The gift of education

Dear Editor:

A quality education is the best gift we can give our children. It is our responsibility, as citizens, to provide this gift by supporting local school levies.

The challenge for all school districts is to keep abreast of current technology while maintaining important fundamental skills. Liberty Bell High School, with your help, has met this challenge. The teachers and staff have successfully given all children an opportunity to learn in an environment that takes into consideration each student’s skill sets and needs. Our 2015 graduating seniors exemplify this success with a graduation rate of 97 percent. The state average is 75 percent. Through your support, they have been afforded the opportunity to follow their personal career paths and to succeed.

Please continue to support the children of the Methow Valley by voting “yes” on both levy measures. Give the gift of education.

Carl and Roxie Miller, Winthrop

The top priority

Dear Editor:

When notable achievements and positive forward momentum are happening to students in the schools of our Methow Valley, I want to send out a word of support and encouragement.

Our capable, hard-working Methow Valley School District board of directors has proposed two replacement levies: one for maintenance and operations, and the other for technology support. These local levies provide critical funding that helps bridge the gap between the actual cost of education and what state and federal funds cover.

When a community supports enriching educational programs, lowering class sizes, professional staff development, eliminating barriers involving family income divisions, and excellence in education, then we as a community should support the proposed school levies and way we can. When it comes to finances, our children get top priority!

Glenn Schmekel, Twisp

Collapsing generation

Dear Editor:

Today’s generation will be called the “Obama generation.”

This “prez” is uniquely anonymous, untested, irreligious, amoral, deceitful, hypocritical, contemptuous, a scofflaw, reckless, treacherous, corrupt, parasitic, predatory, arrogant, unfocused, unpurposed, undirected, without goals and lacking any work ethic. Under our Muslim White House, Americans have forgotten who we are and what we need to be doing (prayer).

Obama has plunged the entire Christian nation into a dead-end of terminal debt. He has sown disunity, incompetence, debauchery, vanity and despair. Yes, Obama’s only skill appears to be golf!

The curses of Obama-ism will cling to America like malignant tumors. A collapsing generation like Obama’s will likely pick more useless degenerates to inflict his final curses upon us! Is survival possible?

Ward Hartzell, Twisp

Reconsider park

Dear Editor:

It was with great disappointment that I read of the Winthrop Town Council’s sudden decision to approve the removal of the current Arrowleaf Bistro restaurant building, to create a landscaped pedestrian access to the river and potential Riverwalk. Although, I applaud the Pigotts’ generous attempt to help improve the experience of the downtown and to help make the Riverwalk a beautiful and well-placed reality, I  don’t believe this proposal is the right choice for Riverside Avenue. The Riverwalk Project has several key locations where local influence and sufficient funding could make a crucial difference in making it happen.

Not even the best landscape design or the opportunity to access the river in mid-block, can make up for the loss of a precious portion of Riverside Avenue’s architectural character, business revenue and tourist enjoyment. It is a popular myth that tearing down a building and calling it a “park” will attract visitors and improve the enjoyment of the community. This is especially untrue for a traditional “Main Street” tourist business district that relies on the popularity of its increasingly rare architectural context. It is the buildings that create that sought-after ambience.

My hope is that my points, and those of Kristen Smith, can be given more consideration by the project proposers, and that other more crucial access sites for the Riverwalk can be considered for funding.

Kathy Schutt, Winthrop

Support the students

Dear Editor:

As a student at Liberty Bell High School, I have been consistently impressed and inspired by the teachers, students and energy surrounding the school. The need for technology has grown recently and while the school has done a good job of providing the equipment that we need, there are still many gaps to fill.

The maintenance-and-operations and technology levies on the February ballot would provide necessary technological equipment, as well as help fund many programs such as art, music, physical education, construction and welding. The tax that would be imposed would have a very small impact on the members of this community. The average person would pay $5 more per month than now. Compare this to something else in your monthly budget such as a coffee and then think of the benefit that would come to the schools via these levies.

Growing up here, I am most proud of the support from this community in everything I do. I hope that everyone who votes on Feb. 9 will think of the kids that are a part of this community and will represent it in the future.

Rowan Post, Senior, Liberty Bell High School

Make an informed vote

Dear Editor:

We will be voting on two “replacement” school levies on Feb. 9. In the interest of full disclosure, it must be pointed out that the two levies we passed last spring — a capital projects-facilities levy and a transportation vehicle fund levy — will appear on our property tax statements at the end of February. The levies we vote on this time will appear on our taxes February 2017. However, the levies they are replacing will continue until then. The transportation vehicle fund levy will be collected for two years while the other three levies will all be collected for four years. Over the next five years, the net effect will be an average increase in the local school levies tax rate of $.99 (54 percent) per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The current rate is $1.82 and the average over the next five years will be $2.81.

This means that the owner of the average valued property in the Methow Valley School District, about $250,000, will see their local school taxes increase from $455 per year to about $703 per year for the next five years. This average increase of $248 per year totals $1,240 over that time. That amount may be inconsequential to some property owners but it will be very consequential to many others.

There is no question that the education of our children is a priority for our tax dollars, but we must balance that need with the ultimate capacity of the taxpayers to fund all the competing demands for our tax dollars.

Please take the time to understand exactly how the district intends to spend these funds and whether those expenditures are justified in terms of actual educational value. I think there is room for substantial reductions, particularly in the technology levy. There are several documents on the district’s website regarding the 2015-2016 budget and the levies. We need to take the time to review these materials to make an informed vote on Feb. 9.

Richard DeFaccio, Twisp

Wasted tax dollars

Dear Editor:

Your county tax dollars are hard at work! But accomplishing what?

On Jan. 11, the Spokesman Review reported that Okanogan County is one of five Washington counties that each donated $1,000 to the American Land Council (ALC), an organization supporting the militant (Bundy) takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. As of last April, 47 counties nationwide had given an average of $4,660 apiece to this organization. The ALC supports the transfer of ownership of federal public lands to local governments.

Do we really want our hard-earned tax dollars spent in this manner, considering the very real needs of fire victims, the homeless living under bridges, and local citizens’ desires for continued ownership and access to their lands? How many tax dollars, in addition to the $1,000, has our county spent on this one issue in its expressed desire to be at the forefront of this movement?

Jim Chmelik, closely affiliated with the ALC and founder of the Western Landmark Foundation, met with our county commissioners during the summer of 2015. He requested donations of  $3,500 to $5,000 towards a lawsuit designed to force the federal government to relinquish its public lands. Chmelik stated he would collect the counties’ donations when 50 counties had written letters of support to be taken to Washington, D.C. Our commissioners’ discussion of the letter and their positive reaction to Chmelik’s approach  occurred during their Aug. 3, 2015, meeting. It does not appear in the commissioners’ minutes.

No one should be surprised that public document requests to our county have greatly increased with citizens’ attempts to understand the actions and priorities of our commissioners. Although failing to support a low-interest loan for our voter-approved pubic transit system, the commissioners seem to have no problem supporting their own pet projects.

Isabelle Spohn, Twisp