City Council addresses parks issues

by Richard Uhlhorn

Chelan’s City Council addressed agenda items at its virtual meeting on Tuesday evening, August 11.

At the Council’s request regarding criminalizing the consumption of alcohol at its public park, Quentin Batjer, city attorney, wrote this introduction on the City’s agenda bill “Open Container/Consumption of Alcohol in City Parks.”

As requested, I have been drafting an ordinance regarding re-criminalizing opening or consuming alcohol in parks. What started as a relatively simple task has taken on new flavor as I realized that state law also treats opening/consuming alcohol as a civil infraction as opposed to criminal conduct. In other words, the City wants to criminalize something that the state legislature has expressly said is not a crime.

 The idea of changing the City’s ordinance from a civil infraction to a criminal infraction would give the Sheriff’s deputies the power to arrest when there is over drunkenness or unruly behavior in the parks.

During the discussion on the issue, Erin McCardle stated that there were only three major problem weekends the City has to deal with. She stated that she would hate to see a family enjoying a bottle of wine with their lunch be tagged with an infraction. In addition, she said, “We just don’t have the staffing level to have the Sheriff in the parks.”

Mayor Goedde stated that at this stage of the game the City doesn’t have a problem until the younger crowd comes. “Our visitors have changed to a younger party type this year.”

Ray Dobbs added, “We saw that on the Fourth of July. The last several weekends have been more family oriented.”

City Administrator Wade Ferris remarked that the past weekend with security was moderately successful, but there were still some glitches to overcome. “We will have a different plan of action  in place this coming weekend,” he said. This is based on feedback from citizens, security people and parks staff. “The security people did not have their first string on hand.”

Don Morse Park was much more controlled than Lakeside Park and Ferris said the security people need very clear instructions and if there was any question, they had the phone numbers for Parks Director Paul Horne and himself. “Hopefully we will relieve some of the confusion.”

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Lakeside Park was full most of the day on Saturday

Parking was still a problem at Lakeside, particularly on the highway. Signage will be moved out beyond where it was last weekend. “Hopefully as word gets out, more people will understand that it is First Come – First Serve.”

Goedde remarked that putting a “Park Closed” sign prior to the entrance might help a lot. Ferris also said people will get into the park if they can prove they are a Chelan resident.

Peter Jamtgaard remarked that it wasn’t perfect but the results were way past where the City was previously. Tim Hollingsworth said that a lot of people came up to recreate at the parks from Wenatchee. “The security folks were taking a lot of questions.” He felt that Sunday was a lot better than Saturday. “The neighborhoods were not full of cars and that is a real positive step,” said Hollingsworth. He also said that a Spanish speaking security guard was needed at the entrances.

Ray Dobbs remarked that it was a great first weekend. He stated that with schools being shut down, he expects visitors beyond Labor Day. Servando Robledo said he talked to some Hispanics and they were confused, but then understood why the City was doing what it was.

Robledo was asked if he could record something in Spanish for the radio stations. He said he would be happy to do so if someone would give him a template.

McCardle said she would make sure that the hotels and vacation rentals have the information the City sent out. “I will make a personal followup. We also need to find that avenue for the Hispanic community.” Robledo said that word has to get into the Spanish newspaper on onto the Spanish radio shows and stations. “We need to get the word out to that community in Wenatchee and up to Brewster,” said Robledo.

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The PUD micro park at the Forest Service was busy on Saturday afternoon.

Chelan Waterfront Access Plan Update: https://cityofchelan.civicweb.net/document/26615/Chelan%20Waterfront%20Access%20Plan%20Update.pdf?handle=AEB63D5288E8487BA4F9FCA4B7C91A24

In August of 2019, the Chelan City Council approved a Professional Services Agreement with JA Brennan to conduct a feasibility study of potential public access points to help disburse overcrowding at Chelan’s parks and to give locals more public access to the lake.

Jim Brennan provided an update on his feasibility study at the Tuesday meeting. The link above will give readers an opportunity to study the identified areas for public access and the conceptual visual plans for each of them.

“Paul (Horne) and I have been collaborating on design and the following are preliminary concepts with cost estimates,” Brennan told the council members.

Councilman John Olson remarked in the Council/Mayor comments later that only one percent of Lake Chelan is open to the public.

Many of these street ends that make up the majority of potential public access points have limited parking potential and Brennan remarked that many of them would be walk-in or bike-in access points for the local community. They all are close to or adjacent to the proposed Northshore Trail on the north side of the lake and Lakeside Trail on the south side of the lake.

Some of the potential sites are considered low hanging fruit… the best and easiest to construct. They are:

Site A – Waterfront Access at Lake Chelan Shores

Site B – Dietrich Road street end.

Site C – Bridge site by the Grandview on the Lake

Site D – N. Park Street street end at Petersons

            Site E – Vacated street end between Sunset Marina and the Lady of the Lake

Site F – Main Street end

Site H – Green Dock

Activities at these sites could include viewing, swimming, hiking/biking, hand carried boat access, wading, picknicking, fishing and just playing or socializing.

Brennan talked about each of the preferred sites. He feels the Dietrich Street End could eventually hookup with the Spader Bay property.

Since there is no parking at the Peterson’s street end, Brennan remarked that it would be a great walk-in or ride-in for locals on the Lakeshore trail. “It’s already a nice access point,” said Brennan. “It could be a better connection but there isn’t a lot of public parking.”

Horne remarked that the manager at Sunset Marina was excited about the possibility of a beach area between the Boat Company and marina. The Courtney’s also saw a lot of potential for the Boat Company’s customers to relax while waiting for the boat.

Green Dock is already well used by locals. “Most of these sites are used more by locals,” said Brennan. His concept includes an overlook dock at the corner of Water Street and Terrace Avenue and shade trees down Terrace Avenue. There are private docks under lease with the PUD and Brennan said they would remain.

“Some of these sites could be very simple (to construct),” remarked Horne. “There is a lot of low hanging fruit and we will factor these sites into the Park’s Master Plan to be eligible for grants and funding.”

Ty Witt acknowledged the tremendous body of work that went into the feasibility study and said, “I just love it.” Hollingsworth said the City needs to cultivate good relationships with the neighboring property owners and bring the community together.

Dobbs stated that the feasibility study is one more piece to the public access puzzle, but asked if there were still questions about the legality of those street ends being public. Brennan replied that his research has cleared most and was working with landowners for easements. “It is pretty well documented,” said Brennan.

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Council/Mayor Comments:

 During these comments Dobbs asked if a citizen’s group could write parking tickets to fill in the gap for those law enforcement deputies who don’t have enough time. “I think it would be valuable. The highways are dangerous,” said Dobbs. He is concerned with parked cars blocking bike lanes and pedestrian traffic.

Mayor Goedde stated he contacted the insurance company and said the City was only allowed to place cones to the city limits… everything beyond is the state’s responsibility. He has asked the DOT to move the 35 mph sign farther out so drivers know they have to slow down.

Hollingsworth said he didn’t have much to add but remarked that the pandemic has brought things to a head.

Dobbs commented that he was told the overflow from the parks ended up in Riverwalk Park. Hollingsworth added that they didn’t notice a lot of additional parking up at his location.

John Olson stated that he appreciates the effort but that it is to little, to late.

Erin McCardle asked for $8,000 from the $126,000 CARES funds to help build outdoor seating to increase capacity at the local restaurants. Goedde added that it wouldn’t be a permanent fix. Hollingsworth said he wanted to see plans before he could support the expenditure. McCardle promised to give a summary to each councilmember after the Downtown Associations meeting on Thursday.

Olson said he wasn’t against the idea but has been caught by surprise. In the end, the $8,000 was granted.

With regards to jumping off the bridge, new signs would be put up warning jumpers they were in violation and could end up with a $500 fine. “I think if we give out a few tickets, the word would get out quickly,” said Ferris.

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Chelan School District to open remotely

LCBS 200 dpi

by Richard Uhlhorn

The Chelan School Board met in special session Thursday, August 6, to discuss Superintendent Barry DePaoli’s recommendation to reopen the School District remotely.

The School Board approved a motion to open remotely with one member voting No.

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Student in the Lake Chelan School District will start the school year remotely and won’t be allowed back in the classrooms until the COVID case counts go down and the County is allowed to move to new Phases. Full reopening for K-8th grade won’t happen until the County moves to Phase 3 and High School students will not be allowed back until the County is at Phase 4.

DePaoli told the board that the Chelan-Douglas Health District and the Governor are against opening schools to students until the COVID case counts come down. Currently, the positive case counts are at 550+ per 100,000.

“If we were not to follow the guidelines we would not get insurance coverage,” said DePaoli.

Board member Kim Thorpe asked if the state was specifically saying that the school can’t reopen. DePaoli replied that the District has to reopen remotely. “If we want to bring in students, it has to be in groups of five for each classroom,” DePaoli said. Prior to being able to bring in students, a plan has to be submitted and approved by Dr. Butler at the Health District.

Augustin Benagas asked if insurance would still cover the District if they were allowed to bring in five students per class. DePaoli replied only if Dr. Butler approves it.

Thorpe said she is concerned for the younger kids starting remotely. Her fear is that parents will be unable to support them and said, “I feel we could bring in those kids on alternating days.” She does not see remote learning for younger student as a learning environment.

DePaoli told Thorpe that it is a real challenge. “We have to follow the Health District guidelines. We will look for ways we can assist those students remotely.” He suggested that perhaps their older siblings could help out.

Thorpe wondered if 10 students couldn’t be brought in instead of five. DePaoli replied that the plan is capped at five students per class. Thorpe kept pushing and said, “The guidelines and suggestions are obviously open to some leeway.” DePaoli replied, “The leeway is that we can bring in five at a time. The decision is that we will open remotely and plan for up to five students.”

Lynda Foster weighed in on the argument and said, “We are not gathering to make a decision. The decision has already been made for us. The reality is that it is not up to us,” said Foster.

DePaoli went on to explain that the District’s teachers would not be expected to work two jobs. “We will manage classrooms (the five student classrooms) with special educators and Para Pros,” said DePaoli. “We are working out all of those details.”

For those parents of students and the teachers, DePaoli stated that there would be an identified start time and dismissal time plus intervention time for students who need it. “We have to serve those kids,” said DePaoli.

Reopening Phases will be as follows:

Phase 2 will allow children from Kindergarten to Fifth grade in school on a Hybrid s          Phase 3 will bring all Kindergarten to Eighth graders back into the classroom.
Phase 4 will allow High School students to come back to school.

Those students and parents who want their children to remain remote will be given that option through BYU and APEX for consistency.

Ken Brunner asked about medical checks for students. DePaoli said each student will have his/her temperature taken and will be required to mask. Any student who can not wear a mask will be required to have a doctor’s approval to not wear a mask.

Thorpe, towards the end of the meeting asked if the entire board would be willing to challenge the Health District guidelines to reopen. Brunner replied that would create too much risk to the students. “We would become a petri dish.” Jeff Fehr also replied that the District would be operating without insurance and that wasn’t being fiscally responsible.

DePaoli added that the District has both students and staff currently infected with COVID. “We need to bring the case counts down to bring students back,” he said

Benegas also said the District and community would be in full Flu Season this fall, which he added was not a good health recipe. DePaoli added that the Health District feels that the community is three weeks away from the peak in COVID cases.

The plan is for the first three days to be a face to face orientation with parents and students so they can understand what is happening. It will also be an opportunity to introduce students to their teachers.

Rosey Burkhard is preparing some marketing materials for the community.

“This is a really hard decision. This is a global pandemic. We need to value the opinion of these health officials,” added DePaoli.

The final reopening plan will be ready for the Board by August 14 and then sent to OSPI regarding the five students per class on August 18.

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COVID positives exploding in Chelan and Douglas Counties in the 20-39 year range

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.

Hospital board approves moving ahead with new hospital project

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by Richard Uhlhorn

At its Tuesday, July 28, meeting, the Lake Chelan Community Hospital’s Board of Commissioners discussed at length the issue of restarting the new Hospital Project.

The new hospital project has been on hold until the hospital can prove that it can afford to pay the bond which currently will cost the facility an estimated $165,000 per month. One hundred thousand dollars will go towards the bond payment monthly and the other $65,000 will be saved in reserve.

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Hospital CEO George Rohrich told his board of commissioners that he is very confident that the Hospital and Clinic can achieve enough business to afford to move forward with the construction project.

“I am very confident that we can achieve that, but I probably won’t be able to prove that (payment schedule) until the beginning of 2021,” said CEO George Rohrich. “I am recommending that the board restart the project,” he added.

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Commissioner Fred Miller was on board from the beginning
to restart the hospital project.

Commissioner Fred Miller agreed with Rohrich that at a minimum the hospital needs to move forward. Commissioner Jordana LaPorte asked if Rohrich was recommending a full start. Rohrich replied that he was recommending the project begin again. “We have two years to meet the debt,” said Rohrich. “We need to get together and decide and approve any design changes and get this (project) permitted.”

The bond for $20 million of the total $44.5 million (USDA loan) was voted in by District residents in April, 2017. Since that time the facility had been resized from the original plan to provide 54,000 sq. ft. It is now down to 45,000 sq. ft. to stay under the $44.5 million dollars.

In February, the board voted to pause design and construction for a period of six months at which point they would re-evaluate the District’s financial situation.

On August 24, at a special board meeting, the commissioners made the decision to shutter its Sanctuary drug and alcohol program which will help the hospital gain more square footage for new services and potentially save $3 million dollars in construction costs.

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Commissioner Jordana LaPorte is concerned with the
ongoing hospital financial picture.

LaPorte is very concerned with the financial outlook and whether or not the hospital will be underfunded. Fred Miller replied that they have to go to the next step to figure that out. Mary Signorelli added, “We will be looking at what needs to go into our facility. Give him (Rohrich) the green light to move forward.” She also stated that other decisions can be made at an upcoming workshop.

Rohrich told the board that they have to review the footprint now that the Sanctuary is no longer in play and also work the COVID environment into their decisions. “There will be multiple decisions for the board to consider,” said Rohrich.

LaPorte is concerned about the district having the revenue to pay for it. Mary Murphy is also concerned. “One hundred and sixty thousand dollars must be generated to pay the USDA loan,” she stated. “He (Rohrich) feels confident in trying to achieve that, but can’t really prove that until 2021.”

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Commissioner Mary Murphy wants to see evidence that the District will be able to pay $165,000 per month.

Murphy added that there were a number of issues not under Rohrich’s control including, but not limited to negative conditions relating to the pandemic; patients not coming to the hospital currently for health care; and the health industry at large facing big changes. “We know our bond rating has gone down again,” said Murphy. “We need to look at our service lines and I’m having trouble with this.”

“Are we going to be able to pay if the criteria is $160,000 per month. I need to see the evidence,” said Murphy.

Miller said, “We don’t have a crystal ball if we don’t move forward. George wants permission to move forward.”

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Commissioner Mary Signorelli said residents within the hospital district would like to see the board move ahead with the new hospital project.

Signorelli stated that she was not willing to become paralyzed over what the future holds. “People would like to see us move forward,” said Signorelli. “We have something to build on. Lets let the administration do their job.”

Rohrich said that approval to move forward would get the District and its designers back to designing. “There are a lot of approvals to come,” said Rohrich. “What I’ve asked for is to restart. We need to review the footprint and design.” He said he would come back to the board for budget approvals.

The board voted to approve moving forward with Mary Murphy the sole member of the board opposed.

The Board will convene a workshop sometime in September or October for a more meaningful report on the design.

City to limit capacity at city parks

by Richard Uhlhorn

Last night’s City Council meeting was well attended on line by locals who are concerned about the City’s overcrowded parks, parking safety, illegal parking, COVID-19, social distancing, masking and a reasonable solution to the ongoing weekend situation.

The Council meeting began at 6 p.m. with City Clerk Peri Gallucci reading 35 letters from concerned residents  and business owners of the Lake Chelan Valley. It took nearly 40 minutes to add these letters to the official record. Following is a link to the received letters: https://outlook.live.com/mail/inbox/id/AQMkADAwATExAGQ3NwAtYmNiZS1kMmZmAC0wMAItMDAKAEYAAANZkPpa3oCIT5Pp7CZkZz%2BBBwBtHxY6HOR8TqZ3%2FZiGTLlUAAACAQwAAABtHxY6HOR8TqZ3%2FZiGTLlUAAO1Qii9AAAA/sxs/AQMkADAwATExAGQ3NwAtYmNiZS1kMmZmAC0wMAItMDAKAEYAAANZkPpa3oCIT5Pp7CZkZz%2BBBwBtHxY6HOR8TqZ3%2FZiGTLlUAAACAQwAAABtHxY6HOR8TqZ3%2FZiGTLlUAAO1Qii9AAAAARIAEAARDgba1G4eQpOPNTjUfOL0

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City Administrator Wade Ferris

City Administrator Wade Ferris opened the discussion on proposed action for possible solutions for overcrowding and illegal parking. “This is not a simple issue,” Ferris said. He added that the Council needs to work on a long-term solution which will probably not please everyone. Ferris said he and Paul Horne, parks director, have been working with the Parks Director, the Sheriff’s Department and other parks seeking solutions.

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Parks Director Paul Horne

Horne remarked that check points and park closures when they reach capacity are options being considered. This would include barricades at Lakeside Park and the Don Morse main gate with private security personnel on hand. Ferris said that private security personnel would be from the same company that provides the PUD with security.

Volunteer staff was also mentioned, but that would require some training. Horne said six people would be needed at Lakeside and four at Don Morse Park. Sign boards would also be used to eliminate a lot of confusion.

Parking violations fines would be increased to $75 and a potential increase of parking fees from $15 to $20. The violation fee would also be made applicable to those visitors parking illegally on Hwy. 97A.

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Sgt. Chris Foreman

Sgt. Chris Foreman was on-line and thanked the City for inviting him. He stated that the problem was very complicated. “I’m here. I want to do what I can,” said Foreman.

Mayor Goedde remarked that this issue isn’t something that just popped up. “It is an issue with the PUD and State Parks,” said Goedde.

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Mayor Bob Goedde

Each Council member addressed the issue:

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Councilmember Tim Hollingsworth

Tim Hollngsworth said, “People are worried about COVID and a lot of the problems in the parks.” He added that residents he has talked to are also concerned about closing the system on the weekends. “Residents do need the parks,” said Hollingsworth. “Our responsibility is to get our arms around managing the parks. It is a weekend issue. I would like to focus on the weekends.” He added that parking on the highway is a big safety concern. “We need to put some pressure on the State Patrol and DOT. That (hwy parking) is probably the biggest safety issue we’ve got.”

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Councilmember Servando Robledo

Servando Robledo said he would like to see more control and feels that parking is a big issue. “I am not really in favor of closing parks. They are going to go elsewhere,” said Robledo. He stated that the City needs more control of its parks, but doesn’t want to see staff put at risk.

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Councilmember Ray Dobbs

Ray Dobbs said he had done a walkabout on the Fourth of July and last Saturday. “It was a different crowd,” said Dobbs. He felt that the crowds at the park were down at least 20 percent from the Fourth and that most were families.

Dobbs mentioned State Park’s precedent to limit the number of people accessing their facility. “It is a solution that makes sense to me,” said Dobbs. He also added that limiting access to the park would go a long way to solving the ongoing parking issues.

Dobbs also asked where the fees for parking fines go. Currently that money goes to the Wenatchee court system. Mayor Goedde said that if the current $25 fine covers the court’s costs, then how much they receive from the $75 fine needs to be negotiated.  “I am strongly in favor of limiting access to closing the parks,” said Goedde.

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Councilmember John Olson

John Olson brought a little history into the discussion. He mentioned the old late 50s Apple Cup Hydroplane races that got out of control and therefore was cancelled because of the problems. “We are starting to approach those numbers again,” said Olson. He said he has also talked with residents and most were against closing the parks. “More enforcement is essential.”

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Councilmember Erin McCardle

Erin McCardle said she appreciates all of the staff at the Parks Department and the work they do. Her issue was kicking the problem down the road by closing the parks. “You would be pushing them to other parks,” said McCardle. “We need more staff in our parks… three to four times as many. There isn’t even enough staff to pickup garbage and no parking enforcement.”

McCardle is also concerned with the lack of social distancing. She mentioned that the Chamber has 12,000 paper masks that could be handed out to park visitors. She also said there have been a lot of visitors at the Chamber who said they had never been to Chelan. “I’m not in favor of closing. We need a well thought out capacity plan.”

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Councilmember Peter Jamtgaard

Peter Jamtgaard added that speed limits need to be changed at the entrance to Chelan on 97A and that drinking in parks needs to stop. “The parks have stopped being a safe place for families to go,” said Jamtgaard. He also stated that the weekends begin on Friday afternoon and don’t die down until late Sunday afternoon when people begin to travel home.

Jamtgaard said the City needs to keep the parks open and utilize wrist bands for local access to them.

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Councilmember Ty Witt

Ty Witt said he supports everything that the other council members had already added to the discussion. He asked what is the City’s legal ability to charge out of town visitors to the park system. “Can we set up a fee for visitor entry,” asked Witt?

Witt also stated that the City and/or Sheriff’s Department needs to enforce parking. “Do we need someone to die out there again (Hwy. 97A)?”

Charging visitors access to the parks brought up the question about RCO (Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office) criteria to charging visitors. The RCO gave a $1 million dollar grant to the City for the beaches and marina. City Attorney Quentin Batjar said he didn’t know that answer to that. “I would have to look at the documents to see if it came with strings attached.”

When it comes to liability, Batjar mentioned the State’s Recreational Immunity statute that protects cities, the state and individual property owners from liability issues.

Mayor Goedde asked if the City could use some of the 3% tax money to ask potential visitors to not come to Chelan right now.

McCardle immediately said that a lot of downtown businesses would be upset with that.

Goedde feels that media ads in Seattle would be helpful in letting potential visitors know that Chelan is having a problem with overcrowding and the pandemic. He also said that the City would get the word out to the Wenatchee area including the Latino population.

Other issues included the illegal alcohol use in the parks and jumping off the bridge. The City is looking at making the use of alcohol in the parks into a criminal offense not just a misdemeanor. Jamtgaard suggested that some organization could set up a beer garden in the park to make some money.

Details of what the City will end up doing to limit capacity at the park will be made in the next week. Some of the issues are allowing locals access even though the parking lot is full. Hollingsworth said, “We need details. We need to think this through. We have to let local residents in to the parks.” Ferris suggested a wrist ban from the parks office for locals. Also access for the RV park would also be required.

One idea that came out of the meeting was a big sign along Hwy. 97A that informs those who would park illegally that it will cost them a $75 and a $500 towing fee if they get towed to Entiat.

City Council will be holding a Workshop on Tuesday, August 4, to discuss Golf Course issues along with how security and capacity has worked out this coming weekend. The meeting is accessible to the public through Lake Chelan Now and will begin at 4 p.m.

Clinic saved from closure… will be resized

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by Richard Uhlhorn

The Hospital Board of Commissioners held a special meeting on Friday, July 24 to discuss the future operation of both the Sanctuary and the Clinic, both of which have not been profitable hospital enterprises.

The Sanctuary is currently being used as a swing bed facility to take on patients during the ongoing COVID pandemic.

The Clinic has not operated profitably since the Hospital purchased it.

CEO George Rohrich said during the meeting, “A lot of things fell short of leadership… we are fixing that.”

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CEO George Rohrich

With respect to the Sanctuary, it cannot be reopened until the Governor declares the health emergency is over or the hospital retains 20 percent of bed capacity idle. Reopening would be at least 12 months out. However, closing the Sanctuary would have an impact on the new facility. “Removing that wing has a potential saving of $3 million,” said Rohrich.

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Chairperson Phyliss Gleasman said, “It appears to me tht we are throwing up our hands and throwing in the towel. Cutting, cutting, cutting is all I hear. I think we need to provide services,” she said. Gleasman added that no one in the region is offering the services provided by the Sanctuary. “I just don’t want to give up.”

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Commissioner Mary Murphy added that she is always concerned about losing services, but that with a changing reimbursement issue that the hospital can’t control, it is hard to operate. Commissioner Jordana LaPorte added that the community doesn’t, with few exceptions, use the Sanctuary. “New services are a much better idea,” LaPorte added.

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Commissioner Mary Signorelli wanted a study to address the services they would lose. LaPorte said private pay won’t pay for 30-day in-patient services. “Private pay only pays for out-patient services.”

Rohrich said he was looking for guidance from the commission. “Should we continue or discontinue,” he asked.

The commission voted to shutter the Sanctuary and have the direct leadership look into a new program that would provide out-patient services.

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Clinic:

CEO Rohrich opened the Clinic discussion about operating at a loss when the leadership at Columbia Valley Community Health is providing high quality care. “We need to have an upbeat conversation with a joint adhoc committee of both boards,” said Rohrich. He said he is a big proponent of urgent care and that there are desires to have an urgent care facility in Manson.

Rohrich provided a power point graph that had three options:

  1. Close down the Clinic and firm up a partnership with CVCH;
  2. Right size the Clinic to reduce the losses; and
  3. Leave the Clinic as it is.

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Commissioner Mary Murphy said, “I would like to look at right sizing. Right size for our community.” However she worried that it they would lose the 340B program which offers discounted prices on drugs.

Gleasman asked what the Hospital can do to recapture patients at the Clinic? Devon Ehlert, CCOO, replied that a marketing plan was needed. Augustin Benegas, the hospital’s marketing director added that a marketing plan is in the works.

Rohrich said there were many things the Hospital hasn’t done well and could do better at. “Getting to a break even point (at the Clinic) in a couple of years is problematic.”

Signorelli added that closing the Clinic is not a good idea at this time. She worries about a new business coming to the community and opening up in direct competition. “We need to explore what we have,” she said. Fred Miller added that the Clinic has been managed poorly with no marketing. “We should improve our act and do our jobs properly. We are not at a point of closing it… there are two many options available.”

Rohrich said that the commission should look at resizing the Clinic and get the bottom line to zero. Miller told Rohrich that it needs resizing and said Rohrich needs to help them figure it out. Gleasman wants the staff at the Clinic to offer their ideas about resizing also.

In the end the Commission directed the administration to right size the Clinic and Mary Murphy stated that they would like to see significant improvement over the next six to eight months. “Looking at the financials is very critical on a month to month basis.” Miller added that as long as right sizing is not closing it down.

The Hospital Commission will be discussing re-starting the new Hospital Project on Tuesday, July 28. The regularly scheduled meeting will begin at 1:30 and last until approximately 3:30 p.m. The public is invited to listen in on Zoom at:

https://lcch.zoom.us/j/92905345260?pwd=OS9NUThEQzIFUIRBOWNOTOZyWmZYQT09.

Local Parks feeling tremendous pressure from visitors to the Valley

by Richard Uhlhorn

Overcrowding at local parks has the City of Chelan, Chelan County PUD and State Parks seeking measures to alleviate issues such as social distancing, masking, garbage, safety and overcrowding.

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Overcrowding at Don Morse Park in Chelan has not lessened since the fourth of July.

Mayor Bob Goedde is frustrated. Residents are frustrated. Many would like to see the local parks shut down. “The best option I can come up with is closing Don Morse and Lakeside on the weekends,” said Goedde. “Locals are not using the parks. It is tourists from out of town.”

The other problem is the total lack of responsibility taken by these visitors to Chelan’s park system. “Randy at Public Works reported that they removed 90 cubic yards of compacted garbage from the park this past weekend.”

Goedde is proposing to closed Don Morse and Lakeside Parks beginning on August 1. “My aim is to see if the Council agrees with this,” said Goedde. “I don’t want any surprises on Tuesday night (Regular Council Meeting).”

Goedde also called Ryan Baker (parks director) at Chelan County PUD to warn him of potential park closures. Baker, who had just had a meeting concerning PUD Park issues, thanked Goedde.

During a subsequent call from Baker, he described issues at Beebe Park which has been full all summer since the PUD opened it on June 11. “We are dealing with a lot of challenges,” said Baker. “We are seeing large amounts of people at Beebe Bridge Park and are getting 30 to 40 cars lining up to come in.” Staff has informed him that cars are now lining up on the highway. Baker has consulted with Law Enforcement on this issue.

Vehicles are lining up at Beebe Bridge Park creating an
overcrowded and safety issue

In addition to Beebe Park, Powerhouse Park has been completely full including large dumpsters that have been placed at each location. “Staff has had a hard time keeping up with the garbage. They empty a dumpster and when they come back it is full again.”

The other issue facing the PUD, Chelan and State Parks is the lack of social distancing and the lack of mask wearing. “We are seeing folks not social distancing and not one mask on,” added Baker.

“It’s not just us. Everybody is feeing it,” he said. Old Mill Park and Mill Bay Park in Manson are also feeling the crunch.

Steve Milner, State Parks Commissioner sent the PUD the following Press Release:

State Parks takes action to minimize crowding at two parks in Chelan county 

Visitors should be prepared to go somewhere else if park is full 

 OLYMPIA – July 24, 2020 – Today, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission announced it will begin limiting the number of visitors at two state parks in Chelan county.

To avoid overcrowding, Lake Chelan and Lake Wenatchee state parks staff will close day-use areas to additional visitors when parking lots become full. This measure starts today. 

Signs will be posted at park entrances when they reach capacity. Park staff will also monitor entrances to educate visitors who attempt to access the park on foot. 

“We want to provide the public with enjoyable outdoor recreation opportunities this summer,” said region manager Ryan Layton. “But we need to do it safely by following state public health guidelines.”  

Both parks have been experiencing high visitation numbers this summer, making it hard for visitors and staff to maintain social distance. This is particularly true for swimming areas. 

State Parks is asking visitors to follow the Guidelines for Responsible Recreation when planning a trip to any state park, especially more popular destinations such as Lake Chelan and Lake Wenatchee. The public should avoid parking on county roads to access the park on foot. 

Visitors should check what’s open before heading out, avoid crowds and be prepared to go somewhere else if the park is at capacity.

State parks reopened day-use areas in early May after a five-week closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Camping began reopening June 1. To date, not all state parks have reopened. 

CDHD concerned with surge in COVID cases… urge masking and social distancing

by Richard Uhlhorn

Schools will not be allowed to open if the
COVID surge is not flattened

Dr. Malcolm Butler, Chelan-Douglas Health District’s (CDHD) health officer, reported to the CDHD Board of Directors that COVID-19 cases have surged. “School re-opening is unlikely unless collective behavioral changes take place,” he reported. “You can see in both counties increases and then those counts started dropping off. When re-opening on June 10 began, the cases shot up dramatically.”

He reported that once the economy reopened, mobility increased amongst residents and others. He also reported that testing increased in late June-early July, but even with the testing increase, it alone has not been the reason for more positives.

The demographics show that those within the 20 to 49 age working group are sharing the burden of the disease. The demographic of younger children up to four and five year olds is also affected by Coronavirus. “It is very clearly affecting children,” said Dr. Butler. “Our Hispanic members make up 70 to 80 percent of those affected,” he added.

He said the latest fatality was a 69 year old female who contracted the virus at work despite the safeguards, went to the ER on July1, tested positive and sent home to quarantine. Six days later she was admitted to the ICU and intubated. She passed away on July 15.

Testing times for the virus has doubled in the last two weeks to four or five days to get results back. “Some of these larger labs use reagents for those big (testing) machines and are having a hard time getting them,” said Butler. So the testing has been shifted to smaller laboratories.

He would like to see 100 percent of workers in all sectors masked and at least 80 percent of consumers masked. “I’m very impressed with our local efforts and I expect to see an impact of masking by August.

Dr. Weisman, State DOH, has stated that if the current trend continues, schools will not be able to open in the Fall. “All of whom are working diligently at reopening plans will have to prioritize. We need to make educators essential workers and we are not going to be able to reopen schools without PPE. Schools can be an accelerate and do attract and spread COVID,” said Butler. He stated that when the disease burden is high, students become spreaders and take it home to their families.

His analogy was that the virus is like a wildfire. When wind hits a wildfire, it spreads quickly.

Dr. Butler reported that overall mobility (travel) is a problem and the area needs to enforce travel restrictions. “Essential travel and very limited non-essential travel needs to happen. It is not OK to drive to Montana and it is not OK for the entirety of Seattle (area) to come over to Chelan and Leavenworth,” said Butler. “I do have concerns of people visiting Chelan and Leavenworth and I cannot explain why State Parks aren’t limiting people.”

CDHD’s interim director, Bruce Buckles, said that the current situation is extremely challenging. “We are challenged by anxiety. Nothing has affected our life since the 1918 Flu epidemic,” Buckle said.

Buckles said closing down businesses has a tremendous social affect on our economy and is of great concern. “The answers are not simple. We need to be very cautious about our behavior.” Buckles stated that society can’t drop its guard. “Our efforts have to be a society as a unifying group.” He said grocery stores and the agricultural community has done an extraordinary job preparing their workers to be careful and considerate. “Without a high level of consciousness our numbers are going to continue to ramp up.”

“I think we are going to have to engage in a messaging campaign. When you drive by parks and beaches, many are not wearing masks,” said Butler. Social distancing is also important to ramping the virus down.

CHELAN FIRE DISTRICT ANTICIPATES A LONG FIRE SEASON

by Richard Uhlhorn

At Chelan Fire & Rescue’s commission meeting on Wednesday, July 15, Chief Mark Donnell told the commissioners that it was obvious that they wouldn’t be getting together as a group in July for a long range planning discussion. “Maybe in August,” said Donnell. “I’ll put it together and shoot it out to you since we don’t know when we are going to be able to go to an in-house meeting.”

Chairman Phil Moller said the District needs a plan to get the long range plan accomplished. “We are just going to have another public meeting.”

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Chairman Phil Moller wants a public meeting on the District’s long range planning process. 

Donnell also reported that he is hopeful to wrap up a City of Chelan Fire Protection Plan with the City by the week of July 20-24. “We have been in discussions with Mayor Goedde and administrator Wade Ferris.”

Dan Crandall reported that the Firefighters Association has approximately 45,000 in the bank and received $450 in donations over the past month. “We are in pretty good shape.” He also mentioned the Windermere SUP Cup. “I’m not sure it is going to happen this year. I will find out what their plans are,” said Crandall. “If it is going to happen we will get the rescue boat out to help.”

Chelan City Counsel liasion Ray Dobbs mentioned the proposed revamping of the Sanders and Johnson Avenue intersection. He stated that the City does not want to create issues with the Fire District. Apparently the City’s consultant proposed a roundabout at that intersection which was turned down. Another idea being proposed is a four-way stop at Wapato and 97A.

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City liasion Ray Dobbs reported on several items that came out of Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting that had relevance to the Fire District.

Dobbs reported that Dr. Witt talked about the viability of wearing masks. “Central Washington Hospital’s Critical Care Unit is full and any new patients are being sent to Seattle or Spokane,” said Dobbs. “We also approved at Council last night the Chelan County Emergency Management Plan. It is the beginning of trying to create a comp. plan.” The 2008 version has never been updated and Dobbs told the Commission that there is a section for Fire Departments in the new plan. He promised to send a copy over to the Department to review.

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Commissioner Karyl Oules has been in touch with South Shore residents and wants the District to address their concerns.

During the Commissioner Comments, Commissioner Oules asked what was up with Smoke Alarms at the Grand View. Chief Donnell replied that Chelan Resort Suites is the District’s biggest problem. He said that the City of Bellevue charges $150 per call out after the first one for a false alarm. “If you show that you have fixed the problem, they rebate that fine back to you.” These alarms are so sensitive, said Donnell, that cooking or toasting toast can set them off.

Commissioner Oules, who had reached out to residents on the South Shore about what they would like to see happen in the District, asked if there was anyone who would be willing to meet with them regarding their concerns. “There are 76 people in that area, said Oules. “They are concerned they are being ignored. How can we communicate,” she asked?

Chief Donnell replied that if they have specific concerns that Chief Asher or himself would be more than happy to meet with them. “Give them my name and number. Wait for them to get back to you,” said Donnell. “If they are serious about this, they can contact you.”

Chairman Phil Moller added that the District’s first commissioner heard about or from the First Creek residents. “What we’ve done in the past has not worked. Put a meeting together with the County Fire Marshall to see what we can do and what we can’t do.”

A question came up about the second alarm that triggered the siren for a small brush fire in Chelan Falls on the Fourth of July weekend that was allegedly started by fireworks. “There were multiple calls from local residents and everything we were getting from dispatch was that it was bad,” said Chief Asher. By the time the Fire Department responded to the incident, the residents had mostly put the fire out. Asher said, “If the siren does go off now, it will be a significant reason.”

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Commissioner Russ Jones is concerned about the number of accidents that seem to be coming from one rental company.

Commissioner Jones remarked that the community is having a higher number of accidents on the lake this year. “The rescue boat has responded,” he said. He added that the majority of accidents seem to be coming from one rental company’s operation. “It might be time to visit with Ryan again,” said Jones. Donnell said he would initiate that conversation. “We will see where we are at and where we want to go,” Donnell stated.

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Chelan Fire and Rescue has been responding to accident on the lake this summer.

During the Fire Chief’s report, Chief Donnell reported that the District is financially on track. “All line items are right where we want them now.”

He also reported that $76,000 was being set aside for the reserve fund and is hoping they can rebuild that fund back up. “It’s fire season and the middle of July. We will squirrel away the money as it comes in from State Mobilizations,” said Donnell

For the month of June, Donnell reported that there was a 10 percent decrease in fire related calls and a 20 percent decrease in EMS calls. “Overall the Fourth of July weekend call volume was slower than normal.” The District is anticipating a busier than normal fire season.

Chief Asher said the three Districts he represents for volunteers had no new recruits in June.

School District planning its reopening strategy

by Richard Uhlhorn

he Lake Chelan School District board of directors unanimously approved the hiring of Earth and Sky Studios (parent company of Cevado) to develop the District’s new website.

Stefani Morgan, the District’s On-line Coordinator/Website Specialist, worked with a group of staff, students and others to find a new website developer for the District. “Georgia (Mashayekh) and I narrowed it down to five companies,” Morgan said. “We presented all five companies to high school students and staff.”

Morgan told the board that these companies were checked out on computers, I-Pads and cell phones. “I’ve gotten a ton of feedback from students… all bilingual and we narrowed it down to Cevado,” she said.

The other companies came in at $10,000 to $15,000 to develop a site, but would also be charging $5,000 to $8,000 a year. Cevado came in at $25,000 to set up a website, but would only charge $1,400 a year for maintenance. The other companies also all had templates to work from, but Cevado’s proposal would be for an entirely new design.

Boardmember Lynda Foster said she would like to see other school websites Cevado hass designed. Morgan replied that they haven’t worked with a school, but she brought up several websites (Okanogan County) that are similar to what the school needs.

Foster asked if Morgan would be the administrator? Morgan said she would and the only time Cevado would charge extra is if something needed changed in the site’s design. “We can change photos, calendars and other stuff,” said Morgan.

DePaoli asked what the transition time frame was? Morgan stated that the basic new site would be up in 10 days for approval and three weeks to hand it over the District. “Our deadline would be November,” said DePaoli. “We have had a lot of people frustrated including our staff. I’m excited about that.”

Boardmember Ken Brunner said Cevado was a great choice and told the board that Chelan Fresh uses them for all of their website design. Foster added that she appreciates that Cevado is a local business.

The big item for many on the agenda was a Re-Opening Schools update from Superintendent DePaoli. “This early in the game it is hard to tell if we can re-open,” said DePaoli. He told the board that California, Texas and Virginia have decided to continue remotely. “Our transmission rates are up,” said DePaoli. “Hopefully, those will change.”

In order to be prepared for the scheduled School year, DePaoli has prepared three scenarios which include:

  • A full re-opening,
  • Remote learning, or a
  • A Hybrid model with a K-4 and a 5-12 model

The Re-Opening Plan is an ongoing process that DePaoli said would be revised over the summer months. The District is committed to finalizing a plan by August 11 to present to the community.

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The priorities for re-opening will depend on the following:

  • Health & Wellness – “We will be following the CDC’s guidelines,” said DePaoli. He added that Joyous Van Meter would be coming up with protocols for the District’s re-opening.
  • Equity & Inequities – will provide students with additional individual support if needed.
  • Instruction – DePaoli stated that the District is dedicated to giving high quality instruction to its students. “We know families who will want to keep their students home and go on-line. We are going to do a survey to find out where people are at,” said DePaoli.
  • Training for Staff to be prepared for all models
  • Communication with all of the District’s Stakeholders.

DePaoli told the board that a lot of work has been accomplished by Rosy Burkhart on the safety operations planning front. “She is beginning to order PPE.”

He also said that re-opening is “probably a dream at this point.” DePaoli said the District would most likely be remote.”We should be well prepared.”

Camisha Hughbanks asked if it was possible to request having groups of five to 10 kids together on off school days if the District opens on a every other day schedule to push each other with homework and studies. Foster liked the idea of collaboration.

DePaoli shared a Re-opening Plan Overview including:

  • Physical Wellness
  • Social Emotional Wellness
  • Food Services
  • Facilities
  • Transportation
  • Technology

“We are waiting for some guidelines from OSPI so we can hit the ground running,” said DePaoli.

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Residents and visitors have been taking advantage of the free parking option at Chelan High School and it has gotten so big that some residents are beginning to wonder why the District isn’t charging for the space.

Another issue that has come up is the boat trailer parking at the High School. “I went over and counted 108 boat trailers. They were everywhere,” said DePaoli. “There are a couple of concerns.” Some resident are wondering why the District is not charging for parking. The other concern is getting the trailers out of there when school is reopening. “We have no way of getting in touch with people. This is the year to have that conversation,” DePaoli said.

It could become a great fund raiser for the District and DePaoli said that the District would have to consult with legal counsel about liabilities of charging. He also brought up the fact that it is not inexpensive to repave those parking lots.

Laura Clinton said she has local hotels telling people they can park their trailers there. “Maybe they should be making a donation to the School District. Many of those people aren’t paying property taxes here.”

DePaoli said that at $10 a day it would generate $1,000+ a day. “Over 60 days that is a lot of money,” stated DePaoli.

Chairman Jeff Fehr said he thought it was OK initially but that it now seemed to become a dumping ground. Foster stated that it is a public space. “We need to move wisely. I think of how many times we have needed that space for fire camps and so forth.” DePaoli added that the District does need a method to evacuate the lots.

DePaoli asked if any of the board members could meet with him, the Mayor and City Administrator regarding traffic that is now backing up around town. Foster said she could attend.

The other issue is the use of District property for AAU programs that have traditionally had free use of outdoor and indoor facilities.

Financially the District is laying out $70,923.49 to Dell Computers for staff and another $73,149.20 to Wenatchee Valley College for Running Start Students from last year.

The School Board meets every second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. Currently the meetings are remote and community members are able to attend via telephone or computer. If interested, call Georgia Mashayekh at 509-682-3515 or email her at mashayekhg@chelanschools.org.