Another meeting about moving juvenile detention services out of the county: On May 10, the Okanogan County Commissioners held another fact-finding meeting with county consortium members that manage Martin Hall. The meeting room was packed with citizens, judges, law enforcement officials, a city mayor, parents, teachers and even a past commissioner, all of whom are against the move of our juvenile detention services out of our county and to a contracted location.
A potential move has been under consideration since last year because the current facilities need renovation and upgrades to meet current detention facility regulations. The county commissioners’ website has materials about meetings held, minutes, materials submitted for their review (although not presentation materials), and letters and emails received from concerned citizens.
Martin Hall is in Medical Lake near Spokane, and from our county courthouse it is about 140 miles one way. Visiting hours are limited, which makes it difficult for parents, friends and a public defender to meet with a young offender. At the end of the Martin Hall presentation by Lincoln, Douglas and Stevens Counties, an audience member asked a commissioner, if he had a facility close to his county, would he be sending and paying for his juveniles to be at Martin Hall. The commissioner said (I am paraphrasing), No, I would be keeping them in my county.
At the end of the meeting, public comments from the audience were heard. No one spoke in favor of the move. Many people asked questions but the commissioners were only taking comments, so they gave no response.
Our county commissioners need to be more responsive to their citizens. They should be strategizing how to fund the needed upgrades to the current facility. So many people are actively against this. Maybe a bond issue would be supported and passed.
Sharon Sumpter, Winthrop
Thanks from Grange
The Twisp Valley Grange recently held its annual Bunny Egg Hunt in the Twisp Town Park, and while our members are very thankful to this community as a whole for their ongoing support of our Grange, we want to give special thanks to the following:
The Winthrop Kiwanis (as a co-sponsor of the event they continue to capture the moment with beautiful bunny pictures that are printed and available for pick up within minutes); Ulrich’s Pharmacy (our other co-sponsor of the event provided the free community barbecue); Sue and Bart Northcott of BS BBQ, who loaned us their grill; Nicole and Nolan (Country Financial), who generously provided their DJ-ing and announcer skills; Methow Valley Garden Club, which brought seeds for the kids to plant; and the AmeriCorps volunteers who lent their muscles and willingness to help out in any way.
These great folks stand out and deserve an extra big bunny hug! And last but not least, a huge thanks to all who support the event by contributing through the Bunny Money donation jars (including the patient checkers at Hank’s Harvest Foods). We couldn’t make this event happen without all of this incredible support.
The Twisp Valley Grange
Re: the statement made by firefighter and Pateros Mayor Carlene Anders, in the article about the roundtable discussion with Maria Cantwell (May 11). Anders stated, “I don’t believe our homeowners are being told if their homes are as defensible as they should be. We lost valuable people last year and we can’t have firefighting resources go out where there has not been work done.” We take great exception to this statement and the insinuation that lives were lost trying to save non-defensible property.
On Aug. 19, 2015, three firefighters lost their lives on our property and Daniel Lyons’ life was forever changed while fighting the Twisp River Fire. This is a tragedy we and the community will never forget. No property is worth the loss of life.
They fought to save our home, which was very defensible. They were able to save it in part because we followed Firewise principles. Our trees were limbed 20 feet off the ground. Our grass was mowed and short, we had no brush or shrubs within 100 feet of our home. We even removed pine needles around the base of trees within the perimeter of our home. The previous year, during the Little Bridge Creek fire, we were tagged for evacuation and were told then by firefighters that our home was “very defensible.” That was prior to us limbing trees higher and clearing more vegetation in 2015. Three homes were lost and three more were damaged on Woods Canyon Road by the Twisp River fire. Our neighbors all took measures to protect their homes and other structures. They were also told in 2014 during the Little Bridge Creek Fire that their homes were defensible.
In talking to firefighters after the Twisp Fire, many said the same thing. The properties were defensible if it had been a typical fire. This one was not. We have come to the conclusion that following Firewise principles may be essential but also can give one a false sense of security. It seems lately that many of the wildfires are not “typical,” which is what those principles were designed for.
Greg and Martha Tazioli, Twisp
Take more time
I would like to respond to the U.S. Forest Service’s restoration plan, which was featured on the front page of the May 4 edition of the Methow Valley News. I have also read the scoping document prepared by the USFS and would like to express my concerns.
How can the exorbitant carbon footprint of the mechanical thinning portion of this project possibly be justified? Why contribute further to climate change?
What the article failed to mention were exceptions/amendments to guidelines put in place to protect endangered species and habitat at such a precarious time on our planet. Please don’t treat the Methow as an experiment.
This scoping document contains inadequate information to elicit an informed, educated and intelligent response from the public and the time frame, a May 31 deadline, is far too short. As public servants, it is the duty of the Forest Service to make a sincere attempt to gather environmentally sound alternatives to the Mission Project from the public — otherwise this isn’t a scoping document at all but merely a “done deal.”
It is widely acknowledged that fire suppression is the root of the forest’s unhealthy condition, so why continue this practice? Together we can surely come up with a better plan — safer and more environmentally sound.
I would request that the Forest Service rewrite the scoping document to indicate that they are truly open to alternative plans for these watersheds.
The most important action to take is to protect our lives, firefighters’ lives and our communities in the Methow. Let’s all take personal responsibility to do intensive Fire-wise projects around our homes. The Forest Service can create healthy firebreak boundaries around communities abutting USFS lands and with this in place we will have done everything humanly possible to be safe.
My greatest desire for the Methow is for residents to come together and choose what is most right for our home after thorough self-education as to the myriad options. Slowing down and staying calm is essential to obtain both a rational and heartfelt determination.
Joanne Cooper, Carlton, Libby Creek Watershed Association
The Okanogan County Public Utility District (PUD) remains unwilling to admit the electrification of Enloe Dam is a deeply flawed economic decision.
The new powerhouse is expected to produce power at double or triple the cost of power from BPA. It destroys the beauty of Similkameen Falls and eliminates the potential of the Similkameen River as a major steelhead producer in the Columbia Basin.
In the summer of 2014, concerned citizens were told by the PUD to provide a working plan for removal of Enloe Dam. Citizens responded and delivered the basic removal plan, identified several lead agencies and a path toward a solution of the liability concerns. Citizens have also provided a list of the multiple sources of funding for Enloe Dam removal.
On June 30 of 2015, NOAA representatives met to discuss the possible role of NOAA as a lead agency and a link to the funding sources for removal of the dam. Early in the meeting, our PUD asked NOAA for $13 million to cover sunk costs spent on the FERC license. They also asked NOAA to assume all liability for Enloe Dam removal and provide guaranteed funding of the project. The call for $13 million was unexpected and not in keeping with the role of NOAA in matters of this kind. It was a deal breaker. NOAA is an ideal lead agency but cannot accept the liability. Liability would be handled by others, probably a third party. The money request was inappropriate. NOAA went home disgusted by the tone and content of the meeting. The PUD was not a willing partner and valuable time had been wasted.
Any party assessing the liability of dam removal would want to know the content of the sediments. Why does the PUD insist that no sediment studies be taken? Not allowing the study sends the message that “our PUD is really not interested in dam removal.”
Joseph Enzensperger, Oroville
Sheilah Kennedy and Ray Campbell have both announced their interest in being re-elected as Okanogan County commissioners. Given their track record, we can’t let that happen. So far, Campbell is running unopposed.
The deadline to declare your candidacy is this Friday (May 20)! We need qualified candidates for District 2 with a sincere interest in addressing the concerns of constituents and the integrity and business savvy needed to put our county back on track.
Candidates must register and pay the filing fee with the Okanogan Auditor by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, online at okanogancounty.org. Payment must be made in cash or by check. Okanogan County commissioners receive an annual salary of approximately $64,500.
Recently, your county government has spent large amounts of time and money engaging in expensive lawsuits, making illegal decisions they were later forced to reconsider, and thwarting public participation.
In the past three years they have:
• Attempted to thwart efforts to provide a public transportation system in spite of voters approving funding.
• Commissioners Campbell and Kennedy voted to vacate the Three Devils Road, ignoring the advice of the hearing examiner and testimony of over 200 area residents with concerns about access to public lands and emergency exit in case of fire.
• Okanogan County’s top two economic drivers have historically been farming and ranching, yet recently, our county commissioners have zoned the majority of private land in the county for urban densities rather than agriculture.
• Kennedy and Campbell are also spending an inordinate amount of time and money pursuing the transfer of federal lands, an effort to take the “public” out of public lands
• The commissioners are currently pushing to shut down local facilities for juvenile detention and contracting with a facility in Spokane — ignoring public outcry and the advice of local judges and youth advocates.
Help us find a new county commissioner for our Okanogan County District 2. Encourage qualified individuals to run for county commissioner. For more information go to the website for Represent Okanogan County at rocon-2016.org.
Pat Leigh, Winthrop