Candidate forum lightly attended

by Richard Uhlhorn

Ballots for the November 5 election will be in the mail on Friday, October 18. In anticipation of the election, the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce hosted a Candidate’s Forum on Tuesday evening, October 15, for candidates who were opposed.

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The Tuesday evening’s local Candidate’s Forum hosted by the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce was a lightly attended affair. An estimated 60 people attended.

The positions being challenged include the Mayor’s race between incumbent Mike Cooney and ex-mayor Bob Goedde; City Council race between John Olson and Jon Higgins; and the Fire Commissioner race between Karyl Oules and Bill Bassett.

Chamber manager Michael Steele opened the Candidate’s Forum on Tuesday evening. The evening’s moderator was Jay Witherbee.

Jay Witherbee, who resigned his position from the Fire Commission, moderated the event.

Each candidate was given two minutes for an opening statement, one minute to answer each written question from the audience, and a ending statement.

Fire Commissioner:

First up was William (Bill) Bassett, who is running for Fire Commissioner at District 7 against long time resident Karyl Oules who was out of town and unable to attend the Forum.

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William Bassett is running for Fire Commissioner at District 7 against local Karyl Oules who was on the road and unable to attend the forum.

Bassett and his family purchased their house in the Valley four years ago. He is the CEO and President of his own health care software company and works with clients around the world.

He is a Rotarian and says he has the conviction to serve on the board. In an interview following the forum, Bassett said, “When I take on a position, I do it the best I possibly can.”

Asked if he sees a conflict of interest serving as a commissioner while his son is employed as a career firefighter at the District, Bassett said, “I don’t see any problem with it. My son started as a volunteer and has moved into a full time position.”

He has also heard about the alleged strife between full-time firefighters and volunteers. “I don’t know what drives it, but I would be willing to sit down and bridge that gap,” said Bassett.

Bassett says he has the right skill sets to help the District in figuring out how to solve issues. “Let’s stop the name calling and start doing,” said Bassett at the end of his interview.

On stage at the Forum, Bassett said he was sorry that his challenger wasn’t able to make it.In his opening statement, Bassett stated that he has never called for a levy lid lift.

“We need to look outside the box and find how to do things,” stated Bassett. “I want to clear the air. There have been untruthful things said about me… one being that I’m in favor of a levy lid lift. I never said anything public or private suggesting that. She (Oules) doesn’t know what my position is.”

He went on to say he feels it is important to look at how the District is funding and planning its budget. “There is no need for new funding for two years,” says Bassett. “That gives us time to generate and add resources.”

Bassett says the District needs to be more transparent. With regards to his son being a career firefighter at the District, Bassett said he had a long discussion with his son and others at the District. “There are specific regulations that prohibit me from working with my son.” He added in his closing statement that if there was ever a potential conflice, he would step down.

In his closing statement, Bassett said he was asking for the community’s vote. He reiterated that he is not in favor of raising taxes and says he has the skill set and experience to serve as a commissioner.

Karyl Oules was unable to attend the forum but is noted as a long time resident of Chelan and a fiscally conservative individual who is worried that the District is seeking a huge levy lift. In my interview Oules, she says she wants to hear from the community about their concerns and issues and would represent the District honestly and directly.

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City Council:

John Olson, a retired businessman who moved back to Chelan refers to himself as the older Goat to Jon Higgins who is also a Chelan High School graduate.

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Jon Higgins (left) and John Olson are facing each other for a City Council position that Council member Kelly Allen is vacating.

Olson told the estimated 60 valley residents attending the forum that he got a free ticket to Vietnam out of high school; that he worked on the oil pipeline construction in Alaska and, since moving back to Chelan, has attended City Council meetings, Chelan County Commission meetings, the Planning Commission meetings and other meetings like the Lake Chelan Water Planning Committee meetings.

Jon Higgins, a real estate broker at Chelan Realty, said he doesn’t always agree with the vision for Chelan. “I’m not afraid to speak up,” he said. “Kelly Allen’s seat is a tough seat to fill.” He says his roots in Chelan run deep and feels that the City needs to have a vision for the community that bridges the gap between investors and local community.

Questions:

Probably the biggest question relates to the City’s decision to turn Woodin Avenue into a one-way across the old bridge and what can be done about it. Some want the bridge returned to two-way traffic.

John Olson stated that in an issue poll he has been running in front of the Post Office, the bridge always seems to come to the surface.

“It was the best of choices we could do,” said Olson.

Higgins added that the bridge was a situation that was dangerous and it needed fixing. “I would have preferred a suspension bridge,” said Higgins. He stated that turning the bridge into a one way into town created other issues, basically traffic flow issues.

Olson stated that the traffic flows are very difficult issues for the community. “Growth has had a major impact on traffic,” said Olson.

Another question related to the City’s role in economic development. Higgins said the City has to help those people who work and live here. “The City has to help those people have jobs and purchase (affordable) homes. “It’s very hard for minimum wage people to find affordable housing.”

Olson agrees that affordable housing is an issue. “Jon’s point is well taken.”

Olson finished by saying he hopes to work towards a community that keeps residents in the Valley.

Higgins said he wants to work towards sustainable growth and said his door is always open.

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Mayor:

Both current incumbent Mike Cooney and past mayor Bob Goedde bring a lot of experience to the table. The question facing voters is which individual will be the best at driving Chelan into the future.

Bob Goedde (right) is running against current mayor Mike Cooney. Both are qualified candidates with the mayor’s office. Goedde served as Chelan mayor for eight years and Cooney is running for his second term in the office.

Cooney moved to Chelan 15 years ago, opening The Vogue. He served on City Council before running for mayor and said in his opening statement, “I don’t view Bob as my opponent.”

Goedde stated that he didn’t have a prepared statement, but read from his campaign brochure telling those in attendance that he served as a council member for eight years of which four years were as mayor pro-tem and as the mayor for another eight years.

Goedde, a Chelan native, spent 21 months in Vietnam and continues to work with veterans locally. “I value the dollar and started working when I was 12 years old,” said Goedde.

Both were asked how they have accomplished the job of mayor differently.

Cooney replied that he doesn’t see it as that paradigm. He says he has worked at rebuilding relationships he feels were sagging with the county, fire department and others. He also stated that he has attended every pre-application meeting for development at the planning department to back up his Planning Director.

Goedde stated that as mayor he probably put more input into Council business than he should have. Goedde worked hard as mayor to make sure that WalMart was successful in opening in Chelan and gathered thousands of signatures to make it happen.

Questions:

The first question to the two candidates was whether the old bridge could be returned to a two-way from its current configuration?

Goedde said he questions the whole operation of the one-way. “We had $3.5 million from the state that was taken back and given elsewhere. The new street scape is difficult and will be hell on snow removal.”

Cooney stated that the bridge needed restoring because it was unsafe and was changed for public safety. Goedde replied that the bridge had no accidents as a two-way corridor. “It was a terrible injustice to the people on the North Shore,” said Goedde.

Neither one gave any indication of what could be done to change the bridge back.

How to fix the traffic problems was also a major question put to the candidates.

Goedde said that he thinks the City created the problem by changing the corridor at the bridge.

Cooney admitted that it might have been a mistake to change the bridge to one-way, but stated that the City is working hard on traffic mitigation. “We have fixed the light timing and are doing a traffic study.” Cooney said they have received $900,000 in grants and will be looking at a long term vision for traffic.

Goedde stated that Manson could become larger than Chelan because it has more buildable property which will add to the traffic issue now facing the community.

Goedde said his first action at the City if elected as Mayor would be to make himself aware of the changes in city government, get a feel of how the staff works and let them know how he works.

Cooney stated that growth, traffic and housing are on his mind and said he would continue to work on those issues.

Voters are encouraged to do their research, reach out to each of the candidates and make educated choices for whom they feel will best represent them.

Olson and Higgins facing off for Council seat on Chelan City Council

John Olson, a retired real estate broker and Jon Higgins, a real estate broker with Chelan Realty, are both running for the same seat on Chelan City Council.

Both candidates are Chelan locals.

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John Olson has been attending City Council meetings over the past four years and has been a public advocate for a number of issues including the affordable housing crisis in Chelan.

John Olson

Olson left Chelan for the military in 1967 and worked a career in real estate on the west side of the mountains, purchasing his grandmother’s property in Chelan in 1994. “My family was always here, so there was a lot of visiting.” Olson retired and moved back permanently in 2013 where he has been active over the last four years attending City workshops, planning commission meetings, community meetings and county meetings. “I know all the issues,” said Olson. “Unfortunately, some people say I have an opinion,” quipped Olson.

He works full-time as a volunteer at the Chelan ReRun Store and has taken its income from $35,000 when he started to $170,000 this past year.

Olson sees Chelan changing rapidly, but not for the best. Traffic and overcrowding are major concerns Olson sees the community facing in the future. Parking is another issue he feels needs to be addressed. Public safety in the community is also high on his list of issues to address.

“I’ve had four years of watching and studying these issues,” said Olson. “Steve Kline (now deceased) and I worked on this for three and a half years. He wanted to run for Mayor.”

Olson says his greatest attribute as a councilman is that he is not an employee or an employer. “I’m retired. I can tell the truth to power.”

His message to voters is, “If we can work together, we can minimize these negative impacts of urban growth and sprawl in our community, but without our efforts many of these impacts will be inevitable.”

John can be reached at 253.209.1248 or by email at johnrolson@outlook.com.

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Jon Higgins has lived in Chelan all of his life and is currently a real estate broker at Chelan Realty. He has a number of issues he would like to see the City address.

Jon Higgins

Higgins has been a resident of Chelan his entire life. “I thought it was time to throw my hat in the ring and give back to the citizens.”

His main concern is with the City’s use of its budget. “I walk around town and see sidewalks and streets that need work. Why are we not fixing those.” He has a major problem with the bricks in the sidewalks that are broken or coming lose. “I think we need to pull the bricks, concrete those areas and stamp them.”

Parking is another issue with Higgins. “The City Parks are overflowing,” says Higgins. “I would like to see the acquire a couple of properties for parking.” He sees the commercial property across Hwy 150 from Lakeshore RV Park an excellent piece for a new parking lot. He also says there is a lot for sale in Lakeside behind the Stone Church that would help to alleviate that park’s parking issues.

In addition, he feels the city could open up more parking at Lakeside Park. “Growth is inevitable but we need to improve our infrastructure to support that growth.” He sees tourism as a part of that growth and feels the community needs to embrace it.

“I just want to give back to the community that has supported me all my life,” says Higgins.

He can be reached at 509.881.4726 or by email at jon@chelanrealty.com.

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Public access town hall draws about 65

Chelan_1200px_280pxby Richard Uhlhorn

The City of Chelan held a Town Hall meeting at the Chelan Senior Center on Wednesday evening to present J.A. Brennan and Associates preliminary study on potential Public Access sites within the City limits.

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An estimated crowd of 65 attended the City’s Town Hall on Public Access Points on Lake Chelan within the City Limits. Lake Chelan Now live streamed the event and 600 people accessed at least a part of the stream. To date however, according to Dennis Rahm, 1200 people have accessed the file.

An estimated 65 citizens attended the meeting to hear the presentation from Jim Brennan and ask questions and or share their concerns

Mayor Cooney told the attendees that this was the third meeting on Access Points to the lake along with the potential purchase of the landlocked 9 acre parcel at Spader Bay.

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Mayor Cooney

“Seventeen sites were picked by our consultant,” said Cooney. “We have 18 miles of shoreline in Chelan and only 1.8 miles of public access,” he added. “There is a lot of public land we want to uncover for use.”

Cooney went on to say that the City Council wants to hear from the public about what they are thinking about. He asked that the meeting be kept civil and turned the presentation over to Jim Brennan.

Brennan told the residents that most communities are looking for public access. “We’ve been working on this project for three months and we want to make sure we capture all of your input.”

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Jim Brennan of J.A. Brennan and Associates presented the information he has already gathered and held a question and answer session after the presentation.

Brennan stated that he wanted input on the possibilities of public access from the meeting. “I will take the comments and use them towards making conceptual designs.” He stated that he is looking at the diversity of recreation and looks forward to making a better walkable community.

Most of the 17 sites located as potential public access points have no parking but were described as jewels on a necklace around the lake. Most of the potential sites are walk-in or bike-in areas along the planned Lakeshore Trail that will extend from Crystal View Estate’s marina on the North Shore to Lakeside Park on the South Shore.

“As we start to screen these sites, we need to determine what is the highest benefit to the public,” Brennan stated. Most of the access points are 40 to 60 foot wide street ends lost when the lake was raised to the 1100 foot level by the PUD.

 

The sites with the most potential are already being used by the public. The potential lies in improving them for better use. They include a long section of lakefront along Hwy. 150 between the Chelan Hills Willow Point Park and Lake Chelan Shores. There is a possibility of some parking close to this location.

The other exciting possibility is the street end at Dietrich’s Road. This is jointly owned by Chelan County and the City. It has some real potential for improvements, but doesn’t offer parking. It would be a walk-in or ride-in location.

The heavily used PUD micro park adjacent to the Chelan Ranger District offers some opportunities for access improvement and the Ranger District has indicated it wouldn’t be opposed for those improvements to take place from the District’s south lawn that is already being used by the public. This site has limited parking access.

The other site that has some real potential is already being used by the public is the street end adjacent to Peterson’s Waterfront. It could be improved to allow better non-motorized boat access and swimming.

Sunset Marina’s floating bulkhead is already open to the public, but there is a small beach just south of the bulkhead on the Boat Company’s property that could be opened up. There is also parking available at this location.

Just to the south of the Boat Company’s southern property line there is a street end that is closed off right now, but could be opened and improved for public access. Parking could also be made available at this location.

One of the best points for new public access for swimming is the bay between the West Finger of the Three Fingers and Green Dock. Green Dock on Water Street is a small PUD micro park that became heavily used this past summer as visitors finally discovered it. Opening up the bay with a huge public dock just west of the west finger and the installation of several swimming docks could make this area one of the best walk-in/bike-in points on the lake.

“We still haven’t seen the plans for this,” said Brennan. “The City is looking for them.”

The plans are a compromise plan from a meeting with home owners on Terrace Avenue.

There are several other street ends along Terrace Avenue that offer some good public access.

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Spader Bay:

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The Spader Bay property has been up for sale for several years and is being offered to the City at a reduced cost for trail development.

The potential purchase of the nine acres of landlocked Spader Bay property by the City has created a lot of positive and negative buzz amongst the Community. Brennan said that the well-established shrub step land could easily be developed into a trail system with nice view sites up-lake and down-lake.

The land, owned by Linda Evans-Parlette and her sister, is the last piece of the old O’Neal orchard land and has been offered to the City for $400,000. To many residents this is a lot of money to just establish a trail system on.

Access might be negotiated with an easement from Vin du Lac. “The idea of an easement is of interest to them,” said Brennan. There could be a stairway to access the lake, depending on how much the City would be willing to spend on improvements.

Brennan stated that the process of opening these street ends and purchasing Spader Bay are still being explored. Over the next three months, conceptual designs will be developed and shared with the public for more input. This will include cost estimates.

The public was invited to put stickers on those sites they felt were of most interest. They had four green stickers and one orange sticker. After that exercise the meeting was opened up for a question and answer period.

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Most of the attendees took the time to place stickers on those sites
they preferred to be developed.

Brigette Sztab, a local kayaker and lake user stated that she would like to see more places to get into the water. Her complaint was that there were limited parking places to access the lake. “All of us who love the lake can’t find parking.”

The other complaint was the lack of parking at existing parks.

Another resident complained that the unimproved beach from the marina bulkhead towards Don Morse Park needs to be cleaned up so it can be better utilized by the public. Councilman Tim Hollingsworth said, “It sounds more like a maintenance issue.”

Another resident stated that there was no place for people who live in Chelan to go swimming. “We need more swimming areas,” she said.

Tom Clark, who says he is a public advocate, called for the City to instigate eminent domain on the Three Fingers. He said the public owns a 140 foot wide swath across the fingers and the right of ways that go into the lake. “We need to rely on the (city) government to seek eminent domain on the Three Fingers,” said Clark. “It needs to be done.”

Another resident brought up security and safety issues if the City purchased Spader Bay. She wondered how the Fire Department would access the area in case of a fire and added that the property has been a party place for the public. Skip Morehouse said it was a dangerous place.

Mayoral candidate Bob Goedde brought up the risk management of these areas and said the City should be thinking hard about liability issues.

In the end, it was clear that everyone would like to see signage at each of the public access points so people would know them.

It was also stated that the lowest hanging fruit should be developed first before going after the more difficult areas.

More information will be made available to the public as it becomes available.

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Hospital commission approves concept designs for new hospital

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Construction and Design Team moving forward with Construction Drawings for Bidding

by Richard Uhlhorn

The Hospital Board of Commissioners held a special meeting on Tuesday, October 2, to go over the contractor and architectual planner’s concept drawing for the upcoming hospital that voters approved several years ago.

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Interim Hospital CEO Mike Ellis

Mike Ellis, interim CEO, started the discussion by telling the commission, “We started with a concept. We are making sure we can do this.”

Ellis stated that the presentation is from the planning stage before it is turned into actual construction drawings for bidding. “They came in a little on the high side, but sharpened their pencils and came back with options to get the (new) hospital within the funding we have,” said Ellis.

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Jamey Bariet, Associate Principal at Collins Woerman gave a conceptual overview of the new hospital’s planning process.

Jamey Bariet, Associate Principal with Collins Woerman, told the commission that tow major pieces were adjusted. These included site development and parking stalls at the back of the hospital for employees. “Site development costs can add up really quick,” he said. As for parking, the concept now has extended parking in front of the facility.

The concept for the hospital is at 59,359 square feet as opposed to the original 77,000 sq. ft. planned. “We think this design meets the program,” said Bariet. “There are still contingencies and unknowns.”

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The planning team from Left: Jamey Barlet – CollinsWoerman; Keith Null – CollinsWoerman; Dick Bratton – Project Manager; and Kreg Shelby – Bouten Construction.

Ellis explained that the concept has raw land for a clinic and future facility for Emergency Medical Services. “A lot of work has been done short of construction drawing documents,” said Ellis.

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Overall Hospital Concept drawing

A few members of the Hospital commission are concerned about the $4 billion dollars worth of construction projects on the books in eastern Washington and how that might affect getting subcontractors to bid reasonable numbers for the hospital project.

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Conceptual Hospital Floor Plan

Project Manager Dick Bratton said that in the State of Washington you have to have a bidding contingency and design contigency. Ellis said the hospital’s contingency was $1.1 million dollars.

Bratton stated that there was $1.5 billion in projects in Spokane for new schools that could affect a little bid. “We have contacted sub-contractors and are confident we will get a good turnout during the bid process,” said Bratton. “Knowing they have the project they can begin scheduling.”

In addition to the Hospital Commission approving the bidding documents, the Department of Health also has to approve them. “It is a process to get approval and permits.”

Commissioner Mary Signorelli said she appreciated the group keeping them on track. “I’m happy to be at this point and that we all understand the direction we are going.”

Commission chair Phyllis Gleasman said she appreciated the design team and contractor taking the time to visit with employees and asking for their advice.

The hospital has $44.5 million for construction with $33.1 million for construction with other costs being a piece of the total pie including finance costs and pre-construction costs.

The commission unanimously approved the conceptual plans so the contractors can move forward to construction design drawings. These should be ready by next spring.

Chelan hospital Board hires George Rohrich as new CEO

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Editors Note: I missed the last Hospital Commission meeting on Tuesday, September 24 when it was announced that George Rohrich has accepted the CEO position at the hospital. Mr. Rohrich apparently has experience in turning around troubled facilities along with experience in hospital construction and recruitment.

Since CEO Steve Patonai took the job as interim and then permanent CEO at the hospital, approximately 50 professionals have left the facility including physicians. Patonai has retired as of September, 2019.

Current Chief Financial Officer Mike Ellis will serve as interim CEO until Rohrich’s December arrival

The Lake Chelan Community Hospital and Clinics (LCCHC) Board of Commissioners voted to hire George Rohrich as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), beginning December 2019, during their regular Board meeting Sept. 24. Current Chief Financial Officer Mike Ellis will serve as interim CEO until Rohrich’s arrival.

“I am very excited to join the team at Lake Chelan Community Hospital,” said Rohrich, who has more than 25 years’ experience as a hospital CEO and over 35 years of progressive operational and financial healthcare experience.

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Incoming CEO George Rohrich

“There are so many great things happening at the hospital and in the community,” he continued. “I look forward to being part of the team, the community and their future success.”

Rohrich is currently CEO at River’s Edge Hospital & Clinic, a 17-bed critical access hospital and primary care clinic with 180 employees in St. Peter, Minnesota. He joined their team in 2013, when the hospital had experienced low growth and consecutive years of a budget deficit. “Through his insightful and visionary leadership, Rohrich transformed the organization by growing service lines through strategic partnerships, encouraging a change in the culture of the organization to put people and patient first and make strategic investments in services and equipment to strengthen the hospital’s bottom line,” according to the organization’s website.

Rohrich’s experience also includes recruitment and hospital construction, most recently working on a USDA-funded $34 million expansion that includes 25 hospital beds and surgery, emergency, urgent care and therapy departments. With LCCHC on target to break ground on its new hospital facility in spring of 2020, Rohrich’s experience will prove invaluable, said Phyllis Gleasman, LCCHC Board Chair.

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Board Chairman Phyliss Gleasman

“The CEO search was a long process,” said Gleasman. “We interviewed several qualified candidates, and everyone agreed George was the right person for LCCHC. The Board looks forward to his arrival in December, and we welcome him to the community.”

Fire District 7 looks forward to 2020

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by Richard Uhlhorn

It was a somber Chelan 7 Fire Commission meeting on Wednesday, September 18 with the passing of past Fire Chief Tim Lemon. “We’ve lost somebody special to most of us,” said Commission Chair Russ Jones. Lemon passed away from a brief battle with pancreatic cancer in No. Whidbey where he had taken on a job to help their fire department.

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With Commissioner Jay Witherbee resigning effective September 11, the Fire Commission is down to two with no intention to appoint another commissioner until after the November election.

Also missing from Chelan 7 was Commissioner Jay Witherbee. He resigned from the Commission on September 11. “He will no longer be attending meetings,” said Jones. “We have no interest in appointing a new commissioner until after the election.”

Two individuals are running for Witherbee’s seat; Karyl Oules, a long time Chelan resident and Bill Bassett. (Interviews coming shortly with the two candidates). Jones remarked that he and Phil Moller make a quorum and could vote on District issues.

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Chief Mark Donnell

Chief Donnell reported that the second half of tax revenues have not come in yet. “We are on track to receive those.” He said.

He also reported that there were 110 calls for the month of September. “There is a higher volume than normal,” said Donnell. Most of those calls were EMS calls. However, Donnell stated that the Washington Creek Fire had a significant number of vehicles involved and that 27 apparatus’ from Orondo, Pateros, the Forest Service and the DNR responded to the call. This also included one helicopter. “We had 82 personnel on the fire and it was the smoothest fire we’ve ever been on.”

Callouts are still lagging behind, but Donnell expects the District will still hit the 900 level by the end of the year.

Donnell said the goal is to have staff out of bed, down the stairs, into their fire clothes and out the door in two minutes. Emergency 71 is currently responding in 2:14 minutes.

Assistant Chief Brandon Asher reported that Orondo has one new resident firefighter and that no members were lost so far in September. “We are evaluating participation with our investment. We had a good showing last night during our drill.”

Stipend coverage is beginning to dwindle added Asher. The District is at 36% coverage. Donnell reported that the District cannot exceed 20% of the career firefighters on stipend payments. “We have a serious problem with our Stipend program,” he said. He suggested that the District could look at eliminating the Stipend program and actually hiring two more full time career firefighters to fill the gap. However, Donnell also said that wasn’t sustainable going forward.

Dan Crandall reported that the Firefighter Association began the month with $17,735.00 and ended with $16,983.00.

The big concern for the Department is retention of volunteer firefighters. The investment in each individual is huge because of rules and regulations.  The District is considering changing from calling Volunteers volunteers to firefighters.

Chief Donnell reported that there were five general goals for the District. They include:

  1. Training
  2. Community relations
  3. Staff retention
  4. Future funding
  5. Measurable goals
    Turnout to two minutes
    An effective workforce
    Fire loss vs. pre-fire valuation
    Fiscal responsibility
    Maintaining clean annual audits

Donnell said that the District would like to retain a four month reserve fund to get the District to April when the first tax revenues come in. “We had a big fat zero this year on State Mobilization,” said Donnell. Typically, State mobilizations bring in additional cash to the District.

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Fire Chief Mark Donnell and Assistant Chief Brandon Asher presented September’s information to the Fire Commission.

The District recognizes that it must have a bigger impact on the community and plans on spending upwards of $20,000 on public relations including social media, new media and other forms of communication with the public so they can better understand the Fire District.

The Budget prediction is pretty dire. The Fire District can only collect one percent over the 2020 budget amount. “People think that when the tax revenues go up, the District collects a lot more money. That’s not true. We will increase our budget by only $20,000,” said Donnell.

“There is a lack of understanding of the one percent cap,” said Commissioner Jones. “The expectation is that when taxes go up, we get a whole bunch of money. We need to educate the public.”

The Commissioners, after a short discussion in executive session, agreed to sign the Douglas County Fire District 15 Mutual Aid Agreement.

The District’s proposed 2020 budget will begin with $910,815.00, bring in $2,074,149.00 in taxes, another $227,129.00 from the SAFER grant, and add approximately $65,000.00 in additional revenue for a total of $3,277.081.00.

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City Council authorizes a Sales & Purchase Agreement for Spader Bay

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by Richard Uhlhorn

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The property outlined in the above aerial photography is for sale and the City of Chelan City Council voted 4-2 to execute a Sales and Purchase Agreement for 120 days so they can conduct due diligence on whether to purchase the $400,000 piece.

“This piece came to the City some months ago,” said City Administrator Mike Jackson at the opening of a public hearing on the potential purchase by the City of Spader Bay property just to the west of and above the Spader Bay residencial area. “Everybody has talked about morel lake access.”

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City Administrator Mike Jackson opened Tuesday’s City Council meeting with an overview of the Spader Bay Property opportunity.

The property in question is a 9.8 acre landlocked parcel owned by Linda Evans-Parlette and her sister Terry. It is the last piece of the old Ray (Toad) O’Neal orchard land. The land was brought forward by realtor Guy Evans, who represents the owners, to see if the City might be interested in purchasing the property for a potential recreational site with lake access.

Jackson remarked that the property is a part of a much larger project to investigate eight potential public access sites. The City has hired J.A. Brennan and Associates to inventory all potential water access sites and to provide the City with conceptual plans on how they can be utilized for the public’s good.

The agenda bill to be considered by the City Council was to authorize the Mayor to finalize and execute a Purchase and Sale Agreement for the Spader Bay property.

Councilmembers Erin McCardle, Kelly Allen, Ty Witt, Servando Rebelo and Ray Dobbs all had comments and questions regarding the purchase of the proposed Spader Bay property.

Before opening the meeting for public comment, the Council discussed the issue. Councilman Ray Dobbs and Councilwoman Wendy Isenhart both want to make sure that the issue would come back to Council for a final decision on the purchase of the property.

Jackson went on the record and said that he and Mayor could go forward, but the property purchase would come back to the Council after a 90 day due diligence period and Brennan’s conceptual assessment of the property.

Councilwoman Erin McCardle asked if a public workshop would be held to evaluate the property and other properties identified.  “There are three to five other sites that have a lot better access for the community,” she said.

Jackson replied that the City can also extend the 90 day period. He also stated that without an agreement it opens the sale of the land to other potential purchasers like Vin du Lac and the Lookout, or others.

“If we move forward with Spader Bay, it will include a concept plan,” said Jackson. Councilman Ray Dobbs asked who picked the 90 day period. City attorney Clinton Batjer replied that he did and that 90 days was normal.

McCardle asked what kind of parking would be available, what the additional costs might be, and what legal issues is the City going to run into.

Councilman Ty Witt said the Council has visited this discussion on five different occasions and wants to make sure that the public has an opportunity to weigh in on the property.

Jackson said they could extend to 120 days which would give Brennan plenty of time to get the conceptual plan together on Spader Bay. Councilman Servando Robledo said, “Before we do anything, we need to make sure the public is well informed.”

McCardle remarked that the public is tired of over development and has clearly said to keep space open. “We hear this over and over and over,” she said. “Keep land open without homes.” She added that the City would be remiss to not look at this as a need. “We don’t have enough information yet.”

Planning director Craig Gildroy told the Council that the Spader Bay property was a Single Family Residential are for up to 38 homes. “There is potential development and does meet our current public access code.”

Mayor Mike Cooney added that the City is doing what people have asked it to do. “It is not a done deal and there is no agenda here.” Cooney then opened the discussion to public comment.

Social media and local media outlets got the word out to the public that the Spader Bay property was on the Council’s agenda. The Council Chambers was filled to near capacity with concerned residents.

Spader Bay residents, Alice Thompson, Connie Cooper Smith, Anita Rutter and Mitch Thompson are against the City purchasing the Spader Bay property and recited many reasons why the City would be remiss if they did so.

Alice Thompson, a Spader Bay resident, was the first to address the Council. She stated that the  and property was steep, rocky and had no beach when the Lake was full. “It does not have deeded access,” she said. “It can’t accommodate traffic. Do the citizens of Chelan want to spend $1 million on this property,” she asked. “The cost of the project is too high and it would become an albatross for the City.”

Thompson went on to state that the City has other issues it should be addressing. “If you want lake access this isn’t it. If you want a view property for $1 million…

Anita Rutter stated that the Spader Bay Road is private and maintained by the residents. She was also worried about soil contamination and the fact that the area has a resident deer herd.” She urged the Council to look at other needs in the City like road improvements.

Mitch Thompson stated that $400,000 to purchase and another $600,000 to develop would added a tremendous debt load to the City over a 20 year period. “It’s a considerable obligation to take on,” he added. He also said that law enforcement would be an issue along with necessary infrastructure like bathrooms, water and sewer.

The concerns went on and on. John Olson, a candidate for City Council, stated that lake access is an issue that comes up time after time. He mentioned that Wenatchee, Brewster and Pateros all have lake access and that six acres (the Three Fingers) has been sitting fallow since he was in grade school. He urged the City to look at the potential condemning that property and stated that Goodfellow Brothers now have a pre-application in to construct 50 condominiums on the Fingers and the hillside south of Hwy. 97A. “Steve Wright, past CEO of the PUD stated that they needed to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people,” quipped Olson.

Council candidate John Olson, Chelan resident Evie Hirschberger, Skip Morehouse, realtor Guy Evans, Stan Morse and Mayor candidate Bob Goedde all spoke to the Spader Bay issue in front of Council.

Evie Hirschberger, who lives across the lake from the Spader Bay property stated that the City has better options and other ways to secure public access to the lake.

Past Councilmember Skip Morehouse stated that he felt the concern of the Spader Bay residents. “The whole idea of a Sales and Purchase Agreement is a rush. A trail would take significant work and would not be necessarily safe.” He stated that the City’s liability would be huge.

Realtor Guy Evans who is representing his mother and her sister with the property said that his observation would be a trail through the Spader Bay property could be good access to the Northshore Pathway. “I know it’s not everyone’s recreational goal,” said Evans. He admitted that development of the property would be very challenging.

Evans said that if the City didn’t purchase the property it would probably be purchased by a developer. “People who move dirt could make 14 home sites on the property,” he said.

Councilman Ty Witt said, “This site will be build on if we don’t tie it up.

Stan Morse said the City has so many needs including a maintenance problem.

Mayoral candidate Bob Goedde said, “I think instead of buying this, we need to look at other places that have more benefit.”

McCardle asked Jackson why the City couldn’t evaluate the property without a Sales and Purchase Agreement. Councilwoman Kelly Allen said that she hoped that everyone understood that on a small portion of the community was in attendance at the meeting. She thinks it is important to get the entire community’s input, not just the Spader Bay input.

Witt suggested just purchasing the land and leaving it as it is. “It was interesting to me to see all the hands go up that would rather see 13 to 14 homes on that property. If we don’t act it won’t stay that way. We know the land is worth it… lots are going for $100,000 in the valley.

Mayor Cooney, prior to a vote on the Sales and Purchase Agreement, said, “Being on the Council is a thankless job. I don’t see any consensus. The people in the community talk about how horrible the Lookout is. We have the neighborhood here tonight, not the whole community.”

The Council voted 4-2 to authorize the Mayor to execute the Sales and Purchase Agreement with a 120 day window to make a final decision. Erin McCardle and Ray Dobbs were the two who voted Nay. Tim Hollingsworth had an excused absence from the meeting.

The City will wait for the Conceptual Plan from J.A. Brennan and Associates and present that to the Community for more public input.