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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.

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.