Misuk and I deeply appreciate the quick and effective mobilization of firefighting units in tamping down an out-of-control burn pile on an adjoining parcel at Twin Lakes on Saturday (May 30). Another neighbor and a close-by responding volunteer used the tools at hand to beat back the blaze until Fire District 6 units from both Winthrop and Twisp arrived with hoses.
Because of privacy issues, I do not know the names of each of the firefighters who responded and kept our home and the rest of Twin Lakes safe, but if I did I would thank each of them individually.
But in their honor, The Iron Horse in Winthrop extends a discount on many of our items to all Fire District 6 firefighters, volunteer or otherwise, for the summer at The Iron Horse. Please just identify yourselves to us. You are lifesavers!
We are also deeply indebted to Keith Rowland at Guido’s [the Winthrop Store], who heard the call go out on the scanner and rushed across the street to inform us while I was filling a curbside order for a customer. Misuk was at home prepping dinner and was completely unaware of what was transpiring just 100 yards away. Keith’s quick concern might have been life-saving!
We are so grateful to be living in a caring, kind, and well-organized community — particularly in these very unsettling times.
Greg Wright, Winthrop
Close the highway
Despite strong local opposition, Highway 20 over Rainy Pass reopened on May 11. It’s supposed to be open “for essential travel only.” Unfortunately, there’s no enforcement.
During a one-hour period on Friday, May 22, the first day of Memorial Day weekend, I counted 308 vehicles coming down from Rainy Pass. During one hour on May 23, there were 287 vehicles. Do the math.
“Essential travel only?” In Winthrop, only a handful of the hundreds on the sidewalks wore masks.
Between April 13 and May 30, confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in the Methow Valley held steady at five. We were doing our job very well.
As we wait for the infection rate to rise, I have a question:
Ten small businesses in the valley will receive $1,500 grants thanks to TwispWorks and Methow Valley Long Term Recovery. I’m wondering whether the corporations that drew from the initial $850 billion relief package, or the companies with up to 500 employees that were considered “small businesses,” had any problems getting their relief checks?
We have been forced by the Trump Administration and an inept Congress to risk fatal infection to survive economically. Please consider contacting Gov. Inslee and ask that Highway 20 be closed, and that he get relief money to our local businesses.
Ric Bailey, Winthrop
As a 73-year-old Vietnam Era veteran (Laotian linguist), I have just returned after having participated in the BLM protest in Omak on June 3. This was only the second such event that I have ever witnessed and noted that it was all that it had been advertised … a well-organized peaceful march. It was well attended by hundreds of participants the majority being young folks.
I was struck by the lack of participants in my age group and wonder why that was the case. I also noticed that apparently some law enforcement agency had conscripted a “green armband” designated pot-bellied militia to stand in the doorways of the businesses along the route complete with semiautomatic rifles slung over their shoulders. I wondered who they were there to protect and why they were considered necessary.
It’s my current hope that every one of those hundreds of young Okanogan County residents registers to vote this cycle and vote the incumbents out.
Donald R. Super, Methow
Every day, the actions, ideologies, and symptoms of racism in America become more clear. The structure of institutional racism in our country, and our county, are coming to light. Throughout his term in office, County Commissioner Jim DeTro has used his platform as an elected official to spread racism, bigotry, islamophobia, and false information about COVID-19 through his Facebook profile. This garnered attention recently when DeTro shared a meme related to violence against peaceful protesters. However, this barely scratches the surface of DeTro’s hatred. Though he has wiped any evidence from his public Facebook page (without apology or explanation) his words live on, immortalized forever by the internet. Sorry Jim, nothing you post on the internet can ever disappear. His contempt for minorities and disregard for public health are immortalized forever on Instagram @JimDetroHasGotToGo.
Do not look away. Do not ignore racism in our leadership. Stand up. Our silence is complicity when our leaders spread hate, and we are responsible for his actions. Encourage his fellow commissioners, Chris Branch and Andy Hover, to condemn his actions. Ask for his resignation. This is unacceptable behavior for anyone, but as an elected official Mr. DeTro answers to us, his constituents, and must be held accountable. Removing DeTro from office is a concrete step we can take in Okanogan County to combat institutionalized racism.
Lazo Gitchos, Twisp
To the mayor and town council of Winthrop: You failed in your duties to protect your residents. You allowed the town to be flooded by visitors over Memorial Day weekend. The entire state is still on lock-down, essential travel only, yet Winthrop was flooded by “normal” holiday weekend crowds, many/most of whom cheerfully ignored, nay flaunted, “social distancing” and the wearing of masks. You had to know they were coming especially after Highway 20 was mistakenly opened as so many were already here, many ignoring rules and camping in off-limits areas.
Despite this, there were no signs entering town asking that visitors respect our rights by masking up or leaving, and no signs posted in town requiring the wearing of masks and social distancing. The Fourth of July weekend is fast approaching, and, while things are opening up, we ain’t out of the woods yet folks. I certainly hope you and town business owners can get your acts together and do a better job of protecting the citizens of Winthrop and the surrounding areas, especially the older and health impaired residents who would love to come shop or just stroll the town boardwalks.
Bill Karro, Winthrop
By now we are all aware of the controversy surrounding County Commissioner Jim DeTro’s Facebook book post, depicting a bloodied and damaged semi-truck with the comment “Just drove through Minneapolis, didn’t see any protesters.” This post was cynical, mean-spirited and disrespectful, intended to be divisive and cast a negative light on legal protest in support of Black Lives Matter. It sent a message that Okanogan County officials ignore the right of free assembly and protest against oppressive police and government policies.
Mr. DeTro’s post crosses the line of appropriate action by an elected official. That message went out for the whole world to see and Commissioner DeTro needs to be held accountable. His excuse that he had been hacked or that he doesn’t believe in “political correctness” is disingenuous and cynical.
But here in the Methow, we didn’t vote for Jim DeTro.
Our elected commissioner is Andy Hover, who also needs to be held accountable for failing to address his fellow commissioner’s behavior. While he may have questioned Commissioner DeTro’s wisdom in making the post, he did nothing to hold him accountable.
Commissioner Hover, either you support your colleague or you don’t. If you don’t, you need to demand a public apology from him for the harm he caused. If he refuses, you need to demand his resignation. Your constituents — your friends and neighbors — need your leadership at this time. You have a right, a responsibility, and a duty to hold your fellow elected official accountable. We need leadership that demands a higher standard of decency toward one another. If you are willing to let Jim DeTro’s behavior forego accountability, then we can only believe that you are complicit. You can’t have it both ways.
Lynette Westendorf, Winthrop
Thanks for senior sendoff
To our Methow Valley community — You showed up once again in pure Methow style on Friday for the ILC/LBHS Class of 2020 parade, with exuberant cheers, encouragement, congratulations, appreciation, and joy to let all 40 seniors know that they are celebrated. What a gift to give them (and us parents!) as they step out into the world beyond the Methow, especially in these times!
My seniors are both still soaking up the glow created by your good wishes. You showed our seniors how much you value them and, in doing so, created a deep memory of worth and community for them to carry onward. Special thanks to school district staff for organizing the parade, photo day, and the special red-carpet walk (with photos!) to get diplomas, and for organizing and posting speeches by Maya and Ali and Katie; to Naomi for the senior slide show; to our city and county law enforcement for stopping traffic on a busy Friday afternoon, and to Okanogan County Fire District 6 and Aero Methow Rescue Service (I love that you stand with us in celebration as well as in need!), to Mindy for diploma photos; and to everyone who showed up.
Meg Trebon, Mother of Cheyenne and Galen Fonda (Class of 2020), Twisp
I want to say how wonderful the graduation parade was. I was overwhelmed by the response of the community. I believe my son received more personal congratulations then if he had been in the usual school ceremony. So many people he didn’t even know called out to him. It was a wonderful experience! Thank you to each one who participated in one way or another. I couldn’t be prouder of him or my community.
Jane McMillan, Jedidiah McMillan’s mom, Twisp
Time for change
Wow, seems like everybody is calling out for change. Ready or not, if we are going to make it we must move courageously towards change … change or die.
We have COVID, we have frequent freak weather, we have mountains of political corruption, we have bullies in the White House and in our own county politics.
Okanogan County Commissioner Jim DeTro’s sick actions disregard people’s pain, murder and our First Amendment rights to protest. Uhh, looks like DeTro is another item to add to the list of “must change.” A shout out to District 1 Commissioner Chris Branch for holding DeTro’s feet to the fire.
Lucky us, we have an opportunity to “change up” the Board of Okanogan County Commissioners with rancher Katie Haven who is running for the District 2 seat.
Qualified? Heck yeah! As chief engineer, Katie was responsible for operations and maintenance of large ocean-going vessels tasked with keeping all engines running, managing the onboard electrical plant, all refrigeration, all cargo operations, the fire protection system, and so much more. She managed a diverse crew and professionally took charge during times of emergency responses. All while meeting highly regulated federal, state, and local requirements. Sounds like Katie is prepared to take on the task of navigating Okanogan County through the next four years while representing the concerns of all county residents.
Katie is already taking on leadership roles with her community outreach videos informing people on how they can get health, physical, and financial help during this COVID crisis. This information is far more helpful and timely than anything I have found from Andy Hover, our current District 2 commissioner. She has volunteered for years attending and recording county commissioner meetings and making those videos available to everyone.
The list of “must change” is a growing list. Time to stand strong together. Gotta start with our own life and home. Our community, our county. Our country, our world.
Effective, practical, leadership. I believe in the good things coming!
Voting for Katie.
Maeyowa Yockey, Carlton
Need both sides
I have been spending time in the Methow Valley since the 1960s. It is so beautiful and I love the area and the people very much. I have been taking the Methow Valley News for many years. I enjoy the paper very much as it is a good way to keep up with news events in the valley.
Some of the news on the editorial page and those of [columnist] Solveig Torvik are very liberal. Newspapers need to give both sides of political opinion so readers can make up their minds on their own.
I think it would be informative for the paper to cover the conservative side of politics. If no one in the valley wants to write a conservative column, maybe the News could pick up a conservative view from another newspaper and run it.
Brent Duryea, Keyport
We need to send a huge thank you to Independent Learning Center Principal Sara Mounsey, Liberty Bell High School Principal Crosby Carpenter, Superintendent Tom Venable and their staffs who created a super successful alternative graduation celebration with a parade lined for many miles with most of our valley residents from Twisp to Winthrop! We loved seeing the smiling faces of hundreds of people and hearing their warm congratulations and cheers.
Thank you friends and neighbors for sharing such great support to this graduating class and their families. That was a fun parade.
Have a fun summer as we see these graduates dive into life with all of the great sense and judgment they’ve gained thus far.
Alex and Leslie Hall, Mazama