Our Town

#223 Nathan Barnett: Mr. Steampunk

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

#222 Bob Wheeler, Hadlock Sewer System

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

#221 Jamie Maicejiwski, Habitat’s Driving Force

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

#220 Sophie Nordstrom: Superior Court Power

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

Sara Penhallegon and Her Baby Bison

(Airdate: March 21, 2023) Maryanne interviews Sara Penhallegon, the brains and heart behind Center Valley Animal Rescue. Literally thousands of animals – both wild and domestic – have been rescued by Sara and her team. When that confused coyote somehow wandered into the hospital, it was Sara who rushed in to tranquilize and ultimately stitch her up. There’s also that bison who was born to a starving mom. The newborn bison was hand-fed largely by Sara. Not surprisingly, he now thinks Sara is his ‘mom’. That means when he gets lonely, he sometimes breaks out of his quarters and heads for mom’s living room where he was nurtured back to health. He now weighs upwards of 700 pounds and is still a growing boy! Sara’s stories are amazing. But she needs donations to her non-profit to continue her mission.

Heidi Haney, owner of The Tipsy Gypsy

(Airdate: February 21, 2023) Maryanne interviews Heidi Haney, owner of The Tipsy Gypsy, a mobile bar service. Heidi was a party girl & model in her 20s. But then she fell in love with a cowboy in Dallas. She ended up managing restaurants such as the Olive Garden in Texas. But her mother was in Sequim and she missed the Pacific Northwest. After stints running other businesses on the Peninsula, she decided she wanted to be her own boss. A class at the EDC prompted her to write a business plan. The Tipsy Gypsy, a mobile bar service, was born and licensed in 2018. Heidi and her crew now handle events for the Maritime Center, Raincoast Farms, and other major organizations. In addition, the Tipsy Gypsy is hugely popular for weddings, retirement parties and other milestone events. Business is booming. Post-Covid (maybe), it’s party time!

#216 Lisa Zelinsi, Pharm Made

(Airdate: February 7, 2023) Maryanne interviews Lisa Zelinsi, founder & CEO of Pharm-Made, a fledgling company that makes plant-based health and beauty products. Lisa tries to create products that are sustainable, organic and uses plants from our local forests and farms. Her background as a pharmacist helps shape her formulas. But she creates products to fill real-world needs & problems – her grandmother’s dry, cracked heels inspired her to make an ointment called “Saturate.” Her mother-in-law’s arthritis resulted in her creation of “Joint Salvation.” Her products are featured in some local shops & spas. They are also online at pharm-made.com.

#215 The Adventuress

(Airdate: January 24, 2023) Maryanne McNellis interviews Catherine Collins, Executive Director of the non-profit foundation Sound Experience which owns and operates the beautiful classic schooner The Adventuress. The 133-foot ship was built way back in 1913 as a pleasure craft. But she spent decades as a working vessel before being designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1988. It took millions to restore her to her original glory. The Adventuress is now dedicated to environmental education in the Puget Sound. Covid shut down operations for a while. But Catherine and her team predict that the 2023 season will open as scheduled. Hundreds more kids will experience life at sea aboard The Adventuress.

#214 Dr. Joseph Myerson

(Airdate: January 10, 2023) Maryanne interviews Dr. Joseph Meyerson, plastic surgeon & hand surgeon at Jefferson Healthcare. He initially wanted to become a veterinarian but med school & brain surgery seemed much more appealing. Then he discovered the infinite variety of the field of plastic surgery. It meant over 12 years of medical training & taking on a huge load of student debt. Dr. Meyerson doesn’t do strictly “cosmetic” surgeries. But he does repair faces that are damaged by fire or cancer. He does “reconstructions” literally from head to toe. He calls it “getting people back on the spectrum of normalcy.” His work inspires gratitude from patients and their families.

#213 Nancy Erley, Sailor and Global Adventurer

(Airdate: December 13, 2022) Maryanne interviews Nancy Erley, a remarkable sailor who has circumnavigated the globe twice. She grew up in the Midwest, but Girl Scout membership ignited the dream of becoming a sailor. Her main passion at the University of Washington was the sailing team, although she did study enough to graduate. One adventure led to another until sailing around the world became an achievable dream. Each round-the-world sail took five years. The all-female team had amazing and occasionally terrifying adventures. There was the night near the top of Australia when the sea was alive with poisonous snakes. No one slept that night! Nancy remains quite active in the boating community here and regularly speaks at industry events. She also teaches many classes, specializing in teaching female students.

#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 mitchthetrapper@outlook.com.

#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.