On the good news front — and contrary to some perceptions, we really like good news — there’s a lot to appreciate as we advance farther into 2022.
Our trio of Liberty Bell High School wrestlers certainly acquitted themselves well at last weekend’s Mat Classic in Tacoma, as Noah Holston extended his family’s legacy with another state championship, just as two of his brothers previously did. Another podium spot went to Cody White, who took home a third-place trophy. And Cassidy Jones-Mowen became the first Liberty Bell wrestler to represent the school in the girls’ competition.
Each had an impressive season before advancing to the state finals, and that can’t be easy with just three wrestlers hoping to honing their skills in practice week after week. Congratulations to the Mountain Lion contingent for making the valley proud.
It has been fun following the exploits of Mazama native Novie McCabe (the larger media outlets refer to her as being from Winthrop, but we know better) at the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, where she exceeded expectations. Novie made the team anticipating that she would compete in one race, but ended up skiing in three, and drawing attention in each of them for her strong performances.
Methow Valley fans who have been following Novie since she was upright on skis have always suspected that the Olympics were in her future, following in the tracks of her mother Laura. But we probably didn’t expect it would be this soon.
Novie’s maturity and continued improvement mark her as somone to keep an eye on for years to come. At age 20, she likely has many more kilometers of World Cup and Olympics competition ahead of her, as she and other U.S. skiers have put the European Nordics on notice that they are not content with back-of-the-pack finishes. The valley’s consecutive streak of being represented in the winter games has a good chance of continuing.
Keeping with all things winter, Carlton’s Christina Gibson of Whiteout Racing Kennel took first place in the 100-mile event at the Race to the Sky sled dog racing competition in Montana in mid-February. She finished ahead of 13 other mushers. Christina has been on a trajectory to take the top spot for the past several years: she won the 100-mile Junior Race to the Sky four years ago, came in fifth at the 2020 Idaho Challenge 100-mile race and fourth in the 2020 Race to the Sky.
Another athletic accomplishment worth noting: Senior Jadyn Mitchell finished her Liberty Bell basketball career averaging a double-double (at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in every game) and making the CWB all league team for the fourth consecutive year. That’s consistency.
It was also good news that Winthrop attorney Robert Grim has been named at Okanogan County’s next Superior Court judge, replacing the retiring Chris Culp. Grim has strong ties to the Methow Valley, and has served as a District Court judge before applying for the Superior Court vacancy. He brings experience, insight and local context to the job.
You’ll also read this week that the Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival will be making real noise again this year with its live return to the Blues Ranch just west of Winthrop in July. The site served as a fire camp much of last summer, but it will be good to see the performers and their fans back on the festival grounds. And we can only hope that a fire camp of that (or any) size won’t be necessary in any part of the valley.
Finally, another venerable musical tradition, the Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival, also returns after two years of absence with six live concerts at the Twisp Terrace Lodge in June.
It’s shaping up as a promising summer.
We are saying goodbye — but not forever — this week to our colleague Natalie Johnson, who has been the Methow Valley News’ managing editor for the past year and a bit more. Natalie is moving on to a job with the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in that agency’s Olympia office. Her new job as a communications liaison will involve DNR programs in eastern Washington, so we expect to continue being in contact with her.
Natalie has brought energy, creativity and passion to her role as managing editor, and her knowledge of the area as an Okanogan County native has been a bonus. Her experience and capabilities as a journalist showed every week, and helped make us a better community newspaper. Hers will be tough shoes (or boots, depending on the weather) to fill. We will miss her and her friendly canine cohort Teddy, but wish her the best.