By Ashley Lodato

It was a big week for a group of Okanogan County Fire District 6 firefighters. No sooner were they almost caught up on sleep after Monday morning’s early wake-up call for the Twisp River Pub fire than they were headed to Seattle for the 25th Scott Firefighter Stairclimb on Sunday morning.

The Stairclimb, which raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LSS), invites firefighters from around the world to climb 69 flights of stairs (1,356 steps!) in the Columbia Center tower, wearing full gear. District 6 firefighters Mark Crum, Jeremiah Fosness, Josh Jankowski, Thor Johnson, Brian McAuliffe and Tiago Pacheco all completed the climb, Mark and Jeremiah for the eighth time, Thor for the second time, and everyone else for the first time. Best of all, they raised, collectively, $12,000 for the LSS, thanks to the generosity of Methow Valley sponsors.

Some of this same generosity resulted in a milestone for Peniel House, the Congolese orphanage and school that Linda and Wayne Mendro have worked tirelessly for years to support. Peniel House now owns its building, the last $16,000 of $60,000 having been received from donors throughout the Methow Valley and other parts of the United States. The Mendros, and especially those at Peniel House, are “excited, relieved, and grateful.”

After last week’s column I heard from a few folks about misspelled signs, or in the case of Dave Sabold, serendipitously (or sacrilegiously) placed signs. From the roof of the San Jose State University library he could see two different signs, on a church and on a bank, aligned from his rooftop perspective to read “Jesus Saves” with “Bank of America” directly underneath. How’s that for a celebrity endorsement?

I got a kick out of Mary Ann Yakabi’s misreading of signs as she passes them on the road, such as the Corrigan’s sign that she read as “Grafted Lambs for Sale.” She was relieved to notice on her second passing that the sign merely said “Grass Fed Lambs for Sale.” Last weekend, for a brief moment, Mary Ann says, she read “Handicapped Corn Dogs” on sign that actually said “Hand-Dipped Corn Dogs.”

Even when I know the Winthrop Balloon Roundup is approaching, it still always takes me by surprise. Driving through Winthrop on Friday morning was magical, with balloons in the air and balloons inflating in various launch sites around town. The first balloon I saw was inflating at the town trailhead, and the Jolly Roger flag on one of its lines put me in a pirate-like mood for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, weather conditions burst the bubbles of many who had hopes of flying over the weekend — aaargh.

PREVIOUSLY, IN WINTHROP