Under new sheriff, Mike Morrison, new changes emerge

by Richard Uhlhorn

At a public forum held at the Chelan Fire and Rescue meeting room on Thursday, January 26, leadership from the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office presented information to a full house on changes within the department.

Chelan County’s new sheriff, Mike Morrision, addressed a packed house in Chelan last week.

Chelan County’s newly elected Sheriff Mike Morrison stated that the department is making a number of changes in how it operates. “We have increased patrols in our county,” said Morrison. He also mentioned that command staff has changed. One notable change is Sgt. Rob Huddleston being reassigned to the Chelan office. “He is back in his old position and committed to Chelan and Manson.”

In addition, Sgt. Ryan Moody has taken over the position of Chief of Special Operations. “We are doing more and more programs including more traffic enforcement,” stated Morrison. “We will be working with the Forest Service and State Parks.”

Morrison is adding five deputies to marine patrol duty, two of whom will be fulltime. “It needs to be a priority to make people behave themselves. Our school resource people will be moved to the marine patrol during the summer.”

“I’m not pulling from my patrol to cover other areas. I’m taking card of my campaign promises,” said Morrison. “We are taking on issues in our communities.”

One major issue is drugs and Morrison stated that the department will be working with the Federal agencies to help stem the flow of drugs in the area. Fentanyl is one of the bigger problems currently. “We can come up with solutions.”

Morrison added that the department is close to full staffing and said, “No one has quit. Two more are coming in which will put us at full staffing.” He is increasing salaries to be more competitive with other agencies in order to retain staff. “I’m only 19 days in,” stated Morrison.

Chelan County Jail:

Chelan County Corrections Chief, Chris Sharp, presented a number of changes that have taken place at the Chelan County Jail.

Sheriff Morrison was preceded by the director of the jail, Chris Sharp. Sharp has been with the corrections department for 23 years. He worked under eight other directors and said he was going to break the cycle.

“We’ve made a lot of steps. The building is 35 years old and not up to standards.” However Chelan County has added a $500,000 camera system that gives the correction staff a lot more accountability.

In addition to the camera system, Sharp said they have installed a body scanner and a mail scanner and the department is only the second corrections center in the State with a dedicated drug sniffing canine that has been trained to detect five different odors. “We’ve seen an 80 to 90 percent decrease in drugs entering the jail. The dog has hit a home run with two finds; one of which was 59 Fentanyl pills.”

The canine will also work with school districts and Sharp hopes to get approved to check lockers. “I’m very proud of this program.”

The mail scanner cannot be used on legal mail coming in without permission of the detainee.

“Our big problem is Fentanyl,” said Sharp. “We are not a hospital… we are a jail.” The department has 41 isolation cells where detainees are incarcerated while they detox from any drugs in their system. “Seventy percent of those arrested are coming in with Fentanyl in them,” said Sharp. “This is hitting us hard.” Over the past 11 days Sharp said they processed 90 people with 60 of them with traces of Fentanyl in them.

They have a fulltime nurse but have seven position open for nursing staff. “They can go to work elsewhere for more money than we can pay them.”

Manson resident Chris Willoughby suggested that the department look into hiring EMTs that are looking for full-time work.

“I am humbled to be the leader,” said Sharp.

Behavioral Health Unit:

Anna Thompson, director of the new Behavioral Health Unit shared her role in dealing with behavioral health crisis.

Anna Thompson, the head of the Behavioral Health Unit, described and shared via a paper presentation what her unit does. It is a relatively new operation that responds to calls and referrals for individuals in a behavioral health crisis, or at risk for crisis.

“We respond to all calls,” said Thompson. “We are trained in a lot of different topics.” This includes EMS procedures.

In December alone, the unit responded to 602 calls for help, most of which were mental health related.

Forty eight percent are substance abuse related calls. Many need help with obtaining shelter. Chelan Valley Hope (CVH) has been a great resource for the unit.  CVH has received a $250,000 grant to help.

The unit responds to calls for individuals with a behavioral health issue who are at risk of arrest or who have been arrested and referred to the appropriate social services/treatment.

The unit helps law enforcement reduce its time dealing with time spent on behavioral health issues and it helps reduce the number of arrests and emergency department admissions.

Law enforcement takes initial calls and then refers the case to BHU who can take the lead, however, continue to coordinate with law enforcement for additional support. The unit also coordinates with Emergency Medical Services.

In other County news:

At the beginning of the meeting, Commissioner Tiffany Gearing updated those present to issues the County is facing.

She said that the County continues to receive many questions regarding Stehekin, particularly the road to Cottonwood. “It’s been 20 years. A number of elected officials have worked on this issue including Senator Parlette.”

Gearing said the County is still working with the National Park Service. The commissioners will be meeting with the new NPS Director Don Stryker. “We are opposed to the Grizzly bear reintroduction. It is not a good idea to reintroduce an Apex predator where people recreate.”

The County is working on woody debris removal on Lake Chelan. Woody debris is a public safety hazard for boaters and swimmers, however, removal has several regulations to overcome like size and weight. “The PUD has $120,000 in an account for woody debris removal.”

Gearing stated that the County has $3.4 million in their lodging tax account that is not being spent. They have awarded $300,000 for capital projects.

Gearing remarked that some of those reserves could be used to build the trail between Manson and Chelan (Northshore Pathway).

The County will be receiving the first of two Federal Rescue dollars of $3.5 milion. “We are looking good for 2023,” she added.

City Council approves Apple Blossom Center Development ordinance

by Richard Uhlhorn

John Torrance, an orchardist on Howard Flats that will be affected by the airport expansion spoke to the City Council on Tuesday evening, January 24 during the Citizen Comment period. “I am not here today to try and stop the expansion,” said Torrance. However, he told the council that 50 percent of his orchard would be eliminated making it difficult to make a living. “It is an economy of scale,” he said. Labor is hard to find and the reduced value of the orchard makes it hard to sell, explained Torrance. “Please consider zoning the orchard to commercial status,” said Torrance. “There is no other way to bring my orchard water, power and sewer to impact our property.” He then asked for the Council’s response at its earliest convenience.

John Torrance, an orchardist on Howard Flats that will be affected by the Chelan Airport Expansion addressed the City Council about his concerns over losing 50 % of his orchard.

Mayor Goedde replied, “I would like you to stay in touch with Wade (Ferris) and John Ajax (Community Development Director).

Apple Blossom Center:

Chelan City Council unanimously approved the Apple Blossom Center Development Ordinance as presented by Chelan’s Community Development Director, John Ajax.

Community Development Director John Ajax.

The only major change to the ordinance was a monetary contribution increase which began at $850 per unit constructed to $3,400 per unit which raises the contribution to $2.4 million dollars.

This contribution will be used to mitigate potential affordable housing impacts. Payment or deed restriction of the units shall be provided at the time of occupancy and will be adjusted annually for inflation during the term of the agreement.

Erin McCardle thanked Ajax for the immense number of hours he spent on the agreement. John Olson stated that the contribution is the first time it has been done in the region. Tim Hollingsworth stated it was a good compromise and that the developer was happy with it.

The agreement means that the development can go forward with permitting and construction of the first phase of apartments at Apple Blossom Center.

Darnell’s Pump Station:

Public Works Director Jake Youngren.

Public Works Director Jake Youngren asked the Council to approve a bid by contractor PIPE of Washington for the Darnell’s Booster Pump Station Improvements Project. Pipe came in under the engineers estimate of $620,000 with a bid of $515,508. All documentation of the bid were in compliance with the bidding requirements.

This project is Phase 1 of the city budgeted $2 million for the Downtown Capacity Improvements Project.

The remaining balance between the budgeted amount and bid amount ($154,492) will be used as contingency for this project as well as put towards the Main Zone Capacity Improvement Project, which is scheduled to take place this summer/fall.

Council approved the award and authorized Mayor Goedde to finalize and execute an agreement with POW Contracting. The also approved a Task Authorization for the Pump Station Services during the construction based on time and materials.

ADA Transition Plan:

“We missed our mark on this project,” said Youngren. RH2 Engineering came in with a bid to come up with a transition plan that was $50,000 higher than expected. Youngren explained that Public Works would have to come back to council for an amendment on the contract to cover the cost.

The Americans with Disabilities act (ADA) of 1990 requires municipalities to complete an ADA Transition plan in accordance with Title II, Part 35, Subpart D. City staff intends to utilize RH2 Engineering and their sub consultant, Transpo Group USA, Inc. (Transpo) to complete the ADA transition plan.

Youngren anticipates that the final plan will be available by the end of 2023.

Submarine Water Main Replacement Project Redesign:

The City is looking at replacing the submarine waterline that provides water to the Farnham Booster Pump Station. “It’s buried in the riverbed near the dam,” said Youngren. The replacement plan includes three options including replacing it in its current location with non-corrosive pipe; installing it under the Dan Gordon Bridge; and placing it on the Chelan River Dam. He asked the council to approve a CH2 Engineering Task Authorization worth $31,760.

John Olson remarked that the PUD would probably not be receptive to having the waterline on its dam. “They are not receptive to sharing facilities.”

There will be a site visit kickoff meeting to review the existing alignment and potential connection points with City Staff. The Council authorized the Mayor to finalize and execute the Task authorization.

Mears Design Group agreement:

City Council unanimously authorized the Mayor to finalize and execute an agreement with the Mears Design Group for the City’s Putting Course Irrigation Design.

John Olson remarked that some iterations of the potential Don Morse Park changes included removing the Putting Course. Parks Director Paul Horne replied that wouldn’t happen. “Seeing how popular the puttng course is, it will remain.”

Councilman John Olson

Lakeside Park Redevelopment Project:

Council approved a professional services agreement with the Berger Partnership LLC for a 60% design for the Lakeside project. Berger has been involved for grant services assistance for a Lakeside Park RCO grant application. On April 22, 2022, Council approved an agreement with Berger for a schematic design and federal permitting for the project.

Permitting with the Corps of Engineers will be required. Horne said, “I would be happy to have Berger come in and give an update on the project.”

Maintenance building testing and inspection services:

Council approved a professional services agreement with AAR Testing and Inspection, Inc. to provide services during the construction of the new Parks Maintenance Building. “We want third party independent testing and inspection services for material testing,” stated Horne.

Administrative reports:

Website:

Chelan City Clerk Peri Gallucci gave the Council an update on the new city website that is being constructed. “We’ve had five meetings with a citizen’s group and seven in-house meetings with staff,” said Gallucci. “We plan on going live by February 9.”

City Clerk Peri Gallucci.

City Administrator Wade Ferris remarked that hours upon hours had been spent putting the new website together. “I think we are going to get a quality product.”

Gallucci walked the Council through a video presentation on the website.

Downtown Revitalization Project:                                            

The City competitively solicited through a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for professional service support for the Chelan Downtown Revitalization Project. The City received three (3) Statements of Qualifications and the project steering committee interviewed two of the candidates. Beckwith Consulting Group was ultimately selected as the preferred consultant. The City is in the process of negotiating a scope and fee for the proposed project.

The Council will ultimately select the site plan for the project. Currently there is no funding for the project in place. Beckwith Consulting will begin their work

“There will be a lot of outreach with property owners and businesses and ultimately an open house,” said Youngren.

2022 Comprehensive Plan Amendments for Capital Facilities:

John Ajax told the Council that an annual comprehensive plan review process will be undertaken to scope the various projects and “dive a little deeper.”  He stated that amendments will be discussed with both the Council and committee in a workshop setting. “There will be a lot of outreach with property owners and businesses and ultimately an open house.

The City Council will be involved and make the final decisions on changes.

Mayor/Council comments:

All council members and staff thanked Patty Michajla for her service over the past five years as an assistant city clerk. Michajla’s retirement party was held earlier in the day with many staff and others wishing her and her husband well in retirement.

Mayor Goedde thanked Michajla for putting up with him over the past five years. Ferris added that she contributed a lot over the five year period and Peri Gallucci said, “I’m going to miss you. You have been a great friend and confident.” Michajla thanked everyone and said she would miss all of the staff and Council members.

Patty Michajla

Tim Hollingsworth told the Council that the Housing Trust has another project that is a couple of blocks from the Emerson housing project that will add six new units for sale. “It will be of similar style as the Emerson Village units,” said Hollingsworth.

Councilwoman Erin McCardle.

Erin McCardle stated that the City was quickly losing opportunities on some of the grants that are available. “I’m hoping we will have something back to council soon,” she said.

Jake Youngren told the Council that the City of Chelan is looking very favorably for a $3.5 million dollar grant to complete the Lakeside Trail from Campbell’s to Lakeside Park. “There are 28 projects out there that will share in $53 million available,” said Youngren.

Karma’s Julie Pittsinger confronts Commissioner Gearing at public meeting on permitting issues

by Richard Uhlhorn

On Thursday, January 26, Chelan County Commissioner Tiffany Gearing hosted an afternoon meeting at Chelan’s Fire Station for residents interested in hearing from County law enforcement personnel about changes within the department.

Chelan County Commissioner Tiffany Gearing forced to face questions from Karma owner Julie Pittsinger

However, after remarking on issues the commissioners are facing in the County including the recent proposal to reintroduce 200 grizzly bears to the North Cascade National Park, the washed out road to Cottonwood in the Stehekin Valley, removal of woody debris from Lake Chelan and the use of the County’s lodging tax receipts that now total $3.4 million In reserves, Gearing was confronted by Karma Vineyard’s Julie Pittsinger over a long standing battle with the County Planning Department to gain a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to continue operating their 16 Brix Restaurant at their winery.

Julie Pittsinger, owner of Karma Vineyards confronted County Commissioner Tiffany Gearing at a public meeting on Thursday, January 26 regarding permitting issues.

Pittsinger opened her remarks noting that she is dumbfounded at the County’s inaction on the permitting problems facing Karma.

“You said you loved Karma and after a two and a half hour meeting, you said ‘I will do whatever I can to help you.’ It’s now four years later,” said Pittsinger.

The issues between Karma and the County are administrative at best, but have cost both hundreds of thousands of dollars so far.

Karma Vineyards is located on Chelan’s south shore and has been plagued with permitting issues with Chelan County.

With the restaurant at the Winery officially closed down, the Pittsinger’s in an effort to retain its long standing staff, went looking for another opportunity and found it the Chelan Golf Course. They entered into a concessionaire contract Counties with the City to renovate and operate its Golf Course restaurant at a promised cost of $345,000 over a two-year period.

Under a new business, Karma opened Albatross LLC and is now operating. This year, as a part of their promise of spending $345,000, the downstairs banquet room and restrooms will also be renovated at an estimated cost of $250,000.

The County’s latest issue to hit Karma Vineyards is a Fire Marshall directing Karma to install a $300,000 fire system in their Cave. “It puts us out of business,” said Pittsinger. After no response from the County on any of the thousands of letters and emails, Pittsinger told Gearing that she asked her to uphold a settlement that was reached.

Gearing replied, “Julie, I consider you a friend. The reason I haven’t responded is because of the lawsuit. I’m not allowed to comment while we are in litigation.” Gearing stated that she had no idea a settlement wasn’t reached. “The last I heard, we had a settlement. We don’t want to shut down small businesses. I will go and talk to our lawyer.” She promised to get back to the Pittsingers by February 1.

A number of locals also attended the meeting in support of Karma in the standing room only meeting.

Brett Pittsinger added the issues should have been resolved without litigation. He told Gearing, “You have the power to make the change.”

Background:

A Google search brought up a number of insights into the issues facing Karma and five other litigants suing the County for obstructive and unnecessary delays in the permitting process.

On February 19, 2021, the Wenatchee World printed an opinion piece that the Chelan County Community Development Department was broken. Over the years, the department has had numerous turnovers of both staff and management which has made the department’s leadership ineffective.

Karma background:

Karma Vineyards was issued its first appropriate CUP on August 19, 2005 to operate as a winery. Chelan County Commissioners then amended the “winery regulations” to include on-site food preparation, services and consumption.

In 2011 the County Code Compliance Officer informed Karma that it was not authorized to operate a restaurant. Then in March of 2013, Karma received approval and the restaurant operated from 2012 to 2017. Then the County’s Code Enforcement Officer once again claimed that Karma was out of compliance with over three unsatisfied conditions.

Karma addressed these but the County required them to obtain new Conditional Use Permits. Chelan County Hearing Examiner stated in his findings that that a restaurant CUP has never been allowed.

Karma provided a LUPA petition (Land Use Petition Act) to provide uniform and expedited judicial review of land use decisions made by counties, cities and unincorporated towns.

The battle continues and it will be interesting to see what Gearing comes back with on February 1.

Chelan Fire to host special meeting

by Richard Uhlhorn

SPECIAL MEETING NOTICE
Wednesday, March 1 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Deanna Walters – Chelan County Planner
John Ajax – Chelan City Planner
Discussion about current and future growth
in the County and City

Assistant Fire Chief Shaun Sherman and Fire Chief Brandon Asher report Chelan Fire and Rescue news and information monthly
at fire commission meetings.

Fire Chief report:
Chelan Fire and Rescue responded to 83 calls in December, most of which were EMS calls. “The average calls for December is 56,” said Chief Brandon Asher. “We are getting busier.”

In 2022 the District and EMS responded to 1081 calls. In December, Chelan Fire had on CPR Save on December 30, and multiple calls for snow/water damage including a lot of broken water pipes, sprinkler leaks and roofs that caved in. “The Grandview is still under fire watch,” stated Asher.

Administratively, the staff are getting its policies in one location for easy access. Asher told the commissioners that the 2023 Contract negotiations were coming up and that the district would be using comparables for the talks.

After the last day of the EMT class coming up, the district will be fully staffed. “We are working on a volunteer to work in a coordinator position. “This person on staff will help us out with recruitment,” said Asher.

Asher told the commissioners that they were working on regional job opportunities and seasonal hires.

Assistant Chief report:
Assistant Chief Shaun Sherman reported that one volunteer has dropped out but that the district is taking on up to two more volunteers. “We have five or so going to the Fire Academy and three that are still in the EMT class,” said Sherman. There is also an automobile extraction class being conducted.

The commissioners and staff agreed on a March 1 meeting with Chelan County Assessor/Interim County Planner, Deanna Walters and City Development Director John Ajax to talk to the district about current growth and future growth trends from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. “We are hoping to look 10 years down the road.”

Commissioner comments:
Russ Jones stated that some of the district’s volunteers are taking on more duties. Assistant Chief Sherman replied that the District is conducting a quartermaster program to help build out the Marine Program. Volunteer firefighters John Steiner and Ben Simmons want to help.

Short Term Rentals – Manson Incorporation + driftwood and Grizzly bear reintroduction

by Richard Uhlhorn

Meeting Notice

Chelan County Commissioner Tiffany Gearing will host a meeting on Thursday, January 26, in the Chelan Fire and Rescue meeting room (232 E. Wapato Avenue) in Chelan. She will be joined by ChelanCounty’s new sheriff Mike Morrison, ChelanCountyRegional JusticeCenter director Chris Sharp and Behavioral Health Unit manager Ana Johnson to discuss County updates and answer questions

Pam Calhoun and Chris Willoughby were sworn into positions on the Manson Community Council on Tuesday evening, January 17, after which annual elections took place with Kari Sorenson retaining the chair for another year.

Pam Calhoun and Chris Willoughby were sworn into seats on the Manson Community Council

Calhoun is new to the council and accepted the nomination as secretary. John Frokler became the new treasurer.

Chelan County Commissioner Tiffany Gearing made a surprise visit to the council meeting and remarked that the County passed a new 2023 budget. “It was a difficult decision,” she said.

Short Term Rentals:

Chelan County Commissioner Tiffany Gearing joined the Manson Community Council meeting and discussed Short Term Rentals, driftwood removal and Grizzly beaers.

Gearing reported that 67 home owners did not re-apply for Short Term Rental (STR) status for 2023. “Most likely they are from Leavenworth to Manson,” said Gearing.

The reasons why so many past STR businesses declined to renew their permits is in question, but the owners are either tired of the hassles, are moving to their second homes permanently or for some unknown reason.

Fourteen STR renewals were late and claimed hardship for the reason their applications were late. What the County considers a hardship is a problem. Frokler asked if they had plenty of time to get their applications in? Gearing replied that there was plenty of time to reapply. “Anyone who applied over the time limit was denied,” said Gearing.

Sorenson asked Gering if there was a list of permitted STRs. Gearing thought so, and Sorenson asked if she could obtain a copy. Manson resident Brian Patterson stated that a current list would provide the community a list of who was permitted. There are STRs that operate that are not permitted.

Gearing stated that the County should be working towards having the list on its website. “Let me find out more details,” she said. “We knew we were going to have procedural issues.” There are currently 700+ approved STRs in the county. “If we just had a list, it would make it so much easier,” stated Sorenson. Gearing replied that it needs to be made public.

Manson Incorporation feasibility:

Manson resident Mike Kirk remarked that the area is booming and asked if there was a possibility of Manson incorporating. Willoughby replied that a feasibility study was conducted in the 90s and again in 2008 and it was determined that incorporation was not feasible at that point.

“We are now at a point where it could change,” said Willoughby. “We would need a public meeting to explore the idea,” stated Willoughby. Frokler added that the Council needs to get the word out so the Council would know what the public thinks. “There is a lot of work if you want to incorporate.” Gearing stated that a public meeting might be good.

Calhoun said that there would be a need for a list of pros and cons to incorporation. Kirk stated that some residents would like to be annexed into the City of Chelan. Gearing replied that, “A lot of people moved to Manson because it wasn’t a city.”

Chelan City Councilman John Olson said that the City was going after a $300,000 grant to study the feasibility of purchasing Chelan Butte and wondered if there would be funds available to conduct a incorporation feasibility in Manson.

Frokler suggested that the Council have an open forum with the public. “If the citizens want to go forward, then we could go after money.”

Driftwood and Grizzly Bears:

Gearing reported that the County Commissioners were working on the issues of removing driftwood from the Lake and keeping the introduction of Grizzly bears out of the North Cascades.

Driftwood has become a safety issue for recreational boaters on the lake and the commission is seeking ways of legally removing the wood.

The County and many residents were totally against the introduction of Grizzly bears into the North Cascades Ecosystem several years ago, but the National Park Service has brought up the issue again and gathered public input up to December 14, 2022.

For more information on this issue, visit the North Cascades National Park Service website: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/​NCEGrizzly.

City Council approves State grant for Butte acquisition feasibility study

by Richard Uhlhorn

Chelan Butte acquisition:

City Administrator Wade Ferris stated that before the City approves a resolution to help support purchase the 875 acres of Chelan Butte property that is owned by Golden Gate Ventures (and is currently under a two year hold by a new developer), the City will want to determine any environmental and other issues concerning the property.

The Council approved the City becoming a co-applicant for a Local Community Project request for $300,000 from the 2023 Washington State Capital Budget for a planning grant to the Trust for Public Land (TPL) to study issues pertaining to the preservation of the 875 acres on Chelan Butte, options for land acquisition funding, land uses, ownership structure, development and maintenance costs, etc.

This grant would include extensive community engagement and a final report before the City makes a decision to approve a resolution to partner on the purchase.

Erin McCardle asked if there was any matching funds or other financial implications associated with the $300,000 grant? Brian Patterson replied that it was a capital appropriation and no other costs would be associated with the grant.

Boyd Road Property acquisition:

Ferris stated that City staff is in the process of confirming the price of the five acres with the County, the County’s terms, and if there are any issues that would preclude development of the property.

The other issue is confirming that the City can fit the $120,000 purchase price into the budget. Council approved staff to negotiate with the County.

Once all the issues are positively confirmed, staff will present an offer and then a contract for Council approval.

Golf Course Irrigation project:

The Lake Chelan Golf Course has been irrigated with an old system that is now on a Parks Department project list to be replaced with a modern irrigation system.

An analysis of the Lake Chelan Golf Course’s current irrigation system by Mears Design Group found that the system is well below current efficiency standards for golf course irrigation needs

The consultant recommended designing a new irrigation system prioritizing the following elements:

1. Replace irrigation mainline and lateral piping.

2. Incorporate new efficient irrigation sprinkler heads with single head control.

3. Incorporate isolation valves throughout the course system.

4. Incorporate new pump stations with wet wells.

5. Incorporate a central control communication to pump systems.

This recommended course of action was approved by Council via the 2023-2027 Capital Improvement Program.

Council authorized the Mayor to accept and approve the extended Professional Services Agreement with Mears Design Group to design a new irrigation system based on consultant recommendations.

Golf and Recreation Rate adjustments:

This issue was addressed in an earlier article, but Paul Horne told the Council that the new adjustments would help bring the rates charged at the golf course closer to market rates.

With regards to the adjustments to the Youth Recreation rates, Horne explained that the City isn’t making any profit off these rates, but adjusting them so the Parks Department breaks even on costs associated with AAU and other youth recreation issues.

Steve Thornton consulting agreement:

The Council authorized Mayor Goedde to finalize and execute a consultant agreement with Thornton to provide his experience and expertise when needed by the City’s new Finance Director, Jackie Tupling while she learns the nuances of the position.

Thornton will be retained for $1,000 per month and when consulting, paid $80 per hour for one year or less as needed.

Mayor/Council Comments:

Tim Hollingsworth attended a meeting of the Town Toyota board where funding for a feasibility of the proposed Regional Recreation Center was discussed. Hollingsworth stated that the Port of Chelan County is trying to pass a new Taxing District that would involve all the North Central Washington cities.

Hollingsworth, who voted no on the issue, said that it was approved by the Board 5-2. “I voted against not paying for another taxing district,” said Hollingsworth. “I’m keeping an open mind, but I didn’t feel it was appropriate.”

John Olson reported that the Downtown Revitalization Committee has hired Beckworth Consulting to continue work on the revitalization project.

He also reported that he, Ferris and Goedde visited a micro house village in Kitsap County where the County has purchased 60 pallet homes for $15,000 each. These little units have two cots and a shelf at the end for some storage, but no bathroom facility or kitchen. “They are very expensive and manufactured in a factory,” said Olson.

Chris Baker gave a shout out the Parks Department and Nordic Ski Club for grooming  cross-country ski trails at the golf course. (The Nordic Club has groomed for classic and skate styles at the course).

Mayor Goedde made a visit to Oliver, BC and reported that Oliver’s mayor would like to reopen the Sister City designation. “It was stopped during the pandemic, but I like the idea,” said Goedde.

He also reported on SJR 8201-22 that amends the State Constitution to allow the legislature to convene a special session upon an affirmative vote of three-fifths of its members.

Goedde also mentioned that if residents have a storm drain that is not working to call Public Works (509-682-8030) and report it so it can be cleaned out to work properly.

Wade Ferris introduced Sgt. Rob Huddleston as the City’s new department head. Huddleston, who had been assigned other duties within the department over the last five years said, “I’m excited to be back up here. A lot of stuff has changed.” He said he will be tackling the continuing parking issues and also reported that Sheriff Morrison is committed to increasing marine patrols on the lake. ‘It is high on his list,” said Huddleston.

Sgt. Rob Huddleston is Chelan’s new boss for the Sheriff’s Department in Chelan.

Jake Youngren, public works director, reported that the Chelan/Douglas County Transportation Council is helping the City find different projects that can be funded. “They have a new Trails Leadership Committee,” said Youngren. “There are some federal programs out there with money.”

Youngren is looking at the Northshore Pathway as a potential priority for that committee and said the pathway would cost in the neighborhood of $50 million to construct. “I’ll let your know. I am appreciative of this committee being put together.” Mayor Goedde added that there are some heavy hitters in that committee.

Paul Horne said there was a big pile of Christmas trees for Winterfest at the park, but are looking for more.

Jackie Tupling reported that the airport is being audited and that the annual report is due in May.

Luis Gonzalez, sitting in for Community Development Director John Ajax reported that business was rather slow with all the snow.

There are plans to move the Planning Department into an area of the Sheriff’s space and Gonzalez said an RFP was going out for design bids on the space.

Wade Ferris said, “Officially as of today we’ve had two months of snow.

He also told the Council that the City was taking steps to remove vehicles that have been illegally parked. “We will concentrate initially on those cars that are not licensed and get them off the streets.”

The next Council meeting will be on January 24 at 6 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.

City and Consultant seeking funding for City designated projects

by Richard Uhlhorn

Annalisa Noble, T-O Engineering, walked Chelan City Council members and staff through the City’s 2023 Legislative priorities, a 2023 Funding opportunity schedule, a Funding matrix and a list of 2023 CIP Proposed priorities.

Consultant Annalisa Noble is working with the City to find funding sources through grants and loans for a number of City designated projects on its CIP and Community projects.

“By the end of this workshop I want the council to let me know what to focus on,” Noble said.

 She brought forth the 2023 Legislative Priorities for Chelan which included:

  1. Traffic and Pedestrian Safety – this issue includes well marked cross-walks on Woodin and Saunders between the bridge and Woodin, as well as in front of Chelan’s schools.
    Constructing roundabouts at busy intersections at Saunders & Johnson, Woodin & Saunders to improve traffic flow.
    Upgrading sidewalks and crossings to meet ADA requirements
  2. Support Chelan’s Youth – search for funding that supports opportunities for young people to engage in outdoor activities; skate park, pump track, basketball courts, ice rink, support for community center under construction.
  3. Affordable Housing – funding is needed for more flexible control over housing needs:
    Broaden eligibility requirements; legislation which gives local jurisdictions more control including land donations and use of local tax revenues;
    Use a housing affordability index instead of median income for funding eligibility;
    More local control of building and panning codes to make it easier to construct dormitories and short term rentals for additional worker housing availability.
  4. Lake Chelan – Funding to support Lake Chelan projects:
    Increased and improved waterfront access;
    Enhanced safety on the lake including more marine patrol and buoys.
    Water quality monitoring.

Councilwoman Erin McCardle would like to see actionable projects put together. “We want to get together and hoping at some point we will have actionable projects in 2023.”

Chelan has an opportunity to apply for a number of grants over the next year for a variety of projects in all categories. The federal government is funding state agencies at high levels.

Water/Wastewater Projects:

Noble told the Council that water/wastewater projects have a lot of potential for grants and loans. “A lot is available right now. That’s where the money is.”

Councilman Tim Hollingsworth brought up the need for stormwater and flood control assistance. City Administrator Wade Ferris mentioned the flood situation in Chelan Hills. “We need to see if there are grants available for stormwater.” Noble stated that she would give the Council an extra overview of stormwater grant availability. Hollingsworth said the issue needs to be added to the CIP (Capital Improvements Projects) and that a proposal needs to be put together.

Transportation Projects:

In August, the Transportation Improvement Board will be considering grant applications for small cities. Noble recommended that the City apply annually for transportation projects. The City is interested in pedestrian safety projects that could include several roundabouts in town.

Another project high on the list for grant funding will be the Lakeside Trail from downtown to Lakeside Park. “A lot of our parks and recreation could be considered in economic development,” said Hollingsworth. “We need eyes on the Lakeside Trail.” Public Works Director Jake Youngren said that the trail should be on CIP list to get funded.

The completion of the trail could be funded through a combination of grants from the Recreation & Conservation Office, the Transportation Improvement Board and Washington State Department of Transportation.

Chelan Youth:

Projects like a new Skate Park and Pump Track are on the horizon for funding through the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) and Chelan is eligible for grant funds.

There is differing views on the eventual skate park location. A public meeting of parents and skaters prefer Don Morse Park as the location, but several council members would like to see it constructed in South Chelan.

Other projects serving Chelan’s youth could be basketball and pickleball courts and City support of the Community Center which is currently under construction.

The skate park/pump track is estimated to cost $1.5 million and could be constructed in 2025.

Affordable Housing:

Noble told the Council that there are not a lot of vehicles for funding affordable housing currently, but that there is apparently $4 billion for Affordable Housing in the federal budget. “I don’t know what that means right now,” said Noble.

Lake Chelan:
One of the largest demands by residents and the public at large is better access to the lake. There are a number of street end locations designated, but the cost to preparing them is high and the time to turn the wish list into reality takes time.

Another issue on the lake is more safety measures such as better marine patrol and buoy placements to keep personal watercraft away from the shoreline.

Funding is also needed for the Lake Chelan Research Institute to continue lake quality research and to find solutions to the emerging near shore issues including the removal of milfoil and pond weed infestation.

Over the next months, Annalisa Noble will be working closely with the Chelan City Council and City staff to develop a funding strategy for 2023.

City asked to pass resolution for Chelan Butte acquisition

by Richard Uhlhorn

Chelan Butte is considered an iconic geographic feature of the Lake Chelan Valley

Chelan’s Tuesday workshop began with a standing room only crowd attending to hear the Chelan Butte acquisition discussion. Most of the crowd attending the session were from Chelan or the Lake Chelan Valley, but were proponents of the successful Wenatchee Foothill’s Project.

By the beginning of the City’s workshop there was standing room only in Council Chambers.
During the spring months Chelan Butte explodes with wildflowers.

City Administrator Wade Ferris opened the meeting explaining that public comment is not allowed at the City’s workshops.

The primary discussion topic of the Butte acquisition was a proffered Resolution of the City Council commitment to preserve areas of Chelan Butte for public access and use.

This resolution seeks the City as a co-applicant for a Local Community Project request for $300,000 from the 2023 Washington State Capital Budget for a planning grant to the Trust for Public Land (TPL) to study issues pertaining tot he preservation of Chelan Butte, including options for land acquisition funding, land uses, ownership structure, and development and maintenance costs.

TPL’s planning process would include extensive community engagement and a final report summarizing its findings.

Wenatchee Parks Director David Erickson gave a presentation on how the City of Wenatchee and the Trust for Public Lands acquired and developed the Wenatchee Foothills Project.

Wenatchee’s Park Director, David Erickson, gave a presentation to the Council and staff about the process the City of Wenatchee and its citizens went through to acquire, with the help of TPL, the land for its Foothill’s project. “This actually began in 1909,” said Erickson who added, “hopefully your project will not take that long.”

In the late 90’s the citizens of Wenatchee asked the City to look at grants for the Foothills. The first grant came from the National Park Service and the Saddle Rock area was adopted in 2006. A community strategy document was prepared. “It was the community that came together,” said Erickson. The plan was adopted by Chelan County, Port of Chelan County and the City of Wenatchee.

Erickson told the Council that thousands and thousands of people helped make the Foothills Project a success. Saddlerock, the Lower Castle Rock Nature Area, Foothills Natural Area, Saddlerock Gateway, Foothills Regional Recreation Area and the Sage Hills Gateway are just a few of the successful projects undertaken with the help of TPL and the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust.

Erickson stated that the process includes land acquisition, development and then, operations and maintenance. “It’s a long process which has taken us 20 years.”

Mayor Bob Goedde asked Erickson what the operational costs were for the 1,800 acres. Erickson replied that he couldn’t give actual numbers, but that there was a City Crew that helped with maintenance and operations.

Goedde replied that the Chelan residents cannot afford to maintain a system. “I’m concerned about the cost of operations,” said Goedde.

The City has included $500,000 in its 2023-2027 Capital Improvements Program toward the purchase of up to 875 acres of Butte lands owned by Golden Gate Ventures of Salt Lake City, UT.

Chelan Basin Conservancy has been the lead organization to move this process to its current status. Councilman Tim Hollingsworth stated that there are potential partners woh would work with the City including the Lake Chelan Trails Alliance.

Councilman Chris Baker asked how long the $500,000 was good for and was told up to five years. Councilman John Olson said that the Saddle Rock trailhead has all 50 slots full of users on any given day. Hollingsworth added that, if acquired, the Butte property would become a regional facility.

Potential partners include the City, Trust for Public Land, Chelan Basin Conservancy, Lake Chelan Trails Alliance and the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust.

The resolution for the City to be involved in the Butte acquisition will be up for further discussion and potential City commitment to provide the necessary actions to preserve the areas of Chelan Butte for public use.

Chelan Fire enters 2023 with an expected revenue stream of $4,899,068

by Richard Uhlhorn

Chief’s Report:

Assistant Chief Shaun Sherman and Fire Chief Brandon Asher gave the commissioners a year end report.

According to Chief Brandon Asher, Chelan Fire and Rescue’s financial is 95% of where “we should be.” He reported that the district is still expecting $16,500 in State Mobilization funds to come in.

The district responded to 103 calls in November against an average of 59 calls. Seventeen of the month’s calls were for Advanced Life Support transport.

Fire related calls included a car fire on November 9, a vehicle over the side of 97A on November 27 and a Couch Fire on November 28. “We had a decent response for the roll over on the 27th,” said Asher.

Asher reported that the district was still waiting on the City’s fire inspection plans.

The new firefighters graduating from the academy in Wenatchee received high praise from the staff and received two of the three awards handed out.

The district has received new chainsaws for urban/wildfire use to replace their aging old saws.

The district will be releasing its first newsletter in January. It will be sent out to residents residing within the district boundaries.

On the operation front, the district will have better radio reception based on RiverCom’s upgrades. “This will definitely help us in the upper Lake Chelan Valley,” said Asher. “Hopefully, we will have increased radio reception.”

Asher also reported that the Forest Service is no longer interested in renting space at Station 74. “They’ve apparently worked out their situation at their current location.”

Manson District 5 is moving forward with their training facility. Commissioner Phil Moller asked Asher to reach out to District 5’s fire chief Arnold Baker. “Ask him to attend one of our commission meetings to outline what they are doing,” said Moller.

The district is seeking to purchase an International chassis in 2024. “We asked to be ut on the list,” said Asher. The cost is estimated to be $126,000 with an additional $80,000 to convert the unit into a fire truck.

Assistant Chief’s report:

Shaun Sherman reported that two firefighters are coming back to the district ant that Chelan Fire hasn’t lost anybody.

2023 Budget:

Chelan Fire and Rescue will begin the year with $1,241,052.01 cash on hand. Projected tax revenues for 2023 is $3,648,016.85 for a total revenue stream of $4,899,068.86.

The District’s General Reserve Investment fund is at $269,300.00. The Capital Fund is at $874,424.00 and the Capital “Equipment” Investment fund is at $270,077.00. Outstanding Non Voted Bond issues is $95,300.01. Revolving Petty Cash is $3,500.00

The full 2023 budget can be attained from the District by calling Carol Kibler at 509-682- 4476.

Usable water is at a critical point for the Lake Chelan Valley

by Richard Uhlhorn

Water rights:

“If they want to process that application, anyone below them would have no water,” stated DOE’s Candis Graff regarding water quantity in the Lake Chelan basin. “It has dwindled to a critical point.”

The City of Chelan Public Works department has a water right application in for 3,800 acre feet which if applied and approved would stop the processing of any water right application below that request.

Marcie Clement, Chelan County PUD, told Graff that she would like to meet with her regarding the remaining acreage available.

Mike Kaputa, Chelan County Natural Resources director, stated that there needs to be a recalculation or re-estimation of water availability. “How many more applicants are there on Lake Chelan?” Kaputa asked. Graff replied approximately 13.

Mike Kaputa

“Is there some sort of re-calculation,” asked Kaputa. Graff replied that the remaining amount surprised her. Clement stated that there is a reserve set aside with the Department of Ecology. “There are three of us – the City, County and PUD that need to find time to get together with us.” Kaputa added that the Lake Chelan Reclamation District needs to be added at some point to the discussions.

Andy Dunn, RH2 Enginnering, said that future demand was projected out 70 years. Regarding water right applications, Dunn stated that just because there is an application requesting large amounts of water doesn’t mean that the applicant would be issued that amount. “That’s a big number on an application but not necessarily coming out of the reserve.”

If the City and/or other agency were to request a large amount of remaining water rights, and it was approved by the DOE, the remaining applicants, i.e. developers and others would be out of luck unless they could find a water right to purchase from a current water right holder.

Water quality:

“We are trying to understand why we are getting more algae growth,” reported Phil Long, director of the Lake Chelan Research Institute.

Phil Long – Lake Chelan
Research Institute

The near shore ecology in the lower Wapato Basin has changed drastically since 2014 despite an increase in water clarity and normal oxygen levels. “Very few lakes have this stability,” sail Long. However, Long remarked that there is an emerging threat worldwide with algae growth and algae blooms. Long is planning to survey various locations on the lake where algae growth is prevalent.

One of the major issues on the lake this past year is the increasing population of water fowl; geese and ducks. Long reported that Campbell’s, the Lookout, Lakeside Lodges & Suites and Wapato Point have helped fund potential remedies to the water fowl issue.

Geese in particular, deposit large quantities of poop on docks and lawns which get either washed off or swept off into the lake which adds to the “green grass/green bottom” issue. Long said, “Tom Gormley at Lakeside Lodges & Suites said the problem is pretty daunting.” Wapato Point, being a part of the Colville Confederated Tribes land have a water fowl management plan that includes legal hunting.

Long stated that on Lake Washington, goose feces are swept into bags and disposed of.

Stormwater management:

Long brought up stormwater issues and said hydrocarbons were entering the lake from parking lots. “We need some infrastructure funding to help filtrate these systems,” stated Long.

“A long skinny lake makes it challenging.”

Keep it Blue:

Lisa Dowling, a water resources specialist with the Chelan County Water Resources department, reported that mobile voluntary watercraft inspections will be available this coming year on weekends and during water related events like the Hydrofest.

Lisa Dowling
Boat Inspection/Decomtamination unit.

If a watercraft is found to have invasive species on it, a decontamination unit will be brought in to decontaminate the vessel before it is allowed to launch into Lake Chelan.

Driftwood is becoming another public safety issue on the lake. “It is not a new issue,” said Dowling. “It is a potential risk to public safety.”

Long replied that on Flathead Lake, driftwood was not allowed to be removed. “You would have a fight on your hands,” he said. “I appreciate the public safety aspect.” Long went on to remark that driftwood on the shoreline helps with keeping shoreline erosion down.

Back story: After the 70’s wildfire on Lake Chelan, the PUD entered into a contract with my company, International Marine Divers, to remove the massive amounts of debris that flooded the lake creating a huge public safety issue for recreational boaters. We hired a group of college kids for the summer and they effectively remove tons of driftwood, large and small from the shores of Lake Chelan. It was piled up at Old Mill Bay and eventually burned by the PUD.

Updates:

Long reported that the Research Institute is focused on other ways to find funding that is available now, not in the future.

Kaputa reported that the fish tissue sampling report is due to be released in 2023. The tissue sampling of Lake Trout is to determine the amount of DDT and other toxins are present in the fishes flesh. Long replied that Mysis shrimp are also high in DDT concentrations.

Marcie Clement reported that the Fishery Forum consisting of representatives from the National Park Service, Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife and the PUD have been working on the 2023 fishery work plan which should be released in February or March.

Acting Chelan District Ranger, Paul Willard reported that the District is not proposing any new projects in 2023 but is still working on the Phase II Holden Mine remediation proposal. “We are developing options for the second phase.”

Paul Willard – acting District Ranger

Willard was asked how the settlement negotiations were going on the Holden Mine remediation. Willard replied that the District was waiting to meet with Rio Tinto. “We have nothing definitive at this time.”

This coming summer, Willard stated that the District will be working on shovel ready projects like fuel breaks just up lake on the north and south shores. “We will be taking public comment on these projects in the next several months.

For more information on how you can keep Lake Chelan pristine go to www.keepitbluelakechelan.com and volunteer your time