Defend your rights
Yes we are in a serious outbreak of a previously unknown virus, and yes drastic precautions must be taken by everyone, these precautions might include social distancing, wearing a mask when in public, washing hands more frequently than normal and postponing an event. However, even with the “crisis” there is no reason to have your/our rights violated. When I say violated, even though the governor of Washington might be the highest elected official in Washington he does not have the authority to violate your U.S. Constitutional Rights. His order to suspend all gatherings is a clear and blatant violation of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
There is no clause in that amendment where those rights can be suspended or violated for a national or even a statewide emergency. Yes, he can recommend and encourage but he cannot prohibit.
It is up to the people to be responsible for their own safety as to whether they follow his recommendations or endanger themselves, loved ones and other community members. Yet more and more people are acting and behaving like nothing more than sheep following the Judas goat because the goat is a government official who is perceived to be all-knowing and powerful. Every elected official swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and perform to the best of their abilities the duties of the office to which they were elected. Clearly it appears that not only the governor but some county and local officials are unfamiliar with the Constitution to which they swore to uphold and defend.
Vern Herrst, Winthrop
Regarding the proposed PUD fixed charge hike: The Okanogan PUD makes it sound like utilities are unique in having fixed charges that must be captured by revenue each year. All businesses have fixed charges, but they choose to recover these charges in ways that are more equitable.
When I go to Hank’s Harvest Foods to buy groceries, they don’t charge me to enter the store in order to “access the grocery grid.” Yet, they have fixed charges for electricity, labor, store maintenance, etc. Hank’s recovers its fixed charges one pound of tomatoes at a time. Likewise, when I need fuel, Pardner’s Mini Mart doesn’t charge me to “access the gasoline grid.” They recover their fixed charges one gallon at a time.
There is nothing special about the utility network that is differentiated from any other business. The fixed charges are known and can be forecast each year. Utilities know better than many others about planning and scheduling. Rather than have high (about to get higher) fixed charges that one must pay regardless of how much electricity is consumed, the PUD should put most of their fixed charges into rates. A modest monthly fixed charge of $10 per month is perhaps justifiable, but no more.
Finally, before even considering funds for upgrades and expansion, the PUD should comply with the Washington law that larger utilities must meet (but from which they are exempt): to procure all cost-effective energy conservation measures each year. Conservation is highly cost-effective, much cheaper than upgrading transmission lines or acquiring new generation resources.
These two points — moving most of the fixed charge into the rate base and acquiring all cost-effective conservation — will improve reliability, protect consumers, and improve the credibility of the PUD.
Christopher A. James, Winthrop
Lucky to have
I wish to thank the Aero Methow Rescue Service and Search and Rescue personnel who were so efficient in coming to a horse rider accident that occurred on Elbow Coulee trail Wednesday (April 29). Thanks also to the unidentified man who was walking on the trail and volunteered to walk the horses out to the trailers while I covered my friend with rain slicker to keep her warm. They were all remarkable and professional; including the helicopter team. We are so lucky to have such caring, competent, and compassionate personnel in the valley. My injured rider friend and I want to express our deepest gratitude to all of them.
Carolyn Bronson, Winthrop
Wear a mask
Kudos to Fork for setting up posts 6 feet apart in front of their business, and to their employees for wearing masks. But other businesses in the valley — not so much. I’m surprised to see employees of grocery stores and hardware stores working mask-less. Not to mention folks going in and out of post offices without protection. It ain’t over yet, folks. There are plenty of free masks available at numerous locations (the aforementioned grocery stores and post offices). Use them. Please!
Eileen Owen, Winthrop
As Gov. Jay Inslee and state officials determine the details of re-opening businesses, we would like to stress the importance of following the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” edict, which is still in effect through May 31.
We are fully sympathetic to all the lives affected by the pandemic and the measures that have been taken to slow its spread. We all continue to bear responsibility for flattening the curve. We need to continue observing public health guidelines for social distancing, hand washing and mask-wearing. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is predicting a possible second wave of the coronavirus this coming winter.
Those who are asymptomatic can still spread COVID-19 to others who may not be so lucky. We don’t have enough tests in our hospitals and clinics to determine whether every person has COVID-19, so we must proceed as though it’s everywhere. Temporarily restricting where we can go outside the home may not be 100 percent effective, but it does help minimize exposure and it’s one of the only tools we have at this point to fight the virus.
Along with the lack of testing kits, there’s a significant shortage of patient beds, ventilators and other personal protective equipment (PPE). If Gov. Inslee decides to end the stay home order sooner than later, the number of cases would rise. The number of people needing hospitalization would rise, possibly beyond the number of beds we have and certainly beyond the number of ventilators. North Valley Hospital will not admit any COVID-19 patients in order to protect nursing home residents. Although all health care partners are in full agreement with this decision, it does further reduce the number of beds in Okanogan County for COVID patients.
Furthermore, without enough PPE to manage the surge of patients, more health care workers would become sick themselves. For a rural area where it’s already difficult to recruit enough nurses and providers, this could be catastrophic to our communities.
Our hospitals are as prepared as they can be for a potential surge, but we are fully supportive of preventive measures to ensure the health of our residents. We urge everyone to please continue to be vigilant in reducing the risk of exposing others to this virus. Livelihoods are important, but so is saving lives.
J. Scott Graham, CEO, Three Rivers Hospital and North Valley Hospital; Alan Fisher, CEO, Mid-Valley Hospital and Clinics; Jean Pfeifer, Board Chair, North Valley Hospital; Mike Pruett, Board Chair, Three Rivers Hospital; Dr. James Wallace, Chief of Staff, Three Rivers Hospital
Waive the fees
I cannot understand the attitude of the Winthrop Town Council delaying a decision on Friends of the Winthrop Public Library (FOWL) request for the waiving of the new library permitting and other fees.
The recent article in the April 22 Methow Valley News makes clear the craziness of all this. Ben Nelson has such a simple and obviously sensible, supportive position on the issue. And the newspaper article adds two important perspectives:
• Revenue from library construction fees is not included as part of the current town budget. So the town has a balanced budget without library fees. Hence if FOWL has to pay these fees, it will be additional town income, in a sense “profit.”
• There’s a precedent for waiving fees, namely the ice skating rink. It was done for the rink presumably because the town regards it as a community asset. But the rink, important though it is, is hardly the broad asset that the new library will be.
FOWL is still fundraising, financing the whole cost of the new library construction through donations, and will hand over the keys to the town when it’s completed.
Lots of people have worked hard to make this badly needed new library happen. When it’s completed, it will be the major town asset.
Isn’t it high time for the council to step up and do its part by approving FOWL’s request for fee waivers?
Kurt Snover, Winthrop
Thanks from District 6
On behalf of Fire District 6 staff and our more than 40 volunteers, please know that we are grateful for the opportunity you’ve given us by supporting Proposition 6. The new district fire station and training facility will be a tremendous asset to our communities, increasing our ability to provide the best possible emergency response. Thank you again for your overwhelming support.
Cody Acord, Fire Chief, Okanogan County Fire District 6