Chelan County PUD wants to hear from you!

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by Richard Uhlhorn

Steve Wright, PUD CEO, presented the PUD’s Strategic Planning Process to Chelan City Council back at the January 22 council meeting.

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PUD’s CEO Steve Wright gave a powerpoint presentation to the Chelan City Council on Tuesday, January 22 regarding the plans to write a new 5-year strategic plan and asked for their input over the next four months before it is completed.

In his opening statement to the Council, Wright said, “We have cut our debt in half one year early.”

“The world is changing rapidly and we need to be ready for that,” said Wright. He stated that the electrical utilities were a rapidly evolving industry. “We are working with other utilities, he said.

Wright’s PowerPoint presentation reviewed where the PUD has been since 2015 and then presented key strategic questions for the next strategic plan that will be concluded in the summer of 2019.

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Steve Wright’s presentation reviewed where the PUD has been and where it hopes to go in an ever changing utility market.

Wright mentioned the cryptocurrency industry and how it threw the PUD off course for a couple of years. Stating that the PUD has seen a significant drop off in energy requests, Wright added that the PUD didn’t want to see its rates go up for customer/owners because of the cryptocurrency industry.

However, the PUD has not raised customer/owner rates for seven years even though inflation has increased 40%. PUD rates have been subsidized by wholesale power revenues. Chelan County electrical rates are around 3.1 cents per kilowatt hour as opposed to the State’s average rate of 7.68 cents per kWh and the nationwide average of 10.27 per kWh.

With customer satisfaction at 97 % and the utilities reliably at 98%, Wright explained that the PUD’s vision is to provide the best value for the most people for the longest time.

“We haven’t had to borrow money for 10 years now,”said Wright. “We do worry about the market slowing down and want to be prepared for a variety of different outcomes.”

With aging equipment and the need for new substations because of Lake Chelan Valley’s rapid growth Wright said the new North Substation is currently in the design phase and the PUD would begin building on its acquired property in the next 12 months. “The southshore is up for review,” said Wright.

Over the next period of months leading up to its new Strategic Plan, the PUD will be actively engaging the community with a series of questions.

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Steve Wright went through a series of questions the PUD is asking of its customer/owners in preparation of its new strategic plan.

The Key Questions the PUD is considering include:

1              RATES

After seven years without rate increases (and only 9% rate increase  since 2000 while inflation has been around 40%), Chelan PUD plans to adopting a long‐term rate plan.
We have questions for our customer‐ owners.

Should this plan: • Include annual electric rate increases at approximately the rate of  inflation to avoid the risk of large rate increases in later years

  • Display the hydro financial benefit separately in electric, water and  wastewater bills to help customers understand the full cost of  services   • Specify the balance between funding large water and wastewater  system improvements from financial reserves and annual rate  increases for water and wastewater • Include annual rate increases for the water, wastewater, and fiber  business units to meet individual system financial metrics • Change rate design to be responsive to utility industry changes2 Rock Island Relicensing/Early Action

The federal hydropower license for Rock Island Dam  that seeks to balance low rates, environmental  protection and recreational enhancements expires  in 2028 • Should Chelan PUD advance the newly developed  federal policy to take “early actions” in advance  of a final relicensing decision? • If so, what actions should be considered that  support recreational or environmental  enhancements and what considerations should  the PUD seek in return?..

3              Wholesale vs. Retail Marketing

Currently, Chelan PUD retail rates are  subsidized by wholesale power revenues.  Should Chelan PUD reduce emphasis on  wholesale marketing and focus more on  growing retail loads and local economic  development?

4              Growth

Should Chelan PUD lean toward growth pays  for growth (supportive of lower rates for  existing customers) or toward economic  development (supportive of more jobs in the  community)?

5              Aesthetics

Who pays for aesthetic improvements (e.g.  undergrounding of power lines) when it can  increase costs by 2‐10 times compared to  above ground facilities ‐ all customer owners  or just those who benefit?

6              Public Power Benefit Program

Should Chelan PUD continue to fund a public  power benefit program that has been used for  the fiber expansion and park passes? • If so, what activities within our statutory  authority should be considered for funding?

Process & Timeline •

Phase 1 – Explain current status / key  questions •
Phase 2 – Explore key questions with  dedicated customer‐owners •
Phase 3 – Community‐wide engagement •
Phase 4 – Draft and finalize strategic plan • Conclude in Summer 2019

We want to hear from you!

On February 15, Chelan County PUD put out a message on Facebook asking customer/owners to provide input and guidance as the utility moves towards completion of its new five-year strategic plan.

“In 2015, we adopted a five-year strategic plan after a vigorous public outreach process with our customer-owners. Our purpose was to identify how our actions as a public power utility could accomplish our mission statement to enhance the quality of life in Chelan County.

Once again, we’re calling upon our customer-owners to provide informed input and guidance as we plan Chelan PUD’s future. We want to share what has changed since we wrote our existing 5-year Strategic Plan – and what we’ve already achieved – as we chart our course for 2020 – 2024.”

Visit www.ourpublicpower.org to sign up for updates!

Glass to Sand has crushed 1,000 bottles since receiving their glass crushing machine one month ago

 

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Brett LaMar at Lake Chelan Building Supply has agreed to sell Glass to Sand Companies products out of their Home and Garden section, giving 90 percent of the revenues generated back to the project.

By Richard Uhlhorn

You can find more about the following article at the Glass to Sand Facebook page. If you would like to donate to the cause, the GoFundMe link is listed there.

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Megan Clausen (left) and Devyn Smith began their Career Connection Service Project when the Valley lost its glass recycling program.

“We began our project when recycling ended in Manson,” stated Megan Clausen, a senior at Manson High School. “We were Ok with recycling in Chelan and then we lost that option too.”

It all began when the City of Chelan halted its recycling operation at the NCW Recycling Center after struggling for two years after Chelan  County backed out. “They kind of left us high and dry,” said Mayor Cooney. The city opted to get back into the curb side recycling for City residents.

Unfortunately, the curbside recycling program in Chelan doesn’t include glass which leaves the entire Lake Chelan Valley without a glass recycling program.

Clausen and fellow senior Devyn Smith decided that glass recycling would be a good career connection service project that had the potential of really impacting the community. The idea for the project came when a distributor for Pioneer Group Waste & Recycling Equipment came to Manson with a small glass crusher and demonstrated it.

The girls at that point began their entry into glass crushing and named their startup “Glass to Sand.”

They made arrangements to purchase a small Pioneer Group Waste & Recycling Equipment glass crusher from a San Francisco distributor of the New Zealand manufacturer. The unit takes only one bottle at a time, but it crushed a wine bottle almost instantly into sand.

 

The girls purchased a glass crushing machine from a New Zealand manufacturer with the use of donations and monetary gifts through a GoFundMe page.

The bottles have to have labels removed. It takes 44 bottles to make 50 pounds of sand. To date, they have crushed 1,000 wine bottles for Hard Row to Hoe, Wine Girl Wines, North Shore Café, Radiance, Vin du Lac, the Vogue and several other wineries in the area. “We are focusing on wineries, we can’t take bottles from private people,” said Clausen.

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Brett LaMar, owner of Lake Chelan Building Supply has agreed to take the 50 pound bags of sand and sell them in its garden center. “We’ve committed to selling the bags for $5 and giving the girls back $4,” said LaMar. LCBS is keeping $1 for the processing. “They got the ball rolling and we’ve given them an outlet.”

The girls have, since beginning the project, raised enough money to pay for the machine. They have donation buckets out, have a GoFundMe page, which has raised $3,050 of a $6,000 goal. The Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce donated $1,000 to the project and Clausen’s parents have also donated and set up an account at Wells Fargo Bank.

They continue to present their project to organizations and made a presentation to the Lake Chelan Rotary Club on Tuesday, February 12. “They were very excited to see and listen to the presentation,” reported Clausen. “It went really well and we enjoyed getting feedback from them.”

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Senior Devyn Smith puts a wine bottle into their glass crushing machine. It takes only a few seconds to become sand and so far the girls have crushed 1,000 bottles from wineries that are participating in the project.

The girls plan on crushing glass until May, but have begun to introduce the project to juniors at Manson High School in hopes of handing it over when they graduate and head to college.

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The crushing machine produces a fine sand from the glass that can be used for a variety of projects around the home and garden.

While their operation is small, it is the hope that something bigger can happen in the Lake Chelan Valley regarding glass recycling. Clausen and Smith have met with Mayor Cooney and he is very supportive of their efforts.

The City is working with Chelan County to reopen the recycling center to take glass. Under the proposed plan, Valley residents would be able to drop off glass and then the County would transfer it to a recycling center. “If we can get the County on board it would be good,” said Cooney. At this point the County seems unwilling to enter into a hauling agreement. “We are trying to get it done by Earth Day,” said Cooney.

Public Works Director Jake Youngren said that the City took it upon themselves to haul all the recycled glass they had stored at the old recycling plant to Seattle. “We made three or four trips but the hauling cost exceeded the money from the recycling plant,” said Youngren. “We need some support.”

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One of the ideas being considered is to have residents pay for dropping off glass at the recycle center to help pay the costs of recycling.

Glass is one of the truly recyclable products. Crushed glass can be reused again and again to make a variety of products from fillers in concrete to new bottles.

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The European Federation of Glass Recycling had 42 companies recycling glass and 82 glass processing plants that generated €508 million Euros. Sweden has 5,000 collection stations alone and has a recycling rate of over 95 percent which is financed by levies of 0.02 to 0.3 geks per bottle imposed on manufacturers of glass products. Revenues are also generated by selling glass collets to glass manufacturers.

The market for glass recycling is booming and glass collection is in vogue.

Congratulations to Megan Clausen and Devyn Smith for their efforts to not only crush glass, but to educate the public to need to recycle glass instead of having it end up in a landfill.

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Local emergency medicine, healthcare providers honored at annual EMS awards banquet

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Chelan, WA – Saving lives when seconds count is all in a day’s work for Lake Chelan Hospital’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) caregivers. The team’s hard work and dedication to the community was celebrated at the annual EMS banquet Feb. 2 at the Chelan Senior Center. “Tonight we celebrate where we have been and get excited about where we are going,” said EMS director Ray Eickmeyer.

Local EMS service started in 1972, after the spouse of Great Griffith, Chelan, was killed a tragic motor vehicle accident. Griffith and a group of volunteers started EMS classes and helped form the Lake Chelan Valley Ambulance system, which is now part of the local hospital.

In 2018, LCCHC EMS answered a record number of response calls, almost 1,500, said Eickmeyer. “We have become a better team,” he continued, “more compassionate and community focused. The proof? We have received more thank you letters and phone calls of appreciation than in the last five years combined.”

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Brad Hankins, RN, Lake Chelan Clinic administrator, and Jill Thompson, RN, received the 2018 Edward J. Armbruster Award for their foresight and vision to make a healthier community, from integrated behavior / mental health to the soon-to-be-launched community paramedicine program. Only one percent of the nation has access to this type of service, explained Eickmeyer. Hankins was one of the early EMTs in the valley and has worked in local healthcare for almost 30 years.

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Steve Patonai, LCCHC CEO, awarded the 2018 Administrator’s Award to Raynor Baker for constant dedication and service. Raynor has been a full time employee for 11 years, taking on the major role of CPR program coordinator. Raynor is a senior EMT instructor and has served with great passion and performance, said Eickmeyer.

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The Director’s Award for sacrifices above and beyond the call of duty was presented to Dr. Lance Jobe. Jobe has served over 20 years, said Eickmeyer, and has unified over 23 different organizations in Chelan and Douglas counties to regionally provide the best out-of-hospital cardiac arrest rates in the country.

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Rachel McCall was chosen by her EMS peers and recognized as the 2018 Personnel of the Year. McCall was described as “the hardest worker with the best attitude,” “the most encouraging co-worker I know,” “team player,” and “outstanding addition to the team.”

 

Eleven providers received save pins for CPR saves of patients. Five caregivers were recognized for delivering babies. Rachel McCall, Mark Schram, Greg Moser and Brandon Fogelson were recognized with first-year pins, Jared Eygabroad received his 10-year pin, and James Ashmore, Rinita Cook, Christina

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Eickmeyer and Ken Young earned 20-year pins. Mark Courtney of Stehekin was honored for 34 years of service as an EMT, most often as a volunteer. He is the only EMT in Stehekin.

At the conclusion of the banquet, Eickmeyer looked to the future. The ambulance organization was born out a need for rescue, and while there is still that need in 2019, he said, there is also a need for prevention and proactivity. “My vision is to show the community that they can have an EMS system that responds to them in a new, meaningful way, both as rescuers and as partners in prevention.”

Quoting Margaret Mead, he continued, “‘Never doubt that a small group of committed, thoughtful people can change the world, indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.’”

Four local winery restaurants named in Washington’s top 10

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by Richard Uhlhorn

The website, http://www.onlyinyourstate.com, has reported that some of Washington State’s wineries also have amazing restaurants and have listed their top 10 on Twitter.

No. 1 is Sorrento’s Ristorante at Tsillan Cellars;
No. 4 is 18 Brix at Karma Vineyards;
No. 5 is Vin du Lac Winery; and
No. 9 is the BBQ a Lake Chelan Winery

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Tsillan Cellar’s Sorrento’s Ristorante was named the best winery restaurant in the State.

You can find out the rest in Washington by visiting their website along with plenty of other delightful attractions, dining, food, nature and other things to see and do here.

18 Brix at Karma Vineyards garnered the No. 4 position.

The four restaurants they have selected in the Lake Chelan Valley are a great representation of what is being offered as local dining options. I have had the pleasure of eating at all four and can say without reservation that, while not inexpensive, the food is worth the price you pay.

Vin do Lac was named the No. 5 best winery restaurant in the State.

Sorrento’s has some of the best prime rib I’ve ever had. 18 Brix serves up incredibly delicious lunches with outdoor seating. Larry at Vin du Lac has turned his bistro into a wonderful “farm to table” restaurant and is open for both lunch and dinner. The BBQ at Lake Chelan Winery has been noted for some of the best barbeque ribs this side of Texas.

Lake Chelan Winery’s BBQ settled in at No. 9 best in the State. It is only open during the late Spring through Fall.

All offer great wines to pair with your choice on the menus.

Pretty incredible that four of the 10 best would be located in the Lake Chelan Valley.

Congratulations to each bistro, restaurant and winery.

Sheriff’s Department gives quarterly report to City Council

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Local attorney Stan Morse announces his candidacy for Mayor of Chelan in the next election.

by Richard Uhlhorn

Chelan attorney and ex-city council member Stan Morse quashed a rumor that he would be running for Mayor of Chelan in the next election cycle by announcing his candidacy at the City of Chelan City Council meeting on Tuesday, January 22.

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Stan Morse

Saying he was concerned with how Chelan has evolved, Morse told the Council that his primary focus during the campaign would be on issues he has spoken about in the past; fire and fuel loads, housing options, water rights and the arsenic and lead issues.

“I’m a good talker, but a better listener,” said Morse. “I’m just hoping for a brighter future for Chelan.”

Rumor has it that his opponents might well be Councilwoman Erin McCardle and ex-councilman Skip Morehouse.

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DUI arrests and speeding tickets are up substantially.

Chelan County Sheriff’s Office quarterly report

Jason Reinfeld, Chief of Special Operations for the Sheriff’s Office, gave a statistic’s report to the Council for the 2018 calendar year. There were some significant changes over 2017.

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Jason Reinfeld

If you are in the habit of drinking, you need to be very careful of your consumption before driving. In 2017 there were 44 driving under the influence (DUI) arrests made. That number jumped to 92 in 2018 in Chelan. Reinfeld’s comment was that there are a number of newer and eager deputies on patrol in Chelan. “They are out there finding DUI drivers,” said Reinfeld.

Over the course of 2018, DUIs arrests are up in Chelan and Douglas Counties. In 2017 Wenatchee Police Department, East Wenatchee Police Department, Chelan County Sheriff’s Office and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office made a total of 496 arrests. In 2018, that number jumped to 685 arrests with 289 of them by Chelan County Sheriff’s deputies.

It would be interesting to find out how the wine industry may have affected the newer, higher numbers. Whatever the reason, if you are drinking and driving, make sure you stay under the limit or have a designated driver on hand. A DUI is worth about $10,000 these days when you consider fines, loss of driver’s license, insurance increases and attorney’s fees.

Reinfeld also said there was a significant increase in speeding tickets also. These went up from 98 in 2017 to 167 in 2018.

Domestic violence, assaults and criminal trespass were all down in 2018, but thefts were up. He also stated that there was no significant uptick in drugs.

Mayor Cooney asked what the department is doing with immigration issues. Reinfeld said it doesn’t come up that frequently. “We partner with Homeland Security and work with them on investigations.” However, he said the department is not out specifically looking for immigration problems.

Councilman Ty Witt said it was nice to see the deputies around and working hard.

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Brian Moody – Marine Patrol lead

After Reinfeld was finished, Marine Patrol deputy Brian Moody took the podium and gave a short presentation about the County’s Marine Patrol. Moody told the Council that the department had five active volunteers and 20 deputies on the marine patrol.

The County’s coverage includes Lake Chelan, Wapato Lake and 70 miles of the Columbia River which is all covered with only three boats. “Ninety five percent of our patrol work is on Lake Chelan,” said Moody. The full year included 415 boat hours. Moody said 330 written inspections were conducted and of those 155 failed the inspection process.

During the season the County assisted 32 boats that had lower level issues and were not in any peril. There were six reported boat accidents that required hospitalization or had over $2,000 damage to the vessel. “Most rental companies won’t report accidents,” said Moody.

Mayor Cooney asked Moody if the addition of the proposed Chelan Fire and Rescue boat would be a help or hindrance to their operation. “I think it would be a help,” replied Moody. “They have a long road to hoe.”

Moody talked about how boats get into trouble on the lake. He stated that people who don’t know that lake will think that because the weather is calm in the Wapato Basin that they can just boat on up to Stehekin. “They get around the corner and find four to five foot swells,” he said and added that the boating accidents on the lake normally involve rental boats.

Councilman Ty Witt said that the Marine Patrol is not on the lake more than one third of the time. “Is there any way to get more money for more hours on the water,” he asked? “That’s a better question for the Sheriff,” replied Moody. “One half of our money comes from boat registrations.”

 

Councilmen Ty Witt and Ray Dobbs

Councilman Ray Dobbs who had been listening in on the phone remarked that in the past the Sheriff’s Department had up to 70 volunteers for marine patrol duties. “I think a lot of people would be interested,” he said. Moody replied that there was a liability aspect involved.

Dobbs then asked if it would be possible for a non-profit organization of volunteers could help? Moody replied that definitely could be a part of the conversation.

Councilman Tim Hollingsworth stated that his particular concern was paddleboards and kayakers who are vulnerable to motorized vessels. “I think we need to keep looking at ways to get them (motorized users) to calm down,” said Hollingsworth.

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Councilman Tim Hollingsworth

 

Lake Chelan Water Quality Monitoring Program:

Mike Kaputa, Director of the Chelan County Natural Resource Department and Dr. Phil Long, Director of the Lake Chelan Research Institute were on hand to give a report on ongoing water quality monitoring effort on the lake

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Dr. Phil Long 

Long told the Council that the program “very much appreciated the $20,000 the City has committed too.” The City committed to giving $20,000 for five years to help the ongoing efforts to monitor lake quality that includes Secchi disk measurements, mulitiparameter probe collections and fiber optic temperature measurements.  “All of us can get our heads around that we want clear, clean water in Lake Chelan,” said Long.

The monitoring program costs an estimated $50,000 per year with the Lake Chelan Reclamation District and Chelan County each putting in $10,000 and Cascadia Conservation District and Chelan Public Utility District putting in $5,000 each. The Department of Ecology will also contribute $5,000.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is contributing $10,000 in-kind work for lab sampling services and Oregon State University is also contributing $10,000 in-kind for installation of a fiber optic cable to monitor temperature data.

Long presented the Secchi Disk data that had been collected over the years and in 2018 which showed a slight deviation of water clarity in the lake. Councilwoman Erin McCardle asked what was causing this decline and Long replied that the Cougar Mountain fire contributed a lot of ash to the lake last year. He also remarked that a lot of fire material is from past fires on Lake Chelan is still entering the lake from runoff.

He reported that the Manson High School Drone Club would be taking drone footage of the color of the lake at different periods. “They are applying for a grant,” said Long.

He added that the Research Institute was developing a strategic plan to begin a University on the Lake like Dr. Charles Goldman did in Lake Tahoe.

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Mayor Cooney asked Long if he saw the Research Institute creating jobs in the future? Long replied that was the goal.

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Mike Kaputa – Director of Chelan County Natural Resources Department.

Mike Kaputa gave a short report on water supply and said that State Representative Michael Steele was working with them to secure a water supply program which would alleviate some of the backlog of water applications. The program is a domestic water supply plan that would allow small requests to be adjudicated. “When we get a response, will know if that program is available,” said Kaputa.

Hollingsworth remarked that there was a huge backlog of applications. Mayor Cooney asked how much water people actually use. Hollingsworth said the program would use the water from the Stehekin River and other tributaries.

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Phyllis Gleasman takes over chairmanship of the Hospital Board

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By Richard Uhlhorn

The Lake Chelan Community Hospital held its regularly scheduled commission meeting on Tuesday afternoon, January 22, in the hospital board room.

On the agenda was a changing of the guard with Mary Signorelli stepping down and Phyllis Gleasman taking the helm as chairman of the board.dsc05865-phyliss gleasman

Phyllis Gleasman accepted the position of Chairman for 2019 on the Lake Chelan Community Hospital Board of Commissioners.

Signorelli stated that her tenure was a labor of love and said, “I’ve learned an awful lot and am grateful for the opportunity and challenges.”

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Mary Signorelli told the board that her tenure as Chairman has been a Labor of Love and that she was grateful for the opportunity.

Mary Murphy was nominated and elected as the new Vice Chairman and Fred Miller took over the position of Secretary.

Committee assignments are as follows:
Mary Signorelli – Facilities and Community Outreach
Phyllis Gleasman – Facilities and Affiliations
Fred Miller – Finance and Retirement Plans
Mary Murphy – Affiliation and Quality Care
Jordana LaPorte – Finance and Community Outreach.

Finance Director Vickie Bodie and CEO Steve Patonai gave a financial report that included a Year-to-Date report that had the hospital operating on a net revenue of $26,762,211 with a net income of ($198,000). Of concern to the board is the Debt and Charity Care balance that was reported to be $2,114,000 for 2018, up from 2017 at $1,715,000.

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Finance Director Vickie Bodie explained that the hospital has to accept all patients in the Emergency Room regardless of their status.

Signorelli asked if a lot of these patients who are not paying are repeat patients. Bodie replied, “They know they can come to the ER (Emergency Room) and they will not be denied.”

Dr. Ty Witt asked if those monies were uncollectible or “does some of that come back to us.” Bodie replied that some comes back after it goes to collection because it affects a person’s credit score. Signorelli asked if there was a line item for recovery and Bodie replied that there was.

Gleasman asked if these patients who are not paying could be put on a watch list and Patonai replied that there was nothing that the hospital can do.

“The Health Industry is a tough industry right now,” said Patonai “We are being hammered.”

The board approved a business plan at its retreat and Patonai stated that he will give an update on that plan at next month’s meeting. “I will give an update on each pillar of where we are at achieving our goals.”

Brad Hankins, Clinic Director stated that the Clinic has moved to 100 percent electronic billing. He also stated that the Clinic is working with a focused population dealing with chronic pain. “The diabetes program is up and running,” he said. He also told the board that the ACH payment processing has reached 99 percent at the Clinic. “Some of this stuff has happened over the course of January,” said Hankins. “It is the result of a lot of hard work over the past months by a lot of people.”

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Dr. Ty Witt resigned as of February 1 as the Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, but will remain on staff as a physician.

Dr. Witt announced his resignation as the Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer at the end of January. “I’ll still be here working as a doctor,” he stated. He added that there is no replacement yet.

One other concern brought up by Mary Murphy and Jordana LaPorte was the status of the new hospital. They were told it is still in the planning phase. “We’ve met with the architects,” said Patonai. The challenge is to somehow fit the clinic into the original footprint. Murphy said, “It would be really helpful as a board member to understand what is going on.” Patonai replied that two board members are on the facilities committee and will be coming back to the full board with recommendations.

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CEO Steve Patonai explained the process going forward with the architects on the new hospital plan to the board and that the Facilities Committee would be giving a full report on that process soon.

Patonai said during his CEO report that it is important to the community that the hospital/clinic strive for high standards.

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Fire agencies discuss need for rescue boat

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by Richard Uhlhorn

Last Monday, January 7, Chelan Fire Commission Chair, Russ Jones, invited a group of individuals and agency representatives together to find out what their interest might be in Chelan Fire and Rescue’s (CFR) new, but not paid for, acquisition… a 25 foot Defender that Jones and others hope to put into service on Lake Chelan as a rescue swimmer platform and potential fire boat.

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This Defender Class boat can be purchased for $5,500 and made operational for Chelan Fire and Rescue. It would primarily be a vessel to transport the District Rescue Swimmers when needed on the Lake.

The boat is a Coast Guard surplus vessel that Jones found for $5,500. The Defender class boat, also called a Response boat was introduced in 2002 by the U.S. Coast Guard and as such, serves a variety of missions including search and rescue, law enforcement and fire fighting.

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A number of agency representatives joined Commissioner Russ Jones to discuss the interest in purchasing and putting into the District’s tool bag for on-water rescue and other operations if needed.

The design length of the hull is 25 feet and is normally powered by twin 225 horsepower outboards and are capable of speeds in excess of 46 knots. It can carry up to 10 individuals and is trailerable.

The deal is that if CFR purchases the boat, it must make it operational within 12 months and keep it for 18 months under the auspices of the District.

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Firefighters and Agency Representatives got their first look at the Defender after the Monday meeting. 

Jones put together an estimate to make the boat fully operational. He has found two 225 hp outboards at $4,000 each or $8,000 with only 200 hours on them. Installation would cost another $1,000. Batteries would add $567 to the total and a Fire Department radio would cost $1,615.

The vessel comes with full electronics including radar. Total cost to make the vessel operational would be approximately $17,800.00.

Annual operating costs are estimated at $3,970. “We have been offered maintenance by a local marine shop,” said Jones. In addition, Sunset Marina has offered dock space for the boat.

Most of those attending the meeting were positive about CFR acquiring and putting the vessel to work. Chief Asher (CFR) said, “In the long term the versatility it gives us is pretty hard to pass up.”

Chelan County Sheriff’s Marine Patrol representative said he was on hand to find out what the District wanted to do and to go from there. “We want some insight into whatever it is you want to accomplish,” said Moody.

The Chelan County Sheriff’s Department has the responsibility to patrol the waters of Chelan County including Lake Chelan for the purpose of preventing crime and enforcing the law. Currently the department has 10 Marine Patrol Volunteers that help during the busy boating season.

“I think a boat is a good investment because in the summertime we have tourists … incidents we can’t get to,” said Cody Evans. He is a volunteer rescue swimmer and SCUBA diver. “I think it is a good investment for Chelan Fire and Rescue.”

Chelan County Fire District 5 Chief, Arnold Baker said, “We need capabilities for rescue. Yes, I like it, but don’t set your expectations too high. Set your goals and cooperate. I’m very interested.”

Douglas County Fire District Chief Jim Oatey stated that he is very interested at what’s going on, but added that river rescue is way different. “By the time we get there, it is all played out. When things go bad on the river they go really bad fast.”

Volunteer firefighter Robert Taegu said he was interested in a support role on the boat. His only concern is that it can’t make it under the old Woodin Avenue Bridge during high water.”Maybe it could be modified, but having a boat on the water ready to go in the only way to do it. It is important to be able to get out there without having to launch it.”

Volunteer Cynthia Raines is also interested in a support role on the vessel. “Having high rescue capabilities is pretty important. Accidents are going up.”

Chief Tim Lemon put together a Memo sheet for information for the group which also included on water incidents from 2005 to 2018. Most incidents involved personal watercraft accidents, drowning incidents and near drowning incidents.

One of his bigger concerns, based on other incidents around the state, is the potential for a Marina fire. Lemon wrote that there are no agencies on Lake Chelan set up or equipped to fight a marina fire from the lake.

Lemon listed a number of operational considerations for the boat include:

  • A response for drowning situations;
  • Marine rescue for boat/jet ski accidents that require an on water response;
  • Marine fire suppression response for both boat fires and potential marina fires;
  • Up-lake fire support operations;
  • As an up-lake boat ambulance if needed;
  • Standby for marine events;
  • Boater assistance; and
  • Salvage responses.

All of these operations would have to be approved by the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office because they have the jurisdiction for any marine operations on Lake Chelan.

The department will be looking at a number of areas to help fund the boat’s operation including apparatus, equipment, training, operational costs, repairs and maintenance.

Jones stated at the end of the meeting that there are a number of small grants the District can go after to help fund the boat. The $5,500 purchase is offset by the selling of the District’s old boat for $3,000. “I hope to see a little more buy-in by the other commissioners,” said Jones. Neither Commissioners Jay Witherbee or Phil Moller were too excited about the funding aspects of the vessel.

If purchased, made operational and it doesn’t work out, the boat would be worth somewhere between $100,000 and $150,000 after the 18 months, which according to Jones, is a win-win situation.

IMG_1406 -Keep it Blue