On the good news front, several of last week’s events were not only upbeat but also reaffirmed the characteristics we like most about this community — its generosity, width and depth of citizen involvement, and enlightened self-interest.
Methow Valley School District residents — and that pretty much encompasses all of us — approved two tax levies that will benefit the community’s students for years to come. The proposals, totaling $5.3 million, were passed by substantial margins, indicating wide support. The district’s all-volunteer Facilities Task Force deserves credit and thanks for more than a year of effort to identify the most urgent needs and make a strong case for the levies.
It’s never easy to ask voters to increase their taxes, but it helps when the results will be tangible and make a noteworthy difference.
Another vital commitment to the valley’s future was affirmed with the completion of an effort to raise enough local matching funds and in-kind donations to ensure that the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink will have refrigeration equipment by next fall.
It may be impossible to contemplate just yet what guaranteed ice will mean for the rink and the local economy. Outdoor skating will not only be romantic and scenic, but also practical and profitable. The rink will be one more unique destination point for visitors from throughout the region.
Helping each other out in times of need has been a bedrock Methow tradition since the Guy Waring days. The many annual fundraising events for worthy community causes prove that week after week. But it’s the unexpected, individual needs where the Methow really shines.
The fundraiser for leukemia patient Richard Edwards and his family generated donations of more than $7,000. A few days ago, local students made up most of the crew at a car wash that raised more than $1,400 to benefit Liberty Bell Junior High School football coach Micah Knox, who was injured in a car accident. That was in addition to the $2,500-plus raised through online donations. Over the weekend, Methow Recycles took in a staggering 64 tons of scrap metal, which will be sold to benefit the organization and its local recycling efforts.
I don’t know if Methow Valley residents dig deeper, care more or invest more time in their community than in other places. But I suspect they do, and it shows in immeasurable ways.
Sold on sales
Tom Campion has been bringing his Zumiez sales crew and managers to the Methow Valley for an annual training session-pep rally-inspirational party for more than 20 years. This year 700 of them arrived in a fleet of vans and dispersed throughout lodging establishments in the upper valley. They come from all over the country, and many of them will tell you that they are overwhelmed by the Methow’s beauty. But they are here to train, and train they do — although the way they go about it looks like a lot more fun than those locked-in-a-sterile-room-for-hours-of-excruciating-boredom sessions that most of us are all too familiar with.
Campion, who has a home in the Methow, is chairman of the 37-year-old, still-growing chain of stores that specializes in skateboard and snowboard gear and apparel that mostly appeals to the younger set. He preaches and practices a corporate culture that emphasizes recognition, reward, high expectations and personal empowerment. The Zumiez method produces some of the best, most-loyal sales people in the world — the top sales generator last year topped $1 million — but the Methow hasn’t always known what to make of them. Tattoos, piercings, creative hairstyles and profoundly non-corporate clothing sets them apart from most of our visitors.
My recommendation: Just go up and talk to these “kids.” They are smart, hard-working, interesting and engaging. They love what they do and they are good at it. How many big retail companies can you say that about?