Mat Classic II

Can we say “dynasty?”

Not to jinx them with something like the Sports Illustrated cover picture, but the Liberty Bell High School wrestling team looked even more powerful this year in winning its second consecutive state championship in the 1B-2B division. With only three seniors departing, the Mountain Lions will start next year with experience, depth and confidence.

The kids wrestled their hearts out for coach Paul Schmekel and assistant Gunnar Doggett. The coaches deserve kudos for teaching and motivating a group of athletes who, although they compete individually, clearly function as a team. As a show of unity, the wrestlers who made it to state once again all dyed their hair (it looks like yellow or gold, one of the school colors, but worked out differently on each boy).

For many Washingtonians, the Methow Valley and Liberty Bell High School are still not that easy to find on the map. The Mountain Lion wrestlers are working on changing that.


The bus stops here

The Okanogan County Commissioners should give the county’s voters a little more credit for understanding what they’re doing, instead of second-guessing the electorate’s decision-making.

Recently the commissioners declined to provide a bridge loan to the new Okanogan County Transit Authority so the agency can start working to build a countywide bus system. Commissioners Sheilah Kennedy and Jim DeTro expressed doubts that the voters understand the consequences of their decision to enact a sales tax increase to support the transit system — this despite the voters’ 56 percent approval of the proposal.

The transit proposal was well-explained and widely promoted before the election. No attentive voter could misunderstand that they were approving a sales tax increase (much of which will be absorbed by tourists visiting the county).

To now suggest that the voters were just not smart enough to know what they were getting themselves into is condescending.

The transit authority got a bank loan to start building its infrastructure before tax revenues start coming in, not necessarily an easy thing to do. North Cascades National Bank has more faith in the voters’ intent than the commissioners apparently do.

The voters made a clear choice about what they want and how to fund it. The commissioners should not impede that.


Chill a bit

Some perspective might be helpful in the controversy over outdoor lighting at the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink (WISR). There’s no question that illuminating the rink at night — for skaters and rink staff — creates an unusually bright burst in our dark sky-friendly community. It’s a legitimate concern.

At the same time, the WISR board members — who are volunteers, and our neighbors, and well-intentioned people who have invested a huge amount of time and passion in the rink — are working on potential solutions, none of which will be easy. They are not the enemy.

The rink is a distinct and wonderful asset to the valley, for residents and visitors alike. When permanent refrigeration equipment is installed, it will also be a powerful economic resource for extending the “shoulder” seasons for recreational opportunities.

Nobody seems to be too bothered by the field lights at Liberty Bell High School, which are visible from miles away and arguably cause just as much light pollution. The rink only operates a couple of months a year if the weather holds up. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to exercise a little patience as the WISR board figures out how to be responsive to the community while serving its patrons.

— Don Nelson