A tribute to John
(Editor’s note: Carolanne Steinebach read this letter to John Hayes a few days before he died on July 11.)
A bit cliché way to begin a letter, but this is a letter of goodbye after all.
Let me start by remembering the circumstances of our first meeting. Having long been a fan of the theater productions in the valley (that was Methow Valley Theater) Egon and I wanted to build a suitable theater space for performance. The old Mercantile General Store had been up for sale in 1994, and I was unable to convince Methow Arts to buy it and convert it into a theater. So, when Egon and I moved to the valley in 1998, we purchased it from a developer at the asking price and pushed on with the idea of converting the space.
No one from the Methow Valley Theater group was interested. But one person gave us your name as the man who has helped many organizations get started. You and I met at the Duck Brand for coffee. I wanted to start a nonprofit to bring more theater productions to the valley, and you gave me a floppy disk with the boilerplate language to apply for a 501(c)3 designation from the IRS. I was able to assemble five people to become a Board of Directors, was granted the 501(c)3, and The Merc Playhouse became a reality.
Now you are furnishing me with another boilerplate … not a floppy disk but a blueprint nonetheless: how to make a gracious and graceful exit.
I have watched you emerge from the loss of your beloved Rayma with humility and humor. So I try to emulate you as I have lost the love of my life. I have noticed your concern for the many who have been good to you, and those who continue to be during these days. And I can only hope to be as accepting of illness and death.
You are a visionary and your vision flies as a banner in the sky for the rest of us to follow.
A real priority?
The question whether to fund an indoor aquatic center is heading for the November ballot. It is good that there will be healthy community debate about the merits of the proposal. A simple question: How is it that the positive, honest discussion about replacing the aging Wagner Memorial Pool in Twisp spun out of control into a referendum about whether the community should tax itself for an expensive indoor aquatic center that no community of comparable size in the country has? If it were built in the future, the cost likely would be at least $25 million plus $1 million each year to maintain. The cost to households is well-documented and not insignificant.
It did not have to be like this, but here we are. Is this a priority for our community?
If you support replacing the current pool but are skeptical of the extravagance of an indoor aquatic center, you have little choice than to vote no on the aquatic center and hope that the next proposal will be something appropriate to the needs of the community.
Learn about the details. Demand answers about cost estimates and governance of the proposed tax district. Vote in November.
Gratitude for Killer Whales
With the opinions about the pool appearing on this page recently I thought I’d chime in with a relevant topic. The Methow Valley Killer Whales season just ended and our family had the privilege of having our son, 10 years old, participate for the first time. I’ve been involved with youth sports for most of my life as a participant, coach and parent. The type of sports has been wide-ranging, from curling to badminton to cross-country running, among others. The Killer Whales exemplifies what a youth sports team should be more than any other program I’ve seen. For more than six weeks, over 75 kids, ages 6-18, from different backgrounds show up in the mornings. They are challenged and nurtured, pushed and supported, and taught that individual effort matters more when it lifts up a team. Coaches Bo, Katie and Chuck meet each athlete where they’re at and provide pathways to improve. They cheer effort but don’t expect perfection. They get the most out of kids while making it fun.
There are many benefits to a public pool and over the next few months, I hope readers keep an open mind to all of them. A program like the Killer Whales is one amazing part of the pool that provides lessons beyond the water.