The Odessa Record -

Harrington news

Varied council agenda; Opera House performance by talented pianist


October 19, 2017

--Photo courtesy of Karen Robertson.

Associate Professor of Piano, Dr. Jody Graves, performs at the celebration for the 25th Anniversary of the Harrington Opera House Society October 15.

City Council

The Harrington City Council met October 11, with Mayor Dillon Haas, Councilmen Peter Davenport, Justin Slack, Levi Schenk, Mike Cronrath and Rick Becker present, along with clerk Bunny Haugan, Scott McGowan, maintenance supervisor and visitors Cherie MacClellan, Marge Womach, Nathan Luck, Marc Torre (Sunshine Disposal) and Brent Wilday.

Nathan Luck had asked to be on the agenda as he is interested in learning the city's position on the building owned by McGregor's which was built on Harrington City property. The city has not taken a formal position on whether to acquire the building. The current lease on the land expires in May 2018 and at that time, if the city has not made arrangements to buy the building, the lease requires McGregor to remove it. Discussion included the amount of space the city has for storage, the effect of $20,000 against the budget, potential chemical testing on the property. Luck suggested an option for him to purchase the land with the building instead of rent/lease. Davenport recommended the city give the matter of purchasing the building serious consideration. No action was taken.

Mayor Haas first reviewed the questions the city had posed to Sunshine Disposal in electronic communication. He also noted that Empire Disposal would not compete with Sunshine Disposal's rate offer. Marc Torre, representing Sunshine Disposal, responded to additional questions concerning the details of taking on the disposal contract. Curb-side recycling would be very expensive and the rates fluctuate radically, making it an expensive option. The current fuel formula could be used. The potential low-income rate would be removed from the contract, as assessment of eligibility is difficult. Green-waste hauling routes were discussed, with the council wanting to support Lincoln County's transfer station rather than Sunshine's site in Spokane Valley. Damage to garbage cans is handled on a case-by-case basis with Sunshine and should not result in expenses to the city. Changes by the residents can be emailed by the city with one-day notice to let the driver know of the change. The council voted to accept the bid proposal from Sunshine and have the mayor negotiate the terms and finalize the contract before the November 8 council meeting. Becker recused himself due to possible conflict of interest.

The potential 'Enforcement Officer' remains just that. Mayor Haas recommended putting off the hiring of an enforcement officer until an ordinance could be drafted that would cover this hiring and duties. He indicated he would include this position and salary in the preliminary budget for 2018.

Among the maintenance report items was the flow meter purchased from Bainbridge which was installed and is working fine. McGowan said overlapping agencies and trained personnel have prepared for a variety of potential hazards, i.e., train accidents, chemical spills.

It was announced that the EDC is still working on the income survey, making door-to-door contact with residents who have not returned their surveys.

The date for the preliminary budget hearing and setting of the property tax levy amount has been set for November 8, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. at city hall.

Utility fees for unoccupied commercial property, as well as several residential homes, have been under discussion during the budget planning. Currently, they are charged $30/month for their sewer connection even though the water is shut off, which the city felt was an equitable way to assess all sewer users in an effort to help in defraying the cost of the city's loan obligation. It was suggested this $30 monthly charge should be increased. Councilman Slack offered to draft a letter to the property owners affected by this proposed increase, informing them of the public hearing and inviting them to attend on November 8.

Harrington Opera House

People began to assemble at the Harrington Opera House prior to 2:30 Sunday afternoon, October 15, for a half-hour reception before the performance began in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Harrington Opera House Society. Billie Herron made a short presentation regarding the history of the Harrington Opera House Society, acknowledging two determined women who served in the years following the 1992 purchase of the building, Marciel Armstrong Cronrath and Margaret Kupers. She also acknowledged Senator Judy Warnick and former Mayor Paul Gilliland, cheerleaders for the opera house, for their steadfast interest in its development. Built in 1904, it fell into disrepair in the 1950s, leaving streamers from a dance. With lots of donated hours, grants and donations, "look at what it has become," Herron said.

She introduced Dr. Jody Graves, Associate Professor of Piano at Eastern Washington University, whose entertainment program was entitled, "Let's Celebrate the Piano." Graves said she performed in Harrington in 2012 and was pleased to return. She gave an overview of the pieces she would be performing, music from France, Madrid, Hungary, then a touch of Cuban and a collection of American pieces. Her word picture for the "The Sunken Cathedral" by Debussy was of a legend regarding a cathedral that rises from the depths of the ocean, "life is good and beautiful," but with evening the cathedral sinks again. As she played, one could easily envision the rise and fall of the cathedral. From Madrid, "The Dance of Seduction" by Turina was well received by the audience. This was followed by "Ritual Dance" and "Paradise," also by Turina. Each was performed with a brief placement of the music in history. Lecuona's "Mazurka Glissade" and Franz Liszt's "Vallee d'Obermann" received equally enthusiastic responses of approval by the applause offered.

The compilation of American pieces was performed during an American Heritage slide presentation to "Celebrate the Piano" and "the many places it finds itself." The pictures included a piano on the western frontier with horses and wagons and in a one-room school. Comic and story characters included Mickey Mouse and Br'er Rabbit. Photos of unusual places for a piano to be placed included on an ice embankment, under a river bridge, hanging in mid-air while lifting it into a high-rise apartment and in a multitude of concert halls and on stages. People shown with pianos included vice president Harry Truman, V. Horowitz, Irving Berlin, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Duke Ellington, Albert Einstein, Leonard Bernstein, Liszt, Sir Elton John, Liberace and George Gershwin. This American collection was a trip down memory lane for music and musicians and included folk, pop and early jazz, including music of George Gershwin. At the conclusion of her performance, the audience was begging for an encore with applause and cheering. Graves came back from behind the curtain saying, "Oh, are you still here?" And more applause was rising to the stage. She then spoke out again, asking if there was anyone in the house who had never played the piano before. Sure enough, James Mann stepped forward and was encouraged to make his way to the stage and then to sit with Graves at the grand piano. She taught him two simple notes and the timing for them and she began to play and cued James when to come in with his two notes. Everyone enjoyed his participation in the duet. What an honor to share the bench with Graves.

Dr. Jody Graves

Following Graves' performance, the reception continued, and the audience of more than 85 persons was invited to socialize with the musician and one another. Graves is a spontaneous, out-going and energetic person with unbelievable talent, and a long and diverse performing career. A historical review of her many prior engagements overseas, as well as in the United States, would be longer to cite than the few places where she has not appeared. She performs solo or in combination with others. With all of her talent as a performer, she is also a public speaker, Associate Professor of Piano, an author, an adjudicator and a Cultural Ambassador for the U.S. State Department in the Persian Gulf. With her hectic schedule, she cheerfully accepted the invitation to return to Harrington Opera House to help celebrate its 25th Anniversary. If you speak with her one on one, you'll learn of her love for the state of Washington and sense why her business card announces "music... the healing language." Those who came out to hear her can attest to her wide range of talent, her love of performing and her engaging personality.


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