We would like to publicly thank our Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) officials for their terrific efforts to clear and, hopefully, soon open state highways 153 and 20. These roads are the arteries and lifeblood of our beautiful Methow Valley and the current closures are creating real and unnecessary hardships to all who attempt to navigate through our landscape.
Highway and Raines Construction officials with whom we have worked have been unfailingly helpful in clearing the mud, rock and assorted debris around our property along Canyon and Benson creeks. The cleanup tasks have been monumental but these workers, to a person, have been positive, hardworking and helpful in getting things done.
We feel thankful to live in a community where neighbors look out for and assist each other. Ours certainly have, including our neighbor at the mouth of Benson Creek who helped our family cut and clear trees that washed across our driveway. Unfortunately, this is the same individual who has refused to allow WSDOT representatives on his property to install the culvert and rock work required to reopen Highway 153.
By far, the greatest amount of work needed to open that area of Benson Creek will be done on our property, not his. Insisting that the highway meet only his specifications is not realistic or public-spirited. That he dislikes associating with government agencies is his right, but holding public interests and safety hostage is not. Currently, Highway 153 in front of our property remains closed and has been since Aug. 21. This is unfortunate, frustrating and completely unnecessary. We mirror the thoughts of many of our neighbors in hoping that reason and common sense will soon prevail and we will no longer need to head south to Carlton in order reach Twisp.
Buck and Nancy Jorgensen, Canyon Creek Ranch, Carlton
Help the firefighters
My father was a volunteer firefighter as were my sister, brother-in-law and father-in-law; my husband is a volunteer with Okanogan County Fire District 6. I know what it’s like to live with firefighters. I know we’ll miss events we had planned to attend, that sleep will be disrupted, that I will be abandoned in local restaurants mid-meal.
In District 6, volunteer firefighters are on call. All the time. Anticipating a call (it’s Sunday afternoon, the wind has picked up and people are burning slash piles), my husband is primed for the pager tone. When he is toned, I am toned. I am with him at all hours, grabbing our scanner to listen for his voice as he approaches the scene.
Firefighters experience a “fight-or-flight” physical response every time they head out on a call. Adrenalin pumps fuel to the heart and lungs, blood pressure goes up, and the hormone cortisol shifts the brain’s activity to an intense focus, and on-the-spot decision-making. The effects of cortisol release can cause skeletal and muscle pain for days after the incident is over.
But it ain’t really over ’til the trucks are refueled, the hoses are rolled up and stored, the air tanks refilled, the reports completed. The down time at the station after a fire is crucial to all firefighters’ recovery. They need space to work off the effects of the adrenalin rush. They need facilities to clean their gear, store their gear, and take a shower.
At Thursday night drills they need space to practice laddering a building, to drive a 40,000-pound engine backwards or through a maze of orange cones, to crawl on the floor blindfolded through obstacles that simulate collapsed walls or furniture. They need space.
Please vote Yes on Proposition 1. Help build a new fire station for your firefighters. For all of us.
Eileen Owen, Winthrop
For over the past two decades each fall a special tradition has taken place, the sixth-grade campout. There are more than 50 people, more than can be mentioned here, that give of their time to make this a success. This year, special kudos go to Molly Patterson of Glover Street Market for volunteering to organize, plan and help prepare food for 60-plus people. Her husband, Jeff, was there to assist also. Others who remained to help for the entire three days of the campout were Chris Paul (who also helped before and after), Monte Catlin and Christian Kar. The Wottlins hauled all the gear and then some. Howard Sonnichsen provided and set up an amazing kitchen area, as he has for over 20 years!
And a very special thanks to Methow Arts Alliance for arranging and funding Native American storyteller Dayton Edmonds to come for evening entertainment — a real highlight of the campout!
There were many community members and parent volunteers who instructed classes, donated food, volunteered for odd jobs, etc. Thank you all! The campout couldn’t happen without this community effort.
Allison DeLong, Winthrop
Unfair to military
As a parent of a former U.S. soldier, who along with thousands of other men and women fought terrorist elements in Iraq during 2004-2005, I take great exception to Dana Visalli’s letter “ISIS and U.S.” (Sept. 17).
To pick one incident like Abu Ghraib to paint the military as a bloodthirsty, undisciplined organization that would torture and abuse prisoners is wrong. It is obvious to me that the Christian Peacemaker Teams are nothing more than an anti-military group, which at times have to be rescued by the very military that they hate.
When four Christian Peacemaker Team members were kidnapped by militants in Iraq in 2006, it took a special operations unit of British, Canadian and American forces to rescue three of them. The fourth, an American, was found murdered by the militants. Was there a note of gratitude from the three so-called peacemakers for being rescued? No, they placed blame for their kidnapping on the presence of U.S. forces. Unbelievable!
The U.S. military has done more for security and freedom in the world than any other country, and for that I am truly grateful.
Bob Jateff, Winthrop
Get better information
The letters by Dick Ewing, Vern Herrst and Randy Brooks in the last two issues indicated a need for more practical information, as opposed to misinformation followed by others poking fun at it. Humor is sometimes valuable, but it can also confuse the real issues.
My forest credentials include an ancient forest career with the U.S. Forest and National Park services, including smokejumping, along with the ski industry and guide services. The solution for Dick’s disconnect is better education, something the tea party is preventing with their budget-cutting in all the wrong places, including the forest and park services. That’s why the forest’s roads and trails are in poor repair. Office time is for legal requirements, which come from Congress. These often-unfunded mandates, like fires, have to be dealt with — usually by sacrificing more constructive field time.
Nature is not “diabolical,” she’s just going to save biodiversity with whatever it takes, including the extinction of species that were mistakes — like us, with our insane economic growth on a finite planet. The county commissioners and Dick obviously need help with their education. If you’d like to help you can contact and/or support organizations such as the National Forest Foundation, American Forests, the International Wolf Center, and BC Nature, for starters.
The best book on fire so far is Flames in Our Forests (2002) by Allison-Bunnell and Arno, but my ski trails book’s bibliography (2008) has many more. Cows can Save the Planet, and Other Improbable Ways to Restore Soil and Heal the Earth (2013) by Judith Schwartz, deals mostly with grass, the vegetation that’s even more poorly understood than trees. She also addresses forests, fire, CO2, food, and economic growth. The fall issue of the Methow Naturalist is devoted to fire, and is an excellent primer for the scientific basics.
Non-readers and/or sci-fi fans can re-watch the Hollywood blockbuster Avatar, which is a short fantasy about a place it refers to as “their dying planet.” Or if you prefer nature flicks, go for A Fierce Green Fire with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.
Eric Burr, Lost Mazama
Follies were fab
The Methow Valley Community Center board and staff send a huge thank you to Kelly Donoghue and Marc Holm for their fantastic Fabulous Fall Follies on Sept. 20. We were entertained, smitten, touched, and inspired by Egon Steinebach, Pam Hunt and her violin kids, Nadine Van Hees and Kyla Colon, Grace Kominak, Virginia Rivero, Danbert Nobacon, Don Goodman, Rob Thran, The Curtis Family (Charlie, Becky, Able, Ilo) and Mandi Smith.
A special thank you goes to Greg Hardy and Patrick Dunn, who kept the evening running smoothly with lights and sound. Thanks to you all for being there, donating fun and fabulous items for the auction, lively bidding and supporting the community center’s mission, “Honoring Our Past, Caring for Our Community, Building Our Future.”
Kirsten Ostlie, manager, Methow Valley Community Center
I am wondering if other homeowners in the Methow Valley have had their home insurance rates go up considerably since the fires? I live in the town of Twisp and that happened to me.
I received my renewal policy from Hartford Insurance Co. in late August and the premium had gone up a few dollars. So I sent my check off for the year. A week later, I received an amended renewal form raising my yearly premium from $749 to $908 and there was no explanation outside of the fact that my rating information had been changed, whatever that means.
I placed a call to Hartford and asked why my rates had gone up so much. A very kind agent explained that because of the huge forest fires that had occurred, my rates had been raised. I was not surprised but was gratified that she was at least candid with me.
A few days later, I called Hartford again and asked a second agent why my insurance rates had increased so much. She didn’t know but placed me on hold while she checked. After a period of time, she came back on line and explained that my house was not fireproof. I told her that I had a metal roof and siding that was fireproof so she put me on hold again while she checked that. She finally said that the interior structure was wood and therefore not fireproof. In order to reduce my yearly premium, I had to raise my deductible from $500 to $2,000.
My point is that your article about homeowner insurance (Sept. 24) may be a bit misleading for the unsuspecting. Until a person receives their renewal notice, they won’t know whether their premiums are being raised or not. The first Hartford agent I spoke with told me that everyone’s rates would go up to one extent or another. I hope she is wrong.
Bonny Lince Stephens, Twisp