Need for a lap pool
We love the recreational activities in the Methow Valley, but are wondering whether the community has looked into building an indoor lap pool for swimming lessons, lap swim, water aerobics, and swim team? The Twisp pool has issues with leaking and is only open in the summers when school is out, leaving limited options to swim at other times of the year. It could be connected with the physical therapy/fitness center and membership dues used to fund maintenance if construction funds can be raised.
The pool that we use in Spokane when we are not in Winthrop is in a pretty basic concrete block building with a metal roof. We are wondering if there is interest in the community for such a project and how it could be started. It seems like a really good addition that would make a low-impact sport available year round for all of the residents of the valley.
Sue Megaard, Spokane/Winthrop
Branch for District 1
Four years ago I ran for Okanogan County commissioner, District 1. It was a close race; I garnered 48 percent of the county votes. Thank you all for that support.
At the time the county was without major lawsuits and had a budget that was frugal but reasonable. Most of the county employees had contracts and recent cost of living increases. How times have changed.
I ran for equality for all residents, engaging the county and private business in partnerships to execute opportunities as they presented themselves and especially to enhance agriculture and natural resources.
I know Chris Branch has the same values and interests.
I have known Chris since 1985. We worked in the woods together, and on several community projects and committees. Chris has a wide and complete knowledge of working in the natural resource industries. Logging, migrant labor and many aspects of agriculture have developed calluses on Chris’ hands.
The final count of the primary, the voters of district one were almost evenly divided around 25 percent for each of the four candidates. On the surface this may mean an equal appeal of the candidates, however, what is really at issue is that 75 percent of the voters are not in favor of the incumbent. I thank Ted Reinbold for pledging his vote for Chris and encouraging his supporters to do the same. I would also like to thank Larry W. Schreckengast if he and his supporters would also endorse Chris.
Chris wants to keep public lands public. Along with the recreational hikers, etc., grazing permits are essential to our way of life and an important leg of our economic stability. This is the reason Chris is in support of keeping public lands public.
Please join me in voting for Chris Branch, Okanogan County commissioner, District 1
Albert Roberts, Omak
Commission needs change
Okanogan County Commissioner Sheilah Kennedy, though hard working, has consistently made decisions counter to my interests as a resident of Okanogan County. She has used our tax dollars to support the American Lands Council (ALC), which seeks to transfer responsibility and costs of management of federal public lands to state government (Chelan and Douglas counties heard the same funding pitch from ALC and said no). She has neglected including health professionals on the health department board. She has increased operating costs through contracting out services previously performed in-house, such as weed control, to private companies. Through failure to consider the comments of constituents, she has made multiple decisions provoking costly litigation. She has decreased the transparency of county government through a sharp increase in the number of executive sessions.
Sheilah Kennedy doesn’t take kindly to criticism. When the Omak Chronicle questioned commissioners’ decisions, she wondered if they were in violation of contract as county “newspaper of record” (later, the commissioners granted the new contract to a different paper). She tends to see conspiracies of “outside interests,” “west side” funding and the like when we say we don’t like what she does.
Having lived full-time and paid property tax in Okanogan County for over nine years, I am strongly opposed to the incumbent candidacy of Sheilah Kennedy for county commissioner.
Chris Branch will bring a much-needed breath of fresh air to the office. After 26 years of work in planning and community development in Okanogan County, his record remains clean.
Chris Hogness, Mazama
A few thoughts on election
To my fellow Methow Valley citizens: I would like to offer my few informed opinions on upcoming election candidates that I feel strongly about:
• Commissioner for Public Lands. I had the chance to attend a candidates’ forum and listen to and meet both Hillary Franz and Steve McLoughlin. Franz was articulate and well informed on all of the issues presented, and answered each question thoroughly. Her background in land use issues and being raised in Washington on family lands came through loud and clear. She is smart and ready to be Commissioner of Public Lands. McLoughlin is a former U.S. Navy ship commander and had limited knowledge or grasp of natural resource issues. He seemed poorly informed and did not really answer any of the questions posed to him. He spoke about fire and incident command structure with confidence, but that was where it ended. Franz is the better candidate.
• Brad Hawkins is a local, home-grown state senator. He spoke well at a different candidates’ forum and seemed to understand our district. John Wyss has been the voice of the Farm Bureau and other large landowners in Okanogan County for a long time. He did not answer the questions well and seems to be a voice for the elite. Hawkins is a better candidate.
• Chris Branch is a very well-spoken and qualified candidate for Okanogan county commissioner. He will bring thoughtful ideas to the fore and reduce the influence of the large landowners. Sheilah Kennedy voted in favor of closing the Three Devils Road, and has been a part of the bad record of the recent Okanogan County commissioners. Branch is the better candidate.
• No Trump.
Thanks. Let’s all love each other and get over this election soon.
Ken Bevis, Twisp
Support EMS levy in Twisp
To residents of the Town Twisp: 2016 was the final year of the EMS levy for the residents of Twisp. We are asking you to support the EMS levy on the ballot this election.
This is not in addition to the current levy but replacing the one that just expired. Your support through your property tax directly supports Aero Methow Rescue Service through a contract we have with the EMS District. The funds are essential to the continuation of the services we provide for you. We stand ready to respond to you on the worst day of your life and to be here every day for you. It is our job to have the staff, vehicles and equipment ready for you when you need us. If you need a car seat, blood pressure check, First Aid or CPR training, have a friend or relative in the SAIL program, need to borrow an AED for an event, standby at a football game or simply have a question, we are here. We are here because you support us and recognize the value of our services.
This election is just for the residents of Twisp. Twisp was on a six-year cycle and Winthrop and the Rural District are on a 10-year cycle. Twisp has now approved a 10-year cycle. If approved, the next time we ask for your vote will be in 10 years.
Please continue to support EMS through the EMS Levy and allow us the ability to continue to be here for you.
Thank you and please be safe and stay healthy,
Cindy Button, Director of Services, Aero Methow Rescue Service
Thanks for ROC’s work
Thanks to those who have spent untold hours fostering transparency, accountability and responsiveness in our county government by volunteering for Represent Okanogan County (ROC.)
This group welcomed Okanogan residents and voters of various persuasions since its inception, putting political differences aside to accomplish these goals. It’s been the belief of ROC supporters that public involvement with the current election would eventually lead to less litigation, more-efficient use of tax dollars, and more responsiveness to the needs and wishes of the county’s citizens and employees.
During the year following ROC’s first meeting in June 2015, there were no known candidates for the 2016 election. The goal was to attract candidates of any party to run for county commissioner to create a more-favorable situation for public participation; resulting in more choice candidates and more public engagement in this election than we’ve seen in years.
Because minutes of commissioners’ meetings were typically delayed by weeks or months, the organization’s volunteers took turns taking notes at commissioners’ meetings, posting them on http://rocon2016.org within a few days. The first result was that an ongoing discussion of sending juvenile offenders to Martin Hall in Medical Lake was brought to the public’s attention.
Another goal was to review commissioners’ prior decisions, requiring both document requests and analysis of the resolutions. ROC made interesting discoveries, including: a 2013 resolution to hold a public hearing regarding formation of a budget to address the actions of federal and state agencies (this was never done, but expenditures occurred); and a resolution obligating an important public servant to “exhibit unquestioned loyalty” to the board while receiving a raise from the salary of one of the commissioners.
This organization has benefited the citizens of this county; we are more aware and informed because of the work they have done.
Susan Swanson, Omak
Corrections about Thrasher
I’m Ashley Thrasher’s campaign manager, Jamie Petitto. This letter is a response to another campaign manager, Jeff Brender (Sheilah Kennedy). His Oct. 19 letter to the editor and a related Chronicle article contain at least the following inaccuracies:
Jeff claims Ashley received 30 percent of campaign donations from western Washington, criticizing the people in that geographic location. His judgments aside, these figures are wrong, according to the PDC website. Ashley’s campaign received $6,100 of her total $30,205 from a western Washington address. This is 20 percent, not 30 percent. And these “western” donations include contributions from families like the Pigotts — landowners and active members of the Methow Valley community for decades.
The recent Chronicle article even counted donations from Ashley’s uncle as “west side money.” Paul Butler has been a full-time Mazama resident and business owner in the Methow Valley for over 20 years.
Hasn’t this continual counting of “west side” contributions become a bit meaningless? Our second homeowners spend plenty of local time riding horses, hunting, snowmobiling, ranching, gardening, hiking, skiing, spending money, paying taxes and employing members of the community. Why wouldn’t they have a justifiable interest in our county government?
The Thrasher/Hover campaigns continue to run a mutually respectful operation, despite this year’s negative political atmosphere. Ashley extends this courtesy to Sheilah’s campaign. I am surprised Jeff casts stones not even political rivals wish to throw. Our next commissioner needs a forward-looking, intelligent and collaborative approach, assuring a positive future for Okanogan County. We will not lose ourselves in the quibbling of political fabrications.
Let’s remember that we are all in this together: from north to south; from east to west sider.
Jamie Petitto, Twisp
Your vote is vital
As the voting deadline fast approaches and the letters to the editor heat up and fill more space than ever, we all need to remember one fact. Your vote matters — hugely (not bigly, as some would say).
Voting for local officials is extremely important because their positions on issues will have more impact on you and your life than that of state or federal representatives. At best, being an elected official can often be a thankless job, trying to fairly balance the desires and valid concerns of all the citizens they represent. This year, we are privileged to have multiple candidates vying for office on our ballot. We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude for being willing to take on this important responsibility.
Now it is time for we, the people, to do our part. This includes taking the time to educate ourselves about candidates and issues. The voters’ pamphlet is a good way to begin — but there is an abundance of information available out there. And then do your civic duty and vote!
Your vote truly matters. In past elections and even as recently as the previous primary, races have been decided on surprisingly small majorities. Even with less than perfect choices, it is important you make the choice that you believe is best. Only if everyone participates by casting their vote will our democracy work as intended by our founding fathers.
Please exercise your right to vote to keep our country strong.
Karen Mulcahy and Rick Rottman, Winthrop
Branch deserves vote
While I was on the Twisp Town Council I served as Twisp’s representative to the Okanogan County Transportation Board. I served with elected representatives from Oroville, Tonasket, Omak, Okanogan, Brewster, Pateros, Twisp and Winthrop. For two years, we traveled through rain and snow, ice, sweltering heat and chip sealing to get to meeting after meeting in Omak. The dedication of these representatives was impressive. And then there were the county commissioners.
We volunteers worked hard to implement the voters’ will, and build the new bus system from scratch. While I worked my tail off as committee chairman overseeing the selection of a new general manager, the county commissioners were actively undermining our work. They refused to support the finalization of the voter-approved tax. They refused to give the board an operating loan through the county, forcing us to go to a private lender (at greater expense) until tax revenues came through to support our efforts. When Michael Blake, our interim general manager, sought to hire an office assistant, they wouldn’t support the hire unless the position paid “no more than $10 per hour” for a temporary job with no benefits.
There is only one incumbent county commissioner left on the ballot in this election. As a volunteer who worked countless hours in my duties as a transportation board member, and saw first-hand the commissioners’ efforts to obstruct our work, I’ll be casting two votes this election — one to clean house in the commissioners’ office, and with the same ballot a get to vote for a good candidate in Chris Branch, who knows the county like the back of his hand. You can’t go wrong voting for this good and decent man.
Dwight Filer, Twisp
Make it matter
No matter if one is amused or nauseated by the national political circus, Okanogan elections directly affect our daily lives. Think local. Think potholes and snowplows, public health and emergency management. Local county government pays the bills to keep our roads open, our water clean, and our neighborhoods safe.
In the county commissioners’ race, Chris Branch of District 1 lost the primary election by one vote, 614 to 615. All three districts will vote for the District 1 commissioner in the general election, and clearly, one vote matters. Take your one vote and help boost Chris over the incumbent’s wall.