Support for fire hall
Last year Fire Commissioner Stokes agreed with commissioners Brandenburg and Palm, accepting the findings of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee that the site currently owned by District 6 is the best available site for a new central fire station. I served on the committee. We researched 16 sites, narrowed them down to three and ultimately found the current site to be most advantageous for many reasons. Our findings are on the district website at okanogancountyfd6.com/2017_firedist6sitecommittee.pdf.
Now Mr. Stokes has changed his mind and insists that the station should be on Highway 20. There are two problems with this, at least. There are currently no sites available on Highway 20 that meet the requirements defined for our committee. And, switching from the current site comes with a substantial economic penalty due to expected zoning changes required for the parcel to re-enter the real-estate pool. Estimated losses if the district were to re-sell the land have been upwards of $150,000.
Let’s stop all the obstruction and temporizing: District 6 needs a new central station, where firefighters from all four towns we serve, and all the areas surrounding them, can operate and train safely and effectively. The current site will give us enough room for more training, including maneuvering massive, complex trucks. Driving them takes practice that we currently have to carry out wherever and whenever we can find suitable space. The new station will also allow us to shower off the carcinogens from structure fires that we currently carry home to our families. It will allow us to have firefighters at the station overnight, significantly reducing response times. And that’s just the start.
Maybe the current site isn’t perfect. No site ever will be. Commissioners Brandenburg and Palm, along with many volunteers and other citizens, have devoted a ton of time, energy and money in an effort to address this very urgent need. Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good is a dandy way to get nowhere in a hurry. The district is here to serve you and we need a proper facility. Your firefighters know who has their backs; please support us and get behind this effort.
Alan Fahnestock, Mazama
Trump is only for Trump
In regards to Solveig Torvik’s column on the obvious abandonment of any pretense towards racial equality by the Republican Party, I have one possibly minor quibble.
Ever since he declared himself fit to run for the presidency, Donald Trump has said whatever he thinks his base wants to hear, including increasingly less veiled racial attacks on American citizens. I keep having a problem labeling him a racist, however. I believe a racist has to actually believe that there is a group to which he belongs that is threatened by another group. Donald Trump is incapable of thinking of anyone but himself. Don’t just take my word for it. The evidence is profuse in his public behavior, his public utterances, and his printed works over the last 40 years. And with that incapacity he cannot consider himself to be part of any racial group, as all of those others within the group would be too far beneath him. Again, just look at his response as the mid-terms stripped him of power over the House. He started accusing his own base of not doing enough and not truly supporting him.
Donald Trump is looking out for himself. His only chance of staying out of prison after he leaves office is either never to leave, or to so damage the American legal system that it would be incapable of prosecuting. As for the Republican Party, they sold their souls in a desperate bid to win a presidency that all odds said should have gone Democratic. It is costing them their own base, with an increasing portion of their support either declaring themselves independents or drifting towards apathy.
Bob Hunt, Twisp
Stress and health
Dr. Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist who realized her life’s work of telling people stress was killing them, did just that. Dr. McGonigal noticed a Harvard study where 100% of those who believed stress was bad for them died short of their life expectancy, while 100% of those believing there was meaning and purpose behind their stress lived longer, happier lives. Until this point she had been a proponent of destressing persons lives, believing stress was bad. Turns out, according to Harvard, stress isn’t bad, just a factor within a simple algebraic equation. Stress can equal a longer life just as stress can equal shortened life — depending on one variable, meaning and purpose. By squaring stress with meaning and purpose a negative value shortened life expectancy turns net positive. Remember in math, radicands cannot be negative, so when stressed, think of stress as a radical over your life, and factor till you find your positive root from meaning and purpose, which countervails any life-shortening radical.
I suggest this, having lived this experience myself. When (before-diagnosis) Lyme disease had left me bed-ridden with a potentially terminal prognosis, stress was in fact killing me. Lying in bed, unable to function as a husband, dad, human, abandoned by doctoral degree recipients, I was ready to be done. Through meditation I found meaning and purpose, researched cosmology, string theory, health psychology, and came to believe my life had meaning and purpose, which empowered me to research further and discover; Lyme disease correlated with my symptomologies. I contacted the ILAD Portal and found a Pacific Northwest Lyme specialist. Since having first met that doctor nearly four years ago, she has seen three Lyme patients pass. Here I am today, one out of four. Having gone 18 years undiagnosed, Lyme and associated co-infections invaded my cellular structure, rendering my treatment potentially fatal. Today, after having cycled antibiotics, rebounding from medically induced psychosis and enduring Herxheimer reactions my prognosis is: “… potential full physical and cognitive recovery!”
Being ill without a diagnosis was a living hell, and what inverted that circumstance? Meaning and purpose.
Eternally grateful for those Methowian helpers!
Brandon Sheely, Okanogan/Twisp
Critical time for climate change
Climate change is no joke. Though all of us in the Okanogan are for now breathing a sigh of relief for being able to breathe clean air this summer, other Americans and citizens of the world continue to witness record climate disturbances with serious local and global consequences. We are familiar with the vast flooding of farm and in our Midwest this last spring. What is most shocking to me now, is to know while those flood waters began to recede in June, vast areas above the Arctic Circle have been burning at historic levels.
“Nothing on this scale has been observed since high-resolution satellite records of fires in the globe’s far north began in 2003. A study in 2013 suggests that even the amount of burning seen in boreal regions in recent decades was outside the norm for the past 10,000 years” (The Economist, August 2019).
Researchers call this year’s events “unprecedented.” According to meteorological organizations, June 2019 was the warmest on record, and for a number of reasons, temperatures in the Arctic have been increasing at a much faster rate than the global average. This additional heat has contributed to the drier conditions which are spawning these fires, which because of their scale, are proving nearly impossible control. Of further concern are the health effects produced by the fires, and the megatons of carbon dioxide gas being released from the burning forests and tundra.
Our planet’s natural cycles, including the critical water and carbon cycles upon which life as we know it today has evolved, are now out of balance. Our unique earth, the only one we know of in this vast universe, has a very thin and increasingly fragile atmosphere. We are told, with ample data to support it, that we have a short window of time to bring down greenhouse gas emissions before it’s too late. For the sake of our children and future generations, please act locally to plant more trees, encourage sustainable agriculture, recycle and importantly, vote for local and federal representatives that will make addressing climate change a top priority. Thanks for listening!
Andy Jones, Tonasket
More on the library
Thank you for the recent No Bad Days column, in which you ponder the “time, patience and persistence’” it takes to create community projects that have, in the past, and will, in the future, shape our valley to the benefit of all. Friends of the Winthrop Public Library (FOWL) looks to past accomplishments with admiration and respect as we work to create, fund and build our new library, in partnership with the Town of Winthrop and the North Central Regional Library (NCRL).
The News also reported on the Winthrop Town Council meeting in “Maintenance costs for new Winthrop library questioned by town.” Here are some details on this important topic, which influences the size and design of the new library.
FOWL is actively working with the town over projected maintenance costs, addressing concerns and questions. We have collected pertinent data from similar libraries and facilities, which we are sharing with town leadership to ensure we move forward with clarity on complex decisions. We, too, want no surprises. Specifically:
• FOWL plans to construct an energy-efficient, LEED Silver building that prioritizes low-cost maintenance and long-term durability. This will significantly reduce utility and maintenance costs compared to the current library.
• A larger library footprint brings a larger stipend to help cover cleaning and maintenance costs — paid to the Town of Winthrop by NCRL. This funding is drawn from an existing library levy that property owners pay, so no new taxes will be required.
• We have invited Winthrop’s Public Works superintendent to sit on FOWL’s Design and Construction committee and participate in decisions that affect future ongoing costs.
• FOWL will dedicate an endowment fund for major projects — such as roof replacement.
• FOWL will continue to support the library after the town takes ownership of the building. We are confident the library will be a civic centerpiece and volunteers will proudly step forward to tend its landscaping, for example.
We welcome your participation, too — we invite your questions, comments and involvement. To start, visit winthroplibraryfriends.org. Thank you!
FOWL board and staff, Winthrop
Don’t drill the Arctic
I was in the Alaska arctic last month. It was amazing to see a landscape full of birds nesting and caribou with this year’s calves and large predators, all thriving because of the vast undeveloped landscape. It was also depressing to be there. It was hot in Alaska. Hotter than it has been in any recorded time. I saw animals suffering from unprecedented heat. And I was standing right in the place where politicians have suggested drilling for oil. If we drill for that oil, and burn it, it will be even hotter.
We all need energy. But, more people are realizing that the energy we are using is hurting our collective future. I also believe we are smart enough to use energy that is clean and can help us all have a life that is not as painful as it might be if we don’t. Our ability to play in the snow, to breathe air that is not so smoky, to avoid huge losses to wildfires, and to enjoy rivers that have a healthy amount of water each year is all slipping through our fingers.
If now is not the time to choose to shift from energy that is polluting the thin atmosphere above us to energy that is abundant and doesn’t damage our future, then when is the time to make that choice?
The only people that want to make that decision hard for us are those that have a stake in the richest companies on the planet so they can become richer. We can invest in new companies. We can enrich different people. At the same time we can invest in our future, our kids future, and their kids future.
I propose we don’t drill in the Arctic! I think it might be a good idea to leave that oil in the ground where it is not damaging our future and its removal doesn’t impact a wilderness full of life. I think we might be able to agree that right now is the time to start working hard for a better, cleaner, less-polluting future.
Kent Woodruff, Twisp