The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Martin
The Times 

Waitsburg Welcomes 2019, Part 3

 

January 24, 2019

Times File Photo

Waitsburg "old-timers" celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a potluck dinner, complete with green frosted brownies, at Waitsburg Hardware & Mercantile in 2014. Events like this were a typical occurrence in the now-closed hardware store.

In this multi-part series, The Times visits with businesses, organizations and agencies to learn their plans for 2019. This week, we continue our walk around Main Street. In future issues we will wrap up Main Street and talk with off-Main businesses, churches, clubs and organizations.

Nothing New Antiques

After 14 years in business, Lupe and Sandra Torres have closed the doors and sold the inventory at Nothing New Antiques, but say they are not going anywhere.

"We just want to kick back and have more time. We've really enjoyed the time we had there," Sandra said.

Sandra said the shop is available for lease or sale. The couple still has two apartments that they rent out on a monthly basis and a suite they plan to retain for family use.

"I just want to say thank you for all the great years," Lupe said.

Waitsburg Resource Center

Waitsburg School District Secretary Dicie Hagerman began collecting warm wear for kids and adults in Waitsburg in the 1980s. In 1991, Anita Baker, Dona Jean Smith and Betty Lou Branson saw the need to provide food to the people of Waitsburg and added to that effort by organizing a food and clothing bank in the basement of the Presbyterian Church Education Building.

Today, those efforts have grown to become the Waitsburg Resource Center, a faith-based non-profit organization that serves residents of the Waitsburg and Prescott school districts.

"Instead of just providing food, the center would become a place where neighbors could find additional information to meet their needs, where to go when they need additional help. As a center, we continue to look for ways to help others in the community," said WRC Board Chair Pam Conover.

In 2018, center gave out 15,738 pounds of food which equals almost eight tons! The WRC receives approximately 7000 pounds in food donations annually, Conover said.

The center serves 511 families each year, which is equal to 1,373 children and adults.

Food is ordered on a monthly basis through the Walla Walla Blue Mountain Action Council which gets food from contracted grocery stores, using state and federal monies. Food is also supplied through Second Harvest and Feeding Americas programs.

Local groups and organizations that keep pantries stocked with food drives include: the Leo's and Lions clubs, Waitsburg elementary, middle and high school, the Waitsburg Post Office, Banner Bank, Odako Club, Eastern Star, the Waitsburg Classic Car Club, Walla Walla – Columbia County School Retirees and the WHS Honor Society.

Added to that are the dozens of eggs, personal hygiene and cleaning products donated by community members. Individuals and local churches also make financial donations.

"The generosity of community members is amazing," Conover said.

Conover credits the success of the program with donations and the many volunteers that keep it operational.

Nineteen volunteers serve monthly during regular hours on Thursday from 2-4 p.m. and by need. A group of four to six men show up each week to unload the BMAC deliveries and board members provide reports, scheduling and ordering.

Below are some of the ways the WRC supports the community.

Free lunch and activity during Christmas break

Support of the local pool

Snacks for the Weller Library Summer Program

Snacks for the library story time

Summer activities at the City Pool

Thanksgiving dinner donations

High school backpack program

Sponsored four free dental van visits

Purchased emergency preparedness blankets and flashlights

Collected and distributed winter coats

Weekend food program for school children (25 per week)

Joined with Columbia Walla Fire No. 2 to provide Christmas stockings for children in the community

Current board members are: Pastor Bret Moser, Bethany Moser, Pastor Matt Wyatt, Mary Mathews, Ted and Lavonne Bren, Heather Duncan, Jerry and Karla Scott, Pam Conover and Marge Benson.

What is ahead for 2019?

"We continue to look for ways that we can meet our neighbors' needs," Conover said.

Banner Bank

The Waitsburg branch of Banner Bank is staffed by Customer Service Rep Kim Julian and Teller Alyssa James. Bev Rising is branch manager of both the Dayton and Waitsburg branches.

The Waitsburg branch is open Mon. – Thurs from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and on Fridays from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., with the drive through open until 6 p.m. on Fridays.

Banner Bank has provided ongoing financial support to the community through financial donations.

Julian said that while the new ATM in the bank's breezeway is a wonderful machine, they would rather see customers face-to-face.

"I'd love to encourage people to not just utilize the ATM but to come inside and let us serve their banking needs. We're here and we'd like to be busy," she said. "We very much enjoy being here and being a part of the community."

Waitsburg Hardware

Courtesy Photo

The Waitsburg Resource Center has joined with Columbia-Walla Walla Fire No. 2, for the last two years, to start the special Waitsburg tradition of Santa touring the town by fire truck, delivering stockings to all the children.

The Town of Waitsburg suffered a loss with the passing of John Stellwagen, in November, and the closing of Waitsburg Hardware. John, with his wife Marilyn, will be long remembered and appreciated for creating a true gathering space in the historic building on the corner of Main and Preston Avenue.

Waitsburg Hardware, also the home of Black Dog Rescue, became a sanctuary for locals to relax, reconnect and pet a fluffy friend. The fire was always stoked, coffee was always on and snacks were for the taking. The Stellwagens hosted the annual Fourth of July Patriot's Parade and potluck in Preston Park and held multiple birthday and holiday celebrations in the store.

Today, the store building is for sale, but locals still gather to meet and chat on an irregular basis. An account has been set up at Banner Bank to honor John. Memorial gifts may be made payable to "Memory of John Stellwagen." Funds will go to support Waitsburg FFA and 4-H programs, which John and Marilyn strongly supported.

 

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