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A student, then teacher, now a principal; Lisa Martinez to lead St. Joseph's Catholic School
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WENATCHEE — Lisa Martinez was just a young girl when she first came to St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Wenatchee. Years later, Martinez came back to the school as a teacher and now she’s set to lead the school as its principal.

When St. Joseph’s Catholic School started in Wenatchee in 1955, it was run by an order of nuns, which continued until two years ago. The church moved the order out of the area and Deacon Robert Turner was brought in as interim principal while the search began for a new principal.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the search process, but now Martinez is set to become principal at the preschool-to-fifth grade school. She has taught there for the 10 years.

Carrie McCarthy, director of Religious Education for the parish, was part of the seven-person selection committee to interview Martinez, one of four finalists for the post.

“She started her interview by talking about her vision for the school. It just knocked our socks off right out of the gate. It was really exciting to hear someone with the vision that we, as a committee, had discussed but had not really shared,” McCarthy said. “She just blew us away with her vision for the school. We were pretty excited about that.”

Turner was not part of the selection committee, but it was clear to him Martinez was uniquely qualified.

“She came here not only as an alumni of the school who was here as a little girl, grew up in this school, went off to college specifically to become a Catholic school teacher here. Then she entered her master’s program hoping she could be an administrator specifically of this school,” Turner said. “God has just blessed that. She has been preparing for this and I believe she is prepared.”

Martinez, 46, said she is “super excited” about the opportunity to continue at St. Joe’s. The school is a special place for her that has been part of her life.

“We’re just a really connected family at the school. Family and faith and also in all other areas we support each other. We’re a team. That includes parents, staff, and students,” Martinez said.

St. Joseph’s serves 120 students and has 19 other teachers.

Martinez attended the school when the sisters ran the school and she says she misses them tremendously. She said the sisters brought a lot to the school and served the community sometimes in quiet ways.

seabrook / World photo/Don Seabrook 

Lisa Martinez

It’s different now, she said, but the faith is strong and the Catholic identity is strong.

“Robert has really helped to grow and enhance that. I hope to do the same. That is really our No. 1 priority — faith and Catholic identity, of course, as well as excellence and service. So faith, excellence and service are what we want everyone to practice at the school including parents, staff and students,” she said.

Turner did not really know Martinez before becoming interim principal, but early on it was clear to him she was a true leader.

Her No. 1 strength for the job, Turner said, is her faith and her commitment to the school’s mission.

“She is incredibly well organized in both her daily performance as a teacher and her ability to take charge of extra, especially something as large as the school accreditation process, which took a couple years,” Turner said. “She is very selfless. She just gives of herself to kids after school and before school. She has just served selflessly for years and continues to do so.”

Turner said Martinez is also technologically strong. He said the decisions she makes will be data driven because she knows how to look at and analyze data.

Plus, she is an experienced teacher who has taught at multiple grade levels. Her peers have absolute respect for her, he said.

For Turner, Martinez is just the person to uphold the traditions of the past and lead the school into the future.

“It was so important we find that person who has that deep-rooted commitment not just to Catholic education, but specifically to the mission right here. Well, she’s a product of the mission whose desire was to give back, and here she is now going to lead it,” Turner said.

Martinez recently went through the accreditation process for the first time through the Western Catholic Education Association. She is also going to Loyola Marymount University where she will receive her Catholic School Leadership Certificate in June. Martinez plans to get a master’s degree in school leadership.

seabrook / World photo/Don Seabrook 

St. Joseph's School teacher Lisa Martinez talks to a fifth-grade student Wednesday about a research project.

“I’m learning exactly what I need to know to be a Catholic school leader,” she said. And she does not want to change the school traditions when she starts in new role next school year.

“I think I recognize all those special and unique things we do at our school that we want to keep and grow and some opportunities we have in the future which are exciting. Keeping what we love and what the community loves, and building and growing from there,” she said. “Currently, we’ve been trying to market the school just to increase our enrollment and get more kids in the school and show them how awesome it is.”

Martinez and her husband, Sergio, have two children. Their son, Xavier, is 19 and a sophomore at Stanford University. Their daughter, Bella, is 17 and a junior at Wenatchee High School.

Historic Wenatchee World office building up for sale

Rufus Woods

WENATCHEE — Rufus Woods has learned more than he expected about plumbing, electrical connections and parking in the past three years.

Such is the life of a landlord.

He’s hoping to give someone else a chance to hone their building maintenance skills in the near future.

The former Wenatchee World publisher and current columnist, along with other family members of Woods Investment Company LLC, have put The Wenatchee World Complex on North Mission up for sale, officially.

Sale of the building would not affect publication of The Wenatchee World. The World is owned by Wick Communications, which leases space in the building.

The “for sale” signs were posted Tuesday by Center Investments, which is listing the 31,908-square-foot brick, framed, steel and wood office and retail building for $2.4 million.

“We’ve quietly had it up for sale to see what the interest was,” he said. “We thought now was a good time.”

The building has been associated with the newspapering family since the 1920s.

“I love this building,” Woods said.

It’s actually three buildings, he said, which sit on about an acre of land and includes 70 parking spaces. The original two-story structure was built in 1926, based on a design his grandfather, then publisher of The Wenatchee World, saw in Newcastle, Pennsylvania.

A press room (which is now a conference room to the south) was added in 1949. In the 1970s, space for the offset press was added to the north.

In 1999, a new KBA Comet printing press started rolling in a new facility at 3 Ninth St., creating reconfiguration opportunities for the Mission Street buildings, which continued to serve as the newsroom and advertising sales operations for the newspaper.

“As newspaper economics changed, we had excess space,” Woods said. “It’s been fun to find great uses for the building.”

Other tenants were added — everything from a theater to offices for nonprofit organizations.

“It’s challenging for nonprofits to find affordable rent, so we tried to provide, kind of a low-end co-working environment that allowed some collaboration,” he said.

When Wick Communications purchased the The Wenatchee World publishing and newspaper operation in April 2018, the sale included the printing press facility and property on Ninth Street, but not the 1-acre Mission Street complex.

Since then, the newsroom and advertising functions of the newspaper have continued to lease space from the Woods family.

That isn’t expected to change, said World Publisher Sean Flaherty, though it could depend on whoever buys the building.

“I do not have plans to move,” he said. “I like that The Wenatchee World is in a familiar location to our customers and has good visibility in the community. But, the Mission Street offices owned by the Woods have changed over the years as the needs of the businesses occupying it have changed.”

He doesn’t expect Arizona-based Wick Communications, which owns 27 newspapers and 18 specialty publications in 11 states, to take on landlord duties, which would come with purchase of the historic building that has more space than is needed by the core newspaper operation.

“Right now, we are doing well enough running and managing two pretty successful businesses in Wenatchee — a news media organization that provides the community news information across several print and digital channels, and a manufacturing business which prints publications from all over the region in addition to those that we own. To this point, real estate management hasn’t been part of that,” he said.

Other building tenants include Hand In Hand Immigration, The Brave Warrior Project, Cascade Conservation District and the NCW Economic Development District.

Woods said the decision to sell the building isn’t taken lightly. In addition to the history and the memories, it also literally holds “a lot of family things. I’m not looking forward to making decisions about what to do with all those things.”

He said the family feels good about how the building has remained a part of the community and expects that will continue.

Woods said he has discovered a talent for tearing down cubicle panels.

“That’s one great thing,” he said.

The sale of the building would not change his continued connection to the paper as a columnist.

“I’m not sure what I would do to keep out of trouble if not for the column. It keeps me off the streets. My family is still here. We’re committed to being involved. But am I cut out to be the maintenance guy? Maybe not.”

He also isn’t sure how quickly a sale might happen.

“The commercial market is not like the housing market,” he said. “The housing market is insane. But property is being bought and sold and we have a ton of parking. I will be happy to pass the torch on playing the parking meter guy.”

Lawmakers haggle over proposed boundaries of mobile sports wagering for Washington tribal casinos

OLYMPIA — Mobile wagering was a heated topic Wednesday during a joint state Senate committee meeting over how sports betting will be carried out within Washington’s tribal casinos.

The latest proposals in negotiated compact amendments between the state and 15 tribes would allow mobile bets to be placed beyond casino floors from adjacent hotels, convention spaces, restaurants, entertainment areas and even parking garages. Such betting would be limited by geofencing — setting a virtual perimeter — that allows mobile apps to be activated only within specific boundaries.

During a joint hearing of the Senate’s Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs and Commerce & Gaming committees, some Republican lawmakers argued the envisioned mobile wagering component extends well beyond casino floors and exceeds what was envisioned last year when a law authorizing sports gambling was passed.

“As I recall the legislation from a year ago, we all knew that it would legalize sports books within a gaming facility,” Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) said, adding: “This expansion of mobile within premises and geofence seems to be an expansion or change from the legislation.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Sen. Curtis King (R-Yakima).

“The implication was that this would only be done in the casino,” King said. “And that was the way I interpreted it. But now, with this expansion — to me this is a huge expansion.”

The Tulalip, Suquamish, Kalispel and Snoqualmie tribes were the first to reach tentative sports-wagering agreements with the gambling commission last month. That was followed by the Colville, Muckleshoot, Puyallup, Swinomish, Lummi, Shoalwater Bay, Spokane, Cowlitz, Jamestown S’Klallum, Squaxin Island and Stillaguamish tribes last week signing on to the Suquamish tribe’s previously negotiated deal.

Members of the Washington State Gambling Commission, which carried out negotiations with the tribes, attended the virtual meeting to answer questions from committee members and said they do not believe the law’s intended scope was expanded upon. The commission’s tribal liaison, Julie Lies, said they used a Black’s Law dictionary definition interpreting a facility’s “premises” to include adjacent or adjoining amenities either within the same surrounding walls as a casino, or improved exterior spaces next to it, such as a parking lot or restaurant patio.

Convenience stores not physically connected to the gaming facility building as well as nearby golf courses were not included in the geofenced areas where mobile wagering could occur, but it could take place in attached shopping areas.

“We did spend a lot of time looking at that language,” Lies said. “It needs to be connecting to that gaming facility ... so if the casino is attached to the parking lot but then there was this other building on the other side of the parking lot, the parking lot is adjacent and adjoining, not the other buildings.”

Online gambling is a Class C felony in this state, but its proliferation nationwide in the sports-betting realm has raised demand for some form of mobile wagering here.

The interpretation of how far mobile wagering can physically go — beyond semantical arguments between politicians about what constitutes the “premises” of a gaming facility — will likely fuel further efforts by various gambling entities to have sports wagering extended beyond tribal venues. Nontribal gambling entities such as Bellevue-based Maverick Gaming, supported by King and a growing number of lawmakers, have already pushed unsuccessfully to expand sports wagering to card rooms and racetracks.

For now Washington remains one of three states nationwide where only tribal casinos can offer sports betting to the exclusion of others. Two dozen states have approved sports gambling since the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018 struck down a federal law banning sports betting outside Nevada and a handful of other places.

Tribes hope to start offering a sports book through their casinos in time for the fall NFL season, and Wednesday’s hearing marked the next step in getting there.

The gambling commission will hold public hearings on the proposals June 10 — at which point further debate over mobile wagering limits is expected — followed by a vote. From there, Gov. Jay Inslee and tribal leaders must approve and submit the agreements to the U.S. Department of the Interior for publication in the Federal Register before sports gambling in tribal casinos can occur.

Mobile wagering is the overwhelming way most sports bets are placed nationwide. But critics contend it’s a gateway to gambling addiction, especially among young adults and minors.

During last year’s run-up to the tribes-only sports-gambling law being passed, Democratic lawmakers repeatedly cited the need to limit mobile sports wagering to within tribal casino confines. They contended that those casinos — with their proven track record of safe, effective gambling — represented the safest way to introduce sports wagering without expanding the state’s overall gambling footprint too quickly.

Rebecca George, executive director of the Washington Indian Gaming Commission — which promotes the benefits of tribal gaming and vehemently opposes expanding sports gambling beyond those casinos — re-emphasized the safety factor in a statement Wednesday.

”These new compacts will boost our state economy and fund important services for the some of the poorest and historically most underserved communities in Washington,” George said. “These agreements stand as a testament to the strong and enduring partnership Tribes in Washington have built with the State over the last three decades to provide safe, limited and regulated gaming options at tribal casinos.”

But King, who sponsored a since-quashed bill supported by Maverick Gaming to have sports gambling extended to card rooms, on Wednesday suggested the proposed deals were a case of proponents talking out of both sides of their mouth.

”When you looked at nontribal (gaming) the discussion was all, ‘Oh, this would be a great big expansion if we do this. There’s no control over the youth using this,’ “ King said. “All of these things. And the implication was this could only be done (safely) in the casino. But now, to me, this is ... a huge expansion of gambling but only on tribal lands.”

Though mobile users must register an account in person beforehand at tribal casinos — where their age and identification are verified — King argued somebody with access to their parents’ preapproved phone could easily place bets from an adjacent hotel or entertainment space.

Commission chair Bud Sizemore admitted during the hearing that the mobile gaming aspect and defining the geofenced premises was “a very difficult area” when it came to bargaining in good faith with tribes. To do that, he said, the legal definition of what a “premises” is had to be respected.

”I don’t believe the gambling commission has expanded gambling or the footprint at all, other than trying to accomplish our responsibilities to really wrap up that definition and make it feasible.”

Gas prices rising in Washington, but similar to 2019

SPOKANE — With more than 9,500 gas stations along the East Coast out of fuel Wednesday following the cyberattack earlier this month that temporarily shut down the Colonial Pipeline, fuel supplies remain at normal levels in Washington headed into the Memorial Day travel period next week.

Gas prices continue to tick up, however. According to AAA Washington, the average price of gas in Washington on Wednesday was $3.55 a gallon.

“It’s been going up for the past little while,” AAA spokeswoman Kelly Just said.

While the impact of the Colonial Pipeline hack May 7 continues to cause shortages on the East Coast and into the South, it’s had no affect on supplies elsewhere, she said.

“There isn’t a gas shortage in general. We have plenty of supply and we have enough supply to meet the demand,” she said. “The one thing that is kind of clogging up the system, per se, is a lack of drivers who are qualified to drive tanker trucks.”

When the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, most travelers stayed at home and demand fell like a rock.

“So, a lot of those truck drivers lost their jobs and have moved on,” Just said. “A lot of them are Amazon drivers now. Now that demand is resurging, there is a driver shortage. That will probably go on throughout the summer driving season.”

As a result, some gas stations have had delays of one to two days in getting a resupply. But it has not resulted in empty gas pumps, she said.

“There is no lack of supply, just some difficulty in getting it where it needs to go,” she said. “It’s just isolated incidents.”

Even with the typical increase in gas prices for this time of year, AAA Travel earlier this month predicted that about 37 million people — and roughly 882,000 Washington residents — are expected to travel more than 50 miles from home May 27- 31.

While those predictions represent a 60% increase nationally and 66% increase for the state from 2020 in the first year of the pandemic, it’s still the lowest estimate on record since AAA began recording in 2000.

The travel weekend is the unofficial launch of the spring and summer travel season. The state Department of Commerce reported that air travel is steadily increasing, but most vacationers are expected to travel by car because of lingering concerns about the pandemic.

”People are eager to travel, and because of the pandemic we’re expecting to see a lot more folks making stops at gas stations,” said Elizabeth King, the state energy emergency management director at the Commerce Department. “While fuel supplies are healthy, gas stations are sometimes seeing a delay in fuel deliveries so we want people to be prepared in case they have to make a few stops.”

Both King and Just suggested travelers plan fuel stops in advance of their travel, especially in rural areas with limited services.

The price for gas on Wednesday was much higher than the same week in 2020. Last year at this time, the average price for a gallon of gas in Washington was $2.47.

However, Just attributed that to the lack of demand.

“If you compare it to last year, it’s just sticker shock,” Just said. “But, nobody was driving last year.”

Comparing the price to 2019, the average price of a gallon of gas in Washington was $3.54 for this week.

“So, we are in line with what usually happens,” Just said. “That one year seems like a shock because we are crawling out of our holes and filling up more often.”

Those prices are expected to plateau after the initial travel season ends, she said.

“Prices started climbing a little earlier than usual, which I think caused the concern,” Just said. “But we are where we normally are for prices.”