Mary Willis Library Fundraiser Raises $3,500 to Fund Summer Reading Program

Supporters of the Mary Willis Library were treated to a holiday surprise when Friends of the Library unveiled a handmade miniature model of the historic 1889 building last weekend. Gail Boyd hosted a fund-raising event which featured a hand-crafted gingerbread replica of the Library, carefully constructed and decorated by master baker Alisha Hildago. The event generated nearly $3,500 in donations, which will fund the Library’s summer reading program in 2024.   The highly detailed model includes replicas of the building’s Tiffany windows, formed from colored sugars. The model was completed only on the morning of the event at Boyd’s Merry Oaks home. It will be moved and soon placed on display at the Library.   (Photo cutline: Mary Willis librarians Beth Miller (l) and Kaylee Moon were among the first to see Alisha Hildago’s gingerbread representation of Washington’s historic Mary Willis Library. The model will soon be on display at the Library.)   Reported by Richard Crabbe

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Got Sneakers? 

Washington Resident Starts Campaign to Provide Sneakers to Children While Keeping Shoes out of the Landfill.

Do you have old sneakers in your closet that you haven’t worn in years, no longer fit or are a bit beat up? You may have seen some bins around town labeled “Got Sneakers?” and wondered what it was about. You can thank long time Washington resident, Kathy Dinneweth for bringing a wonderful initiative to town.


Long before Kathy moved to Washington with her family in 1989, she lived in Los Angeles and became aware of how many children were in need of shoes because they outgrow them so quickly and how difficult it is for some parents who don’t have the ability to provide them. She recently came across the organization Got Sneakers and not only discovered a solution, but an awareness of a greater problem. In the United States, at least 200 million sneakers end up in landfills every year. Because they are comprised of mostly man made materials, tennis shoes take 30-40 years to decompose and in the process, release dangerous chemicals into the soil and air. Got Sneakers, takes used sneakers and refurbishes them to sell at affordable prices to get them on the feet of children and adults who need them.


Kathy earns money for each pair of sneakers she collects and mails in and with that money, purchases sneakers for children in the community who need them. She has spoken to the local schools who will let her know when there are children and teens, who are in need of sneakers. Sneakers in any condition accepted, those that are too damaged to refurbish will be deconstructed and the material reused or turned into new energy.


Kathy is just getting started and you can find the bins to make your donation at The Coffee Pot, Parks and Recreation, Washington Dance Academy, The Mary Wills Library and the Methodist and Episcopal churches in town. If you would like to add a sneaker collection bin to your place of business or workplace, you can send us a message or leave a comment below, and we will make sure to get the info to Kathy. Thank you Kathy for being such an involved citizen and taking initiative to make the community better for everyone!

Reported by Michelle Chaffee

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Melanie Dinneweth
a year ago

How awesome Kathy! This is such a great cause ❤️

Colleen Tucker
a year ago

What a great cause! Kathy Dinneweth is the right person for the job! She is fantastic!
Good for her!

Washington Family Turned Goat Hobby Into Soap Business

Stand Firm Farm was named both as a conviction and a bit of a prayer. Dennis and Elizabeth Johns told me the name is based on a scripture in Ephesians that speaks of putting on the “Full armor of God.” It is also based on the hope that the Loblolly pine trees that abound on the property, stay strong and continue to grow to one day, be utilized for wood products.


The Johns purchased the land that is now their home, in 2003. At the time they lived in Florida and made trips to Washington, with their small children, to camp on the land and make improvements with a plan to one day make it their full time home. In 2005 they did just that, making the permanent move from St. Petersburg, Florida to Washington, Georgia. They have four children who are now all grown and who were home schooled at the farm. In 2013, their oldest daughter became interested in goats and acquired two pregnant Nigerian Dwarf Goats. Elizabeth explained how she learned about caring for the goats when her daughter decided to follow in Dennis’ footsteps and join the Navy.  Elizabeth then took on the full responsibility of caring for the goats. Making soap from the goat's milk grew from a hobby to a business and now the Johns have 23 goats with more on the way, and customers around the country, enjoying their soap.


Goat milk is sought after because of it’s unique blend of vitamin A, Vitamins B and E, lactic acid, probiotics, triglycerides, saturated and unsaturated fats that provide a unique combination of hydrating and exfoliating to the skin. An added bonus of milk from the Nigerian Dwarf goats, is that it has a higher fat content and can be extra moisturizing. Elizabeth explained that she pays close attention to enhancing these benefits by controlling the temperature as she makes the soap, to optimize the addition of essential oils, herbs and even clays, charcoal and ash in some formulas. Elizabeth showed me a room with dozens of different varieties of goat milk soap. Bars of all colors and amazing scents such as Sweet Cherry Almond, Castille Lavender, Jasmine, Snickerdoodle and Herbal Surprise line the shelves in preparation for being wrapped for the holiday sale December 9, 10 and 11.  Elizabeth has made what she calls “Naughty and Nice” soaps that resemble lumps of coal and are scented with Balsam Cedar, Sandalwood Vanilla, Orange Spice and Peppermint and Lavender. There are also unscented soaps available.


You can contact the Johns at to order

Photographs courtesy of Emily Pinto

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Lauralyn Ward
8 months ago

I am late to the party but am happy to find a local news source. Thank you!

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In this inaugural launch of the Washington Wilkes Informer, Sommelier/Whiskey Expert, Kimberly Faye opens the digital platform of The Tasting Room and offers her answers to questions about wine and spirits. To open the discussion in the tasting room she begins with, “Why are grapes fermented into juice called wine? Why are distilled grains and fruits called spirits?”


The tasting room is the place where no question about wine and spirits is too simple or too sophisticated. Anyone who has spent time in a tasting room knows that the hosts are generally happy to lavish their guests with antidotes, jokes, and tidbits of knowledge. It is usually a happy place with people waiting in line for the next pour so there’s not a lot of time for chit-chat on the how to’s and why not’s of the fermentation process. That’s where The Tasting Room steps in. I hope you’ll subscribe, leave comments, and ask questions.


With thousands of grape varietals worldwide and distillers popping up in every nook and cranny of the globe, it is impossible to taste, see and know it all. I can’t promise to make you an expert in wine and spirits, but I will try to give you enough information to make sound knowledgeable at your next business function or dinner party. Follow this column and you’ll soon be ready to pack your bags for a trip to Napa Valley or Scotland to tour castles and do whisky tours. Let’s begin with the fundamentals, shall we?


Why are grapes that are fermented into juice called wine? As with most of the history of wine, you can generally look to the Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Romans to find your answers. Wine is a derivative of the Roman VINVM and the Latin Vinum and is related to Vinea also Latin for Vineyard.


Egyptians were important contributors to the early history of wine. They were great record keepers and recorded vintages, vineyards, and even winemaker names on their clay pots, some of which were placed in the tombs of the nobility. Though the Egyptians were important, it may be that Phoenician culture has had a more lasting influence on the way we view wine today. The Phoenicians traded actively all over the Mediterranean basin and established colonies in northern Africa and southern Europe as far west as the Rock of Gibraltar. In their travels, they established a theme that runs through the history of wine all the way down to the present: where wine drinkers go, the vine goes too.


Before viticulturists began the study of growing grapes and processing wine, grapes grew wild and often used trees to climb for their phenolic needs. Grapes need sunshine and they need to be tamed, otherwise, they will cross-pollinate and will continue to do so until they have cannibalized themselves. They are superb at reproduction and because their species are highly sexual (they love to propagate), they will mass produce until they cannot bear fruit. Luckily, besides producing grapes, the vines also produce leaves and shoots and so the propagating continues. The Benedictine Monks were the first to identify specific varietals and give them names. Those grapes are known as “noble” grapes. Viticulturists call these noble grapes Vitis vinifera. 


To understand how fermented alcohol became known as “spirits” we look first to the etymology of alcohol. It is largely believed that the word alcohol was first derived from the Middle East since the prefix al is a definite article in Arabic. The word evolved from al-koh’l or al-ghawl. It is a similar-sounding Arabic phrase for metallic powder used as eye shadow, Al-Kuhul, and found its way into the Old French as alcool.  Finally, in the mid-seventeenth century, the word evolved once again to refer exclusively to distilled or rectified spirits. This begs the question, what is rectified spirits? That’s a topic we will take up next time.


Stay tuned to our next article to learn more about the difference between table grapes and grapes for wine, and, the making of rectified spirits.


The Tasting Room

By Kimberly Faye, ISG, MWh

International Sommelier Guild

RR Complete Whiskey Course

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Caren Colangelo
2 years ago

Love ya