PUD action needed
A golden opportunity has presented itself to the Okanogan County Public Utility District to finally rid the ratepayers of the defunct, nearly 100-year-old Enloe Dam. At present, the three PUD commissioners are, or should be, seriously considering signing a resolution that would support a willing third party to secure funding to evaluate the feasibility of removing Enloe Dam. Like a rotten wooden boat sinking at dock, the Enloe Dam has not produced a watt of power since 1958, yet these three commissioners have resisted calls to remove the dam for reasons they only understand.
Back in 2008, the commissioners (a different three) pursued revitalizing the obsolete hydroelectric project and after spending tens of millions of dollars, it was conclusively determined in 2017 to be way too expensive to retrofit as the power produced with cost several times what could be purchased on the open market. Now the PUD is required to certify that century-old structure is safe. To do that, a safety inspection is required, which has cost the ratepayers of Okanogan County at least $7.2 million, quite possibly more before it is completed later this year.
Now there is an opportunity to tap into millions of dollars that are available through numerous federal programs to begin a reasoned dismantling of Enloe Dam and remove the liability from PUD ratepayers that have cost millions of dollars. Why are the commissioners hesitant to sign a resolution to let another organization find funding to remove an archaic, costly structure, and little or no cost to ratepayers? What if the dam is found unsafe and the PUD didn’t take advantage of the federal dollars stashed in these programs? Who pays for the repair or removal? The ratepayers yet again!
PUD commissioners, sign this resolution and let’s rid the ratepayers of this money sink that is Enloe Dam. Call your district representative Bill Colyar at (509) 923-9233, and let him know how you feel about this critical issue. And if the commissioners decide to not take this deal, I would invite them to explain it to the ratepayers of Okanogan County.
Stephen C. Ralph
Fire district facts
I found it easy to be left with three false impressions after reading the front page story about Okanogan County Fire District 6 in the July 13:
- That the district as spent itself into the red over expenses for the new fire station.
- That the district has requested county funds to cover cost overruns and put it back in the black.
- That the county commissioners are opposed to the District 6 request for funds.
- The district has never been in the red. While it has had additional costs related to new station construction (virtually all of which are due to the pandemic), the district has always found ways to compensate for cost increases within its existing budget before agreeing to any additional charges. Some of these ways of compensating were mentioned in the article.
- The district has made a request to the county for funds, but it is for federal grant money, American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds), which the county is administering. There are many intended and allowed uses of ARPA funds including providing relief to state, local and tribal governments that have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Okanogan County is administering the distribution of an $8.2 million ARPA grant which can include distributions to junior taxing districts like District 6.
- The county commissioners have been very supportive of the district’s request for ARPA funds since learning enough about the ARPA rules to feel confident that District 6’s request meets the ARPA qualification requirements.
I believe the article leaves it is easy to be left with false impressions for three reasons:
- The article doesn’t clearly distinguish between District 6’s overall budget and its initial budget for the new station.
- It wasn’t made clear that the district was requesting ARPA funds.
- The full history of the commissioners’ comments about ARPA funds wasn’t taken into consideration. (For example, at the June 27, 2022, commissioners’ meeting, the list of approved ARPA fund requests was read and included those from Distrit 6 for the new station and for an expansion of the Mazama hydrant project.)
What about burn piles?
As someone who regularly skis up the Loup around South Summit, I have to wonder whether there is a firestorm just waiting to be triggered. There are many hundreds (if not thousands) of slash piles everywhere. The farther you go into the area on the roads and well off them, the more piles you will see.
Most of the piles are 5 to 10 feet high. The neat piles were supposedly left to be burned when the ground was covered in snow or otherwise safe for burning. But year in and year out, they have remained. A former U.S. Forest Service employee told me some of those piles date back more than 10 years.
My understanding is that private logging companies sold the bigger trees and left the slash piles for the Forest Service to remove — at taxpayer expense. What happened? Did the slashing of the Forest Service budget for non-firefighting activities leave no funds for removing those ugly (and dangerous?) burn piles
If you don’t know what a slash pile looks like because you don’t ever go up the Loup, just drive up the Twisp River Road. There are humongous piles left from logging during and after recent fires. Hopefully, they won’t be left for years like the ones up the Loup. Maybe some questions from residents to the Forest Service about these hazards would help.
Yes to hospital levy
Three Rivers Hospital, our public district hospital, needs help to continue providing quality emergency room services. Please support this one-year levy to sustain our emergency room and its operational costs. Our hospital is essential to our area. Your vote to support it is very important.
Three Rivers Hospital Foundation
Time for a change
This past week Dan Newhouse has commendably voted to support marriage equality, but voted against the right of access to contraception. Having voted against impeaching Trump the first time around, but voting in favor of the second impeachment, Newhouse doubtless finds himself precariously balanced on the GOP high wire.
In his latest missive to constituents Dan claims: “It is no secret the situation at the southern border is out of control” with “a record number of terrorist sightings” and “almost double the number of suspected terrorists having recently) crossed the border than during the entire previous Administration” which is “affecting every single one of our communities.”
This GOP textbook, narrative of last resort is shameful fear-mongering that has little to do with reality. Dan fails to mention that SCOTUS, along with its egregious attacks on a women’s bodily autonomy, and its kneecapping of the EPA, recently ruled to make it harder to sue ICE for the unwarranted invasion of your home, i.e. in effect, that ICE now has license to raid anyone’s home if it falls within 100 miles of the border (e.g., Twisp) or 100 miles of the coast, or within a 100-mile radius of any airport (which pretty much means most of the whole country where folks actually live). And, as we know prior to this, ICE have showed up in the Methow Valley more times than the fabled terrorists have.
As recognized by the FBI and Homeland Security, the most consistent and growing terrorist threat in the USA in recent decades has been actual right wing, white supremacist violence, going back at least as far as the Oklahoma City bombing in 1993, and the litany of other bombings, murders and overtly racist mass shootings since, which along with the steady slew of abortion clinic bombings, arsons and murders, that have been allowed to fester, if not sometimes encouraged, by an increasingly extremist strain of Republicanism.
Time to put Dan Newhouse out to pasture. I’ve already cast my primary vote for Doug White. You still have until Aug. 2 to make your choice.