There is no question that a new facility is needed by Okanogan County Fire District 6. However, I believe the community needs assurance that district board will act responsibly.
These comments are presented to address potential concerns of the project:
• A complete financial analysis of the district’s financial condition, cash flow analysis, liabilities, current and future financial or contract commitments, borrowing or cash positions needs to be prepared by either a qualified financial planner or CPA. When this was done at the time of the previous proposal, the financial planner spent considerable time with both the county and state auditor in order to render an opinion, but it turned out that there were several undisclosed district financial commitments.
• The site location report by the advisory committee is well written and has many suggestions. However, there needs to be a detailed analysis and recommendations by a licensed engineer of the top three sites favored by the committee prior to the board making a site selection. The site selection should not be a singular decision by the board without a professional opinion.
• The advisory committee report implies that a brick or stone building is the only building material option. Examination of other materials used by other fire districts should be considered. The Twisp maintenance and Methow Rescue building structures might be examined. Exterior materials used locally or elsewhere can be treated to comply with local regulations. In addition, materials other than brick will be significantly less expensive.
• The board should re-examine their real estate transactions. The last two real estate ventures have proven unfavorable. Another independent real estate agent should be selected, retained on a fee basis.
The new building is an opportunity that cannot be missed; hence the board should proceed cautiously and make all the necessary considerations seeking professional recommendations.
Duncan Bronson, Winthrop
Best deal in town
One of the things that drew me to Twisp, and that I love about living here, is the deep sense of community. People are friendly and helpful, kind and considerate. Moving here from the Philadelphia suburbs was a pleasant shock to my system. We may have a mere seven people per square mile, but those people weave a tight fabric of community.
Our town is anchored by the Methow Valley Community Center, a glorious icon of days past. Once housing the regional high school, it is now home to an elementary school, the Okanogan PUD, Twisp library, Cascadia and Pipestone Music schools, LFW Dance School, Pasayten Taekwondo Studio, Visitors Information Center, Senior Center and Thrift Store, Methow Valley Theater, Hunt Guitar Studio, and host to the Farmers Market, yoga classes, performances, informational sessions, and countless other events that tie us together as a community. It offers the lowest rents in town.
The building is affectionately referred to by some as “the grand old dame.” She presides over our town center, offers us shelter from heat, snow, fire and boredom; provides Internet access for travelers, a lawn for sprawling, hoops for shooting and skates for rolling. It’s a place where the restrooms are always clean and open. Kids are safe to browse for books, wait for dance class or music lessons, or let off steam in the gym or play yard. How many times have you popped by to use the facilities (in the broadest sense of the word)?
Becoming a member of the Community Center is an investment in our community. It’s not only an unbeatable deal, it’s essential to the well-being of the building and the services it provides. Run by a shoestring staff, the building nevertheless remains clean, comfortable, safe and welcoming. Your membership dollars pay for heat, water, maintenance and the endless array of upgrades that a 106-year-old building requires to keep up with the times. Let this be the year of membership for you, your family, business, or civic organization. When we need her, she’s there. Let’s return the favor by investing in the place that brings us together, our Community Center.
Subhaga Crystal Bacon, Board member, Methow Valley Community Center
Put down the cell phone
I was pleased to read in last week’s paper that locally, drivers are being stopped for driving while using cell phones and for speeding. Both activities violate sensible Washington state traffic safety laws. We are all well aware of the hazards drunk drivers pose to other people on the roads. For very similar reasons, driving while using cell phone laws have been enacted. Studies have shown driver impairment from texting while driving is equal to driving after drinking four beers. A study in Car and Driver tested the stopping distance of unimpaired vs. impaired drivers traveling 70 mph. They found the stopping distances increased under the following modes of impairment: legally drunk added 4 feet, reading an email added 36 feet, sending a text added 70 feet.
According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use while driving leads to approximately 1.6 million crashes per year, which in 2014 was one-fourth of all crashes. It is estimated by the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration that every day, 660,000 people are driving while using cell phones. Studies show that hands-free cell phone use is just as distracting as hand-held cell phones. Voice activated texting while driving is even worse.
Kudos to our local law enforcement officers for improving highway safety by citing drivers using cell phones. For the safety of all of us, when you’re driving, put your phone away and pay attention to the road.
Shane Ruoss, Winthrop