Appreciation for Solveig
I wanted to take a few moments to express my appreciation for the columns by Solveig Torvik as well as the Methow Valley News for publishing them. Ms. Torvik’s pieces are, without fail, astute, well-researched, well-written, thought-provoking and factual. Although the national news is disturbingly complex and relentless, these gems of information reveal the thoughts and feelings of an overwhelming number of our fellow citizens. The few column inches we get by Ms. Torvik should be read and considered by all citizens in the valley and I heartily encourage all to read them.
The local reportage is, of course, always excellent and informative and held in high regard by all.
Wilson C. Hicks, Twisp
Slow progress on comp plan
Regarding the abrupt departure of the county director of Planning and Development, we need to call a spade a spade. Mr. Huston left Okanogan County unexpectedly with an incomplete Comprehensive Plan (affecting mostly the Methow Valley), a seriously deficient Environmental Impact statement, and a Planning Department that is short-handed at a crucial time in our county’s history. Missed court-imposed deadlines and numerous delays have already caused the Yakama Nation to renew its legal challenges to the existing Comprehensive Plan.
The current Board of Commissioners has brought great improvement to our county government in numerous respects. But in spite of court-imposed deadlines, red flags waved by citizens, and attempted communications by the Yakama Tribe and others, nothing so far has caused the commissioners as a group to pay attention to problems within the Planning Department that have caused unacceptable delays and inadequate documents.
Commissioner Hover himself stated publicly (July 22) that Director Huston had been spending more than half his time on tasks that were not part of the Planning Department’s duties. This was common knowledge, but nothing was done to correct the situation.
Why is the Comp Plan still incomplete? The current draft Comp Plan now states that the Methow Addendum (now MVMCPA) has been reviewed and revised and will be adopted. But the 2014 revision, which mandated a Citizens’ Advisory Committee be appointed, has been removed from the Appendix and not replaced. The revision had been done hurriedly without the required Citizens’ Advisory Committee, and data was still from the 1970s. Five years after 2014, we still have no advisory committee, no valid revision of the Methow Addendum, and not even a mandate to form an advisory committee. Public records requests on July 23 and Aug. 2 confirm this.
Does it matter? The Methow Valley Addendum supports protective zoning and appropriate land uses in the Methow Review District (School District 350) and Sub Unit A (upper Methow.) If you value these protections, write, comment or listen to others on Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. in Okanogan, and submit final written comment by Sept. 3.
Isabelle Spohn, Twisp
New awareness of fire hazards
We live just uphill from the house that burned down in Twisp on Tuesday night. We write to thank all of our neighbors for helping us keep the fire at bay until the firefighters arrived. Special thanks to the young men who heard the explosions down at the swimming pool and ran here to grab hoses and a shovel to keep the flames from running up the hill. Without our neighbors and others who helped us through an extremely frightening and threatening situation, the loss would have been much greater. We also thank our firefighters who were on scene late into the night until the fire was completely neutralized.
We also extend our sympathy to Mark and Michelle who lost their house. This was a real wakeup call to all of us that we aren’t just at risk from wildfire outside of town. We need to be aware of the condition of our properties here in town and the safe handling and storage of flammable materials.
Thank you all. Be safe. Be vigilant.
Eric VonderReith, Mary McCrea, Twisp
Today I went to Okanogan County Superior Court to hear the case between the pot shop and the church. Here is what I learned: The Legislature believed there is just cause to create a law that keeps children in charitable recreation facilities and public schools 1,000 feet away from any business that sells marijuana. However, the children who attend the Master’s Christian School, a private school with a 40-year history, and the various groups of children who use the church’s gymnasium multiple times a week and the children who gather for church activities on Sunday are not eligible for the same protection as other children. So exactly what is the difference between one group of children and the other group of children? Religion. The children at the church are denied the legal protection given to children who gather in non-religious venues. Just let that sink in.
David Hodgin, Winthrop
Support for new station
I think it’s timely, in light of all the recent fires, to point out the pressing need for a new fire station in our valley. First we had the Rendezvous fire, and all four stations of Okanogan County Fire District 6 were called out, as well as Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Forest Service firefighters. No structures were lost and the fire was quickly contained. Then, this week, the tragic house fire in Twisp. All stations of District 6 responded and worked for more than six hours in near 100-degree heat, and while unable to save the structure, they prevented the fire from spreading to other houses or the grassy fields nearby.
These people, mostly volunteers (only five paid staff in the entire district) are on call 24/7. They are out there in the elements, saving our homes and land. Don’t they deserve a decent station where they can change into their gear safely and shower off the toxins before they head home?
Maybe get something to eat when it’s 3 a.m. and they have been working hard physically for hours? Do we expect to attract volunteers when we don’t give them a safe working environment and a place to train appropriately for this dangerous job? How can they continue to be an effective department dealing with an ever-increasing risk of fire due to climate change, with substandard conditions?
Don’t just take my word for it. Go look at the current station — there’s barely room to change into gear next to the trucks. You can’t even walk around the trucks; they have to be pulled out of the station in order to repack the hoses!
We need to build a new training facility and station to meet future demands and for future recruitment and retention of volunteers. We need to build it for the safety of all those women and men who are out there in the elements, keeping the entire district safe. They deserve better — we all deserve better.
Karen Mulcahy, Winthrop
Tom says ‘thanks’
Thank you everyone who came to my 90thy birthday party. I never dreamed there would be that many show up. Thanks to everybody that worked to make it a success and a special thanks to all my family. It makes my humble. It was a hell of a party, wasn’t it?
Tom Graves, Winthrop
I’m writing about a project to rid the valley of plastic bags. Following in the footsteps of Sam Neitlich’s recent submission, yes indeed, a plastic bag ban had been proposed in the state Legislature, but has not passed. We’ve decided not to wait — we’re proceeding to find out what alternatives we have and how everyone who lives in the valley can be part of eliminating the colored plastic bags that are not recyclable and do the most harm.
So far, we’re working with Hank’s Harvest Foods and Methow Valley Thriftway to identify needs and alternatives. And we’re looking for opportunities to involve the community, nonprofits, businesses, schools, clubs and individuals. This is not a nonprofit or for-profit endeavor. We believe our valley community is ready to take ownership of this issue and eliminate the plastic bags.
We’ve identified a need for cloth shopping bags, which eliminate the green ones with handles, and for produce bags, which could eliminate the blue and yellow plastic film bags. Some local businesses currently encourage folks to bring their own bags, have bags available that are made to last and are inexpensive, and have eliminated or are working toward elimination of plastic bags, and their leadership is commendable.
We want every household in the valley to have at least two reusable shopping bags and four to five bags for produce or smaller items. Many valley residents may already have cloth bags they routinely use for shopping. We’re looking to make bags and encourage folks to gift bags to neighbors, to the food bank, to the Friday food program, or to other residents. If you would like to be involved in this effort:
• Donate cloth — cotton, muslin and denim only.
• Donate time and effort by helping to sew bags.
• Donate toward costs.
Contact Belva Hoffman at (509) 670-5453 or me at 997-7017 to get involved.
Start thinking now about whether you need a plastic bag, and how you can use alternatives where you currently use plastic. Our timeline is to make this change in the spring of 2020. We’ll start sewing in the fall/winter.
Marilyn Baylor, Twisp
Changes for Room One
For the past 12 years, the end of October has meant more than Halloween: It has also meant the Room One Soup Dinner, which has been the main fundraiser for our organization, Room One. Our community has showed up for Room One at every one of these events, supporting us generously and joyously. After 12 years, though, it’s time for a change. And so we are saying goodbye to the Soup Dinner and planning for a new event.
As we take this leap, we hope you will leap with us — in fact, our next big fundraiser will take place next year, on Leap Year Day. So mark your calendars for Feb. 29, 2020! In the meantime, though, we still need your support; now, in fact, more than ever, since the work we need to do continues to grow.
We are on the Room One board because we believe in the work of Room One: to support everyone in our community, whatever their needs. For the first time, for example, Room One is tackling the mostly invisible problem of youth homelessness, and seeking solutions that will fit our valley and our community. This year, instead of asking at the end of October, we are asking for your help now.
This is our only fundraising request this year, and we are counting on you, our community, to help us continue to do our work. And for the many Room One supporters who have already given: thank you so very much!
Midge Cross and Natalie Kuehler, Room One board of directors, Twisp
Too close to school
I was surprised at Judge Rawson’s opinion that the marijuana store could be licensed so close to the Master’s Christian School because the school is not accredited by the Washington Department of Education. Many excellent citizens have been educated at the school, accredited or not. They do not take federal or state money to operate. State law says that marijuana stores need to be 1,000 feet from schools. Why do we allow laws to be made and then say, “Oh that’s not the kind of school we meant?” Follow the money.
Tina Davis, Twisp
Thanks for rescue
Thank you, Bud Hover, for rescuing the osprey fledging trapped in the nest off Wolf Creek Road. Well done!
Libby Schreiner, Victor Glick, Winthrop