Thanks for support

Dear Editor:

We would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone near and far who has been supporting our family during our saddest time. We are fortunate to have so many kind and generous people looking out for us. Thanks to all who helped with the memorial service. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Ellis would be so honored to know how many people have come forward in large and small ways to carry and love us.

Your love and support will help us move forward.

We are humbled and forever grateful.

Callie, Riley, Emmett and Meritt Fink, Carrie and Deed Fink

Levies are necessary

Dear Editor:

I would like to urge all voters in the Methow Valley school district to approve the upcoming levies. In my nine years in the Methow Valley school district, I have truly benefited from all the programs, opportunities, and well trained teachers in the Methow Valley schools.

Competing in Knowledge Bowl, soccer and track has been key to my high school experience. Learning a world language, Chinese, has been very special. It’s stretched my mind and my visions of the world. Taking AP classes has prepared me for college. This year I enrolled in an internship course, where I’ve accessed real world education. And of course, having knowledgeable and compassionate teachers has encouraged me to pursue learning.

Without levies, which make up over a fourth of the operating budget, the level of education here would be very diminished. The general funding that levies support is crucial, even for day-to-day operation of the school.

When I think about my own experience here, I’m grateful for the many learning opportunities I’ve been given. Even cutting a quarter of these experiences from my time here would be unimaginable. We’re fortunate to have special programs, like Classroom in Bloom, but those take outside funding since the district money can only accomplish so much.

The levy would maintain the excellent level of teaching in our schools, so that students continue to be inspired by their teachers. It would maintain the programs that become central to some student’s futures. The levy would fund athletics, arts, classroom supplies, and basic “maintenance and operations.” The money will be thoughtfully spent on crucial aspects of education.

You can vote on Feb. 9 to approve the maintenance and operations levy, and the technology levy. They will replace expiring levies, so that all students in the Methow Valley can have quality educations.

Claire Waichler, Liberty Bell High School senior

Destroying rights

Dear Editor:

Since its creation, I have found the business model of Airbnb to be offensive and outrageous. As a business owner, it has been hard not to be offended and outraged since I can’t ignore the fact that their very existence is based on monetizing the difference between, on the one hand the highly regulated (some might say absurdly over-regulated) overnight accommodation industry, and on the other hand completely unregulated laissez faire capitalism.

Airbnb prides itself on “empowering” property owners to easily convert their residential properties into commercial properties regardless of niceties like business licensure, tax registration, fire safety, disability access, insurance, parking, or even, incredibly, basic land use compatibility (zoning). Interestingly, they have found kindred spirits in our own county commissioners, who have never liked zoning in the first place. The attitude of our so-called “conservative” commissioners is to confer rights on property owners in the name, I suppose, of less government.

What they are actually doing is destroying existing property rights. Like those of the person who paid a lot of money for a piece of tourist commercial zoned land where nightly rentals are permitted outright. Or the person who paid a premium for property in a mixed use zone or PUD where such uses are conditionally permitted. Or the person who bought a home in a residential neighborhood where they expected their neighbors would be someone they could know, not a series of transient users.

By allowing nightly rentals anywhere and everywhere in the valley, subject only to a hearing examiner’s approval of a conditional use permit, these rights, based on the expectations of people to a reasonable and stable government, are vaporized. The only thing this radical and poorly thought-out proposal is likely to accomplish is the simultaneous destruction of our professional overnight accommodation industry, our stock of long-term rental housing needed for the people who actually live and work here, and the integrity of residential zoning throughout the valley.

John Morgan, Mazama

More facts needed

Dear Editor:

I think many of us would like to know more of the facts about the leave and compensation package approved for Okanogan County Fire District 6 Chief Don Waller. I am not suggesting that he doesn’t deserve it. But a public entity like the fire district owes us an open explanation, not a last-minute surprise.

This is not like private industry. There, deals are regularly made in secret and the compensation packages dwarf what Chief Waller is getting. I also wouldn’t assume that getting advice of counsel would have made a substantive difference. If the fire district were run like a corporate business, counsel might have been used to create a much sweeter severance package.

In the corporate world, CEOs need not do a good job to qualify for big severance packages. Even CEOs who drive their companies into bankruptcy are regularly rewarded with multi-million dollar payoffs. Bankruptcy can wipe out jobs, stockholder equity, and employee pension plans, while a lawyer-created, “golden parachute” lets the failed CEO keep the promised money.

Unsuccessful business management in the private sector can also be rewarded politically, at least if you fail big and flamboyantly. The currently leading Republican presidential contender has bankrupted four companies. That doesn’t seem to bother his supporters. If I were a true conservative (not right wing) voter, it would sure bother me.

Unlike those failed CEOs and politicians, Chief Waller is known as having done a fine job as fire chief, under often-difficult conditions. I hope the end result of any review or audit of the Chief Waller deal is no more than a showing of some inadequate procedures or public notice.

Randy Brook, Twisp

‘No’ on levies

Dear Editor:

I’m certainly not against schools but take issue with another school levy. Now, in the retirement years and having paid for schools for over 50 years, I need some consideration from the school district. This week I called the Okanogan County treasurer to find out how much my taxes will go up from the last recent school levy passed which will appear on this coming April’s tax bill. The increase will be $219 totaling $433 for local schools alone. This does not include the $544 to state schools, and the 11 other taxing assessments like fire, hospital, EMTs, etc.

What is a retired person on a fixed income suppose to do? Now,the school district is asking for two more levies. If you are from Seattle with gobs of money, I’m sure another $300 a year in taxes is small change, but it is not for those of us who worked all our lives to get by. Be thoughtful and vote “no” on the levies.

Helen Treser, Twisp

Teamwork pays off

Dear Editor:

We had another successful Christmas tree sales year. Thanks to the following: Hank and Judy Konrad for their sales space, OK Services for the tents (Carrie and Jay), Gregg Nordang for the semi-trailer to haul and store the trees, and Bob Lloyd for allowing us to park the trailer and use power if needed. Thanks also to the faithful crew that man the tree lot: John Doran, Yoplait, Keith Rowland, Mike Dunn, Jim Hammer and Keith Strickland. And most of all, to you customers! We all love seeing your smiles. By all of us participating, we are helping to improve the Methow Valley Community Center, which proudly serves us all, and which is getting better all the time. Yes, we will see you next Christmas season with more trees.

Larry Smith, Twisp

Teen Center returns

Dear Editor:

The Valley Teen Center would like to thank the people who sent in donations from our December appeal.

Your generous support will help us pay for the Friday night use of our new location in The Bunkhouse at TwispWorks, where we reopened the Valley Teen Center on Jan. 1.

We are excited to have use of a full kitchen in the new location. The teens prepared their first “home-cooked” meal last Friday and are looking forward to cooking Friday meals with local chefs in the near future! Your donations will help us assemble our pantry.

This February, the Valley Teen Center is launching a new program on Wednesday afternoons in our new location. We will provide a quiet place for teens to link with after school academic support, work on personal projects or learn about community resources available to help with individual needs.

If we neglected to send you an appeal letter, or if you set it aside during the busy holiday season, please consider sending a tax-deductible gift to our nonprofit organization. Checks can be sent to Valley Teen Center, P.O. Box 478, Twisp, WA 98856.

If you have questions or comments feel free to email us at, or visit us on Facebook!

Lois Garland, Belva Hoffman, Joe Doggett, Alison Gillette and K.C. Mehaffey, Valley Teen Center board of directors