Our Town

Rocky Friedman: The Dream Behind the Rose Theatre

(Airdate: October 5, 2021) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Rocky Friedman, the owner of the Rose Theatre in Port Townsend. Rocky fell in love with movies at a young age. After graduating from USC’s famed Film School, he decided that his future was not as a star but as a great screenwriter. Rocky and his wife ultimately moved to Port Townsend – a great place to write. But Rocky soon realized that the town was ripe for a special kind of movie theater. He spent seven long years researching and scheming. Oddly enough, he never even realized that the glory of the original 1907 Rose Theatre was lurking behind cheap remodels. The old tin ceiling and murals were carefully restored before opening in 1992. The Rosebud followed in 1995 and the adult venue Starlight Room opened in 2013. Then came the pandemic and Rocky – like all business owners – faced the trauma of shutdown. A “go-fund-me” campaign helped him hold on through the 499 days of closure. But the Rose is now back and Rocky is loving returning with the movies he loves. (Did you know he personally picks which movies run at the Rose?)

Derrell Tidwell: Hospice Foundation President

(Airdate: September 21, 2021) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Derrell Tidwell, president of the Jefferson County Healthcare Hospice Foundation. With a basic philosophy that ‘no one dies alone,’ Hospice is a small but important part of Jefferson Healthcare’s basket of services. Hospice aims to provide dignity and comfort during the final days. It can include everything from pain medication to services such as bathing, massages, or just having someone read to you. The Hospice Foundation is a non-profit that essentially raises funds for the Hospice program. Derrell and his colleagues on the Board serve a vital role ensuring there’s enough money for these vital services. The COVID-19 crisis meant Hospice workers couldn’t go into the homes of patients for quite a while. But, as Derrell notes, they are now back in action.

#184 Scott Walker: Non-Motorized Transportation Guru

(Airdate: September 7, 2021) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Scott Walker, a passionate advocate for non-motorized transportation. Scott’s day job is as an electrical contractor. He’s owned and run Current Electric since the early 1990s. But for the past 35 years most of his energy has been devoted to trying to wean Jefferson County from the car. Back in the 1980s he was part of the group that instigated our system of trails. Over the years he’s been on every committee and advisory board that could possibly influence transit. According to Scott, 66% of the greenhouse gas in Port Townsend comes from auto emissions. That’s deplorable in his book! He dreams of a “walkable, bike-able town” and has mapped out how to achieve it.

#183 Chris Dahl: Tending Trees, Both Old and Young

(Airdate: August 24, 2021) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews CHRIS DAHLL, owner of Town & County Tree Experts. Chris grew up on the Olympic Peninsula. He was one of those kids who didn’t exactly have a plan for what he was going to be when he “grew up.” At first he thought he’d be a fireman. But when he was in high school he got a part-time job at Town & Country Tree. He was just a grunt laborer at first. But he found he loved working outside, dealing with nature. He learned on the job until there wasn’t a tree species around that could stump him. In time he was able to purchase the 30-year-old local company. Now Chris has his brother Matt onboard as part of the team. Interestingly, this is one company that positively thrived during the pandemic.

#182 John Barlow: A Rocky Road to the Film Biz

(Airdate: August 10, 2021) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews John Barlow, a Port Townsend guy who went to L.A. to follow his dream of becoming a big success in the film industry. After more than a decade of dead-end jobs in L.A., he found himself battling addiction. He struggled through “about 50” attempts at sobriety (cold turkey, therapy, rehab). Nothing seemed to work. But John relocated to a farm in North Carolina where friendship, nature, and a rare breed of dogs called Bell Griffin helped get him clean. Next came a move to Malaysia – a move that included flying 16 dogs to Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, that flight happened in January 2020. The country soon went into lockdown and Malaysia ultimately decided to cancel most visas. John was on a plane back to the USA and ended up at his Mother’s place in Port Townsend. Now he’s more determined than ever to make it in the film business. The question is — how?

#181 Jan Pierson: Window Man & Dead Fanatic

(Airdate: July 27, 2021) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Jan Pierson, owner of Nor’West Custodial. He’s commonly called “Jan the window man.” He’s spent several decades building up a custodial business that services hundreds of businesses in Jefferson County. There are also several hundred residential clients who rely on his teams for cleaning gutters, mold, and windows. But then there’s the other Jan – the one who left Minneapolis and ended up as part of the Haight Ashbury scene in the late 1960s & early 1970s. He became obsessed with the Grateful Dead and literally followed the band around the country for more than 20 years. Somehow he made his way to Port Townsend with half a tank of gas and 22 cents in his pocket. It’s quite a tale.

#180 Marc Hilt: Riding the Mobile Bike Biz

(Airdate: July 13, 2021) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Marc Hilt, owner of Shining Star Cycles, a mobile bike repair business. Marc’s passion is bikes, particularly racing bikes. He raced for years, setting some national records. But winning races is pretty much a youngster’s game, so Marc played it forward. His passion became his career. He had a bike shop but figured out a fairly unique niche. Mobile bike service is a concept that’s pretty big in Europe but relatively new in the USA. Sparsely populated Jefferson County seemed like a good place to test the concept. So if you need your bike serviced or repaired Marc will come to you in his fully loaded (with bike parts) van. He also positions that van near the Olympic Discovery Trail so locals and tourists can have their bikes serviced before heading out on that spectacular ride. After all, there are no bike shops west of Port Angeles. We all know that good jobs are fairly scarce around here. But Marc’s a home town boy who has managed to create a business he loves.

#179 Charles Garland: Verizon’s Calling Card

(Airdate: June 29, 2021) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Charles Garland, manager of the Verizon store in Port Townsend. Charles was a restless kid with no particular career in mind. So he joined the Marines right out of high school thinking that it would broaden his horizons and perhaps see the world. But he was assigned to Bangor, right here in the Pacific Northwest. On his first off-duty weekend he took the ferry to Canada with a group of guys. There was a girl on board. She’s now his ex-wife. Even though the marriage broke up, Charles is firmly rooted in the Pacific Northwest. He’s worked at a variety of jobs over the years. But he sees sales as his calling. He’s been with Verizon for a relatively short period of time. That story also involves a girl – she’s now his fiancé and lives in Port Townsend.

#178 Ian Plagmann: Zero Emissions Gardening

(Airdate: June 15, 2021) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Ian Plagmann, founder of Greener Groundskeeping, an innovative gardening company. Ian uses a bike to carry all of his equipment from site to site. His haul includes lawnmower, leaf blower, edger and any number of all-electric gardening tools. His bike is indeed a sight to behold. It started out as a three-person tandem bike. But it has been modified carefully, balancing multiple engine weights to keep the bike’s delicate balance. The frame is the size of a mid-sized sedan. The goal of Greener Groundskeeping is simple: a zero emission gardening company. It’s an ambitious goal, but one he sees as a crucial component of climate reform.

Melanie Bakin: Finishing High School in the COVID Era

(Airdate: June 1, 2021) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Melanie Bakin, a graduating senior at Port Townsend High School. High school was going smoothly for Melanie – she was even going to be dancing in the student production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” But the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled that production. In fact, it cancelled all in-person classes, sports and other student activities for the better part of the academic year. But the high school is now inching toward a complete reopening. The junior/senior prom was a smash hit, even though it was held outside on the tennis courts with various social distancing protocols in place. The class of 2020 wasn’t so lucky. Now Melanie and her classmates are excited about getting on with their lives and are pondering that age-old question: “what next?”

#176 Best of Our Town

(Airdate: May 18, 2021) KPTZ 10TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL. In tribute to long-time producer/engineer John MacPherson, Maryanne McNellis and Larry Stein have put together “Best of” clips of various episodes of Our Town, which has aired for over 8 years on KPTZ.

#175 Katy Buckham: Secret Garden Nursery

(April 20, 2021) LOCAL GIRL AMID THE ROSES & DEER. Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Katy Buckham, manager of Secret Gardens Nursery in Port Townsend. Katy’s a third generation Port Townsend girl. She put in a brief stint in Seattle, getting the big city itch out of her system. But she returned to the gentle pace of Jefferson County. She was a cook and barista at many local hot spots, including the late lamented Sweet Laurette’s (where she met her husband). But in the end her passion for the earth won. She found her niche at Secret Gardens, caring for living plants and administering advice to local gardeners. The pandemic created a lot of novice gardeners. But Katy says the number one question from both novice and veteran gardeners is the same: what can I do about the deer eating my garden?

#174 Summer Races Are On

(Airdate: April 6, 2021) DANIEL EVANS: BOSS SAYS SUMMER RACES ARE ON! Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Daniel Evans, Race Boss for the Northwest Maritime Center. It looks like our beloved R2AK (Race to Alaska) is cancelled again due to the pandemic. But here’s the good news: two other summer races look like they are happening! The Seventy/48, the human-powered race between Tacoma and Port Townsend, will start on June 4. That’s 70 miles in 48 hours. And there’s a new race too. The Washington/360 will cover 360 miles of all Washington state waters in an engine-less race. Right now its unclear how much on-shore partying will happen around the races. But the Maritime Center has an elaborate online system where you can track the boats (and Stand-up Paddle boards) in real time, 24/7.

#173 Sandra Gessner

(Airdate: March 23, 2021) CONSIDER THE KIDS. Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Sandra Gessner-Crabtree who is steering the Port Townsend School District through the treacherous pandemic. As Superintendent, Sandy has walked a tightrope — listening to the pleas from parents and students while simultaneously trying to follow state and CDC guidelines. The stress has been tremendous. It remains to be seen whether a year of “distanced” learning has hurt our kids. Some seem to be sailing through it, while others are floundering. At this point in time we are poised to open more doors. Sports are beginning with condensed seasons. Teachers are being vaccinated. What does the 2021-2022 academic year look like?

#172 Lee McKinstry

(Airdate: March 8, 2021) FUNERALS IN THE TIME OF COVID. Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Lee McKinstry who has joined owner Real Robles at the Kosec Funeral Home in Port Townsend. McKinstry thought she might become a marine biologist. But after a stint in the Peace Corps she realized she really wanted to help people. She was fascinated by cultural rituals around death. It’s not a career for everyone, but she found her niche helping families through the grieving process. Today there is a renewed interest in the old-fashioned concept of “preplanning” your own funeral or cremation. After decisions are made, Kosec opens a trust account. The fact that it’s paid for relieves some of the strain on survivors. Kosec can arrange traditional burials with church or graveside services, working with religious leaders of all types. Cremation is also extremely popular in the Pacific Northwest. Given our maritime heritage, there’s a lot of interest in scattering ashes at sea. Among the many options are biodegradable containers, designed to do little or no harm to the environment.

#171 Hans Fredrickson

(First airdate: February 23, 2021) HANS FREDERICKSON: REDUCING CARBON FOOTPRINTS. Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Hans Fredrickson, owner of Frederickson Electric. After taking over the business from his father, Hans saw new opportunities for the company. Frederickson still does a healthy business with new construction, repairs, and remodels. But recent years have seen tremendous growth in installing solar arrays, new heat pumps, and charging stations for electric cars. Despite our gloomy winters, our long sunny summer days make solar power economically attractive to homeowners and developers. Heat pumps can also drastically cut power consumption. Stanford-educated Hans is an ardent environmentalist. He wants to help his customers reduce their carbon footprints to keep the Pacific Northwest as pristine as possible.

#170 Carolyn Salmon

(First airdate: February 9, 2021) CAROLYN SALMON: A VISION FOR SENIORS TO SHARE. Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Carolyn Salmon, president of the owners association at Quimper Village. This senior co-housing development speaks to the emerging consensus among many seniors that assisted living isn’t for them. But they realize they might also need some assistance. It’s a network of friends purchasing townhouses in a new development. They intend to take care of each other as much as they can. Currently, communal dinners and the like are on hold due to COVID-19. So far the COVID-free group has kept to outdoor activities. But they are anxious to return to group events. Quimper Village is perhaps an idealized view of small town interconnectedness. But the group seems determined to make it work.

#169 Sara Penhallegon

(First airdate: January 26, 2021) SARA PENHALLEGON: ANIMAL RESCUE ANGEL. Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Sara Penhallegon, founder & director of Center Valley Animal Rescue. Sara’s passion for saving animals began early: she became a vegetarian at the age of nine. Today the non-profit organization sits on about 30 acres of sprawling hills in center valley. It houses kittens & puppies, cats & dogs, rabbits & gerbils. All sorts of livestock live in one of several barns. A wildlife center houses eagles, cougars, coyotes, whatever. When a herd of starving buffalo was seized by the state, they became residents of Center Valley. Most animals are either released back into the wild or adopted. But there are exceptions. A baby bison was born onsite to a starving mother who couldn’t care for him. Sara & her team stepped in to raise him. Now he’s a permanent resident…a rather large & clumsy “pet.” Then there was the cougar who checked herself into one of the pens one night. There’s always excitement at Center Valley Animal Rescue.

#168 Cherish Cronmiller

(First airdate: January 12, 2021) CHERISH CRONMILLER: LEADING THE CHARGE FOR OLYCAP. Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Cherish Cronmiller, Executive Director of OlyCAP, the Olympic Peninsula’s umbrella community action organization. Homeless shelters, food banks, energy assistance programs, housing programs, Head Start, Meals on Wheels – these are just some of the programs run by OlyCAP. Soaring unemployment rates and rising forclosures on businesses and homes have put Jefferson County in a precarious situation. Our food banks illustrate the situation. The need is desperate. There are 40-50% more families here now relying on food banks. Schools were helping to feed hungry kids. But the schools are closed. Community action groups are trying to fill the gap. Cronmiller is in the thick of the battle to keep families afloat.

#167 Lance Bailey

(First airdate: December 29, 2020) PLANNING PT’S PRESENT & FUTURE. Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Lance Bailey, the Development Services Director for the city of Port Townsend. His department issues permits for all projects – large and small. Remodeling your kitchen? Building a large apartment building? Talk to Lance and his team. Contrary to popular wisdom, there are at least two apartment buildings about to be green-lighted. Housing accessibility is a huge problem around here. The COVID-19 crisis has heightened the problem – house prices are skyrocketing. People from the big cities and even “climate refugees” (people fleeing the massive wildfires) are desperate to move to small picture-perfect places like this. But we have to get broadband to the end of the road. Planning our future is almost impossible.

#166 – Dr. Molly Parker

(First airdate: December 15, 2020) DR. MOLLY PARKER: FAMILY CAREGIVER. Our Town Host Maryanne McNellis interviews Dr. Molly Parker, family medicine specialist at Jefferson Healthcare. After a childhood on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, Dr. Parker decided that she wanted her family to experience that same community closeness. Besides, she loves the variety of family medicine. She can be “catching babies” one day and diagnosing a nasty rash (or something much worse) the next. Of course, there’s also the pandemic to contend with! Dr. Parker talks about COVID-19 planning from behind the front lines. She’s also involved in a variety of medical initiatives. She helps train nurses to gather forensic evidence in sexual assault cases. As Director of Population Medicine, she’s attempting to change the reality that right now Jefferson County is a child care “desert.”

#165 – Chris James

(First airdate: December 1, 2020) CHRIS JAMES: AN ADOPTION STORY. Our Town Host Maryanne McNellis interviews Chris James, Alaskan adventurer & contractor. Chris was born in England and moved to the USA with his family as a child. He vaguely knew that he was adopted but didn’t much care. He was a restless youth who dropped out of high school, driving to Alaska mid-winter with no clear plans – and no money. He hustled his way through jobs, starting in a crab cannery and eventually on board almost any sort of vessel in the Alaskan fishing fleet. When his first child was born he began to think about a more stable existence. Eventually, he founded a construction company in Port Angeles. The impending birth of his first grandchild prompted him to seek out his biological mother. To his profound shock, he found her. Although his Irish mother was dead he suddenly had five Irish siblings, aunts, uncles and a huge number of cousins. They have embraced him into a family he never knew or even dreamed of!

#164 – Sebastian Eggert

(Airdate: November 3, 2020) SEBASTIAN EGGERT:  HISTORY AND WEDDING CAKES. Our Town Host Maryanne McNellis interviews Sebastian Eggert, the founder of Rain Shadow Wood Works. Sebastian has a fascinating niche as a restorer of historic buildings. He has been involved in almost every restoration around town — including the Courthouse, Saint Paul’s Church, Fort Worden, and even a 51foot wooden sailboat. When he first sets foot into a crumbling historic building, Sebastian sees it as a wedding cake with the entire inside hollowed out. The mere outlines of the elaborate frosting remain. His job is to re-create the interior. He sets about preserving what he can and restoring things to their original splendor. Often he uses old labor-intensive methods of construction. He will use modern technology if absolutely necessary. But he prefers a seamless transformation, where you can’t tell the old from the new.

#163 – Robert Ambrose: Leading KPTZ To The Next Level

(Airdate: 10/20/2020) Our Town Host Maryanne McNellis interviews Robert Ambrose, the chairman of the board of KPTZ. Robert has an adventurous past including stints in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, England and the San Francisco Bay area before settling in Alaska. He and wife, Jessica, decided that they did not want to raise their sons in an urban center. They found life quite different in rural Alaska. It suited them well. He was a stay-at-home dad for a while and Jessica was in public health. But the call of the local community station soon had Robert more than just a little involved. All was good. But years later Jessica died in a tragic accident. Robert was undone and after some travel and life reassessment he decided to move. He was lucky to find Port Townsend. His passion for community radio is so deep that he pitched a show to Larry Stein, KPTZ’s program director, even before he got to town. Soon he was on the board and quickly after that became chairman. So now he’s in charge of all of KPTZ’s efforts. He’s leading the team through some tough times. The station is growing and adapting to the challenges of the Covid pandemic.. It also needs funds to help renovate quarters at Fort Worden. The show is scheduled to air on Tuesday, Oct. 20 and Sunday, Oct 25.  

#162 Mike Howell: Sandwich Shop in Purgatory

(Airdate: 10/6/2020) Our Town Host Maryanne McNellis interviews Mike Howell, owner of Howell’s Sandwich Shop in downtown Port Townsend. Mike opened his eatery only two years ago. Business took off rapidly – his first two years were stellar. Sure, a major winter storm blew out his windows the first year. But that was nothing compared to coping with Covid. With limited seating and hours he’s struggling to stay afloat. Howell’s only has about 1,000 square feet. Mike’s fortunate that he has a deck with a dynamite view. But now that winter is coming on, that asset might not help that much. His first two years were heaven and now he’s facing hell. He calls it “purgatory” and hopes to climb out soon. Here’s another small home town businessman that we all need to help support. The show is scheduled to air on Tuesday, October 6, and Sunday, October 11.

#161 Owner of Wynwoods Gallery and Bead Studio

(Airdate: 9/22/2020) LOIS VENARCHICK: ARTISTIC DREAMS WOBBLING. Our Town Host Maryanne McNellis interviews Lois Venarchick, owner of the Wynwoods Gallery and Bead Studio on Water Street. Lois is a jeweler and an artist. She has also owned her own shop since the early 1980s. Business has had its ups and downs over the years. But nothing like this. The gallery and shop were closed from early March until June. That meant zero revenue. But she still had bills to pay, like everyone else. She’s open now. But, of course, on only 30% of her previous hours with restricted numbers of customers allowed in at any one time.. Will her business survive? She sure hopes so and she’s a fighter. We are all rooting for her and for all of the other small businesses in Port Townsend. They are the life blood of this town. The show is scheduled to run on Tuesday, September 22, and Sunday, September 27.