Support Horizon Flats site
I’ve heard of community concern about the Horizon Flats fire station location in Winthrop being near a school, library and other areas where there may be people – especially children – congregated. But, fire engines equipped with lights and sirens traveling down a major arterial road which is also used by heavy commercial traffic, is not the real issue that needs attention. Our volunteer engine operators always use careful and safe driving practices when responding to emergencies anywhere in the valley. They deal with congested traffic and many pedestrians in downtown Winthrop, highway traffic in Twisp, and other potential hazards while driving year-round in the Methow Valley.
Our driver training program is excellent. There have been no traffic collisions involving district vehicles for at least three decades. Even encounters with deer are quite rare – which anyone who has lived in the valley long, knows is not an easy accomplishment.
It may surprise you to know that, in Washington state, volunteer firefighters are not required to possess a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to drive fire trucks. RCW 46.25.050 provides our exemption. This is good, otherwise there would be many fire engines that would not be able to leave the station during an emergency due to the scarcity of active volunteers with a CDL.
However, in order to have our CDL exemption, we need to train to a similar level and practice with those vehicles on a driving course. Our fire engines aren’t anything like passenger cars. Obviously they are quite large and heavy; up to 8.5 feet wide, 35 feet long, and 40,000 pounds.
Currently, our driver training course is run in the high school parking lot. We do need sufficient, exclusive space to best run our emergency vehicle incident prevention training, giving our drivers experience and confidence in handling these large vehicles. This is one of the major benefits in the plan for the new Fire District 6 station. The Horizon Flats location is the only realistic property with enough acreage to provide for this aspect of our training, and we hope you will support this much needed plan.
Jesse Fuller, volunteer station captain, Twisp
Thanks to the Methow Valley Grange for organizing and hosting the candidate forum for the upcoming election. It’s useful to see candidates in person, learn a little about them, and watch them give both prepared and impromptu answers to questions. Being visible, thinking on your feet, and responding to tough questions is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some candidates looked uncomfortable on stage but they responded as best they could and we learned something about them. They showed up and sweated it out because they seem to care enough about what they’re doing to put themselves on the line.
In the school district and fire commissioner races we have incumbents facing real organizational challenges in their jurisdictions but seem competent, caring and trustworthy people who’ve presided over a period of growth and improvement in their respective districts. Individuals who have outside expertise, some new ideas and different skills are challenging them. We have some clear choices the forum accomplished its purpose.
The incumbents for Twisp mayor and Town Council spoke passionately of their commitment and listed an impressive array of accomplishments over the years. They gave us good reasons to re-elect them.
But what of the challengers for Twisp mayor and Town Council? What does one make of the fact they neither showed up (one was ill), nor sent in written statements describing reasons for running or what to expect if elected? I’m baffled. Is it that they don’t have a plan, a platform, philosophy or a position? Is it a secret? Or could it be, as Mark Twain once said, it’s better to remain silent and be thought ignorant than to open one’s mouth and erase all doubt? Don’t like being on the hot seat? Well, imagine if you’re elected. That’s the job.
It’s unfair to assume anything. But as I’ve just demonstrated, candidates open themselves to all kinds of conjecture, none of it good, when they don’t show. I don’t know what to think but I feel disappointed and disrespected by them. They haven’t offered Twisp residents a real choice.
Peter Morgan, Twisp
Don’t be duped
The Washington Post reported on Oct. 1 that surveys were sent by the Republican National Committee to Montana residents that “mimic the look of federal census forms with the goal of soliciting money for President Trump’s reelection campaign.” I have received one of these at my post office box address in Winthrop. Being that I’m a registered Democrat it’s a mystery that they would send me one. Maybe they think that a septuagenarian can’t think for himself?
I just wanted to warn my fellow citizens to not be duped by this. No political party should stoop so low. The news article even notes that this is a possibly illegal move by the RNC.
Tommy Murray, Winthrop
Let’s be rational
I enjoyed reading Jasmine Minbashian’s informative piece, “Grizzly bears have a natural place in the North Cascades,” in last week’s Methow Valley News. Unfortunately it sounds like some politicians in this state still need to learn the true nature of grizzlies so they don’t go around opposing our long-time neighbors.
Over the years I’ve had many occasions to really get to know the fabled bears, starting with the first time I met one up close in Alaska, back in 1979. I was following an un-established trail when I rounded a tight corner in a dog-hair spruce thicket and just about ran head-on into a substantial grizzly fixed squarely in the middle of the trail. He must have heard me coming (or more likely, smelled me, since a bear’s sense of smell is seven times better than the best bloodhound), while I, the oblivious human, didn’t even notice the 700 pound roadblock until I’d nearly poked him with the end of my fishing pole.
I’ll spare you the melodrama you’d be subjected to in the many bear-scare stories found in sportsmen’s magazines, suffice it to say… I could feel the colossal grizzly’s hot breath and hear his low rumbling growl just one step behind me as I frantically ran for my life.
No, seriously, I instinctively did what anyone meeting a bear up close should do: I slowly backed off the trail while calmly reassuring him. When the bear saw that I’d forfeited the trail, he soundlessly proceeded past me without even a glance or nod of appreciation. Sadly, many people in bear country rely on cumbersome, potentially ineffective weapons, instead of their wits, in situations that call for little more than a simple sidestep.
Let’s not let an irrational fear of bears determine their future.
Jim Robertson, Twisp
Re: Randy Brooks’ observant letter of Aug. 28 concerning his visit to Africa. We just returned from six weeks in Namibia. This ended with our sixth “safari” in southern and eastern Africa. We agree with Randy’s impressions, and would like to extend the discussion by describing some of our impressions. This part of the world is changing and seems yet another example of the United States’ (currently losing) battle to remain internationally dominate. It is, of course, complicated and varies with the country addressed.
But themes appear: China is very active in producing (apparently subsidized) infrastructure while draining resources and developing control for China. For example, building cheap roads, bridges and ports using Chinese laborers and gaining control of most in-country concrete and other materials and minerals and timber productions which results in political and wealth advantages.
Another theme: Climate change is occurring, with growing drought in southern Africa and its negative effects on agriculture and water supplies. Cattle ranchers are grinding up bush to make their own cattle feed, lacking grass. However, game populations and associated game farms and hunting and parks tourism is growing, some places dramatically, as the battle against poaching is progressing and game management and valuation is improving.
The increased movement for involuntary and uncompensated land redistribution in several countries coupled with the remaining effects of apartheid in South Africa could well end up in armed conflicts between whites and blacks. Note that Namibia, although large in land area, has a small population (2.5 million), only 8% are white, who are responsible for much of the country GNP and often carry the traditions of generations descended from the colonial past. As happened in Southern Rhodesia, now named Zimbabwe, a productive country can easily become chaotic and unproductive with huge growth in poverty and political corruption.
Overall, yes, in our estimation, considerable progress has been made in places, but increases in populations and pressure from some countries to extract resources and gain political control, increasing corruption, plus too little political foresight and leadership are threatening reversal to subservience and poverty among most citizens. What to do?
Tom and Carol McCord, Winthrop
Hunt away from humans
A year ago we wrote a letter to the editor, which the Methow Valley News graciously published, describing how hunters took our neighborhood bear.
In that letter we wondered how long it would take for a new bear to move in and replace our deceased friend. In the past year we have seen a couple of bear scats, but only enough to suggesting a bear passing through, and not a new resident. We miss our old friend.
Hunters, please don’t hunt close to where people live. You can be far enough away from dwellings to be legal, but still be disruptive to our neighborhoods. We have endless miles of wild country with good hunting all around us. Get out and enjoy hunting in our abundant back country.
Alan Watson, Karen Nichols, Winthrop
Dear Editor :
I’m writing to enthusiastically endorse the local campaigns to reelect Soo Ing-Moody for Mayor, and Alan Caswell and Mark Easton for Town Council in Twisp. As a serving member of the council I have in-depth experience with these three candidates, and I can undoubtedly say they are best suited for keeping Twisp on a good trajectory at Town Hall.
Their competency and effectiveness as town leaders is shown in the great improvements being made fixing outdated and dilapidated infrastructure with minimal costs to the taxpayer, and increasing the town’s service capacity through creative partnerships with other local entities to provide more affordable housing, increase recreational opportunities and non-motorized access in town, improve public safety and emergency response at a local and regional level, and continuing economic development projects that lay the foundation for Twisp to be an attractive viable community in the decades ahead.
Based on prior experiences, I believe Twisp is fortunate that its governing body is highly functional and correctly focused on delivering and strengthening its core services, but also adept at working with partners to expand opportunities to serve all components of our community. Soo, Alan and Mark are each key contributors to the current level of effectiveness at Town Hall, and I know they will do the best future work for Twisp out of the candidates in this election.
Hans Smith, Twisp
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena” – Theodore Roosevelt
Darold Brandenburg has been fighting fire in District 6 for 26 years and, as commissioner, fighting for his community and for District 6 volunteers for 13. Maybe he and his colleagues could have done a couple things differently but even that is far from clear if you look at the facts.
I’m biased: I’m a firefighter, and I’ve seen both Darold and Jerry Palm in action, doing useful (sometimes crucial) stuff for the District that is not in their job descriptions, putting the community ahead of themselves and getting the job done without regard to their own convenience, expense and, sometimes, safety. The overwhelming majority of District 6 firefighters feel the same way I do. We want commissioners who support the community and support us.
Talk is cheap. Let’s support the guy who walks the walk.
Alan Fahnestock, Mazama