Getting on board
One of the tradeoffs for living in the Methow Valley is that it can be a long way to work, to school, to the hospital, or to other vital health care and social services. It’s particularly tough for the elderly or disabled who have limited mobility, or for low-income people for whom the cost of a vehicle, gas and insurance may be prohibitive. We love our valley but it can be challenging to get over Loup Loup Pass or down Highway 153 to the closest thing to urban services that can be found in Okanogan County.
There are few public transportation options available now. The best known is the Okanogan County Transportation and Nutrition system of 13 buses that primarily serve senior citizens. It provides more than 70,000 rides each year.
On the Nov. 5 general election ballot is a county-wide proposal to increase local sales taxes by four-tenths of 1 percent to support the establishment and operation of a public bus system in the county.
Approving the measure would provide funds to establish a better-defined, more frequent and more consistent “hub and spoke” network to connect Methow communities with Pateros/Brewster, Omak/Okanogan and even Tonasket and Oroville, should one need to go that far.
It’s a well thought-out proposal put together by public officials from throughout the county. The system as conceived would link most of our communities in ways that will benefit us all.
Any tax increase will be felt to a certain extent by local residents. In this case, much of the additional tax burden would be shouldered by visitors paying sales taxes on local goods and services.
Public transit can be an afterthought for those of us who can get around as we need to. But it’s likely that each of us knows someone who needs help, or could use regular bus service to improve their lives.
We urge a “yes” vote on the proposition. It’s a good investment in the livability of Okanogan County for all its citizens.
The valley lost a worthy organization last week when Methow Resource Recovery closed its doors – well, it doesn’t actually have doors in the usual sense – after eight years as a practical connection between people getting rid of still-usable building materials and people looking to re-use them.
MRR was a self-sustaining contributor, in its own way, to the local economy. It kept a lot of stuff out of the garbage stream and provided residents a low-cost way to improve their homes and gardens.
The proximate reason for MRR’s closure was the impending – and cost-prohibitive – requirement that it fence the property on Wagner Street that it leases from the Town of Twisp. But it’s also evident that, as sometimes happens, the organization was running out of steam, unable to attract new board members and volunteers who could help keep it going.
In thanking the community for its support, MRR board chair Nancy St. Clair also issued a gently worded challenge to other local organizations – or perhaps a new one – to consider picking up where MRR left off. The organization may have dissolved, but the value of its core mission remains.