Camas, WA — The two-time, back-to-back State Champion Camas High School (CHS) Boys Swim team lost their home pool several weeks ago as negotiations between Lacamas Athletic Club and the CHS Athletics Department failed to reach an agreement.

Fortunately, Cascade Athletic Club stepped up and took in the displaced team, but it hasn’t been without challenges. The venue change has forced the Varsity swimmers to begin practices at 5:30 am, which gives the boys ample lane space to maximize workouts. Junior Varsity practices in the evenings, beginning at 7:15, which alleviates lane congestion.

It also forces the champion athletes to get up before 5 am, travel to Vancouver, practice, then rush to shower, change, and drive or bus to CHS. It’s not ideal, but the team is adjusting.

“It takes an extra 10 minutes to get here,” said CHS sophomore, Jack Harris. “We have to get here pretty early. It’s not too bad, at least we have afternoons to get homework done, but it’s still a big change from last year. We’ll do our best given the situation.”

On day one, Head Coach Mike Bemis gave the entire team a tour of the facility, and thanked Cascade for their generosity. The team practices alongside competitors at Union, Mountain View, Evergreen, and Heritage.

“We’re treating this season like a new season,” said co-captain, Chris Xia. “We’re not really gonna focus on our past titles, we’re just going into this year trying our best and yeah we have some swimmers who have left, but we’re just gonna try to make up for them, and do the best we can.”

Swim

Camas Swim team captains, from left: Chris Xia and Austin Fogel.

The team won State titles in 2017 and 2018, thanks to amazing talent, and coaching strategies. But, they also lost three star athletes — Finn McClone and Mark Kim — to graduation, as well as Eric Wu, who dropped the team this year because of losing Lacamas Athletic Club as their home pool.

“The Camas High School Boys swim team is about to start training for our third state title,” said Wu. “I find it near impossible if we can’t do that without our pool. The past few seasons we were able to train in the afternoon at Lacamas. Not only does swimming in the morning affect our training, but it affects our whole day during school. Without proper sleep and a home pool, how will we put together another strong state team?”

Losing Wu was a blow, but the team is soul-searching, and working hard to fill in the gaps.

”We’re still gonna try hard to defend our State title,” said co-captain, Austin Fogel. “Hopefully some of the underclass men will step up and fill those shoes. We have some really fast swimmers.”

Their first meet of the season is today at Curtis High School.

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Background

So, how did a two-time State Championship team lose their home pool?

Several months ago, Denise Croucher, owner and operator of Lacamas Athletic Club, expressed her desire to have a member of her club staff serve as assistant coach to both the boys and girls Camas High School (CHS) swim teams. Athletes from several private clubs swim for CHS, including Lacamas Headhunters, Columbia River Swim Team (CRST), Portland Athletic Club, and Mt. Hood.

CHS and Bemis say Croucher wanted to be head coach, which Croucher denies.

Croucher’s demand to coach was met with resistance from CHS, whose loyalty remains to Bemis, who has brought home two back-to-back state champions. Negotiations between the two entities ended with the girl’s team being forced out and finding a new, temporary home at Cascade Athletic Club.

“Yes, we will continue to swim at Cascade Athletic Club for the boys season,” said Rory Oster, CHS Athletic Director. “We are grateful for the great management and leadership at Cascade who is willing to do whatever they can to help our program, and we will make it work. Again, our preference would be to swim at the local Lacamas Athletic Club and are disappointed an agreement could not be made.”

Swim

Front, left to right: Jack Duerfeldt and Luke Bales. Back, left to right: Zach Macia and Ben Taylor.

Croucher said she thought they were still in negotations, and was shocked when the girl’s team switched over to Cascade. At the time, CHS had hoped they could salvage the relationship and keep the Lacamas pool for the boy’s season.

There’s been bad blood between Croucher and CRST for more than 15 years, but Darlene Hill, owner and operator of CRST, says “There’s nothing there that can’t be fixed — the focus should be on the kids who all get along very well. The swimming community generally gets along well. This is very obtuse.”

Bemis said over the years Lacamas Athletic Club has manufactured tensions, but “we always found a way to work it out.”

Parents have complained that Lacamas Athetic Club management was seldom prepared for home meets, and that facilities haven’t been properly maintained. Croucher said their facilities were vandalized during home meets, and that the costs of opening the pool for the CHS team were too high. CHS pays $20,000 each season to Lacamas Athletic Club to lease lanes at their facility, said Croucher.

“They pulled all shower plumbing off the locker rooms, they played with heaters and they ruined a locker room heater,” said Croucher. “Other teams would leave a mess in the locker room after each swim meet. We had a huge mess every single day after practice. Garbage strewed across the locker room. The attitude was very negative from outside swimmers. They don’t respect it like its theirs.  Honestly, sometimes I don’t think we want them back here. It has been so nice to have our team, staff and employees without the high school teams.”

But, she also feels bad a deal couldn’t be worked out.

“It’s not something we really want,” said Croucher. “We want the kids to be able to swim, so I’m a supporter of that. But, we have to find a way that it doesn’t impact the business so much. I also want a member of my staff coaching the team, that way our interests are represented at every practice, and at every meet. I’m open to suggestions.”

Swim

From left: Chris Xia, Dave Peddie, and Austin Fogel.

Bemis said the politics of the situation have been a challenge for more than a decade, and that they’ve always found a way to work it out. But, not this year.

“Leslie (the assistant coach) and I aren’t even allowed on the Lacamas Athletic Club premises anymore,” said Bemis. “It’s gotten that bad. Denise wants to coach both Camas High School teams, and if she doesn’t get that, then the Camas teams aren’t allowed to practice or compete there. It’s not a good decision.”

Bailey Segall, of the CHS Girls swim team, said that Lacamas Headhunter swimmers even petitioned Croucher to change their minds.

”They went in there and begged Denise to change her mind, but she wouldn’t listen,” said Segall. “Nobody is really happy about this.”

George, Washington — A bus accident in Central Washington changed many lives on Thanksgiving Day, including Battle Ground City Councilor, Shane Bowman, his family, and the small town of George.

Moments after bus three in a six-bus caravan transporting University of Washington Marching Band and Spirit Squad members to Pullman slid and rolled on the icy highway, Bowman said he heard the sirens of fire trucks and ambulances passing through George.

“I grew up in Central Washington four miles from George, we were visiting for Thanksgiving, working outside and we heard some police sirens and ambulances, so we assumed there was an accident,” said Bowman. “We finished our work and pulled up the news and learned that a UW band bus rolled over just six miles from us. My son said we should go see if we they need any help.”

So they did.

Within moments, the Bowman’s found out they were triaging victims at George Elementary School. So, they called the fire chief and asked if they needed anything.

“They said they needed food and blankets,” said Bowman. “We rounded up everything we had and headed down there. All the buses were there, five in total. So, we just took in everything that we had, we called a few friends to gather food, and we went to the gas station and cleared out all the hot pockets and burritos we could buy. We bought a couple hundred of them.”

Bus

Local community members brought everything they could to feed the 325 students and staff.

Using the tiny school’s kitchen, they heated up the food, put out the snacks, and watched local community members bring in their delicious Thanksgiving food.

“We fed all of them,” said Bowman. “We had enough water and people showed up with everything — soups and enchiladas. Everything.”

From 6:15 pm until the UW buses departed at 10:30 pm, Bowman’s family, including his son, Trey, and his parents, Alan and Sue (and a total crew of about 10) stayed for the duration. Another 15-20 families came in and dropped off food.

“We’d been down there quite a while, and a whole bunch of food came in — the kids just snacked on anything we had,” said Bowman. “Then a bunch of people brought in more food, blankets and mattresses. A couple even came in from Wenatchee on those icy roads. We thought they were going to spend the night at the school at first. It was chaos, but I was impressed with how professional everyone was. The UW students and staff are incredible. They had a lot to deal with. No complaining from anyone. The whole group was very professional.”

Bowman also got to spend time with Union High School graduate, Tommy Strassenberg, who used to live in Battle Ground. Strassenberg was a phenomenal wrestler who is now part of the UW Cheer team.

Everyone was equally impressed with the first responders — especially given the resource constraints an accident this size causes in rural Washington. Bowman said each little jurisdiction has ambulances, but they don’t have the resources here to deal with something this big.

The UW students are dealing with a spectrum of injuries — from sore backs and lacerations to broken bones and concussions, however, Bowman said it could have been a lot worse.

“I spoke with the bus driver of bus 4 who said he nearly hit bus 3,” he said. “A second collision would have made things a lot worse. We’re very grateful there were no fatalities. There was a lot of ice on the road. We have four-wheel drive pickups and the roads were slick. It was bad out there. There was freezing rain and sleet for about an hour.

“Regarding the response, I don’t expect anything different. I was in Battle Ground when we had the tornado come through, and we had the same thing there. People just stepped up, and put aside all their differences, and that’s what was cool. All the Fire Departments here are volunteers. It’s refreshing to see everyone help out.”

The UW students spent the night at Moses Lake, and will likely return to Seattle tomorrow morning. They won’t attend the Apple Cup, which was their destination.

8:00 am UPDATE: Edie Myers-Power has been discharged, as have most, and reports are the UW students spent the night at a nearby hotel in Moses Lake. Her dislocated shoulder will require a surgeon when she returns to school. More information will be reported.

11:00 pm UPDATE: Austin Miller has been discharged from the hospital. He will be OK, but will be very sore for a while.

10:25 pm UPDATE: Camas High School 2015 graduate, Austin Miller, sustained injuries in the accident.

”When talking to him he feels like his injuries are minor compared to others — cuts on hand and chin, sore back and pieces of glass in his scalp that need to be cleaned up,” said Mia Miller, Austin’s mother.

Edie Myers-Power is getting X-rays. Other names haven’t been released yet.

9:36 pm UPDATE: There was a total of 6 chartered buses carrying UW band members. The bus that went off the roadway was # 3 in the group. Also, the numbers transported to area hospitals is closer to 40-45 plus.

Local families are asking for your prayers. Please share this article. We will keep updating this story as more details unfold.

BREAKING NEWS: Icy road conditions caused one of three buses carrying members of University of Washington’s marching band and spirit squad headed to the Apple Cup in Pullman to roll on its side, injuring at least 25 people. 

The crash happened at 5:20 pm today on eastbound 1-90 about three miles west of George. The injured were taken to the area hospitals to be treated, which are being reported as not life-threatening. Injuries include lacerations, broken collar bones, sore backs, bruises, and glass shards in scalps.

According to Jennifer Myers-Power, her daughter, Edie, and several Camas High School graduates, are among those injured. 

“Right now, there are 20+ kids at the Quincy Valley Medical Center,” said Myers-Power. “From talking to the other Camas moms of Husky Saxes, Edie’s might be the worst. Of those not hospitalized, there was still lots of broken glass, so lacerations and bruises. Some hand injuries so I’m pretty sure they won’t be playing.”

According to Grant County Sheriff’s Office: “Chartered bus carrying part of the U of W band lost control and rolled about 5:20 p.m. east bound I-90 MP143. Bus came to rest on a frontage road. All people on board accounted for. Injured all have non-life-threatening injuries. Around 25 victims transported to several area hospitals. That number subject to change as we work to verify all information. Remainder of students on the rolled bus have been taken to George Elementary School to be re-evaluated by EMS. Working on plan moving forward.”

There is currently no need for any volunteers, food or donations at the George Elementary School school, but families are asking for prayers.

We’ll keep you updated on this story.

Photos by Seattle Times and Washington State Patrol.

 

 

The Downtown Camas Association (DCA) announced today that Camas is a top 20 national finalist to appear in the next season of “Small Business Revolution – Main Street,” which is a streaming Hulu web series hosted by Amanda Brinkman and Ty Pennington.

Camas made the top 20 out of 12,000 applicants, said Maria Gonser, owner of Attic Gallery in Downtown Camas.

“I’m a big fan of the show, and I submitted an online application to get Camas to be on ‘Main Street’,” said Gonser. “The show really understands small towns, and they’re big on restoring them.”

Gonser explained that Small Business Revolution will choose 10 of those cities to come visit. And out of those 10, they choose five, then the show’s viewers will vote on the remaining five. The top vote getter will be the focus of season four.

The top 10 will be announced on December 11, and the town visits will take place in January. The top five will be announced in mid-February, and the public vote takes place the end of February.

“I was drawn to it because we have so many projects but don’t have all the funding for them,” said Gonser. “If we win, we’d get $500,000 in funding. Six businesses would get a major makeover, plus we need to send more love to 3rd and 5th Streets in Camas. I want to feel good when I go on those streets.”

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Once the show’s producers contacted Gonser, she directed them to the DCA’s Executive Director, Carrie Schulstad.

“I spent about 40 minutes on the phone talking with them,” said Schulstad. ”I told them all the great things about Camas, but also the areas that need major improvement. If we get picked, they will go into each business for a month and help them out. They all have their own expertise and help each business revamp their whole branding, their space, etc.”

To get to the Top 10, each town is encouraged to promote why they should be considered. Schulstad wants Camas residents to use the hashtag #MyCamas on social media posts.

“Please like their Facebook page (go to @SmallBusinessRevolution) and post a photo to their timeline with a message about why you love Camas and be sure to use the hashtag #MyCamas,” said Schulstad. “Our town can do this! Please use this hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, too!”

Main Street

The show is hosted by Amanda Brinkman and Ty Pennington.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Small Business Revolution Main Street?

This is what the show’s producers say: “As we traveled the country, capturing the inspiring stories of 100 small businesses, we recognized that nowhere in America are small businesses more critical, and more under siege, than in our small towns.

“We created the Small Business Revolution – Main Street to help those small businesses, and in turn, those small towns, reignite the spark that drives them and keeps people coming back.

“Each season, we seek out America’s most inspiring small towns, and award the winner – and six of its small businesses – a $500,000 revitalization and feature the transformation in an original series.”

To learn more, visit www.smallbusinessrevolution.org

 

 

Vancouver, WA — With help from the Vancouver Rotary Foundation and a Swiss-funded school, Navraj Lamichhane, or “Raj,” of Nepal, is living his dream, and plans use his education to improve the quality of life in his native country.

After completing two years of college in Nepal, Raj arrived in Vancouver nearly three years ago to continue his studies at Washington State University (WSU) Vancouver where he recently earned a Business Administration Degree with a certificate in professional sales.

“I was the scholarship recipient from the Vancouver Rotary Foundation, and was paid through grants and other scholarships, and directly from WSU,” said Raj. “I got a sponsor from Switzerland, and she helped me through the first semester. Her name is Birgit Krneta, with Bright Horizons Children’s school in Nepal, which is a Swiss-funded school, and everyone has a sponsor. I had her as my sponsor and she paid for my education and she paid for my first semester at WSU Vancouver. After that, I was able to get the remaining funds.”

Raj also received support from Beverly Questad, who assisted with room and board. The two originally met in Nepal during a teaching abroad program. Questad, a Skyview High School teacher, traveled to Nepal to teach and train.

“I was planning to come to America at that time, and we started talking and she really liked my drive,” said Raj. “She offered free room and board, which is close to the WSU Vancouver campus. When I came here I got full scholarships, and that’s how I was able to get it all done.”

His interest is in renewable energy and improving the quality of life in developing countries — and is putting his focus on new, improved cooking stoves that are more efficient, and healthier. Back in Nepal they cook everything inside with antiquated cooking stoves that create toxins and smoke in the home.

“I learned about energy through Winrock International, which is based in Arkansas, and they promote renewable energies worldwide,” said Raj. “They teach, and do proposals, train people, work with local banks, and help local businesses secure financing. I worked with them as a paid research intern for two years, and I learned about solar home systems. During my internship with Winrock is when my interest in America emerged. It really fascinated me. America is a great country as they have diverse thinking. I wanted to study here and I was really in need of those kind of connections.”

Upon arrival in the United States, Raj heard about the Rotary scholarship, and applied. After several interviews, he received the $4,000 scholarship.

“I love that Rotary is doing international things,” he said.

Raj is making plans to earn his MBA, and is currently looking at several schools. He wants to start classes in 2019.

After that, he wants to become an energy expert, and plans to eventually return to Nepal, but still travel the world bringing energy solutions to the developing parts of the world. In Nepal, they often face 18 hours of energy blackouts each day, which is a huge struggle.

“I want to work in project management and bring good products to help people in these places,” Raj said. “I want to first gain work experience in the United States and stay here for 5-10 years and then set up my own company in Nepal. I want to help in different ways. I love my country but I want to get established here. I want to get all this experience and go back and help.”

Nepal

Raj wants to market new, more efficient stoves in Nepal and other developing countries.

The 26 year-old has two older sisters and one younger brother, who only attended school through the 7th grade. He was raised in Kathmandu, but was born 2.5 hours away — in rural Nepal. There aren’t a lot of jobs there for people who don’t have an education, and the nation has a massive unemployment problem.

“Renewable energy is a way to a healthy life,” Raj said. “It’s a way to progress and sustainability. It’s a way to empower people. I think there are ways we can think critically — in different ways. Like using solar cars, and it’s just healthier.”

He said that solar home heating systems and modern cooking stoves are key to their progress.

He plans to bring newer stoves to market, because their current models are making women and children sick, given that most women stay at home in Nepal.

“With new cooking stoves, we can eliminate these health problems and provide for a better life,” he said. “In the cities, they use more gas stoves with ventilation. The traditional stoves are used more in the rural areas.”

He’d like to see Metallic Improved Cooking (MIC) stoves spread through his native country — and to other parts of the developing world.

Photo Gallery

 

Washington, D.C. — Earlier this week, President Donald Trump signed H.R. 2345, the “National Suicide Hotline Improvements Act of 2018,” which the White House says “requires the Federal Communications Commission, in coordination with the Departments of Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs, to study the feasibility of designating a three-digit dialing code for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system.”

HB 2345, sponsored by Congressman Chris Stewart in the US House of Representatives, and its companion bill, sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch in the US Senate is the first step toward getting a nationwide three-digit code, like 911, designated to helping those with suicide thoughts and other mental health issues.

Utah Senator Daniel Thatcher has been championing this issue since 2013.

“It has consumed my life, and this is a giant leap in the right direction,” said Thatcher. “We’re all familiar with 911, which is used for emergencies, and I’m sure none of us under 50 remember life before 911. This legislation directs the FCC to look at the efficacy of the other 3-digit numbers and will set one up for mental health. This legislation is a huge deal! It is to mental health what 911 is to physical health. We lose more Utahns under 25 to mental health than to physical health. When it fully materializes, people who are contemplating suicide will have a 3-digit dial code to call, like 611, and there will be professionals answering calls to help people get through a crisis.”

The FCC will examine all 3-digit numbers, from 211-811, and decide which number is best. Thatcher is betting on 611.

So, what are all the 3-digit numbers currently used for? Let’s take a look:

  • 211: Set up for government services. People can call and get help for unemployment, for example.
  • 311: This is a vanity phone number for local governments. For example, if you have a briefcase in a New York City taxi, they will help you track it down. Thatcher says “311 does the same thing as 211.”
  • 411: Not officially designated, but the FCC gave conditional approval for temporary use in 1993, but is widely known and used for information services.
  • 511: Nationwide traffic and weather hotline. Used in some places to call and make sure roads are safe.
  • 611: Not officially designated, the FCC gave conditional permission for telecom to use 611 for customer service. Thatcher says this is the least critical of these numbers, and the most likely to be chosen.
  • 711: This is for the hearing impaired, for tele text.
  • 811: This is the call before you dig a hole in your background hotline. It gets the utility companies to mark out your property before digging a hole — to avoid cutting a electrical or gas line.
  • 911: Easily the best-known number in the world.

 

Suicide

Senator Dan Thatcher, with his wife, Summer.

The History

Thatcher has been working on this legislation in his home state of Utah since 2013.

”We discussed what to do with tip reporting on phone lines, and we learned that if a kid calls a suicide line it could take hours to get back with him. It just wasn’t staffed properly,” said Thatcher. “I knew we needed 24/7 coverage with mental health professionals. We needed texting capability, and we needed a phone number that people could remember. A 10-digit number isn’t something people could easily remember.”

So, Thatcher said he tried to get a 3-digit code passed in Utah.

“I wanted 311 to go to Utah for counseling services,” he said. “I worked with local leaders, and it just didn’t happen. We tried really hard to get it done. So, right now we’re using a national life line number. Most people don’t remember 10-digit numbers.”

After failing to get support in Utah, Thatcher approached Senator Hatch and Representative Stewart and they immediately saw the need. They called in experts and they conducted a round table to see how to best approach this. The group saw the value of designating a 3-digit number on a national scale.

Their bill, called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act was passed in the US Congress several weeks ago, and was just signed Tuesday by President Trump.

Senator Hatch’s office released this statement:

“With this topic, my heart is both heavy and hopeful—heavy because suicide has already taken so many lives; hopeful because this legislation can turn the tide in the campaign against this epidemic,” said Hatch. “With this bill, we can prevent countless tragedies and help thousands of men and women get the help they so desperately need. I’m grateful this lifesaving proposal has been signed into law.”

Representative Stewart’s office released this statement:

“This is a great day for Utah and a great day for the Nation. We now have the opportunity to make the National Suicide Prevention Hotline more accessible and easier to remember. By creating a hotline dialing code that is short and easy to remember, we are taking an important step towards potentially averting tragedy.  This new law truly has the ability to save lives. I’m grateful that the President signed this into law in a timely manner.”

It was a fantastic day for Thatcher, as well.

”I don’t think people understand what just happened,” said Thatcher. “I think we’ll look back and wonder how we ever lived without this. I may be crying all day.”

Editor’s Note: We know Senator Thatcher because he helped co-sponsor a bill in Utah that built on our #MarchKindness campaign. In Utah, the bill became known as #MSDKindness and encouraged citizens across Utah to conducts acts of kindness to honor those students killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, FL.

Suicide

Senator Dan Thatcher, with his wife, Summer.

Parkland, FL — The tragic and senseless shootings on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School forever changed not just the lives of the victim’s families and friends, but it sent shock waves throughout this picturesque town. It’ll never be the same.

Professional artist and Parkland resident, Nava Lundy, a wife and mother of three, remembers the day with clarity.

“My twin daughters were in preschool less than a mile from MSD, and I got the alert that their school went on lockdown,” recalls Lundy. “After that there was no more communication. I was at a park near MSD with my 15-month old, and I didn’t really understand the gravity of it yet. So, I went home with the baby and quickly learned there was a shooter at large. I’ll never be the same after what happened.”

Lundy said she felt gratitude she wasn’t in harm’s way, but at the same time felt grief-stricken and pain for all the victims and their families. Like so many did, she asked herself what could she do to help?

“I communicate with paintings, and I want the families to know how much we care about them,” said Lundy, who volunteered her time creating each painting. “I worked quickly and did two paintings a week, sometimes three — I just felt this sense of urgency.”

She felt connected to each person, and worked hard to capture their personalities in her work.

Lundy

Alyssa Alhadeff.

She started with Alyssa Alhadeff’s portrait, which she delivered to her parents.

“We all broke down together,” she said. “They were so grateful, and they put it up immediately.”

She worked on Jaime Guttenberg’s portrait next. Jaime’s mother, Jennifer, was teaching preschool at the same school Lundy’s daughters attend — and was protecting those children while her own daughter was murdered at MSD.

”She was in lockdown at the preschool, in a closet,” said Lundy. “I got her picture through someone at school and then I realized I needed to do one for every family. I posted paintings on Next Door and asked people to help me get pictures.”

While doing her research on each victim, Lundy saw people connecting through the portraits, and started to realize the positive impact this project would have. She learned a great deal about each person.

”As an artist, you have a feeling in your head and you try to get it across in the painting,” she said. “We also didn’t want MSD to just become another statistic. I know all the parents feel the same way. Plus, it’s so important to have people realize this could happen to you. We have to continually ask ourselves can we create positive change?”

Lundy completed the final portrait on March 28, just 6 weeks after that tragic day. Accompanied by her baby, Harry, she delivered most of the paintings directly to the victim’s families, and each visit was unique. She said some families weren’t ready to talk, but Joaquin Oliver’s father brought them both into his son’s bedroom so they could get a peek into his personality.

”Then, Joaquin’s dad looked at Harry and said ‘well make sure the schools are safe before he goes to school.”

About Nava Lundy

Nava has been a professional artist since 1998, and has been painting for more than 20 years. Her work has been featured in numerous publications, including The Palm Beach Post, The Sun Sentinel, The Chicago Tribune, The Tampa Tribune and The St. Petersburg Times. Her art work has been featured on NBC’s nationally syndicated program Daytime, as well as locally on CBS’s Studio 10. Nava has also been a guest on several radio programs, and regularly conducts lectures on art and art history around Florida through Brandeis University.

Lundy

Professional artist, Nava Lundy.

Her work has also been used in set designs in several films. To learn more about Lundy’s work, visit www.navagallery.com or visit her Facebook page, Nava Lundy Artist.

Portraits

by Nava Lundy

Salt Lake City, Utah — Less than two weeks after launching, the Camas-Washougal-based #MarchKindness campaign, which was Lacamas Magazine’s response to the horrific Florida school shootings, was adopted by the State of Utah and became HCR 22 #MSDKindness Month. The bill unanimously passed the Utah Senate and House Thursday morning, and was signed by Governor Herbert.

HCR 22 was written by Dr. Mirella Petersen, a Florida-based advocate for mental health and autism issues, who was in Utah to finish legislative business. Petersen lives close to Ryan and Kelly Petty, whose daughter, Alaina, was murdered at Douglas High School, along with 16 other innocent people.

”I saw the #MarchKindness video that Lacamas Magazine produced, and I thought Utah can adopt this,” said Petersen. “So last Thursday, I wrote the bill in four hours and presented it to Attorney General, Sean Reyes, Representative Paul Ray, and Senator Dan Thatcher.”

Both Ray and Thatcher co-sponsored the bill and managed to get it through the legislative process at lightning speed. The Utah Legislative session ended on March 8, the same day HCR 22 was passed.

”The stars aligned very quickly,” said Petersen. “It’s really a miracle.”

Ray agreed.

”Bills usually take nine weeks to get through — sometimes up to a year,” said Ray. “We felt this continuing resolution was a good idea to help promote kindness in an official capacity and to tie it into our SafeUT app. You guys in Washington started a national movement.”

Ryan Petty was honored by HCR 22, and was in attendance with daughter, Meghan, son Ian, and daughter-in-law, Sophia. Petty had spent the previous few days working with the Florida Legislature to pass a school safety bill, which gives schools additional protections against shootings.

”I was honored to represent all 17 victim families as the Utah Legislature recognized our loved ones by declaring April a month of kindness,” said Petty. “We are all honored by what the Utah Legislature has done. We came together as families to make sure we are the last ones that ever lose a family member to senseless school violence.”

Petty said “what our friends in Washington did with #MarchKindness is the perfect response to what is happening in today’s society. The campaign personifies our daughter, and helps lift the dialogue. We have to do better. Fortifying our schools is the last line of defense, so we have to start earlier and help people by being kind to them, to fund our mental health programs, and respect each other. We will continue these efforts.”

The Petty family, with their guests, the Jenkins family, and a Washington delegation, which was represented by Ernie Geigenmiller and Jordan Geigenmiller, and their guests Tracie Goettig, Charles Hall, and Blaine Cutler, received a warm reception by Utah State Attorney General, Sean Reyes.

”We thank all of you for coming here today,” said AG Reyes. “To the Petty family, we express our love to you today, and as you now, you have many here who are your family — and here on the Hill, too, we are your family, whether you wanted us or not, you’re stuck with us.”

During the meeting, Thatcher said “The Legislature has suspended some of the rules to make this vote happen today. It’s that important we do this.”

Following the private reception, AG Reyes escorted the parties to witness HCR 22’s vote in the House, which was introduced by Representative Ray.

Kindness

From left: Dr. Mirella Parker; Utah Attorney General, Sean Reyes; Ryan Petty; and Meghan Petty. They were presented a cherished painting.

“The Petty’s are with us because their daughter, Alaina, was one of the victims in the Parkland, Florida shooting, and so they’ve been very involved across the nation getting the word out. And, the two things they are doing is trying to honor the memory of their daughter and the service she gave, and also to help stop these senseless acts of violence … The state of Washington, which is where they lived prior, made March a month of kindness in their honor … to spread the message of kindness and working together … what we’re doing here in Utah is we’re adopting April as our month of kindness, and we’re putting together a website that people can go to and report acts of service they are doing. We’re also challenging other states to adopt a month throughout the rest of the year …”

Highlighted provisions are:

  • Honors the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School tragedy for the exemplary lives and acts of service by designating the month of April 2018 as #MSDKindness month.
  • Encourages the citizens of Utah to participate in random acts of kindness during the month of April 2018 and report their acts on the SafeUT mobile application. The app promotes school safety and access to critical services for school-aged children in the state of Utah. The app itself has thwarted 86 attacks, according the Utah AG’s office. We will provide a detailed article on how the SafeUT app works.
  • Challenges other states to claim a remaining month of 2018 as their state’s month of kindness.
  • The resolution will be sent to State Legislatures of the other 49 states and each member of Utah’s Congressional delegation.
Kindness

The Utah House Floor.

The names of all the victims were then read:

  • Alaina Petty, 14;
  • Alex Schaffer, 14;
  • Alyssa Alhadeff, 14;
  • Cara Loughran, 14;
  • Gina Montalto, 14;
  • Jaime Gutenberg, 14;
  • Martin Duque Anguiano, 14;
  • Luke Hoyer, 15;
  • Peter Wang, 15;
  • Carmen Schentrup, 16;
  • Helena Ramsay, 17;
  • Joaquin Oliver, 17;
  • Nicholas Dworet, 17;
  • Meadow Pollack, 18;
  • Scott Beigel, 35;
  • Aaron Feis, 37;
  • Chris Hixon, 49
Kindness

Utah Senator Daniel Thatcher introduces HCR 22 to the Senate Floor.

Once the House passed HCR 22, it moved onto the Senate, and we had the opportunity to witness the event on the Senate Floor.

Thatcher introduced the bill and said, speaking of Alaina, “Above all, her dad wanted you to know of her incredible kindness, and her desire to be friends with everyone.”

Thatcher then showed his fellow senators the 60-second #MarchKindness video.

“So, when Representative Ray and I first learned about #MarchKindness, our first thought was CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, “said Thatcher. “What better place to take an idea like this and carry it forward than Utah.”

HCR 22 unanimously passed the Senate.

A national website was created to honor the victims and report acts of kindness. The website is www.msdkindnessmonth.com

Representative Ray is working with Indiana to see if they accept the challenge.

#MSDKindness

Kindness Gallery

Hollywood, CA — Artist Mario AC Della Casa has been hard at work designing a special “I Dream of Jeannie” bottle for the Roger Neal Oscar Suite tonight, which will be sold for $50,000 — with the proceeds to benefit the Life and Hope Relief charity.

As the Official Artist for the Roger Neal Oscar Suite, Della Casa, who is the only artist that was ever licensed to create the official “I Dream of Jeannie” bottle, will unveil his special bottle tonight.

The bottle is signed by past Oscar winners and present nominees. He isn’t allowed to tell us what is special about this year’s design. It’s under wraps.

”I’m so thrilled to be part of such a fun event,” said Della Casa. “And, we’re giving back to an organization that shows great care and kindness to those in troubled parts of the world. On Oscar night, they will raise $50,000.”

The Roger Neal Oscar Suite is an annual event at the Academy Awards and features quite the list of Hollywood celebrities.

Life and Hope Relief is an organization dedicated to showing kindness and assisting those who can’t help themselves in the aftermath of massive disasters.

The mission of the charity is two-fold:

1. To organize as many people and supplies as possible, and to deliver them directly to those in dire need.

2. To assist existing charitable organizations such as the Red Cross, etc. and fill any gaps that may exist in their services.

Della Casa takes pride in his work on the Jeannie bottles, which are replicas from the TV show. Each bottle is custom painted and designed by Della Casa himself. He also is the Official Artist for Southfork Ranch, home of the hit TV show, “Dallas.”

”My business is about making dreams come true,” said Della Casa. “We’re about nostalgia, and bringing people to a happy place.”

Jeannie

From left: Actor Bill Daley, Mario AC Della Casa, Barbara Eden, and Larry Hagman.

To learn more, visit www.JeannieBottles.com

Roger Neal, Dinner Chairman, who for the past 22 years has produced the RNSH Oscar Gift Suite said, “We are beyond thrilled to produce our 3rd Annual Oscar Party at the Hollywood Museum which houses the largest collection of entertainment memorabilia on display in the world; I cannot think of a more perfect place to host 80 stars many who are past Oscar nominees, winners and presenters. Young and classic stars from TV and Film will have the opportunity to tour this incredible museum prior to a sit down gourmet dinner with wine & champagne (Lorimar Winery) to see a special Academy Awards exhibit and the brand new just opened Batman 66 Exhibit.”

Jeannie Images

I’ve spent half of Thursday sobbing at my desk upon learning that one of the Florida shooting victims is the daughter of a longtime friend, Ryan Petty. For some reason, I didn’t make the connection at first until my former editor brought it to my attention. Then, the emotions all came crashing down.

I had done my best to avoid listening to the details of the mass murders — even with my love of journalism I just didn’t want to hear anymore about it. When I was at Camas High School last Thursday, I thought about those kids at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. During that drive, I said a personal prayer for their safety as those Papermakers headed off to compete at State. They could have been my kids, your kids, my friend’s kids. And, just 15 minutes after driving away from the State teams send-off, I learned it was my friend’s child.

Alaina Petty, a 14-year-old Latter-day Saint girl was gunned down by Nikolas Cruz — along with many others. She was guilty of nothing. She was a happy, active teenager, like many here in Camas, Washougal, and throughout the world.

Her father and I chat about BMW’s, the latest technological advances, my tenure at Amazon, and I often just refer to him as a “geek.” It’s a longstanding joke between us. Ryan and I served together in Ecuador, serving our church and finding ways to help others. And, that’s the kind of family he has.

I can’t even imagine the grief and shock that Ryan, Kelly and their family are going through. It’s everyone’s worst nightmare turned reality, and it’s playing out in the national media. There will be funerals, memorials, tributes — and there will be a courtroom trial. All with the glare of television cameras and reporters.

Their lives have changed forever.

Petty

Alaina Petty. Photo courtesy of Petty family.

So, how did we get here? And how do we resolve it?

Family Therapist, Julie Russell, says when people become isolated they act out in outrageous ways — and that’s why we keep seeing these tragedies unfold.

“Broken homes, neglect, abuse all contribute to society’s problems,” said Russell. “Sometimes all a teen needs is to know that someone really cares and loves them.”

I’ve listened to all the reports about Cruz’s mental instability and the all the red flags that led up to this horrific mass murder. People are calling for additional gun control, new legislation, more armed guards, more security, more funding for mental health. I say debate it all and do it in a civil way. But, don’t talk forever. Our society needs to act.

Cindy Giovanni, a former Superintendent in Columbia, MO advocates for the following:

  • Get AR-15 rifles off the streets.
  • Fund mental health initiatives (local, state and national).

Local representatives call for greater funding for school resource officers in every school — even elementary schools. I say do it.

But, my gut instinct tells me no President, Mayor, Congressperson, legislation or policy can ever get into — and repair the hearts of individuals. A sick, demented, evil person will always find a way to wreak havoc. There are some people that like to watch the world burn.

So, while the politicians debate and play the blame game, what can you do right now?

Be loving, respectful, charitable to those closest to you.

Lift others around you.

Do something kind for those in your mind may least deserve it. You never know what’s happening in one’s heart or mind. People act out because they feel anger, insecurity, pain, suffering, loneliness. The list goes on and on.

Imagine a world in which we all do one nice thing for someone next to you. The world could change in an instant.

Sweet Alaina Petty didn’t deserve this. Her family is forever changed. Their little girl is gone.

The Petty family’s faith will bouy them, and they have a community that loves and supports them.

“We love you, too,” Ryan Petty told me. “Hug those kids of yours!”

For now, pray for them, and for all the families affected by this madness. Act by showing kindness to others. Be patient. Love others. Make it a point to do something nice for someone else each day.

The Petty family has asked everyone to donate funds to help Maddy Wilford, a friend of Alaina’s, to assist with her recovery. She was shot, and was severely injured during this tragedy. They do this as they prepare for their daughter’s funeral.

https://www.gofundme.com/maddy-wilford

Thank you for reading.

Love, Ernie Geigenmiller

Petty

The Petty Family. Before moving to Florida, they lived in Washington — in Seattle metro.