Spirit of the season
Generosity and need go hand-in-gloved-hand this time of year. Marcy Stamper’s article in last week’s issue touched on the need part, an aspect of the valley’s culture that may get overlooked but is nonetheless persistent. The generosity part is being answered again through programs like Neighbors Helping Neighbors and Manger Mall, which consistently generate community contributions that help make the holidays a bit brighter for kids and adults alike. The Cove helps keep the local safety net from falling apart, and Room One reaches out to a variety of local residents who need services not available anywhere else. If there’s anything to feel especially fortunate about over the holidays, it’s that the Methow’s 100-years-plus tradition of taking care of each other is intact, now and year-round.
Let it snow
A lot of us have been thinking the same thing the past few weeks: If it’s going to be this cold, it might as well be snowing like crazy. Of course, it hasn’t been, causing some local anxiety — but not panic — owing to the Methow’s dependency on the cross country skiing season. We’ve been through this before and typically it’s just a short matter of time before the groomable snowfall arrives.
Meanwhile, some upper valley ski trails are functional, the valley is beautiful this time of year, and there are lots of other good reasons to be outside: skating (at the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rinks and on safe ponds or lakes), tubing at Loup Loup Ski Bowl, snowshoeing, fat bike riding, snowmobiling in some higher areas, and even hiking where the trails remain accessible.
If anything, the relative lack of heavy weather in the Cascades so far has made the valley more accessible from the west side. Holiday reservations haven’t fallen off, local lodging operators are telling us.
It goes without much saying that winter tourism is a vital part of our economy, and we will all feel the impact of any fall-off from recent record years of ski trail usage. But rather than fear the near-term weather outlook as a “negative,” it’s healthier and more productive to look at the totality of what the Methow offers. Our attitudes will affect the attitudes of all who visit us.
The Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink is launching a hugely ambitious campaign to complete the dream that inspired the facility so many years ago: refrigeration equipment to make and maintain ice throughout the coldest part of the year. A substantial state grant will cover about half of the nearly $1 million cost, but the rest will once again be up to the community. More than $300,000 must be raised to ensure that the project goes forward.
That’s a lot to ask, but the long-term payoff is at this point incalculable. The rink will help raise the valley’s winter destination profile, but it also will be of immense local value as a recreational facility. Many local folks have already invested an enormous amount of time and effort in getting the rink to this point. Any way you can help them chip away at that big number will be appreciated.
The evolution of TwispWorks continues, as what began life a few years ago as a public development authority seems poised to move into the nonprofit arena — with the same mission but more flexibility to respond when opportunities come knocking. The challenge of becoming operationally self-supporting remains foremost. The TwispWorks board seems confident that goal will be reached more expeditiously without the constraints of public agency hoop-jumping. If TwispWorks and the Town of Twisp can work out the transition without many hitches, achieving the potential for the former U.S. Forest Service site will be less cumbersome.
— Don Nelson