Common sense, please

Dear Editor:

What the heck is going on? Why are Americans allowing men in women’s bathrooms? By subscribing to the idea that we need to make everyone comfortable, we are making the majority very uncomfortable about using public bathrooms.

This attitude has already caused problems. For example: A man, posing as a woman, strategically placed a video camera inside a purse on the floor of a women’s bathroom stall and was caught only when an observant woman in the next stall saw a red light coming from the purse; and recently a little girl was strangled and dragged into a stall by a man hiding in the women’s bathroom. The little girl survived only because her mother heard her daughter scream and was able to stop the man, and others helped the mother block his leaving the bathroom until the police arrived.

Since when do we sacrifice the safety of our children and women to politically correct nonsense? This “toilet law” may sound warm and fuzzy, but in reality it is dangerous and stupid.

Chrystal Perrow, Winthrop

Lion logo thank-yous

Dear Editor:

Thank you for the great coverage of the installation of the Liberty Bell High School Mountain Lion sculpture in last week’s edition. It was very satisfying to bring closure to a project conceived several years ago on which my former welding students worked doggedly for three school years to complete. Although a variety of students throughout those three years had a small hand in the project, I’d like to recognize several for there persistence at initiating and completing the sculpture: Josh Frey and Colt Jack did all the plasma cutting of the initial blanks. Trevor Surface, Josh Johnson and Tyson Coleman did the lion’s share (pardon the pun) of the fabrication and finish work. Four of those students are graduating this year. I’d also like to thank Bruce Gustavson, a part-time valley resident and owner of GK Industrial Refuse Systems in Kent, for his very generous multiple donations of steel to the welding program. It was a particular donation of some large scraps of steel that allowed the Mountain Lion to come to life.

A huge thanks goes out Jerry Palm and Palm Construction for going way beyond the call of duty in offering to pluck, haul, place and landscape multiple large Chewuch River drainage boulders. Without his insistence on “doing it right,” the installation would have been somewhat pathetic.

Also thanks for all the hard work of Trent Whatley, our new welding class instructor, for taking care of lots of little details which made the installation go seamlessly.

A small correction in your article states Gavin Wengerd noted as a key student in the project. He actually was creating another piece of public art with his brother Reid last year and had little time to work on the project.

One final word of recognition goes out to former LBHS graduate Seth Holbrook for his artistic creation of the lion head logo design back in the 1990s. His creation can be seen throughout the campus and community.

Barry Stromberger, Retired LBHS welding instructor

Landowner rights

Dear Editor:

The Methow Valley News spent a large portion of the paper on the issue of Lloyd family decision to rescind a right-of-way for an easement through private property. Mr. Lloyd publically explained his position. It is my opinion that a private landowner does not “owe” anyone an explanation of why they do what they choose to do with private land as long as it within the scope of Washington state law. This was clearly the case in the decision to rescind a right-of-way. Washington state law is clear in this matter and for those who wish to review it I refer you to RCW 36.70A.370.

The rights of private landowners continue to be questioned and would appear to be questioned if it is private property, or do municipal, local, state and federal governments have influence or supersede the rights of private landowners?

I have known Bob Lloyd for decades and while he responded to all questions on this issue in his usually professional and cordial manner, I am not sure he was “required” to do so. He is a reasonable and cordial person. I am not sure I would have had the restraint he had over this matter of private property rights.

Brent Smith, Twisp

Supports Mission project

Dear Editor:

The Buttermilk Firewise Community strongly supports the Mission Restoration Project, planned by the U.S. Forest Service, to reduce fuels and improve forest health.

The down side of putting out fires for almost 100 years has been unnaturally heavy fuel loadings in our forests. The problem and the fix for it have been known for decades, it’s only now that we are seeing the unfortunate and predictable outcome — unnaturally intense fire activity, and forest disease outbreaks. The public has rightly insisted on our forests being better managed, to reduce these problems.

The Mission planning unit has included thorough assessments of historical (pre-firefighting era) fuel loadings, and hydrological studies that will allow for improving fish habitat. No new road construction, fuels reduction through young tree thinning, overstory thinning, pile burning and underburning, are all included in treating about 20 percent of the Buttermilk and Libby drainages, which are included in this plan.

Returning the fuel loading to a more historic level will greatly improve the health of the forest, its ability to survive fire/disease, and our ability to protect our homes.

Some will say, “fire is going to come no matter what you do,” or quote studies from areas that have nothing to do with our East Slope Cascades environment, that argue against prescribed fire.  These folks tend to have very little experience with fire behavior and believe if we just leave the woods alone, nature will take care of it. By putting out fires, we have taken away Mother Nature’s most effective tool. Letting wildfires burn near our homes is not an option, so we have no other choice than to mimic nature through management.

Bob Rivard, Buttermilk Firewise Community

Mission Project is sound

Dear Editor:

As a tree planter 30 years ago, the long-term environmental damages I saw caused by some — not all — clear-cutting prompted me to return to college to study watershed hydrology and landscape ecology. Observing the practices of the U.S. Forest Service ever since, I have seen evolution toward managing for ecosystem health. OK, they had a long way to go. Nevertheless, I think the proposed Mission Project continues in the right direction and should be supported.

As we have heard, various management practices have caused drastic changes across the forested landscape. One in particular — fire suppression — has profoundly changed large segments of forest from open “park-like” stands with fewer than 20 mature trees per acre to closed canopy stands with many hundreds of water-stressed trees per acre. Where this occurs, not only is much valuable wildlife habitat lost, but the hydrology of the watershed is also severely degraded. The landscape is sick. Unfortunately, under such unnatural conditions there is no natural pathway to ecosystem recovery. Even if fire suppression is stopped (it won’t be) and massive, intense wildfires allowed to burn, the ecosystem outcomes would be utterly unlike the aftermath of historic fires.

In the past two years we have witnessed extreme fire behavior. There is good reason to plan for even more extreme events occurring in the future. Without landscape-scale treatments, the effects on people, property, soil, water, vegetation and wildlife will be devastating. The excessive fuel already in place across the watershed has one of two fates: removal or burning. The problem is massive and the hour is late. We can either start to tackle it or wait for “Nature” (in a really bad mood) to do the job. 

Addressing about 4 percent of the Methow Ranger District, the Mission Project is just a start. As with any complex undertaking, doubtlessly it could be improved. However it appears to be a technically sound attempt to achieve its goals of aquatic, soil and vegetation restoration. It also addresses risk to life and property from wildfire in the wildland-urban Interface. Let’s not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

Gina McCoy, Winthrop

Let’s get it right

Dear Editor:

It seems our county commissioners are annoyed by the fact that they are not universally loved. On March 1, 2016, Ms. Kennedy remarked that the Omak Chronicle, having noted that certain actions by the commissioners had made finding opposition candidates easier than might otherwise have been the case, should perhaps no longer be favored with the designation of “newspaper of record.”

Now, theoretically, a newspaper of record is chosen objectively, on the basis of relatively wide circulation and reasonably professional journalistic standards: It is the medium used by a jurisdiction to publish legal and other public notices, so constituents can be made aware of what’s going on. Editorial policy, again theoretically, is usually not a consideration. And it would be a bit of a stretch, in any case, to suggest that the Chronicle is a nest of left-wing vipers.

But emperors whose clothes have evaporated tend to be a little irritable. And Ms. Kennedy seems to be particularly prone to expressions of, um, pique: She’s the one, after all, who famously said, “The voters don’t want what we want.” This, along with Jim DeTro’s “The voters are wrong,” rather effectively characterize the current commissioners’ attitude toward what little democracy we enjoy in this county.  Ray Campbell doesn’t say much, but that is, in itself, adequate evidence of complicity.

I, for one, am not particularly interested in being “led” by people who would rather not represent me. I am even less interested in being “represented” by people whom the Southern Poverty Law Center considers to be associated with hate groups (search “DeTro” at And I’m downright opposed to re-electing folks who, whatever their virtues might be, have failed to accomplish anything useful from a legislative perspective since they took office and, moreover, appear to be incapable of managing their budget in a reasonable manner.

It’s a shame when, in any election, the “anyone but Candidate X” option becomes the preferred choice.  Happily, this cycle we appear to have quite a number of options. Let’s do our research and get it right this time.

Alan Fahnestock, Winthrop

More PUD waste

Dear Editor:

I’d like to say: “Hold on to your wallets, the PUD is at it again.” Unfortunately, it’s too late for that. We ratepayers are forced by law to give the Okanogan County PUD a blank checkbook. Then we elect commissioners all too eager to spend our money.

Not so long ago, it was a million dollars spent on non-working diesel generators that we didn’t need in the first place.

Then there was the oversized and overpriced new headquarters building. Unlike firefighters and police, whose inadequate facilities take public votes to improve, there is no way the public gets to review PUD building projects directly.

There is the new Methow power line. The PUD preferred spending a fortune of our money to defend its most expensive choice of route, instead of just asking us what we in the Methow wanted.

Now it’s the Enloe Dam. Do those commissioners have no common sense, or is there some hidden agenda? Restarting the dam makes no economic sense and would be certain to do severe environmental harm. We ratepayers will foot the bill for attorney fees for sure. And if the dam is built, costs of electricity will be higher, too. But with that blank checkbook, the commissioners don’t have to care.

What’s next for the PUD? How about a coal-fired plant up in Mazama to power the upper Methow? The commissioners could put their names and portraits on the building as a lasting reminder of their virtually unlimited power to waste our money on economically and environmentally unsound projects.

Randy Brook, Twisp

Thanks for courtesy

Dear Editor:

I was riding my bicycle up Spokane Grade the other day. Needless to say, I was going pretty slow. A McHugh’s excavation dump trump came roaring up behind me as a car was approaching in the oncoming lane. Many times I’ve had similar situations, and it usually leads to a squeeze play which is pretty scary for the biker. However, as the truck came up behind me, it geared down to a crawl until the oncoming car passed. I don’t know who was driving, but I want to say “thank you” for being so courteous. It was much appreciated.

Rico Meleski, Twisp