City Council approves purchase of Spader Bay

by Richard Uhlhorn

The City of Chelan held a Council Workshop on Tuesday, November 5, to discuss the City’s “Proposed Capital Improvement Program and Proposed Operating Budget” with Finance Director Steve Thornton presenting and answering questions.

In addition to the city financial outlook for 2020, the agenda included a motion consideration on the O’Neal Spader Bay Property.

Spader Bay:

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City Administrator Mike Jackson

City Administrator Mike Jackson opened the discussion saying he wanted to try and move this issue on. “This has been a hot topic since last summer,” said Jackson describing the landlocked 9.5 acres just west and above the Spader Bay community.

He mentioned that J.A. Brennan and Associations is working on a concept plan and that potential access to the landlocked property could come through Vin du Lac.

“We offered $400,000 and they came back with $950,000.00.” The seller has come down to the City’s price with Linda Evan Parlette gifting her portion of the sale for a tax benefit.

The agreement is a Bargain and Sale Agreement with a 90 day due diligence period for the buyer.

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City Attorney Quinn Batjer prepared the sale agreement for the Council.

City Attorney Quinn Batjer told the Council that “at closing” the City would pay the Seller a cash down payment of $50,000 with the balance ($350,000) payable in seven bi-annual installments beginning on July 10, 2020, with interest at three percent.

The 90 day “Due Diligence” period will give the City the time to conduct or contract for any and all tests, studies, surveys, inspections, reviews, assessments or evaluations of the property.

“Council will have another opportunity to look before closing,” said Batjer. “The 90 day period begins at signing.”

Councilman Ray Dobbs stated that there are some water rights associated with the property and that the City can take those water rights. “That is an added value,” stated Dobbs.

Councilwoman Kelly Allen was concerned about the “landlocked” issue. Jackson replied that Guy Evans (the real estate broker) is working on easments with Larry Lehmbecker at Vin du Lac and that those discussions are positive.

Councilwoman Wendy Isenhart said, “Every bit of that open space is valuable to me.” She talked about the opportunity for water trails to the property.

Jackson told the Council that the City wants to be “good neighbors” to the Spader Bay community and felt that the proposed trail system could be made into a loop. Councilman Tim Hollingsworth stated that vehicle access is important.

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Mayor Mike Cooney 

Mayor Cooney opened the discussion to the public and the first speaker was Alice Thompson. She asked why the City was spending money on this property that will require a sizable investment when the lake is accessible seven months out of the year. “It is just lost revenue with no return,” said Thompson.

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Dr. Phil Long, Lake Chelan Research Institute felt that the purchase of the Spader Bay Property would help keep Lake Chelan clean in the long run.

Phil Long, Lake Chelan Research Institute, encouraged the City to purchase the property from a standpoint of water quality. “For a community that is dedicated to lake preservation, this is a good decision.” Long says that keeping the parcel in “open space” instead of being developed as a high density residential area would keep nutrients and contaminants from entering the lake.

John Olson, successful Council candidate, said he had mixed feeling. “I spent a lot of time at the Post Office last month (campaigning),” said Olson. He said that most people he talked to didn’t think the purchase was a good idea.

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John Olson, who defeated Jon Higgins for a City Council seat stated that most of the people he talked to on the street were against the purchase of Spader Bay property.

Olson went on to say that at the recent Town Hall meeting that out of the 35 red dots handed out, 18 of them ended up on the Spader Bay property. “It was pretty clear that it is not a good idea,” said Olson. “The nearest parking is at Don Morse and only the most active will access it. It doesn’t sound like a good use of $1 million.” He did appreciate the open space.

Olson went on to comment that there are 1,400 docks on the lake with seven applications per month for docks. “There has been a lack of public contact. We haven’t gone through the full public.”

Mayor Cooney shot back that the City was looking at $400,000 to purchase $ million on the property. It was brought up that the City was willing to spend an additional $600,000 in development of the parcel and that amount was listed on the City’s website.

“We have 90 days to make a decision,” said Jackson. “If one of these considerations is unsatisfactory, we can back out.”

Asked if there was any restriction of the City selling the property, Batjer said “No.”

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Councilman Tim Hollingsworth said the property has intrinsic value to the City and encouraged the Council to purchase.

Hollingsworth stated that a lot of people think the City should not be purchasing the land. “We make a living off tourists and that property has intrinsic value to the City,” said Hollingsworth. He went on to say that the City should look at the purchase as a legacy that will “pay dividends over the long haul. We need to lock this down.”

Mayor Cooney reiterated that there had never been a movement to approving the expenditure of $600,000 to develop that parcel and that the Lake Chelan Trails Alliance would be building a trail on the property.

Isenhart than made a motion to authorize the Mayor to finalize and execute the Bargain and Sale Agreement between the City and Seller. This was seconded by Councilman Ty Witt after which the Council voted 6 to 1 (Dobbs voting Nay) to enter into the agreement.

The workshop topics on the 2020 Capital Improvement Program and Operating Budget will be handled under a separate article soon.

Fire district budget workshop poorly attended

by Richard Uhlhorn

 Workshop Summary:

 Following is a short summary of the main points brought up at the recent Chelan 7 Budget Workshop.

  • Chelan County Fire District No. 7 (Chelan7.com) is dedicated to becoming more transparent with the community and wants to hear any concerns or issues the community has.
  • Chelan 7 is financially in good shape for the next two years, but will have to look at the possibility of going to the public for a Levy Lid Lift in 2022. The Commissioners (Russ Jones and Phil Moller) both said the District will not seek the maximum amount allowed by law, but only ask the public to approve just the amount the District needs in 2022.
  • The District will lose its $227,000 SAFER Grant in 2022 leaving the department with some serious staffing and personnel issues if the public decides to not to approve a Levy Lid Lift.
  • Assistant Fire Chief Brandon Asher needs more individuals to commit to the reserve firefighter (volunteer) program.

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It was a disappointing turnout for the Chelan County Fire District 7 (Chelan 7) budget workshop on Wednesday, October 30, at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. However, Fire Chief Mark Donnell outlined and went over the changes on the 2020 budget for the commissioners and others attending the meeting.

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The Chelan 7 Budget Workshop held on Wednesday October 30 was poorly attended by the community even thought Fire Chief Mark Donnell sent out invitations to a number of individuals who had shown concerns

The Draft Budget Proposal for 2020 is based on estimated revenues for 2020 and current expenditure from the 2019 budget. The estimated 2020 budget of $2,069,493.64 is based on the Commissioners approval to exercise th 1% increase over the 2019 budgeted tax revenues.

Both Karyl Oules and Bill Bassett were in attendance at the meeting.

There has been a lot of on-going Social Media discussion, some negative, about the District’s plan to push for a bid Levy Lid Lift which according to Donnell and the commissioners is not true.

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Both Assistant chief Brandon Asher and Fire Chief Mark Donnell help guide the Commissioners and others in attendance with the District’s 2020 Draft Budget and beyond. See Draft Budget below.

The District is not looking for additional funding until 2022 when the SAFER Grant disappears. The loss of that funding is a loss of $227,129.00 per year. “The reason I look at 2022 is that $227,000 will be gone,” said Donnell. “that will drop the administration to one chief, one admistrative manager and one administrative assistant.”

At risk is the position currrently held by Assistant Chief Brandon Asher who is charged with recruitment, training and retention of both volunteer and career firefighters at Chelan, Entiat and Douglas County.

Commission Chair Russ Jones remarked that the District’s lack of transparency continually comes up. “It costs us $116,000 per year for a career firefighter,” said Jones. “I think that is transparent.”

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Commission Chairman Russ Jones

The seven career firefighters will cost the District $714,849 in 2020 or 33% of the budget. That cost will rise to $752,764 and $775,347 in 2021 and 2022 respectively. Administrative costs are pegged at $337,333 in 2020 and increases to $347,450 and $357,874 in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

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The DRAFT 2020 Budget for the community’s information.

“We are interested in what the community has to say,” said Donnell. “I look forward to hearing from them.” Donnell and Asher both have open doors and if anyone in the community has an issue, they are more than happy to sit down and address them.

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Fire Chief Mark Donnell

With respect to the 53 volunteers currently listed, Chief Donnell said, “They are not really volunteers. They are compensated and I prefer to call them Reserve firefighters.”

Each reserve firefighter is required to serve 50 hours of drill time per year. The biggest problem the District has is getting them all to show up on a regular basis. “I’ve changed the training because it was not working,” said Assistant Chief Brandon Asher. Asher wants to bring all the reserve (volunteer) firefighters up to speed. “I’m giving them a three month grace period to bring them up to speed.”

“We are having an extremely hard time finding people who will get engaged,” said Asher. It is a nation wide problem. Employers not wanting to let people respond to an emergency, and a whole bunch of factors including a lack of commitment.

The District has 53 reserve (volunteers) of which 30 have been recruited in the last two years. fourteen of them have left leaving retention at 63%.

Asher stated that he has an open checkbook. “We can be more selective,” he stated. “We are really focused on getting people to commit.”

Donnell stated that one of the issues of retention is having more calls. “At the Washington Creek fire people were coming out of the woodwork.”

The District has a Stipend system for reserve firefighters who are willing to take a shift to make sure the station is covered with enough personnel. “I thought it would be competitive, but its not happening,” said Asher.

Chelan 7 is also restricted in how much they can pay a reserve firefighter. “We can’t pay more than 20% of a career firefighter,” said Donnell. After five shifts, firefighters are at that threshold. “We need to figure out how to make it more viable.”

Commission candidate Bill Bassett asked if the District has a formal strategy. “There are grants all over the place.” Donnell replied that he doesn’t what the District to survive on grants. “The pool (of reserve firefighters) who want to be career fire fighters are the ones who are pulling shifts.”

Apparatus discussion:

 Commisioner Jones asked if the Department has too many vehicles. Commissioner Moller asked if the District could get rid of any vehicles. Asher stated that if they were to get rid of any truck, they would only sell or auction the chassis off, but keeping the box.

“All our current brush rigs are in good shape with the exception of Unit 74,” said Donnell. “There are a couple of vehicles we could consider putting on surplus.

Fire District Mechanic John Goyne stated that Engines 72, 73, and 75 have Detroit diesels that haven’t been manufactured for years. “If one fails, it could take up to two and half months to find a block to build,” said Goyne. “If one of those trucks has a catastrophic failure it could take six months to one year to find an (replacement) engine

Hydrant maintenance isn’t the District’s responsibility. “We offered take over that service if they will pay us to do that,” said Donnell.

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Tax Revenue and potential Levy Lid Lift:

 Jones stated that there are a lot of misconceptions out in the community about tax revenue. “A lot of people think that we get more money when tax revenue go up,” said Jones. “We have a one percent cap.” Which means that for every $100 dollars collected, they will only be able to go up to $101 the next year.

Jones added that the District needs to start looking and planning for 2022 for a Levy Lid lift. At the end of the meeting this reporter asked if they were going to go with the stated lift of $0.25 cents per $1,000 of valuation.

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Commissioner Phil Moller

Commisioner Phil Moller said, “I don’t want to throw out a number, but we will only go out for what we need.” Jones echoed what Moller said. “We are allowed to go to $1.50 per $1,000, but none of us have considered doing that. We will only ask for what we need. People are getting hit hard with taxes anyway.”

One on-going issue is with the City of Chelan who does not pay anything to the District.

They are working with them on an Interlocal Agreement. “We are not expecting anything from those folks,” said Jones.

K-Beach Volleyball athletes travel to Huntington Beach California

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By Richard Uhlhorn

Volleyball has become one of the most singular, all-encompassing sport activities in the Lake Chelan Valley, thanks to the passion and dedication of Desiree Phelps, her husband Frank and her consortium of parents including, Jeff and Jennifer Collins, April Williams and Jessie and Jason Ilaoa who recently traveled with their daughters to Huntington Beach California.

“We rent a house down there which makes it easy for us to stay together,” said Phelps.

When K-Beach (Kahiau Volleyball Club) Sand Volleyball got started, it only had about 15 players. Today the number of kids (and adults) who have taken the sport up now numbers over 100 girls and boys and a number of adults.

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These six young ladies traveled to Huntington Beach, California to
learn and play some beach volleyball in front of college coaches.

On October 18, 19, 20 and 21, six K-Beach athletes traveled to Huntington Beach California to watch college athletes play, attend a coaches clinic and participate in a Sunday Showcase Tournament.

Participating in this trip were Elly Collins – Junior, Ally Williams – Sophomore, Morgyn Harrison – Sophomore, Olivia Strandberg – Freshman, Katie Rainville – Junior, and Jade Ilaoa (a Walla Walla student training with Kahiau Volleyball Club). All of the Chelan girls are on Chelan High School’s No. 1 ranked Varsity Team.

“On Saturday morning we were able to watch six college programs compete in a fall jamboree style tournament,” said Coach Desiree Phelps. This included Sand Volleyball Teams from Grand Canyon University (GCU), UCLA, Cal Poly, Arizona, Vanguard, and Long Beach State.

“It was good for our young athletes to watch players who are a few years older,” said Phelps. College Beach Volleyball is a Spring Sport and the players participating in Huntington Beach were just getting back into their training. “Many of the girls we watched were in high school last spring and very new to the college game. This is all good stuff for our kids to watch because it helps them assess their own game and goals.”

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College Coaches Clinics are great learning experiences.

On Saturday afternoon, the players attended and participated in a clinic coached by Kristen Rohr – GCU, Kris Dorn – Vanguard University, Mike Campbell – Long Beach State, and Brad Keenan – Arizona State University.

“There was a lot of learning taking place during this clinic by the girls and myself,” stated Phelps.

On Sunday, the girls participated in a Showcase Tournament that was attended by a number of college coaches. “We represented ourselves very well and gained the interest of several college coaches and programs.”

The girls showed well. Morgyn and Olivia won the U16s Division at the Tournament. Elly and Ally tied for third in the U18s Division and Katie and Jade finished in the Silver Bracket of the Tournament.

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Morgyn and Olivia won the U16 Division

Coaches and scouts watching and taking notes and actively recruiting represented UCLA, Cal Poly, GCU, Long Beach State, Arizona, Oregon, Arizona State, CSUN, Vanguard, Concordia and others.

“Through this experience, we now have a few girls who are pursuing college beach programs at some of these schools.”

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Elly, Katie, Morgyn and Oliva enjoying the trip.

While no one can determine what will come of their dreams of a college program, it is an exciting time for the players to see the opportunities this sport is providing and taking advantage of them. One K-Beach player, Emma McLaren, has already signed to play at Cal Poly next year after she graduates from Chelan.

 

Beach Volleyball was added as collegiate sport in 2009 and the first season of competition took place in the spring of 2012. Over 1,000 women are participating in volleyball at the DI, DII or DIII levels with 50 percent playing only beach volleyball.

There are currently 54 DI schools, eight DII schools and three DIII schools with programs.

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Enjoying the sun.

Considering that these girls are young and still have their high school volleyball and beach volleyball ahead of them, one can only guess that they will also develop into collegiate athletes in the next several years.

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Hey, it’s Huntington Beach, so it isn’t all about volleyball.

To learn more about the K-BeachVolleyball Club go to https://www.kbeachvolleyball.com/

Fire District to hold public workshop on 2020 budget October 30

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by Richard Uhlhorn

Chelan County Fire District # 7 has burned through 80 percent of its 2019 budget as of the end of September. Fire Chief Mark Donnell said, “We are usually around 75 percent this time of the year. It will not impact us dramatically.”

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Chelan Fire Chief Mark Donnell gave a budget and activity report
to the Fire commissioners.

Part of the issue is the loss of an estimated $40,000 in State Mobilization money. There were no fires requiring State Mobilization callouts this year. “I’m not complaining,” said Donnell. “No fires is a good thing.”

Chief Donnell reported that the District hasn’t touched $5,000 that is in the budget for training props. Another $7,000 has been saved by not having to replace equipment

The District responded to 66 calls in September of which three were fire related.

The Washington Creek Fire was the largest. “We had 27 of our members on that fire,” said Donnell. “Seven were on the scene in 20 minutes.” The rest of the team took an estimated hour to arrive. Twenty were on the fire and seven remained at the station standing by. “If it had not been a holiday, I don’t think we would have seen this response.”

The Washington Creek Fire ended up with 83 total personnel responding including firefighters from the Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Forest Service, and unites from Pateros, Orondo and Manson. “The DNR was right there with a helicopter,” stated Donnell.

Commission Chair Russ Jones asked how the communication was between the different agencies. “Pretty good,” said Donnell. “Asher (assistant fire chief) was made operations supervisor.”

“Sixty six calls is a little low for us,” stated Donnell. “We had a fire in Chelan Falls and had a crew already in the Falls. The other fire was a call to Navarre Coulee.” Chelan 7 took the call despite it being a District 8 fire. “Agencies are having problems with staffing. If we service other districts we might not have coverage in ours.”

“If I can get 27 people to a fire, I’m happy as a clam,” said Donnell after the response to the Washington Creek Fire… a fire that could have gotten a lot bigger if it wasn’t for the response.

“This year 1,519 people have perished in a house fire,” said Donnell. “That is unacceptable.”

The question of nepotism has also raised its head at the Department, but Donnell told the Commissioners that there is a policy in place that a commissioner or Chief cannot have a direct line of communication. “This could have been an issue, but even the Union has no issues with the policy.

“A potential fire commissioner having a son on the department is not an issue,” Donnell said. “We are trying to be as transparent as possible. People are making issues on Facebook posts without looking into the facts.”

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Assistant Chief Brandon Asher 

Assistant Chief Brandon Asher stated that no one had applied for a position in the department in September. He said the Safety Fair was well attended and successful. “We have an educational resource event coming up,” said Asher

Stipend coverage was only 29% and difficult to fill those slots on weekends. “With other Departments hiring it is difficult to retain people,” said Asher. “Hopefully we can get the stipend program working.”

Asher said the last drill was good. “We have an opportunity to burn a house down,” said Asher. He also stated that the firefighters need to get more familiar with the air pacs.

Fire Association report:

Dan Crandall reported that the Fire Association started the month with $16,983 and ended with a balance of $20,340.00. He reported that 90 of the 144 tickets for the Firelight Gala were sold and that the auction items were valued at $25,000. “KOZI is running ads just before the event,” said Crandall. “We are hoping to sell out.”

The Association gave $1,000 to the Council of Fire Fighter Burn Association in the name of Christian Johnson, the Okanogan firefighter who died recently of burns receive on a fire.

Budget:

Chief Donnell reported that nothing has changed on the 2020 budget. The District will carry over $600,000 with a reported tax revenue of $2,0074,139, $227,129 remaining on the SAFER grant and an estimated $65,000 in other revenues.

Expenses are pegged at $2,054,542.00 with a $57,27 carry over.

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This is the budget worksheet for the years 2019 to 2022. Note that the District is only collecting $0.87 per $1,000 valuation. In 2022 the District will be looking at a slight increase from the voters to maintain the level of service currently being deployed in the District.

Donnell stated that the generators the District has will not do the job they need to do. “It is a critical item we need to look at,” said Donnell. Commissioner Jones suggested that the Department look at propane tanks. Donnell said that is definitely something that could be looked at. “The community can contribute comment as well,” said Donnell.

Donnell said the department needs to look at a sever replacement. “Our servers are five years old and it will cost around $5,000 to replace them.” He also wants to change the locks at the Station. “We’ve had a number of volunteers and others with the combination that are no longer associated with us. It will cost around $3,000 to change them out”

They have received a Phase one grants for $24,000 and $12,000.

Jones said the department isn’t putting anything into apparatus replacement. “That is a big concern for me,” said Jones.

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Commission Chair Russ Jones

Jones also stated that the district will have to have a funding proposal for 2022. “We will have to decide by next year or cut some services. We can’t do it without more funding.” Jones also said that with the new insurance rating at his house, his home owners insurance went down by $127.00. “That’s the math we have to look at. This is the stuff we need to examine and we need to do it soon.”

Jones also reiterated that the district would not be looking at a tax increase to $1.50 per thousand. “It will be smaller than that.” It was also noted that Emergency Medical Services will also be looking at an increase at the same time.

Donnell said the Budget needs to be at the County by December 1 and recommended a budget workshop. “I would like to get some input from the public,” said Donnell.

Jones stated that both commission candidates need to be involved in the budget decisions and suggested the workshop be on Wednesday, October 30 at 10 a.m.

Bill Bassett, a candidate for the vacated Witherbee commission seat said that it would be interesting to have the public involved.

Commissioner Comments:

Commissioner Jones said he was somewhat bemused about the fabricated stories that keep showing up on Social Media. “To see that kind of rhetoric creeping into our little town is a cancer.”

Commissioner Phil Moller did not contribute to the comment period.

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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