Our Town

#212 Mike & Heather Harbin, Mo-Chilli BBQ

(Airdate: November 29, 2022) Maryanne interviews Mike & Heather Harbin, owners of barbecue joint Mo-Chilli. Although Heather’s a local girl, the two met in the Washington DC area at a training course to become insurance agents. They ultimately moved to Texas, Mike’s home base. They had successful careers in insurance, but Mike had barbecue on his mind. His passion for just the right recipe soon had him competing in barbecue cook-offs. That led to selling the stuff from their driveway. They decided to move back to Port Townsend for family reasons. It’s a leap, but they decided they could make a living selling barbecue here. Their custom-built food truck was made to exact barbecue specs. Before they opened full time on Sims Way in March 2022, they captured many fans by moving the truck from event to event. Not too many entrepreneurs opened businesses during the Covid era. But their gamble seems to be paying off!

#211 Mary Critchlow, Pickleball Queen

(Airdate: November 1, 2022) Maryanne interviews Mary Critchlow, a driving force behind the spread of pickleball in Port Townsend. Mary’s a lifelong “jock.” In addition to teaching physical education for decades, her hobbies include ice hockey, hiking, skiing, soccer and close to every other active sport available. She’s been a pickleball fan for quite a while. Interestingly, she says it was the Covid era that caused the international lift off of pickleball. It’s an active outdoor sport that can be played by all ages. Grandparents play children or even teenagers. The equipment’s cheap and the rules are pretty simple. The Port Townsend Pickleball Club now has over 200 members. Courts are open at the Port Townsend Courthouse, the Mountain View Campus and even the high school. The sport is also red hot regionally in Sequim and Port Angeles. Even Tom Brady has purchased a team of his own!

#210 Mitch, the Trapper

(Airdate: October 18, 2022) Maryanne interviews Mitch Draper, aka “Mitch the Trapper.”  Otters devastating your boat? Raccoons nesting under your deck, trying to make lunchmeat of your cat? There is now a licensed Wildlife Control Officer for Jefferson & Callam Counties. Contrary to popular belief it is ILLEGAL to capture a wild animal and drive it miles away. State research has determined that about 90% of such relocated animals starve a slow, painful death. Mitch is licensed and tries every humane method possible to get rid of the animals — loud music, strong smelling peppers, etc. Sometimes there is a “final solution.” but even that is tightly regulated by the state. Mitch is a local guy, grew up in Brinnon, and has hunted since he was a kid. Now his hunting has become professional. He can be contacted at [email protected].

#209 Carol Hasse, PT Port Commissioner

(Airdate: October 4, 2022) Maryanne McNellis interviews Carol Hasse, PT Port Commissioner. Carol sailed into Point Hudson in the early 1970s with her commune on the boat they built. She was immediately smitten with the town and rather quickly moved here. She had grown up in a small town on the Columbia River. One year of college was enough to convince her that activism on global issues was her path. By the time she hit PT, she had traveled extensively – hitchhiking through 23 countries. Sailing was her passion, so she worked as crew on global adventures. Once here, Carol soon opened Hasse & Co, a sail loft in Point Hudson. She was one of the early forces behind the creation of both the Wooden Boat Festival and the Maritime Center. Over the years she has served on the board of both organizations. She sold her business to the Shipwright’s Coop in 2021. She’s now channeling her incredible energy into her position as Commissioner for the Port of PT. She wants to preserve our working waterfront and is determined to make it happen.

#208 Dr. Lisa Mathias, the Artful Dentist

(Airdate: September 20, 2022) Maryanne McNellis interviews Dr. Liza Mathias, who runs Uptown Dental in PT. She’s a true local, born and raised here. She was torn between art and science when she was in college. After a few years in dead-end, entry-level jobs in Seattle, a friend suggested dentistry might be her answer. Among those she consulted for career advice was Dr. Steven Scharf, her dentist since she was 3 years old. He was extremely enthusiastic. In fact, when she graduated from dental school he wanted her to join him in practice in Port Townsend. A few years later she bought him out – becoming the only female running a dental practice here. Dr. Mathias sees dentistry as the perfect union of art and science. She can be positively lyrical about shaping a crown just right. She views each mouth as an artistic challenge. Sculptors sometimes say they can see the shape that can emerge from inside a block of stone. This dentist believes in the potential beauty in the shapes and fit of teeth.

#207 JP Davies, Fishy Tales from Key City Fish

(Airdate: September 6, 2022) Maryanne interviews John Paul Davies, owner of Key City Fish. He started as a teen fishing in Alaska. When he was at the University of Washington he had a part-time job at a fish store. By the time he moved to Port Townsend in the early 1990s, John Paul (or JP) was ready to open a retail operation for New Day Fisheries. But selling from an outside tent wasn’t that profitable in winter. JP was laid off but saw it as an opportunity to start his own business: Key City Fish. Flash forward to today: Key City is now a local institution with both retail and wholesale operations. Most restaurants and specialty stores on the Peninsula stock Key City fish and meat. The Covid crisis actually strengthened retail sales as more of us became home chefs. But Covid hurt, of course. Most restaurants closed for a while. John Paul laid off staff but, with the aid of government programs, carried on. Now Key City is back on track with JP going strong and a vibrant younger generation in the wings.

#206 Thomas Olson, PT Police Chief

(Airdate: August 23, 2022) Maryanne McNellis interviews Thomas Olson, Port Townsend’s Police Chief. There’s been a spike in violent crimes nationally since the beginning of the Pandemic. Fortunately, Port Townsend has not seen a corresponding crime wave. But it’s been a challenging beginning for Chief Olson, who has been on the job for less than two years. Due to a combination of retirements and staff adjustments only three officers have stayed with the department since he took over. It’s part of a national trend — thousands of officers have left policing in the past few years. Chief Olson’s priorities have been recruitment and hiring. Now he’s refocusing the department to “community policing.” Each officer will have a specific geographic beat with a goal to get out there and meet the community. More bike patrols are on the horizon. PT has only 15 officers for its 10,000 population. But Olson’s ambitious plans also include a defined strategic plan and state accreditation.

#205 Bob Wheeler, Port Hadlock Sewer System

(Airdate: July 26, 2022) Maryanne interviews Bob Wheeler, Project Director for the Port Hadlock Sewer System. The sewer system has been talked about for years — but it’s finally happening. Land has been purchased for the wastewater treatment plant and bidding on contracts will begin this fall. Growth has been strangled without a sewer. The region’s current “rural” designation mandates one house per 5 acres. Businesses can’t grow due to septic restrictions. When there’s a sewer system, Port Hadlock can become an urban growth region. That changes everything. Apartment buildings and other multi-family housing projects are suddenly viable. Businesses such as QFC can finally expand the way they would like. Bob’s enthusiasm for the project is boundless. We may be nearing at least a partial solution to our housing crisis.

#204 Betsy Davis, NW Wooden Boat School

(Airdate: July 12, 2022) Maryanne interviews Betsy Davis, Executive Director of the Northwest Wooden Boat School. Falling in love with a wooden boat can be a life-changer as Betsy will tell you. After a career in high-tech and retailing her heart was captured by a 1914 wooden boat. Needless to say, it needed some TLC before cruising. Some people would just hire a team to restore the boat. But Betsy wanted to know how to do it herself, so she enrolled in a wooden boat school. Many stories later, she ended up as Executive Director of the Seattle Center for Wooden Boats. In 2014 she was hired as Executive Director of our local Northwest School of Wooden Boats. The school has flourished under her direction. And both Betsy and her boat,The Glorybe, have flourished here

#203 Richard Davies, Public Defender

(Airdate: June 28, 2020) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Richard Davies, senior public defender for Jefferson County. Richard and his team represent anyone in Jefferson County who needs state-funded legal representation after being arrested. He estimates that’s about 90% of all legal cases here. We actually have witnessed a drop in the crime rate here. Changing drug laws have helped reduce the overall number of felony charges. The pandemic also helped reduce crime numbers. Fewer people have been out and about and the police have been reluctant to pull over cars for things like broken tail lights. Still, Richard believes our legal system needs a thorough overhaul. Society is in the midst of change. For example, attitudes toward addiction have shifted. We now have a Drug Court which aims to “give people a hand up rather than a boot in the back.”

#202 Amanda Milholland, Farmers Market Director

(Airdate: June 14, 2022) Maryanne McNellis interviews Amanda Milholland, director of both the Port Townsend and Chimacum Farmers Markets. Amanda’s a local girl with a passion for food. During her time with the Peace Corp in Uganda she learned the value of knowing just where her food was grown. In recent years, more and more people are wanting to know just how their meat, dairy, or produce is grown. The whole “farm to table” movement is based on that premise. Like all businesses, the farmers markets were impacted by the pandemic. But because they are considered “essential businesses” the time when they were actually shut down was fairly brief. Early on, traffic and revenue shrunk to about half of pre-pandemic levels. Food was still sold but popular events like cooking demonstrations and live music were cancelled for much of the first two years of the pandemic. But right now things are looking bright for the 2022 season. The number of vendors is back to pre-pandemic levels. Amanda is excited to report that music, cooking, and even story time for the kids are back this year. It’s the market’s 30th anniversary and everyone wants to celebrate this hometown treasure.

#201 John Clise, Renaissance Man

(Airdate: May 31, 2022) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews John Clise, a man who embraced and enjoyed several different careers over his first 90 years of life. John grew up in Seattle, served as a translator in the Korean war and finished his undergraduate degree at Stanford. After returning to the Pacific Northwest, he spent some years in his family’s business. He was working out of an office at the Pike Place Market, which at that time was under threat of developers turning it into offices and condos. John was part of the group that successfully “saved” Pike Place by getting its historic designation. He went on to become Executive Director of Pike Place for nearly a decade. Looking for a new adventure, John decided that Port Townsend would be his next home base. He soon realized that he had to find a career on the Olympic Peninsula. He found out that the venerable Aldrich’s Market was teetering on the brink of insolvency. So he bought it and owned and operated Aldrich’s for years. During that time he also turned to local politics — serving on Port Townsend City Council and becoming Mayor in an era before the town had a City Manager. The job was much different than it is today. At some point John thought he might retire. He sold the store and completed his mayoral duties. But he’s not exactly one to sit back and take in the view. He was soon mentoring small businesses and became a versatile actor with Key City Players, playing everything from kings to monsters. He also volunteered and became a key part of the team at KPTZ-FM. What’s next?

#200 Monika MickHager, PT City Council Member

(Airdate: May 17, 2022) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Monica MickHager, a  first-term Port Townsend City Council member. Monica has been involved in city politics for years, serving over a decade on the Planning Commission, many years on Parks & Recreation and School District committees plus 19 years with the PT Film Festival. But running for elected office was a big step. She took office in January 2020, just before the pandemic shut everything down. Monica had campaigned aggressively on getting the town’s debt load under control and repairing our pothole-riddled streets. But with the city under strict emergency orders, there was little chance for major change. Still, Monica’s stint as a council member has been eye-opening. She understands more fully why it takes so very long for the city to change policies. That doesn’t mean she has given up on her goals. In addition to focusing on debt reduction and streets, she is also working on affordable housing, renters’ rights, and parking management. And then there’s the ever-growing deer herd in Port Townsend. Monica has meticulously studied every issue and is ready to suggest what she sees as better solutions. Not everyone agrees, of course.

#199 Rob Birman, Centrum Executive Director

(Airdate: May 5, 2022) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Rob Birman, Executive Director of Centrum. Rob came to Centrum after 25 years managing symphony orchestras. It was flourishing under his direction. But like many other organizations, Centrum endured two years of being largely shuttered due to the pandemic. Now it looks like Port Townsend’s cultural jewel is poised to return with a full slate of conferences, seminars, classes and even concerts. Rob says it has been tough – revenue was down about 90% during the pandemic. But there were some valuable lessons learned. Centrum already had attendees from 17 countries and all 50 states. Under Rob’s direction, the team honed skills in online presentations, which will now become a permanent part of the Centrum experience.  He predicts a wider international and national presence. The ripple effect of in-person attendance is a real driver for the local economy. Big week-long sessions such as jazz or blues might attract over 700 people. Weekend concerts add more than 1,000 people. Let’s hope that the music will again fill the air at Fort Worden!

#198 Erin Reading, Port Townsend Psychedelic Society

(Airdate: April 19, 2022) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Erin Reading, co-founder of the Port Townsend Psychedelic Society. She grew up in Washington state and has always been transfixed by our mountains. At the University of Washington she studied both philosophy & geology. It made sense to her – combining the theoretical and applied. She was on her way to a PhD when she had her first experience with psychedelics. It changed her life. Erin somehow fell in love with Chimacum and moved here. She found a community of like-minded people. She soon was the co-founder of the Port Townsend Psychedelic Society, which currently has over 600 subscribers to its newsletter. The group is working to decriminalize natural psychedelics such as mushrooms or peyote. The group ’s focus is on legalizing plants, not synthetic chemical compounds. It’s a nation-wide movement that has seen places such as Oakland CA, Ann Arbor MI, Washington DC and dozens of others move toward decriminalization. The Port Townsend City Council recently passed a resolution directing police and prosecutors to make psychedelics their lowest priority. According to Erin, that amounts to “de-facto decriminalization.”

#197 Becky Steffens

(Airdate: March 22, 2022) Becky Steffens, Physical Therapist. Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Becky Steffens, a Physical Therapist with Jefferson Healthcare. Becky grew up in rural Iowa in an agricultural town of about 100 people. But this farm girl wanted to get off the farm and travel. She was fascinated by the medical world. But after working part-time as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) as a student, she realized nursing wasn’t for her. But there are other opportunities in the medical field – if you are willing to work hard to get there. You might not realize it, but physical therapy certification requires a doctorate these days. But Becky didn’t let that – and a mountain of student debt – hold her back. After graduation she first became a “traveling physical therapist” zigzagging across the country on assignments. That helped her see the country. Traveling physical therapists also make more money than full-time staff people. She really wanted out from under that debt load. Port Townsend was one of her stops but it really caught her attention. Now she has joined Jefferson Healthcare full time. Her start date at Jefferson Healthcare was supposedly March 2020. She had already moved here when the job was put on hold due to the pandemic. Single and new in town, she threw herself into working for the Food Bank. When the worst of the crisis eased she started with Jefferson Healthcare. She loves working one-on-one with patients on their road back to mobility and health.

#196 Artis the Spoonman, Musician

(Airdate: March 8, 2020) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Artis the Spoonman, a talented and eccentric musician. After dropping out of school in the 10th grade, Artis spent a few years in the Navy. He says his two goals from childhood were being a musician and seeing the world. He figures he’s accomplished that. Artis has played with the likes of Frank Zappa and showcased his spoon-playing skills on the David Letterman show (among many TV appearances). Over the years he’s played gigs all over the world. He’s as comfortable busking on the street as he is playing with the Seattle philharmonic in a white silk tuxedo. Artis is proud of his “heritage in the hippie world” thanks to his free-spirited Mother. A Northwest native, Artis was a fixture at the Pike Place Market in Seattle for many years. But he ended up here in Port Townsend a few years ago. He loves it here but he’s worried about gentrification. After all, he’s not all that gentrified.

#195 Carlyn Stark, Sailor

(Reprise airdate: February 22, 2022) CARLYN STARK, ICON OF THE PT MARITIME INDUSTRY. In this reprise of an earlier episode, Our Town Host Maryanne McNellis interviews Carlyn Stark, who was something of a legend in the local maritime industry. Carlyn died recently after decades devoted to the sea and to teaching kids maritime skills. She was one of the early dreamers and donors who helped make the Northwest Maritime Center a reality. She ran Camp Four Winds Westward Ho on Orcas Island for many years. It’s a unique camp that somehow blends art and poetry with adventures on the sea. Fittingly, the kids attending the camp today sail every summer on a 161-foot yawl named “the Carlyn.” She grew up in great wealth as a daughter of the Kaiser family (Kaiser Permanente, Kaiser Steel, the Kaiser family Foundation, and other related companies). She was an adventurer at heart – always ready for the next chapter in an extraordinary life. Carlin leaves behind four children, multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren and a great many friends and colleagues.

#194 Linda Rosenbury, PT Superintendent of Schools

(Airdate: February 8, 2022) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Dr. Linda Rosenbury, PT’s new Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Rosenbury came to teaching from an art history background.  She soon found herself as a teacher and later a principal at some of the nation’s toughest schools in areas such as the Bronx and Brooklyn. At one point, her school had the distinction of being in the highest crime rate district in the nation. A full 100% of the kids in that school fell below the poverty line, thus qualifying for free or reduced-cost meals. Dr. Rosenbury soon realized that most schools faced common issues including a disciplinary system that simply removed kids on suspension and didn’t address the underlying problems. After earning a Doctorate at Harvard, she came to Port Townsend. Despite COVID-19 she has moved ahead with an ambitious agenda. For example, a rethinking of the disciplinary system means there’s now on-campus suspension where kids on both sides meet with counselors. There’s a new data management system. There are also efforts to make school a safer place for students of color. She’s a woman with drive & ambition and part of her mission is improving the PT school district.

#193 David Faber, PT’s New Mayor

(Airdate: January 25, 2022) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews David Faber, Port Townsend’s new mayor. David is partner in the uptown law firm Faber & Feinson. His family moved to Port Townsend when he was eight years old so he has first-hand knowledge of the PT school system as well as most local issues. David was a council member and Deputy Mayor before assuming the largely ceremonial post as Mayor. PT also has a City Manager, John Mauro, as well as a mayor and a seven-person city council. The council hires the city manager and approves his major decisions. David says that affordable housing is one key issue facing our community. He has also been listening to citizen concerns about the state of our roads, which have had little maintenance for years. But adequate repair of our streets is an expensive proposition. Major arteries such as Water Street or Discovery Road are candidates for either federal or state grants. But neighborhood streets are not eligible for that sort of funding. Where are we going to get the money to fix our streets? It’s not a simple matter.

#192 Colin Foden, KPTZ founder & former Board Chair

(Airdate: January 11, 2022) COLIN FODEN: MAKING RADIO DREAMS REALITY. Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Colin Foden, KPTZ co-founder and long-time President & Chairman. Colin joined IBM as a young man. Those tech skills turned out to be easily transferable when he left Northern England and headed for New Zealand. Next it was on to California where he worked for financial giant Pacific Life. He hadn’t been on a college track back in England. But Pacific Life financed his MBA at Pepperdine University. The plot digressed when he and his partner had a baby girl. Soon they were in the proverbial VW van headed up to the Pacific Northwest. He had friends in Port Townsend and soon was part of the community here, serving as the key financial guy at Centrum for several years. But before long he was the single parent of two toddlers. That role clashed with full-time employment so he left Centrum to become a consultant. A chance meeting with a friend at Swains (an institution which folded a few years back) resulted in him joining a small band of idealists devoted to starting a community radio station. The rest is history, as they say. They started the ball rolling in 2007 and by 2011 our own community radio station – KPTZ, 91.9 FM – was up and running. Colin was at the helm as President & Chairman of the Board during KPTZ’s first decade. It hasn’t always been easy.

#191 Steve King, PT Public Works Director

(Airdate: December 14, 2021) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Steve King, PT’s Public Work Director. Steve literally started his job on pandemic lockdown day – March 20, 2020. The office was pretty empty and the town was a ghost town. But, as an essential worker, Steve jumped right in. He has a long background in government work. Most of his career, he worked for the city of Wenatchee. He rose through the ranks there for 18 years. But then he got an itch. He took off some banked vacation time and set out to walk the world-famous Camino de Santiago – a 500 mile trek across the Pyrenees through France and Spain. When he returned he decided he needed a career change. Port Townsend seemed like the perfect fit. Starting during the pandemic hasn’t been easy. Now he’s involved in almost every infrastructure project around town – including the new water contract with the mill, upgrading our roads, and overseeing several new housing projects. Did you know there’s a 100-unit project called Madrona Ridge that’s coming down the pipeline? That’s the tip of the iceberg.

#190 Haden Starbuck: An Artist Struggling Post-Pandemic

(Airdate: November 30, 2021) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Haden Starbuck, a local artist specializing in jewelry and fiber art through Mystic Beach Studio. The pandemic wiped out her business. Like most of our creative class, Haden is self-employed. As such, she didn’t even qualify for unemployment when the pandemic first hit. The rules changed and self-employed people ultimately did qualify for government assistance. But those programs have now largely ended. After spending through her savings for the past 18 months, Haden’s looking at how she can continue as an artist. She’s launched a new venture called “creatrix compass.” ([email protected]) She’s producing podcasts featuring creative people and hopes to both consult and run classes on creativity. So far there’s no revenue stream, but Haden’s optimistic. She’s also returning to various shows and venues to directly sell her work. But some shows require an $800 or $1,000 upfront fee for the booth and perhaps a cut of sales. It’s a stiff price for anyone post pandemic. But Haden’s sure she can and will make it!

#188 Gina Landon: A New Restaurant Joins the Scene

(Airdate: November 2, 2021) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Gina Landon, the owner of the Farm & Sea Grill in Port Hadlock. Gina signed the lease on her restaurant-to-be in February 2020 – not realizing that her timing was disastrous. She vowed that COVID-19 was not going to count her out even before she started. The restaurant opened in July 2020. Her not-so-secret weapon was hiring staff who helped create the remarkable community feel of the late, lamented Don’s Pharmacy Lunch Counter. Their friendly chatter is now helping create a warm glow at the Farm & Sea. Summer business was great but now we are in the dark days of winter. Gina’s facing the same problems as all restaurateurs — including staff shortages and supply chain woes. As a new restaurant, every little thing matters. But if pickles are hard to find, she will find them somewhere. She’s determined to succeed!

#187 Sam Rezendes, Uptown Cutlery

(Airdate: October 19, 2021) SAM REZENDES: ONE SHARP YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR. Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Sam Rezendes, the owner of Uptown Cutlery, a knife sharpening business that’s upstairs at Aldrich’s uptown. When he was just a kid, Sam’s  parents moved to Port Townsend to open Crossroads Music. Like many small-town kids, Sam dreamed of making it big in the big city. After high school, he went off to chase his dreams – mainly in San Francisco. But the birth of a son and the global pandemic made Sam & his partner reexamine priorities. They moved to Port Townsend and Sam opened his tiny knife sharpening business. It’s a rarity – a business segment that got a big boost from the pandemic. People who never before had the time or interest to become a great cook were suddenly blossoming into impressive chefs. Think about it: your old knives need sharpening and what could make a better gift to your favorite nouveau chef than finely honed new knives?

#186 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?)