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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.

QA — Aaron Nickell, Chairman of the Aberdeen Historic Preservation Commission

Seattle native Aaron Nickell attended schools in Aberdeen and has lived in Central Park most of his life. He graduated from Grays Harbor College in 1997, and earned a B.A. with a focus on political science and political economy from the Evergreen State College, where he returned to earn a masters in Public Administration in 2009 with a focus on public policy and non-profit administration. His partner, Becky Chapman, is a personal trainer in Bellevue. Nickell has played guitar for “two decades” and is an avid music and vinyl record collector. “My love of the rock band Van Halen knows no limits.” He played guitar in the Driftwood Theater production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” “My favorite smell in the world is when I open the case for my Martin D-35 acoustic guitar.” He is “Daddy” to “a usually well-behaved border collie (Fidel), who is great at catching Frisbees, herding cats and sneaking pastry off the counter when nobody is looking,” he said.

Q&A LeMay Site Manager Paul Dionne

LeMay Enterprises Site Manager Paul Dionne came to work on the Harbor "three years ago almost to the day." He jokes he "jumped ship from the evil empire" working for Allied Waste in Kent "to the good empire" at LeMay, owned by Waste Connections, the third largest garbage company in the nation. Dionne was raised in Idaho and attended North Idaho College. He earned two bachelor's degrees, one in early childhood education and one in early childhood development from Central Washington University Annex in Des Moines, graduating the second time in 2006. He worked a series of "stinky" and substitute teaching jobs before landing a job in customer service at Allied, where he rose through the ranks rapidly. "They had a niche for me and I kind of filled it." Dionne lives with his wife Tina and their baby son, Orion, named for the constellation, in McCleary.