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Reporter's Notebook

May 15, 2010

Reporter's Notebook: Return trip to 'Jeopardy' ends after first round

The run of Walton's "Jeopardy!" champion came to an end Thursday during the quarter-final round of the 2010 Tournament of Champions.

Christine Valada, 58, graduated from Walton Central High School in 1969 and often visits her mother, former Walton Town Clerk Tess Valada, at her Bruce Street home.

Valada won $68,703 in four wins on the game show "Jeopardy!" But in her first game in the tournament, she was up against a steamroller named Justin Bernbach. Bernbach was fast on the signaling device and accurate with his answers, getting only one wrong during the show.

Valada held her own, answering 12 questions right, but neither she nor Joey Beachum, the other contestant, could keep up with Bernbach. Bernbach ended the second round with $25,800, effectively shutting out Valada, who had $10,200, and Beachum, with $4,600.

Valada said previously that one of the hardest parts of the game is getting the timing right on the signaling device and it appeared that Bernbach was beating her by a split-second.

The grand prize for the two-week tournament is $250,000 cash, but Valada will still take home $5,000 for her appearance in the tournament.

On the television show, Valada said Walton is her hometown, but she and her husband, Len Wein, live in Woodland Hills, Calif.

She is a photographer and lawyer. Wein is a comic book writer and editor known for co-creating DC Comics' "Swamp Thing" and Marvel Comics' "Wolverine."

Now that the dust has settled from Rally New York racing through Walton, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, Walton Supervisor Bruce Dolph said Wednesday.

Dolph said a final report on the economic impact for Walton and Delaware County was presented at the Walton Town Board meeting Tuesday and everyone was happy.

Dolph said area business owners and Walton Chamber of Commerce President Maureen Wacha reported that motels, restaurants and other area businesses were busier than normal. Dolph said race organizers and drivers have written letters of appreciation for the way they were welcomed.

Rally New York staged its spring automotive road rally in Walton last year, but 2010's event was the first time it centered the entire race in Walton.

Dolph said several people who had opposed the races because they didn't want the roads closed have now become supporters.

"Plans are already under way for the four-day event next spring," Dolph said. "I wish we had more events of this kind in Walton. It's a big economic boost and it put Walton on the map."

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