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Question & Answer

Q&A: Jen Gillies-Alvarez

Hoquiam resident Jen Gillies-Alvarez works at Grays Harbor College as a coordinator of the Food Employment Training and Opportunity Grant programs. She and her wife, Sarah Gillies-Alvarez, have two children: 14-year-old Leif and 11-year-old Cassidy. Before earning her bachelor’s degree at The Evergreen State College, Jen Gillies-Alvarez studied at Grays Harbor College and was a founding member of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). Gillies-Alvarez and other local activists are working to create more resources for Grays Harbor’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community through the Out &Proud Grays Harbor Coalition. The coalition will host the first Grays Harbor Pride Festival Aug. 23 in Hoquiam.

Q&A: Ashley Kohlmeier, longtime Hoquiam resident and tennis player

A long-time tennis player and instructor, Ashley Kohlmeier is a Hoquiam native (HHS Class of 2004) who parlayed her love of the sport into an intrical part of her teaching — English and Technology — and coaching as the second-year Aberdeen High School girls tennis head coach. Kohlmeier graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a teaching credential. Kohlmeier was a four-year varsity tennis player at Hoquiam, a tennis instructor at WSU and coached boys and girls tennis at Renton High School while she was student-teaching. Her parents — Ed and Kerry — still live in Hoquiam and she has three brothers — Ryan, Deryck and Shane.

Q&A Peter Muschke, Port Director of U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Peter Muschke became Port Director for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for Grays Harbor and Westport in 2011. Prior to that he worked as an immigration officer and served in both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force for a total of 20 years. He was born in Bremerhaven, Germany to a German mother and father from the U.S. He has one daughter and a grandson. His wife of 20 years passed away in 2006 after a short bout with pancreatic cancer.

QA — Arie Callaghan, Grays Harbor PUD commissioner

PUD Commissioner Arie Callaghan is a third-generation Harborite. He lives in Elma with his wife Tina and has worked for Mason Trucking Company in Aberdeen for 24 years. In his free time, Callaghan collects vintage dirt bikes, drives his 1979 Jeep CJ-7 and watches NASCAR. He also enjoys spending time with his daughter Erin, son-in-law Jeff and granddaughters Sawyer and Hadley, who also live in Elma.

Q&A: Tom Jensen, CEO of Grays Harbor Community Hospital

Tom Jensen is president and CEO of Grays Harbor Community Hospital, a position he has held since September of 2010. Prior to his time on the Harbor he worked in the health care industry for more than 20 years, as the Director of Finance at Inland Northwest Health Services, the Director of Operations at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute and as the CEO of Coulee Medical Center in Eastern Washington.

Q&A: Matt Raasch, Pasha Auto general manager

Grays Harbor Pasha Automotive Services General Manager Matt Raasch is new to the Harbor, but he knows the auto shipping business inside and out. He’s lived in his historic Montesano home, built in 1903, for about seven months with his 15-year-old son. In his free time, he enjoys, golfing, fishing, poker “and the toughest hobby — raising a teenager.”

QA — Bob Waite, Aberdeen Building Department

When Bob Waite came to work at the Aberdeen Building Department 35 years ago, there were no computers, just what he calls Stone Age technology to go through the permitting process. He is set to retire March 28. “It’s been a great place to work. I am going to miss all the people I have worked with.” The 1966 Aberdeen High School graduate went into the Army for two years and spent a year in Vietnam. He attended college at Grays Harbor and Contra Costa colleges. He lived in the Bay Area for several years, then returned to the Harbor to work for the department in 1979. He rose to head the department. Waite has two sons by his first marriage: Morgan, 37, who works for Grays Harbor PUD, and Brian, 40, who works for Asplund Tree Service and lives in both Totten Inlet and Laguna Beach, Calif. He and his second wife, Kathy, have been married 19 years and have six grandchildren between them. His father, Jack, who is in his 90s, still lives in Aberdeen.

QA — Debbie Lund, City of Aberdeen Human Resources manager

A native of Frenchtown, Mont., Debbie Lund moved west to attend college at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Human Resources. After working in various capacities in several arenas at The News Tribune, including human resources, advertising and marketing, Lund went to work for the City of Tumwater. After 18 years there, Lund accepted the position of Human Resources director for the City of Aberdeen in June. Debbie and her husband, Tim, have been married 25 years and have two children. Their son is a mechanical engineer for Nike and their daughter is a sophomore at Western Washington University.

QA — Nora LeBlanc, executive director of United Way of Grays Harbor

Nora LeBlanc, executive director of United Way of Grays Harbor , is relatively new to the job, taking the position in June of 2013. However, she’s no stranger to nonprofit work, working as executive director of the American Red Cross and regional director of the Girl Scouts of America in Iowa. LeBlanc is originally from Pennsylvania and met her husband, Aberdeen Police Chief Bob Torgerson, while attending college in the Midwest. The couple moved to Grays Harbor in 2004, and LeBlanc said she’s still enchanted by the the Harbor’s beauty. LeBlanc and her husband have three adult children: Ben, Ingrid and Rose.

QA — Linn Kiser, Montesano Food Bank director

Lynn Kiser has been helping the Harbor almost as long as she’s lived here. She and her husband of 50 years, Fred, moved to Montesano in 1971. They have two daughters, Kathleen, of Montesano, and Karolyn, of New Jersey. She started helping out at the Montesano Food Bank and in 1991 became the director. While Harborites’ generosity in the holiday season can be remarkable, Kiser and her dedicated core of about 15 volunteers see the need for a little extra help continue all year through.