Vote for experience, honesty
To bid on a building contract for our Fire District 6 would be a blatant conflict of interest for a fire commissioner. As fire commissioner, Darold Brandenburg’s construction company (and Jerry Palm’s for that matter) will not be a paid contractor for the proposed new Winthrop fire station. However, as fire commissioner, Darold will use his extensive knowledge of building methods and materials to benefit District 6 by seeing that the contractor hired does the job properly.
The same is true of any assistance provided by Brandenburg on the Twisp house fire. He did not benefit by providing assistance. He used his own equipment, on his own time and his own dime at the request of Fire District 6 Chief Cody Acord, and with the express permission of the property owners. There was no form of compensation to Brandenburg or his company for this service.
Our form of democracy gives us the right to vote and can only work well if there is a free and open exchange of factual information on which to base our votes. There is a lot of room for opinion but we need to exercise caution. Misinformation and false facts can be used to sow seeds of doubt and build a case to swing voters.
To learn about Fire District 6 accomplishments, budget, and expenditures look at: http://okanogancountyfd6.com. Also learn about Darold Brandenburg’s positions on important issues from his campaign website http://DaroldBrandenburg.com. See the names of firefighters and their families along with Methow voters who support him. The total is 314 and growing.
I believe that this speaks for Darold Brandenburg’s values, experience, honesty and integrity, all of which make him the right man for the job. Please vote for Darold Brandenburg, Fire District 6 commissioner.
Pat Leigh, Winthrop
Doing a great job
I attended the recent candidates’ forum at the grange, eager to hear from the candidates who are running in the upcoming election, especially for the positions of Twisp mayor and Town Council. I was disappointed that the three candidates who are challenging the incumbents chose not to attend the forum. The three were given the option to submit written statements to the questions that were to be asked at the forum, but again they declined. If someone applies for a job, is granted an interview, and does not even bother to show up for that interview, what does that say about how much they want the job?
Recently I heard someone speaking about the challenges we are facing in our world and in our community. She suggested that the greatest problems we face are divisiveness, anger and disrespect. I agree. In these rapidly changing and complex times, we need to come together as a community. To solve problems, we need each other. We must be willing to work together and listen to each other respectfully, with a sincere interest in trying to learn and understand. We must also be willing to show up and respectfully speak the truth when something needs to be said.
I see these qualities in the people who are currently working for us in the Town Of Twisp. The staggering amount of work, tireless effort and unwavering commitment to the town shown by Mayor Soo Ing-Moody, her staff and our current town council members, is noteworthy.
The two council members that are up for reelection, Alan Caswell and Mark Easton, are both doing an amazing and often thankless job. They attend multiple committee and community board meetings. They spend hours researching, investigating and studying the issues, attending conferences, and talking to people in an effort to understand the potential impacts of the decisions before them. They are always accessible and genuinely interested in the opinions of their constituents.
Other than re-electing Mayor Soo, I cannot imagine anything more important to the Town Of Twisp than making sure that Alan Caswell and Mark Easton get re-elected to the Town Council.
Susan Speir, Twisp
We’ve been in Twisp since 1982 — just about half of our lives. I love small towns and I am not a fan of growth, but after a few years, I began to see the problems that arise in a community that cannot grow, with a static tax base that is inadequate for its needs.
Both the physical and fiscal infrastructures of Twisp were suffering. Potholed streets, vintage water system leaking, sewer plant outdated, Town Hall roof leaking so badly many documents were being stored elsewhere. Fiscally, the town was failing audits, struggling to pay salaries and bills, basically insolvent with no reserves for emergencies. Water rights were lost, and businesses were suffering: Glover Street had more vacant locations than active ones.
In 2010, yet another mayor quit. Thankfully, Soo Ing-Moody was appointed. With Soo’s leadership, and a proactive Town Council, we began to see new life in the town government and services, and in the town itself. A solution to the water problem was found, the building moratorium was lifted, more businesses opened, grants were obtained and the town’s infrastructure began to be improved. The budget was balanced, audits completed and approved; the town was financially secure and had reserves to meet emergencies. All of this happened with minimal expense to the town itself. So many seemingly minor, but significant things happened, like sidewalks from Glover to Lincoln and into the town park; no longer would moms with kids in strollers have to brave the traffic to get to the park.
While we hoped for immediate solutions to our water/street issues, we realized it takes time for funding to be arranged and bureaucratic wheels to turn. In 2018, all of Soo’s hard work got our neighborhood a new water line, paved street, storm drain, and fire hydrant. These improvements, which we waited decades for, sealed my decision to vote to re-elect Soo Ing-Moody as mayor. The fact that she has provided the leadership that has changed the physical and fiscal realities of my hometown for the better is icing on the cake.
David Wilkinson, Twisp
Poor job of paving
Thank you for covering some of the information denied to us when Vern Nations failed to show up for the all-candidates meeting.
I was pleased to be reminded that Glover Street was asphalted under his watch. That job was so poorly executed that every time it rains, or there is a major thaw, an enormous puddle of water accumulates in front of The Merc Playhouse, exactly where the handicapped parking spot is. The entire area is several inches below the level of the storm drain on the corner.
I wrote a complaint about it to Town Hall but was ignored. Shoddy surveying and/or engineering, was responsible for that. If there had been proper supervision and final inspection, or a contract that required competence, this kind of poor job could have been either avoided, or fixed.
Carolanne Steinebach, Twisp
I was just another happy transplant to the Methow Valley until the Twisp River Fire. As we all know three young men died, along with another who suffered serious burns, fighting that fire which was headed toward my home. I became a volunteer firefighter with Okanogan County Fire District 6 as a way to honor their sacrifice.
There are somewhere between 30 and 40 volunteer firefighters here in the valley. We each have our own reasons for volunteering. But the one thing we all have in common is our commitment to drop whatever we are doing (including getting out of a warm bed on a dark and stormy night) to respond to your call for assistance.
While I can’t speak for the others, my guess is that each of us realizes there is a chance we could be seriously hurt, or worse, each and every time we respond to your call for help. We come to your aid 24/7/365 whether you are in a car wreck, your house is on fire or to respond to a wildfire.
All we ask in return is your support. You can give us that support by voting for Darold Brandenburg. He is the only candidate running for fire commissioner who has a proven track record of supporting us all.
Rick Nordby, Winthrop
Soo shows up
Thank you Soo Ing-Moody, for showing up to the question-and-answer forum. Over the last nine years you have continued to show up for Twisp. Whether it’s getting back our tasty water rights, knowing the right people to call when the town is on fire, or writing for grants to help improve infrastructure. One of the most basic things a town should desire in a mayor is to show up. Soo has accomplished way more than showing up. If one doesn’t show up to a question-and-answer forum, how do we know one is going to show up when there is an issue? As a homeowner and a business owner in Twisp, I am showing up for Soo. Without water, I would not be able to de-skunk the valley’s dogs. Thank you, again, for all you do.
Kristin McFadyen, Twisp
Defend the Constitution
Dan Rep. Newhouse: I realize you are a staunch Republican who always votes the party line. But you are also an American who has sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.
With that in mind, I ask you, how much longer are you going to turn a blind eye to the blatant abuse of power by Trump and his administration? How much worse does it have to get?
He has refused to cooperate with the House on the impeachment process because he thinks it is Constitutionally invalid. Really? That is not Trump’s decision, nor his administration’s, to make. Congress has not violated “due process,” because that is something he isn’t actually entitled to in the context of impeachment. In fact, the Constitution states the House “shall have the sole power to impeach.” The House decides that process, not the president. Even Richard Nixon had the decency to resign. But Trump is too blindly egotistical to see that his behavior is harming the American people and our very nation.
Are you going to make the same mistake and continue to defend this reprehensible, morally depraved, miserable excuse of a president?
Patti Nordby, Winthrop
Stop the noise
After our third letter from the Ken Doran campaign I feel a need to put my thoughts out there. Ken states his 25 years of professional firefighting are golden. I know Ken has been a longtime Bothell firefighter but I suspect he isn’t often consulted on department spending or new policies.
I also worry about his math skills. From first to third letter his estimates of costs for new building planning went from $120,000 to $1,000,000, an increase of more than eight times. Also he somehow doubled the estimate of Don Waller’s retirement. Don retired as a Chief. We hadn’t anticipated that amount but the man earned it.
It is time to stop the noise about new station location. A lot of effort went into finding the right place. Everyone wants it where the Thriftway stands but the store wants to stay. We wanted it where the movie theater is now but that cost five times as much as the current site and the city didn’t want to lose future taxes. The distance from Highway 20 is as good as you will find and the concerns about endangering Little Star and Library patrons are ridiculous. Little Star doesn’t allow kids to play outside the fence and unless someone starts reading his book on the way home, library users should be safe. As for the “dangerous hill,” there is no stretch of road in the valley that sees more truck traffic and I’ve never responded to a truck accident on that road. Lumber trucks, concrete trucks, contractors’ rigs and an occasional marijuana transporter use the road safely year-round. And the station site isn’t up on top but on the first bench.
As far as volunteer numbers go, every volunteer department in the country wishes they had more folk. That’s why we have paid firefighters so we know we have competent leadership at every fire.
A reminder: Part of the grant that Doran would cost us by opposing the new hall is designed to provide high school students with the opportunity for firefighting training.
Roy Reiber, Former District 6 commissioner, Twisp
I was disappointed in the candidates’ forum. Several important issues never came up in various races.
Both Fire District 6 commissioner candidates said that we need a new fire station in Winthrop. Darold Brandenburg would go with a design that has been developed for years, reduced and modified to meet public demands.
Ken Doran would shelve those plans. He wants us to trust him to come up with a better design and location — some day. Even with all the time he’s had to criticize the plans, Ken still gives us nothing specific, not even in his prolific mailings: No building design or even a description, and no supposedly better location that is available and affordable.
Surprisingly, no one asked about, and neither candidate discussed, the $1.8 million elephant in the room. This is the grant offer for the new firehouse if a levy is passed in 2020. I’d sure hate to see that offer expire while we delayed holding a levy for a few more years.
I also wondered how much Ken thought he could save and still build an adequate fire station, when much of those hypothetical savings could be lost to inflation during more years of delay?
I’d never met Darold before the forum. He struck me as a hardworking man, long dedicated to District 6 and his fellow firefighters. I have spoken with many firefighters who agree and support him.
Ken works full time in urban Bothell. That’s a west side city with more residents than Okanogan County, and nearly twice the income level. I’d much rather rely on Darold for the future of District 6.
I also wanted to correct an inadvertent omission in my last letter. I left out my endorsement of Twisp Council member Alan Caswell. He is an important part of Twisp’s creative and forward looking town government team. I know Alan personally and have great respect for him. He deserves to be re-elected.
I’ll repeat the conclusion of my last letter: when incumbents are doing a good job, why take a chance on newcomers who don’t have a solid plan for improvement?
Randy Brook, Twisp
Last week, I attended a listening session at Methow Valley School Board meeting. I showed up as a strong supporter of comprehensive sex education for our students. My attendance was driven by the threat of a large, vocal contingent showing up in opposition to my deeply held beliefs. I knew that the topic was divisive. Maybe a topic where the highest outcome is “Let’s all agree to disagree.” I showed up with these beliefs but little specific information on the curriculum. Pretty much ready for a battle.
But what I found was a solid community dialog. I listened and I learned.
I heard the sharing of strong beliefs, on both sides.
I heard the desire for inclusion and ideas of how to find balance.
I heard frank discussion of sexual education.
I heard support for our dedicated school board members.
I heard the desire to provide the best education possible for our kids.
I heard laughter and lightness woven into an intense, complicated discussion.
I heard common ground within into a divisive topic.
I heard voices of a diverse group of community members, focused on the well-being of our children.
I left the meeting with my desire for comprehensive sex education fully intact. But also with a confidence, that as a community, we can find ways to keep communicating, keep getting better at educating our students, keep finding better ways to be inclusive of all of our ideas and to grow our ability to take care of one of our most precious resource, our children.
We live in a country mired in divisiveness, a place where it is almost impossible to move forward due to division. Attending this community dialog, brought me to a place of gratitude; for living in this special valley. A place where, we didn’t shout or accuse but instead shared and listened.
Rob Crandall, Bear Creek
Not a solution
I got my Voter’s Pamphlet yesterday, and lo and behold there are initiatives from Tim Eyman to repeal taxes! How surprising! I guess I can see why he keeps trying to de-fund government — I hear he’s making a darn good living with this career he’s found.
I agree with Tim about the basic premise — that much of the burden of paying for state government is being unfairly transferred to the working poor. This is being done by the various fees being charged — vehicle tabs, Discover Passes, you name it.
If Tim wants fair funding of government, he should be advocating for a progressive system of taxation, based on income, which takes into account the fact that people who make piles of money aren’t working any harder than people working for minimum wage.
Don’t forget that the U.S. Constitution was written by a group of men who had no problem at all with slavery. There were plenty of African slaves in Northern states too. And when slavery was abolished, our present system of wage labor was structured in a hierarchical way in order to protect the advantage of a few. It was designed to make sure that the same people who had been enriched by slavery kept getting richer.
Inevitably, some moral judgment became part of the discussion in Congress, and our present system of taxation based on income was created. It worked for a long time. But starting with Ronald Reagan, this very successful system of taxation has been under attack by the rich. Not because they need the money, just because it’s fun to have even more, I guess.
If Eyman wants to make the state funding sources more fair and just, he should go after the rich. If I say we need a state income tax like Oregon’s, you will probably throw rocks at me. But how about luxury taxes?
I’m voting against all of Eyman’s initiatives. Not because I agree with how the state is funded; just because Eyman’s ideas are no kind of answer to our problems.
Sam Howell, Okanogan
Focus on the future
Yet another flyer I have received in my mailbox with the same — let’s call them what they are, lies — that have been circulating for years in the valley. Fire District 6 does not need a reboot. We do not need to find another station site for Winthrop. We have the best site available and we need to build now, not years from now. Every delay only increases its expense and will cost us, the taxpayers, more money.
The $1.8 million Betti Foundation grant was awarded to District 6 for their exemplary level of volunteer education and training and the excellence of its overall performance. It will be lost if we don’t get this station built. District 6 has had a plan for almost nine years now. We have a unified district, Winthrop has been annexed into the district, we have uniform training and operating procedures across all four stations, and we have upgraded our equipment and apparatus. We are attracting new volunteers and will continue to do so, especially if we can improve their safety and skills with a training facility that is in full compliance with new state safety regulations.
It’s time to look to the future. And please don’t compare us with what is done in other areas in the state. Our valley is growing and our fire safety needs are increasing, not decreasing. We live in a unique, wildland urban interface community that had two consecutive years of the largest wildland fires ever seen in this state. How dare anyone state that a loss of a home is just as bad as a wildland fire. Our citizens lost their homes, and the land around them was altered forever. Our District 6 staff and volunteers put their lives on the line for all of us and they overwhelmingly support Darold Brandenburg. A vote for Darold is a vote for ensuring the future of firefighting here in the valley continues to move forward into the 21st century. And that benefits us all.
Karen Mulcahy, Winthrop
Thanks from Homestream
Thank you to all of the people who helped us bring Homestream Park to life this past weekend. Your volunteer hours, your labors, your honks and thumbs up as you drove by, your kind words, warm hugs, and offers of support have filled our hearts and made our vision a reality. We are blessed to be part of a community that makes dreams come true. Enjoy your new park!
Cathy and Phil Davis, Winthrop
In good hands
The evidence, as well as my personal experience, points to a well-managed, forward-thinking town here in Twisp. We have our excellent mayor Soo and our dedicated council members Alan and Mark to thank for that. We citizens watch as businesses take up spaces in our shopping district, as sidewalks, new sewers and smooth streets blossom, and as we address the national crisis of affordable housing in our own very specific way. I am quite proud to claim this small town, our part of our beautiful valley, as my home.
I attended the recent candidates’ forum and was disappointed that not one of the challenging candidates for our city government attended. I was also disappointed that column inches in the Methow Valley News were spent explaining the excuse of one candidate, when that space could have been devoted to her ideas for the future of our town, had she cared to submit them.
It is clear to me that we are in good hands in Twisp. Our current administration has the best interests of our community in the forefront of their hearts and plans. I encourage your vote for our incumbents: Soo, Alan and Mark.
Jane Hill, Twisp
Speak out on grizzlies
On Oct. 7, I drove to Okanogan with some of my neighbors to attend a public meeting on the proposed effort by the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore the North Cascades population of grizzly bears. The plan is to rehabilitate the feeble grizzly population that remains by bringing bears in from healthy populations elsewhere. The “recovery zone,” or area targeted for the restoration, sweeps down both sides of the Cascades from the Canadian border to Snoqualmie Pass. If you are reading this, you most likely live in the recovery zone, as it encompasses Mazama, Winthrop and Twisp.
By virtue of where the meeting was held, however, the bulk of attendees did not live in the recovery zone. This was presumably the result of shrewd calculation by Rep. Dan Newhouse, who pushed for the meeting. He claimed he wanted that D.C. decision-makers to hear from the people “who would have to live with the consequences of grizzly bears,” as his website puts it. But instead of holding the meeting at the Winthrop Barn or the Methow Valley Community Center, he chose a venue well outside of the recovery zone, and more than 50 miles from the nearest potential grizzly release area, where the voices of the ranching community — generally not a pro-bear crowd — would be amplified over the opinions of those who could actually have grizzlies in their yard someday.
This is not to say that all in the Methow support grizzly restoration. By my count, around half of Methow Valley residents who spoke at the meeting opposed the program, citing concerns for human and livestock safety. But how many more restoration-minded folk might have turned out, had the meeting been held in the area that could actually be affected? I suspect Rep. Newhouse would not have gotten his intended results.
I am in favor of grizzly restoration in the North Cascades. But I encourage Methow Valley residents of all stripes to review the program’s Environmental Impact Statement and submit comments by Oct. 24. Let’s make sure that this time, those D.C. decision-makers hear from the actual locals.
Rebekah Jensen, Twisp
I was waiting to write this letter of support for Soo Ing-Moody until after the candidates’ forum. I was hoping to learn what the issues in this election are and what would motivate someone to run against Soo. And I still don’t know.
What I do know is that Soo is incredibly hard-working, energetic, persistent and committed to our community. And that we have a remarkably skilled, diverse and team-oriented town council besides. The concrete examples of their leadership are all around us. And there is more to come.
Let’s stay the course with the good people that we have in office now. Please vote for our incumbents, Soo Ing-Moody, Alan Caswell and Mark Easton.
Phoebe Hershenow, Twisp
Comp plan problems
The weaknesses of the county Draft Comp Plain and Draft Environmental Study have been pointed out at length by many others, especially the Methow Valley Citizens Council, which has pointed out that the drafts fail to meet even the basic standards required by law.
If adopted as written, the adverse consequences would impact the valley for many years to come, inhibiting healthy growth and protection of the environment we cherish.
Here is just one example of the problems that would be created by the poorly thought through Draft Comp Plan: At this very moment, we and our neighbors on Finley Canyon Road, Lower Beaver Creek Road and Highway 20 are faced with a proposal to interject a 600-acre gravel quarry as a conditional use smack dab within a long-established residential neighborhood of 20-acre rural zoning.
We all understand that the county needs gravel. But the issue that illustrates the weakness of the Draft Comp Plan is that — not only a gravel quarry — but such other inappropriate uses as an asphalt batch plant or an explosives factory can be approved for a residential neighborhood through the conditional use process!
This violates all principles of good land use and area wide planning. A sensible plan would prevent such industrial uses that would destroy the environment and the quality of life within an established residential area.
We and our neighbors will oppose this project and fight for a strong comp plan that would never have allowed such a conditional use proposal to reach this point.
Lilot Moorman and Jeff Bradley, Twisp
At the recent grange candidates’ night, Fire District 6 Commissioner Darold Brandenburg said they have been working for nine years trying to build a new fire hall for Winthrop. It’s often said., trying the same technique over and over again, and expecting different results, is not very productive. As this applies to Fire District 6, I wonder why nine years of effort and two failed levies has not produced a viable effort by the commissioners to find out what’s wrong.
I think I can save the Fire District 6 commissioners some time. The levies were too expensive and the proposed new fire hall is in the wrong spot.
Commissioner Brandenburg says in his mailer to the community that he is very concerned with public safety. Considering safety, please explain why you support the Horizon Flats location when this location will cause a three-minute delay in response time? This delay will adversely affect those calls which use Highway 20 in driving to the call location, which is about 80 to 90 percent of all calls. Additionally, how can anyone support a location which, during the winter, requires driving a loaded fire truck down a potentially dangerous hill?
I commend Commissioner Brandenburg for his 13-year service to Fire District 6. However, Fire District 6 has been unable to pass a levy for a new fire hall. We need a new Winthrop fire hall and we need Ken Doran to help us get one.
Ron Perrow, Winthrop
In the four years that I have been Fire District 6 commissioner, the main topic has been the new Winthrop hall. After nine years of consideration and failing two construction levies, we still have the same plan. All calls that require Highway 20 lose 3 minutes response time. A structure or brush fire can double in size every minute, eight times larger in 3 minutes. We can do better.
Seventy-five volunteers is the state goal. We had 74 in 2001, lost 27 by 2009 and nine more since. These losses are in Carlton, Twisp and Mazama. Winthrop still has 22 or more.
I suggested we buy and outfit a three-quarter-ton pickup with a 100-gallon drop tank for initial attack. This was rejected, our paid staff is “command only.” Instead a new half-ton pickup was purchased. We already have five “command” vehicles. We are unique as one is normal.
Before 2001, we had training at all four stations for convenience of volunteers and to have all stations crewed. This also allowed opportunities for volunteers to take mandatory training. They have lives and families. We were all volunteers. Now, everyone must travel to Winthrop for mandatory training on required nights. We have five instructors who are full-time.
Ken Doran has practical experience, volunteer and career for over 20 years. He agrees we need a new facility in Winthrop. He also has a fresh perspective to make our district more-efficient and better-staffed. I want four well-staffed stations and a real plan to succeed. I’m voting for Ken Doran and ask you to join me.
Les Stokes, Fire District 6 commissioner, Carlton
Twisp’s doing great
The elections this November include selecting the mayor of Twisp. Twisp has changed. The “Patagonia Line” (Twin Lakes Road) has moved south to Twisp and Carlton, bringing with it a younger and more dynamic future for Twisp. Change is exciting, but it can also bring with people who hate change of any kind unless they are in control.
If memory serves me right, Vern Nations was elected as mayor of Twisp several years back. He quit and walked off the job in the middle of his tenure. I have asked several people n Twisp if they remember why.
Here we are again — hostile people trying their best to unseat our current mayor who has worked very hard for our community. If you don’t see the amazing changes occurring in and around your town, I encourage you to take a walk.
Main Street of Twisp has become a shopping hub for all ages and interests. Old rundown houses are being remodeled. City streets are under constant improvement. TwispWorks is amazing. The Farmers Market is packed every Saturday. People from out of town are strolling around the streets of Twisp. What more could you want?
I am native-born and raised in the town of Twisp. No one is more proud and protective of Twisp than I am. Please support the current mayor of Twisp.
Paula Stokes, Twisp
Referencing the Oct. 9 article Most at Okanogan public meeting oppose grizzlies: Several questionable and misleading statements were printed in the referenced news article. Printed without attribution was the assertion that grizzly bears subsist on a diet of mostly roots, berries and other plants. This is flatly contradicted by the National Park Service (NPS) on the Yellowstone website: “Overall, grizzly bears consume more meat and black bears more plant material.” The NPS elaborates in a chart listing grizzly food throughout the year including the following chart toppers: winter-killed elk and bison carcasses, elk calves, bull bison injured or killed during the rut, bull elk injured or killed during the rut, and wolf-killed elk. Bison and elk are not common in the North Cascades leading to the question of what will the grizzly find as a dietary substitute?
An individual identified with Conservation Northwest was quoted as follows: “Grizzlies fastidiously avoid human things, they’re not like black bears.” This assertion is also flatly contradicted by the NPS: “Due to the behavioral differences between black bears and grizzly bears, most bear-inflicted human injuries inside Yellowstone are caused by grizzly bears.”
Another quoted speaker conflated the total number of humans killed or injured by grizzly bears with the quantity known as risk. The speaker also made the nonsensical claim that no risk could be imagined that is lower than a grizzly bear risk. Risk is the calculated probability of a specified (negative) future event. If risk is inserted into the discussion, please provide the methodology used to calculate it so that underlying assumptions and mathematical accuracy can be examined. Merely stating an opinion that a given event has low risk is inadequate especially if there is a potential loss of human life.
John Fischer, Winthrop