Thanks to all
The Family Health Centers COVID-19 vaccine event on Feb. 13 at Liberty Bell High School could not have been accomplished without the support from so many dedicated people. Thanks to the Twisp staff who handled well over 500 phone calls to get people scheduled and answer questions; and, the staff who were available Saturday for check-in and vaccine administration.
Thanks to Methow Valley School District for donating the space and plowing the parking lot! Thanks to the 54 volunteers who did everything from directing traffic (inside the building and outside), to helping with check-in, escorting people to the various vaccine stations, or serving as observers after vaccines were given.
And, a special thanks to Aero Methow Rescue Service for providing 12 volunteers/staff to organize the flow, give vaccines, and help manage other aspects of the event. We are so fortunate to live in a valley where “community” really means something.
Julie Wehmeyer, MN, RN
FHC Twisp Clinic
A shout of gratitude to Supt. Tom Venable for his advocacy to ensure Okanogan County’s in-person school employees are not forgotten in the state’s vaccination plans. We are fortunate to live in a county where all nine districts are offering in-person instruction, meaning that employees of these districts are rolling the dice every day, putting the needs of their students, families and communities ahead of their own health. Supt. Venable is right to make the commonsense argument that we should give some priority in vaccination to those offering in-person instruction when most school employees statewide are working remotely.
This need not reduce down to an argument about vaccinating older people versus teachers. Instead, we can prioritize older people and the small number of brave and dedicated school employees who have been providing in-person instruction for much, if not all, of the school year. Perhaps we sometimes forget that Okanogan County schools are unusual — the vast majority of school districts throughout our state remain remote or just beginning to bring back K-2 classrooms. Our Methow Valley School District has been providing in-person instruction for all grade levels, including high school, since September — something for which I, as the parent of a high school senior, am incredibly grateful.
These teachers, support staff, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, custodians, and administrators are members of our community who care deeply about our students and our families. I appreciate the incredible effort they are putting in to make this year work — all while being largely overlooked in the state’s vaccination plans. I am glad that Supt. Venable is here to advocate for them. I hope our state’s leaders will listen.
The Feb. 10 story of the Yakama Nation’s judicial win over Okanogan County was accurate, but it glossed over a very important part of the story. The Washington Court of Appeals decision shot a fiery arrow at our county commissioners:
“This appeal concerns one of endless broken promises by American government authorities toward Native Americans.”
The court had made this the opening statement of its unanimous decision. The newspaper dropped the quote deep in the story. Much more disappointing, the newspaper failed to seek any explanation or reply from a single commissioner to this scathing accusation of racial injustice. Nor did it offer any comment from the Yakama.
The Yakama’s reason for bringing their case mainly concerned water issues, which are critical to the Yakama because of their historical and continued reliance on fisheries. There was a parallel story in the same Methow Valley News. It was about a Department of Ecology ruling on Methow watershed subdivisions. The Senior Assistant Attorney General in charge of water issues said, in effect, that the county had been illegally (in violation of the “Methow Rule”), allowing permit-exempt wells for new subdivisions for nearly 20 years.
Again, very accurate reporting on a complex subject, but it failed to include comments from key interested parties. These include Futurewise (a statewide group with many Methow members) and Methow Valley Citizens Council (MVCC). Only commissioner Andy Hover was quoted.
Both conservation groups have been challenging the county’s position on water usage for years, in administrative and judicial proceedings, because of the likely consequences for instream flows and agriculture of allowing unfettered access to limited water supplies for residential growth. The county continually ignored their arguments. The Attorney General’s office fully vindicated and supported the groups’ legal position. Yet the newspaper failed to get any comment from those groups. The conservation groups also have an ongoing, broader case on the Comprehensive Plan. It is running in parallel with the Yakama’s comp plan case. Both groups supported the Yakama’s appeal. This wasn’t even mentioned in the Yakama article.
Please, Methow Valley News, keep up the accurate and detailed reporting, but don’t forget to give us the back stories as well.