A good solution
I have some bad news for you. The facts are that the fire station levy failures on the basis of “saving money” have saved nothing. The delay has cost us, in both dollars and the time and resources of volunteers. Some of our fire commissioners have put in a lot over the years since to rework the station design to save costs, while still providing for the volunteer firefighter’s needs and safety. They have both volunteered labor and equipment from their own companies to save the taxpayers money on site prep. However, due to inflation and increased labor and materials costs, all that extra work has resulted in a station where there have been significant compromises made, such as in type of construction and longevity of materials. Mostly, what those compromises have done is keep the estimated cost similar to the last proposed levy. So the cost remains similar, while everyone gets a lot less. Until recently, this situation had no end in sight.
There is good news though! The hefty grant recently awarded to the fire district – paid only if the next levy is passed by the voters – gives us all a reset on our current predicament. We have the amazing opportunity to essentially travel back in time to the construction costs of 2008. We, the taxpayers, don’t have to pay for all of the increase due to the 11-year delay. Additionally, the grant would also provide a dedicated, annual income committed to firefighter training!
Everybody wins! Firefighters get a safer, fully equipped fire station to meet our needs, good training facilities to advance and maintain our skills at the high standards expected nowadays, plus ongoing training funding. Taxpayers pay millions less than required to replace the too small, outdated, and even hazardous Winthrop fire station.
This grant is a very rare opportunity and should not be missed! Darold Brandenburg is one of the commissioners who has put in so much work on this project, for the benefit of our volunteer firefighters and the taxpayers. I would like to see him complete that work. Vote for Brandenburg!
Courtney Creighton, District 6 volunteer firefighter, Twisp
Thanks from Emele
There are nothing like friends. New ones, old ones and those in between. I am humbled, blessed and always amazed how people take care of each other here and in this case they are taking care of me as I fell and broke my arm pretty good! The Twisp River Suites deserves a big thank you for putting the benefit altogether with wonderful food, music and lots of smiles. I thank all the fine musicians that sang and played their hearts out! Also, I am not forgetting the folks who have left things on my porch step and envelopes in the mail. (I have enough zucchinis!) My heartfelt thanks you to all.
Emele Clothier, Winthrop
There has been quite a bit of misreporting and confusion regarding the 2017 citizens’ advisory committee report on locating a new fire hall in Winthrop.
I was one of seven people selected to be on the committee. I served as chair, and soon became concerned because of the standards the commissioners gave us within which to make a recommendation. It seemed the commissioners wanted this committee to endorse the already purchased Horizon Flats property rather than take an objective look at other properties. Our committee was politically diverse, which was OK, but it became evident that we were not going to be able to come to a unanimous recommendation. A report was written by Paul Sisson. I, and two other committee members, did not agree with the position taken. Although I gave a verbal presentation to the commissioners are a regularly scheduled Okanogan County Fire District 6 meeting expressing my dissatisfaction with the report’s conclusion, my dissent was ignored.
I believe a “minority report” should have been submitted along with the “majority report.” The location for our new fire hall is very important.
Mike Port, Twisp
I wanted to thank you for printing the column by Solveig Torvik. Brave writers like her, editors like you and newspapers like yours are our best hope in combating the flood of misinformation and hate speech that seems to be attacking all of the world’s free people. Her column should be printed in every paper in the nation. I couldn’t agree more with her opinion about Mark Zuckerberg.
Bill Corfman, Seattle/Twisp
In his Sept. 4 letter to the editor, Duncan Bronson claimed the Okanogan County Fire District 6 commissioners have made a number of poor decisions. His examples don’t hold up to scrutiny. Here’s what he got wrong or didn’t say:
Lost earnest money deposit: This was a mistake that resulted from a misunderstanding. What Duncan didn’t say was that this happened 11 years ago, not recently, and the district has definitely learned from the experience and not repeated it.
The Horizon Flats property purchase: The commissioners did consider impacts on neighbors and the travel time to Highway 20 in making their decision to purchase the property. Its location away from the public makes it a safe site on which to conduct training such as loose hose drills. For minimal response times, the ideal location is the south Winthrop bridge. The Horizon Flat site is the same distance from that location as the current Winthrop station, 0.7 miles. There are no regulatory compliance problems with the site.
Homeowner insurance: Insurance companies have been setting rates based on the distance from a fire station and the distance from a hydrant for a long time.
Site Advisory Committee minority analysis: There is no such formal analysis.
The Betti grant and annual property tax revenues: These funds aren’t pots of money that can be freely used to buy a different station site. The grant money can’t be used for land purchases, and the tax revenues are mostly already spoken for and pay for employee compensation and vehicle and equipment expenses.
Equipment purchases: The district develops its bid specifications, not suppliers. The district follows required Washington state purchasing procedures. Additionally, it has also notified Washington state suppliers to ensure they are aware of district bids.
Contract review: Every employment contract since 2014 has been reviewed by a lawyer.
Hydrant testing: Testing of any part of a water system is the responsibility of the system owner.
The Carlton and Mazama stations: They aren’t being neglected. Both stations were equipped with back-up generators less than two years ago. And, each station has an engine, a tender and a brush truck.
Paul Sisson, Winthrop
Barriers long needed
Regarding the new barriers in place on the curve at Milepost 159.5 on Highway 20, east of the Bridge Creek Trailhead: It’s about time!
The photo caption mentions two westbound driver deaths in 2015 and 2019, and that is in addition to an eastbound motorcyclist in 2018 and at least two other fatalities prior to 2015. A climb down through the trees and around the boulders below that pullout will find all kinds of broken car parts, including from my own.
In November 2016 I was headed westbound at 8 p.m. — rain at Mazama turned to wet snow on the pass, but I am a confident winter driver with a dependable vehicle. Even so, the end of that long downhill had me fishtailing with almost every tap of the brakes, and at 30 mph I hit icy slush at the west end of the pullout. Over I went – taking out a metal cross marking a previous fatality. I am not any expert on the grade of the pavement, or the radius of the turn, but I do know that my vehicle and slower speed saved my life.
However, if there had been an effective barrier there it would have been a different story – and perhaps also for the drivers who’ve lost their lives.
Amy Navarre Cantrell, Twisp