by Richard Uhlhorn
Rena Rex, Chelan Ranger District, commented during last Thursday’s Leadership Response Team meeting that the District is continuing to see unprecedented recreational use of Forest lands. “This raises the risk of fire starts,” she said. On Monday, following the meeting, Kari Grover-Weir, Chelan District Ranger, remarked by telephone that fire fighters would be living in Spike Camps instead of a regular fire camp. “There is nothing in the works for a pre-firecamp,” stated Weir.
Chelan Ranger District seeing unprecedented recreational use on Forest lands leading to worries about potential forest fires
Debbie Conwell, Manson Chamber of Commerce, reported that she could echo everyone. “Manson parks are overrun and visitors are parking close to residents who are having a hard time getting out of their homes.” She also reported that Manson has shut down one block of Green Avenue in downtown Manson for outdoor dining only. “The tables will be socially distanced.” She added that the wine tasting rooms are having a hard time in downtown with outdoor seating because of permitting from the County and Liquor Control Board, but actually wineries can space people into the vineyards.
Mark Donnell, Chelan 7 Fire Chief, stated that businesses are saying they have had some of the best weekends on record.
Laura Schmidt, Columbia Valley Community Health, said that the providers in Chelan are being overrun by patients that have deferred their health car because of COVID. “We have sent a few to the hospital because we have not managed well,” said Schmidt. “It is not a sustanable model when we are seeing three patients instead of one at a time. We need to get people in.”
Positive cases are going up in the two counties. Joyous Van Meter, Chelan-Douglas Health District (CDHD) said. “We are at 1736 total cases in Chelan and Douglas Counties,” she said. “We had 45 new yesterday (Wednesday, July 29) raising our per 100,000 to 510 over the last 14 days. We’ve had three additional deaths in Chelan and Douglas.”
Van Meter also stated that the Health District is working on School Reopening Plans along with working on outreach to farm workers. She said that 42% of the positive cases were coming from individuals between the ages of 20 and 39. Van Meter added that both East Wenatchee and Wenatchee School Districts have decided to remain virtual this fall. “We will know from the State next week when schools can (fully) open, hybrid opening, or stay virtual only.”
Schmidt asked Van Meter if there had been any effort to track recovered numbers. “We’ve tried, but it is difficult,” said Van Meter. She also said they were seeing more clusters of cases in the business community. “Have you looked at a not testing option of treating this as a flu season,” asked Schmidt of Van Meter. She replied that the District does need to test everyone in the region, even if they are asymptomatic, to keep an eye on the disease. “To what end,” asked Schmidt? “To control clusters,” answered Van Meter. “We haven’t really treated any other disease like this.”
Yvonne Walker, the new superintendent at Manson School District, stated that it was in interesting time to take on the job. “We have amazing people here. We are going to make things work,” she said. “Spring was difficult for everyone.” She said she was confident that the public is going to be excited with what we are going to do in the Fall. However her concern is that if “there are flames in the community, we (the schools) will be the wind that carries it.”
Jim Colbert told the group that Cherry Season is over for Chelan Fruit. “We went 11 weeks without a positive. We had two positives this week,” he said. “We are happy we’ve kept the numbers to where we are.” Chelan Fruit is now gearing up for the apple/pear season. “There are quite a few migrant workers coming into the area from Mexico and Jamaica,” said Colbert.
Wade Ferris, Chelan City Administrator, said the City was preparing to limit the numbers of people in it parks. “We don’t have an easy venue,” said Ferris. “We will be working with the highway department and State Patrol on parking issues out there. We hope it will help with crowds.”
Sgt. Chris Foreman left a report that he is working with the City Council on parking issues with the City Parks. He also reported that the Sheriff’s Department is working with Washington State Patrol for parking issues outside the City limits, west on 97A because that is WSP territory.
Ray Eickmeyer also left a report that the Hospital and Clinic are testing for COVID and caring for COVID patients at the hospital. He wrote that the hospital is doing well with space, staffing, and resources even though they are busy.
Michael Steele reported that additional Small Business Grants are being made available through the Port of Chelan County. He also reported that efforts are being made for mask distribution and the Chamber is encouraging visitors to wear masks while in Chelan through paid media.