‘Yes’ on school levies
We encourage voters to support the replacement of two expiring levies in the Methow Valley School District. Both replacement levies are essential to the district’s ability to continue to offer high-quality instruction, as well as to expand innovative and individualized education programs for our valley’s youth. These levies are not frivolous requests to support pet projects; they are the district’s only means of funding the gap between what the state and federal governments provide and what it actually costs to educate a student in the Methow Valley.
We have two teenage daughters who have been students in the MVSD since first grade and we have witnessed the caliber of their instruction and programming improve steadily over the past few years. As parents, we appreciate the dynamic school leadership, the creative and compassionate teaching and support staff, and the engaged community of stakeholders. When our kids graduate, we want our local public schools to continue to progress and thrive. Passing the levies is our means of ensuring this legacy.
We support the district’s vision and direction, as well as its strategy for achieving defined goals in educational programs, operations and technology. The fact that this momentum for continued improvement can be sustained with minimal tax implications is, of course, a no-brainer; the two replacement levies have our support. We hope they will get your “yes” votes as well.
Jon Albright and Ashley Lodato, Winthrop
Support the schools
I want to encourage the voters in the Methow Valley School District to support the two school tax levies. These levies replace expiring levies so do not represent new taxes. I for one recognize our school district for the use of the levy funds to provide the extra things that allow a personalized education program for our students. There is always an openness to finding out what works for each student and then finding a way to provide an avenue for success.
Washington state provides about 78% of the funding for school operation. The school district levies provide the rest of the funding for the programs we expect our school district to provide and the extras that are important for individual students to thrive and prosper. Let’s continue to provide the levy funds needed. Please vote yes.
Bill and Suellen White, Twisp
For thriving schools
I voted yes on the Methow Valley School District replacement levy in the upcoming special election on Feb. 11. I hope every Methow Valley citizen will support our schools, our community and our children by voting yes on the two four-year levies (educational programs and operations levy, and capital projects/technology levy). Our school district leadership made excellent use of the expiring levies, and has an even stronger vision to make our schools thrive in the years to come — but this is only possible with community support.
Danica Ready, Winthrop
I am a paraprofessional at Methow Valley Elementary School, where I work as one of the aftercare teachers. Aftercare is an extremely crucial program for students who don’t have a place to go after school and or for parents who would not otherwise be able to afford child care. Our program is enriching to students lives, it provides a safe space to grow, play and learn. I have learned so much from the students I work with, one thing they would like our community to know is how important aftercare is to them. We have students of all ages and diverse backgrounds who come together at aftercare as more than just friends, but as a family. Programs like aftercare are funded solely by our local school levy. As you can see, this program would not be possible without the generosity of our community supporting this levy. I hope everyone will consider how important this levy is to supporting the health and safety of our students. Voting yes on this levy is, voting yes to our students futures!
Ariana Sprauer, Carlton
Let’s work together
I attended the county commissioners’ hearing on the temporary hold on the issuance of permits to subdivide land. The moratorium is to allow the county to conduct a thorough water study that will provide the information necessary to issue lawful permits for land subdivisions. I commend the commissioners for their actions to safeguard the future health and well-being of all of us who call the Methow home.
At the hearing I heard the compelling voices of some who are most immediately impacted by this ordinance. I want to let them know that their stories were heard and I for one felt a deep sense of gratitude that they have preserved large parcels of land that we all enjoy. Their efforts cannot have been easy with increasing population and regulations, weather events and economic challenges. Thank you!
I also heard what I perceived to be a subtext in some testimonies at Monday’s hearing. It was not outright accusations but rather a tone of implied resentment to the eco-liberal attitudes of newcomers imposing their values on folks who have lived here for generations. (Let us remember that all of us who are not descendants of the Methows are newcomers.) I felt a sense of irony in some of those testimonies because it is largely west side folks who are buying all these smaller plots of land.
All of us—Methows, generational families and relative newcomers—love this valley for the same reasons. Let us come together to work toward solutions that preserve the very things we love. Let’s pause, gather information and proceed from a place of informed choice. Who knows what unintended consequences await us? New options may be better than immediate financial gain! Let’s grow the right way by adopting a strong and thoughtful Comprehensive Plan, doing a thorough water study and moving forward knowing we have done everything we can to safeguard our precious home. I for one want to be able to tell my children that I did what I could to protect their future. Like a choir with all its differing voices, together the sound is strong and beautiful!
Mary Yglesia, Methow
Thanks from Methow At Home
I want to extend a huge thank you to all the people who came to dance at Methow At Home’s (MAH) contra dances last Friday and last October. The donations brought in a total of $1,350 for our grant program! That is impressive! The grant money helps those in need of financial assistance to join our nonprofit organization.
Also, thank you to all the musicians (of the Four Rivers String Band and friends) who donated their time to play at the events. The music was wonderful and the callers, Carol Peining and Dave Harris, guided the dancers beautifully. The smiles on people’s faces were an indication of how fun the dances are!
MAH has been helping our members for over four years. One of the ways we do that is to provide social and educational events. Research shows that social isolation is a leading risk factor in the health of elders and increases your risk of dying prematurely by 25%.
Another way we help elders is to provide services, such as transportation, home maintenance and repairs, social visit, etc. to our members by our wonderful pool of volunteers. (Many of whom are members, of course.)
If you would like to become a member, a volunteer, or if you know anyone who could benefit from Methow At Home, give us a call at 996-5844. And, come on out to the next dance Feb. 28, the last for the season!
Deirdre Cassidy, Program Manager, Methow At Home
Road work continues
It was wonderful to learn the coverage of the fight to open French Creek Road was rated fourth in the Methow Valley News’ annual list of top stories. The cartoon in the Jan. 29 edition (the truck and the gate) sure brought a laugh. It is a great reminder that the gates are still locked even though the county brief asked for their removal. The judge agreed. Maybe the prosecutor’s office is negotiating with those blocking access to public lands. Maybe the commissioners think because it is winter no one wants or deserves access beyond these now illegal blockages. Please tell the commissioners you still care.
Meanwhile, the Okanogan Open Roads Coalition (OORC) is going back to court to defend the decision against the corporation’s appeal. OORC is still working for the nearly 1,300 folks who signed petitions to the commissioners supporting access to our public lands. Donations to cover these new legal expenses can be sent to P.O. Box 163, Carlton WA 98814. Any and all donations are appreciated. Thank you to all those who have helped keep this issue alive. Open the roads!
Paula Mackrow, Twisp
There are many things to love about this valley: snowy peaks flanked by open foothills of sage, abundant wildlife, a community that cares deeply for the land and each other, and a cold, clean river that runs through it all. But our valley is not immune to the pressures facing the region: whirlwind population growth and a rapidly changing climate.
In the past year, many have been asking “what is the future we want to see?” I have participated in many visioning processes and value them tremendously. But when does a vision become a delusion? When it’s not grounded in reality. Our current reality is that the county lacks a comprehensive plan for growth and has been allowing unplanned development that likely has no legal access to water. This is simply irresponsible. Under this trajectory, a lot of what we love about the valley will be lost and will be impossible to get back.
For the last six years, the Methow Valley Citizens Council has been calling on the county to develop a reasonable plan that considers available water, among other things, to guide future growth. Six years later, we still have no such plan. Meanwhile, the planning department has allowed hundreds of building permits to move forward without any assurance of access to water.
The Citizens Council and others have sent numerous letters strongly urging our commissioners to address this problem. On the advice of the county’s own legal counsel, the commissioners realized the gravity of the situation and hit the pause button on new subdivisions.
The county’s sudden action after years of inaction is jarring but has set the table for a new collaboration with a sense of urgency, purpose, and direction. It provides an opportunity to identify a solution to a problem that has been festering for far too long.
We have a tremendous amount of talent and knowledge in our valley that can help us succeed. How we come to the table will be a test of our collective vision and leadership. Other counties have been able to meet this challenge, and the Methow can, too.
Jasmine Minbashian, Executive Director, Methow Valley Citizens Council
I was deeply saddened to read about the killing of a mother cougar in Winthrop last week. She was radio-collared and had been part of a two-year study of predators in the Methow. She was healthy and, it turns out, mother of three young cubs who will now have to live in zoos or sanctuaries because their mother cannot teach them to survive in the wild.
I understand that she was killed because law enforcement officers thought she was a threat to public safety. That’s certainly a legitimate concern, but not knowing all the facts, I can’t help wondering what the threat was, with the cougar hiding “in the far reaches of a deck . . . with only her face and chest exposed.” The officers determined that she wasn’t in a position to hit with a tranquilizer dart, so they shot her.
It doesn’t appear that the enforcement officers called either of the two wildlife biologists who knew this cat well and perhaps could have helped find another way to address the perceived risk. Nor did they wait until the cat changed positions and perhaps could have been darted and relocated instead of killed. Why not? I hope wildlife enforcement officers are encouraged by management to find means other than killing to alleviate risks to public safety. While there is a concern that a cougar might return after relocation, even if a cat has to be relocated more than once, is this really too much to ask?
Many in the Methow Valley have a great love for our wildlife and want to find ways to allow them to live their lives in their long-time home, where we have now chosen to live ours. I am one of those people, and I hope the next encounter with a predator who is considered a public safety risk doesn’t end the way this one did.
Melanie Rowland, Twisp