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Showing posts from August, 2018

Urban artists: Elaborate and now-celebrated art form uses buildings as canvas

Hidden in back alleys, stuck to the side of garages and scrawled across public structures, graffiti has been present in the Yakima Valley for decades. With it comes disapproving glances from passers-by and headaches for those who must remove it.

But the tide has changed in recent years, and some in Yakima are starting to elevate the once-vilified tags to an elaborate and celebrated art form.

To witness this trend, a person need only look at the walls of The Barrel and surrounding buildings on Ranchrite Road, near the Nob Hill overpass.

Made with vivid strokes of color, line work and themes, the art covering the walls of The Barrel and the story behind it provide a glimpse into an emerging trend in Yakima.

When Jeremy Sandino took over the property in 2014, it was commonly hit by taggers. He said because of his building’s location, he knew he had to fight it.

The solution was simple, he said: Either hate them or join them. He chose to join.

Two years ago, Sandino hosted an urban art sh…

Wanting a chance: Job seekers with disabilities face challenges

A car crash at age 3 left Eddy Garcia with a head injury that led to a developmental disability. Trouble speaking and writing and impaired use of his left hand followed.
Today, some would see the 38-year-old Garcia and think he likely wouldn’t have a job. In reality, he’s worked his entire life. But it didn’t come easy.

And it’s not getting easier for others like him as disability vocational employment agencies endure a funding crunch.

The hard part for Garcia wasn’t the work itself, but finding an employer who would give him a chance.

“It was very difficult,” said his mother, Irma Garcia. “Because of his disability he can’t write well. He never got a call back. I don’t think they even looked at his applications. I feel he was discriminated (against).”

But Eddy kept trying.

“I continued to push and encourage him,” his mother said. “He was worth it and he could do it. Eddy loves to watch wrestling and his favorite wrestler is John Cena, and he loves (Cena’s) saying ‘Never give up.’ He would …

CASA: Program that advocates for kids could use a few good volunteers

When children are abused or neglected and removed from their home, a group of volunteers helps make sure their voices are heard in court.

Yakima County’s Court Appointed Special Advocate Program represents more than 500 children a year. But volunteers are scarce and children aren’t getting all the attention they need, program officials said.

Since January, CASA has served 406 children, with 25 volunteers working with 66 of them. To make up the difference, the program’s four full-time staff members have taken 85 cases each.

“We can’t give each case all the attention it deserves when each staff member has 70 to 80 cases. We can’t give the kid justice,” CASA Program coordinator Keith Gilbertson said.

Gilbertson said staff members should be supporting volunteers, not taking most of the cases. He said having one volunteer for every case is the goal.

This makes sense when you look at what an advocate does.

When a child enters the court system, a judge appoints an advocate, who serves as the…

Out in the Valley: Growing up LGBTQ in Yakima

In June, the city of Yakima formally acknowledged Pride Month for the first time in its history. Those in the LGBTQ community and their allies call this progress. But some say that progress doesn’t make it any easier to grow up gay in the Yakima Valley.
Family acceptance, community pressures and internal struggles play a powerful role in every lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) person’s experience.

Getting an idea of what it’s like to grow up LGBTQ in the Valley is difficult because many are afraid to share their story. Of the three who spoke openly, many others didn’t for fear of rejection, retribution and family embarrassment.

Here are their stories:

Sethalee Williams, 18

At birth, doctors said Sethalee Williams was male, but she doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t female.

She always played with traditionally girl-targeted toys. She remembers taking dresses from her mom’s closet and trying them on. She didn’t know what it meant, but she knew it wasn’t accepted.…