Monthly Archives: March 2012

Third Tacoma Homicide of 2012 Noah Walker

On Friday, March 30th, Aleesha Walker called 911 at around seven in the morning. The 28-year-old called to confess that she had murdered her 2-year-old son, Noah. Paramedics and police officers responded to the house in the 3600 block of South Thompson. Noah was taken to Mary Bridge Children’s hospital and pronounced dead. Aleesha was taken into custody.

Tacoma’s third homicide bothers me more than most. I’m of the opinion that no one really deserves to die. However, there are homicides that occur that are at least understandable if not justified. The murder of Noah Walker is the very definition of a senseless killing. A two-year-old child cannot be a threat and at worst can be an annoyance. Noah’s mother should have been the last person he needed to fear.

At TacomaStories, I try to focus on the victim, but it’s difficult to do with one so young. He never got to show Tacoma and the rest of the world what sort of person he could be. He never got the chance that everyone reading this has had. It was stolen from him by his mother. He had two years of life and is gone.

I wish there was more to write but there isn’t.

– Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday One Year Anniversary With Ken Thoburn From Wingman Brewers

One year ago next week I started and 5 Question Friday. During that year, this site has had over 30,000 visitors. People who have participated in 5 Question Friday include street poet, David Fewster, Pierce County Prosecutor and author, Mark Lindquist, The Voice contestant, Vicci Martinez, and the Mayor of Tacoma herself, Marilyn Strickland. But it all started with 5 questions for Ken Thoburn, co-owner of a ‘nano-brewery’ called Wingman Brewers. At the time, they hadn’t even released their first beer. I decided there was no better way to end the first year of 5 Question Friday than to catch up with Ken Thoburn and see how he and his brewery are doing.

Here’s Ken:

1. How has Wingman Brewers changed in the last year?

Over the course of the last year we’ve spent most of the time getting our bearings.  None of us had worked professionally for a brewery before we opened our own so there has been a lot to learn as we’ve negotiated the industry.  We are constantly growing, adapting and trying to give our customers the best beer we can.  We still have so much to learn on every front so we’re very thankful for the awesome supporters we have.


2. What is your favorite brew you’ve made so far? 

Stratofortress is a Belgian Specialty Ale.  I originally made it as a one time thing but it was so good I had to make it again and again.  People have responded to it in the same way clamoring for it everywhere so we’re really happy with the response.  The beer itself is huge at 11.4% ABV and we age it on rum soaked cedar planks.  The spiciness of the dark rum and the spiciness of the esters present in the beer play extremely well together.  The added complexity that the cedar brings to the fruitiness of the malt background makes the beer one of the best out there in our opinion.  It’s wild to us that Stratofortress has such a great reputation after we’ve only released 5 barrels of it in the last 3 months.  We’re very excited to continue making Stratofortress and to continue making more unique beers like it in the future.


3. What was the most surprising thing that’s happened to Wingman in the last year?

The rate of growth and the demand for our beer really surprised us.  We’ve had to be really careful about expanding our client list at all because we have trouble keeping up with the clients we have.  We thought it would take multiple years before we got to this point but the industry moves fast and people want their beer.  Coming up on our 1 year anniversary here in April we’re very excited to be expanding and hopefully we’ll be able to bring our beer to 10 times the amount of people who tried it over the last 12 months.


4. What have you not yet been able to accomplish that you’d like to?

We can’t make enough beer.  I wish I had the beer and the time to deliver it to all the people that want it.  Coming from a customer service background it’s hard not to be able to give people what they want.  It’s also hard being a small business owner and wanting to grow but not having the resources or time to grow as fast as you want to.  Everything takes time.


5. What’s next for Wingman Brewers? 

There are a ton of nexts for us in the coming months.  We’re hoping to open in our new location toward the end of April.  We’re moving our brewing operation down there so we can expand it.  We’re going to have a taproom so folks can fill growlers and drink pints 3 days a week as well.  That’s the news for April, but in May we’re going to start putting our beer in cans so we’ll be in places all over Tacoma in 16oz cans.  From there the next jump will be the biggest we’ve made so far since we will have to pony up and buy a larger brewing system and all the accouterment.

You can find out more about Wingman Brewers at 

I’d like to thank Ken Thoburn and all of my other 5 Question Friday participants from the last year. This has been an enjoyable experiment. I’m hoping that the next year will be even more interesting and enlightening. Who would you like to participate in 5 Question Friday? Let me know at

Second Tacoma Homicide of 2012: Wayne Williams

On March 18 or 19th Wayne Williams entered a room in a house on the 2300 block of Tacoma Avenue South. It was the last place he’d be seen alive. He was 54 years old. He was there with a 27-year-old acquaintance named John Jones who lived with his mother. Jones and Williams did drugs together according to Jones’ statement. On Tuesday March 20th, Jones slept out on the couch rather than in his room. The following day Jones’ mother went into his room after smelling a fowl odor. There she found the body of Wayne Williams. His head and legs had been severed with a handsaw and placed into bags.

Jones has offered various scenarios as to how Williams died. Evidence shows that Wayne tried to fight off his attacked and was eventually strangled to death.

The death of Wayne Williams marks the first homicide in a few weeks for the city of Tacoma. Unfortunately, at this time there isn’t a lot of information about who Wayne Williams was or why he met such a gruesome end. Prosecutors say that the severing of his legs and hands would have taken hours with the handsaw the found in Jones’ room.

As always, if you knew Wayne Williams, the comment section is for you to share your memories of him. I moderate the comments to avoid unwelcome or offensive comments.

5 Question Friday With Summer Briggs From Millesime Designs

A sculpture made out of recycled gun parts

I almost bought this piece. Created out of recycled gun parts, it's a perfect example of the sort of thing you'll find at Millesime Designs.

Antique Row is one of my favorite places in Tacoma. Back in the late 1990s, I used to live just a few blocks from Antique Row. I’d spend my Saturday mornings going through the various antique and curio shops. It was a good time even when I didn’t buy anything.

Millesime Designs is one of the newest additions to Antique Row. I stopped by a couple of weeks ago. It’s a small shop packed with things you won’t find anywhere else. I also met Summer Briggs who was nice enough to participate in this week’s 5 Question Friday.

1. What is Millesime Designs?

Millesime designs is a home boutique located in downtown Tacoma. We specialize in a mix of vintage furnishings and accessories alongside upcycled creations and handcrafted paper items.

2. What makes Millesime Designs unique?

One of the things that makes Millesime designs unique is our Collections. About every 8 weeks we completely transform the store. We change the paint colors and bring in all new furniture and accessories. This allows us to introduce new styles and themes 6 times a year. It also helps us keep the space fresh and allows us to keep the space intentionally designed instead of just packed. I love providing a space where people can visualize how they will live with the items. Our core aesthetic is consistent but we delve into new colors and periods. We love it and our customers seem to have as much fun with it as we do.

3. How did you get started selling these unique items?

Opening the store has been a journey. I’ve had a love for all things vintage since I was a child. My Mom would take us to rummage sales and flea markets regularly. I’ve never lost that love of the hunt and love the sharing and selling of my finds. When I was living in San Francisco I started making one of our core products, our Notebooks. I quickly learned there was a market for them and began selling them at a boutique on Sacramento street. When we moved back to Washington the job market was tough and I wasn’t finding a position that excited me. So I wandered into Sanford & Son Antiques, saw their incredible deal on retail space. Met the owners, believed in their business model and plunged into our first location head first. Bringing my two passions together, vintage items and handcrafted items, into one store that has evolved to what we are today.

4. What’s your favorite item you’ve come across and why?

I’ve had so many favorite finds over the years. One of my top favorites ever was the Booze Hound Bar. We found a dog grooming station that was built from the base of an antique barber chair. We upcycled it into a bar. A bar that lifted and lowered on hydraulics, that spun around, that had a cabinet to house liquor and glasses. That we topped off with vintage dictionary pages all featuring dog images and finished with a dog chain that dropped down the door to the cabinet to make a shelf. It was amazing. It found a home with one of our favorite retailers up on 6th Ave. A personal favorite find was stopping at an Antique store on my honeymoon and finding a Fisher Price tick tock clock that was exactly like the one I played with at my Grandparents house. Turning it on instantly transports me back to afternoons with my sisters and cousins at family gatherings. That’s one that won’t be making it into the store inventory.

5. What are your future plans for Millesime Designs?

Our future plans for Millesime designs include expanding our custom lines and expanding our retail presence with more wholesale opportunities. Very soon we’ll introduce an offshoot brand focused on vintage baby items we are really excited to launch. Short term we’ll keep settling into our new space (which we love!) with our next Collection premiering in May. Long term we plan on staying in this space for 1-2 more years and then relocate to a larger space where we can continue to grow, change, and with our loyal customers support, thrive.

Thanks to Summer Briggs for joining me for 5 Question Friday. You can find her shop down on Antique Row at 745 Broadway in Downtown Tacoma.

If you or anyone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, send me an email at

5 Question Friday With Tamara Clammer From Brown Paper Tickets

Just a couple of blocks down from the Tacoma Dome, you’ll find a gigantic building with interesting shops. It’s like a mall, if malls had people in them that cared about working there. Freighthouse Square has always been a place for artistic or creative sorts to sell their stuff. It has gone through many changes over the years. The one thing that hasn’t changed is that there are people passionate about the place. Tamara Clammer is one of those people. She’s put together something called the I CAN! Celebration and I think it’s something readers will be interested in.

1. What is the I CAN! Celebration?

I CAN ! is a free, family-oriented, interactive arts event on Saturday, March 31st in the Rainier Room and some of the currently available spaces at Freighthouse Square. This event is being created by the community, for the community, by combining resources that are already available within the community.

My primary goal is to help revitalize Freighthouse Square while simultaneously creating a way to interact with artists and crafters that focuses on inspiration and the creative process rather than just admiring and purchasing a finished product.

My secondary goal is to test the theory that an exciting event can be created with little or no budget simply by gathering together and each of us providing a bit of what we have to offer.

Many of Freighthouse Square’s merchants and local artists are joining together, and we are hoping you will join us, too.

City Blocks will be setting up a large LEGO sculpture and an interactive LEGO and DUPLO building area as the centerpiece for this event. Lucy Schwartz from the Freighthouse Art Gallery will be teaching watercolor painting demos. Just Sage will Emcee and perform a set of comedic magic. Heidi Stoermer will be singing and playing acoustic music. Ryan Henry Ward will be storytelling and painting. Dayton Knipher will share her artistic photography with us and explain how to get the best results from a digital camera. Sharon McBride will be reading Tarot. Suni Cook Boucher will share her talents for creating beautiful artwork from items that might otherwise be recycled or, worse, thrown away. Brown Paper Tickets will be sponsoring a Scavenger Hunt that will explore all of the merchants’ shops at Freighthouse Square. There will also be games of Giant Checkers, using the permanently installed dance floor and traffic cones. Boxcar Grill will be catering the green room for our participants. And,  will be joining us at Freighthouse Square for their Spring Book Fair. They will share the stage with us to read excerpts from their works. Other artists may be joining us for live painting during the event.

2. What is your first memory of Freighthouse Square?

I first came to Washington in 1987, when I was stationed at Fort Lewis. Growing up in a town of 300 in the cornfields of Illinois, Freighthouse Square was my first real exposure to diversity, arts, culture and the first real sense of community. This is where I tried my first Indian, Greek, Vietnamese, German and Filipino foods, where I saw stiltwalkers in real life at a Mardi Gras event in the food court, where I first discovered the artwork of Jody Bergsma, metaphysical concepts and tools, artwork that was created by adults for the purpose of making art rather than students simply as a high school elective, and where I saw an entire room full of antiques that, along with the whistle and rumble of a train passing by, made me feel at home. I recognized plates that my grandma had, glasses from the 50’s that were my mom’s favorites, strange things, beautiful things, so many interesting things in one place that it was as if I’d entered a completely new and yet somehow familiar world.

3. Why did you start the I CAN! Celebration?

In early January, I wandered through Freighthouse Square for the first time in several years and was initially disappointed to see that so many of the spaces were empty and that part of the building was closed off for repairs. After meeting Lucy Schwartz at the Freighthouse Art Gallery and talking a bit about what could be done to help, she provided me with the contact information for the new property manager, Lonee Peschon. While meeting with Lonee, we decided that a free community event would help bring new life and energy to the building. Not wanting to compete with the merchants by selling things, and not having a budget to work with, I began asking people if they would like to participate, pro bono, in an interactive community art day. I am able to put time, energy and passion into this project because I am a part of Brown Paper Ticket’s community service outreach program, called “the Doers.”  My specialization is to do things to help the arts and the Maker community to grow and thrive. Through my job, I am free to be a force of positive change.  While typing out a preliminary plan for the Freighthouse Square event, I abbreviated this as ICAD. My partner, Just Sage, said, “It’s too bad you can’t think of something that starts with N, because then it would be I CAN!” And so, the word Day was replaced with Network and the 1st Annual Interactive Community Arts Network (I CAN!) began to take shape. But what is the network, you ask?

All of us, together!

4. What can people do to help?

We still have room for more artists, crafters, and performers who are interested in providing hands-on experiences, whether it’s showing someone how to sculpt with clay, knit or crochet a scarf, weave a rug, spin yarn, needlefelt, turn an iPhone into a tabletop robot, entertain by breaking the 4th wall, or in whatever way someone might feel compelled to share what they make or do with the community. If you’d like to participate, please e-mail me at

People can also help us advertise I CAN by telling their friends and bringing their families. We’ll be open from 10am-4pm, and the schedule will be posted at .

They can also follow Freighthouse Square (Official) on Facebook for updates, and return to Freighthouse Square often to shop for gifts, eat lunch, or just relax and stroll through the Art Gallery.

5. What do you see for the future of Freighthouse Square?

I see a lot of potential. I walk past the vacant storefronts but in my imagination I see a fruits and vegetables stand on the south end near Boxcar Grill. In the rooms along the way towards the food court I see a small fabric store that carries colorful bolts in fun patterns, yarn, knitting and crochet needles, notions, patterns, and classes to help get you started. I see a bookstore that specializes in the works of local authors with periodic readings and signings, and that offers workshops on how to get your own works published.

Past the food court I see an antique shop full of dishes, jewelry, small furniture, and home décor that I recall from my childhood. I see a clothing consignment store where you can support your neighbors while selecting a new spring wardrobe. I see a joke and magic shop that entertains shoppers as they browse. I see a crystal shop with an intuitive healer. I see that there is a new German restaurant, and that they have marzipan in the display case. And further down the hall, I see Freighthouse Handmade, a Co-Op full of puppets, doll houses, scarves, masks, handbags, wooden train sets, upcycled cans that are now lighting fixtures, flowers and candle holders, cards, journals, candies, yard art, and jewelry made from watch parts.

What do YOU see?

If you can see it in your imagination, you can make it into a reality. Just think:



… make art!

… make friends!

… make a difference!

See you on March 31st!

Tamara Clammer is a Doer at Brown Paper Tickets. Brown Paper Tickets believes in giving back to the communities where we live, work and do business, being a good neighbor and operating Not Just For Profit.  Tamera’s mission is to help Makers share their knowledge with the world. She also helps people become Makers by facilitating workshops, collaborative projects, and art installations.  Write to her at

I’d like to thank Tamara for participating in 5 Question Friday. I hope everyone reading this can make it to the I CAN! Celebration. The more people that show up, the more fun it will be.  As always, if you or someone you know wants to participate in 5 Question Friday, email me at

Update: I’ve been informed that Tacoma’s mayor, Marilyn Strickland is planning on putting in appearance at the I CAN! Celebration. 

5 Question Friday With Pierce County Match Up’s Kate Miller

I know the weather hasn’t entirely cooperated lately, but it’s March. It will soon be spring. Many of us could stand to lose a few pounds. And even more of us could use some cash. So when Kate Miller from Pierce County Matchup contacted me about her program, I thought a lot of local people might be interested in this. Rather than trying to explain it myself, I asked Kate Miller to join me for 5 Question Friday. Here’s Kate:

1. What is the Pierce County Matchup?

The Pierce County Matchup is a three-month weight loss challenge in which teams of five compete to win $18,000 in cash prizes (first prize is $10,000; second place is $5,000; third place is $3,000).  The winning team is the one that loses the greatest percentage of weight during the contest.

The contest begins March 16th and runs through June 8th. The winners will be announced on June 9th at the Roman Meal Sound to Narrows. The entrance fee is $20/month for three months (or $60) for each member of your team.  The $60 fee allows you to compete for the $18,000 in cash prizes.


2. How did the Pierce County Matchup get started?

The Pierce County Matchup is a collaborative effort between HealthyWage, a popular, national company that encourages weight loss with three challenge offerings and cash incentives, Pierce County YMCA and MultiCare. Since 2009, HealthyWage has been helping been helping people across the country lose weight and get fit because they recognize that wellness is valuable.


3. How can people participate in the Pierce County Matchup?

Anyone can join the Pierce County Matchup. Signing up is as easy as visiting the Pierce County Matchup website. Verified weigh-ins must occur on March 14th, 15th or 16th at the following times and locations listed here.


4. What is your favorite thing about this project?

The best part of the Pierce County Matchup is being a part of helping the community get healthy!


5. What’s next for Pierce County Matchup?

The Matchup lasts for three months and will culminate with the exciting announcement of winners on June 9th at the Roman Meal Sound to Narrows.


I’d like to thank Kate for taking the time to participate in 5 Question Friday. As always, if you or anyone you know is interested in participating in a future 5 Question Friday, contact me at

-Jack Cameron