Better planning needed
Isn’t it amazing that if you are a non-government business you have to plan for upgrading your equipment or buildings without taxing the entire population. However, if you are a government agency, town, county sheriff, EMS, or fire department, if you need new equipment or buildings all you have to do is figure out how much you are going to tax the public instead of planning those expenses into your operating budget or even have some kind of a fundraiser?
Now the county commissioners and sheriff’s office are even circumventing giving the taxpayers the ability to say no to a tax increase to pay for upgrades to the communication system. Can anyone say sorry, King George, no new taxes without voter approval! Plan ahead for your future expenses. After all, poor prior planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on our part.
Vern Herrst, Winthrop
Re: “That our current way of life simply isn’t sustainable.”
Science: “Several scientists have suggested that the best way to manage complex ecosystems is with simple rules of thumb that focus on preserving habitat and maintaining the process, functional groups, and species diversity that allow ecosystems to persist.”
Spiritual: “Thank you for the precious gift of the earth’s ecosystems. Help us to be ever mindful of their blessings, and our utter dependence on them. Teach us to respect these ecosystems, to steward them wisely, and to live within their limits.”
All above from “The Rockfish’s Warning,” by Donald Gunderson, UW professor, 2011.
Susan Crampton, Twisp
Save the stars
Thanks to Don Nelson and Howard Johnson for the dark skies articles last week. On a recent road trip through Idaho, I had the chance to observe two small towns and their town lighting after dark — Ketchum and Rupert. Ketchum is a “Dark Skies” town, as designated by the International Dark-Sky Association. My hometown of Rupert has a beautiful, newly redesigned historic town square.
As I drove into Ketchum, after 10:30 p.m., there was absolutely zero skyglow. A footpath by the road was lit so that the ground was completely visible, but no light fixtures were evident. In town, nearly all exterior lighting was shielded. The sidewalks and streets were well lit — on the ground — with street and business lights pointed downward. Residential lighting was mixed, but the overall impact from the business district lighting was remarkable. A friend told me that most of the community bought into the idea of dark skies lighting without even knowing that a code had been implemented.
Big contrast in Rupert, where I sat outside my downtown hotel at night to watch a lightning storm. The town square and adjacent streets were lit by tall, antique-styled poles with circular globes like bowling balls. They were beautiful, but not nearly as beautiful as the sky should have been! The sidewalks and streets were lit, but so was the sky, and my eyes, as if a few dozen full moons were out. What should have been spectacular lightning was greatly dimmed from the glare.
Communities, businesses, developers, architects and homeowners don’t set out to create light pollution or put out the stars. It’s a by-product of our times, technology and population. Here in the Methow we have the opportunity to protect a most valuable resource that has all but disappeared in most of the world. Please do a little research. Google “light pollution,” “light glare” and “safe night lighting.” Watch for upcoming events sponsored by the Methow Dark Skies Alliance. Once the stars are gone, they don’t come back easily.
Every day deserves a night!
Lynette Westendorf, Winthrop
Figuring out health care
I am a retired investment banker/business owner that decided to retire in the beautiful Methow Valley. It reminds me a lot of the place I grew up in Idaho, and I have lived here for three years and love every minute of it.
Something that has always confused me is how we manage health care as compared to other countries. I have had every insurance option available. I was covered by my employer, had access to universal health care while working in Japan, provided health insurance to my employees as a business owner, and am now covered by Medicare. By far the best coverage was Japanese universal health care. Additionally, I never understood why it became the responsibility of companies to provide health care. This might not be much of a problem in large entities with HR departments, but is a real issue for small businesses like mine where administration became my responsibility. I estimate that I spent almost 30% of my time administering our program. Costs went up annually, which did not enable me to give annual salary increases. I had to change providers three times in an effort to keep costs down and my productivity went down due to the burden of handling something I truly didn’t understand. The idea that on a company plan you don’t have to change doctors, hospitals, etc., is just not true. Every time we had to change plans, this disruption occurred.
When it comes to providing health care to all Americans, the first thing that comes up is cost. I’m not sure that Americans realize that we are paying double what other similar countries are paying with similar or less-favorable outcomes that have a form of universal health care. Hopefully, I can provide the basis for some critical thought and dispel the idea that providing health care to all is just too expensive. Other countries have figured this out — so why can’t we?
Blake Beyeler, Twisp
Thanks from law enforcement
Last week a group of law enforcement officers, including some retirees, met for breakfast in Twisp. When it came time to pay the bill we were told that an anonymous person covered the tab. I tried using my best interrogative skills on the waitress but she would not reveal our benefactor.
Along with the other area cops, I would like to not only thank this person(s) but also the community as a whole. While media frequently reports confrontations with police around the country we here in the Methow Valley have seen over the years a community that supports and respects law enforcement.
So, thank you for breakfast, and thank you Methow Valley.
(Also, if you recently lost a black jewelry case containing coins, it’s now at the Twisp Police Department).
Dave Rodriguez, Okanogan County Coroner, Sheriff’s Deputy (retired)