Support a bag ban
Plastic, a material made to last forever, is today regularly used for products designed to last minutes. When we throw away the endless variety of plastic products we use every day, it doesn’t just go away. It breaks down, but it doesn’t disappear. For a school project, I have chosen to change our local policies regarding plastic bags. My goal is to spread awareness about the effects of plastic bags on the environment and to reduce our local plastic waste.
Plastic is a main contributor to environmental pollution. Every day, almost 8 million pieces of plastic find their way to the ocean, making up 60–90% of all marine debris. There, marine animals mistake them for food, filling their stomachs with indigestible material and effectively starving themselves with a full stomach. Approximately 100,000 marine animals die every year from plastic entanglement and consumption.
To reduce pollution, some states have implemented plastic bag bans in retail stores at checkout. Plastic bags are removed from checkout at stores, instead replaced with paper and reusable bags available for purchase as a replacement to bringing your own. In California, shoreline pollution from plastic bags decreased from 7.4% to 3.1% one year after the bag ban was enforced. My goal is to develop and locally implement a bag ban similar to California’s. Every time you choose to bring your own reusable bag to the grocery store instead of using a plastic bag, you make a difference. Every choice makes a difference, every bag makes a difference.
Sydney Schuler, Liberty Bell High School
Needed: indoor sports facility
Ever thought about having a place to practice sports during the winter? Because I have, many times. My idea for a civic action project is to try and get the town and school district to help fund an indoor sports complex added to the Methow Valley.
I think having this added to the Methow Valley would be beneficial to all people in school and out of school. The towns and the school should try and fund part of this. The Town of Winthrop could raise its taxes on hotel nights and maybe some store sale taxes. They would keep that money aside for having the money for this to be built. Twisp could do the same thing but at a lower tax percentage than Winthrop. The school could possibly provide the land to be able to have the place to build this and they could get a bond and or levy from the state to help build this too.
Also, a sports complex can be influential to kids and adults of the community. It benefits the students and the community by giving more covered space for athletic endeavors in the winter. It would be open to the community during times it is not being used by student athletics.
It would allow people who don’t want to ski all the time during the winter have an alternative, potentially getting people who stay in their house in the winter to get out and be active.
I have noticed that our winter and spring athletics are hampered by the climate. Our students are at a disadvantage and it could be a challenge for them in receiving athletic scholarships. Due to current lack of space, basketball players must share a gym and this makes for late practices and games — interfering with homework time and sleep. Also, soccer has to start playing on full-size fields late in the season. Track and tennis practice in the gym till the snow melts. If we had a sports complex these sports can be played during the same time that other schools practice their sports.
Sebastian Kar, Mazama
Promoting parental leave
I am in Mr. Scott Barber’s civics class at Liberty Bell High School and am working on my civics action project. The goal of my project is to promote a policy for longer paid parental leave, make this issue known to the public, and send a petition to a policymaker in the Okanogan County.
The United States is the only developed country in the world that does not guarantee paid time off for new mothers. Only five states currently offer paid family leave, but even the few that do only offer 12 weeks of paid time off. A 2016 study found that Americans largely support paid leave for new parents, but the public is sharply divided on whether the government should require this policy or let employers choose to enforce it or not.
Many other countries already offer at least six months of paid leave. For example, in places like Sweden and Estonia, there are up to 18 months of paid time off for new parents. The United States has a lot of catching up to do if we want to show how much we respect and care about our families.
Many mothers in the United States are struggling to put together vacation, sick days and unpaid time off, to have enough time to care for their newborn children, while trying to find day care, and on top of all that, they have to tend to their children 24/7!
This is way too much pressure and work for new mothers with a newborn infant child to take care of. A lot of these mothers are stressing out about this issue and blaming themselves for it, and it is totally not their fault! I think the government should give both parents paid time off in this situation, although not too much.
I think our government should try to give new mothers a good balance of paid time off, and respect the well-being of our younger generation. That way parents can take time to rest, care for their newborn, and connect with them, without having to stress about their jobs.
Bella Chrastina, Liberty Bell High School
Ratify the ERA
As a woman and a concerned American citizen, I believe that women should have equality under the law in the United States. Surprisingly, there is no legislation in the Constitution that provides women this equality, although many people believe there is. According to the ERA Coalition, 94% of Americans support equal rights but 80% believe equal rights are already provided. Many people don’t bother with campaigning for equal rights because they believe they already have it. This lack of equality is why the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) should be signed into the Constitution. The ERA is a proposed amendment that states “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” If this amendment was signed into law, the lives of women in this country would vastly improve. They would receive the rights they deserve as citizens of the country. It would provide equal pay, reproductive rights, and eliminate the possibility of sex discrimination in the workplace. It would also provide a strong legal defense against the reduction of women’s rights and a clear federal judicial standard for cases regarding sex discrimination.
In order for the ERA to be passed, it has to be ratified by 38 states. Currently, only 37 states have already ratified it and five states are considering rescinding their ratification. I encourage citizens to take action and the support the ERA. Although Washington has already ratified it, you can still help. Thirteen states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Virginia, have yet to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. As a citizen, you can contact the senators of these states and encourage them to ratify this amendment. You can also go to marches, host fundraisers, or donate to organizations that are working to get the amendment passed. I encourage everyone to support the Equal Rights Amendment. It is time women are treated equally in this country.
Lindsay Worrell, Liberty Bell High School
Give kids healthy choices
I have been living here since kindergarten. I have spent too many summers so very much bored. You can go do all the things in Twisp or Winthrop but after more than two or three summers it gets boring. Once I got into junior high I started to notice things taking a turn for the worse among my peers.
Kids started getting into drugs and alcohol. That kind of stuff messes with the brain and especially for teens. The Healthy Youth Survey that is administered to all the students in the school showed statistics for students who vaped in the last 30 days: 53% of seniors, 50% of juniors, 44% of sophomores, and 22% of freshman. When we compare that to the Washington state average — 33% of seniors, 28% of juniors, 23% of sophomores, and 18% of freshman — we are way above the state average in every single grade.
Drug and alcohol abuse isn’t the only thing we are addressing. Some kids in the valley spend their weekends, breaks and summer staring at a screen. I’m no exception to this. I live right in the middle of Twisp and Carlton and sometimes hanging out with friends is more of a hassle than it is worth. I know at least some other kids in this school would rather not deal with that trouble and would sit at home. This then leads to anti-sociality, which is becoming more and more of a problem nationwide.
This leads back to a school project that we are doing for our 10th-grade civics class. We have learned about our civic duties, the Constitution, our rights as an American, and the three branches of the government. We have learned how to recognize problems and address them when we see fit. And we do just that in our final project. We want to build or start the idea of building a facility that will stop most of this boredom and curiosity. We hope that this will stop kids from making unhealthy choices, or at least prevent future generations from following in the same footsteps.
Marshall Budrow, Liberty Bell High School
It has been a foraging tradition for our families and friends here in the Methow Valley to venture out into the forest burn areas in search of late-spring morel mushrooms. Eating them fresh is my personal favorite, but I do like to dry some as well, to enjoy in the winter.
The years of increased forest fires has also brought many commercial buyers and sellers into the burn areas, competing for quantities. It has become more and more disturbing to find those areas heavily trampled and strewn with litter. It has also become harder to find enough morels for a meal. I am still going to keep looking when I can, though!
I am concerned for the health of the recovering burned areas under this kind of impact, especially those riparian zones by streams and lakes. The guidelines are clear on the paperwork we are all required to carry with us while harvesting: leave no trace. The U.S. Forest Service provides this paperwork on its website, with a map of the open burn areas.
Also, the commercial people I have seen carry large plastic buckets, preventing the spores from spreading. I carry a sharp knife for cutting the mushrooms at the base. Then I place them into a netted bag with handles so that I spread spores as I walk about.
There are designated camp areas for harvesters with portable toilets and garbage bins this year. It is up to all of us, local and commercial gatherers alike, to care for our forests.
Post-Carlton Complex Fire, there were separate areas for locals and commercial sellers. Did that help? I put a call into the Forest Service and am waiting for a response.
My hope is that through communication and taking personal responsibility, we can all continue to share in the harvesting of this delectable local wild fungus: Morchella, the morel mushroom.
Elizabeth Singleton, Twisp
Thanks for the chuckle
Thank you for being human, and giving me a reason to smile today. I too make mistakes that go “public.” I did not see it right away either, so thanks again, for giving me a laugh. Keep up the good work.
Kirsten Ostlie, Twisp
Ruh-roh — Mr. Newhouse just got an on-air lambasting from The Mad Hater, Jeanine Pirro, over at Flocks News (“All the News That’s Fit to Bleat”). It seems Dan voted for a Democratic bill (gasp) that offers some security to the Dreamers (double gasp), thus taking a rather unsightly divot out of the Republican platform.
This is actually getting a little embarrassing: Dan keeps doing things that make sense, albeit on a strictly occasional, sporadic basis that, I suppose, could indicate statistical artifacts. But, in any event, it’s messing up my thesis a little: Could it be that he really isn’t bought and paid for?
On the other hand, he accompanied his vote with a more or less nonsensical rant about evil Democrats who aren’t doing anything about the greater immigration issue and the problems on our southern border.
Uh, Dan? Up until a very few months ago, the Democrats owned precisely no political real estate in D.C., which, per an interesting document you may have heard of, the Constitution, means they weren’t able to actually do squat. Now they’ve got the House, which means they can do things like the bill you just voted for and 100 or so other ones they’ve passed since January, but pretty much anything they pass is dead in the water because of a certain Senate Majority Leader, one Mitch McConnell. Now Mitch, who’s basically Gollum without all the cuddliness, is damned if he’s going to introduce any bill to the Senate floor if it gets more than an accidental Democratic vote, so there y’are, check and mate.
Further, Dan, if you look around a little, I suspect that you’ll find quite a number of Congress-critters, Democrats and even the odd Republican, who are trying like crazy to figure out the immigration issue, pretty much in spite of Donald Trump and his merry band of sadists over at Homeland Security. It’s really, really complicated. Maybe y’all ought to sit down with some of those folks and try to add something useful to the conversation, now that you’re officially persona non grata with Jeanine and can risk it.
Alan Fahnestock, Mazama
Loved the game
Last Sunday the Winthrop Cowdogs prevailed over the Carlton Rattlers in the season finale, 7-5.
The ballgame was tight with the lead changing hands several times. The crowd at the Winthrop Ballpark cheered for every pitch. I was hoarse by the end. The kids were about 7 years old.
With a double-play in the fourth, the peewee baseball players showed good sense on the field. The hitting was exciting too, with a double and two triples. The game featured some classic ballpark music between innings, a scoreboard and a live announcer. I am glad I followed my ears to the sound of the crowd. Kudos to the Little League organizers.
Dan Aspenwall, Winthrop
Read the report
Several weeks ago, I called Rep. Newhouse’s office to learn if he’d read the Mueller report. The person answering the phone said she didn’t know but would get back to me. I called again this morning and got the same answer, plus an apology for not getting back the first time. Here’s why I’m anxious to learn this information.
From the Congressman’s web site, I learned that he read Attorney General Barr’s four page summary of March 24, and believed that it cleared President Trump of the charges of collusion, conspiracy and coordination. We now know that Mueller disagreed with Barr’s statement, saying that the Attorney General’s words had inadequately portrayed the report’s conclusions.
Later, on April 18, the day Barr released the two-volume redacted report, Rep. Newhouse released a statement expressing his appreciation for Barr releasing the report, saying “the American people can see for themselves that there was no collusion or obstruction of justice by President Trump.”
On May 6, over 1,000 former federal prosecutors released a statement which contained this paragraph:
“Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.”
This is why it’s important to know if Rep. Newhouse has actually read the entire Mueller report. Does he still hold to the conclusion he issued on March 25, when he said that Trump’s been cleared and it’s time to move on? Mueller, who wrote the report, disagrees with Barr’s summary as do literally hundreds of former federal prosecutors. If Newhouse has read the report, he’d be able to weigh in on the question of whether the summary cleared President Trump or not.
It’s his job to read the report.
Emily Sisson, Winthrop
Power of positive
Michael Dufresne’s letter to the editor (June 5) caught my attention with his mention of the “Rat Park” experiment. I had recently read about this experiment, and thought how it could turn our current responses to addiction upside down (so to speak). Rats in a socially stimulating environment chose not to ingest morphine-laced water. My interpretation of the results leads to the belief that a positive cultural environment for people might help alleviate addiction. I like Michael’s progressive thinking. Contributing in general to encourage everyone to be their best may be healthful for us all.
Buddy Thomas, Twisp