Methow Valley and Okanogan County representatives testified last Thursday (Jan. 29) before the state House Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs Committee, supporting the need for economic recovery funds for areas affected by the Carlton Complex Fire.
The committee heard from Rep. Brad Hawkins (R-East Wenatchee), who is sponsoring HB 1125, which would provide an additional $500,000 in the 2015-17 budget for economic recovery.
The dollars would be provided from an existing fund called the Economic Development Strategic Reserve Account, which is administered by the Washington State Department of Commerce, and could also be leveraged for federal funding, according to a press release from Hawkins’ office.
“This is a very small amount, but it’s one of the tools we can use and I want to turn over every rock to help,” Hawkins said in the release.
The funding would be directed to the Carlton Complex Fire Long-Term Recovery Group. Attending the hearing were Jon Wyss, chairman of the Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery Group; Roni Holder-Deifenbach, executive director of the Okanogan County Economic Alliance; Julie Muyllaert, immediate past-president of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce; Carlene Anders, executive director of the Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery Group; and Amy Stork, executive director of TwispWorks.
Stork noted that about 10 percent of the businesses in Twisp were directly impacted by the fires and resulting floods. She said the funding can help the area become a model for rural revitalization.
Hawkins and the Okanogan representatives later met with Speaker of the House Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) to talk about the fire and recovery efforts.
Also on Thursday, in a separate action the House approved an amendment to the 2013-15 supplemental operating budget that allocates $1.2 million for recovery efforts, according to Hawkins’ release.