fan.

The final recollection truly little known, except for those closely involved with the effort to save the Mariners, is of the legal battle in which Seattle attorney Arthur Harrigan won the right for local ownership to be sought.

I wrote last year, as Gorton's key contribution 25 years earlier was being celebrated, about the role played by Harrigan, whose firm of Calfo Harrigan Leyh and Eakes got into the battle because it represented King County and Smulyan was seeking to abandon the county-owned Kingdome.

The venue for resolving the future of the Seattle Mariners franchise was what amounted to an arbitration hearing before Arthur Andersen, the national accounting firm agreed to by both sides to decide some key issues relating to the lease and the team.

Since it wasn't a court process, which would have gotten large visibility for the battle between attorneys, Harrigan's maneuvering over the meaning of wording in Smulyan's contract regarding an attendance provision and whether it triggered the 120-day clause got little visibility, and is thus little remembered.


Harrigan's argued interpretation of the lease-requirement wording was accepted by the Andersen firm, so Smulyan was required to give the four-month opportunity for a local buyer to be sought.

Of perhaps equal importance, Harrigan successfully argued that there should be a local value lower than the open-market value. 

The accounting firm agreed and set a "stay-in-Seattle" valuation at $100 million, rather than the national open-market value of $125 million that it had determined.

That created the opportunity for Gorton and others leading the effort to keep the team in Seattle to find a local buyer for $100 million, rather than $125 million, within four months. And that led to Nintendo.

John Ellis, the widely respected, retiring CEO of Puget Sound Power & Light, was a token partner, along with retiring Boeing CEO Frank Shrontz, to add business respectability to the wealthy but lesser-known Microsoft and McCaw Cellular entrepreneurs group.

Ellis was picked to lead the group's effort to gain baseball's approval, becoming managing general partner, eventually becoming CEO and guiding the team through the rest of the '90s and setting the stage for the team's 2001 MLB record-tying 116 victories.

The 1992 "opening night" that is actually best remembered was the owner-change celebration on July 16, 1992, billed as a second opening night.
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An unaccountable Sound Transit has begun to attract important critics

An unaccountable Sound Transit has begun to attract important critics

Unaccountability on the part of a public entity, no matter how well cloaked in good intentions or alleged importance of mission, inevitably leads to arrogance when there is no requirement to answer directly to anyone for decisions.

That, not surprisingly, leads to the kind of decisions that create a demand for accountability. Thus hangs the tale of Sound Transit, in the view a growing chorus of critics.

The sense is that the transportation agency officially known as the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority may suddenly be caught with its arrogance on display and feeling the pushback from a public and from lawmakers who are coming to sense a possible need to recast the organization.  

The goal of legislation that has now passed the Republican-controlled state Senate and is awaiting action in House would replace the 18 Sound Transit board members, now local elected officials from one of the three Sound Transit counties with 11 directors directly elected by voters in districts that would be created by the legislature.

The first broad perception of Sound Transit arrogance surfaced with the outcry from motor vehicle owners about the leap in the cost to renew their vehicle license after the excise tax this year had climbed dramatically, due in part to the vehicle valuation chart used by Sound Transit.

Geoff Patrick, who handles media relations and public information for Sound Transit, explained that part of the reason for the large jump in MVET fees was that, in approving ST-3, the $54 billion long-term transit package in November, voters said ok to a major increase in vehicle excise tax. 

The outcry would suggest that many voters weren't really aware of that.

Patrick was quoted earlier, as the MVET flap emerged, to the extent that Sound Transit could have used a vehicle depreciation schedule that would have meant a less expensive renewal fee but chose not to "for simplicity sake," to bring transportation relief quicker.

Then came the visibility surrounding Sound Transit's legal battle with Mercer Island over its effort to end the ability of solo drivers from the island to access I-90 high-occupancy-vehicle lanes when the existing HOV lanes are closed this summer for construction of light rail. That solo-driver access was part of an arrangement that amounted to a pledge from state transportation officials to Mercer Island residents in exchange for letting the state cut the trench for I90 across the island.

And finally, and perhaps defining for any battle to avoid accountability, came the flap over a political fundraiser for King County Executive Dow Constantine at the home of Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff for his boss and benefactor. As the flap unfolded, it became known that the planned event hosted at Rogoff's home for his boss might breach two clauses in the transit agency's own code of ethics, though it wouldn't violate any state fundraising laws, so it was moved elsewhere. But Rogoff made it clear he would still be one of the sponsors.

It might seem strange to many political observers that Constantine, who holds the most powerful position on the Sound Transit board and is seeking reelection, would stand silently in the wings, awaiting the outcome of a key fundraiser flap rather then step forward and say, "This is an inappropriate issue. I am cancelling this fundraiser."

Attendees for the party at its new location, it turns out, had to first RSVP online to learn the address. 

The disappointing thing about that is I was beginning to hope some newspaper photographer or television camera team would be on hand to document how many representatives of companies with multi-million-dollar contracts with Sound Transit would be on hand to pass some of the dollars back to the leader of the team.

A focus on those companies with multi-million contracts may soon provide more negative publicity for Sound Transit when all the details of documents detailing the breadth and depth of the value of contacts Sound Transit has signed with nearly 550 companies to provide a wide array of services begins getting close media scrutiny.

The documents were received by former King County Council member Maggie Fimia from Sound Transit in 2015 and detail all payments over $100,000 made to all entities, public and private, from 2007.

When I talked with Fimia to get copies of the array of contract documents and inquired of her thoughts upon digesting them, she said of the array of contracts: "The breadth of the take was unbelievable."

Touching on only one of the contract categories, Fimia offered "why do you need to spend $37 million on marketing and advertising if you have such a tremendous product?" And that didn't include any marketing costs for ST3.

Sound Transit's Patrick told me that a rigorous competitive-bidding process is in place for contracts with the agency, other than services like legal, accounting, marketing and others where expertise and reputation come into play, since you don't low-bid legal services, but may negotiate with the selected supplier for best price.

Fimia's 2001 defeat was allegedly aided by Sound Transit officials upset at her constant questioning of the agency's manner of operating and its dealing with the communities, questioning that clearly didn't end with her departure from the council.

Charles Collins, whose impeccable credentials as a critic of Sound Transit are even grudgingly acknowledged by the agency's board, told me Sound Transit went after Fimia because "she was a continuing thorn in their side."

"They are the 500-gorilla that no one wants to mess with and she kept messing with them, so they helped oust her," he said. She lost her reelection bid in 2001.

Collins has been a constant critic of Sound Transit's focus on high-cost rail service because all statistics, including the agency's own environmental impact statement, indicate trains won't come close to attracting enough riders to relieve congestion. More like attracting maybe 2 percent of riders.

Collins once told me that he and two former governors, Republican John Spellman and a Democrat, the late Booth Gardner, went to Sound Transit in the late '90s before the first vote embarking on rail as the key transportation underpinning with a novel new plan to provide a vehicles alternative that would carry far more passengers at far less cost.

"But they didn't even want to hear our idea because they were about building a train, not focusing on easing congestion," he said, except for Rob McKenna, then King County councilman and later the two-term Republican attorney general and unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate.

McKenna, incidentally, also lost his role on the Sound Transit board, bounced by then-King County Executive Ron Sims for his routine questioning of board decisions and priorities.

Collins, Fimia and McKenna are among those, a list which now obviously includes some legislators, who have urged that spending and policy decisions in the future should relate to relieving congestion rather than focusing only on building a rail network.

"Nothing has changed," said Collins, whose credentials include having been Spellman's Chief King County Adminstrator, Director of Metro Transit and chair of the Northwest Power Planning Council, the State Higher Education Coordinating Board and the State Commission on Student Learning. 

Indeed while Sound Transit operates some of the nation's most successful express bus services in addition to rail and light rail service to the region, there has been little doubt in the community that members of the board view themselves as creators of the region's light rail system. 

And the fact that the mode of transportation in the region's future has unfortunately become ideological, or maybe was from the start, is the reaction of a liberal commentator on Senate passage of SB5001 and that four Democrats joined the Republican majority in passing the measure to the House.

The columnist said the four Democrats" betrayed Sound Transit and the progressive movement," and urged that "every activist and every organization who was involved in helping to pass Sound Transit 3 last year needs to pitch in to ensure that this bill gets a burial in the House of Representatives."

Rogoff is an intriguing case, having been a strong supporter of bus rapid transit and critic of the "enormous expense to build and maintain rail" while head of the Federal Transit Administration. "Busways are cheap."

Almost amusingly, now that he heads an agency dedicated to rail, he said in a speech back in 2010 that riders often want rails, "but you can entice diehard rail riders onto a 'special' bus sometimes by just painting the bus a different color than the rest of the fleet."

He hasn't yet explained at what point between then and his joining Sound Transit that he changed his position of bus over rail, which he viewed as enormously expensive to build and maintain.

If the idea of an elected board to replace the current appointed board is approved by the legislature, a new board might find it could dramatically reduce current and future expenditures by focusing on bus rapid transit and a much more zealous process of contract oversight for other than actual infrastructure expenses.

Only contracts specifically relating to construction bond covenants have been held by the court as illegal to change. That doesn't likely apply to things like contracts with law and accounting firms and advertising and marketing agencies. or construction contracts that won't have been signed when an elected board might replace the current board. 

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Artist's lifelong attraction to Samurai led him to major weapons collection

Artist's lifelong attraction to Samurai led him to major weapons collection

Brian Snoddy's lifetime focus on Samurai weaponry, which has led to a collection large enough that he is now looking for a museum to display it all, sprang from a second-grade project to create Japanese armor out of paper mache.

Along the way since then, Snoddy became immersed in the Samurai culture that dominated Japan for hundreds of years until the mid-1800s while he also successfully pursued his career as an illustrator.

In the early '90s, Snoddy worked as a comic book artist and on prominent Saturday morning cartoons like Conan the Barbarian, Disney's Gargoyles, Garfield and Friends, X-men, Jim Lee's Wildcats, and Exo-squad.

brainSnoddyThereafter, was also a partner in a successful game company called Privateer Press, which he co-founded and co-guided until selling his share in the game company to help provide the money to build his collection.

He recalls that he bought his first Samurai weapon at the age of 19, a short sword that cost him $350 "at a time when I had $700 to my name." He noted when we visited that Samurai warriors always carried a short and long swo

"I want to start a real museum that is dedicated to the kind of stuff I have, which is a collection that is like nothing in the U.S, that I am aware of," Snoddy said. "There are some very impressive private collections in this country but nothing that is open to the public."

He estimated that his collection, which is stored in his apartment except for a suit of armor that stands beside his desk in his Lynnwood office, is worth about $120,000.

While Snoddy is intent on finding a place for public display of his weaponry, he is also intent on helping attract interest to the time when the Samurai dominated Japanese culture.

"This was an ancient, sophisticated culture that dates back more than 700 years," he said. "It came from the warrior culture of Japan but basically ended in 1876 when Japan decided to modernize, realizing it was out of touch with other countries and cultures, but that also meant modernizing its military."

"It was development that had to happen at some point since Japan had cut itself off from the rest of the world, until Commodore Perry sailed his ships into Tokyo Bay and forced Japan to open itself to the outside world," Snoddy explained, sharing a bit of history.

Snoddy noted that the Samurai made an attempt to come back a few years after they were banned in what is known as the Satsuma Rebellion, a revolt against the imperial government, "but they got annihilated," he said.

He recalled that he bought his first suit of Samurai armor, "probably dating from the 1700s," when he was 25, adding that by then he was also buying sword fittings, such as handles.

"I now have nine suits of armor, five helmets but only two swords, plus a "naginata," which he explained was a pole with a long sword-like curved blade on the end, and I was intrigued to learn when I did a search on "naginata" that it was primarily a weapon of female warriors of the Japanese nobility.

That caused me to chuckle, frankly, as I thought "Ah, a society ahead of its time in some respects."

Snoddy said the place he'd like to find to display his Samurai weaponry "would ideally be a working museum that would include people who could identify artifacts, publish books as well as provide audio and video products and have guest speakers from around the world."

Snoddy is not alone in his interest in the Samurai weaponry. California has two large Japanese sword-owner gatherings: the Northern California Token Kai (Kai means club, Snoddy said) and the Nanka Token Kai, Southern California Japanese Sword Society. Plus, he said, there is a convention in Florida each year.

But those are gatherings of sword owners, not collectors of the full array of weapons.

Snoddy laughed when he shared that his interest in Japanese culture isn't limited to medieval times, since he met his wife, Makiko, there when they were introduced after, as he put it, he was dumped by his Japanese girl friend at the same time she was bemoaning the loss of her U.S. pen pal from whom she was learning English. 

They were married soon after.

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With 'Patriots Day' as backdrop, event honors First Responders

With 'Patriots Day' as backdrop, event honors First Responders

With a backdrop of the movie "Patriots Day," described by its director as "unapologetic in support of law enforcement," a special gathering took place in Seattle last week to honor First Responders, the police and firefighters who are asked to come through in time of crisis. It may have been the first event of its kind and certainly was a first in Seattle.

The event, without advance media hype and with no speeches and no elected officials present to distract from the "thank you" for the honorees, was the idea of Greg Steinhauer, president of American Life, with key support from the Seattle Police Foundation and a few local corporations who put up the money to make the event possible.unnamed 1

The event began at the Cinerama theater, where the movie "Patriots Day," the film about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the subsequent manhunt for the terrorist brothers, was playing. It a wound up with a social gathering at the Westin downtown.

The importance of the movie to Seattle and the First Responders gathering is that Robert Merner, now an assistant police chief in Seattle, is a featured figure in the movie, being the basis for the lead character played by producer and actor Mark Wahlberg as a leader in the effort to find the brothers following the bombing.

Peter Berg, director and one of the writers, said of the film that it was "unapologetic in support of law enforcement," which to some observers accounted for the fact that Patriots Day surprisingly failed to be nominated for Best Picture for the recent Academy Awards.

One writer, discussing the Academy Awards nominations, observed that Patriots Day "Was exactly the movie that America needs right now."

That sense certainly came out when the Boston police officers, following the end of the hunt for the terrorist brothers, were on hand for a Red Sox baseball game and the game was stopped by the Red Sox so those in the stands could say "thank you."

Hard to imagine something like that happening in Seattle, where a police pushback is almost a required reaction in some circles of Seattleites and there is still lingering agitation about accusations of excessive force and abuse prior to a 2012 consent decree that followed Justice Department mandated reforms.

The idea for the gathering of police and firefighters to get to know each other came about at a social gathering where Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, Merner, Avalara CEO Scott McFarland and Wells Fargo's Senior Vice President Tim Brown were visiting.

It came up in conversation that Merner's role in the pursuit of the Boston bombers was being played by Wahlberg. Following that conversation, Debbie Peppa, charged by Steinhauer with putting on last week's event. 

She recalled for me what happened next.

"It didn't take long before the idea was hatched that we should do an event to honor first responder and that the movie would be a great platform to do it, so Scott McFarland and Tim Brown quickly said they would support the event and I was tasked to make it happen," Peppa explained.

"Police Chief (Kathleen) O'Toole was supportive of it immediately as well," she added. "It's my understanding that it's the first time that an event like this was held, just an event to honor the officers and firefighters who risk their lives every day in a political climate that isn't really supportive of what they do so we wanted to send a message that people do recognize what they do."

"But it wouldn't have come about if Mark Pinkowski, chairman of the board for the Police Foundation, hadn't been instrumental in supporting the event, even though he was in Wisconsin dealing with the death of his father," Peppa said. 

Mark Sundberg, president of International Parking Management (IPM), who was one of the sponsors of the gathering, said "It was a phenomenal event and it would be awesome if we could do it again next year and have the general public get the chance to be involved."

In fact a number of the firefighters and officers asked if this could become a yearly event to allow the two departments to mingle and build relationships.

Sundberg made a point of praising what has happened in the department under O'Toole's leadership.

O'Toole, who had headed the Boston police department as well as the Irish national police, was tapped just under three years ago by Mayor Ed Murray after a national search to take over what was a beleaguered department operating under the consent decree that required stiff reforms to combat excessive force and biased policing.

"The police chief is the best thing that has happened in Seattle for a long time," Sundberg told me.

As a bit of background on Assistant Chief Robert Merner, who was the catalyst for the event, he joined the Seattle Police Department two years ago this week from Boston, where he was chief of detectives in the Boston Police Department. In that role he oversaw 800 employees as superintendent of the Bureau of Investigative Services.

Merner, who joined the Boston Police Department in 1986, worked under O'Toole when she served as Boston police commissioner from 2004 to 2006.

O'Toole said at the time of his selection she was unaware that he had applied for the Seattle job until he became a finalist. He told her he didn't alert her of his interest because that would have been inappropriate, she said.

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High court's ruling on new wells stirs concern in Legislature, rural areas

High court's ruling on new wells stirs concern in Legislature, rural areas
The State Supreme Court's decision to assume the role of determining the future course of education funding in this state stirred unrest among those who viewed it as crossing the bounds of separation of powers. But when the court last fall decided which unit of government would monitor the effects of new wells on existing water rights, even one of the Justices raised a red flag about the court's move beyond judicial bounds.

The wells issue is off the visibility radar screen in most parts of the state, but a source of potential crisis in many rural areas. And because of that the lawmakers are pushing back against the court edict because they have the power to do that, unlike the education-funding ruling, now known as the McCleary Decision., where the high court cited constitutional grounds for demanding the legislature do as instructed.

The water issue came about as a 6-3 opinion in a Whatcom County lawsuit with the high court effectively blocking development throughout the state by removing the Department of Ecology from management of water resources relating to individual wells.

The legislative pushback, which would restore the authority over individual wells to the Department of Ecology, took what could be an important step Tuesday night when the Republican-controlled State Senate passed a measure that would put Ecology back in charge.

But the fact that the bill, sponsored by Sen. Judy Warnke, Moses Lake Republican, passed by a 28-21 margin with only two Democrats in support, and that there is no similar measure in the Democrat-controlled House, doesn't provide much confidence for proponents that the problem will be addressed this session.

The Senate bill is now in House hands and because of the complexity of the legislative process, it could still emerge before the Legislature ends.

Meanwhile, the concern about separation of powers continues for those who see both cases involving a high-court overreach.

What the concern over separation of powers means, basically, is that the role of the judiciary is to determine the legality or constitutionality of actions or policies made by the executive or legislative branches. If either legislative or executive branch goes too far, the Judiciary pulls them back where they belong.

The criticism of legal experts, and some in the legislative and executive branches, is that if the court empowers itself to stray into policy matters, there is no way to pull the court back where it belongs. Except the voters, who in a liberal state are not likely to get too upset at the actions of a liberal court.

Interestingly, there is a quiet movement to raise a substantial warchest and ferret out quality court candidates to begin to signal the court that the voters could decide to fill the appropriate role of "judges" of the judiciary.

The dissenting opinion in the water case, written by Justice Debra Stephens, a native of Spokane, described the decision as amounting to "a policy decision that GMA (Growth Management Act) counties should not issue building permits that rely on permit-exempt groundwater withdrawals. This is not a policy decision we are at liberty to make."
The high court's majority opinion, written by Justice Charlie Wiggins, says all formerly permit-exempt well applications must now be examined for impact on senior water rights and that "the GMA explicitly assigns that task to local governments." The effect is to eliminate the category of permit-exempt wells.
But as Justice Stephens points out, the Legislature's intent in creating the exemption category was to save both the applicant and the state the "trouble and expense of processing applications for small withdrawals with little impact on the total water available."
In commenting on the issue, Warnick said "We face a situation where people in rural areas who don't have the luxury of hooking up to city water now have very few options. We are one Washington, but the realities faced by the communities I represent sometimes don't get the attention they deserve. We are talking about families who will now have to pay tens of thousands of more dollars to get water because the state Supreme Court has taken decades of water law and turned it on its head."
An executive of the Association of Washington Counties described the decision as assuring full employment for hydrologists, since each new well application, if Ecology rules no longer prevail, would need to be assessed individually to determine impact on existing water rights.
Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, noted this decision has kicked off a firestorm around the state" and he referred to it as "a case of the court going beyond interpreting the law to making new law."
Across the state, about 300,000 permit-exempt wells serve 1 million people. Between 2,000 and 8,000 new wells are added each year though drilling a new well does not guarantee legal access to water, according to the Department of Ecology.
Water pulled from these wells represents only about 1 percent of the water consumed in the state.  
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Shabana Khan's squash events brings global visibility to Bellevue

Shabana Khan's squash events brings global visibility to Bellevue
Shabana Khan is known globally in the sport of squash, recognition earned first as a national-champion player and now as a producer of national and international events that include a series of first-time competitive gatherings, all in Bellevue over the next three months. But she faces the frustrating irony that while she is putting the name of the Eastside's largest city on the world squash map, she has generated little attention or support from the city or its leadership.
 
shabanaBut she learned Tuesday that Microsoft has decided to provide a key sponsorship that will ease but not eliminate the financial pressure, as she has raised about $250,000 of a projected $350,000 in costs.
 
The comment about "little attention or support" may seem like a harsh statement, but I've been following Shabana's squash accomplishments since a month before the Men's World Championships in late 2015 when I was asked to help direct her to individuals who might support her efforts.

And except for a donation from developer Kemper Freeman to specifically allow her to say he was a supporter, and an unsuccessful effort by City Councilman Conrad Lee to enlist council financial support for the 2015 men's event, she has gotten only modest backing, mostly "friends and family," as she puts it.

Redmond's PRO Sports, which attracts many Microsoft employees from the campus across the street and where Shabana coaches, has been a key supporter.

In the end, despite the financial challenges faced by her YSK Events company, the men's world event, put on at Meydenbauer Center, came off well, prompting expressions of gratitude from squash participants and executives who gathered in Bellevue from around the world. A Frenchman defeated an Egyptian in the final match to become world champion in a sports event as exciting and competitive as any I've witnessed.

Before getting involved with the Shabana's men's-event initiative, I had little knowledge of squash, which is racket sport similar to racketball, played by two or four players in a four-walled court (glass walls for most international events that are broadcast globally) using a small, hollow rubber ball.

Later, as I learned how many of my friends and colleagues are or were avid squash players, I was informed that squash players and fans represent a highly targeted and sought after demographic of men and women with median incomes of more than $300,000 and an average net worth of nearly $1,500,000.

The website for squash notes: "Squash players are business owners and senior executives in upper management throughout corporate America along with research physicians, architects, attorneys, and accountants."

And Forbes magazine several years ranked squash as "the number one healthiest sport."

Shabana is the kind of business-of-sports figure, a lithe 48 year old who is a former national women's squash champion and one of the best in the world in her playing prime, who would be sought out for encouragement and support in most communities for her leadership role.

Her stature on the national scene of her sport was evidenced when last October, at the National Squash Championship in Philadelphia, she was honored with the award given each year for major administrative contributions to the sport, recognition for the men's world event.

But rather than gathering support, she told me that when she went to Meydenbauer to explore holding the 2017 events there, "They were very adamant for us to move this event to Seattle or some other city."

That prompted Shabana, in seeking another site, to find the Boys and Girls Club in Bellevue's Hidden Valley area, which she enthuses turned out to be a more ideal site, one excited about hosting the events as a showcase for the four-glass-walls court in its new facility.

The capstone of the events this spring is the first Bellevue Squash Classic, the sport's equivalent of a stop on the PGA tour that will bring 16 of the top players in the world to the Pacific Northwest for a $200,000 event described as "possibly the most lucrative event in tour history."

Khan is looking for a major sponsor, as well as event sponsors, for her array of events since Wells Fargo, which had the $25,000 sponsorship and wound up with its name carried around the squash world since all the matches were streamed worldwide, has for various reasons not renewed.

The kind of community support she wishes she could find in Bellevue is something that would be a given in other communities that had the opportunity to have the brass ring as emerging center of what is becoming an increasingly popular sport in many places around the world.

And the growing popularity has apparently seen this country emerge as the third fastest-growing in the world for the sport.

"We support this opportunity to showcase the diversity and talent of these players from around the world," she said. "It's an opportunity to keep politics out and focus on the diversity that brings communities and countries to get together celebrating athleticism and skill."

"Her squash efforts represent an example of cultural experiences that deserve support," Lee said. "We don't have things that attract people from other parts of the world to share and thus this is an important opportunity, particularly the focus on events for young people."

And the focus on young people will be highlighted by the second West Coast College Showcase, a new event she created last year to expose what she describes as "unfound squash talent" to college coaches from around the country who gather to find the young people they want to recruit.

YSK Events, which she founded three years ago to focus on squash events, is a family affair in several ways. She serves as CEO while her younger brother, Murad, serves as president, and sister Latasha, who was women's national champion when Shabana defeated her to take the crown, is vice president for business development. It's also a family affair in that the "Y" in YSK stands for both her 10-year-old daughter, Yasmine, who is 15th in the country in her age group, and her father, Yusuf, who was nine-time India champion when the Seattle Tennis Club hired him in 1968 to come to Seattle to be head tennis pro. The "S" and the "K" are her initials.

I learned the import of the name Khan because of an exchange with my former UPI boss, now retired in Connecticut, who reached out to me after my first column on Shabana in late 2015 and shared that the reason I couldn't get hold of him during the afternoons, when I would call his New York office from Los Angeles was that "we were all out playing squash."

But when I was told him I was going to take some squash lessons from Shabana, he said: "Are you telling me you are going to get private lessons from a member of the Khan family? You can't know how jealous I am."
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Joe Galloway's 'hard duty' eulogy for friend, Hal Moore, of Vietnam battle fame

Joe Galloway's 'hard duty' eulogy for friend, Hal Moore, of  Vietnam battle fame

Dear Joe,

Joseph L. Galloway's Seattle interviews with Vietnam veterans from this state two years ago made them part of a 50-year commemoration of those who fought in that war but were never thanked. I was reminded of Galloway's time here when I received the email this week that he has the "hard duty" of a eulogy Friday for the man who for half a century had been his partner in keeping alive the memory of the "defining battle" of that war.

Retired Lt. Gen. Harold G. "Hal" Moore, who as a lieutenant colonel led units of the 7thCavalry Regiment in the first major battle against the North Vietnamese army at a place called the Ia Drang Valley, died this week, two days before his 95th birthday.

galloway 69Joe Galloway 1969Joe Galloway was a UPI reporter who traded his camera for a machine gun as the battle swirled around him with Moore's unit confronted by a superior force of North Vietnamese regulars.

Galloway proceeded to rescue two wounded soldiers under fire during that climactic four-day battle, fighting that claimed 234 Americans, but was estimated to have cost the lives of several thousand North Vietnamese in two landing zones in November of 1965.

Joe Galloway in SeattleJoe Galloway in Seattle"Those of us who survived Landing Zone X-Ray survived because of his brilliance of command. I think every one of us thought we were going to die at that place except Hal Moore. He was certain we were going to win that fight and he was right," Galloway was quoted in a national news story this week.

Galloway's email to me and a group of former UPI colleagues read:

"I will do the eulogy, as I promised Hal more than 20 years ago that I would. But it's hard duty. "He was my best friend for more than half a century." The memorial for Moore will be at the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning Army Base in Columbus, GA.

Ia Drang began a relationship between Galloway and Moore that extended over more than five decades and involved co-authoring two books, including We Were Soldiers Once...and Young and the movie made from it, We Were Soldiers.  

I write about Galloway in this Harp because he had an impact on many people in the Seattle area during a key stop here on his travels around the country as he was, in essence, revisiting that war in memory and emotion, interviewing veterans of that conflict. The 100 or so interviews prior to his Seattle visit, and the more than 300 total, have been part of the 50-year Vietnam Commemoration initiated by the Defense Department, not to celebrate the war but those who fought there.

Galloway's impact was not just with those he interviewed or the several interviews that Q13 Fox did with him as well as those he interviewed. I had the opportunity for question-and-answer sessions with him at Seattle Rotary and at a special breakfast session at the Columbia Tower Club.

Q13 Fox made its facilities available for the interviews, 60- to 90-minute videos that Galloway hopes will be "the body of material for future generations who want to know what this war was all about."

Among the interviewees was Bruce Crandall, made famous by the book and the movie as the helicopter pilot who, with his wingman Ed "Too Tall" Freeman, made as many as 20 trips to a landing zone that was constantly under withering enemy fire to bring in supplies and remove the wounded.

Crandall, who lives in Kitsap County, was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2007 for his exploits, as was Freeman in 2001. Freeman died in 2008. Crandall will also be at the memorial service for Moore in Georgia this week.

Galloway and Moore wrote a second book, We Are Soldiers Still, which he said grew out of a journey back to the battlefields of Vietnam 25 years later. "We went back and walked those old battlefields. At the end of the day, Hal Moore and Col. Nguyen Huu An, the North Vietnamese commander, stood in a circle in the clearing and prayed for the souls of every man who died on both sides."

Galloway, and historians after him, described the battle of the Ia Drang Valley as defining, even though the war dragged on for another eight years before the end of U.S. involvement, and 10 years until the actual fall of Saigon.

It was defining, Galloway wrote, because it "convinced Ho (Chi Minh), (General) Giap and (Defense Secretary Robert S.) McNamara the U.S. could never win." The realization of both sides was that the American citizenry would not accept for a long period the pace of casualties that the companion battles in the Ia Drang Valley produced. 

In his ultimate rejection of LBJ, Galloway wrote: "Although President Johnson, having listened to McNamara's sense that we couldn't win in Viet Nam, no matter how many men we sent there, huddled with his key Advisors and they determined: 'send the soldiers anyway.'"

During one of the interviews while he was in Seattle, Galloway said of the veterans he was interviewing: "They are not bitter but I am bitter in their behalf. It make me angry that those who came to hate the war came to hate the warriors who were their sons and daughters."

One of the more emotional moments for Galloway came during our interview at the Tower Club when someone in the audience asked about Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who had once described Galloway as "the soldier's reporter" because of his caring and regard for those he wrote about in battle.

Galloway recalled the time he had gotten a call from Schwarzkopf, who over the course of Galloway's coverage of wars extending through Afghanistan had become his close friend. The general wanted to know how Moore, who had been Schwarzkopf's tactical officer at West Point when he was a cadet, was doing.

"I told him Hal was having trouble with his memory," Galloway recalled. "So am I Joe," he quoted Schwarzkopf as replying. "So you better get down to here to Tampa so I can buy you a beer before I forget who you are.'"

It was a tearful moment not just for Galloway but for some of the military people in the audience as Galloway noted that Schwarzkopf, who had commanded all coalition forces in the gulf war, was suffering from both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and died not long after the 2012 telephone conversation.

When I took Galloway back to head for the airport, he promised to return to Seattle for more interviews, a promise I am pressing to hold him to.  

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Laureates chosen for Business Hall of Fame 30th anniversary

Screen Shot 2017 02 09 at 4.47.32 PMTwo men who teamed with close business partners to build companies that became national leaders in their industries, a member of one of Seattle's most prominent families, and a woman who guided one of the region's best-known law firms will be the 2017 honorees of the Puget Sound Business Hall of Fame. The event celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.


The four whose lifetime of contributions to business will be celebrated at the Business Hall of Fame banquet on May 4 at the Seattle Waterfront Marriott are: Judith (Judy) Runstad, Carl Behnke, Artie Buerk and Don Nielsen.

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Judy Runstad 

--Runstad, an attorney who became the first female managing partner of a major Seattle law as co-managing partner of Foster Pepper and went on to chair the Federal Reserve Board as well as serve two governors by chairing special commissions and serve on the boards of three public companies.


                                                    

behnke

 

Carl Behnke  

--Carl Behnke built the second largest Pepsi dealership in North America. Then he subsequently partnered with his wife, Renee, to create Sur La Table, which bills itself the ultimate place for kitchen exploration and discovery and had grown to one of the nation's largest specialty cookware companies by the time they sold it in 2011 to an international investment bank. Behnke's late uncle, David (Ned) Skinner, is a Hall of Fame laureate.
          
                                               

Buerk

 

Artie Buerk  https://ci4.googleusercontent.com/proxy/PwY8zeozY2N-IcCD2_ylKeRnWztoJgQEUzy1x6UO5C_9NWN4oAhHKJ3ziNyVXtXzsh48LD_Qj7IQWN4G7uMz3tQ4Q4L_qdkUhbASv83bqT-i=s0-d-e1-ft#https://imgssl.constantcontact.com/letters/images/sys/S.gif

--Buerk, who became known as the "catalyst of ventures and connector of people," had many high points in his career. But a key one was when he partnered in the late '70s with old friend Chuck Barbo to build Shurgard into a nationwide storage company. Barbo was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.

 

Nielsen

 

Donald Nielsen 

--Nielsen, who teamed with Kirby Cramer to co-found what became the world's largest contract biological and chemical research and testing company, Hazleton Laboratories Corp. Nielsen joins Cramer, his frequent business
partner over the years, in the Hall of Fame. Cramer was inducted in 2009. 


The Puget Sound Business Hall of Fame was launched in 1987 by Puget Sound Business Journal and Junior Achievement of Greater Puget Sound to be patterned after the National Business Hall of fame that had been created a decade earlier by Junior Achievement and Fortune Magazine.

After the first Seattle event, where eight honorees included four who had been inducted into the national Business Hall of Fame so were automatic inclusions in the local Hall of Fame, I was asked by several business leaders who wondered if we would have enough prospects to carry on for very many years.

The question has been answered many times over in the three decades since then and the induction of the 2017 foursome will bring to 122 the number of business leaders who have been singled out for the honor. Past honorees have represented virtually every business sector, and while many were lawyers by profession who moved into the top ranks of business and made their impacts, Runstad is the first laureate to be honored for her contributions as an attorney.

Thus the vignettes of each of the laureates that are the feature of the banquet have, because of the extensive research that goes into each of the videos produced by KCPQ-13 as a key partner with JA and PSBJ, have contributed to an understanding of the business history of this region.

And the Q-13 videos, as well as the profiles contained each year in the Business Journal'sspecial editorial section focusing on the Hall of Fame event, represent the history of the Puget Sound business community through the collective stories of the laureates.

The laureates are chosen by a selection committee chaired by Business Journal Publisher Emory Thomas and includes JA Washington President David Moore, Q-13 Vice President Pam Pearson, as well as Neil McReynolds, John Fluke, past laureates Herb Bridge, Woody Howse and the undersigned.

Runstad served on corporate boards, a variety of gubernatorial commissions and, perhaps most prominently, was on the board, and in 1997 chaired, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She was chair of the conference of chairs that year.

She was on the board of directors of Wells Fargo & Co., Potlatch Corp. and Safeco Corp.

She chaired two gubernatorial boards, serving as co-chair of Gov. Gary Locke's Washington Competitiveness Council, and Gov. Christine Gregoire's Global Competitiveness Council, and served as a board member of a half dozen other gubernatorial councils.  

Buerk teamed with Barbo to take a self-storage business they had, renamed it Shurgard, and built a nationwide brand, raising $750 million for expansion through what was described as "a vast constellation of brokered deals." 

He helped take the company public in 1994 then moved on, three years later co-founding the private equity firm, Buerk Craig Victor, which became Buerk Dale Victor and is now Montlake Capital. 

Despite his successes in the corporate world, many will say Buerk will be best remembered for his support of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurism. His own view is that "My whole life has revolved around startups and small businesses, the engines of the Northwest economy." 

That lifelong involvement eventually led to the entrepreneurial center at the University of Washington being named the Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship in honor of both his involvement and of the $5.2 million gift from the Buerks to finance its future.

Nielsen partnered with Kirby Cramer in 1969 to launch Environmental Sciences Corp., a $200,000 startup in a garage. Over the following 14 years, after moving the company to Vienna, VA., the two built what they renamed Hazleton Laboratories Corp., into the world's largest contract biological and chemical research and testing company.

They took Hazleton public in 1983 and it was purchased in 1987 by Corning, which kept Nielsen on as president until 1992, when he retired and turned his focus to education reform, which has remained his focus as he has become a sought-after opinion leader and author on education change.

Behnke, as CEO, guided ALPAC as a Pepsi dealership that, but the time it was purchased by Pepsi, had become the second largest dealership in the nation with revenue in excess of $130 million annually. Then he teamed with his wife, Renee, to build Sur La Table into a national company. He sits on various corporate boards, as well as chairing the Skinner Corporation. The names Behnke and Skinner being among the best-known business and philanthropic families in the region.

Behnke's resume is filled with community and philanthropic involvements, as is the case with the other laureates. It's important to note that laureate selections are based solely on contributions to business and the economy, since other organizations and events focus on philanthropic contributions, although community involvement is part of the life commitment of most laureates chosen over the years.

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Rubber Soldiers details how Brazil and its citizens helped Allies win World War II

My friend Gary Neeleman has breached what he refers to as the "linguistic tomb" with his forthcoming book, Rubber Soldiers. It's an exhaustive look, with much of the information translated from Portuguese, at how his beloved Brazil and its citizens were instrumental in helping the allies defeat Axis forces in World War II.

With the Kool Aid of nationalism becoming the political cocktail of choice for many in this country, it may be an appropriate time to learn that without the key role played by a much smaller country as partner, the most powerful nation on earth might well have been halted in its drive to defeat Nazi Germany. The partner was the largest nation on the other American continent.

Neeleman, from six decades of involvement in and with Brazil, has always believed the interests of what he refers to as "the two giants of the western hemisphere."were intertwined in an unusual and mutually beneficial relationship. But nothing could give form to that belief more than the story of the 55,000 Brazilians who trekked or were taken into the Amazon jungles to tap latex to produce the rubber that the Allies needed for their war machine.

 
garyandroseneelemanNeeleman, now Honorary Consul of Brazil, is a former colleague at United Press International and a close friend for 45 years, dating back to not long after he returned from Brazil where he had been UPI manager in the 1960s. I focus on him and his book in thisHarp not only because of that friendship but because his three books (Rubber Soldiers is the third) chronicle previously little-known aspects of the relations between the two nations.what he refers to as "the two giants of the western hemisphere."

The story of the Rubber Soldiers begins soon just after Pearl Harbor, when ninety-seven percent of all of the natural rubber in the world, mostly grown in Asia, was in the hands of the Japanese. Since rubber was an essential ingredient for mounting an effective war machine, that created a crisis in 1942 for the Allied war effort.

President Roosevelt reached out to Brazilian President Getulio Vargas, whose county had once been the source of most rubber in the world before the arrival of rubber in Indonesia in the early twentieth century put Brazil out of the rubber business, though the trees remained in the Amazon jungles.

Although Hitler made a major effort to convince Brazil to come into the Nazi sphere, Roosevelt and Vargas reached an agreement, including U.S. payment of $120 million, that led to the U.S. establishing air and naval bases in Brazil and the "Rubber Army" being dispatched up the Amazon to bring rubber out to satisfy the needs of the Allies.

Neeleman, whose fluency in Portuguese dated from his time as a Mormon missionary, was Brazil manager for UPI from 1958 to 1966 and eventually became UPI manager for Latin America and the Caribbean area.

It was because of those years in Brazil that Neeleman became aware of parts of history in that nation, history about which he uses the phrase "linguistic tomb" to characterize the challenge the Portuguese-language barrier posed for researchers and academics learning about that Brazilian history.

Because son David, first of the Neelemans' children to be born in Brazil, founded and remains a major shareholder of Jet Blue and now guides his fast-growing Brazilian airline Azul, the Neelemans (Gary 82 and Rose 81) have little problem with the cost of their travels from their home in the Salt Lake City area to Brazil. They have three trips planned this year, more to promote his now three books on Brazil in travels around that country than doing additional research.

There is a dark side to the tale of the heroic Rubber Soldiers in that the Brazilian government failed to fulfill its promise to pay for the return home of those citizens.

Thus many of the soldiers who survived, although perhaps half died from yellow fever, malaria, dengue, beriberi and dozens of other jungle afflictions and creatures during their four years harvesting rubber, could not afford to leave the jungle to return home.

There were accusations that the U.S. had failed to honor its promises to provide funds to Brazil, though a couple of years ago that country began remitting 25,000 reals (roughly $7,800) to the survivors and their dependents.

The money was welcome, as the men are elderly and most are frail. But many of them said that this amount was a pittance meant to silence them and did not fulfill the promises made to them when they signed up.

It was while Gary and Rose were searching the Brazilian backcountry for information for their second book, Tracks in the Amazon, that they began to learn about the rubber soldiers.

Tracks in the Amazon was about construction in the early years of the twentieth century of a railroad to traverse the most dense tropical jungle on earth, along the Madeira River then down the Amazon, to bring the rubber to ships, a project once bankrupt but eventually resurrected and completed, at a cost of 10,000 workers who lost their lives. Then the rubber trade died.

The story of the old railroad inspired Tracks in the Amazon, but the Neelemans found the story of the train was also intertwined with the story of the rubber soldiers.

Inspiration for Rubble Soldiers emerged, says Neeleman, "after countless interviews with survivors of the rubber army, now in their nineties. The persistent question from these men was 'when will the United States pay us for our sacrifice?'"

"We feel this book answers this question and for the first time provides a clear picture of the relationship between the United States and Brazil during the war years," Neeleman said, including details of Brazil's rebuff of Hitler.

Neeleman says the book, which will be published in May and is in pre-sale on Amazon, "finally puts to rest the questions of 'did the US pay for the rubber?' and among other things, it documents the money trail with official papers from the files of the United States Senate never before seen."

"As we pursued information for the book, we became very attached to these old rubber tappers and their descendants and found many hundreds of new friends in this remote area of the world," Neeleman notes.

Neeleman's 63-year relationship with Brazil is much like a love affair with a nation and its people, beginning in 1954 when he arrived as a 20-year-old Mormon missionary.

He has been recognized repeatedly in Brazil for his work over six decades toward enhancing the friendship between the nation of his birth and the one where three of his children were born. Most prominent of those recognitions was in September of 2015 when he was honored in the main hall at the City of Sao Paulo as the fourth recipient of the Sao Paulo Citizen Award, joining the Pope, the Dalai Lahma and the founder of the Mormon Church in Brazil as the only other recipients. 

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'Super Slow,' high-intensity training an intriguing approach to conditioning

Despite the fact it's now possible to find a book, online promotion or latest expert touting the value of virtually every form of exercise or workout regimen, the routine known as "super slow" has stood the test of time, gathering evangelical adherents across the country though being only vaguely familiar to many people.

Ann-Marie Garrett-Anderson chuckles at that reality as she talks about her quarter century ann marieexperience guiding clients through the few-minutes-a-week routine called High Intensity Training that is taken from the "SuperSlow" process devised more than 40-plus years ago by high-intensity guru Ken Hutchins.

Hutchins defined and popularized his trademarked SuperSlow form of resistance training exercise and developed methodology, trainer certifications and exercise equipment working specifically with Nautilus, the exercise-equipment manufacturer that had developed :"strength training principles."

The bible of the high-intensity disciples is Body by Science, co-authored by Doug McGuff, M.D., who throughout his medical career has maintained a focus on high-intensity exercises culminating in the late '90s with his opening Ultimate Exercise, his own high-intensity gym.

Ann-Marie's late husband, Greg, was in the forefront of the nationally recognized evangelists of the high-intensity regimen and she is now on the list of most recognized practitioners.

It was with the guidance of friends that I discovered Ann-Marie, and her Ideal Exercise gym, first facility west of the Mississippi to employ the SuperSlow approach, as I sought ways to treat my body in a manner that hopefully maintains its performance despite advancing age.

But as I came to learn about SuperSlow, I have been surprised that it has gained so little visibility if for no other reason than its role as a process proven to combat osteoporosis in the elderly.

A key challenge for higher visibility for Super Slow, the High Intensity Training routine as applied in the Seattle and Bellevue gyms that Anderson and her late husband Greg founded 23 years ago, is that the 10- to 12-minutes a week approach isn't likely to be promoted by conventional gyms or fitness clubs. The goal of such facilities, obviously, is to build clientele who maximize rather than minimize use.

Another is the challenge of a counterintuitive idea that a few minutes a week can keep the body highly fit.

"When a wife or husband comes in, the spouse almost routinely teases about 'you can't do anything in 10 minutes a week," Anderson says with a laugh. "But eventually the spouse sees the results and comes in themselves."

But once attracted, the staying power of the workout routine on the array of Nautilus devices is dramatic.

"I have eight clients who've done the whole 23 years and most clients have been with us for more than 10 years," Anderson says. "For some families, where children as young as 12 and the parents train with us, we're kind of their primary health care."

SuperSlow workouts, which are actually high-intensity, slow-motion strength training, typically consist of one set on each of five or six Nautilus units, each set carried out to complete muscle fatigue. Hutchins recommends performing each set for between 100 and 240 seconds, depending on the exercise and the subject's capability.

Obviously, the weight on my sets is well below the weight on the units for the high school and college athletes training there.

Interestingly, It's probably the only activity where the point is to fail, no matter what your performance capabilities.

Take the example of the leg press, doing six to nine repetitions over a couple of minutes, until your leg muscles are burning and you want to quit, but you have to continue until you physically can't complete another, and that's the point where you fail. Your legs feel like noodles. Then on to the next machine, until a full body workout of repeated "failures" is achieved.

As Anderson explained to me prior on my first visit: since the body is being stressed to the max, rest and recovery are essential. She recommends almost a week for recovery, explaining that when the body is rested, it adapts to the overload and is able to do more the next time. Thus a few more pounds for each machine and an additional repetition await on the next visit to her gym.

The way osteoporosis came into the equation is when Hutchins and his wife, in 1982, conducted the "Nautilus osteoporosis study" at the University of Florida Medical School and found that the slow-moving, controlled-exercise approach was effective in building bone density in elderly women with osteoporosis.

Entrepreneur Sandy Wheeler, the founder of equipment maker BowFlex, which owned Nautilus for a number of years, recalled in a telephone conversation that the company did a project with Tufts University to measure how use of the equipment improved the bone density of people in their 80s and 90s.

As I was researching the whole high-intensity thing, I ran across an interesting explanation from one expert: "there's an inverse relationship between exercise duration and intensity. Meaning, if you run for a long time, it must be low intensity--you can't sprint for miles. If you do sprint--which is high intensity--it must be a short distance. It's the same with high-intensity strength training."

Or as Anderson put it:" You can train hard or you can train long. It's physically impossible to do both. When you move slowly, your muscles can't rely on momentum, so they are forced to work harder through the entire range of motion."

Early on, I questioned Anderson about how focus on muscle-strengthening exercises benefitted cardio maintenance, to which she replied: "the muscular system is the only path into all the other systems from respiratory to cardio-vascular to endocrine and skeletal.

"When you work the muscular system to capacity and get as strong as you can, all the other systems up-regulate to support that muscular system," she added.

There has apparently been a resurgence of interest in the "SuperSlow" approach, not surprising with people facing busier schedules and retirees living longer and seeking to stay fit into older age.

Normal 0 false false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE As a result, Anderson is creating a certification program for employees that could allow her to expand beyond her two Seattle-area gyms as well as focus on outreach to specific audiences and age groups.

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Alaska's Cuba service recalls Russia Far East venture

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Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE It was logical and appropriate that the first air carrier to connect the Western United States to Cuba should be Alaska Airlines, given that carving out new frontiers and seeking new challenges has been the culture of the airline over its eight-plus decades.

“As we kick off our 85th anniversary year, the inauguration of Cuba service marks the latest in some fascinating twists and turns to our route network,” said Joe Sprague, Alaska’s senior vice president for external relations.

Indeed the Cuba service launch brought back particular memories of Alaska’s far-out decision a quarter century ago to begin regular service to the Russian Far East, seizing what was then a thawing of relations between the two countries and the emergence of the Seattle area as a key player in that relationship that was beginning to verge on friendship.

Back in 1991, Seattle had already hosted the Goodwill Games competition between the U.S. and Russia, and business relations were being pursued. So Alaska launched summer service that year to Magadan, a sister city to Anchorage, and Khabarovsk, described as a European-style interior city that was the commercial and industrial hub for Russia’s Far East.

Part of the U.S.-Russia relations that emerged prompted creation of the Foundation for Russian American Economic Cooperation FRAEC), whose then-president Carol Vipperman recalled in an email exchange this week “the Alaska flights to the Russian Far East were very meaningful to both sides.”

The challenges of some of Alaska’s early flights, eventually extending to five cities in the rugged Far East of Russia, could provide comedy-script material, but also confirmed the pioneering spirit of Alaska’s people.

The inaugural flight to Magadan, 400 miles south of the Arctic Circle, turned up the fact the airport had no de-icing service. It was reported the pilot rounded up every bottle of vodka available and sprayed it on the wings with a garden hose.

And when Alaska launched service to Petropavlovsk, the largest city on the Kamchatka Peninsula, as the inaugural flight loaded with dignitaries was about to land, ground authorities told the pilot he did not have landing rights so the Alaska jet was forced to turn around and return to Anchorage.

Alaska was forced to end the service, on which the airline insisted it made money over the nearly a decade of doing business, when the Russian economy collapsed in 1998.

Vipperman recalls being on the next-to-last flight, with long-time Secretary of State Ralph Munro and some Alaska officials.

“We had come from a bilateral meeting, and at the Kamchatka airport we were taken off the plane to meet with the governor of Kamchatka and other officials so that we could talk about the impact the closure would have on their region,” she recalled in our email exchange. “While we sipped vodka, the plane sat on the tarmac waiting for us to come back.”

“I was personally sad to see the service to the Russian Far East end,” she added.

Alaska’s innovative outreach to the Russian Far East actually went back almost two decades earlier, in the early ‘70s, when the still young carrier began charter service to the Soviet Union’s Siberia as a result of what have been described as “secret negotiations” between the airline and Soviet Authorities.

When the U.S. Department of State learned of the deal, it decided not to block the plan, indicating it didn’t want to create a negative response from the Soviet Union. It might also be assumed the agency wanted to avoid a negative response from Washington State’s two U.S. senators, Warren Magnuson and Henry Jackson, then among the Senate’s most powerful members.

I emailed Sprague for some thoughts on the service that began in the ‘90s.

“The service to the Russian Far East was really something,” said Sprague, who was then with an Anchorage-based regional airlines. “It still amazes me to look at the map and think how far away from home base we were flying our old MD-80s for that service.”

Sprague noted Alaska’s long history of connecting communities, with the Russian Far East and now Cuba as key pieces, but also including launch of service to resort cities in Mexico, Hawaii, then points to the East Coast and Midwest.

The latest, of course, being the merger with Virgin America, which will create Alaska linkage of all the major cities on the West Coast.

“Our various moves have been good for the company, but we also like to think they have been good for the communities we serve,” Sprague said.

An example of serving communities is the fact that, despite filling it planes with passengers destined for popular vacation and business destinations, the airline continues to serve a special role in the infrastructure of the state where it was born as an airline connecting remote locations.

As Sprague noted: “We are proud that we still serve 19 points within the state of Alaska, only three of which are connected to the road system.”

 

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Four entrepreneurs who created Washington wine industry


 
The young entrepreneurs who bought the state's main winery with money they didn't really have then gave their wine a name that became the soul of what would eventually be a dramatically successful industry represent the little-known "rest of the story" of Washington wine.

      
     Kirby Cramer
Details of the story were recalled by two of those four entrepreneurs after they read last week Flynn's Harp, which focused on Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and the role its president and CEO, Ted Baseler, has played in presiding since 2001 over the growth and success of the company and its impact as leader of the Washington wine industry.
                                                            
   
      Don Nielsen
The four were typical of the young entrepreneurs coming of age in the pre-high tech early '70s in this state who wrote their own success stories in industries ranging from coffee (as in Starbucks' Howard Schultz) to retailing (the Nordstrom third generation took the company public) to medical instruments (Wayne Quentin and Hunter Simpson).

As detailed last week, the 1967 Washington Legislature had approved a bill to, for the first time, permit California and other quality wines to be sold on retail shelves alongside the basically fruity wines produced by the couple of wineries located in this state. At some point, the Washington wine industry would have to change to survive.

The four who emerged to save the wine industry became dramatically successful in various business sectors over the coming years. Wally Opdyke, Kirby Cramer, Don Nielsen and Mike Garvey came up with the money to buy American Wine Growers, a producer of mostly fruity wines with high alcohol content that Nielsen referred to jokingly as "skid road" wine.

Nielsen and Cramer, with Garvey and Opdyke as investors, had already formed a young company called Environmental Sciences in 1969 to take advantage of the need for high-quality rat cages for the pharmaceutical industry, becoming eventually the largest in that industry.

Then Opdyke, the only one who had much knowledge of or interest in wine, convinced the three friends to join in putting up the $100,000 necessary to buy the $3 million-revenue American Wine Growers, its winery and acreage.

Cramer recalled, in an interview this week, that the families who had owned AWG for years were convinced to sell the business for $3 million and the purchase took place after Cramer and Opdyke convinced Seattle First National Bank and an insurance company to each put $1.5 million with plant and acreage as collateral.

"We basically bought it on our good looks." Cramer chuckled, "but we thought it would be an interesting investment and Wally was a marketing genius, leading us to change the name to Ste. Michelle Vintners, start putting corks in the bottles, and started work on the chateau that is now the company's headquarters."

Meanwhile, knowing that creating quality red wine would take several years, Wally, as president of the company, guided growing and bottling of riesling, a white-grape with what Cramer referred to as a quick turnaround time.
In what Cramer described as "a marketing coup," Opdyke entered the Ste. Michelle riesling in a California wine competition and it took the gold medal.

"For a Washington wine to take the gold medal in a California competition in the early '70s was something no one could have imagined," Cramer said. "The gold medal made the Washington wine industry."
The legacy of that marketing coup is that today Ste. Michelle is the nation's leading producer of riesling.

Under Opdyke's leadership, the four put together a prospectus looking to raise $3 million to grow the company with more land, grape growing and production. Cramer recalls putting together an eye-catching prospectus cover that displayed a number of wine labels, including the new label for Ste. Michelle.

The four would be the first to concede that luck plays a huge role in success. But not the roll-the-dice kind, but rather where preparation meets opportunity. So it was with the four, over the years, prepared t seize opportunities that came their way.

Thus the prospectus, instead of landing in the hands of prospective investors, which Cramer admits now probably weren't many, the prospectus landed on the desk of a top executive at U.S. Tobacco, which was seeking to diversify at the time. Before long the deal had been struck that paid off the loans and left the entrepreneurs with $4 million in stock to share 18 months after their $100,000 investment.

"The dividends the year after the sale equaled my original investment," Nielsen quipped.
Having overseen dramatic growth for Environmental Sciences Corp, in 1972 they purchased Hazleton Laboratories from TRW and took the name of Hazleton, a contract laboratory that conducted toxicology testing. They took Hazleton public in 1977, had additional stock offerings in '78 and '80.

By 1982 Hazleton had become the largest independent biological testing company and life sciences laboratory in the United States, as well as the largest manufacturer of laboratory equipment in the world.

Garvey, who in 1996 launched a law firm that would become one of the most respected in the Northwest, and Opdyke were involved in the purchase of K2, which had been bought by Cummins Diesel from founder Bill Kirschner, who had bought it back. And the four also bought some 140 condos at a Colorado resort from Ralston Purina.

"It became the big thing in the early '70s for big corporations to think they should diversify and so they bought businesses they knew nothing about and eventually new leadership would ask 'what are we doing with this' and would sell it off for a cheap price," Nielsen observed. "Entrepreneurs looked for those and that's how we got into K2 and Colorado condos."

In 1987, Corning, Inc., purchased Hazleton but retained Nielsen as CEO for five years and when he retired in 1992, Hazleton had grown to $165 million in sales and employed 2,500 people in five countries on three continents. 
For the past approximately three decades, Nielsen and Cramer have continued to guide companies and serve on numerous boards while Garvey proceeded to build Garvey Schubert and Barder into one of the region's most respected law firms. Opdyke stayed for some years at the helm of Ste. Michelle before becoming closely involved in a corporate role with U.S. Tobacco.

Cramer was named a few years ago as a laureate of the Puget Sound Business Hall of Fame. Nielsen was selected this week to join the Business Hall of Fame as a 2017 laureate and will be honored in May at the annual induction ceremonies.

 

 


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Baseler reflects on Ste. Michelle 50th anniversary

Ted Baseler, president and CEO of Far-flung Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, guides what he proudly refers to as the winery “string of pearls” from an office in the French-style chateau that houses what may be the most visited winery in the world and reflects on the 50th anniversary of the brand.

Baseler, who joined Ste. Michelle as marketing director in 1984, marked 15 years as president and CEO last year with a couple of key accomplishments. One was the special award Ste. Michelle Wine Estates received in November in London when it was presented the trophy as 2016 “United States Wine Producer of the Year” in the International Wine & Spirits Competition.

The other was adding the first Sonoma winery, Patz & Hall, to what Baseler proudly refers to as the “string of pearls” to describe the collection of estate wineries that stretch across Washington and into Oregon and California. The string is the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates company that holds the “pearls.”

While Chateau Ste. Michelle, on its 87-acre estate, is the state’s largest winery and has revenues in 2015 of $692 million and profit of $152 million, the role Baseler and his company have played in helping build Washington’s wine industry to more than 850 wineries valued at more than $10 billion is noteworthy.

And he thinks the Ste. Michelle numbers will double in the next decade, adding that he is “bullish on Washington because of both quality and prices,” adding “it’s hard to find a quality wine in the Napa Valley for less than $100 a bottle.”

In additiom, he notes that “America os going from beer drinking to wine drinking, particularly true with millennials.

The birth of the Ste. Michelle brand provides an amusing tale of the value of competition. There was a time when only the wine produced in this state could legally be sold at retail outlets. It was possible to go to the state Liquor Control Board and order a case of wine from California, which would then arrive several days later.

Washington wines were produced by an all-but-forgotten winemaker called American Wine Growers, which produced almost entirely fortified sweet wines, sometimes affectionately referred to as “rot gut.”

Then in 1967, The California Wine Bill was introduced in the Legislature with the goal of permitting wines from California and elsewhere to be sold at retail outlets. Opponents lamented loudly that it would kill the Washington wine industry and proponents countered “let’s hope so.”

But there were others who understood that competition would benefit all and AWG, that same 1967 landmark year for the industry, began a new line of premium vinifera wines under the name Ste. Michelle and contracted with renowned wine expert Andre Tchelischeff to guide production. Within two years, the wines were receiving “good marks.”

In 1972, a group of investors headed by Wally Opdyke bought out AWG and formed a company under the name Ste. Michelle Vintners, which became successful, soon to be bought out by American Tobacco Co., which was acquired by Altria Group in 2009.

Baseler’s business strategy in guiding his company’s growth is to retain the legacy and reputation of acquired properties and allow them to continue to operate somewhat autonomously.

“We’ve observed other big wine companies that have grown and consolidated their operations, and basically destroyed what they’ve acquired as the wineries lose their flair, their personality and their legacy,” Baseler said.

Another part of Baseler’s strategy is to foster the growth of the industry in this state by viewing the hundreds of wineries as family rather than competitors, expressing at one point the conviction that Ste. Michelle Vineyards needs all the other wineries for the state to have an industry.

An example of that support was In 2004, when a rare arctic storm wiped out the grape harvest for a dozen Walla Walla wineries, Baseler stepped up to sell his grapes to keep the wineries from facing ruin. As Baseler was quoted in a profile in Seattle Business magazine a few years ago, “We could have used the grapes, but this was more important.”

It was a key example of his realizing that without the smaller players scattered across the state producing quality wines in a growing number of wine regions (known as AVAs), a Ste. Michelle standing alone would be diminished.

But Baseler’s focus has not merely been on supporting wineries in this state, but also on bringing quality wineries in other regions under the Ste. Michelle umbrella, or string.

I once remarked, somewhat apologetically, to Baseler at an event where we were discussing wines, naturally, that my favorite wine was Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir from Erath Vineyard in Oregon. He smiled and replied “That’s ok, we own Erath.”

But the relationships extend beyond this country with partnerships with two quality European vintners. A partnership with Tuscany’s Piero antinori led to creation of Col Solare, which  Baseler describes as “the most beautiful winery anywhere.” Eroica Reisling is the result of a partnership with Mosel’s Ernst Loosen, a logical relationship for Chateau Ste. Michelle’s role as the world’s leading producer of Reisling wine.

Baseler has demonstrated that his commitment as a business leader is not just to the industry but also to the state, though he laments when pressed that the state makes little financial effort to support the industry.

In 2002, Baseler was approached about establishing a scholarship fund to support high-achieving, under-represented minority undergraduates at University of Washington. The story goes that Baselder said “no.” Then after a pause, the WSU alum and Regen at the Pullman school said: “but I’ll do it for UW and WSU.”

The program expanded in 2009 to include students attending any college or university in the state. Since inception, more than 100 scholarships totaling more than $3 million have been awarded. Students in the program, which is administered by the College Success Foundation, have a graduation rate of 85-to-90 percent.

Among recent achievements, Baseler led fundraising efforts for a Wine Science Center, a 40,000-square foot, high-tech research and education facility that was opened in June of 2015. The Center, located next to the Washington State University Tri-Cities campus, was a $23 million project developed as a public-private partnership.

Baseler’s comment about the Woodinville winery being “the most visited winery in the world” is supported by the fact that visitors to the winery total more than 250,000 but when attendance at the array of concerts held on the grounds is added in, the total reach about half a million a year.

Ste. Michelle has several events planned throughout the year to celebrate the anniversary, with  large public celebration at the Chateau over the Labor Day weekend, serving as a capstone of sorts as well as a grand re-opening of a major renovation that will be undertaken this year.

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Baird enjoying growing fuss over his STOCK Act

Brian Baird spent half of his 12 years in Congress in a frustrated, and futile, effort to gather support for his legislation to make it illegal for lawmakers to engage in the kind of financial transactions that those in the real world know as Insider Trading and for which they can be sent to jail. He and one or two supporters offered it each session but couldn’t even get a committee hearing.

But Baird was able to look on with satisfaction when, a year after he decided to focus on family and not run for re-election, a late-2011 program on CBS' "60 Minutes" brought national attention to his idea and coined the phrase "Honest graft," meaning it was graft but it wasn't illegal. The program exposed how members of Congress and their staff traded stocks based on nonpublic information to which they had exclusive access.

Lawmakers by the dozens scurried like frightened rats to get aboard as supporters amid the public outcry the news program sparked and so in April of 2012, the measure titled the STOCK Act (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) was passed to finally bar members of Congress from doing stock transactions in areas they regulate.

Now Baird is watching with some amusement because, since Republican congressional leaders went out of their way in 2012 to quickly pass legislation extending the law to the president and vice president and those who worked for them, President-elect Donald Trump would be covered by the law. So he and his minions are seeking to exempt him from the law.

Newt Gingrich, explaining why ethics laws shouldn’t apply to Trump, even offered the view: "We've never seen this kind of wealth in the White House, and so traditional rules don't work…We're going to have to think up a whole new approach." He suggested that Congress change ethics laws so Trump can avoid any conflicts of interest that his global business empire may pose.

And Trump himself has said he is not subject to laws relating to conflict of interest.

Maybe so. But maybe not, since the Republicans who now control both houses of Congress may not wish to take early action on something that would allow critics the opportunity to point to the GOP lawmakers as being the lap dogs of the President. In other words, if they rolled over on command on the issue of ethics, what commands could they object to?

And Walter Shaub, director of the federal Office of Government Ethics (OGE), has issued a memo providing official guidance to Congress on the issue. His letter explained: “The Stock Act bars the President, the Vice President, and all executive branch employees from: using nonpublic information for private profit; engaging in insider trading; or intentionally influencing an employment decision or practice of a private entity solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation.”

But the President names the OGE director so once Trump moves into the Oval Office, it might be a good bet that Shaub will be replaced and that his successor will offer a quite different view.

Baird served six terms from Washington’s Third Congressional District before deciding in 2010 that his young family (he and his wife, Rachel Nugent’s, twin boys were 4 years old at the time), was more important than his battles in Congress. There was talk of his being targeted by the GOP if he had sought re-election, even though in his last four re-elections, none of his opponents could muster even 40 percent of the vote.

He says that while his family was the key reason he decided not to run again in 2010, other reasons included frustration over “the growing extremism and intransigence of many in the Republican party” and the “Democratic leadership showing little if any understanding of the concerns for centrist members from swing districts.”

Baird, who gained a doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Wyoming after graduating from the University of Utah, says of the emerging focus on the STOCK Act and its relevance to Trump:  “I'm just glad people are standing up for the bill now and trying to make sure it has the desired impact.”

But he finds it humorous that the growing attention to the law has brought a number of representatives and Senators who are being quoted about the brewing controversy as Trump’s inauguration nears and describing themselves as author of the law.

“As they say, success has many parents, even if they were nowhere near the conception,” Baird mused in an email to me.

The interviews by CBS reporter Steve Croft with then-House Speaker John Boehner and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, his unexpected questions making Boehner look like someone hiding from the truth and Pelosi like someone too incompetent to even come across as thinking, should be part of every high school government class. The topic of the lecture in which the You Tube interviews were featured could be titled: “Who elects these people?”

The interviews are now difficult to find on You Tube because you have to subscribe to “60 Minutes.” Too bad.

The controversy over the STOCK Act and the soon-to-be Trump Administration isn’t currently getting a major focus from the media.

But a budding controversy could become a political brouhaha once a new president takes an action that would be illegal under the act.

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WSU Med School Will Have Incubator

An unusual incubator to nurture new healthcare technology will be the first “classroom” to open for business at Elson Floyd College of Medicine. It will be a key part of the effort by the new Washington State University medical school to make innovation and entrepreneurship key parts of the curriculum.

andrewRichardsThus Andrew Richards, who the unusual title for a medical school of College Technology Incubator Officer, will be attracting increasing attention and interest as he seeks to create what he describes as a “hub of innovation” on the College of Medicine’s Spokane campus.

“The dream is that we will have up to 10 companies at a time being incubated, with the first ones arriving first quarter of 2017,” Richards said. “But realistically, we’ll get six or seven there.”

Richards, 36, is a Spokane native and WSU computer-science graduate who is convinced that bringing enhanced healthcare to underserved communities will require uncovering and nurturing technological innovations specifically focused on medicine and health.

That would be part of fulfilling the promise of the college, referred to for brevity as EFCOM, that it will seek to find ways to address the shortage of doctors in rural parts of the state. And  the promise of of its founding dean, Dr. John Tomkowiak, to foster innovation.

Richards said companies that will be included in the incubator are already being vetted and conversations are under way with what he calls “partner companies,” like Amazon that will make collaborative resources available to nurture the incubating companies.

The incubator will be a two-part endeavor, first hosting entrepreneurial startups that require the standard resources and mentoring but also building a seed fund to bring the companies to maturity and reward WSU with equity.

Richards explained that the strategy is to set up the incubator as a 501c that would separate the incubator from the med school by setting up a nonprofit.

“That would give us a more flexibility as to how we take equity stakes in companies we incubate and/or invest in, and It would also give us more flexibility as it pertains to taking in or spending money for our seed fund,” he added.

He concedes that “culturally, healthcare is a difficult nut to crack in creating an innovative environment in which you have to be willing to try things, knowing there will be failures.”

The incubator won’t be the first for a med school but it will one of a small handful of such facilities in the country, the most notable being at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Texas Medical Center, both of which have become regular contacts for Richards.

While WSU health care incubator is one of only a handful in the country tied specifically to a medical school, other entrepreneurial hubs, including healthcare start-ups, are an emerging part of the health science infrastructure in this region.

One is Cambia Grove in Seattle, a healthcare focused hub which bills itself as a place “where innovators and entrepreneurs can convene and catalyze new solutions,” adding that it “offers a shared space for the region’s emerging health care economic cluster.”

And the UW CoMotion is an innovation hub to provide “the tools and connections” necessary to speed the development of technology innovations, including health care and life science startups.

 “We’re building a really cool network and we’re already starting to send companies to each other,” Andrews, 36, said in an interview.

EFCOM characterizes itself as a “community based” medical school “training doctors to fill healthcare gaps across the state” and to fulfill that, med students will spend their first two years in Spokane before spending years three and four in Everett, the Tri-Cities and Vancouver, in addition to Spokane.

The first 60 students, to be selected from the hundreds of applicants that have flowed in, will arrive for class on the Spokane campus in the fall.

The key selling point that eventually convinced the legislature to create a second medical school in this state, despite the significant national stature of the University of Washington Medical School, was the dearth of doctors in rural parts of the state, which proponents of the WSU medical school promised to make a focus.

Part of the value of that multi-community presence is pointed up by the comment from Bob Drewel, senior advisor at WSU’s Everett Campus and a former Snohomish County executive and past head of the Puget Sound Regional Council.

“A lot of people think the only shortage of docs is in Eastern Washington, and that’s not true,” Drewel said. “If you look at Snohomish, Island and Skagit counties, the numbers are just as significant in need as anywhere in the state of Washington.

Richards talks about the myriad of companies, including a start-up called ReelDX in the healthcare IT space that he helped co-found, that are developing new technologies that give patients more options for accessing health care. He notes that some patients are using smart phone apps for video appointments with their doctors; sometimes those doctors are in other cities —or other countries.

In addition to co-founding and serving as CTO for ReelDX, described on its website as providing “an easy to use, secure, HIPAA-compliant platform for medical videos” with the Medvid.io platform he developed, Richards’ experience includes software and API development and other healthcare techonology.

In one presentation he showed a photo of Mercy Virtual Hospital, a new, first-of-its-kind hospital in suburban St. Louis that cost $54 million but has no beds. It is a telemedicine hub where doctors and nurses sit in call centers with video screens. They see and talk to their patients, have access to their medical records and can monitor vital signs. In many cases, the providers are able to diagnose problems and prescribe remedies. In others, they make referrals to other providers.

Richards is quick to express his view that the WSU medical school won’t be seeking to compete with UW School of Medicine, which he says does what it does with success that merits the national recognition it has.

“But UW medical school doesn’t do everything and what we need to do is focus on doing well what we do that they don’t do,” Richards said.

His philosophy is that to fulfill its mission. EFCOM must seek to “build the medical school of 30 years from now, not 30 years ago.”

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Alaska Airlines' 'magical' Spokane Fantasy Flight

When 67 Spokane area orphans and homeless kids and their elves take off Saturday from Spokane International Airport for a "flight" to the North Pole to meet Santa, it will be proof of both the "impossible things" that head elf Steve Paul believes in as well as evidence of "The Magic Dust of Caring" that seems to settle on those involved.

This year's Fantasy Flight is aboard an Alaska Airlines 737-900. This trip to the North Pole has been an annual event in Spokane, with little visibility, for almost 20 years. But it wasn't until Alaska got involved in 2008 at the request of Paul, president and CEO of the 501c3 that
  
Steve Paul and Santa-bound child

oversees details of the event, that the real magic arrived as well.

Paul, president of Northwest North Pole Adventures (NNPA), has guided details of the yearly event since 2000. The senior IT Project Manager at Ecova, an energy management company based in Spokane, spends much of the year preparing for the flight. He works with social agencies that select the children, gathers sponsors and oversees details like elf selection, all on a $200,000 budget that includes in-kind, like the Alaska flight.
Alaska pilot and happy child 
Originally United was the airline partner and provided the little organization that was then called North Pole Adventure with a plane that, once loaded with the children, taxied around the airport before coming to a stop at Santa's place.

But when United was unable to provide a plane in 2007, Paul recalls: "we threw together the 'magic buses' to get from the Terminal to the North Pole."

ThenPaul approached Alaska, which not only agreed to provide the plane but executives asked the event-changing question: "is there any reason why we don't take them up the air for the trip to the North Pole?"

Since then Alaska's employees have not only been enthusiastic participants, but often compete to be part of the crew.

"It's fair to say that Spokane Fantasy Flight...has as much of an effect on Alaska and Horizon employees as on the children who are treated like kings and queens for a night," said Alaska Airlines Chairman and CEO Brad Tilden.

To ensure the selection process for these children is reaching the most deserving, NNPA works only with the area's social agencies, which use their selection and screening processes to pull the children who desperately need to create positive Christmas holiday memories. Each child may only attend once in their lifetime.

So Saturday afternoon the children, age 4-10, are brought to the airport where each meets his or her "buddy elf." Then, with the help of the TSA workers, who look the other way as metal jingle bells on the kids' and elves' clothing set off alarms, they all pass through security and board the Alaska flight.

I first learned of the event a half dozen years ago from my friend, Blythe Thimsen, then editor of a Spokane magazine who was to be an elf that year, an experience she subsequently wrote about and sent me a copy of the article.

Retelling and updating the story has been my holiday gift to readers of The Harp since then because it's a story of human caring and compassion that won't get old.
I asked Paul, who puts on the uniform and becomes Elf Bernie for the day, for some details of preparation of the volunteer elves.

As evidence that nothing is left to chance, he told me the elves are advised on how to play their roles convincingly, being told to choose an elf name and "make certain your elf character fits you and get comfortable in your new identity."
The elves' prepping includes knowing how to answer questions from the children. For example, if asked what their jobs is, they say "I fix broken toys, using toy tools," and if asked how old they are, to say "I am 438 this year which is still young for an Elf."

As the flight nears its conclusion, the passengers are told to pull the window shades down and chant the magic words that will allow them to land at the North Pole. As the kids pull down their shades and do a chant, each waves a magic light wand they were given as they boarded.

The North Pole, where Santa and Mrs. Clause, real reindeer and a full complement of elves await, is actually a hanger on the other side of the airport. The ownership of the hanger has changed three times but each new owner has quickly joined the event. 
"Honestly, Spokane is the North Pole and we have an airline that is passionate about serving this adventure," said Paul, with his perpetual enthusiasm on display.
"You know, Mike, it feels like this is what I am supposed to do," he said. "It's not like I must force myself or convince myself to work on this. There's no regret of other things I could be doing. I'm both proud and very humbled. The donors fund and support us to ensure we have an amazing event each year. The volunteers literally crawl over each other to get selected to do their duty."

Paul added: "I know I can't fix the situations in life that have brought these children to the place we find them. But I can give them a brain full of amazingly magical memories of a day when they took their first airplane ride, when they touched their first reindeer and had their own elf as best friend, and met Santa in his North Pole home."
"I always believe in amazing and impossible things," he added.
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Hutch Award merits broader support, including MLB

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The award honoring the memory of the Major League Baseball star and manager for whom the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is named has been presented for more than half century, but it has yet to gain the visibility traction that would put it on the prestige pedestal that it’s supporters think it merits.

To students of baseball lore, the name Fred Hutchinson brings to mind a Seattle kid who became a star pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, went on to manage three big league teams, including guiding the Cincinnati Reds to the 1961 World Series, but succumbed to cancer in 1964 at the age of 45.

But to those afflicted by the disease that claimed his life, his name on the renowned Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, created in 1975 by his brother, Dr. William Hutchinson, to honor his memory, has conveyed hope.

A year after Hutch’s death, three Midwest sports media admirers who saw him in action created an award to honor his memory, and ever since then The Hutch Award has been presented to a Major League Baseball player who exemplified the fighting spirit and competitive desire of Fred Hutchinson.

For years the award was given out annually in New York, starting with a flourish as the first honorees were New York Yankee legend Mickey Mantle and Dodger pitching great Sandy Koufax. But it was an event far from Seattle and wasn’t a fund raiser until, in 1999, it was brought back to Seattle and was moved to Safeco Field a year later.

But despite the fact the Seattle Mariners are a sponsor and, for the past 16 years, have hosted the annual luncheon where the award is presented at Safeco Field, attracting about 1,000 attendees and raising about a half-million dollars a year for The Hutch, it has not yet achieved the success its supporters think it could and should.

The missing link to bring the award to a visibility level equal to the prestige of The Hutch itself is viewed as active support from Major League Baseball.

And a new push to achieve higher visibility and broader support, including from Major League Baseball, is under way by officials of The Hutch as well as those who have long been involved in this event.

“We hope to take this prestigious award onto a national stage to increase the support and awareness around our world-class science at the Fred Hutch,” said Justin R. Marquart Deputy Director of Development at The Hutch. He was quick to note that local sponsors like the Mariners and Alaska Airlines have provided key support but that what direct involvement from Major League Baseball would mean is national sponsors.

Organized effort to gain visibility for what it is and what it does has not been part of the strategy for The Hutch as an institution until the last year or so, which is part of the explanation for the fact that this event hasn’t received a lot of media visibility, even locally.

Certainly the achievements of The Hutch’s “stars” have gained attention over the years. Those range from the Nobel Prizes in physiology or medicine that have gone to Donnall Thomas in 1990, Dr. Lee Hartwell in 2001 and Dr. Linda Buck in 2004, as well as the major awards across the medical industry to individual researchers. Perhaps the most compelling of advances for which The Hutch is known is the life-changing research of Thomas into bone marrow transplantation.

But research into cancer and related diseases has come to require huge amounts of money and the quest to attract those dollars from grants, individuals and events has come to require a visibility strategy and focus matching the research itself at the institutions where research and treatment are carried on.

“It is our goal to eliminate cancer as a cause of human suffering and death through prevention and curative treatments accessible to all patients,” as Marquart put it. And that “accessibility to all” is a major cost driver. Among those is the Hutch School, where patients and family members of those living temporarily in Seattle while being treated at The Hutch have classes, from kindergarten through high school.

The success the award has achieved since returning to Seattle is due to a large extent to the involvement of Jody Lentz, regional sales manager for Mass Mutual, who set up and chaired a committee to oversee planning for the event.

“We had about 25 to 30 people at the event at the hotel the first year and I thought ‘we should make this a fund raiser,’” she recalls.

Her plan included getting a hall of fame player as keynoter each year, and the event has generated attendance of between 1,000 and 1,400 and about $500,000 a year for The Hutch.

Her commitment to the event has stemmed from the fact that both cancer and baseball are part of her life. Husband, Mike, was the highest pick in the baseball draft ever from this state, being the second overall pick as the first choice of the San Diego Padres in 1975.

Her sons Ryan, Richie and Andy were all baseball All-Americans at the University of Washington and Ryan and Richie had careers that included high minor league play and time on the roster of the Major League teams that drafted them.

And she has suffered two cancers, the latest, thyroid, hit her in 2008, as that year’s event was in planning, after she had chaired and overseen the event the previous eight years.

“I just never got involved again,” she told me as we talked about her sense of frustration over the fact “I guess I figured it was time for others to have a chance to guide this event. But I do believe this event could be so much more as a source of funding for The Hutch.”

It was that 2008 event where John Lester, a native of Puyallup and most recently on the mound for the Chicago Cubs in this year’s World Series, was honored after being successfully treated at The Hutch for anaplastic large cell lymphoma.

Lentz is convinced that a lack of local visibility for the event is a reason that major local sponsors have not stepped up in major fashion to add value to the funds raised for The Hutch.

The 2017 event, an 11:30 to 1:30 luncheon, will be January 25 at Safeco with Boston Red Sox star Jim Rice as the Hall of Fame keynote speaker. The honoree for 2017 will be announced in the next few days.

Honorees are chosen by a vote of each Major League team to determine which player on the team meets the criteria and those chosen represent the finalists from which the winner is selected. Jamie Moyer is the only Mariner to be selected.

Last year’s honoree was Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals as the event raised just under $550,000, which The Hutch put toward faculty fellowships.

 

 

 

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Story of Granger shows caring can pay dividends

 

The tiny nonprofit that over the past 13 years has enhanced the lives of families, particularly the children, in the mostly Hispanic Yakima Valley Community of Granger has provided growing evidence that caring can pay dividends.

Sharing the story of the launch and growth of the little nonprofit, born spontaneously at a Thanksgiving table in 2003 as Bellevue businesswoman Joan Wallace and her sister in law Janet Wheaton fretted about the Granger children going hungry during the holidays, has become my Thanksgiving offering for the past half-dozen years.

It's the kind of story that deserves being shared anew, particularly since each year brings new successes and new chapters of the story for the small 501c3 called Families of Granger.

But the visibility Granger’s schools and the community’s families have gained over the past year could not have been imagined by its most committed supporters. What’s happened in Granger has become a success story that deserves replicating in other communities where need abounds.

The dividends for the community and those who have supported the annual plea from Wallace to her email friends and, for the past couple of years, including the letter signed by Wheaton, were the Granger middle school establishing the best attendance record in the state. And following that, Granger schools being honored with the first Innovations in Education award.

From a mediocre attendance record typical of the schools down the length of the Yakima Valley and in most of rural Washington, schools in the Granger district for the 2014-2015 school year recorded a chronic absenteeism rate of 3.6 percent, more than four times better than the statewide average of 16 percent.

Results for attendance marks for last year have not yet been announced by the office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Olympia, and unfortunately no plaque or certificate has been presented to the school for its attendance performance in the 2014-2015 year.

That seems like a sadly missed opportunity to recognize a dramatic accomplishment for a district in a community that is 85 percent Hispanic or Latino and where nearly a third of the families live below the poverty level.

To become the school with the state’s lowest incidence of chronic absenteeism (defined as missing 18 or more school days during the year), Granger middle school, had an average that was more than twice as good as the rates in Bellevue, Mercer Island and Lake Washington districts.

The quest for perfect attendance at Granger middle school was keyed to "Every Child, Every Seat, Every Day," which became a mantra for students, teachers and parents that allowed the district to achieve the best attendance in the state last year.

The program was created by Alma Sanchez, a mother of three turned student at Heritage University, turned education entrepreneur working at the Granger schools. She conceived and, with Wheaton’s help, “sold” to the students and parents as a “we can do it” belief in the full-attendance program,

While there is no display of the top-attendance mark, the Innovations in Education Award “is proudly displayed in the trophy case at the entrance of the Granger Middle School,” Wheaton said. Wallace, Wheaton and Sanchez were also honored in the Innovations in Education Award for their roles in the attendance program.

The award, presented by the Discovery Institute and sponsored by Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman, the Seattle law firm of Patterson Buchanan, KCPQ Television and Sound Publishing, is intended to become an annual award, which will enhance the Granger School District’s visibility as the first recipient.

And Wheaton noted, in an email to me, that the state has “put a very big focus on attendance this year,” adding her sense that the recognition given to Granger for its remarkable accomplishment has had much to do with that state effort. She noted that a panel from Granger was invited to share their success and the program’s specific strategies at a regional forum held in Yakima this fall.

The Friends of Granger 501c3 was instrumental in the district being awarded a $15,000 grant from the Yakima Valley Community Foundation, which has been renewed again last year and this year with the grant helping pay the costs of the attendance-incentive program.

Granger’s children are attracting broader attention as the women in Wallace’s Bellevue Presbyterian Church knitted hats, mittens and scarves and the importance of that was explained in a letter to the church women from a developmental preschool teacher in Granger.

“My children have not come to school with any sort of winter wear to cover their heads, necks, and hands.  I have noticed that these little hands and ears are very cold as our weather has been changing to colder temperatures.  My young students really appreciate your kind hearts,” she wrote.

“Melts your heart,” emailed Wallace as she sent me the picture of the youngsters in their hats.

“I never thought, when we started this, we would still be doing it and seeing how much has happened,” Wallace emailed me.

Then she shared, with obvious amusement: “(Husband) Bob looked at me at the outset and said: ‘you know if you start this, it won’t end. When you are working with a poor community, the needs never end. There’ll always be kids that need a new coat or their families are a little short.’”

And so it has been, to her obvious satisfaction.

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