Questions about gravel pit
I live in Methow and as a property owner I am struggling with the issues the county’s proposal to purchase private land to establish a gravel pit here. Thanks to Marcy Stamper for her excellent reporting. Both sides of this issue present compelling stories for consideration but as I grapple with them I keep arriving at a place of more questions than answers. I wonder if we have enough information to make an informed choice.
The owners have a right to sell their property. The county has a duty to maintain safe roads utilizing fiscal and environmental economy and it makes a persuasive argument that this property is unique in that it can provide gravel for 75 years. Prior estimates of the lifespan of current pits are however falling short so what assurances do we have that this one will last that long?
If the county’s Conditional Use Permit for the mining of rock is approved what happens to little Methow? We were told that we won’t see the pit because it is on top of the plateau. This is not true for the people across the river or on the hills above it. We are told that the sound of 24/7 rock crushing, the dust, the traffic and noise, the lights interrupting the dark of the night sky will be minimal. But is it minimal to us? The county’s own documents predict up to 4,500 truck trips per year in and out of SR153 and claim a “determination of non-significance.” I suggest that for many of us feel it is of great significance. What about the safety of the drivers and school buses on the highway, the additional wear and tear, brake noise and fuel emissions? Isn’t silica dust from crushed gravel a known carcinogen?
Has the county really done adequate due diligence in their search for options? A well-designed Comprehensive Plan would have served us well in this instance but that is another topic! There is a public hearing on this application on Nov. 14 in Okanogan. All who have an opinion on this are strongly encouraged to attend. Many voices do matter!
Mary Yglesia, Methow
The climate crisis requires everyone’s attention. Washington state has committed to carbon neutrality by 2050. That requires everyone, not just government, to do their part to ensure a livable planet for our children and grandchildren.
The Okanogan PUD is doing their part by launching a community solar energy program. Community solar makes the abundant energy of the sun accessible to people who don’t own their own home, don’t have a sunny location, cannot afford the upfront cost of solar panels, or simply want solar energy at a lower price.
But the PUD needs to hear from you to voice your support for this initiative. Please go to www.okanogan.org/community-solar and fill out the Sunny Okanogan Community Solar form to express your interest.
Marian Exall, Winthrop and Bellingham
Fabulous first responders
What wonderful emergency first responders we have in the valley! They deserve all the support we can give them. On Sept. 30, I had an accident at my place in Twin Lakes near Winthrop. I suffered multiple life-threatening injuries, including hypothermia, dehydration and acute kidney failure. Once called, Aero Methow was there to rescue me in minutes. They immediately assessed my condition and started warming and hydrating me, talking with me in a caring and reassuring way. They rushed me to the Twisp airport, where we were soon met by the helicopter crew from Airlift Northwest. The heli-crew smoothly transported me to Wenatchee while continuing my emergency care.
I am now well on the path to recovery, with the help of family, friends and our local medical professionals. I am grateful for all of the care so many have given, but especially to those first responders who kept me alive and got me to the medical treatment I needed. Please take an opportunity to thank the Aero Methow staff and volunteers whenever you can for the amazing service they provide to the Methow Valley, and support them with your financial contributions as you are able.
Jim Elicker, Winthrop
About that SEPA
In a confused letter that appeared in last week’s paper, Duncan Bronson wrote about the current status of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process for a proposed new Fire District 6 fire station and training facility on Horizon Flats Road. His letter was a reaction to an earlier letter from the Winthrop Town Planner to the District Chief. I spoke with the Town Planner to ensure I correctly understood the letter and the current status of the SEPA process. A summary follows:
The letter addressed five topics, four of which had been remaining SEPA issues.The SEPA issues were:
• Stormwater: The letter informed the district that the town accepts the district’s stormwater plan, subject to a review by the town’s engineer.
• Critical areas ordinance: The letter informed the district that the town accepts the district’s mitigation plan, subject to the district formally agreeing to abide by that plan.
• Lighting: The letter encouraged the district “to use lighting that minimizes light pollution while providing adequate lighting for safety.” (This was just a reminder. The district is completely on-board with this recommendation.)
• Road usage and impacts: The letter noted that the road assessment submitted by the project’s engineering firm is not the type the town typically requires and asked the district to submit a new road assessment, one that uses the standards the town normally uses. (At their Oct. 14 meeting, the commissioners voted to authorize the requested new road assessment.) Additionally, the letter stated that if that analysis shows that the district’s roadway use would either require roadway improvements (such as widening) for safety or unusual roadway wear, the town will expect the district to agree to pay for a reasonable share of the improvement or repair costs when incurred. This is a standard expectation. The same is being expected of Methow Trails and others.
• The non-SEPA topic was water and sewer: The letter informed the district that water and sewer issues will be addressed through the standard building permit and inspection process instead of the SEPA process since the new station would merely be hooking up to and using the town’s water and sewer systems.
Paul Sisson, Winthrop
Darold Brandenburg has been instrumental in creating a great plan for Fire District 6 and for carrying it out. It’s time to finish the job, not start over.
The district is unified, with uniform training, equipment and procedures for one firefighting force spread over four stations. The district owns a site for its new central station and training facility in Winthrop. And because of its reputation, the district received a grant for $1.8 million to help pay for the new station with improved training facilities. The grant will help with volunteer recruitment and retention, as well as providing vocational training for valley residents interested in becoming firefighting professionals. This opportunity will be lost if the district doesn’t move forward with its plan.
Brandenburg has the support of almost all of the current volunteer firefighters and fulltime staff. Why is this? His supporters know that he’s honest, caring and experienced. They know the improvements in training and equipment reliability that he’s helped bring about have made the work of the firefighters safer and more efficient.
Brandenburg knows the valley and the district. He came here as a little boy. He was a volunteer firefighter for 13 years and has been a commissioner for an additional 13 years. For many years he’s been a respected local contractor with many long-term employees. He understands the challenges of fire protection for both wildland and structural fires. Fire District 6 doesn’t need a commissioner who wants to re-invent the wheel. We need Darold Brandenburg, who will get the job done.
Emily Sisson, Winthrop
Thanks for support
Thanks so much to our caring community for a successful you-pick pumpkin event. Thanks to Gary Keith for planting, tending and donating the pumpkins. Thanks to the Methow Valley News for photos and coverage. Thanks to the Methow Valley Community Center for sales. And thank you community for coming out to pick. Hope you all had a fun time and got some great family photos. Thanks for supporting the Methow Valley Community Center.
Carolyn Sullivan, Board of directors, Methow Valley Community Center
While I do not currently live in the Town of Twisp, I have called Twisp home since my family moved here in 1960. I wish I could cast my vote in favor of Soo Ing-Moody, the current mayor. I won’t repeat the content of the previous letters of support, as they were well written and clearly expressed why, as a community, we value Soo’s leadership and vision.
It is not an easy task to be the mayor of a small town with limited funds, aging infrastructure and diverse population – especially when recently faced with the threat of wildfire and potential harm to the headwaters of the Methow River. The mayor and Town Council members must know the rules, laws, regulations and ordinances that govern small towns and know if they can be updated or modified to adapt to the ever-changing needs of the town. It is not easy, and multiple factors and components must be investigated, researched and discussed. Community input has always been sought and valued. Final decisions are made that will positively impact the community as whole.
Soo is passionate, connected, knows her job, is fair and committed. She has amazing energy and is persistent yet adaptable. She is a visionary with the education, skills and knowledge to lead our town. She is well respected by local, state and federal government officials, Representatives and Senators and has been invited speak at multiple statewide forums.
The citizens of the Methow Valley benefit from her leadership, as the health of the Town of Twisp is vital to living in a rural and remote valley.
Please, if you live in Twisp, vote for Soo Ing-Moody.
Cindy (Henry) Button, Twisp