Support the station
When I first heard about Winthrop needing a new fire station, I was very against it. I didn’t think that they needed it. But last year I made the decision to join Okanogan County Fire District 6 in Winthrop. The first call I went on, I could see that the space was not big enough for everything that has to happen. Firemen trying to get dressed only a foot away from a fire truck that is trying to pull out of its parking space. Others having to keep an eye out that said truck doesn’t hit the truck that is right next to it. After that first call, I knew for sure that we needed to do something because there just isn’t the room to expand anymore at the current location.
That is why I am asking that this valley come together and help us get a new station. Since I have joined the fire department, I have learned so much. I have found both a passion to help others that I didn’t know I had before, and a group of people that have made me want to learn and grow. I hope to someday get my certifications and be able to get paid for being a firefighter. But right now, if I want to do that, I have to leave this wonderful valley to go to an academy for training. If we get the new station, I have the opportunity to learn and grow, and receive those certifications here in the valley. I know it looks like we are asking for a lot, but we really aren’t. I hope that you will all join me and my fellow firefighters this April 28 and vote yes on the levy lid lift for the new fire station.
Justin Funkhouser, Winthrop
I hate to be a burden. I will make sure I practice correct social distancing while working on my house in the valley this week. I will fill up in Pateros and grab groceries in Wenatchee. As a resident part-time of the valley for over 20 years who has kicked in for libraries, pools, trail easements and fire recovery, I will take to heart the Winthrop mayor’s stance this week. I will practice financial distancing going forward. Good luck. We are all in this together. Until we aren’t.
Pete Dapper, Shoreline/Mazama
Stay home, stay healthy. Seems like a fairly simple statement to understand, and even if you are a little slow to understand, guidelines have been given to those that can’t seem to figure out those four simple words.
Yes, there are exceptions for those that own/operate or are employed by essential businesses that have been identified by state and federal government officials, but locally it seems as though some feel that their business is essential to maintaining good health, and survival, despite the fact that they could be exposing themselves, families or customers to a disease of unprecedented communicability.
Yes, it can get boring to stay home, but to break up the boredom get back to the basics: family board games, solitaire or other card games by either electronic means or old-fashion plastic cards and, wow, maybe even read a book (also available electronically), paperback or even hardcover. Heck, call a neighbor and see how they are doing.
Well, I think it is time to ask yourself this question: Do I isolate now or quarantine later, providing I don’t get fatally sick? The choice is yours, and ask yourself, am I a part of the solution or a part of the problem?
Vern Herrst, Winthrop
Wrong levy, wrong time
Okanogan County Fire District 6’s choice of levy is not good. They chose a permanent levy that never ends. When the fire station is paid off, and they haven’t told us how long that will be, approximately $216,000 will start going into their general fund to be used as they see fit with no voter approval. This amount will increase their current tax revenues by a hefty increase of 25%. If the fire district needs an increase when the building is paid for, why don’t they just come to the voter and tell them what they need it for and let the voter decide? The school district does this and it works quite well and their levies have been successful. The voters want to build a fire station and nothing more. Two means of financing the fire station building are available: a general obligation bond for 20 years similar to the levy Fire District J15 is using; or a levy lift for up to nine years during which the building is paid off and the levy is done. Neither of these continue to pour money into the district once the building is paid for.
The streets of Winthrop and Twisp are deserted, businesses closed and people are out of work. These people are taxpayers and trying to just pay current bills. The taxpayer doesn’t need an additional levy at this time. Neither do retirees who have just seen their pensions, 401K, IRAs and investments lose value by 25% to 50%. Run the correct levy at a better time and it will pass.
Please read the rebuttals to these comments carefully and fact check them as you would mine.
Ross Darling, Twisp
Stay at home!
It is well known that our valley is home to a large number of heroes. From Olympians to wilderness protectors, from educators to poverty eradicators, and from growers and ranchers to whatever’s-broken fixers, the people in our community go above and beyond to be extraordinary in their devotion to serve their neighbors. As recent disasters have shown us, we have an abundance of community members who, in times of crisis, choose to run towards the flames.
The crisis we are facing with coronavirus is a new threat and demands from us a new definition of heroism. This pandemic comes silently, is invisible and evades detection, and may infect us all but is catastrophic to our most vulnerable. The solution, more effective than hand-washing and cough etiquette, is the intentional and aggressive disruption of the very activities that make our community thrive.
The true heroes emerging in this crisis are those who have embraced physical distancing, canceled the season’s biggest events, closed businesses and shut down their means of livelihood to protect our community’s health. As our clinics redesign operations, our little community hospitals prepare for acuity seen only in tertiary care centers, and our emergency management systems lead unprecedented collaboration across the county, they need the help of each and every one of us.
Please be heroes in this time of crisis. Stay at home. Act as if you have it and commit to protecting your neighbors. And for those who will work the front lines of this fire, please do not fan the flames.
Jim Wallace, MD, MPH
Family Health Centers
Three Rivers Hospital
These past few weeks have been difficult and emotional for people across our state. Our strength is being tested as we face the biggest public health crisis in more than a century.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the health and economic impacts caused by the spread of COVID-19, but we are inspired by the united show of resiliency and responsibility by our fellow Washingtonians.
That resilience is seen in our state’s doctors, nurses, public health officials, first responders and scientists working around the clock to keep us safe. We also owe a debt of gratitude to the people who work in grocery stores, sanitation, truck drivers and other Washingtonians doing their best to help our state maintain access to essential goods and services.
We also grieve with the families that have lost loved ones and stand alongside Washingtonians battling this virus.
All of us must do our part to protect the health of our neighbors, coworkers and friends. The most effective thing that can be done to avoid spreading the virus is something each of us has within our power: do not congregate, stay 6 feet from anyone nearby and wash our hands often. What we do in the coming days and weeks could save our lives and the lives of others.
Following these guidelines and other local, state and federal orders is critical and will help flatten the curve of infections.
We are strongly encouraged that from the legislative to the executive branch, there has been unity in purpose that knows no partisan bounds. We are grateful for the initiative to keep us safe taken by the governor, the Department of Health and the Emergency Management Division. We are proud of the bipartisan steps the Legislature has taken to address this outbreak.
There is no way to overstate the health and economic challenges facing our state and our nation. The weeks and months to come will test our will, our values and our courage. But we can do this.
Washingtonians are smart, kind and tough. We will emerge from this challenge more united than ever, prepared to build an even stronger Washington.
Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane),
Speaker Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma,
Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville),
House Republican Leader JT Wilcox (R-Yelm)
Ms. Torvik’s last column was so far over the top that I’ve been moved to say something. Her first three paragraphs in March 18 edition screamed “FIRE!” With no exit doors to pile up at, we just had to sit here and grit our teeth.
Grinding her well-worn political ax at a time many people in our valley are already fearful, our elders especially, was wrong.
Pointing her finger at every target out there does no good.
No doubt the few drops of dopamine secreted by the “screw Trump conditioned response” gave her flock some form of satisfaction.
How about a discussion of the importance of a strong immune system? What can we do that’s positive about improving our own?
Then, we will be more prepared for the next bad bug that comes along.
Kip Roberts, Winthrop
Here’s something fun to do during these days of self-isolation: Write your own obituary.
This should be a positive activity. It should make you reflect on your life so far and give you a chance to say how you felt about this human journey you’ve been on.
Just pick an hour on any given day, get out a piece of paper and a pen. Write down the relevant statistics (when and where you were born). Think about your life, its high points and low points. Think about your story. Write how you want people to remember you.
Consider it a rough draft. Let it sit a few days, then read it again. Cross out and add to your heart’s content. This is not supposed to be a long, well-polished essay. It is a worksheet that you can revise again and again.
Your loved ones will be most grateful that you’ve done this for them, saved them innumerable hours of hassle and second-guessing about whether or not they should say this or that about you. Just tell your loved ones where this draft is so they won’t have to go searching for it.
Remember that newspapers who run the obituary charge money. Some papers charge quite a lot. The Methow Valley News, on the other hand, is reasonable. It charges just $25 for a 350-word piece with a picture, 10 cents a word thereafter.
There is nothing morbid about writing your own obituary. It’s creative, even fun, and will have you experiencing your past, your inner life, in a fresh way.
Diana Hottell, Twisp
About one person drowns in a tub per day in America. Usually, intoxicants are involved. No one dies from soap and water, as far as I can tell. So I guess washing my hands won’t kill me. Today’s message of the day is quite the reverse, failing to often wash my hands until they’re free of virus particles might kill me.
Luckily we live when we do. Liquid hand soap has been around for 50 years. Inexpensive glycerin bar soap has been available for 200 years. Before that, a harsher soap was made from fats and oils and was hard to come by.
Frodo the Hobbit was in the right of it when he sang:
“Sing hey! for the bath at close of day
that washes the weary mud away!
A loon is he that will not sing:
O! Water Hot is a noble thing!”
For me, hand washing is nicest with hot water and fruity liquid soap. To keep the suds on for the full germicidal 20 seconds is my hurdle. The angel on my shoulder is helping with that. The devil on my other shoulder, however, keeps reminding me that all this hand washing is leaving my skin chapped.
May we all be safe and wash hands often.
Dan Aspenwall, Winthrop
Ross for co-op board
Regarding the Electric Co-op board of directors, I am delighted to see that Tracy Ross is willing to serve on this volunteer board. I have been a co-director with Tracy on more than one board; his lengthy business experience has given him clear awareness of economic realities and cost-benefit analyses. Given the increasing complexity of power generation and distribution, I’d be happy to know that Tracy will be looking after my electricity needs and usage. He is a hard worker, a dedicated, intelligent board member, and he has a sense of humor to liven some of the difficult decisions which must be made.
Midge Cross, Mazama
If we have learned anything during this pandemic it is that we must ensure that our emergency services are ready for the challenges of today and the future. With heightened risk of wildfires due to climate change, increased home building and growth in property values, our Okanogan County Fire District 6 needs a facility that will support increased staffing, training in the latest firefighting techniques, and provide for storage and maintenance of equipment. Let’s help them protect each and every one of us, our properties, as well as themselves. We owe passage of Proposition 6 to the many neighbors and friends who as volunteers put their lives on the line for us every fire call.
Support our firefighters. Vote yes for Proposition 6.
Linda and Dalton Du Lac, Winthrop
The 2020 U.S. Census starts April 1. This count is important because it is the proportional basis for funding community needs, a key resource for community planning data, and it determines our representation in government. Some community needs are improved rural hospitals, highway maintenance, and school nutrition programs, services where the entire county benefits.
In early March, a public call was made to county officials to attend Okanogan’s census planning process. Surprisingly and disappointingly, no county officials attended — no county commissioners. One of my friends did go, and there were only six interested residents there. The coordinator was frustrated by the lack of county involvement since other counties have been integral outreach partners to ensure a full count.
Okanogan County ranks low on many quality-of-life indicators that census funding and planning address. We rank 38 out of 39 counties for lowest median income. We rank 37 out of 39 in positive health outcomes. We have 17% of our population in poverty and the state’s percentage is 10%. An early 2020 unemployment report showed Okanogan County at 9.4% and the state’s average was 4.4%. You don’t have to be in these categories to know they need improvement.
We need county leaders who work for everybody’s progress and quality of life.
Since we are one of Washington state’s largest counties by size and smallest by population, it is essential that we are fully counted. You can do your part online (2020census.gov), by phone or mail or in person.
Sharon Sumpter, Winthrop
No need for harshness
“Close the valley.” “Stay away.”
Harsh words from the Methow Valley. I am seeing these in the recent Methow Valley News Opinion pages.
Just because my wife and I have a cabin northwest of Winthrop does not mean that we are stupid enough to travel to the valley during this pandemic. I feel that those who do have part-time residences are being thought of as second-class valley residences.
This is what I am reading into many of the comments in the March 25 Methow Valley News. Similar comments are coming from an acquaintance living the valley. Our acquaintance did not even bother to find out what our plans were for visiting our cabin.
My message is, “Do not assume anything until you find out the true story.”
My wife and I are in our 70s and I have what is being called underlying medical problems: diabetes and heart troubles.
We are staying put in our Seattle home, ordering groceries to be delivered to our home. Staying out of the general population and not driving!
We know that resources are precious no matter where you are during this crisis. We do understand that rural areas can be hit the hardest.
To those who may be contemplating traveling, don’t. You are not helping the situation if you do.
To those criticizing second home folks, remember these are the neighbors you will be living next to when this crisis is over. Mob mentality is quite easy to get into and terribly difficult to get out of.
Prayers, and be nice to each other
Patrick and Marion Johnson, Upper Rendezvous
Yes on Prop. 6
The current viral epidemic shows us how vital it is for first responders to be well situated to deal with emergencies. Proposition 6, on the April special election ballot, will support Okanogan County Fire District 6 by improving its facilities, enhancing training opportunities, and establishing a new grant-funded training program. The health and growth of our valley’s residents depends on growth in our infrastructure. Please support your local firefighters by voting yes on Proposition 6.
Agnes Almquist, Winthrop