Those of us who lived in the Methow before 2010 may remember the problems the town of Twisp was having. The town was struggling financially, with audit problems and no financial reserves. The town had lost its water rights, and a moratorium against new construction was placed on the town. Businesses were closing and potential investors stayed away due to the water issues.
In 2010, the mayor of Twisp resigned. Soo Ing-Moody was appointed to fill out the mayor’s term. And boy did she. She immediately went to work to get the town water. Not only did she negotiate with irrigation districts to get water rights, but she was able to get the rights changed from seasonal to permanent.
Since 2010, Soo has been a tireless worker for the town of Twisp. Her leadership is unmatched in Okanogan County. The town is now financially secure, with reserves and clean audits. In the past five years, the town has invested $15 million in badly needed infrastructure improvements, 75% of which was paid for by grant money secured from the state. Town equipment is now owned (not rented) and is much more efficient and less costly to operate. New sewer and water pipes have dramatically improved town utilities. A badly needed $4 million civic center will be constructed with grant money secured from the state.
Wildfire has become a huge threat to towns throughout much of the west. Soo worked 24/7 during the 2014 firestorm, getting the town generators and coordinating evacuation and communication systems. Her experience and leadership in disaster response is invaluable.
There will be a day sometime in the hopefully distant future when Soo will no longer be mayor. I will feel very sorry for her successor. Soo is not a large woman but she will leave behind enormous shoes to fill. Please vote to re-elect Soo Ing-Moody for mayor of Twisp.
Dave Hopkins, Twisp
The county’s proposal to purchase 540 acres directly above the town of Methow to construct and operate a gravel pit continues to affront any financial sensibilities and turns a blind eye towards all environmental and community impacts. It will be a disruptive and permanent scar to one of the most scenic landscapes in the lower valley both day and night.
The Conditional Use Permit application submitted on Aug. 15 states it will “decrease cost to the taxpayers.” This language alone should raise an immediate red flag to county taxpayers. When has any government agency, at any level, saved taxpayer money by decreasing costs? What financial sense does it make to pay twice the assessment value on a parcel of land, in turn justifying the purchase with the hope they can someday re-sell the remaining unused (and overpriced) potion to the WDFW, an agency that has not committed to the purchase and if they did, should equally be chastised for overpaying as well.
The CUP application reveals the county’s plan of expanding operations and could potentially run seven days a week for months and months on end, day and night. However, the devil is in the details or more specifically, the lack thereof. They now request expanded operations of up to 2 1/2 months and potentially 24 hours day. Furthermore, the CUP application states they may need to “increase frequency or duration” depending on “emergencies and major projects.” What does that mean? What constitutes “major projects” and how long will they last?
And don’t think for a second they will be operating under the cover of darkness as they extract gravel and sand morning, noon and night. Expect diesel truck noise, compression brake noise, conveyor noise, crushing machinery, back-up warning beepers, fumes, silica dust and a new addition to the pristine Methow night sky, the soothing glow of dozens of 1,000W-LED construction lights.
The county has failed on all fronts to research viable options for more fiscally responsible, less-intrusive sites and/or comparison studies for purchase of gravel and sand from privately owned pits. The gravel pit is bad idea and getting worse.
Edward Gutekanst, Methow
New leadership needed
There really is no question on the need for a new fire station in Winthrop. The question is, how will the station be funded and how will the fire district’s money be spent? I have been a part-time resident of Winthrop since 1989 and am now a full-timer since retiring from the city of Bothell as a deputy fire chief.
I worked with Ken Doran as a professional firefighter for over 20 years. Ken’s duties as a professional firefighter have given him experiences and knowledge that will be extremely useful in working as a fire commissioner for District 6. Ken has worked on apparatus committees to develop specifications for new fire engines and aid cars and Ken also has the experience of being a member of, and instructor for the East Side Technical Rescue Team.
Working on annual budgets and developing training curriculum are some of the other duties he had, and continues to have as a firefighter at Bothell. Candidate Ken Doran will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience as a Fire District 6 commissioner, especially at this critical time of growth in the valley. We need his leadership.
Jim Roepke, Winthrop
Must be a better way
My husband and I camped at the Riverbend Campground outside of Twisp last Tuesday and Wednesday. Normally a serene place to camp by the river, we were disheartened to hear the flight of military planes starting at 10 at night. We live in Langley on Whidbey Island and concerned citizens have built a case against the Navy’s expansion of the Growler force through Sound Defense Alliance. We wondered if the roar of the jets we heard in Twisp is coming from flights from Whidbey. The big issue here is that people need quiet place to recreate. A well-researched article in Bitterroot Magazine describes the expansion and taking of public lands by the military, along with the impact it is having on the communities who live with them (https://bitterrootmag.com).
If citizens are interested in learning on what’s being done to encourage the military to be a better neighbor, please subscribe to Sound Defense Alliance’s newsletter (https://sounddefensealliance.org).
In Oak Harbor the slogan is, “jets = jobs.” Yes, but at what cost? Isn’t there a better way to provide work for people than taking away the well-being of others’ lives?
Kate Poss, Langley
Real common sense
I really like the campaign slogan: “A common sense approach.” That leads to some pretty clear choices in the upcoming local elections: Re-elect the folks who have a proven record of supporting local people and the local economy. Don’t replace them with challengers who have no positive record or real program to offer. This is common sense.
Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody is probably one of the best small-town mayors around. She and the town council have done a great job in supporting local people and businesses. She also was an important part of Washington state’s delegation to the other Washington in support of the successful Headwaters campaign. That benefits the whole Methow Valley.
Council member Mark Easton has been an important part of the successful functioning of the Twisp Council. He deserves to be re-elected as well.
The District 6 fire commissioner race has been getting personal and nasty. What we have now is a well-functioning, efficiently run fire department. District 6 Commissioner Darold Brandenburg shares in the credit for this success. All District 6 firefighters I’ve spoken with support his re-election.
Like most of us, Darold recognizes how important it is for District 6 to have a new fire station in Winthrop. In contrast, challenger Ken Doran has been questioning the building of a new fire station for years.
Randy Brook, Twisp
I am voting for Darold Brandenburg for Fire District 6 commissioner, and here is why.
Darold brings over 25 years of dedicated firefighting experience to our valley — 13 years as a firefighter, and another 13 as commissioner. He has upgraded the district’s equipment, improved and maintained its financial standing, stayed within the budget, purchased generators for the four fire stations with FEMA grant money, and encouraged public attendance at the commissioners’ meetings. Firefighter morale is at an all-time high.
Brandenburg has expanded capacity in many ways. Fire pre-planning has been done on commercial structures in Winthrop, Twisp and some rural areas, which means the firefighters know the details of a building before they arrive at a fire. Firewise inspections and educational flyers have helped homeowners reduce fire susceptibility. Expanded and regular training has improved response time, firefighter safety, and better coordination. Additionally, his contracting experience helps the entire community when it comes to bids and pricing.
Thanks to the work, character and commitment of the commissioners, four full-time firefighters and scores of volunteer firefighters, the Methow Valley has significantly improved fire protection. We owe it to ourselves and our future to continue this progress. Darold’s vision is more fire fighters and station improvements. The Winthrop fire station is a 1940s mechanics’ shop on a bluff with steep roads and two sharp curves at either end in the middle of Winthrop. Fire fighters can’t even put on their gear in this building when the trucks are inside.
The Twisp Grange is sponsoring a candidates’ forum on Oct. 2. Learn who deserves your vote.
Sharon Sumpter, Winthrop
It’s not cider
Lately I have been noticing some fake news being spread about by the Methow media. It’s this so-called Cider Squeeze. As one of the owners of the oldest cider company in north central Washington, I am obliged to tell the public that there is no cider being squeezed at this event!
If you were to throw a bunch of grapes in a barrel and then stomp on them with your feet, would you then have wine? No, of course not! The word cider means a fermented beverage from apples, it has for over 2,000 years, just like wine is a fermented drink from grapes. The juice or (“must” in cider-makers’ terms) has to be acted on by yeast to convert the sugars to alcohol to make cider. This process can take weeks or months. Cider squeezers, please take note of this educational opportunity, maybe add some pears and huckleberries, then you could call your event more truthfully the Fruit Squeeze.
Richard Wasson, Winthrop