Will recall be necessary?
My dismay has only increased after the performance by Okanogan County Fire District 6 Commissioners Roy Reiber and Darold Brandenburg at the Dec. 8 meeting. The taxpayers have spoken, and have been summarily ignored. District 6 commissioners are supposed to represent the folks who put them in office, not just fulfill their individual (and expensive) dreams.
The proposed new Winthrop fire hall is lavish beyond belief. This proposal will unnecessarily cost us far into the future and may jeopardize our fire safety. Reiber and Brandenburg are willing to spend money the district does not have to the extent that replacing fire trucks and other equipment needed in the future may not be possible. Not possible because the taxpayers may very well be so sick of this current deception, they will not approve a levy for replacement equipment that they would normally vote for.
I think a fire hall is a very large heated garage with ancillary room for administrative needs and firefighters needs. So, think of this:
• Six bays (each 14 by 60 feet) for fire trucks equals 5,040 square feet.
• Using a 5:12 pitch metal roof on a 14-foot wall allows room on both sides of the “garage” to be used for administrative and firefighters needs (22 by 60 feet, doubled) or 2,640 square feet.
• This is a total building size of 7,680 square feet. This type of commercial building costs between $60 to $80 per square foot, or $460,800 to $614,400 for the new fire hall, not $2.4 million.
We need to replace the Winthrop fire hall. That’s a given. However, we do not need to put up with fire district commissioners who ignore our collective opinion and in doing so, jeopardize our community with their extravagant goals.
There is a solution. It’s a recall as defined in our state constitution. We need to answer the question: Was it malfeasance or misfeasance for our District 6 commissioners to ignore the will of the people as defined in the last election, when the vote was 46 to 54 percent against the proposal to build a $2.4 million fire hall? If the answer is “yes,” and our current commissioners refuse to acknowledge the will of the people, we need to proceed as allowed in our constitution and begin the recall process.
Ron Perrow, Winthrop
How is it that our elected officials for Okanogan County Fire District 6 feel they have the right to ignore the vote of the people? I understand they are angry and disappointed that their building levy failed, but flatly refusing to acknowledge the will of the people is not in their job description. The people voted and their vote has to be followed. You don’t get to choose to ignore the voters, or go around them by using budgeted funds set aside for fire trucks to build a new fire hall. (The funding for fire trucks was not eliminated by the building levy vote.)
And your determination not to downsize the cost of the building or any of its amenities, but instead to continue to spend money on architectural bid fees for a fire hall that may never exist is an inexcusable waste of more taxpayer money. Another question that needs to be answered is exactly how much money has been spent promoting, designing and buying the property for this unauthorized fire hall to date? No one seems to be able to answer that question. Your budget figures are vague and “professional fees” seems like a burial ground for all kinds of costs.
By the way, my comment to the commissioners at the Dec. 1 meeting regarding “the newspaper article did not do you any favors” was meant as a comment on Roy Reiber’s statement quoted in the newspaper regarding the head placement of the voters who voted against this levy, not as a slam against the newspaper and its reporting.
If anyone has their head misplaced, it is not the voters.
Chrystal Perrow, Winthrop
New town hall not needed
Lots of letters in the paper lately are objecting the proposed new fire station. The consensus seems to be that there is a need for it but not for the proposed size, site and funding of it.
However, there is another proposed new building, Twisp Town Hall, which in my opinion isn’t needed. I have not seen one objection to this proposed building other than what I’ve written in the past. The funding for the two new buildings is different in that the fire station is local taxation whereas the town is asking the Washington state taxpayers to grant $2 million to build it.
I think the priorities are misplaced here. If the state taxpayers are being asked to grant $2 million for a project in our town, it should be to repave the rest of their god-awful streets as good as the recent Lincoln Street project, not a new town hall.
Maybe the town should take an opinion poll of Twisp residents as to what they think is needed most, a new town hall or the rest of the streets fixed. I would point out that if all the walls of town hall were filled with rebar and cement, the photo opportunity of the crashed wall is moot, as that wall would now be 8 to 10 inches of solid cement! It would now take a bulldozer or wrecking ball to destroy it!
As a comparison of towns, if you visit the little town of Riverside, the only sidewalks are on a main street, the streets are nicely paved and pothole-free, and even the alleys are paved! Town hall is a wooden building with a tin roof and tin siding and shares space with maintenance and the fire department.
Al Ames, Twisp
Differences in care
The story about Dr. Jensen’s sale of Methow Valley Family Practice to Family Health Centers is really a sign of the economic times affecting doctors everywhere in the United States. In France, where I am constantly asked to explain our system and the effects of Obamacare, the story has parallels and differences. I do my best to answer, given my limited personal experiences and necessary reliance on diverse public sources.
Medical costs in France are half what they are in the United States. Their single-payer (not socialized) system provides nearly universal coverage. It avoids the tremendous overhead of our private insurance system. Medical studies are subsidized, so doctors don’t finish school owing $200,000. Hospitals are mostly nonprofit, as they used to be in the United States.
With Obamacare in its early stages, we are already seeing some significant progress. Uninsured rolls are declining significantly in states that have accepted Medicaid extensions. Subsidized insurance rates are stable or declining slightly as the risk pools are expanding. Nonetheless, we are far from the savings the French see. Their medical results are also our equal or better by nearly every measure.
In Paris near the end of my visit, I was able to get a same-day appointment with an experienced dermatologist at his private practice. As a non-resident, I paid the full rate for an office visit: $80! To see my former family medicine doc in Seattle would cost at least $200. It could take a month to get an appointment with a dermatologist in Wenatchee or Seattle. In fairness, I have heard that getting necessary but not emergency eye care in Paris, like cataract surgery, may take six months to schedule. There is also a shortage of doctors in some rural areas.
I hope the arrival of Family Health Centers and other innovations will make it possible to improve the scale and scope of medical care in the valley. At the same time, I will certainly miss Dr. Jensen when he leaves.
Randy Brook, Twisp