By Don Nelson
We say it every year, and mean it, but this year we really mean it: Please spend as many of your gift-giving dollars as you can in the Methow Valley this holiday season.
There are many ways to help our local economy recover from the setbacks of summer, but none more direct or impactful than buying from your friends and neighbors.
There are plenty of opportunities coming up to buy locally produced arts, crafts, food, drink, clothing, personal care products and more at bazaars and sales over the next several weeks.
And please don’t forget your downtown merchants and restaurants in Twisp and Winthrop. Many of them saw business fall off dramatically when the fires came and the power went out, and they would love to see the locals strolling the boardwalks. Why let the tourists have all the fun? The other local things you can “buy” include activities and entertainment.
Meanwhile, a bunch of local organizations are making a strong effort to encourage winter visitation to the valley in the most important target markets, principally on “the coast” (see story on page A1). Many visitors make it a point to take home something that is Methow made.
I know online shopping is tempting, but it’s not nearly as interesting or engaging as exploring our own back yard — in person. The important thing to remember is that dollars spent here tend to stay here, circulating several times through a variety of hands. We are all pretty much each other’s customers. As for exported dollars — we’ll probably never see them again.
The general topic of health care options in the valley drew a packed house to the Methow Valley Inn last week for the monthly Twisp Chamber of Commerce meeting. Speakers were Scott Graham, CEO of Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster, Mike Hassing, CEO of Family Health Centers, and Dr. Ann Diamond of the Country Clinic in Winthrop. Also there was Dr. Joe Jensen, who is selling his Methow Valley Family Practice clinic in Twisp to Family Health Centers.
None of the speakers pulled any punches about the challenges facing rural health care, particularly those faced by independent clinics like those operated by Diamond and Jensen. At the same time, there was an evident spirit of collaboration among the various players to look for ways to better serve the community.
Mazama resident Dr. Teresa Castner reminded those in attendance that a dental clinic will be opening in Twisp on Feb. 5, 2015, also operated by Family Health Centers with her as the practitioner. The clinic will be at 110 E. Second Ave., the former office of Dr. John Nickell.
And Diamond addressed and confirmed rumors that Dr. Chris Hogness is leaving her clinic to become a hospitalist (a physician who specializes in the practice of hospital medicine). But she added that she is close to hiring a replacement. Hogness will continue to live in the valley, she said.
As for the future of her own clinic, Diamond said it’s likely that she too will need to find an affiliation, because a buyer isn’t likely.
They made it in dramatic fashion a must-win situation, but the Liberty Bell High School girls’ soccer team is on its way back to the state tournament in Sumner. Two years ago, the girls took fourth place; last year they moved up a notch to third place. This year — who knows? Maybe they’ll keep that ascendant trend going. It’s obviously a resilient and talented group. The Lady Lions play Friday Harbor on Friday (Nov. 21) at 4 p.m. We’ll all be rooting from afar.