Christmas dinner at The Barn

Dear Editor:

Many of your readers and many in our community are familiar with the annual free Christmas Day dinner served by the Methow Valley Snowmobile Association. This year we are moving the dinner from the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp to the Winthrop Barn, primarily because our size has outgrown the Senior Center. We want to get the word out to people.

Many local people and businesses work with us to make this event a special time in our community. The club makes no money — any donations are distributed to local charities. The dinner includes turkey with or without stuffing, ham, potatoes, salad, vegetables, rolls, dessert and all the trimmings. It is offered to our community by the members of our local snowmobile club in an effort to provide fun, food and fellowship for any in the neighborhood who want to share the camaraderie and the meal.

Several members donate (and cook) the turkeys and hams and many local businesses support the meal with donations of the “fixin’s.” Usually, there is someone to provide Christmas carols on the piano and last year even Santa Claus stopped in. So, if you have to work, have unexpected company, cannot cook the meal — or whatever is happening –and simply want a delicious meal in an atmosphere of sharing, this is the place to be. Join us at The Barn on Christmas Day!

Christine Holm, Methow Valley Snowmobile Association

Newhouse’s CHIP shot

Dear Editor:

I hope everybody saw Dapper Dan Newhouse’s latest screed, wherein he pats himself on the back for a number of things, not least supporting the new Republican bill to renew CHIP. Give me a break.

CHIP should never have lapsed: Kids don’t quit getting sick just because the governing party has their collective hair on fire to hand tax cuts to rich folks. That’s just one more indication of the rot we’ve come to expect.

But trying to re-up CHIP with a bill that’s loaded with poison pills, then trying to fasten the blame for failure on people who really give a damn, is stooping pretty low even for Dan. Sure, the bill gets kids back some coverage, but, at the same time, it tosses most of a million poor folks off their coverage. It also knocks $10 billion out of preventive care, which is getting on toward adult money.

And it wouldn’t be a Republican bill if it didn’t take a shot at one “entitlement” or another. In this case, it’s Medicare. Dan wants rich folks to pay more for it, which, at first blush, doesn’t sound like a completely kooky idea. But, fact is, they already paid for their Medicare — just like everybody else who ever earned a paycheck — and the current premiums are just kind of an ex post facto admission fee.

This ostensible “justice” is a backdoor way of introducing means testing, which ultimately turns Medicare, designed as a universal benefit, into something more like welfare, which makes it a whole lot easier to attack and, ultimately, destroy.

This guy. We first elected him because he claimed not to be a lunatic or an idiot, unlike his perennial opponent. But that was back when he mostly got his dough from his constituents. Now he’s in the bag for the Kochs, grafting full speed from them and other corporations, and we don’t matter so much.

Reichert, Chaffetz, Smith, Hensarling, Corker, Flake … a lot of big-name Republican congress-critters are bailing on the current kakistocracy. Apparently Dan didn’t get the memo. We should help him.

Alan Fahnestock, Winthrop

Alternative approach

Dear Editor:

Susan Pritchard’s research into fire behavior, and the effectiveness of fuel reduction logging during extreme weather conditions as described in last week’s paper, is a commendable and timely endeavor. The fate of millions of acres of western forests, and of the Methow Valley in particular, rides on the question of whether it is possible and wise to cut our way to safety from severe fire in the forest at large, or whether fuels reduction treatments are most appropriately limited to localized areas around towns, homes, and critical infrastructure.

Ms. Pritchard’s claim that “the evidence is just unequivocal that fuel treatments work under most circumstances” bears further examination. The great majority of acreage burned by wildfires in the western United States burns during extreme fire conditions. According to a recent paper by Tania Schoennagel, a forest landscape ecologist, and other scientists, “Regionally, the area treated has little relationship to trends in the area burned, which is influenced primarily by patterns of drought and warming.” Philip Higuera, a professor of fire ecology at the University of Montana, addresses the question of whether we should allow more logging to help prevent wildfire this way: “I don’t think that holds water. That is based on the assumption that fires are occurring because there is more fuel available to burn than in the past. That’s generally not what’s driving this. It’s the drought.” While Ms. Pritchard may not agree with these and the many similar voices in the scientific community, she should at least acknowledge them.

An alternative approach is to recalibrate our relationship to fire. Wildfires are here to stay; severe fire will not be logged away. Richard Hutto, professor emeritus of biology and wildlife biology, suggests this way of thinking: “We know, unequivocally, that those landscapes will receive the inevitable blessing of restorative fires, and if we have prepared ourselves to be fire-safe, we can then enjoy and celebrate the transformation that will serve to benefit the forest and recreationists in the years to come.”

Chris Frue, Carlton

Light the boardwalks

Dear Editor:

My wife and I were in downtown Winthrop last evening, and it struck me once again how walker-unfriendly parts of the town can be. Don’t get me wrong. I love Winthrop and the Methow Valley. We retired here 17 years ago, and had been visiting since my parents retired to Mazama soon after the North Cascades Highway opened.

My gripe is with the stores and businesses that don’t light up the boardwalks in front of their places of business. It can be downright scary trying to get from one end of town to the other. As I have gotten older, my night vision isn’t quite as sharp, and my reflexes have slowed down. Add in the darkness under the awnings along the street, and strolling along the boardwalks becomes an obstacle course. Winthrop needs to find some way to get building owners to light up the boardwalks at night before someone gets hurt.

Bill Karro, Winthrop