Rodriguez for coroner

Dear Editor:

I am writing in support of Dave Rodriguez to be your Okanogan County coroner. When someone dies and the death is not expected, the coroner must visit the scene to document the death before the person can be moved. The coroner comes into your home or the scene of the death and helps you manage the process. Most family members and friends are still in a state of confusion and disbelief when the coroner arrives. It is essential that the coroner be respectful and compassionate while still being professional and detail oriented. I have worked with Dave in this environment many times.  His skills and talents are exceptional.

I first met Dave in 1990 when he became a volunteer EMT with our organization. At that time he was the law enforcement officer for the U.S Forest Service. When Dave became employed by the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office as deputy, I worked closely with him in search and rescue operations and daily duties as a deputy.

I support Dave as our county coroner because I have worked with him for 24 years and know he will do a great job as our coroner.

Cindy Button, Paramedic, Twisp

Consider a new line

Dear Editor:

This is a very sad time for the Methow, with all the loss that everyone there and everyone who uses our valley across the state and the country is experiencing from the fire that has left so much destruction.

But, out of the ashes there can raise hope and opportunity.

What I am suggesting is the end of a decade-long battle for a second major power line into the valley. I am seeing now that a line across the uplands in the lower valley, a route that the Okanogan County PUD desires, would have been a total loss.

From what I am hearing, Highway 153’s main power line has experienced some loss from the fire.

This would be a great opportunity to rebuild the Pateros-to-Twisp power line up the Methow River, where it is easy to fix and fight fire from in the future, making this route the second major route for the PUD line that has been so contentious and has cost us all so much for so many years.

This is a great opportunity and an awakening to just how vulnerable and costly a line can be, especially in an off-road area, to maintain and fix. The lesson here, maybe the biggest, is how hard it would be to protect.

John Willett, Mazama/Kitsap

 Modify the route

Dear Editor:

The recent fires have again brought to mind that in the Methow Valley the best deterrent to fire damage is a barrage of helicopter bucket drops. It is obvious to me that an up-the-valley backup for the Loup Loup transmission line needs to be within helicopter bucket distance from the Methow River. I urge the Okanogan County PUD to modify their selected routing accordingly.

Jim Brison, Twisp

Wants answers

Dear Editor:

It’s probably bad karma to bitch when you’ve just dodged a bullet, but it seems to me that there should be a conversation about the way certain things have been handled in the course of the Methow Valley’s ongoing disaster.

For instance, how the hell do you justify holding a music festival in the middle of the biggest fire in Washington history? I’m not surprised that the promoters didn’t cancel: Their greed is not significantly above the norm, although, arguably, their cluelessness quotient verges on the stratospheric. But somebody issued the permit that allowed some thousands of more or less oblivious music-freaks to wander into an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe, putting themselves and, yes, the valley’s permanent residents in significantly more danger than is even remotely acceptable.

I’m not talking about convenience here: The Rhythm & Blues Festival is a huge pain in the butt at the best of times, but it’s good for local businesses and that’s enough justification for me. What I’m talking about is pretending that the venue is safe, less than five miles from a fire that, don’t look now, ran 30 miles overnight. And I’m talking about the fact that, for a considerable period, there was one, count it, one way out of the valley, over a pass that gets clogged up with normal traffic; there is no freaking way that Highway 20 could handle the traffic flow involved in emergency evacuation of the Blues Ranch and valley residents, even if you could persuade folks to abandon their fifth-wheels and whatnot. Was there even a plan?

And I’m talking about strain on every resource the valley has, from food to water to gasoline, when all those commodities are critical to the effort to fight the fire. Take it from me, a local volunteer firefighter, it’s really tough to fight fire when your brush engine is on empty because some fanboy of Too Slim took the last gas to fill his Winnebago.

I don’t care about blame, but I want answers. We were, and still are, one wind change from an even bigger disaster. Somebody is seriously asleep at the wheel.

Alan Fahnestock, Winthrop

Be wary of scams

Dear Editor:

First, a big thanks to the Methow Valley News staff for the incredible job of keeping us informed and even getting out a paper under near-impossible conditions.

We have all experienced or heard wonderful stories of the kindness and good will of neighbors we knew before or strangers we met for the first time during the fires. Unfortunately, we can expect to see other strangers soon, neither kind nor of good will.

Scam artists and leeches are drawn to catastrophes like ours. There may be itinerant, unlicensed carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc., offering quick repairs. Our local people will be overtaxed and not immediately available. These outsiders will have a clever pitch and promise quick service to people desperate for repairs or even new homes. Another scam is to claim they can make a better deal with your insurance company, for an upfront fee of course.

Please be very careful hiring strangers with no local connections or other references that you can check. If they come from a big city like Seattle or Boise and have established businesses, they will likely be rated on Angie’s List. And just because they say they are Better Business Bureau approved doesn’t mean it’s true. Nor does a BBB rating insure quality, particularly for relatively newer businesses.

I am speaking from a long career in nationwide consumer protection. I saw many people defrauded and left with their homes in worse condition than when the scammers started. I hope we won’t see that happen here.

Randy Brook, Twisp

When it started

Dear Editor:

Thank you for the News’ excellent coverage of the fire, especially considering the challenging conditions. Like the rest of us I am very grateful for your hard work, as well as for the firefighters, the Okanogan County PUD and Okanogan County Electric Cooperative, and everybody else who pulled together to get us through this. I do, however, have one correction to point out.

Most of the fire articles in the News have reported that the Cougar Flat fire started from lightning strikes on July 14. This is also what Inciweb and other government sources say, but it is not correct. I live on the east side of Patterson Mountain, and on the afternoon of July 13, I watched a series of lighting strikes over Bowen Mountain. On Sunday evening we saw a column of smoke rising from behind the summit of Bowen Mountain which, from my vista, Cougar Flat is directly behind. On Monday the column was quite a bit thicker, and on Tuesday we could see that the fire had spread to the hillside above and to the east of Cougar Flat. This might be a minor correction, but should there be any controversy about the course of the fire’s development or about the timing of our response to it I think it is important to work with accurate information. The Cougar Flat fire started July 13, not July 14.

Alan Watson, Winthrop

We’ll be back

Dear Editor:

Over the past couple of weeks, our hearts and minds have been with the people of the Methow Valley. Bremerton is our primary residence, but our family has been vacationing, camping, hunting, hiking and fishing in and around the Methow Valley for three generations. We consider it to be our home away from home. It is a wonderful place for us to escape to and enjoy several times a year. We appreciate all that it has to offer.

We had a trip already reserved and planned for the third week of July. Then the fires hit and our ability to keep those plans were interrupted. We watched with horror as homes burned, crops were destroyed and livestock was lost. Our hearts broke for those who lost a whole lot more than just a family vacation.

We want the people of the Methow Valley to know that we will be back. We will simply move our summer trip to this fall. We will bring our tourist dollars with us that are going to be needed by the impacted communities as they begin to recover.

See you soon.

Colleen Smidt, Bremerton