Our Town

PT Police Chief Thomas Olson

(Airdate: September 19, 2023) Maryanne interviews Port Townsend Police Chief Thomas Olson. This is the Chief’s second year on the job and basically his first non-pandemic summer. Crowds of tourists and locals jammed our summertime events. But despite the numbers, everyone was basically well-behaved. Chief Olson views his officers as community partners. He’s a firm believer in using a “navigator” – a mental health professional – on calls involving someone in crisis. Crime and drugs are a problem here too, but perhaps not on the scale as many other cities. In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd (and others), police departments everywhere are rethinking their role. Olson is determined that somehow the Port Townsend police team will embrace successful strategies that are both non-violent and progressive.

#227 Danielle McClelland, PT Film Festival

(Airdate: September 5, 2023) Maryanne interviews Danielle McClelland, Executive Director of the Port Townsend Film Festival. Dani’s family moved to Bellevue when she was a teen. After graduation from Lewis & Clark she became a chef who was also a passionate political activist. She wanted to “blend political activism with artistic expression.”  She managed that — largely by running a historic theater in Indiana for close to 20 years. She left that just before the pandemic hit. She knew and loved Port Townsend and always wanted to move here. Her parents had retired here in the 1990s. In fact, after their deaths Dani and her brother inherited their house in PT. When she spotted an ad for the PT Film Fest she was thrilled to apply and ultimately land the position. Dani was here for the 2022 season but it was not running at full speed. This year’s festival should hopefully usher in full houses and fabulous films.

#226 Mom’s Laundromat

(Airdate: August 8, 2023) Maryanne interviews Polly Rogers of Mom’s Laundromat. The now 89-year-old Polly’s had a unique perspective watching Port Townsend grow and change over the years. Back when she was a kid in Port Townsend there was only one school – elementary, middle, and high school were all in one building. Mom’s can sometimes resemble a social club. Polly reports that some customers share all of the details of their personal life while attending to their (literal) dirty laundry. Bartenders and hairdressers hear the same sort of stories. Mom’s is down near the Boat Haven. Customers include maritime tradesmen and crew off everything from fishing boats to luxury craft. Other customers include tourists and locals from every corner of the peninsula. It’s a real-life reality TV show, changing every day!

#225 Rob Birman, Centrum Executive Director

(Airdate: July 11, 2023) Maryanne interviews Rob Birman, the Executive Director of Centrum, Port Townsend’s venerable music centerpiece, now celebrating its 50th anniversary. The season gets off to a spectacular start with a benefit concert by Centrum alum Diana Krall. Although not all Centrum alum end up with careers exactly like hers, Centrum workshops have helped fuel many music careers. Workshops cut across many genres – including ukulele, chamber music, jazz, fiddle tunes, and blues. Roughly 35,000 musicians and concert attendees have participated over the years. Birman steered the non-profit through the dark days of the pandemic. Revenue dropped 98% during 2020. But 2023 looks like it might be back to 2019 levels. There’s plenty planned to celebrate the 50th – including a series of paintings by local artist Max Grover, Sunrise Coffee is planning on introducing a new coffee line dubbed “a cup of Joe” after Joseph Wheeler who launched Centrum back in 1973. There are many more special events, according to Birman.

#225 New Owners of the Rose Theatre

(Airdate: June 27, 2023) Maryanne interviews George Marie and Michael D’Alessandro, the new owners of the Rose Theatre in Port Townsend. This local couple stepped up to run the iconic theatre after founder Rocky Friedman decided that – after 30 years – it was time to retire. They are young and full of energy and vision. They share much of Rocky’s devotion to the cinematic format. They know all theatres face multiple challenges after years of pandemic, but they are determined the Rose will serve future generations of locals. As parents of young children, they also want a family-friendly movie house. They’re certainly not forgetting about so-called “art” movies, but they also want young customers to enjoy their popcorn at fun movies.

#223 Nathan Barnett: Mr. Steampunk

(Airdate: May 30, 2023) Maryanne interviews Nathan Barnett, the force behind the upcoming Steampunk Festival. Steampunk is basically Victorian science fiction, Nathan explains. So what better venue than Port Townsend? In addition to running the Steampunk event, Nathan and wife Cindy are owners of the Old Consulate Inn. When not in full Victorian mode, he’s a techie with long-time ties to Microsoft and Google. Remote working was common in the tech industry well before Covid – making it possible to telecommute from Port Townsend. The two-day Steampunk Festival (June 16-18) makes for great people watching. There’s also a wealth of events such as a Victorian Fashion Show, duel fighting, card games, the “bazaar of the bizarre,” and a makers market selling all things Steampunk.

#222 Bob Wheeler, Hadlock Sewer System

(Airdate: May 16, 2023) Maryanne interviews Bob Wheeler, the man behind the development of the much-anticipated Port Hadlock Sewer System. Construction of Phase #1 is finally beginning. When completed, the sewer system should radically change the housing situation on the peninsula. To put it in shorthand, current codes requiring septic systems basically allow one dwelling on each five-acre parcel. When the sewer system is fully operational, those same five acres could have over 200 residential units, including apartments. Businesses are also hemmed in by the current septic requirements. Some are already planning expansion. Bob expects Phase #1 to be completed in 2025.

#221 Jamie Maicejiwski, Habitat’s Driving Force

(Airdate: May 2, 2023) Maryanne interviews Jamie Maciejewski, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity in Jefferson County. Jamie found her calling early. During her college years at UW she was already involved in non-profit organizations that helped runaway teens who had drifted to prostitution. She’s been running Habitat here since 2007 and has overseen an era of growth and outreach. Affordable housing is crucial for the region. Perhaps the most intriguing project on the horizon is the plans for the 17-acre parcel owned by Habitat in Hadlock. With the new Hadlock sewer line, up to 200 homes could ultimately be built there. It will likely be a mix of apartments, condos and even some single-family homes. This pioneering concept will be “permanently affordable” due to the fact Habitat will still own the land under the units and only lease to the owners. This workforce housing will be available to families with annual incomes under $110,000. As Jamie notes, people who work here — teachers, nurses, police, etc. – will be able afford to live here.

#220 Sophie Nordstrom: Superior Court Power

(Airdate: April 18, 2023) Maryanne interviews Sophie Nordstrom, Superior Court Administrator for Jefferson County. As a young woman Sophie raised kids and had a series of jobs in the service industry. But about the time she turned 40 she made a decision to do something more meaningful with her career. First, she decided to go to school to become a legal secretary. After earning a degree, she landed a job with the county clerk’s office here in Jefferson County. She loved it and flourished under the pressure. When the job of Superior Court Administrator opened up, she threw her hat into the ring. She’s never looked back. You could say all the business in our courthouse passes under her eagle eye.

#219 Ben Thomas, PT City Council

(Airdate: April 4, 2023) Maryanne interviews Ben Thomas, winemaker for the Port Townsend Winery and a member of Port Townsend’s City Council. Ben was born in LaPush and spent much of his childhood in Port Townsend. Thanks to the fact that his mom — Trudy Davis — owns Eaglemont Winery, he learned the wine trade the old fashioned way — from the bottom up. Ben’s always been an avid student of the political scene. He helped found PT’s alternative newspaper “Vigilance” in the wake of massive Seattle protests in 1999. The newspaper didn’t exactly turn out to be a profitable venture. Now he’s tackling political issues from the inside. As a city council member he’s front and center on all city-related problems and issues. Right now he’s working on solutions for ‘affordable housing’ and vows to somehow do something about our deteriorating streets.