My-Turn-thumbA few well-deserved ‘thank you’ notes


In last week’s Methow Valley News editorial, in response to the recent passing of well-loved community members, Don Nelson stated that “Being memorialized is a wonderful thing. Being appreciated in the moment is even better.”

In this spirit, I wish to give long overdue thanks to four living individuals for their contributions to our welfare.

Isabelle Spohn

Isabelle Spohn

First, I want to thank Ken Westman for his years of public service and the many untold acts of kindness he continues to carry forward. Years ago, Ken heard that I was in need of funding to carry out stream studies with my Brewster sixth-grade class, mostly first generation immigrants from Mexico. More than the needed amount of funding quickly materialized.

Grants followed, with Ken’s money used as matching funds, and eventually a self-sustaining, yearly four-day sixth-grade camp in Conconully and the Sinlahekin evolved. It continues to this day. Ken’s typical concern for those in need, outside the valley and his own neighborhood this time, influenced children who may never otherwise have had first-hand outdoor experience with their curriculum on populations and ecosystems.

Next, there is little public recognition from those of us who appreciate the present day peace and beauty of the Upper Methow that without the work of Lee Bernheisel and Lucy Reid, we would now undoubtedly have a too-large golf and real estate development across from the current Wilson Ranch at Early Winters.

Thanks to their painstaking work in examining each water right in the affected area, and in spite of two unsuccessful attempts by an environmental group to cut off their legal representation, their successful lawsuit made clear that the water claimed by the owners of this proposed resort was not truly owned by the proponents. Due to their persistence, we now have a small and more appropriate resort at Wilson Ranch and a few homes with conservation easements on the adjacent larger property, previously called Arrowleaf. In addition, the water that could have been illegally consumed by the resort may now possibly become available in the future for legitimate and badly needed down-valley uses.

Finally, in the spirit of credit where credit is due, Jim Doran should be recognized and thanked for an important act while he was president of the Methow Valley Citizens’ Council many years ago. During negotiations with the Merrill Corporation over the same resort, Jim became convinced that a donation from that corporation towards environmental learning and sensitivity could legitimately be expected. Merrill agreed, and Jim convened the first meeting of about 20 valley individuals to help form a group that would be non-politically oriented and would promote sensitivity to the environment.

Upon demise of the larger resort, that promise of funding was still honored by the Merrill Corporation and followed a winding course, ultimately becoming the seed money for the Methow Conservancy.

My thanks goes to all four of these people, who deserve recognition and thanks from all of us for the importance of their deeds to the future of the Methow Valley and beyond.


Isabelle Spohn lives in Twisp.