Thanks to school district
The community’s response to fire relief efforts — local and statewide — has been nothing short of inspiring. Firefighters have been ninja-like in their quick response to new fire starts in the valley. But we would especially like to give thanks to another set of heroes — Methow Valley School District leadership. Never in our wildest imagination did we anticipate a global pandemic that would keep our kids at home, isolated from their friends, family, mentors, teachers and the community for so long. This experience has made us realize just how much our school district is truly the backbone of our community. It is such a lifeline for so many and is the foundation of our future. Without it, we are adrift.
We have been awestruck by the heroic efforts made by the school board, our superintendent Tom Venable, and principals Crosby Carpenter, Paul Gutzler and Sara Mounsey — who rose to meet such a huge and complex challenge. They dared to think outside the box and problem-solve instead of seeing only obstacles. They did their research, had extensive conversations, and communicated effectively. They found all the possibilities and the way forward to be able to reopen our school. It is still far from ideal, and there are sure to be hiccups, but we have a tremendous amount of confidence in the thought that has gone into the safety of our children and their teachers.
The expression of joy and excitement that we witnessed and felt on the first day of school was worth so much.
A big heartfelt “thank you” to our school leadership, support staff and teachers for everything they’ve done to help keep our kids engaged, enthusiastic and safe during these turbulent times. We are deeply grateful.
Jasmine Minbashian and Dave Werntz, Twisp
Fire protection is vital
The fire season has reminded us once again of how vulnerable our county is. In the Pearl Hill and Cold Springs fires, approximately 414,000 acres and over 180 structures were burned. Wildfires are a natural part of our ecosystem, but with better planning and management we can expect better outcomes than we had this year or in the other bad years of this decade.
Okanogan County has a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) which is a requirement for government funding of wildfire disasters. It is on the county’s website: http://www.okanogandem.org/mhmp-cwpp-update.
Apparently, the county became aware that they were out of compliance with their own plan recently, and it is now in the scheduling process — more than two years late. There was media coverage a couple weeks ago announcing four county-wide public meetings, but no information on how to participate.
The CWPP is actually a very comprehensive plan that involved input from many communities, stakeholders and agencies. What is telling is in Chapter 6, the final section that addresses Mitigation Recommendations and the tables of action items for safety and policy, fire prevention, education, mitigation and infrastructure enhancements. Here you find the action item, priority, responsible organization, timeline and 2013 status. Disappointingly, many of the action items in these first important mitigation categories have a 2013 status statement that says, “deleted action item due to insufficient funding and/or manpower.”
Wildfires are our biggest hazard. I want our county commissioners to lead and take care of where we live. The best thing we can do for our land and people is to limit the impact of fires. Our commissioners will soon begin work on the 2021 budget. Choosing not to spend money or manpower on our biggest threat is unimaginable. If your house were at risk, you would protect it. You would pay for protective measures. Our county commissioners should do the same thing for all of us — protect it; mitigate the risk.
I am voting for Katie Haven for county commissioner, District 2. She will take on this threat and work
Sharon Sumpter, Winthrop
Moore in the 12th
Adrianne Moore has my full and enthusiastic support for state representative for the 12th District. Adrianne is a seasoned leader with strong ethics, excellent communication skills and a ton of compassion for the people in our region. She is full of energy, and has demonstrated her ability to talk and listen across party lines time after time. Our communities have long benefitted from Adrianne’s leadership, and we need to elect her to bring our concerns to Olympia.
Adrianne’s work in our region paved the way for extended child care services for more working families; her unwavering support for affordable housing has provided homes for our neighbors; her work on wages, education and health care has made real improvements for working families.
After the devastating fires in our region in 2014-15, Adrianne’s leadership brought money, organization and attention to our families and small businesses. Adrianne understands that we need a health care system that works for us, and that small businesses shouldn’t have an unfair tax burden.
We need more state support for schools, health care and housing. We need someone who understands working families’ needs when debating the state budget and tax structure. Adrianne will be excellent at advocating for our needs.
Women in our region are strong and capable — it is time we have a woman representing us in Olympia! I want to see Adrianne elected in November and hope you will join me in voting for her.
Sarah Brown, Carlton
Tonight [Sept. 29] we witnessed a most appalling moment. I’m not speaking about the many times our president broke the rules he agreed to and talked over his opponent. I’m not talking about the times we were presented with misleading facts or outright lies. These are par for the course. No, I’m talking about the moment where Donald Trump encouraged right-wing radicals to “stand by,” prompting an immediate mobilization by fringe groups who have openly discussed the violent overthrow of our democracy if they don’t like the outcome.
Murray Sampson, Winthrop
Can anyone really believe that logging, which creates bare soil together with adding sediment into critical habitat for fish, along with road building and maintenance, prescribed fire and cattle grazing (all on the same land) is a restoration plan that will make a previously “badly degraded forest” a healthier forest?
If you believe that could be possible, do you understand that the proposed actions are the same ones that the U.S. Forest Service has determined caused the degraded conditions? Can you believe that “opening the overstory” with a timber sale by commercially logging mature large trees every 15-20 years will “restore populations of large old-growth trees?”
The Mission Restoration Project collaborative has said “the project would actually enhance habitat by building beaver dam analogues and installing culverts and woody debris in streams for steelhead,” but what that plan explains is that all of the conservation actions proposed cannot be completed unless future taxpayer funds are allocated for those actions. Is it understood that to maintain the “benefits” of this project the commercial logging and actions accompanying it will have to be repeated every 15-20 years? The only benefits would be the subsidized economic gains provided to those profiting from the timber sale and the increased forage for the cattle grazing allotment.
Will those that value the Methow’s mule deer population believe that amending the Forest Plan to allow reduction of their winter thermal cover will result in protecting winter range for mule deer with winter logging?
If this “restoration” plan goes forward, watershed function will be degraded. That includes fish and wildlife habitats of endangered species, as well as water for downstream users (domestic, agriculture, and hydroelectric), recreationists, the safety of residents and others using the log-hauling roads.
There are better ways to create a more “healthy forest” than through repeating and continuing the actions that have led to degraded conditions. Walk through the valleys of the Libby Creek watershed and view the effects of previous commercial logging and cattle grazing that are apparent; then consider whether repeating those publicly funded actions every 15-20 years is best for our economy or “forest health.”
Don Johnson, Libby Creek Watershed Association
I’m concerned about my ballot being counted.
Since I have reason to be alarmed about the mail system at this time, I now am questioning the ballot boxes that are located in Twisp and Winthrop. When are those ballots picked up?
A call to the county courthouse today did not allay my fears. I wanted to know when the county picked up the ballots posted in those boxes but I got no answer. Are the boxes locked down at 8 p.m. election night and then picked up the next day by the auditor’s staff?
That would not be right.
I intend to drive my ballot over to the courthouse several days before election night to make sure my ballot is counted before Nov. 3.
Diana Hottell, Twisp