Lake Chelan School District in great financial shape… reopening is being studied.

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Trisha Schock, finance director at the Educational Service District is filling in for Scott Renick, the District’s finance director while he recovers from COVID-19 and reported that the Lake Chelan School District is in a great financial situation.

“There are no concerns about the District’s financial stability,” she said. Next year, there are potential cuts coming, but she didn’t expect any financial issues. The district is 104% over last year. Accounts payable are down from $282,870.00 to $262,255.00

Lynda Foster asked what the feeling is around the area schools regarding enrollment?

Schock stated that everyone is concerned if the District’s don’t get back to traditional schooling. “They are all really looking forward to having kids back in school.”

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School Superintendent Barry DePaoli

Barry reported on the ongoing discussions on re-opening schools. There are teachers, parents and students sitting in on some of this dialogue. On Friday, there will be a meeting on the “Teaching and Learning Side.”

“Safety is huge,” stated Barry. “This has been draining on our teachers as well as our students.”

The big concern is where COVID-19 will be in the Fall. Steady… Spiking… or Declining. “A huge spike is a concern,” said Barry. The District is receiving more and more emails from parents and the general public about their concerns about re-opening.

The District is continuing to have issues with the Internet availability to all students. The other issue is that Chrome Books are having a problem with Zoom connectivity.

It was also stated that students don’t like to be isolated and are not good at independent learning. “If we have to start remotely (in the fall) how do we do that engagement (with students).” Barry is trying to make sure with all the planning that when the District re-opens in the fall, the District is organized.

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MOE Principle Erin Morin stated that across the state, Districts are seeing about 30 percent engagement with students, but Chelan has 60 percent engagement. “As people go back to work, we may see that engagement go down,” she said.

The Elementary is at 60 percent and the teachers have become very creative at staying engaged including driving by students homes. The District is sending out Parent Input for Placement form asking such questions as:

1.What kind of learning environment does your child work best in?

2. Does your child have special needs that we need to be aware of?

DePaoli has been involved with a work group that are looking at some re-opening strategies from other countries. “There is some good information. We need to look at this as a real challenge for this District and still meet the needs for our kids.”

Middle School Principal Mr Wood said that engagement at the middle school is a little different. “Sometimes we have 10 to 15 students on-line.” He said students are gravitating toward other than project related work like the No Red Ink grammar software.

He also stated that the staff is really looking forward to next year. They are missing the interaction with the kids. the staff is neutral on on-line learning with 25 percent struggling at on-line teaching.

Wood reported that he is working on a parking lot moving up ceremony for both the fifth grade and eighth grade students. It has not been approved yet. There is apparently a lot of apprehension amongst the fifth graders about moving up.

Wood, Rob Rainville and Erin have been video taping to show students moving up what school looks like as an introduction to both the staff and school setting.

The board approved the hiring of Nicholas Longmire as the new head Girls Basketball Coach and the hiring of Randy Gleasman as the Assistant Wrestling Coach. Both said they were excited. Pat Chism has been hired as the new head Wrestling Coach and he likes the idea of having Gleasman as his assistant.

High School graduation will be a drive in ceremony following the CDHD guidelines

The District board approved the renewal of the WIAA contract.

Chelan-Douglas Board of Health approves a safe re-opening resolution

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The CDHD (Chelan-Douglas County Heath District) Board of Health held a special meeting on Tuesday, May 26, to discuss the following agenda items.

 

  1. Discussion and possible action requesting the Governor to permit additional businesses to open;
  2. Executive session pursuant to RCW 42.30.110(1)(i) to discuss potential litigation with District legal counsel; and
  3. Discuss Health District enforcement policy and possible action

Barry Kling, Director of the CDHD, opened the meeting saying it wasn’t clear of the District was going to submit a second proposal to the State for reopening the two counties. “I take it we are not going to do a second application for opening,” he said.

Commissioner Kevin Overbay said, “At this time we are not prepared to look at moving forward. The thing that has me troubled is the 10 (cases) per 100,000 people. We need to do a little more work to with Barry and Dr. Butler the first part of next week to look at other options.” Overbay stated that he wasn’t ready to move away from the Board’s Phase 1.5 proposal.

It was reported that there were more positive cases last week than the week before.

The board moved into an executive session and came back to the meeting an hour later with a resolution 2020-04. “We are very supportive of the staff work being done and guided where we want to go with enforcement of the Governor’s orders.” said Overbay. “This is a good document moving forward.

Following is the Resolution 2020-4 which was approved unanimously by the board.

RESOLUTION 202-004 OF THE CHELAN-DOUGLAS HEALTH DISTRICT
BOARD OF HEALTH REGARDING SAFE REOPENING
DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Whereas the Chelan-Douglas County Health District Board of Health is aware of legal challenges to the orders issued by the Governor in response of the COVID-19 pandemic; and,

Whereas the time has come for gradual re-opening of activities limited by the Governor’s orders, but a sudden and disorderly re-opening of such activities could produce unnecessary health risks during the pandemic; and,

Whereas businesses and organizations wishing to resume more normal operations must do so gradually and must take care to implement social distancing and other safeguards so long as the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be controlled through effective vaccines and/or medications;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Chelan-Douglas Health District Board of Health adopts the following policies:

Section 1: The primary role of Chelan-Douglas Health District  regarding re-opening is to work with our communities to assure that COVID-19 prevention measures are implemented effectively to the extent possible during the process of re-opening.

Section 2: Chelan-Douglas Health District will continue to emphasize education and partnership with local businesses, organizations and families over enforcement wherever possible.

Section 3: In the event that the Governor’s orders regarding COVID-10 are rendered invalid, Chelan-Douglas Health District will implement an orderly phased re-opening process using stages comparable to those in the Governor’s Safe Start Washington plans of May 4, 2020.

Section 4: When enforcement actions are needed to achieve safe re-opening, after appropriate consultation and warnings are given, the enforcement procedures of the Chelan-Douglas Health Sanitary Code will be used in connection with any applicable orders issued under the statutory authority of the Chelan-Douglas Health Officer.

Section 5: So long as the Governor’s orders are in effect, Health District staff who observe violations of the orders shall document and report such violations to State of Washington officials, who may then take such measures as they consider necessary.

Chelan and Douglas County leadership to ask Governor to approve their Phase 1 proposal for reopening some functions

by Richard Uhlhorn

The Chelan-Douglas County Health District held a special board meeting on Monday, May 11, with its Board of Health members to finalize a proposal called Phase 1.5 which will be sent to Governor Inslee and his Secretary of Health Dr. John Wiesman.

The Board of Health members, who include both Chelan and Douglas County Commissioners, the Waterville Mayor, and East Wenatchee, Wenatchee and Leavenworth City Council members along with CDHD staff members including Dr. Malcolm Butler and others.

The final proposal will include a subset of Phase 2 changes without producing a significant increase in the risk of COVID-19 cases. The board is following the Governor’s Safe Start Washington protocol, but summarizes the Corona Virus activity in both Chelan and Douglas County.

Phase 1.5 will be asking the Governor to allow the following activities to resume:

  • Essential Travel and limited Non-Essential Travel;
  • Medical, Dental and Behavioral Health Services when required to meet emergent patient needs with appropriate social distancing and infectious control measures;
  • Hair & Nail Salons (no hair cutting);
  • Outdoor recreation involving five or fewer people with appropriate social distancing; and
  • Retail stores for in-store purchase with social distancing.

Marc Straub, Douglas County Commissioner stated that box stores were allowed to remain open and it that it makes sense to allow smaller retail stores to open because that would reduce over-crowding at the box stores. Secondly, if this is rejected, close down the box stores also.

The timeframe for completing the proposal and sending it on to the State is of importance to getting permissible options open soon. “We need to get open as soon as possible.” Straub added that small businesses don’t have the luxury of waiting.

Kling stated that he would finalize the proposal in the next couple of days so it can get out.

Jill Thompson said it was imperative to get signatures from the majority of the Board of Health before mailing the proposal out. She is looking for letters of support from:

  • The Board of Health’s approval;
  • County Boards of Commissioners;
  • Health Officers;
  • Hospitals;
  • Medical leaders;
  • Chambers of Commerce;
  • Sheriff’s Departments and Police Chiefs; and
  • Counties’ and Emergency Directors.

Following is some of the discussion during the 1.5 hour meeting.

Barry Kling, director of CDHD, told the board that new cases are predominantly Hispanic. Chelan County Commissioner Doug England asked it most of these new cases were asymptomatic. Kling replied that most of the tests are on individuals with symptoms, but that most of those people testing positive have recovered. “Everyone has recovered except for those who will die,” said Kling. “Out of the total numbers (268) almost all have recovered.” Dr. Butler also said, “My father who was a physician always said the cause of death was when the heart stopped pumping. I have no answer of how data has been recorded.” He added that as a physician, recovery is not something they commonly track.

Currently the total case count in Chelan and Douglas County stands at 269 with 219 of those positive cases being Hispanic and only 48 Non-Hispanic cases recorded. Wenatchee City Council member Ruth Esparza said she had one complaint that CDHD was avoiding ethnicity. “How are we going to provide the message to the Hispanic community,” she asked. She added that it is important to get the numbers out there and to educated the Latino community that they have to do things differently. “The newer generation is helping them understand why they need to do things different.”

Kling stated that he had a lot of feedback on that issue. “We are going to resume posting those figures in the Wenatchee World,” he said.

As of May 10, Chelan and Douglas County had six deaths ranging in age from 84 to 92 years old. Most of them had significant health related problems. One individual from Bridgeport died at the age of 69.

John Sterk, East Wenatchee councilman, said he had received concerns about tracking COVID-19. He mentioned that HR6666 has gone down in flames and that there is a lot of misinformation about tracking. “Can we get a message to the community that we are not doing intrusive tracking,” he asked.

Kling remarked that contact tracing has been going on for 150 years. “It really isn’t controlling anyone.” CDHD has been using volunteers, but will be moving to the state program because of confidentiality issues.

Marc Straub, Douglas County Commissioner stated that box stores were allowed to remain open and it that it makes sense to allow smaller retail stores to open because that would reduce over-crowding at the box stores. Secondly, if this is rejected, close down the box stores also.

The timeframe for completing the proposal and sending it on to the State is of importance to getting permissible options open soon. “We need to get open as soon as possible.” Straub added that small businesses don’t have the luxury of waiting.

Personal protective equipment in short supply… county and businesses want to move to Phase II opening

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by Richard Uhlhorn

 Chelan businesses will have to rely on homemade masks for their employees when these businesses are allowed to reopen to the public. Historic Downtown Chelan executive director, Erin McCardle, asked Sgt. Kent Sisson, to point her in a direction where she can find masks and gloves. Sisson replied, “At this point we are going to have to rely on homemade masks.”

“How about gloves,” asked McCardle. Sisson said gloves were coming in and going out the door.

Sisson told the Leadership Response Team on its teleconference on Thursday afternoon that PPE deliveries were improving, but that when orders do come in, they are only 25% of what was ordered. “It’s very difficult to supply the public with N95 masks,” said Sisson. “It will be difficult to accommodate the public.”

Kari Grover Weir asked about hotels for quarantines. Sisson stated that they have contracted with a hotel in East Wenatchee and that it is not fully occupied. This is where the positive Stemilt workers were housed.

Joyous Van Meter, Regional Epidemiologist/Regional Emergency Response Coordinator, chimed in and said that there were currently 141 positive cases in Chelan County. “We are concerned that we are not seeing a decline in cases yet,” said Van Meter. “We don’t have testing and contact tracing  in place. We haven’t reached that point yet.”

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Chelan Schools Superintendent Barry DePaoli said he was aware that some schools have graduation guidelines. “Will the County put out guidelines for graduation,” asked DePaoli. Van Meter replied that she didn’t know.

DePaoli said he is aware that Entiat High School is going to be allowed to use its football field for its 25 graduating seniors with 10 foot separation guidelines in place. “This has been approved by the Health District.”

DePaoli is concerned that with some schools opening up for graduation ceremonies is going to put undo pressure on other schools. “It would behoove us to have specific guidelines. We want to make some decisions soon. I just want some clarity on that.”

Van Meter stated that Chelan County has the 9th highest incidence of cases and Grover-Weir asked if she could talk about declining numbers. “We have not seen any decline,” said Van Meter. “We are seeing an acceleration of cases.” McCardle asked how the County can get to a decline. Van Meter replied that it was a good question.

EMS Director Ray Eickmeyer chimed in and asked, “Should we go by the amount of admissions to the hospital?” Van Meter replied that a very small percentage get admitted to a hospital.

McCardle asked Eickmeyer how many active cases the hospital has in house? Eickmeyer replied that they are not disclosing how many patients they have. “We are letting other public agencies disclose that.”

Manuel Navarro, Columbia Valley Health, stated that Confluence does not view the information as privileged and publishes on a daily basis. “This morning there were only four Covid cases in their hospital.” McCardle said, “Does that feel like it is overwhelming?” Eickmeyer replied that LCCH is not overwhelmed and are currently below capacity.

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Sgt. Chris Foreman, Chelan Division, said the Sheriff’s department is entering uncharted territory. “It is hard to forecast what Memorial Day is going to be like this year.” He reported that the Sheriff’s Department is putting some things in place but didn’t elaborate.

One thing will be the lack of outside law enforcement personnel in Chelan during the three day weekend. He did ask for reservation details from Campbell’s, Grand View and Lakeside Lodges. Lakeside, as of last week, had lots of vacancies for rooms. “We haven’t heard back from Campbell’s or the Grand View,” said Foreman.

In the past outside law enforcement personnel patrolled Don Morse Park and the downtown area. “We will be beefing up coverage of Don Morse Park,” said Foreman.

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Grover-Weir said that Antilon Lake will remain closed for the weekend, but the Ranger District is still expecting lots of campers to be in the Valley.

Eickmeyer reported that the hospital and EMS are doing well. “We’ve seen an uptick in calls,” he said. He added that the hospital is preparing to open up for elective surgeries. “We are trying to be prepared for Wave 2,” said Eickmeyer.

Grover-Weir asked about patients that the hospital has that are quarantined at home. Eickmeyer replied that if they come down with Covid like symptoms, the hospital encourages them to come in before symptoms get serious.

Laura Schmidt, Columbia Valley Health, said they are getting more positives. “Quite a bit of asymptomatic are coming in, but quite a few are coming in with symptoms as well.” Christy Morris, CVH, said that the symptoms are mild. “We get their vital signs and some have oxygen levels that are low.” She encouraged them to come in if the symptoms get worse instead of waiting until it is serious.

Superintendent Barry DePaoli reported that the school district concerns are not academic at this time, but the social and economic health of their students. The district is also concerned about the emotional health of its staff and teachers and continues to provide professional development as much as possible.

DePaoli also reported that food services are going well and the district is serving more meals than they ever have. The District is exploring how they can honor their seniors for graduation this year. As for on-line schooling, DePaoli says they are getting 50 to 60 percent of their students on-line, but he expects that to drop when students go to work. “Across the nation, on-line schooling is at 30 percent,” said DePaoli.

“It certainly has been challenging,” said DePaoli. Chelan Fire Chief Mark Donnell asked what DePaoli would like from the fire district. “We will be going into summer and food services will be unavailable,” said Donnell.

DePaoli replied that the district is already thinking about food services and is working with Thrive and the Food Bank. “When we come up with a plan we will certainly reach out,” said DePaoli. Sgt. Foreman added that the Sheriff’s Department wants to do whatever it can to support the graduating seniors.

Kari Grover Weir reported that as a mother of a senior, she appreciates the efforts to recognize them at graduation.

She opened her weekly report that the District has no Covid cases in its employees. “By the end of the month we will have all of our firefighters in Entiat (40) and Chelan. “We have been working on how we are going to get masks and are trying to figure out our quarantine situation.”

The District is expecting an above normal fire potential this year. “It is pretty dire this year,” said Grover-Weir. “It is definitely a concern for us.” She also said that campgrounds may be open by Memorial Day and that trail heads may also be open.

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Mike Steele reported that Chelan County Chambers have signed a letter in support of opening Douglas and Chelan Counties to Phase II immediately. “The protocols of the Governor’s guidelines are somewhat muddy,” said Steele. “We are finally looking to help businesses to interpret both the government’s and state guidelines. We can’t go another week or two or 12,” said Steele. “We are trying to deal with some of that.”

Manson Chamber President Debbie Conwell stated that this crisis has been quite a blow to the Manson business community. “Many are saying they will not open until they can go full blow,” she said.

She reported that this coming Saturday morning, May 9, that there will be a parade in downtown Manson for the Apple Blossom Royalty with the Manson Fire Department participating.

Chelan Fruit’s Jim Colbert reported that the rate of Covid infections has slowed and a number of employees are returning to work after testing positive. “We continue to educate on social distancing, but it has been kind of a challenge because of the realities of their life styles.”

Colbert also said that a lower crop of cherries might be a good thing for the packing houses in the midst of the Coronavirus situation, but kind of a bad spot for the farmers.

Mayor Goedde reported that after careful consideration the City has rescinded its order on STRs. Goedde is still unhappy that the Governor never addressed the people traveling back and forth from their primary residences and second homes. “The Governor wouldn’t enforce his order,” stated Goedde.

He also reported that Wenatchee’s Mayor Kuntz and he have signed a letter to move to Phase II immediately. “There is some risk and rewards,” said Goedde. “It comes to a point that mental health is going to be as bad as the virus.”

With regards to a citizen request that the City being an incident command team, Wade Ferris, city administrator, asked the team for their thoughts. “I think it is covered by what is going on here,” said Ferris. Donnell concurred and said the team is working under the Chelan County Sheriff’s Emergency Management team and that it meets all intent of the resident’s letter.

Goedde recommended that residents get their grocery shopping done before the Memorial Day weekend hits and then encouraged them to stay at home.

Response team updates for May 30…

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by Richard Uhlhorn

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT REPORT – Sgt. Kent Sisson

Emergency Management’s Sgt. Kent Sisson shared some good news with the Leadership Response Team.

He said that it appears the Farm Worker Housing tests in Douglas County was an isolated hot spot. “The good news is that at two other sites, we found no cases and no positives,” said Sisson.

According to Sisson, the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC)  is working on a plan of action of they are going to get tests out. “We still don’t have an answer or plan, Quite a few of us are frustrated.”

Emergency Management is only getting partial orders of PPE of what was requested.

He also stated that the Sheriff’s Department is checking on compliance and potential violations. Apparently there is a lot of social media comments that the Sheriff’s Department is doing nothing. “We have had 119 calls on the tip line (509.667.6985) and have responded to them,” said Sisson. He added that some people are just upset, but that the department is educating potential violators, and if they continue to violate, the Sheriff’s Department will take more serious action. “We are not ignoring violations. I wanted to put that out there.”

Chelan Councilman Ray Dobbs asked about the department’s enforcement. Sisson replied, “Our approach is to educate and then be more formal if needed with the last resort fining them.” He says they are seeing most comply after the first visit, but that some in the City of Wenatchee are not complying and are being investigated by the Wenatchee Police Department.

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CHELAN-DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH – Joyous Van Meter

Meter is the Regional Epidemiologist/Regional Emergency Response Coordinator and was standing in for CDHD’s director Barry Kling. “As of last night (Wednesday, April 29) we had 186 cases with 11 new yesterday,” said Meter.

Chelan 7 Fire Chief Mark Donnell asked about testing for first responders. “It is definitely being discussed,” said Meter. “It is definitely a topic for the future.” Donnell asked about Antibody testing and Meter stated that the Health District is looking into it.

Kari Grover-Weir said she was interested in getting her fire fighters tested. “They working and living together and it makes sense to do that,” said Weir.

Weir also asked about the big spike at Stemilt. “Are we on a downslope now,” she asked. Meter said she wasn’t sure how that would play out. “From what I hear, the hospitals are leveling off… it is tricky because most are asymptomatic,” said Meter.

Laura Schmidt – CDHD stated that many of those tested positive are asymptomatic, but the District wouldn’t necessarily see them. “It is hard to show a curve of where we are at,” she said.

Schmidt also reinforced that Columbia Valley Health is working on restoring some of its “face to face” patient visits, but is also continuing to conduct telehealth conferences with patients. “We are keeping asymptomatic patients away from other patients,” she added. The district is focusing on appointment types.

Dobbs asked about compensation and whether or not it was the same as a face to face visit with a physician. Schmidt replied that there was compensation involved which is not the same but is comparable. The telehealth visits are HIPA compliant.

Schmidt also said that testing and contact tracing is increasing, particularly with any covid positive case handed to them, not just patients of Columbia Valley Health. “We are using our more highly experienced medical assistants,” she said.

CHELAN RANGER DISTRICT -Kari Grover-Weir

Weir stated that the Wenatchee National Forest trails and roads remain open, but all improved trail heads are still closed to keep people from congregating. “For the most part people are abiding by that,” said Weir.

She said the District is focused on fire response operating procedures to protect the area’s communities. All 24 Entiat Hotshots are now on board. Weir indicated that if there is a large fire this year, the community will not see the typical fire camp.

As for Memorial Day, Weir said that she doubted campgrounds would be open by then. However, the word is circulating on social media that the Forests are open and that college kids are encouraged to show up. “We’ve been getting a lot of calls about Memorial Day and we are telling people not to come,” said Weir.

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CHELAN FRUIT – Jim Cobert

“We continue to build COVID virus barriers at our facilities. We’ve received some thermometers and masks for the upcoming cherry harvest.”

In an earlier conversation with Colbert by telephone, he said Chelan Fruit is not only building barriers, but are working on keeping workers safe. “We are offering masks and face shield for those who want them and trying to figure out how we will handle 200 people at lunch time.”

With the State Department of Health and Washington State Labor & Industries coming out with new regulations regarding agricultural worker housing, Colbert said cherry harvest is going to be very difficult. It normally takes place in early June.

The Leadership Response Team meets by teleconference every Thursday afternoon beginning at 1 p.m.

City Council hears financial update from City Finance Director

by Richard Uhlhorn

Steve Thornton, finance director at the City of Chelan gave a detailed but informal financial report to the City Council at its Tuesday evening Council meeting on how the Coronavirus pandemic might affect the City’s business.

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Chelan Finance Director
Steve Thornton

Thornton said he is looking really closely to get a good feel of what the impact is going to be by the end of June. The City had a cash balance of $2,688,236 at the end of 2019 and budgeted its revenue at $4,427,697 in 2020. Thornton is predicting a 15 to20 percent revenue loss from sales tax and building department fees because of the pandemic. All other funds within the City need to be considered separately.

“We are taking a good look at our expenses,” said Thornton. He said there is about $200,000 in cost savings.

The street fund which is largely funded through property tax and fuel tax should be Ok. “We should be pretty good with our property taxes. They are a pretty stable source of funding,” said Thornton. Fuel taxes were budgeted at $90,000 but Thornton said that even if the City lost 50% of that funding to $40,000, it would weather that loss by putting the hiring of an engineer on hold and the purchase of a new truck on hold.

Thornton mentioned the Council passed ordinance that gives rate payers a deferral on their payments for water, sewer and sanitation. “We are not going to be charging late fees for April, May, or June and will not shut anyone off.” In July, the City will be sending out a blank repayment form asking rate payers who haven’t paid their utility bills, how they plan on repaying them within a five month period.

Councilman Tim Hollingsworth asked Thornton how many people were taking advantage of the no-pay program. Thornton replied that he doesn’t know and won’t until the end of the month when the majority of rate payers pay their bills. Hollingsworth predicted that a lot of people would be taking advantage of the deferral program.

Councilman Ray Dobbs asked if the recycling program is one that needed close watch and/or was a drain on the system. “It that another one of those areas we have to watch closely.” Public works director, Jake Youngren replied that recycling is very volatile and that the City is monitoring it consistently. Thornton added that the City is looking at the cost of disposal versus taking it to the land fill. “We budgeted a rate study to analyze our system.” Youngren said he was initiating that study soon.

The Parks Department is the one area that the City is feeling a major impact. With the RV Park and Golf Course shut down, it is bleeding money. “In April we received no income,” said Thornton. “That was painful for us.”

The Lakeshore RV Park earned the City $238,000 in April last year. “The RV Park pays a lot of bills for the parks,” said Thornton. It also transfers approximately $350,000 into the Capital budget. Last year, Thornton reported that the Parks Department earned $2.9 million dollars for the City and its parks. “Our budget this year was for $2,966,000. We don’t really know where this is going. Maybe in June we will see more of an uptick.”

At a previous council meeting the council asked the City for a Facebook page so it could get information out to the public in a timely manner. Peri Gallucci attempted to set one up, but ran into trouble with the complex process.

Gallucci told the Council that there was a lot more too it than she anticipated to legally protect the City and asked for help. “It is not something I have the capacity to do,” said Gallucci. She contacted Jenna Rahm, who has experience in this area.

Rahm told the Council that it is a great way to get information out, but that once you have a presence, you have to stick with it. “You are going to have people watching it and commenting,” said Rahm.

Councilman Peter Jamtgaard asked what percentage of municipalities have Facebook? Gallucci replied that most of them do and they are pretty popular.

The big question was whether a social media presence was even needed. Councilman Hollingsworth said he would prefer to hold off on this. “I find our website lacking in a lot of ways and would like to spend our resources on our website. It is a much safer way.”

Councilman Ray Dobbs replied during the conversation that the City wanted a way to get the word out. “The answer is you drop something out there (on social media) and link it back to the website.” City Attorney Quentin Batjar said that some thought is going to have to go into the policies for the page. Gallucci said they were looking at other sites. “It is not a dialogue… it is a way to get information out.”

Councilman Ty Witt entered into the discussion and said he could see the value of it, but that the City needs a website that is up to date. Dobbs said it would be a reader board for the City. “Facebook is an easy way to do it,” said Dobbs. Councilwoman McCardle said that that the City can’t expect people to know what they don’t know.

In the past, public notifications, as per law, would be published in the paper… people in the general neighborhood of the project would be informed with a letter and postings would go up in the neighborhood, but in reality, many people in the community complain constantly that they didn’t know that a development was proposed, i.e. Holiday Hills is an example. Facebook information would inform the public of City proposed actions.

City Council will hold its next meeting on May 12. The venue will be announced after more information is available concerning the Governor’s orders.

Hospital receives government funding

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by Richar Uhlhorn

Lake Chelan Community Hospital has received $3.1 million from the SBA Disaster Relief Fund for rural hospitals and another $4.8 million loan which will have to be repaid. CFO Mike Ellis explained that both of these funding influxes have been set aside in case they are needed. The Hospital also received a $142,000 grant from the State of Washington from the State’s list of rural hospitals.

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Hospital CFO gave a financial update to the Hospital Commission.

Ellis reported that cash on hand currently is equivalent to 22 days. They have been able to pay off their $350,000 Line of Credit. There is still a huge amount of money out there in Accounts Receivable. To help with collecting those funds, the Hospital is hiring a company named Resolution.

Resolution does not get paid unless they collect. Its fee is three percent which could add up to $100,000+ . There is apparently over $5 million dollars in Accounts Receivable out there. Resolution will supply two people for three months to help collect these receivables. “This contract is in our favor,” said Ellis. “They take all the risk.”

 

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Hospital CEO George Rohrich wants to see the Hospital’s outstanding accounts receivable get under control. 

CEO George Rohrich stated that the hospital has to get its A/R under control. “We’ve got to get this fixed,” he said. Commissioner Mary Murphy asked how the Hospital can use this opportunity to develop its own in-house training. Rohrich replied that they would develop a process or procedure for this.

The Hospital had a net operating loss of $642,000 in March and Ellis said, “This is one of those months we expect a loss before summer.”

Salary and benefits are approximately $4.3 million, but is about $4 million now because salary and wages have not gone up. “Pretty much in every category we are below our budget which tells you again our volume is off.”

With regards to the SBA disaster relief funds, Ellis lauded the help of North Cascades National Bank and the hospital’s attorney. “We talked on Sunday night and by Monday we were able to get it done,” said Ellis.

There is another $80 billion coming from the government for hospitals and CEO George Rohrich said, “We haven’t seen the details of who gets what yet.”

The commission unanimously agreed to continue its Interqual Contract. Rohrich explained that the company provides a service that insures that when a patient is diagnosed, everything those patients need is documented. “It is a get out of jail card,” said Rohrich. “We send it and they (insurance companies) cannot deny… that is what the value is.” He went on to say that the service helps the doctors document and helps to stop denials for payment.

The commission approved Rohrich’s decision to add to the Hospital’s ZOOM contract without their approval. “We needed more than 25 and I deemed this as an emergency for our health care services. Approve it or I will fall on my sword,” he quipped.

The Hospital is working on its Network Security with a firm out of Colorado that has network engineers available 24/7 365 days a year to make sure that bad actors never access the Hospital’s servers. “It blocks foreign states like China and other countries fro accessing our network,” said IT Director Ross Hurd. “They are watching our network traffic and if they see something strange they will address it.”

Every new employee and employees are required to take a Cyber Security Training course.

The board agreed that a Succession Plan was needed and will develop a short term and long term succession plan with Rohrich/Gleasman/CNO Jaimie Minnock on the committee.

EMS LEVY:

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EMS Director Ray Eickmeyer is requesting a $.39/$1,000 replacement levy in August that will run for 10 years.

EMS director Ray Eickmeyer said they would be requesting that voters approve a $.39 per thousand 10-year replacement levy in August. “It will provide capitial to replace old equipment,” said Eickmeyer. Gleasman asked if there would be enough in the levy to replace an old ambulance. Eickmeyer replied that it would.

For potential clients that are afraid to come to the hospital, Rohrich said that a campaign needs to begin that tells potential client patients that the Hospital and Clinic are the safest public buildings in the community. “We have staff to see people safely and to clean the space.