The Nov. 7 election day is near. We now have our voters’ pamphlets and ballots. Study the pamphlet carefully and be sure to vote informed and wisely.
Note from the pamphlet that Proposition 1 regarding the Methow Aquatics District is not a yes or no vote for a pool in the Methow Valley. It is intended for the creation of a permanent Metropolitan Park District taxing authority. Nothing more, nothing less. It is also stated in the measure that it would be governed by an appointed board, not an elected board. Note that there is also no signed interlocal agreement yet, so all further discussions about the makeup of the appointed board is pure speculation.
There are other methods available to build a pool in the Methow Valley, ones that would have less of an impact on our fixed-income seniors and low-income families. Ones that would require accountability and future voter input. For a successful one, study the Tonasket Pool story at tonasketparks.org.
I am voting no on Proposition 1. We can build and maintain a pool in the valley using a better way for all residents, the sensible Methow way!
With regard to the school board, I know who I am voting for, and very likely so do you. This is a small community, and most of us know each other. We probably already knew the moment we heard who was running Yes, I have my reasons for my votes, but I’m more concerned with the effect of elections on our valley’s strength than who ends up serving. We are a strong community, and they are all reasonable people. They have different opinions, but personally I think it’s healthy to have input from folks who don’t share the same perspective as I do. Diversity of thought is important, and all of our candidates are educated, intelligent, honest and kind. If all we want is a room full of smiley faces nodding in agreement, we are not as smart as we think we are.
Other folks’ commentaries and opinions are great, but at what cost? When we start insinuating things that were never said, were taken out of context, or were simply assumed, we are only making it hard for ourselves to walk on the same side of the street as our friends and neighbors. We need to take care with our words.
With regard to the pool, due to the many issues around us here in the valley, and across the nation, our insurance has gone up more than $2,000. Our snowplow bill is doubling this year. We need a new truck, but even if we could find one, we’ll likely not be able to afford it. The hospital wants $500 more from us, and so do the Friends of the Pool. Remember this, and do not take it personally if these things do not pass. It’s not that we do not care, it’s that they are not on the “must have” list, (like a home, a clear road to and from town, and health care) and the cost of living here is increasing faster than our incomes. Rushing the inevitable gentrification of this valley is not a good idea either. The sky is not the limit yet. We need to take care with our budgets.
Nadine Van Hees
Where’s the plan?
I have read and researched about Proposition 1 since it was an idea presented online, I adamantly have been opposed to the creation of a Metropolitan Recreation District. This is a permanent tax that will be on any property owner who may or may not use the facilities. The proposal has had little transparency and mixed messaging. In the Methow Valley News, proponents first were quoted that the ideal was a creation of a $20 million-plus facility that would function at a deficit of nearly $1 million a year and would only employ a few employees. Recently that was changed to there isn’t a plan, we don’t know what it will cost and that is a myth.
How are we as constituents to vote for something without a plan? I can respect having a new pool but to have no plan, zero transparency and just to ask property owners to say yes to a check is an insult to our community. This is a want versus a need in a community that currently cannot house a large portion of the population. Vote no on Proposition 1.
Support for Liu, Lott, Larson
As daughter of one of the school board candidates, I hesitated to write, but after reading previous letters, I decided to address some mischaracterizations of some of the candidates.
Mike Liu has an exemplary record of public service in this community working with the U.S. Forest Service. During his time as district ranger, he was consistently lauded for his management of over a million acres of national forest, including his interactions with staff and the public, and overseeing the largest wildfires in state history. He is a man of integrity, a creative and critical thinker, a person who can listen to both sides, and someone who cares deeply about the future of our youth.
I have been surprised and disappointed about the amount of disparagement that has been put forth, arguing that because he and Scott Larson are religious, they are somehow uneducated extremists unfit to hold a school board position. I wonder if these critics know our schools already have multiple teachers who demonstrate their own spiritual beliefs in their classrooms by displaying Tibetan prayer flags or singing bowls, encouraging kids to pause/breathe/meditate, and in one class even offering students the opportunity to say “Om” for Hindu meditation.
Critics who adamantly oppose someone of faith holding a school board position create a dangerous precedent, implying that those with religious beliefs should not hold any public office. Not only does this violate the First Amendment (the freedom to practice religion without fear of reprisal), but it also insults the intellect and capabilities of countless individuals.
Whereas, Scott Larson may not be a polished speaker, his main goal is advocating for parents and students. He is willing to work tirelessly on behalf of our valley’s children to promote transparency and communication between the school and families.
Austin Lott is the only candidate running for school board who has children attending Liberty Bell High School. He is personally invested in students’ academic success and is, therefore, focused on good communication between parents and the school district.
For this and many more reasons, I not only will be voting for, but also want to offer my public support to Mike Liu, Scott Larson and Austin Lott.
Bring back common sense
At the recent school board candidate forum, there were several questions regarding discipline, harassment and bullying.
My question is: Is allowing biological males to compete in female sports not a form of harassment, intimidation and bullying of female athletes? I understand that WIAA policy states that transgender students are to be able to participate in sports with the gender to which they identify. However, wrong policies need to be challenged and changed.
Ask yourself, “Am I OK with my daughter or granddaughter competing against biological males who are participating in a female sport?”
We need to stand up for the biological female athletes! By allowing the male who identifies as a female to participate in female sports, we are not protecting them from harassment, intimidation and bullying.
Elections have consequences, to us, to our children, and to our grandchildren! I ask you to join me in supporting Scott, Mike and Austin in bringing some common sense back to our school board.
James D. McMillan Sr.
Keep at it
The subjects of my letter this time are varied, mostly stimulated by the Oct. 25 edition of the Methow Valley News. First, the “No Bad Days” lead editorial: A belated “Happy Birthday” to Don and a “for sure” to his appreciation of life and growing inventory of “good happenings.” Being considerably older, or maybe I should say with yet more experience, I cheer Don on and give thumping approval for his philosophy and also encouragement to continue providing us with the News.
I have written before congratulating the News staff for acquiring all these honors and awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association, and I am pleased but not surprised that the number and heights of the awards continued to grow at the most recent annual ceremony. In my travels about the country and the world, I often pick up the local rag and read it for local happenings, an example of community life, and to analyze it somewhat technically. I find the Methow Valley News a positive anomaly of quality and actual local information.
I detect in some of your columns, Don, a hint of fatigue. Apply your stated philosophy and please keep at it. This is intended to apply to all of you at the News, writers/reporters/layout/et al. It takes a village, a team as well as a leader.
Thomas B. McCord
I am remiss. The beauty of writing a letter to the editor is the speed at which one learns of their naïveté. I am now much more informed from both sides of the pool. I am now decidedly for the pool! What I have learned is a great sadness. It is because the taxation is progressive, not regressive, that various constituents are against the pool. As a property tax, Proposition 1 hits the wealth of the valley much more than other constituents. And, my what a hard hit it is!: a few hundred dollars per million dollars of valuation of valley.
It is now apparent to me that those against Proposition 1 are either misinformed about the quality of the bill and how it meets the dire need of a public pool, or callously selfish and in opposition to investing equitably in civic necessities.
In her Oct. 25 letter to the editor, Carolanne Steinebach raises a good question when she asks who would pay for the pool if Friend of the Pool’s (FOP) proposition fails. Fortunately, there are good alternatives that are much less costly and more fair.
One alternative is the formation of a public funding district, which allows the district to apply a sales tax of 0.2% on all purchases, excluding groceries. A $50 purchase every day in town for a full year would cost only a total of $37 in taxes. Tourist spending would help pay the pool costs. While the tax would cover the operating expenses of a seasonal pool, it wouldn’t be enough to cover the expenses of an indoor pool.
I am not an advocate for raising property taxes to pay for a pool. But, if an indoor pool is what is wanted, a more taxpayer-friendly type of recreation district and levy rate could be established to fund an indoor pool. Based on the $2.6 billion total assessed value of properties in the school district, a park and recreation district with a levy rate of 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed value would not only cover all the pool’s expenses, it would provide the district with a couple hundred thousand dollars of income to cover unanticipated costs and repairs.
In their Aug. 9 MVN letter to the editor, FOP clearly states that they are not asking the public to pay for the costs to build the pool. This raises the question of FOP’s motives for asking us to vote for a metropolitan park district with a levy rate of a whopping 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The answer is likely found in the language of Proposition 1, which contradicts FOP’s letter by stating that tax revenues would not only be used for construction of the pool, but for “future facilities” as well.
Nearly everyone is in favor of a new pool. I am hoping an affordable pool option is chosen instead of the $20 million-plus mega-pool complex favored by FOP.
Grateful for swim team
I am writing to you because I wanted to share that I am so, so, so thankful for the Killer Whales Swim Team. Swimming is my favorite sport and I know others enjoy it, too.
Ever since I started, I loved it. I worked so hard to get better, and I did. I learned that if you work hard, you can achieve a lot.
If it wasn’t for Bo, Katie, Chuck, the people who cheered me on, and all the other people behind the scenes, I wouldn’t have come this far. This is why I feel thankful.
Methow Valley Elementary School
Right thing to do
My wife and I have lived in the valley since 2008 and have enjoyed the many recreational opportunities afforded here. The proposed Methow Aquatics District is a regional metropolitan park district authorized and controlled by state law encompassing the school district boundaries. I have been a municipal attorney in Washington since 1975 and have created and worked for a variety of these regional districts. They work best in areas such as the valley where there are two very small towns with limited resources serving a much larger population.
While presently focused on the swimming pool, the district has the ability to cost-effectively manage many of the recreational facilities in the valley.
Such districts are typically managed through an interlocal agreement meaning the local elected officials appoint the managing board and exercise oversight. They also typically provide staff and facilities so the district has very low overhead compared to a unique district.
The design and cost of the pool is not a given and the elected officials can appoint a board interested in both needed facilities and fiscal responsibility answering the primary concerns of the opponents.
The district is a big step, but over time it is the right thing to do. Please support the valley with a yes vote on Proposition 1.
Diversity of thought needed
When I vote for Mike Liu, Scott Larson and Austin Lott, it’s because I have heard them speak my values:
I believe parents are the primary stakeholders in their children’s lives.
I believe not enough emphasis has been given to education standards as evidenced by declining test scores.
I believe the U.S. Constitution is foundational to understanding the freedoms we all enjoy and should be an important element in a student’s education.
I believe that, to stop the bullying, we need to consistently and without bias, enforce expectations for student and staff behavior.
I find it interesting that their opposition has made inaccurate collective assumptions and declarations regarding their faith, science perspectives, preference of schooling methods and social justice issues. Finding fault with their personal choices, as if it disqualifies them, seems to reveal a lack of tolerance. We need diversity of thought and values on the school board to represent all people groups fairly.
I am writing to express my gratitude for Methow Valley Riding Unlimited (MVRU). When I go there, I feel so happy to be with the animals and to get to ride some of the most amazing horses. I’m grateful for all the people that have helped me improve my riding and supported me when I needed help! I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to be on a ranch with such amazing people and animals!
Methow Valley Elementary School
Best path for hospital
To residents of the hospital district: We’ve read your letters and heard your voices at public meetings, and we appreciate all the groups and organizations who have welcomed our team over the past month. We’d like to address a few of the most common questions.
A new building for Three Rivers Hospital is the less-expensive option, as we discovered from a 2022 architectural engineering study that is available on our website. It would cost more to remove and replace the existing infrastructure, and it would disrupt patient care, unlike our proposed two-phase plan. Our facilities engineer explains some of this in a video on our website, www.threerivershospital.net/home/new-hospital-proposal.
While the new facility would not be much larger than the existing one, we would include space to grow service lines. Our hope is to eventually bring in some highly requested specialties, such as cardiology, podiatry, or dermatology.
We have considered only having a 24-hour emergency room, but that isn’t feasible with the current health care reimbursement structure and requirements. Medicare/Medicaid pays us about 17 cents for every dollar we spend providing emergency care. Other services, such as surgery and acute care, receive better reimbursements that help us cover costs overall. We also must have on-call laboratory and radiology to have an ER.
This decision is backed by clear evidence of the need and was carefully considered by our commissioners. We know this path is the right one to continue serving our 2,500-square-mile hospital district and all 16,000 people within. We hope to continue growing local careers, drawing providers back to the area with a more reliable and modern facility. With about 114 full-time employees and more part-time and per diem staff, we’re one of the largest employers in the area.
We encourage everyone to visit us online or contact us to learn more before voting. We look forward to continuing to serve our communities, from Mansfield to Mazama. Our team saves lives every day, and being part of that is a privilege we don’t take for granted. Thank you for considering our proposition.
J. Scott Graham, Chief Executive Officer
Mike Pruett, Board Chair
Three Rivers Hospital
There are many people that work hard and go above and beyond their regular job duties on a daily basis in this valley. But, I think there is one group of people that we might all take for granted.
In the hundreds, if not thousands of times that I have shopped at Hanks Harvest Foods, I have always been treated with genuine kindness. It seems that this may be the No. 1 quality required to work at Hank’s.
Whether it be a hug across the cash register on a bad day, a special order of unattainable stain remover or a simple carry out, Hank’s employees make the extra effort.
Most importantly, it does not seem to matter one bit who you are, where you live or how long you have been here.
At Hank’s there is enough love, laundry soap, and kindness for everyone.
Full inclusion for all students
In response to recent statements by candidates for Methow Valley School Board, we the undersigned health care professionals write today to state our support for the full inclusion and protection of transgender and non-binary youth in our local schools. Policies that would ban transgender youth from school facilities and school sports, and prohibit discussion of their existence in schools, such as “don’t say gay or trans” laws in other states, serve only to harm a population of young people already marginalized by stigma, bullying, and harassment. Policies that encode discrimination are not healthy for individuals, families, or communities.
Youth across the country and here in Okanogan County are already facing unprecedented mental health challenges. School policies that would increase isolation and exclusion of any students threaten their safety, health, and well-being. Forcing educators to inform parents if their child comes out as transgender at school would only serve to increase the risk of already vulnerable young people, as these kids might be abused at home or kicked out because this information was shared to unsupportive parents. Our local school district follows Washington state law, and there are good reasons for this law. Transgender, non-binary, and queer youth face disproportionately high rates of suicide and homelessness. For some kids, schools are the only place they are safe.
The health and safety of young people in our community supersedes any individual or group political or religious beliefs.
Sarah Acosta Smith, ND; Emily Buckingham, PA; Jess Charles, MD; Kevan Coffey, ARNP; Erin Cooley, MD; Tory DeSalvo, ARNP; Allison Fitzgerald, MD; Kathleen Manseau, ARNP; Caitlyn McIntyre, ARNP; Justin Porter, RN; James Wallace, MD; Sarah Zuger, MD; Katherine Kirner, ARNP; Blue Bradley, ARNP; Robie Sterling, MD