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Trail angels: Baring couple hosts hundreds of Pacific Crest Trail hikers each summer (Sept. 18)

For almost a decade, Andrea and Jerry Dinsmore have been hosting hikers who are passing through on the 2,600 mile Pacific Crest Trail. About 250 hikers a year stay with them to do laundry, resupply, and get a good night's rest.

Jerry and Andrea Dinsmore flank British hikers Peregrino and Ripple in the bunkhouse on the Dinsmore's property.

Polly Keary Editor The first time Jerry Dinsmore saw a group of ragged young people in Skykomish shortly after he moved back to the area in 2003, he thought they were bums.


Jerry and Andrea Dinsmore flank British hikers Peregrino and Ripple in the bunkhouse on the Dinsmore's property.

Polly Keary Editor The first time Jerry Dinsmore saw a group of ragged young people in Skykomish shortly after he moved back to the area in 2003, he thought they were bums.

But when a couple of them asked him where to find a grocery store, Dinsmore gave them a ride to the Gold Bar Market. When he found out they planned to sleep outside, he brought them home.

"He brought four people home and they were dirty and stinky and I ran around and hid my jewelry and my wallet and keys," said his wife Andrea at the couple's manicured 2 1/2 acre Baring property last week. "Then we sat around the fire and three were attorneys and one was a doctor. We changed our opinion really fast."

The scruffy people were in fact hiking the last leg of a 2,658 mile trail that begins on the Mexican border and ends just across the Canada line, and they became the first of hundreds of hikers to stay at the home of the Dinsmores, who have become legendary as "trail angels," the only such volunteers to host the hikers in the entire state.

Hiking the PCT

Each spring, about 300 people show up in the tiny California border town of Campo, planning to start out on a hike that will take them through six of North America's ecozones. They will travel through blazing temperatures in the Mojave Desert, use ice axes to cross mountain passes in the Sierras, encounter rattlesnakes and try to keep food away from bears. They will walk for about five months, across 60 mountain passes and 19 major canyons, burning thousands of calories a day, carrying as little as 13 pounds of supplies, and going as many as 35 miles between water sources.

About 180 people finish the trail each year, and to date, more people have summited Mount Everest than have completed the hike.

Hikers come from all over the world to make the attempt, and a colorful culture emerges on the trail. Most hikers take a "trail name," a nickname by which they are known to other hikers.

While hiking, most travelers report craving fresh vegetables, being able to eat vast amounts of food when it is available, and dreaming of hot showers and clean clothes.

Trail angels are people who provide those things and more to hikers free of charge, and Jerry and Andrea Dinsmore are the only such hosts in the state of Washington.

Dinsmore's Hiker Haven


While hiking, most travelers report craving fresh vegetables, being able to eat vast amounts of food when it is available, and dreaming of hot showers and clean clothes.

Trail angels are people who provide those things and more to hikers free of charge, and Jerry and Andrea Dinsmore are the only such hosts in the state of Washington.

Dinsmore's Hiker Haven

Right outside the Dinsmores' comfortable Baring home, a sign reads "Dinsmore's Hiker Haven."

Last Tuesday afternoon, it was a haven for about a dozen hikers, including a father-son team calling themselves "Chili" and "Pepper," an English couple called "Peregrino" and "Ripple," and many others resting in tents on the lawn, in a small gazebo under the massive old firs, swinging in a hammock, or in the armchairs circled in a small bunkhouse.

Chili addressed his "bounce-box," a box of supplies that hikers mail ahead of themselves as they go, exchanging things like ice-axes for new shoes, and arranged for FedEx to pick it up at the Dinsmores' home to deliver it to their next supply spot on the trail.

Other hikers sorted through supply boxes they had sent to the Dinsmores' house to pick up when they arrived, carrying dehydrated foods and other necessities.

As they arrived, many hitchhiking down from Stevens Pass, the Dinsmores guided them to the colorful bunkhouse with its Tibetan prayer flags and commemorative T-shirts and bandanas from previous hiking seasons hanging from the rafters and showed them where they could do laundry and take a shower.

The services the Dinsmores provide to about 250 hikers a year, entirely free of charge, are startling in their number.

Each day, they run to the Skykomish Post Office, where they've been picking up their own mail since they first moved to Timberlane in 2003. But in addition to their own mail, they pick up a dozen or more supply boxes for hikers expecting to arrive.

They bring the mail back to their "mail room" and sort it into long rows, all indexed in a system Jerry developed that helps him find packages as needed.

If hikers needs a ride up to the trail, the Dinsmores take them along. And while they don't go pick up hikers as a general rule, in wet weather, or cold weather, or in the dark, or if someone is arriving at the pass with an injury, they'll jump in the car and go fetch the travelers.

They offer a computer for emailing and blog-posting, a washer and dryer, a hot shower. They don't typically cook, but if it's late, or if folks are particularly hungry and the store is closed, or if they feel like it, they'll grill up hamburgers or hot dogs.


If hikers needs a ride up to the trail, the Dinsmores take them along. And while they don't go pick up hikers as a general rule, in wet weather, or cold weather, or in the dark, or if someone is arriving at the pass with an injury, they'll jump in the car and go fetch the travelers.

They offer a computer for emailing and blog-posting, a washer and dryer, a hot shower. They don't typically cook, but if it's late, or if folks are particularly hungry and the store is closed, or if they feel like it, they'll grill up hamburgers or hot dogs.

"They are easy to please," Jerry said with his customary chuckle. "They rave about my burgers and they are just regular old burgers."

And if a hiker gets in in the early evening, Jerry will call Nancy or Steve over at the Baring Store and wheedle them into opening the store for a few minutes, or keeping the restaurant going an extra hour while Jerry exchanges salty banter with Nancy and hikers order two or three meals at a sitting.

They might shuttle a few hikers around, taking them up to the Cascadia in Skykomish for burgers, or over to the ATM for cash.

They keep immigration forms around for people who might not be prepared for the border crossing nine miles before the end of the trail.

And as the season draws to a close and snows begin in the passes, the Dinsmores will ask hikers to call once they reach the next town, about four days away by trail. If they don't hear in a reasonable amount of time, they call Search and Rescue.

"What do you do?" Jerry said. "If they are hurt and you don't send out Search and Rescue, you feel bad. The Search and Rescue guys said it's okay, it's good training and they are all raring to do something anyway."

The rewards

The Dinsmores aren't made of money, and though hikers often leave donations, it still costs them about $2,500 out of pocket each year to host all their visitors.

It's worth it, though, to be "Mom and Dad" to the many people finishing that last 192 miles to the trail's end in Manning Park, British Columbia, they said.

"It keeps up busy," said Andrea. "It keeps our minds and hearts young. This is our retirement."

They meet a lot of interesting people, including one family hiking with a child of 7, and a trail runner running the entire trail at the age of 79.


to the trail's end in Manning Park, British Columbia, they said.

"It keeps up busy," said Andrea. "It keeps our minds and hearts young. This is our retirement."

They meet a lot of interesting people, including one family hiking with a child of 7, and a trail runner running the entire trail at the age of 79.

Once, Jerry sat around the campfire that burns most nights, watching a man he knew to be virtually penniless chat with another he knew to be a multi-millionaire.

"I love the people," said Jerry. In his professional life, he noticed people behaving jealously of one another, he said, running one another down to make themselves look better. But hikers, he said, are noncompetitive, easy going, happy to share stories and hear the stories of others.

And the Dinsmores know their hospitality is greatly appreciated.

"Trail angels are amazing," said the British Pelegrino, who was airing out the contents of her pack in the bunkhouse after arriving the day before. "It's amazing what they do," added her hiking partner Ripple. "You do feel you want to put something back into it."

There have been many books written by those who have hiked the trail, and virtually all of them contain some story of the Dinsmores.

One such author who hiked under the name Skywalker tells an account of a warning issued by the "doughty lady named Andrea Dinsmore and her cigar-chomping husband Jerry" that dissuaded him and several others from attempting the last stretch of mountain pass in October snowstorms.

And a plastic mail bin is four inches deep in letters, postcards, christmas cards and photographs sent to them by those who have passed through.

"Eric and I arrived at Stevens Pass cold, wet and discouraged from hiking in the rain," wrote a hiker named Bob from Oregon. "You came and gave us a ride to your home in Skykomish. You fed us, provided lodging, we did our laundry, took showers and you provided an evening of conversation with other Pacific Crest Trail hikers…Without your support, we may have stopped hiking at Stevens Pass."

And in an excellent example of scruffy people turning out to have prestigious day jobs, Bob's hiking partner sent a letter, too.

Eric wrote a letter to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, pledging to pay for memberships for the Dinsmores on an ongoing basis. The letter was written on Circuit Court of Oregon stationary, where his signature revealed that he was a senior judge.


And in an excellent example of scruffy people turning out to have prestigious day jobs, Bob's hiking partner sent a letter, too.

Eric wrote a letter to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, pledging to pay for memberships for the Dinsmores on an ongoing basis. The letter was written on Circuit Court of Oregon stationary, where his signature revealed that he was a senior judge.

But no matter how rich or poor, the hikers are all family to the Dinsmores.

"Once they contact us, they kind of become our kids," said Andrea.

Alpine archeology: History buff plans trail to famous vanished timber town (7/31/2012)

These twin ribbons of concrete, textured for traction, mark a road into the long-vanished railroad depot town of Alpine. Concrete structures including pillars, foundations and old walls still exist at the town site, but are mostly covered in overgrowth.

Photo courtesy of Tim Raetzloff


Photo courtesy of Tim Raetzloff

A two-engine Great Northern Railroad train arrives in Alpine in the 1920s. The houses, located above Carroll Creek, are probably those of mill workers.

Photo courtesy of the Skykomish Historical Society

Polly Keary Editor Tim Raetzloff only wanted to walk through Alpine. He never meant to get stuck there.

But after deciding on a whim to visit all the sites of the historic depot towns on the former route of the Great Northern Railway, only to be told that the former town of Alpine was completely vanished, he discovered that traces of the town are actually abundant in the deep woods above Index.

Now he is leading an effort to buy the old town site and create a trail system through it, eventually connecting it to the Iron Goat Trail system, and greatly expanding the visible history of the train route that once served the booming timber trade of the Sky Valley a century ago.

Searching for Alpine

An avalanche stood between Tim Raetzloff and the old town of Scenic on the afternoon of May 31, 2008.

He'd meant to walk to the remains of the tiny timber town with its small resort built around a hot springs via the Iron Goat Trail, a trail east of Index that follows part of the former path of the vanished Great Northern Railroad.

But half a mile short of the old town, he found his path blocked. Frustrated, he vowed to try to visit all the old depot towns along the route between the mountains and his home in


May 31, 2008.

He'd meant to walk to the remains of the tiny timber town with its small resort built around a hot springs via the Iron Goat Trail, a trail east of Index that follows part of the former path of the vanished Great Northern Railroad.

But half a mile short of the old town, he found his path blocked. Frustrated, he vowed to try to visit all the old depot towns along the route between the mountains and his home in Edmonds, and asked a fellow Sky Valley history buff where he might find the old town of Alpine.

"He said, 'I don't know exactly where it is or how you get there, and really, there's nothing there," said Raetzloff. "I asked around and no one seemed to know where Alpine was."

It was a large town to go missing. It once was the largest town between Leavenworth and Skykomish. It had a dance hall, a school, homes and a large mill. But it was abandoned by 1929, and for 80 years had sunk into the rich undergrowth of the Cascades.

Raetzloff tried walking old trails, driving old roads and searching the internet. Online, he encountered another historian who'd tried the same things, to no avail.

But it was when he encountered a college professor with a website on his own search for the lost town that he learned that not only was Alpine once quite large, it is also currently quite famous, thanks to the work of a popular mystery novelist.

Alpine Advocate

Mary Daheim grew up thinking Alpine must be a lost paradise.

"My parents and grandparents and a bunch of my other relatives lived there for many years in different periods," said the Seattle author last week. "I heard great stories about Alpine all my life."

Dahiem went on to become a successful and prolific author, first with a number of historical romances, then with a mystery series which she sold to publishing company Avon.

"I heard from an editor I'd worked with earlier in my career," said Dahiem. "He was disappointed he'd not gotten to work with me on the series, and asked if I'd be interested in writing another series. I'd heard so much about Alpine, how much fun everyone had, and it sounded like a paradise on earth, that I said, 'Well, I'd like to resurrect this old logging town off Highway 2 and pretend it never died."

Thus the Alpine Advocate series was born.

The series centers around Emma Lord, a young, single mother who buys a newspaper in the


"I heard from an editor I'd worked with earlier in my career," said Dahiem. "He was disappointed he'd not gotten to work with me on the series, and asked if I'd be interested in writing another series. I'd heard so much about Alpine, how much fun everyone had, and it sounded like a paradise on earth, that I said, 'Well, I'd like to resurrect this old logging town off Highway 2 and pretend it never died."

Thus the Alpine Advocate series was born.

The series centers around Emma Lord, a young, single mother who buys a newspaper in the small town of Alpine in 1990, a time when most former logging towns were in decline.

Over the course of 24 books a series of mysteries is solved in the town.

Once Raetzloff got interested in Alpine, he said it seemed to him that he was the last person in Seattle to learn of the Alpine Advocate series.

A client of his computer company had read the books. A fellow historian was a fan, and indeed, there were characters in the books based on him and his wife. The stylist next door to his computer business read the books.

The books didn't get Raetzloff any closer to Alpine, but they made him more determined than ever to find it.

Finding Alpine

Raetzloff and his daughter began searching the roads along the Foss River, where they came upon a poorly marked, rundown old Forest Service road that looked promising. But further investigation led them to a dead end and a private property sign.

Later, they learned that the old road is, in fact, all that remains of the original Stevens Pass Scenic Highway, and that old timers remember driving that road to dances in Alpine.

Then a month after finding the old road, Raetzloff met Pat Casey, known as the "Foss River Hermit."

Several people suggested that Raetzloff talk to Casey, who owns part of Tonga, another defunct old train depot town. The two met and explored the faint remains of Tonga, later to be logged and much of the artifacts lost. Casey didn't know where Alpine was either, but he did have a suggestion.

In Startup was a white church building that had been pressed into service as the Parallax Art Gallery. The owner, Bill Schlicker, owned property in Alpine's general area. Casey suggested Schlicker might know where it was.

Schlicker, it turned out, not only knew where Alpine was, he owned it.


be logged and much of the artifacts lost. Casey didn't know where Alpine was either, but he did have a suggestion.

In Startup was a white church building that had been pressed into service as the Parallax Art Gallery. The owner, Bill Schlicker, owned property in Alpine's general area. Casey suggested Schlicker might know where it was.

Schlicker, it turned out, not only knew where Alpine was, he owned it.

Arriving in Alpine

There was a hitch. Schlicker knew a lot about Alpine, including where to look for its remains, but the access was cut off by a locked gate, and Schlicker was in New Mexico for the winter with the key.

So he gave Raetzloff permission to cut the chain and insert his own lock, and in October, after nearly four months of searching, Raetzloff entered Alpine.

According to Wikipedia, all that remained of the old town were two cornerstones.

But Raetzloff and friend Jackie Cuddy quickly learned that wasn't true. In fact, they found out they were at the old town site by finding an old concrete road.

"‌Two parallel ribbons of corrugated concrete told us that we had arrived," Raetzloff wrote on his website. "I only knew about old driveways in Seattle built this way. The road probably dated from the 1920s when concrete was too expensive to wastefully pour an entire road. The concrete was just the width of a truck's wheels. It was corrugated for traction, and it was only long enough to make the steepest part of the road into Alpine accessible to trucks."

Soon they found many other traces of the old town, much of it concrete structures, but the thick autumn foliage obscured most of what was there.

"We walked all the way around the mill without seeing it," he said. "And we missed the school." They did, however, find lots of artifacts, including an old washtub, pieces of water pipe, bottles, bricks and more.

Then the snows came, and the two didn't get back to Alpine until May of the next year. When they got back, with two more friends in tow, suddenly the town was there in plain sight.

"The snow had beaten down the brush and everything just stood out," said Raetzloff. "It was so obvious. We found the school, houses, all sorts of things."

They found about 160 feet of the foundation of the old mill, including the foundation that once held the rotary saw, the massive saw at the heart of the mill that had been Alpine's


Then the snows came, and the two didn't get back to Alpine until May of the next year. When they got back, with two more friends in tow, suddenly the town was there in plain sight.

"The snow had beaten down the brush and everything just stood out," said Raetzloff. "It was so obvious. We found the school, houses, all sorts of things."

They found about 160 feet of the foundation of the old mill, including the foundation that once held the rotary saw, the massive saw at the heart of the mill that had been Alpine's reason for existing. It was that foundation that had mistakenly been called cornerstones on the Wikipedia site.

Working off old maps, they found traces of the old "Victory Hall," the community center, the remains of the old school and the foundation of a gymnasium.

The photographed everything they found, including lots of smaller artifacts such as an old stove, 1920s era light sockets and a half-buried radiator.

Alpine had been found.

Alpine history

While waiting for the snow to clear, Raetzloff was busy researching, and what he learned surprised him.

For one thing, he learned that Alpine's founder, while little-remembered in the Sky Valley, was a truly remarkable man who is still renowned at California's Stanford University.

"Carl Clemans was in the first class at Stanford," said Raetzloff. "There was no book store, they opened in such a hurry, so he organized a student coop and founded the book store and it still operated 120 years later."

Clemans organized and helped build the first fraternal house at Stanford, Sigma Nu, which now is part of a student housing coop.

He was also Stanford's first football hero, and there was a song and a chant about Clemans at Stanford.

When he graduated with an M.A., he and his wife moved to Snohomish in 1896, where he became editor of the Snohomish County Tribune. Their house still stands at 315 Ave. C. Then tragedy struck the Clemans family; Mrs. Clemans died of typhoid and shortly afterward their only two children died of fever.

Clemans returned to Stanford, and coached the football team for a year before returning to Snohomish. He eventually remarried and had four more children.


When he graduated with an M.A., he and his wife moved to Snohomish in 1896, where he became editor of the Snohomish County Tribune. Their house still stands at 315 Ave. C. Then tragedy struck the Clemans family; Mrs. Clemans died of typhoid and shortly afterward their only two children died of fever.

Clemans returned to Stanford, and coached the football team for a year before returning to Snohomish. He eventually remarried and had four more children.

In 1909, Clemans and a relative bought out the interests of the tiny lumber depot of Nippon and built a mill which cut 30,000 board feet per day. After four years of battling fire and weather, the town was firmly established, and renamed Alpine, with Clemans serving as postmaster and mill owner.

As timber towns go, Alpine had an unusually strong sense of community, which Raetzloff surmises may have been owing to its founder.

"In the 1920 annual report that was included with the menu and program for the Thanksgiving banquet, Clemans wrote happily of the employees who put their paychecks into the bank and had bank accounts approaching five figures. In that same booklet Clemans mentions the success of 11 former Alpiners who saved money in Alpine, and bought farms and mills and homes of their own," Raetzloff wrote on his website. "This isn't the message of a traditional company town; it was a message that made Alpine nearly unique in the history of company towns. How much of this goes back to the message of Leland Stanford? How much was already in Carl Clemans character?"

The people of the town held dances, had Thanksgiving dinner as a community every year and each got a booklet recounting the happenings of the year.

For about 15 years, the town thrived, a very social and functional community, and Raetzloff and others have identified the names of about 1,000 people who lived there between 1917 and 1926.

But when the highway replaced the train as the main mode of travel across the pass, Alpine found itself located a difficult mile off the highway, and the town did not survive. But 1929, it had been abandoned.

Alpine Preservation

Now, Raetzloff hopes to preserve the old town site and make it available to everyone.

"I'd like to put in a trail system, not unlike the Iron Goat, with interpretive sites, saying 'Here's the bunk house, the company store, the school, the owner's house," he said.

If possible, he'd also like to get the land to the east of the town, sufficient to connect Alpine by trail to the Iron Goat trail six miles away, which would require a couple of bridges.


Now, Raetzloff hopes to preserve the old town site and make it available to everyone.

"I'd like to put in a trail system, not unlike the Iron Goat, with interpretive sites, saying 'Here's the bunk house, the company store, the school, the owner's house," he said.

If possible, he'd also like to get the land to the east of the town, sufficient to connect Alpine by trail to the Iron Goat trail six miles away, which would require a couple of bridges.

There's no funding for that sort of thing from the government these days, but Raetzloff thinks the money could be raised, and points to the success of the town of Index in buying Heybrook Ridge to protect the town's scenic backdrop from logging.

There's a lot of interest already, he said, quite a bit of it due to Mary Daheim's mystery novels.

"Mary has created an audience," he said.

Indeed, she has invited Raetzloff and his fellow Alpine explorers to talk at her book signings.

And last month, Raetzloff and others began putting together a board of directors for a nonprofit organization likely to be called Alpine Advocates and hopes to incorporate by the end of the year.

Time is already taking more of Alpine's tenuous place in Sky Valley history; the white church in Startup was destroyed by fire last winter, and the Whistling Post tavern in Skyomish, which housed many artifacts from Alpine, was destroyed by an arson fire last spring, and the artifacts lost.

Raetzloff hopes to prevent Alpine from being similarly lost, and on the new Facebook page dedicated to the preservation effort, he explains what he and his fellow enthusiasts hope to accomplish.

"Along the way we have decided (actually a bad word because we really didn't decide - it is as though this magical little town has decided for us without regard to our will‌) to try to preserve the site of Alpine, Washington, or at least its history, and make it accessible if we can," he said.

To learn more, including how to join the effort to preserve Alpine, visit http:// www.facebook.com/pages/Alpine-WA/279532278821165 and http://www.abarim.com/ Alpine.htm.

On the same page: Community Facebook group pages abound in Monroe (March 19)


To learn more, including how to join the effort to preserve Alpine, visit http:// www.facebook.com/pages/Alpine-WA/279532278821165 and http://www.abarim.com/ Alpine.htm.

On the same page: Community Facebook group pages abound in Monroe (March 19)

By Polly Keary, Editor Debates over how well local schools are doing. Requests for recommendations for a good appliance repair place. Thoughts on who might run in upcoming city races. Gluten-free meal exchanges. Notices of a St. Patrick’s Day dinner fundraiser. A job opening for a men’s stylist. News of a new writers’ group for teens. Those are just a handful of dozens of things discussed in a single week on the many Facebook group pages for and about Monroe. Facebook group pages differ from regular Facebook pages in that people ask to join the groups via message, then once they are connected they can create posts, as well as comment on other posts. Here is a list of some of the busiest Facebook group pages in the Sky Valley:   Monroe Citizens for Responsible Government


connected they can create posts, as well as comment on other posts. Here is a list of some of the busiest Facebook group pages in the Sky Valley:   Monroe Citizens for Responsible Government https://www.facebook.com/groups/MonroeCFRG/ Members: 169 Tagline: Monroe Citizens for Responsible Government strives to make Monroe a great place to live, work and learn. We provide a platform to share information about issues facing our community. This Facebook page is devoted to matters of public policy. Recent comment threads include a heated debate over the merits of the Monroe School District, information about the upcoming Valley General Hospital levy and possible candidacies for the upcoming city races. While there are dozens of people who comment on the site, among the most active participants are former city councilman Mitch Ruth and former school board member Debra Kolrud. Kolrud likes the site, she said, because the moderators don’t censor opinions that differ from their own. You Had Me At Monroe https://www.facebook.com/groups/carriebridgette/ Members: 617 Tagline: Monroe is our home and we like it here! This group is a place for community interaction, discussing upcoming events, game times, sports programs, school programs, dance recitals, sales, and more! Whereas the previous page is all about politics, this page is about anything but. The founder, former city councilmember Bridgette Tuttle, asks everyone to stay off big issues and politics, as there are other forums for that. Bridgette got the idea, she said, when she was looking for bulletin


sports programs, school programs, dance recitals, sales, and more! Whereas the previous page is all about politics, this page is about anything but. The founder, former city councilmember Bridgette Tuttle, asks everyone to stay off big issues and politics, as there are other forums for that. Bridgette got the idea, she said, when she was looking for bulletin boards on which to post notices about a craft bazaar. A community online bulletin board would be a good idea, she thought, but a website was too limited and she didn’t have time to post every notice she encountered. So she created a Facebook page, but found that a Facebook Group page was an even more attractive option. “I was excited when, every day, there were 5-20 people asking to join,” she said. “I would hear people out in public asking other people if they’d seen the group. Strangers would recognize me from my picture and say, ‘Hey, you’re the Facebook lady.’” She and two friends administer the page, intervening when comments turn nasty. “There are other groups that allow people to be rude, confrontational, and negative,” she said. “I’ve been part of many of them but ended up leaving because they aren’t enhancing my life in any way.” Posts tend to be about businesses, community events, lost pets and volunteer opportunities. “We’ve had everything from, ‘What time does the library close?’ to ‘There’s a loose dog on Lewis Street!’ to ‘Who’s got the best happy hour?’ said Tuttle. Moms of Monroe https://www.facebook.com/groups/382069865155220/ Members: 449 Tagline: This group is for moms in Monroe, WA (or the local area). Feel free to post events, activities, playgroups, etc. This page acts as both information clearinghouse for mothers in the Sky Valley and moral support for the difficult task of parenting.


Members: 449 Tagline: This group is for moms in Monroe, WA (or the local area). Feel free to post events, activities, playgroups, etc. This page acts as both information clearinghouse for mothers in the Sky Valley and moral support for the difficult task of parenting. “It has been a wonderful way for local moms to communicate,” said administrator Mikaela Berry. See the photos section for a collection of parenting articles and a list of fun places to take kids for play dates. Also on the page is resource information on mom-owned businesses and more. “There is information on local moms who have side businesses like home parties and such, so it’s way to get word out and support one another that way,” said Berry. “We have even started a freezer-meal group that has been a lot of fun. It has been a great wonderful way to meet new people and a great way to share and get advice about our kiddos.” *This is a closed group, meaning anyone can see who is in the group, but only members can see postings. Monroe, Washington https://www.facebook.com/groups/43069956841/ Members: 584 Tagline: This group is for those who live in Monroe and want to collaborate, share information, and discuss local topics in a civil manner. This is also a great place for folks outside our community to keep apprised of local events and activities. This page is something of a hybrid of the friendly, non-controversial You had Me At Monroe and the contentious Monroe Citizens for Responsible Government. Comments on public matters are welcome, but comments also lean heavily to posts seeking advice on good landscapers or announcements of community events.


keep apprised of local events and activities. This page is something of a hybrid of the friendly, non-controversial You had Me At Monroe and the contentious Monroe Citizens for Responsible Government. Comments on public matters are welcome, but comments also lean heavily to posts seeking advice on good landscapers or announcements of community events. Recent posts include a notice of the death of a community member, a post seeking information about a recent house fire, a reminder about soccer signups, and an invitation to a worship service. Monroe Public Schools Discussion https://www.facebook.com/groups/mpsdiscussion/ Members: 199 Tagline: Because Monroe Public Schools did not have a Facebook page or group to encourage open discussion, this group was created and is open to everyone interested in Monroe Public Schools. This is NOT an official Monroe Public School Facebook page, and does not express the views of the Monroe Public School District. This is one of two popular pages on the Monroe School District. This is another of Debra Kolrud’s favorite pages; Kolrud has been a longtime and vocal critic of the Monroe School District and four of the most recent five posts as of Sunday afternoon were from Kolrud and highly critical of the district. Conversations on this site are also fiercely protective of “sunshine laws,” laws that make it easy for citizens to access public records. Kolrud contends that the school district tries to suppress dissenting voices and said that Facebook offers a way for the community to talk in an uncensored way. “I think it would be beneficial for all our elected officials to provided open communication and accessibility with the community via a Facebook page. It could actually bring forth true representation of the people,” she said. Monroe School District Group


talk in an uncensored way. “I think it would be beneficial for all our elected officials to provided open communication and accessibility with the community via a Facebook page. It could actually bring forth true representation of the people,� she said. Monroe School District Group www.facebook.com/groups/315586945123663/ Members: 218 Tagline: This is a group forum for Monroe School District to encourage dialogue, sharing, mutual respect, and sometimes a good laugh. Offensive or belittling comments about anyone in our community will be deleted. This is the only rule. This page is a more pro-district page. The variety of topics is a bit wider than the previous page: the most recent posts include a long piece by current school board member Nancy Truitt Pierce responding to criticisms of the district, a conversation about a letter to the Herald criticizing the Spanish/English education program at Frank Wagner Elementary, a question about how Monroe fares in math and science instruction and a question about a recent lockdown at the high school.

Business booming at Monroe Gun Show


At the entrance to the Monroe gun show, visitors are asked to declare guns and cameras. Guns must be empty and the firing mechanisms disabled, and cameras are not allowed.

In the last ten years, the number of vendor tables at the show has grown from about 180 to about 375, and in recent month attendance has soared in response to political debate over gun control. Photos courtesy of Philip Shave 

  By Polly Keary, Editor For at least 15 years, Washington’s second largest gun show has been a monthly feature at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds, drawing thousands over the course of a weekend.


By Polly Keary, Editor For at least 15 years, Washington’s second largest gun show has been a monthly feature at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds, drawing thousands over the course of a weekend. Those crowds have grown to record size in recent weeks, with gun enthusiasts concerned about potential changes in gun laws coming to the event to buy or sell weapons and accessories that many fear may soon be banned. But one potential change in gun laws, requiring background checks of all who buy weapons at gun shows, won’t impact the show in Monroe. Those crowds have grown to record size in recent weeks, with gun enthusiasts concerned about potential changes in gun laws coming to the event to buy or sell weapons and accessories that many fear may soon be banned. At the Monroe Gun Show, the controversial “gun show loophole” doesn’t exist, said Philip Shave, member of Washington Arms Collectors, the club that organizes the show, and editor of Gun News Magazine, the club’s publication. Anyone who wishes to buy a gun must first purchase a club membership and pass a Washington State Patrol background check before the sale can take place. “We say, ‘What gun show loophole?’” Shave said. But as a visit to the fairgrounds last week revealed, the gun show is less about the actual guns than it is about the culture of the people who enjoy them, a culture that is responding to the heat of debate over gun control by attending gun events in greater numbers than ever. At 10 a.m. on a drizzly Saturday morning last week, the parking lot was filling rapidly and a long line of people snaked back from the doors to the new events center at the fairgrounds. “This is a little bigger than usual,” said Shave. “Gun sales have been really intense because of the political debate.” The Washington Arms Collectors, the organization that hosts the Monroe show, also hosts a monthly show in Puyallup, which last month had the highest attendance ever. And last month the Monroe


was filling rapidly and a long line of people snaked back from the doors to the new events center at the fairgrounds. “This is a little bigger than usual,” said Shave. “Gun sales have been really intense because of the political debate.” The Washington Arms Collectors, the organization that hosts the Monroe show, also hosts a monthly show in Puyallup, which last month had the highest attendance ever. And last month the Monroe show drew about 14,000 paying customers, with as many as 7,000 WAC members visiting, as well. The line to the door moves more slowly than it might at, say, a concert, because of the security measures taken at the show. As each person approaches the door, a security worker asks if the visitor has any guns. Guns are allowed, but there are strict rules for how they may be handled. Near the door, a small, red tube mounted on a post offers gun handlers a safe place to remove ammunition from a loaded weapon. The barrel is placed in the tube while the bullets are ejected, containing any round that should be fired accidentally. Then the gun’s firing mechanism is disabled by means of zip ties, the same way guns are secured when entered into evidence by police. All this must be complete by the time the gun handler arrives at the doors into the events center. Anyone who makes it as far as the doors with a gun still loaded is instantly kicked out of the club to which one must belong to buy or sell weapons, and is also refused entry. Once at the door, members of the Washington Arms Collectors, or WAC, are allowed in free, while those who are not members and not intending to trade in weapons pay $8. The majority of those attending the show, about two-thirds of all present, are not members. As such, they can’t buy a weapon. However, if a non-member sees a weapon he or she wants to buy, that person can go to the front counter, go through a background check, buy a membership for $35, and then buy the weapon.


WAC, are allowed in free, while those who are not members and not intending to trade in weapons pay $8. The majority of those attending the show, about two-thirds of all present, are not members. As such, they can’t buy a weapon. However, if a non-member sees a weapon he or she wants to buy, that person can go to the front counter, go through a background check, buy a membership for $35, and then buy the weapon. There is, as it happens, a lot to buy at the show that doesn’t require a background check. In fact, of the 375 vendor tables or so, most don’t sell guns. One booth had an array of alarming-looking but mostly harmless weaponry based on fantasy fiction, including knives based on the show Star Trek, and lightweight replicas of medieval arms such a battle mace. Also at the table, incongruously enough, was a selection of teddy bears. At another booth, a woman who has a second amendment activist website called Guns and Lace sold a calendar of women posing with guns. There was a fair amount of jewelry for sale, including tiny, exquisitely-rendered knifes made of Damascus steel and gold, complete with inch-long sheaths of gold and mammoth ivory. Everywhere were people offering gun safety training or opportunities to study and take the tests for concealed carry permits in other states. And there were a lot of gun accessories for sale, including clips, holsters, sights and military ammunition boxes. The artillery was mostly found on tables toward the center of the arena. There were tables with an array of handguns or rifles, but not all were sold entirely for their utility; John Hilsendeger, a former manager of the event and, like about a third of WAC members, a former law enforcement worker, had with him an array of antique Colt revolvers, including the legendary Peacemaker, staple of Western novels and movies. There were some truly imposing weapons for sale, as well. One table featured civilian versions of military firearms from around the world, usually in a dull black. Among them was an Israeli Galil, a


manager of the event and, like about a third of WAC members, a former law enforcement worker, had with him an array of antique Colt revolvers, including the legendary Peacemaker, staple of Western novels and movies. There were some truly imposing weapons for sale, as well. One table featured civilian versions of military firearms from around the world, usually in a dull black. Among them was an Israeli Galil, a weapon the dealer said is superior to the American assault rifle next to it on the table. But the assault rifle has doubled in price, while the Galil has remained steady, the dealer said, ascribing it to recent political “craziness.” There was a shotgun that can hold seven rounds at once, a semiautomatic Uzi, assault rifles with cooling barrels and hollow stocks, and at one table, a massive belt-fed, 50-caliber semi-automatic that rests on two legs and has an attachment on the barrel that arrests a kickback that would otherwise render the weapon nearly unusable. Prices are high for most of the larger artillery; the Galil was listed at $2,750 and the 50-caliber at $4,500, with the scope costing an extra $700. The atmosphere at the event is friendly, with vendors and organizers pleasant and accommodating to reporters, but the political tension around guns seems to have imbued the event with a certain level of wariness. While visiting, a reporter is not without an escort for a moment, and any expressed interest in photography, even that of items such as jewelry, is met with a caution that such a thing would require the presence of a security person. Photographs of people are strictly prohibited to protect the privacy of club members, said Shave, some of whom are uneasy about others knowing that they own, buy or sell guns. But many people aren’t there to buy or sell anything at all, said Shave. Rather, they are there to be around others who share their interests, be it collectable old antique pistols, hunting, a shared military or law enforcement history, or just a passion for firearms. “For many, this is a social event,” he said. “They come for the camaraderie.”


But many people aren’t there to buy or sell anything at all, said Shave. Rather, they are there to be around others who share their interests, be it collectable old antique pistols, hunting, a shared military or law enforcement history, or just a passion for firearms. “For many, this is a social event,” he said. “They come for the camaraderie.”

“Dare to Dream”: Concert featuring top recording musicians could come to Lake Tye

Keith Brock, a successful touring and studio musician who grew up in Monroe before pursuing his musical dream in Los Angeles, hopes to bring a concert to Monroe this summer to encourage others to follow their dreams. Photo courtesy of Keith Brock

By Polly Keary, Editor The road to Keith Brock’s dreams began in a tent where he lived with his father as a child; through the homes of school friends and jobs at Monroe businesses; all the way through college in Los Angeles; to a career playing music with some of America’s top studio musicians and performing around the world. Now he wants to play a concert in Monroe, the place that, he said, gave him his start.


The road to Keith Brock’s dreams began in a tent where he lived with his father as a child; through the homes of school friends and jobs at Monroe businesses; all the way through college in Los Angeles; to a career playing music with some of America’s top studio musicians and performing around the world. Now he wants to play a concert in Monroe, the place that, he said, gave him his start. So this summer, he plans to bring some of his famous friends, including former members of Supertramp and Blues Traveler, to Lake Tye for a one-day concert that he believes could become an annual event. Brock came to Monroe from California as a child, under very unusual circumstances. “My dad and mom were doing a divorce in California and he kidnapped me when I was 5 and disappeared with me for 13 years,” said Brock from his Los Angeles home last week. The two lived in a tent on a piece of property until his father had logged enough of the timber to pay for a trailer, and later, a house. Brock started school at Monroe Christian School, where he started singing at a young age. In middle school, he got involved with the band and the choir, which he pursued through the rest of his academic career. He also made a lot of good friends in the school district, some of whom he stayed with when his relationship with his father worsened, and he got jobs in local businesses including Dairy Queen and Wolfkill Feed and Fertilizer. While a senior in high school, he found out he had a family in Los Angeles and left Monroe to join them. He also wanted to pursue a career in music. So he went to a junior college and studied music, meeting musicians who would become mentors. Nearly 20 years later, he has won the success he sought. “I started playing for studios and live, as well,” he said. “I worked at


He also wanted to pursue a career in music. So he went to a junior college and studied music, meeting musicians who would become mentors. Nearly 20 years later, he has won the success he sought. “I started playing for studios and live, as well,” he said. “I worked at Disneyland with my band, and that led to a lot of stuff in Las Vegas at the MGM, Mandalay, New York, Monte Carlo, the Venetian, the big casinos, and then we used to do a lot of private parties.” With his band Grand Illusion, he played parties for Clint Eastwood, Forest Whitaker and Jenny McCarthy. “And we’ve played in Beijing, got to perform for Dick Cheney, in China,” he said. “We had a lot of different experiences.” Among the most memorable, he said, were four shows at the Playboy Mansion, which he visited as recently as last month. Among the musicians with whom he works is bassist Dave Marotta, who has toured and recorded with Colbie Caillet, Manhattan Transfer and Kenny Loggins, as well as working on the soundtracks of a lot of Adam Sandler’s movies. Brock also works with Dave Rosenthal, Billy Joel’s one-time music director, and Teddy Andreadas, a pianist who has worked with Guns N’ Roses, among other acts. Although he achieved significant success in California, Brock still maintained ties with Monroe, where he has a second home. And he maintained contact with old friends, including former schoolmate Gene Brazel, who is now the city manager of Monroe. The two have more than just memories in common, said Brock. They both worked their way up from the bottom in their respective industries, he said. “Out of high school he picked up trash for the city and he worked up the ladder to city administrator, which is huge,” said Brock. “It’s nearly unheard of to work from janitor to CEO. It’s one of those great stories. And then my road took me the way of music and entertainment.”


industries, he said. “Out of high school he picked up trash for the city and he worked up the ladder to city administrator, which is huge,” said Brock. “It’s nearly unheard of to work from janitor to CEO. It’s one of those great stories. And then my road took me the way of music and entertainment.” The lesson he took from both his own success and Brazel’s was that one should follow one’s dreams. So that’s the message he wants to pass along with the concert. “Dare to follow your dreams. They can completely happen,” he said. “I started as a kid with nothing and dreamt of playing music and then to take it all over the world and entertain people; that was a dream.” In order to make the dream of the concert a reality, funding will be needed for the considerable expenses of flying musicians up from L.A. for a show, for sound and lighting crews and for paying two local opening acts. In all, it will cost about $50,000 to put on the event, and the city is currently discussing paying for it. It could be a good investment, said Jeff Sax, economic development manager for the city of Monroe. “It’s a business line that could bring revenue to the parks,” he said. If Lake Tye became a venue for concerts, the city could make the money back and more, which could pay for a permanent concert structure, he said. “The city has the potential to make $50,000 and then we are halfway to building a band shell,” he said. That could give festival promoters a venue that is less expensive than many privatelyowned venues, he said. “We’ll charge a special event fee but not an exorbitant amount,” he said. “It reduces one part substantially for the overall budget for these festivals, and we’re doing it using mature, fully-developed parks that are intended to be used in a lot of different ways.”


promoters a venue that is less expensive than many privatelyowned venues, he said. “We’ll charge a special event fee but not an exorbitant amount,” he said. “It reduces one part substantially for the overall budget for these festivals, and we’re doing it using mature, fully-developed parks that are intended to be used in a lot of different ways.” The city could make money from the show through concessions and vendor fees, Brock said. And the September festival could be good for Monroe in several other ways, Sax said. “It’s a three-part deal; one, it shows the community that the government and citizens got through the recession; two, it’s a way for the parks department to use some really talented promoters and access those guys to develop a new business line for the parks department,” he said. “And three, it shows the community that Lake Tye is a great place to have events like this and create a band shell.” The city is also talking about ways to partner with Doug and Traci Hobbs, the managers of the Evergreen Speedway, who have extensive experience organizing large events. And they are talking about finding sponsorship, as well, to defray the expense. Brock said that the concert could be a special and unique event, in which he and his very successful friends in the music business, perhaps to include Monroe neighbor John Popper, who is legendary among harmonica players for his work with Blues Traveler, gather for one night of music that will never be repeated. “There will be no rehearsals,” he said. “We are coming together that night to play that music for the first time all together. That is part of my point in the show, to say, ‘see what happens when you take people and work together; the amazing things you can accomplish when you do that.’”



Polly Keary Feature Portfolio 2