Fit for the queens

Omak Stampede Queen Breanna Howell (left) and Tonasket Founders Day Rodeo Queen Karlie Henneman joined forces for their Tonasket High School senior projects, organizing and executing a significant cosmetic upgrade to the grandstands at the Tonasket Rodeo Grounds. With help from about 20 volunteers and local businesses, the queens cleaned, sanded and painted the stands, had latticework installed along the back, and even painted the picnic tables. More photos in the April 11 Gazette-Tribune next week.

A slideshow of the queens’ project that transformed the Tonasket Rodeo Grounds grandstands.

TONASKET – It was an intricate plot several years in the making.

And while spending several long days at the Tonasket Rodeo Grounds without horses, pageantry, or even makeup was a different gig for Breanna Howell and Karlie Henneman, seeing the fruits of their labors was worth it.

Howell and Henneman joined forces for their Tonasket High School senior projects to give the bleachers at the rodeo grounds a facelift, a project that included power washing, sanding, painting, replacing some rotted boards, adding latticework and even painting the picnic tables.

They also installed concrete “bottom steps” at the base of the bleachers, commemorating the project on two and giving homage to 1957 Miss Tonasket Rodeo Gerry Beeman on the third.

Howell, this year’s Omak Stampede Rodeo Queen, and Henneman, the Tonasket Founders Day Rodeo Queen, spent their spring break finishing up their project with the help of a team of volunteers and donations from Home Depot of Omak and Mac, Cass and Becky Gebbers of Brewster, as well as help from the Tonasket Fire Department and Lee Franks of Tonasket.

“Breanna conned me into it,” Henneman said. “This was back in 2011 when we were in junior rodeo and both wanted to be the Tonasket Rodeo Queen. She thought it would be a great senior project.”

“Since our sophomore year, it’s been a big brainstorming process,” Howell said. “We couldn’t imagine what it was going to look like when it was done, because we’ve seen it the way it was for so long.”

What this year’s fans will encounter is a complete makeover of the stands, with light gray paint and red steps replacing the mostly peeled-off coat of yesteryear.

“It doesn’t seem real,” Henneman said. “We’ve been looking at chipped paint, broken boards and rust for so long.”

Combo senior projects are rare, but the dual queen project seemed appropriate given the size and nature of the project.

“The senior projects are really about individuals,” Howell said. “But once the school saw how big this was, they said to go for it.”

As with any major project, not everything went exactly according to plan. There were multiple hardware store runs, a miscalculation on how much paint was needed and, as Howell said, “last minute funding issues.”

But with the help of their families, friends, volunteers, a pair of Home Depot employees (not to mention the ever-present and ever-effervescent Bud McSpadden), the makeover was complete by Thursday.

About Brent Baker

Brent is a reporter for the Gazette-Tribune. Prior to working at the G-T, he was the sports editor for Sunrise Publishing from 2000-2005 in Michigan. He subsequently owned and operated Buckland Media, a high school sports website, in Michigan until 2010. He and his wife Kim, who have an adult son, moved to Tonasket in 2010. Brent started work at the G-T in 2011.

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