FCC awards grant to Family Health Centers for telehealth
The Federal Communications Commission’s COVID-19 Telehealth program has awarded $212,164 to Okanogan County’s Family Health Centers (FHC) as part of a group of grants to “underserved communities” in the state, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s Office announced last week.
The grant to FHC is intended to purchase laptops, phones, headsets and take-home monitoring devices to help facilitate telehealth appointments.
Other grants awarded include $38,515 to Skagit Regional Health and $838,091 to HealthPoint in Renton.
“Telehealth is essential to enabling access to medical advice during the COVID-19 crisis. These telehealth grants awarded to Family Health Centers, HealthPoint, and Skagit Regional Health will help connect more Washingtonians to life-saving care,” Cantwell said in a statement.
The FCC grant was established in the 2020 CARES Act and additional funds were appropriated this year.
Medicare open enrollment ongoing through Dec. 7
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period this year is scheduled for Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, and is a time when people can enroll, switch plans, or join a Part D drug plan.
The Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors program is a part of the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner, and can provide one-on-one counseling and support over the phone or through video.
For more information, go to https://www.insurance.wa.gov.
Meeting on flood risks after fires set for Wednesday night
A community meeting on post-fire flood risk in the Cedar Creek wildfire area is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday (Oct. 27). The meeting will include speakers from the Okanogan County Conservation District, United States Department of Agriculture, National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A question and answer session will follow.
To join the meeting, go to https://tinyurl.com/t8c2vfwd.
For more information, contact the conservation district at (509) 422‑0855.
Davis Lake outhouse repainted to cover white-supremacist graffiti
Offensive graffiti — including swastikas and white-supremacist language — in the outhouse at Davis Lake was painted over quickly after several people reported it to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Area resident Jack Riley was walking in the area last weekend and stopped to use the facility, which was installed just a year ago. The graffiti he found was huge — as tall as he was — and was painted on both walls inside the facility. He called WDFW and they contacted him immediately, Riley said.
Graffiti is common in outhouses and they’re typically repainted once or twice a year. But when graffiti is particularly offensive, they paint over it as soon as possible, Fish & Wildlife Officer Jason Day said. Day had also received calls reporting the vandalism.
There are no suspects in the incident, Day said.
Jury trials suspended again
Okanogan County has extended the suspension of jury trials because the COVID health emergency continues to exist, meaning there is no way to safely accommodate jurors.
Jury trials in Superior and District court have now been suspended through Nov. 30, Okanogan County Superior Court Judge Chris Culp said in an Oct. 13 administrative order.
The COVID incidence rate per 100,000 people over 14 days was 941 in mid-October, even higher than it was when the courts suspended trials back in August. The rate was expected to increase in October before a potential decline in early November, according to the order.
There are no other suitable facilities for jury selection or trials. The county is in the process of purchasing a building for use by the court, but it isn’t expected to be ready until late November at the earliest, Culp said.
Criminal jury trials scheduled for Oct. 26 and Nov. 1 have been rescheduled for Nov. 30. All civil trials have been stricken and will be rescheduled.
Property taxes due Nov. 1
Second-half Okanogan County property taxes and irrigation assessments are due (or must be postmarked by) Monday, Nov. 1. Interest and penalties start accruing Nov. 2 at 1% per month for any unpaid taxes.
Mail your taxes or assessments to Okanogan County Treasurer, P.O. Box 111, Okanogan, WA 98840.
You can pay by credit card through the link for parcel and tax information at www.okanogancounty.org/government/treasurer.
Enter your name or parcel number, select the property, and click the box at the top of the page for “Treasurer.” Scroll down to “Balances Due” and click the empty box at the far right for the bill you want to pay. Then click “Add Selected to Cart” beneath that. Once you have added all the statements you want to pay, click the box with the total payment amount. That will take you to the third-party website where you enter your credit card and complete the transaction.
You can also pay by credit card by calling 1 – 877 – 737‑4772. For customer service, call 1 – 888 – 891‑6064 and choose option 1.
Credit-card payments include a service fee on the amount of tax being paid. Credit and debit card payments cannot be accepted at the counter in the treasurer’s office.
The treasurer’s office will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through November 1. Contact the treasurer’s office at (509) 422‑7180 with questions.
Health Benefit Exchange announces 2022 plans
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange is previewing plans available for 2022 ahead of its next open enrollment period, which starts Nov. 1.
Statewide, 120 health plans are available from 12 carriers. In Okanogan County, plans are available from three carriers, not counting Apple Health. Okanogan’s plans are offered by Ambetter, Lifewise and Community Health Network of Washington.
The last day to file for coverage starting Jan. 1, 2022, is Dec. 15 and open enrollment ends on Jan. 15, 2022. The Customer Support Center will be open 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday during that time.
For more information and to research health plans, go to https://www.wahbexchange.org/.