City introduced to new director of the Lake Chelan Housing Trust

by Richard Uhlhorn

Outgoing executive director of the Lake Chelan Housing Trust introduced his replacement to City Council on Tuesday evening, September 14, and asked the council for the City’s continued partnership with the Trust.

Outgoing executive director Mike Cooney introduced the new director to the City Council at last Tuesday night’s meeting.

Steve Wilkinson told the Council that he is currently employed by the South Central Kansas Economic Development District with a budget of $1.2 million dollars. Wilkinson worked as a commercial banker in Whatcom County for a number of years.

Steve Wilkinson will be taking over the directorship of the
Lake Chelan Housing Trust on October 1

He told the council to allow him to ask questions. “I want to learn. Partnerships have allowed me to have success.” His focus as the new executive directorship of the Housing Trust will be to work with young people who work in Chelan, but can’t afford to live in Chelan.

Cooney reported that Anderson Village has all the necessary components working including the engineering and architectural components. The new affordable housing development on Anderson Road will include 45 homes, a community garden, trails and other amenities. They will sell for $200,000 to $250,000 each to individuals who can qualify for financing. “We hope to start building next fall.” said Cooney.

Cooney then requested $50,000 of the $61,000 that has been provided by the Lookout from homes sold. The Lookout donates $1,000 from every home sold. “We are seeking a one time exemption for engineering and design costs,” said Cooney.

Councilman John Olson asked Cooney how many inquiries the Housing Trust received on the Emerson Estates development. Cooney replied that it was between 50 and 60 per home.

Wilkinson will assume his duties as executive director on October 1.

Sheriff’s Department Contract:

Sheriff Brian Burnett brought back a revised contract for the City to accept.

Sheriff Brian Burnett was back at City Council via ZOOM explaining that there were some errors in the budget calculations for the upcoming 2022-2025 contract with the City.

“There were some wrong calculations that came from another city’s budget that didn’t get caught,” explained Burnett. The Council was presented with the newly corrected agreement for their consideration. It does include some increases, mostly due to increase salaries and benefits.

Councilman Chris Baker asked Burnett about the lack of a SRO program and if anything was being done to correct that situation. Burnett replied that the program was an on-going arbitration process between the department and the bargaining unit. “We are hopeful. We have a moving target with the school district,” he said. “No one wants it (the program) more and we are doing everything we can to resolve the issues.” The issues, of course, are the State’s mandate that every staff member be vaccinated, or obtain a medical or religious exemption. “We will keep everybody informed.”

Councilman Peter Jamtgaard brought up the issue of the department’s Marine Patrol and marine safety on the lake. “There is a level of patrol concerns,” said Jamtgaard. He said that the department and City have kicked the can down the road and that a final solution to the issue needs to be found.

Burnett replied that it is an on-going topic within the department. “There are so many more people visiting the lake that it will probably take two more people to make a dent in the situation.”

Jamtgaard suggested that the Marine Patrol stagger its patrol periods so the perpetrators on the water would never know when they were going to show up. “People learn when you are out there. Surprise patrols would make it a little more unpredictable.”

During the Citizen’s Comment period a local resident  talked about missing buoys and the problem of personal watercraft users cruising inside the no wake zone at speed creating a dangerous situation for swimmers. Duane and Dixie Baker also submitted a letter detailing the same issues. “Over the past four years, we and our neighbors have been calling the Marine Patrol, City Hall, and the Mayor, in an on-going attempt to address this situation to no avail,” the Bakers wrote.

Mayor Goedde said the City was looking into the issue. Councilman Ty Witt asked Burnett if the City gets a report on the number of tickets given on the water. Burnett replied that certain violations like reckless driving would be ticketed. He added that in 2020 the department saw a 10 percent increase in visitation. He said that the big violators come from the rental companies and that education would be helpful.

The Council unanimously approved the revamped contract.

Golf Course:

Parks Director Paul Horne asked the Council to accept and authorize the Mayor to finalize and execute an agreement with Mears Design Group to assess the Lake Chelan Golf Course Irrigation System. “This project would assess the irrigatino sstem and all components of it,” said Horne.

Councilman Tim Hollingsworth asked if there hadn’t been an assessment recently. Horne replied that an assessment of the irrigation system hasn’t been done for a number of years and that everything has changed in how it is operated by a controller. This project agreement was unanimously agreed to.

Capital Budget Financing update:

Finance Director Steve Thornton explained and transmitted information to the Council concerning the upcoming 2022 budget and 2022-2026 CIP proposals.

Several notable Council priorities are funded in the 2022 -2026 Proposed CIP. These include:

1. Public Works Administration and Engineering Building – $900,000 is requested in 2022 to complete (total funding $2,520,000).

2. Parks Maintenance Building, parking lot and restrooms -$2,640,100 requested in 2022 to complete (total funding $3,168,808). Assumes receipt of $400K in REET Funds Oct – December.

3. Lakeshore Access / Road Ends Pocket Parks – $150,000 per year requested 2022-2026. Project funding available for use in 2022 of $300,000 including 2019 and 2020 appropriations.

4. Lakeside Park RKO Grant Project – $500,000 grant match previously appropriated and 2022 RKO grant funding of up to $500,000.

5. Street and Sidewalk Projects – $260,000 combined annual funding 2022-2026 requested. Increased from an annual appropriation of $90,000 per year.

6. Downtown Restroom Improvements – $40,000

7. Skateboard Park – $1,600,000. $100,000 local fund match 2022 and 2023 $50K per year). Balance of funding through grants and / or capital campaign.

8. Sewer System Projects – $10,179,328 project funding requested 2022-2026. Funded through user rates, GFC’s, revenue bonds, and Lake Chelan Sewer District and Lake Chelan Reclamation District cost sharing. The projects address aging infrastructure and system growth demands.

9. Water System Projects – $10,762,473 project funding requested 2022-2026. Funded through user rates, GFC’s, and revenue bonds. The projects address aging infrastructure and system growth demands.

Mayor/Council Comments:

Ty Witt reported that the glass recycling project has crushed 20 ton of glass in its first two months.

Tim Hollingsworth remarked that talk about recreational facilities had made good progress. He also mentioned the importance of partnerships with the Housing Trust.

Servando Robledo said the finance information was good, but a little bit early.

Chris Baker said he is interested in the upcoming Citizen’s feedback to find out what everyone is interested in.

John Olson stated that the City’s workshop with Washington’s City Insurance Authority was terrific. He stated that the City doesn’t have a public participation plan but needs one. He also stated it was time to discuss a moratorium on development. “We need to consider that.”

Chelan Valley Housing Trust Hires New Executive Director

CHELAN –Chelan Valley Housing Trust (CVHT) announced the hiring of new Executive Director Steven Wilkinson to lead Lake Chelan’s active community housing trust. Wilkinson will succeed outgoing Executive Director and founder Mike Cooney who served the attainable housing nonprofit organization since its inception in 2018.

Cooney was at the forefront of developing the Lake Chelan Housing Trust and when hired as its executive director, Cooney stated he would commit to the job for two years. With his two years ending in October. Cooney and the board began seeking his replacement.

Steven Wilkinson was selected to take over the reins of the Housing Trust.

“I am very excited to be a part of this outstanding organization,” says Wilkinson. “Getting to know Mike Cooney and the board has shown me how absolutely passionate they are about providing housing that is affordable to families who work in the Lake Chelan valley.”

Steve Wilkinson

CVHT Board President Tim Hollingsworth says the hiring of Wilkinson is a function of scaling the organization for larger and more complex projects. “Steve’s background in banking, housing and fundraising is going to help our organization grow to the next level. With the potential of developing 100 homes in the next 5 to 7 years, his expertise going forward will be invaluable.”

Wilkinson was a commercial banker for many years in Whatcom County WA providing crucial capital to local businesses. Most recently Mr. Wilkinson was the Executive Director of the South Central Kansas Economic Development District (SCKEDD) a mission-oriented nonprofit established to enhance the economic vitality, community infrastructure, and housing quality in south central Kansas. “We financed new innovative business ventures, assisted local communities in attaining crucial economic development grants, renovated residential properties and provided weatherization assistance to low-income households located in 41 southern Kansas counties,” says Wilkinson.

Wilkinson will assume the Executive Director position beginning October 1, 2021.

Cooney stated that his decision to step down after two years was to spend more time with family, particularly his grand children. “I have a lot to do over the last two months,” said Cooney. He will be busy with Wilkinson’s transition and then will continue at whatever level the board sees fit when Wilkinson takes over.

Mike Cooney

“This position has been extremely gratifying. It has been great working with everyone,” said Cooney. “I don’t want to see any momentum lost.”

The Chelan Valley Housing Trust’s Mission is to develop stable and secure housing that is affordable to Manson and Chelan area residents.

chelanvalleyhousing.org

Chelan schools working with staff on vaccination mandate

by Richard Uhlhorn

The Lake Chelan School District enjoyed a successful ‘back to school week’ culminating in a season opening football game, soccer game and volleyball jamboree.

At a board meeting on August 31, the first day of school, Superintendent Barry DePaoli told the board that the first day of school “felt a lot more like normal.”

Despite the successful return to school for students, teachers and staff, there are still some major issues to overcome.

State wide mandated vaccine requirements for all teachers and staff unless they receive either a medical or religious exemption is a serious issue because there are employees who are concerned about getting the vaccine. According to the vaccine requirement, any employee who doesn’t obtain fully vaccinated status by October 16, and/or obtains a medical or religious exemption, could be let go.

DePaoli stated during a telephone interview that the District cannot afford to lose one employee. “Just losing a bus driver would require rerouting kids,” said DePaoli. “I am working with staff and will meet with them individually or in groups to explain accommodations. We want to humanize the process.” He explained that part of the accommodation issue is how the District retains all staff.

The other issue facing the District, Manson, Entiat, Cashmere and Cascade is Sheriff Brian Burnett putting a hold on the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. “Brian is in touch with us on this issue.” The Sheriff’s Department will patrol the school areas but not enter into the popular SRO program because of the State Mandate for vaccinations for all State employees.

Burnett put out a press release stating that he feels it is unconstitutional for the Governor to place mandates on agencies and businesses. “It’s a frustration because he is playing politics with kids,” said DePaoli. “It is detrimental to our schools to not have a SRO on board.”

The SRO program is fully funded by both the Chelan and Manson School Districts and the City of Chelan at a cost of approximately $120,000 a year. “It’s a pretty large amount which is why we share the cost.”

The major benefits of the SRO program is the influence a SRO has on the students. “The SRO and kids build good relationships.” DePaoli remarked that Burnett was an SRO before becoming Sheriff.

The District added 41 new students in the high school, lost 27 to withdrawals which gave them a gain of 14. Running Start has 18 versus the 30 in that program last year which DePaoli is thankful for. Running Start students take state money with them. It was reported that the Chelan School of Innovation has 25 students enrolled.

The next school board meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 14.

Public parks forum draws 40

Lakerider is a concession at Don Morse Park that rents paddle boards and kayaks.

by Richard Uhlhorn

An estimated crowd of 40 Chelan residents attended the August 25, Wednesday evening’s public forum on Community Parks & Recreation Strategic/Master Plan process.

An estimated crowd of 40 people joined and weighed in at the Public Forum last Wednesday on the process leading to a Strategic/Master Plan for Chelan’s public parks

“This process is the most important thing for the future of our parks,” said Paul Horne, parks director for the City. Art Thatcher, principal investigator with Greenplay, the City’s consultant at developing a new Master Plan for the parks said, “We want to engage the community. If you are not engaged in it, it will not be successful.”

Parks Director Paul Horne (sitting) listened intently to the comments residents made concerning the City’s public parks.

The focus groups and Wednesday’s public forum brought out a number of issues facing the parks system including but not limited to water access to the lake; safety and security; long term/year round use; water quality; a robust athletic program for the community’s youth that includes baseball, softball, volleyball, basketball and soccer; and parking.

Joe Harris remarked that Don Morse gave the property to the City for the youth. “Don was committed to the youth of this community,” said Harris who hopes to see that vision reinstate itself in the new master plan.

“WHAT COULD BE!” That’s the question? Greenplay LLC and BWA (architects) have their work could out before coming up with a final plan and cost estimate in February.

There are four more opportunities for the community and tourist/visitors to engage in the process. The first will be a survey sent out to the citizens of Chelan. After that, an on-line survey will be available for those wishing to comment. “It will be five or six weeks for the survey to be mailed out,” said Horne.

Don Morse Park from the air.

The Parks Department is preparing a website for the process which will be on-line soon.

“WHAT COULD BE!” That’s the question? Greenplay LLC and BWA (architects) have their work could out before coming up with a final plan and cost estimate in February.

Check out the entire PowerPoint that was used to present the work so far.

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1#inbox?projector=1

Hospital asks city for financial rebate of $600,000

by Richard Uhlhorn

Editorial Correction: Lake Chelan Health has requested a correction to this article’s first sentence that indicated they had financial issues. In looking back through notes taken at the City Council meeting, it should be noted that Wade Ferris, city administrator, introduced CEO George Rohrich and made the statement that the hospital had run into financial issues.

The hospital administration pointed out that they were not requesting financial help, even though its request asks the City if it could provide financial relief.

In its email requesting the correction, the hospital stated that the request to the City Council was for consideration of a rebate, refund or reinvestment back into the community.

During the council discussion regarding the request, it was determined that City Attorney Quentin Batjar would look into the legalities of an intergovernmental transfer or other legal methods to give back.

Hospital request:

Hospital CEO George Rohrich visited Chelan City Council and asked them to consider rebating $600,000 in fees and property taxes to financially help the hospital out.

In one of the more bizarre requests for money from the City, Lake Chelan Health’s CEO George Rohrich told the City Council that the hospital had run into some financial issues and the Hospital was seeking relief from the City.

“The (new building) project is on schedule and on budget,” said Rohrich. He asked the City for consideration in helping the hospital out financially.

The ask was for $630,000, $330,000 of which has already been paid for water & sewer hookup fees and another estimated $300,000 in city sales taxes for construction and equipment.

Tim Hollingsworth asked if the hospital paid property taxes and if there was any provision they could consider to rebate some of the money paid.

City Attorney Quentin Batjar said he thought they could do it as an intergovernmental transfer, but it would have to be done on the legislative side legally.

Erin McCardle stated that any refund of water and sewer hookup fees would be passed on to the rate payers. “Hookup fees impact customers down the road,” she said.

Hollingsworth remarked that the existing hospital might be a way to justify a rebate. “We don’t know how that building will be used or even if it will be used.” (The hospital will be using the old hospital for certain functions like EMS, Business Office and other potential uses).

Peter Jamtgaard remarked that the hospital is a social asset to the city. He wondered if there could be grants to help the hospital’s financial issue.

Ty Witt stated that he was for anything the City could do to legally help the hospital. “I think the municipality should be involved.” Finance Chief Steve Thornton stated that he didn’t know of any legal way to help and would leave that up to the city attorney to address.

Batjer remarked that in the broader terms, maybe the city could think outside the box on this issue.

Hollingsworth asked how the money would be used if rebated. Witt said it would be used to purchase new equipment which is as important as the new building

City Administrator Wade Ferris asked the Council members to forward their suggestions and questions on the issue.

Sheriff’s Services Contract :

Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett was on hand at the council meeting to answer any questions the council members had concerning the proposed contract.

Sheriff Brian Burnett was on hand to answer any questions concerning the Sheriff’s Department’s new law enforcement services agreement at the Tuesday, August 24, City Council meeting.

City Administrator Wade Ferris stated that the City has a good working relationship with the Sheriff’s Department. Burnett assured the council that, “If it is not working for either one of the groups, we will come back and discuss.” He also stated that the department had a number of changes coming at them in a fast and furious manner.

Ty Witt stated that he knew the Sheriff’s Department job has gotten harder. He asked Sheriff Burnett if the space in Chelan was large enough. Burnett said it was.

Burnett told the council that the deputies now had individual tasers and the department was working on getting body cams. Witt said he thought they already had body cams and Burnett replied they didn’t. “We on have in-car cameras right now.”

Burnett explained that the Fourth of July crowds were surpassing all other major weekends. “In 2020 everyone was supposed to stay home.” He said 2020 had an eight percent up-tick in visitor ship and that 2021 even has a larger increase. “It’s more of a family weekend now.”

Tim Hollingsworth asked if six FTE’s was enough to fulfill the contract criteria particularly with the Marine Patrol issues. Burnett replied that there are two fulltime marine officers working Lake Chelan. He also stated that SAR (search and rescue operations) are going up, mostly in the Leavenworth area.

The City contract does not include the Rivercom charges. “It is not a part of this contract and we have been told that they won’t meet until October.”

Chris Baker was concerned that the City was not getting full market value. The Sheriff’s contract states that there would be 208 hours dedicated to foot and bicycle patrols. “I think the local kids would have a more favorable view of law enforcement if they interacted with deputies. I think it is important they get out of the car and walk up and down the street.” Burnett replied that 90 percent of those 208 hours out of the car were used during Memorial Day weekend.

Burnett also reported that Chelan has more calls to service than either Cashmere or Leavenworth. He also told the Council that the department was down eight percent on staff on the road because of light duty issues. “It is a big challenge.”

He sees the mandatory vaccination order as an issue also. “We will have issues with that,” said Burnett. “I’m not allowing the state to tell us where wego into the next week.”

Erin McCardle said it seemed they were missing something on the use of watercraft. “Do we need additional patrol out there,” she asked? “I was out on Sunday and there were jet skis in the river doing (high speed) circles. It’s happening everywhere.”

Burnett replied that it is a staffing issue. They work the lake from April to October with Nigel Hunger supervising the Marine Patrol efforts. “No, it isn’t enough,” said Burnett. “It’s a challenge.” He stated that they do get approximately $100,000 in grant money from State Parks.

The Council approved the 2022-2025 contract with the Sheriff’s Department.

Concessions:

With the lease for the Golf Course’s food concession up on December 31, Parks Director Paul Horne reached out to Coldwell Banker for help in attracting interested parties to apply for the concession in hopes that a new longer term lease will bring improvements to the kitchen and dining room areas along with a major increase in revenue.

“We are looking for well capitalized and friendly concessionaire,” said Horne. A few bullet points Coldwell Banker is working from follows:

  • The proposed services will evaluate potential candidates on their financial capacity, track record, menu, customer service potential and ability to staff the operation at optimal levels.
  • The goal is to enter a 5 to 10 ear lease with a well-qualified candidate.
  • Lease fees can be reinvested into the club house improvements to the kitchen and dining areas, which could be implemented by the tenant.
  • The proposal includes lease negotiations.

The hope is that a new concessionaire would bring a substantial increase in revenue.

The base fee with Coldwell Banker is $8,000 plus a 10 percent commission of the first year total gross lease value upon successful signing of a multi-year lease.

WSDOTBridge inspection of the WoodinAvenueBridge:

Public Works Director Jake Youngren told the Council that as the owner of the Woodin Avenue bridge, the City is required to make inspections to insure its integrity.

“We are not equipped to do this,” said Youngren. “We are going to have WSDOT provide these services.” WSDOT has the qualified personnel and equipment to conduct the inspection.

The inspection will take place this year (2021) and again in 2026 at a cost of $6,600. The City will provide any traffic control that might be needed.

Hospital gains financial ground

by Richard Uhlhorn

“We’ve had a great month,” said hospital commissioner Fred Miller regarding the hospital’s financial health.

CFO Cheryl Cornwell went on to report that the hospital received a lot of good news in August. “We’ve had $2 million forgiven which goes from the debt side to revenue side. That’s huge,” she said.

She added that the hospital will be receiving another $2.6 million back from Medicare for underpayments to the hospital. “This will also be recorded as revenue,” she said.

“I’m continuing to work on the $4 million CARES money. I’m hoping to get much or all of it forgiven.” Cornwell added that the hospital can’t count on that money until it is approved by the government.

She stated that Cash was trending down and receivables were trending back up. “That’s not good.” The emergency department, med-surgery and imaging departments are up but lab testing was down. Most lab tests were COVID related.

CEO Gorge Rohrich told the commission that people are seeing something happen at the new hospital’s location. “There is exciting stuff going on,” said Rohrich. “This Friday will be the day for the first concrete pour and structural steel will begin arriving.”

Rohrich gave the commission the transition’s draft Plan B and told Chair Mary Murphy that a final will be delivered at the next meeting. He also told the commission that he and several board members would be attending the City Council meeting that night to ask for some financial relief on the money already paid to the City.

The hospital will have a vaccination requirement and the commissioners are not included in that requirement. Staff with a medical exemption and/or a strong and proven religious reason to not get the vaccine will be allowed. La Porte apologized to the employees who have been living a life determined by others. “It’s like allowing someone else to take care of our health.”

HeritageHeights:

Rohrich asked the board for more time to finalize the lease extension beyond 2048 for Heritage Heights. He is struggling to arrive at what a rental price should be. “I want to develop it further and bring it back with a rental amount. I would appreciate any assistance.” Commissioner Mary Signorelli replied she would help him with that.

Commissioner Jordana La Porte remarked that she thought the hospital had helped pay for the Heritage Heights building, but Fred Miller said he was not aware of any funding or help provided by the hospital.

Signorelli said she remembers the Heights paying off any financial responsibility to the hospital. La Porte then brought up the fact that after the lease is over, the property reverts back to the hospital.

Rohrich added that once the lease period is over, the property does come back to the hospital including the building. Miller said the same issues that are facing the hospital now came up with the old hospital building below the current hospital but those issues disappeared when the Wenatchee Valley Housing Authority bought the building.

Strategic Planning:

The Hospital/Board/Community Strategic Planning session is planned for the 31st and will be held as a virtual meeting. “It’s not the time to be holding an in-person meeting, so it will be virtual.” Rohrich told the commissioners he needed another 15 to 20 stakeholder member names by Thursday. “Please do that today,” he requested.

Change order policy:

Rohrich stated he had worked through the change order policy and it would be coming to the commission for approval at its next board meeting.

WE THE PEOPLE UNITED’ WANTS TO UNITE THE VALLEY AROUND A POSITIVE SHARED PURPOSE

by Richard Uhlhorn

The last 17 months have been hard on everyone. Ever since the pandemic started last March and people became locked down in their homes the world has changed. 

Anger, frustration, skepticism, divisiveness and long held anxiety have emerged to the surface. 

Prior to COVID and its effects on our lives, the town of Chelan was pretty peaceful. Unfortunately, that feeling of peace changed when the Governor began mandating business shutdowns, masking, school closures and a host of other edicts that angered many valley residents. 

With the advent of COVID the worst of all those feelings listed above began to show itself on social media platforms and residents in the Lake Chelan Valley let their individual feelings be known to the utter surprise of friends and acquaintances. 

With people standing on both sides of the mandates, a feeling of division began to emerge as the new normal. 

As the lockdown of 2020 wore on, a small group of friends, all long-time residents in the valley, became concerned about the unconstitutional infringement on freedoms and the increasing censorship of voices who spoke up about it. Each of them knew other people who felt marginalized or outright silenced within the community and even their own families, afraid to speak about their concerns. The six of them decided to form a group named “We The People United” (WTPU) for all Chelan Valley residents who stand for freedom, sovereignty and the right to make personal decisions based on the constitutional rights granted by the founding fathers. It was to be a group where anybody could belong regardless of political ideology, religious beliefs, race, nationality, etc. 

The WTPU founding members stressed that the group is not in opposition of our government, but they are firmly in favor of freedom. Their purpose is expressed in their Mission Statement:

“It is the purpose of We the People United to support each other in claiming our God-given and constitutional rights.”

The groups long-term Vision states:

“The vision of We the People United is to build a community of strength, connection, resilience, resources, expertise and independence to help support each member and change the valley into a better place to live for all of us.

Brigitte Sztab, one of the founders of “We the People United” said, “A lot of people feel isolated in a social and political atmosphere that censors or shames anyone who does not believe 100% in the mainstream narrative or the common sense of the government’s measures.” 

So the group was organized and Sztab added that they didn’t know who would be attracted. “As long as people believe in the inalienable freedoms our constitutional guarantees, they can join us. We just wanted to provide a framework for a gathering of people around shared perspectives. We are always stronger together!” 

Most of the group’s conversations happen on the messaging platform ‘Telegram.’ The group holds in-person meetings on a semi regular basis.

The group started out by invitation only, with members asking their friends to join. 

On only a week’s notice, the first meeting attracted 68 individuals who came together to join their voices and gain support for their efforts to peacefully participate in government, defend their livelihoods from government overreach and stand for individual freedoms. 

Some of the overriding issues with many people are the mandates that have disrupted lives throughout the valley. Businesses closed, kids forced to learn on-line instead of in a classroom, required masking in school and elsewhere, restaurants shut down or only allowed to open at reduced capacity. Vaccinations are not a dividing factor, as the group believes in everyone’s freedom to make decisions concerning their personal health.

With WTPU providing the framework for the communication among its members, individual subgroups, like parents who want their children to be free of state mandated, school-enforced masking requirements, have formed to fight those mandates that they personally feel are unhealthy for their children. 

The whole of WTPU may not be interested or engaged with a particular agenda or goal of any of its subgroups, but all members can reach out to other members to ask for support for their grass-roots efforts. What each subgroup and each member does, is up to them, as long as it is legal and in the spirit of freedom as granted by the Constitution. No permission is required from anybody in the group. This is not a top-down organization, but rather a community of independent people who have come together around shared ideals. 

Within three weeks after its first meeting, WTPU grew to nearly 300 members; one meeting in June attracted over 100 concerned citizens who heard from and were able to ask questions of both Chelan County Commissioner Tiffany Gering – and Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett. “ We have long-ago abdicated our responsibility to self-govern and left the job to others. No wonder politics got taken over by career politicians and self-interested agendas. We have only ourselves to blame”, says Brigitte Sztab. “Now it is time to take an interest again, to communicate with and participate in local government.” 

A couple of month’s into the group’s existence, We the People United, came under scrutiny and untrue rumors began to circulate. “Rumors are going around town because we are not in the public eye,” said one of the organizers. “This (group) kinda grew quietly. But we don’t have anything to hide.”

We the People United has no membership application or dues and no requirements for belonging except to stand behind the Constitution of the United States. “We are here to support merchants, schools, kids, our community and each other through this unprecedented time and maybe tougher times to come.” 


If you are interested in learning more about how to get involved and hopefully dispel the issues dividing the community and unite around a positive shared purpose, email the group at WeTPU@protonmail.com

Fire Chief Donnell wants Assistant Chief Asher to be District 7’s new chief when he retires

by Richard Uhlhorn

At last Wednesday’s Chelan County Fire District 7 commission meeting, Fire Chief Mark Donnell brought forth a district Succession Plan that would promote Assistant Fire Chief Brandon Asher to the District’s Interim Chief 

Assistant Chief Brandon Asher is being proposed as the Interim Fire Chief under Chief Mark Donnell who told the commission he would delay his retirement to help Asher learn the administrative side of the district.

Donnell told the commission he would delay his retirement and mentor Asher in developing Asher’s administrative strengths.

“Operationally, Chief Asher is one of the most incredible officers I’ve ever known,” said Donnell. “This plan has the support of staff and membership.”

Asst. Chief Asher is a well known within NCW fire services. He is an Entiat native and has been in the fire service for a number of years. “I will delay my retirement to help him be successful,” said Donnell. “It’s up to the board.”

Donnell said the main focus currently is to pass the Levy Lid Lift. “After the election we will know where we stand.” If the levy did not pass, the District would potentially be facing some serious cuts in its ability to serve the public.

The District will be putting together an informational flyer, hold public meetings with service groups and hold a public town hall.

Resident John Corbin, who sits on the Levy Committee, said that he thinks Donnell’s succession plan is a great idea. “It’s a great opportunity to unify the district. I’m excited to hear what Donnell has proposed.”

Resident John Corbin, a member of the District’s committee to pass the Levy, is excited about Chief Donnell’s succession plan.

During the commissioner comments, Commissioner Karyl Oules asked to make a motion establishing an Interlocal Agreement with Manson’s Fire District 5. She was told by Chairman Phil Moller that they couldn’t take action on that at this meeting.

Apparently both Moller and Oules have had conversations with Chief Arnold Baker and District 5’s chairman about an agreement where Baker would become District 7’s new Chief when Donnell retires. He would also remain the Chief at District 5.

Moller said the commissioners needed to have a discussion to see what those possibilities would make that work.

Chief Donnell told the commissioners that he would put it on the agenda and have a Public Meeting with both boards.

Commissioner Jones (left) and Chairman Phil Moller discussed Commissioner Oules request of a motion to enter into an Interlocal Agreeement iwth District 5.

Commissioner Russ Jones stated that it isn’t the time to step back to a part time chief with the growth that is going on in the Valley. Moller suggested further discussions around Oule’s request. “I have zero interest in hiring a westside Fire Chief,” said Moller. “We need to pursue discussions and look at different opportunities.” He added that he liked the idea of retaining Asher.

Oules said that Chief Baker would be a great resource for Asher.

Lake Chelan Research Institute gets monetary boost from City to replace lost probe

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by Richard Uhlhorn

When an expensive item is lost overboard in deep water, the chances of recovery diminish based on a number of factors; location, bottom conditions, currents, sediments and the equipment used to search and recover.

On May 11 the Lake Chelan Research Institute was conducting a lake quality monitoring operation when its $15,000 multiparameter probe separated due to an undetected line defect. The probe ended up in 400+ feet of water between State Park and Willow Point Park.

The location was noted on GPS so recovery efforts could take place close, and hopefully, in the vicinity of where the 11 pound probe ended up on the bottom.

Phil Long – Director at the Lake Chelan Research Institute.

Recovery efforts have included dragging the bottom to no avail. Dr. Phil Long was interested in utilizing an underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) to add in the recovery of the instrument array. Long began researching rentals and other potential options to get an ROV on the lake.

He got the help he needed from Aaron Burnett, an outreach specialist with the Washington Sea Grant program at the UW. Burnett had Long call Celina Ladyga, Lt. Commander in charge of Maritime Safety & Security Team in Seattle.

The $250,000 Fusion ROV was used to search for the lost scientific array.

Ladyga approved sending two ROV technicians to Chelan with an Underwater ROV. On Monday morning, August 2, the Coast Guard technicians; Alaric Grecius and Tedd Meinersmeen met Long, Tim Sullivan and Ian Blevins, a Manson High School graduate with an interest in ROVs.

Alaric Grecius lowers the UROV into Lake Chelan waters for a deep search and recovery effort of a $15,000 monitoring probe lost in 400+ feet of water between State Park and Willow Point Park.
On its way to search.

Shaun Sherman and I were in his boat with the job of keeping vacationing boaters away from the work area.

Even on the lake, the day was blistering hot. When the GPS location of where the instrument was lost was reached, Sullivan, a retired Coast Guardsman, set up his trolling motor with an anchor lock to keep the boat on the GPS coordinates.

Grecius and Meinersimenn ran their first dive, taking sonar readings in hopes of locating the array. This didn’t work, so they brought the ROV back to the surface to attach its grappling arm and submerge once more to conduct a much broader back and fourth search pattern.

Tedd Meinersmeen and Alaric Grecius work on a software glitch on Monday afternoon.

Unfortunately, as so often happens on operations involving underwater work, a software glitch cropped up and the operation was suspended until the next day. 

On Tuesday morning, with the glitch fixed, the ROV was placed on the bottom of Lake Chelan and the Coast Guard technicians conducted a search pattern over the bottom in hopes of finding the scientific array or the 400 feet of cable that broke and sent the $15,000 package to a watery grave… at this point. Despite the search pattern, it is like hunting for a needle in a haystack.

The ROV’s search pattern with specific point of interest noted.

Since the ROV’s side and front scanning sonar doesn’t penetrate the sediment. the hunt was called off.

Joe Heinlen, a local fishing guide and boat operator for the Institute is going to re-rig a dragging system and try to hook the array that way in the near future.

In light of all the recovery efforts, Dr. Long told Chelan City Council that the monitoring probe was reaching its five year life span, so replacement of the probe was high on the Institute’s list of needs.

The Institute, which had a $2,000 replacement fund and had already raised $5,300.00 towards the probe’s replacement from private donations and Chelan County PUD, Long requested financial help in replacing the probe. He asked the Council to approve financial assistance of $6,460.10.

Long told the Council that oxygen levels are the same as from 1987 and 1998. We know that year after year the lake is stable over time,” said Long. “Now we are losing 2021.”

Long added that one of the bigger concerns is the algae growth near shore. “There are more boats on the lake and we need to educate people to fertilizer their lawns a lot less.”

Peter Jamtgaard asked Long what would prevent losing a new probe in the future. Long explained that the new line they were using on the probe didn’t have a safety core in it and they didn’t know that. He said the Institute would be using a 1000 lb. test safety line to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“Your track record shows good stewardship of City and County money,” said Time Hollingsworth. “It is essential that we collect that data. I move to approve the $6,460.00.

The Council unanimously approved the expenditure and Long has ordered a new probe and is still in hopes that old probe can still be recovered.

Other issues facing lake quality are listed by the Institute in no particular order:

  • Leaking septic systems uplake from Minneapolis Beach on the South Shore;
  • Waterfowl feces (ducks, geese and seagulls);
  • Agricultural drains and creeks that drain agricultural lands, particularly in the Manson Agricultural area;
  • Over fertilization of lawns and orchards near the lake even if no ag drains exist.
  • Atmospheric deposition including wind blown dust from construction sites and ash from wildfires;
  • Re-suspension and erosion of sediments by wave action;
  • Decomposition of near shore aquatic plants;
  • Internal loading from bottom sediments; and
  • Runoff from drainages with recent wildfires.

Sheriff’s Department concerns expressed at town hall in Chelan

by Richard Uhlhorn

An estimated 100 concerned Chelan residents attended Wednesday night’s Town Hall at the Chelan Fire Department to hear about recent changes to Washington State laws concerning law enforcement and public safety.

An estimated crowd of 100 residents attended last night’s Chelan Town Hall by the Chelan County Sheriff’s leadership staff. Sheriff Burnett was not in attendance, but Chief of Patrol Captain Musgrove and Sgt’s. McCue and Frank presented information on law enforcement policy changes from the 2021 Washington State Legislative Session.

All Things Lake Chelan wrote an extensive article on these changes from the Wenatchee meeting that attracted 1,100 people and around 3,000 listeners online.

Chief of Patrol Captain Musgrove – Chelan County Sheriff’s Department

Captain Musgrove opened the meeting by telling those in attendance that the new policies guiding law enforcement were unprecedented.

As of July 25, when these changes became law, Sgt. McCue said, “I can’t stop a suspect from leaving (a scene) without probable cause.”

Sgt. McCue – Chelan County sheriff’s Department

“This is not the job I signed up for,” said Sgt. Frank. “We cannot provide the service we signed up for. We feel sorry for you.”

In a letter signed by Sheriff Brian Burnett – Chelan County, Sheriff Kevin Morris – Douglas County, Chief Steve Crown – East Wenatchee Police Dept., and Chief Rick Johnson – Wenatchee Police Department, it was stated that the “new laws touch on many historically-effective methods of policing in the state.”

They impact how law enforcement agencies and staff respond to search and seizure, use of force, vehicle pursuits, drug enforcement, mental health detentions, criminal investigations, tactics and available tools for de-escalation of public safety and health situations.

The letter further states that if no crime has been committed and no imminent threat of harm to others exists, officers and deputies may not respond or if they do respond, may leave the scene.

Some examples of calls for service that may be effected include:

  • Welfare Checks – requests to check on a person in public, a private place, or who has not been heard from for an unusual amount of time.
  • Mental Health – calls for service of any tpe where there is information or potential that the involved subject suffers from a mental health condition.
  • Civil Calls – non-criminal calls for service.

One worried parent who has a special needs child living on his/her own is very concerned and worried. She told Sgt. Frank that this child is registered at the Sheriff’s Department as a special needs individual which Sgt. Frank replied, “Registering is extremely important. It triggers us to know that there might be behavior issues when responding.

Sgt. Frank – Chelan County Sheriff’s Department

Sgt. Frank also stated that law enforcement has received a “black eye” in the Court of Public Opinion. “People who feel that way can be assured that when they dial 911 we are still coming.”

Brigitte Sztab, a concerned resident asked, “What can we do to help?” Captain Musgrove replied that residents can reach out to their legislators and “express how you feel about these changes… that’s the key to success (in changing the laws).

“Your voices need to be heard,” he added. “There are only 11,000 of us (law enforcement personnel), so we are like a speck of sand,” said Sgt. Frank.

Sgt. Frank told the crowd that in the first two weeks of being in Chelan County he heard more “Thank You for your Service” from residents than 10 years serving in the King County Sheriff’s Department.

Mayor Bob Goedde commented that the City’s insurance rates are going through the roof with all these new changes. “We need a grassroots effort to help change this,” he stated.

WASPC (WA. Assn. of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs) is working with legislators and supports follow-up legislation to address unintended consequences, ambiguities, and conflicting provisions of the new laws. WASPC and its members will continue to work in good faith to improve the public service of law enforcement and embrace the sanctity of human life.

For more detailed information on the current issues, check these statements from the Washington Assn. of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs:

On Sunday, August 15, Sheriff Burnett will also appear in Manson for an evening presentation in the community center at North Shore Bible Church.

The Sheriff will go over the recent legislative changes and will also discuss his recent visit to the Arizona-Mexico border. The Manson meeting will run from 6-8 pm.