Hospital bond issues moving foward

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Steve Patonai
Interim CEO at Lake Chelan Community Hospital

New Interim CEO introduced at Hospital Board meeting

by Richard Uhlhorn

Steve Patonai, Lake Chelan Community Hospital’s new interim CEO was introduced to a standing room only board room at the Hospital’s Tuesday, March 20, commission meeting.

Outgoing CEO, Kevin Abel told the commission and audience that Patonai had been on board for two days. “I’ve been showing Steve around and introducing him.”

“This is an exciting time for Chelan,” said Patonai. “I’ve been meeting the staff and they are gung ho and great people.” Patonai stated that he and his wife purchased property in Chelan six to seven years ago with the idea of eventually moving the valley and building a home.

He has worked at hospitals in Auburn, Washington, Florida and most recently in Houston where he came from a week and half ago. When he saw Abel’s announcement, he threw his hat into the ring.

Mary Signorelli said a lot of research went into finding a new CEO for the hospital. “We had a number of qualified candidates, but we ended up offering Steve a contract. He was interviewed by the entire board and has started while Kevin is still here.”

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Mary Signorelli
Hospital Commission Chair

Abel said he is getting Steve up to speed over the next several weeks. Commissioner Phyllis Gleasman remarked that there were a number of qualified people interviewed.

After the introductions, Kevin Abel introduced Jim Nelson to update the commission on the General Obligation Bond progress.

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Hospital Administrator Kevin Abel introduced Jim Nelson to the board for a short update on the Hospital’s quest for a USDA loan for the new hospital.

The voters in the Hospital District approved a $20 million dollar bond issue in August, 2017. The District is obligated for another $22.5 million dollars which will come from a USDA fund. “We should have preliminary approval soon,” said Nelson.

He told the commission that the bond obligation is still coming in below the Hospital’s 38 cents. “It looks like 33 cents (on the dollar) for 26 year financing,” said Nelson. “Hopefully the bond market will stabilize.”

Moving the schedule forward, Nelson said it was necessary to update the bond resolution that the board voted on last year that is needed for the USDA. He expects that the new rates will be fixed by June 27 and the money approved and in the bank by July 17 or July 25, but no later than August 9.

Abel and staff have met with the USDA and the environmental write-off is coming. “The USDA process normally takes six to 12 months,” said Abel. “Slightly more than a year. That’s what we are looking at.”

Kelly Arduino, Director of Strategic and Capital Planning Services at Wipfli, LLP,  who attended the meeting by telephone, said from a political perspective that there is “going to be tremendous pressure in the third and fourth quarters of the year. There will be a lot of approvals coming out.”

USDA  representatives will meet with Patonai on Wednesday.

Commissioner Tom Warren asked the board to repeal the old resolution and move the new one forward. The board voted unanimously to do that.

“We feel confident you would come in below that 38 cent target,” added Nelson.

HDCA hopes landing project can be rolled into bridge renovation project.

by Richard Uhlhorn

At last week’s Chelan City Council meeting, Erin McCardle, the new executive director (also a city council member) of the Historic Downtown Chelan Association (HDCA), gave a short presentation of the Council regarding the progress on the Landing Project.

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The Landing area adjacent to the old Woodin Avenue Bridge will also be undergoing improvements during the upcoming bridge renovation project this spring.

The Landing is area on the northwest side of the old Woodin Avenue bridge that goes down to the City dock. Presently, it is unimproved and the HDCA has joined with the City and Lake Chelan Rotary to improve the access for visitors and residents.

The City Dock is used as a short boat moorage area for boaters to visit the downtown area for lunch and shopping. Over the years it has also become a fishing spot for local and visiting kids. Joe Heinlen, a local fishing guide helps kids learn to fish off the dock during the summer months on Wednesdays. It also lends access to just enjoy the lake, sunsets, and boat traffic.

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Erin McCardle, executive director of the HDCA gave a short presentation to Chelan City Council on the Landing Project that the City has donated $75,000 to.

“The community support for this project has been tremendous,” said McCardle. Her hope is that the improvement project can be coordinated with the Woodin Avenue Bridge project slated to begin this April. “We would like to roll the two projects together,” said McCardle. “Our goal at the end of the day is to have the bridge and park opening at the same time.”

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This sign depicts what the HDCA hopes the end product will look like.

So far the project has received $75,000 from the City, $50,000 from from the community, and $20,000 from HDCA, but still needs $41,000 to go forward. The additional $41,000 is for a new retaining wall. “This is for a new retaining wall that was identified late in the project,” said McCardle. The HDCA has sent a letter to the PUD for some financial help with the retaining wall.

For more information on how to donate to this project, call the HDCA at 682-4322 or Email them at HDCA@nwi.net

PUD COMMISSIONERS HALT WORK ON APPLICATIONS FROM BITCOIN & SIMILIAR DATA OPERATIONS

Moratorium is effective immediately to reduce operating and financial risks  

 WENATCHEE, WA – Chelan County PUD Monday stopped taking or processing applications, effective immediately, for electric service for cryptocurrency mining.

 PUD board members unanimously imposed the application moratorium after reviewing impacts on utility operations from existing loads and applications for service. This pause will allow lessons learned to be adopted for the existing, under-5 megawatt (MW) rates and policies as well as to develop new rates and policies for above-5 MW loads.  (Discussion begins at 00:44 on the board audio.)

 General Manager Steve Wright said impacts from cryptocurrency mining applications are hampering responses to the District’s overall planned work, and threatens the county’s electric grid capacity to meet planned growth. Public health and safety concerns due to rogue operators led to the cities of Chelan and Wenatchee acting to curb operations, especially in residential neighborhoods.

“We do need time to take a deep breath and work through the issues and this may be the best approach,” said Commissioner Randy Smith. (01:11)

Commissioners set a public hearing on the moratorium for 1 p.m. on May 14. Approved applications with fees and charges paid will go forward.

Inquiries about and applications for cryptocurrency operations significantly increased as the price of bitcoin soared last fall. The trend continues with the number of applications filed so far this year approaching 2017’s total.

There are 19 pending applications from cryptocurrency miners for up to 5 MW each, a potential total load of about 16.3 average MW. There are 22 approved and active high density loads in the county, totaling about 13.5 aMW, said Lyle Moore, Customer Service engineering supervisor. Typical countywide growth in a year is about 4 MW.

Staff also is finding rogue cryptocurrency operations requiring time and effort to investigate and respond, said Moore. Many are in homes without the grid equipment needed to serve heavy load, threatening the safety of neighbors and PUD workers.

Lindsey Mohns, Customer Utilities business manager, said with the moratorium in place, staff will:

  • Review and update the existing Schedule 35 rate (under 5 MWs) including considering adding transmission costs and continue to develop rates, fees and processes for service requests of 5 MW or more
  • Widely communicate the consequences of unauthorized operations including adding fees for investigation, monitoring and equipment damage
  • Keep working with city, county and state building code officials
  • Keep adding technology to meet the challenges of detecting and serving cryptocurrency loads

A previous application moratorium for bitcoin mining and similar operations was in place December 2014 until Jan. 3, 2017, as staff developed the rate for use of up to 5 MW.

Spring Sports – Week 1

 

BASEBALL

Photo Gallery

 CHELAN SPLITS A DOUBLE HEADER WITH OKANOGAN

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 Perfect baseball weather greeted baseball fans, parents and players as the Chelan Goats opened their first home game hosting the Okanogan Bulldogs. Coach Dana Papasedero had to be pleased with the Goats efforts. His report follows:

 It was a great day for baseball Saturday, as the Goats opened their CTL season with a Double Header  against the Okanogan Bulldogs.  It was a roller coaster day, with emotions running high on both sides.

 In the first game, the Goats opened the scoring with Colt Corrigan slashing a RBI double to score a hustling Gage Estes to provide a 1 nothing lead. In the top of the second, the Bulldogs capitalized on 4 Goat errrors, scoring three unearned runs. The score remained the same until the bottom of the 5th, when the Goats erupted for 3 runs highlighted  by Bryson Darlingtons 2 RBI double, and Breckin Sporseen adding another RBI double to take the lead for good, with the Goats coming away with a hard earned 4 to 3 victory.  Sam Austin came in to pitch in the top of the third inning to  shut down the Bulldogs with 5 innings of one hit, no run, pitching to earn his first win of the season.

 Game two featured a real nail biter, with the Goats scoring first. Then had an ensuing see saw battle that included a 45 minute delay for an injured Okanogan player, two ejections for a collision at home plate ( one for each team ) , a long home run by Breckin Sporseen to left, and,  a hard hit RBI double down the left field line by freshman Drake Bird to tie the score in the bottom of the 7th to force extra innings.  From there, the Goats surrendered 4 runs in the 8th, and weren’t able to recover, giving the Bulldogs the 7-3 victory.

 Next up, more CTL action, as the Goats travel to Cashmere Saturday at 11 for another double header

SOFTBALL

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It was a nice spring day to open the Lady Goats fast pitch softball season as the Lady Goats hosted the hot Lynden Christian and Kittitas teams in non-league action. While the Lady Goats fell short in these two games, it was an opportunity for the new coach to see what she had and where she has to work to become competitive.

Both Lynden Christian and Kittitas pounded the ball giving Chelan plenty work defensively.

Chelan Goats Varsity Can’t Catch Up To Linden Christian

 Chelan Goats Varsity watched the game slip away early and couldn’t recover in a 23-6 loss to Linden Christian on Saturday. Linden Christian scored on a triple by T Bajema and a groundout by M Vanderveen in the first inning.

Chelan Goats Varsity collected five hits and Linden Christian had 22 in the high-scoring affair.

In the first inning, Linden Christian got their offense started. Linden Christian scored two runs when Bajema tripled.

Chelan Goats Varsity put up three runs in the fourth inning. Chelan Goats Varsity‘s big bats in the inning were led by a home run by Ashley Sams, a groundout by Azzia MacDonald, and a double by Ashley Oswald.

Linden Christian scored nine runs in the third inning. BajemaRe DykstraB HornstraAb JansmaK Lautabach, and K Leven each had RBIs in the frame.

Ri Dykstra got the start for Linden Christian. She lasted five innings, allowing five hits and six runs while striking out five.

Taylor Sams was on the mound for Chelan Goats Varsity. She allowed nine hits and ten runs over two innings. Leanna Garfoot threw three innings in relief out of the bullpen.

Chelan Goats Varsity collected five hits. Sierra Shively and Oswald all collected multiple hits for Chelan Goats VarsityOswald and Shively all had two hits to lead Chelan Goats Varsity.

Linden Christian tallied 22 hits. BajemaVanderveenHornstraM Vander GriendB BosmanLautabach, and Leven each had multiple hits for Linden Christian.
Bats Blistered As Chelan Goats Varsity Falls To Kittitas 24-8 in a high scoring game

 Bats were blistered on Saturday, but Chelan Goats Varsity couldn’t quite get the job done against Kittitas and lost 24-8.

The Chelan Goats Varsity struggled to put runs on the board and had a tough time defensively containing Kittitas, giving up 24 runs.

Chelan Goats Varsity took an early lead in the first inning. Chelan Goats Varsity scored
one run when Taylor Sams doubled.

Kittitas took the lead for good with eight runs in the third inning. In the third, a batter grounded out, scoring two runs, while another homered on the first pitch of the at bat, scoring two runs, one also singled on a 1-1 count, scoring one run, and a final player from Kittitas homered on a 1-0 count, scoring three runs.

Kittitas scored 11 runs in the seventh inning. 

Leanna Garfoot was on the mound for Chelan Goats Varsity. She lasted two and two-thirds innings, allowing eight hits and seven runs while walking one. Sams threw three and a third innings in relief out of the bullpen.  Azzia Macdonald also pitched part of an inning for the Goats.

Kittitas hit two home runs. 

Chelan Goats Varsity totaled 12 hits. Sierra Shively, Taylor Sams, and Jade Hatherell each collected multiple hits for Chelan Goats VarsitySams and Shively each collected three hits to lead Chelan Goats VarsityShively led Chelan Goats Varsity with four stolen bases, as they ran wild on the base paths with 12 stolen bases.

Kittitas racked up 17 hits in the game.

TENNIS:

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In non-league action on Saturday, March 17, the Chelan Boys continued to dominate play on the tennis court, shutting out Ephrata 5-0.

The girls won their game, but lost two matches in the singles rounds.

Following is the coaches report. The tennis team will host Quincy on Thursday, March 22 at Lake Chelan Shores.

Ephrata at Chelan (non-league)

Girls: Chelan 3, Ephrata 2
#1 Singles:  Emma McLaren (C) def Kenzie O’Donnell 6-2, 6-2
#2 Singles:  Kayla Mullings (E) def Bella Gatzemeier 6-2, 6-4
#3 Singles:  Roslyn Martin (E) def Katelyn Deal 6-2, 6-1
#1 Doubles:  Sierra Rothlisberger/Madeline Peebles (C) def Taylor Perez/Hannah Goodspeed 6-1, 6-2
#2 Doubles:  Sydney Hawkins/Abby Martin (C) def Elena Duffner/Chloe Davis 6-4, 6-4

The final match on the court was the #2 dubs match to break the 2-2 tie.  Hawkins and Martin won the first set 6-4, but were down 0-4 in set #2 before winning 6 straight to clinch the win.  The Chelan girls move to 2-0.

Boys:  Chelan 5, Ephrata 0
#1 Singles:  Micah Larson (C) def Griffin Allen 6-2, 6-0
#2 Singles:  Wyatt Habich (C) def Ryan Pugh 6-1, 2-6, 6-2
#3 Singles:  Tobin Wier (C) def Kaden Johnson 6-0, 6-0
#1 Doubles:  Alex Gavin/Tyler Higgins (C) def Joseph Qualls/Xavier Hughes 6-0, 6-0
#2 Doubles:  Eli Phelps/Steven Williams (C) def Colton Murray/Andres Ramirez 6-1, 6-1

The Chelan boys move to 3-0 on the year.

Chelan JV wins:  Isabella Evans/Madison Latter 8-6, Audrey Gilleland 6-4, Aiden Petersen/Scott Abel won twice 8-3 and 8-2

Smart meters discussed at City Council

by Richard Uhlhorn

After a Wednesday evening meeting concerning Advanced Two-Way Meters was cancelled by the PUD, Mayor Mike Cooney requested they make a presentation at the Tuesday evening, March 13 City Council meeting with time for public comment from the Smart Meter Awareness Group.

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A number of residents filled Chelan City Council Chambers to hear a presentation by Chelan County PUD on their proposed smart meter program for the Lake Chelan Valley. Members of the Smart Meter Awareness Group were on hand to remark about the program.

“As promised I am allowing an option for the public to weigh in,” said Cooney in his opening remark. “We are going to keep it a smart dialogue.”

John Stoll, Managing Director of Customer Utilities for the PUD, gave a detailed slide presentation regarding the PUD’s efforts to bring a smart meter system to the Lake Chelan Valley citing numerous advantages over the standard old meters that are currently in use now. These advantages include:

  • Control: gives the customer control of his/her energy use;
  • Reliability: better electrical outage notification to customers and the utility for quicker restoration;
  • Safety:ability to detect abnormal conditions, i.e. illegal power consumption;
  • Accuracy: increased meter read accuracy;
  • Privacy: no meter readers accessing your property;
  • Environment: reduces the amount of PUD vehicles on the road;
  • Financial: helps to potentially reduce future cost pressure

“We’ve studied this for years,” said Stoll. The PUE installed 6,000 one-way water meters in 2006. The smart meter issue was presented to the Board of Commissioners in 2015 and the plan is to select a contractor in 2019, have Opt-out policies (customers will have an opt-out option) refined and presented to the Commission, and by quarter three of 2020, have the Advanced Meter program installed and operating. “We’ve studied this for 14 to 15 years now,” said Stoll. “This technology has been out there for a long time and is now on its third generation.”

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John Stoll, Managing Director of Customer Utilities

The cost of program is estimated at $13 million with an estimated benefit to the PUD of $33 million over 20 years with a payback period of 14 years.

One of the cost reduction benefit outside of the PUD’s increased efficiency and responsiveness during electrical outages is the identification of High Density Loads (HDL) from crypto-currency mining that is being conducted without PUD knowledge or permits. “Some have played by the rules and are up and running, but others have not,” said Stoll. “It’s pretty much a cat and mouse game.”

The City of Chelan, however, put a moratorium on any crypto-currency mining until they can better understand the issues.

In gearing up for this transformation, the PUD has briefed all elected leaders, held more than 18 community meetings, sent out more than 45,000 direct-mail postcards encouraging feedback and more than 33,000 emails on the PUD’s current email list. There have been three public comment Commission hearings held and the public can research the subject of smart meters at the PUD’s dedicated website landing page  (www.chelanpud.org/advanced-meters).

Customers will have an opt-out opportunity and still have their old meters read by a meter reader, but it will have additional costs related to that service.

The PUD has had pushback from the Smart Meter Awareness Group in Chelan who are genuinely concerned about added RF (radio frequency) emissions to an already large RF output from Wi-Fi and Cell Phones. The PUD reported that 15 minutes of cell phone usage equals about 375 years of advanced meter exposure.

Public Comment:

Robin Casal, spokeswoman for the group said they had collected 500 signatures against the smart meter installation that includes five doctors, 20 health practitioners and Ann Congdon, the one PUD Commissioner who voted against the program. “We hope you have looked at the information we gave you and have researched this issue,” she told the City Council members.

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Robin Casal, Smart Meter Awareness Group representative.

She cited RF as an accumulation factor in the increase in cancer, autism and other diseases or issues. “Radio frequencies is a large contributor to this and this would be another addition,” remarked Casal. “It adds to comprised immune systems in children and seniors, adds costs to the health industry and affects our environment.”

She accused the Council of being in fear of disrupting its relationship with the PUD and talked about the liabilities. Others talked about opting out, but didn’t feel they should have to pay extra to opt out.

One of the more interesting comments came from Garett Boss. He stated that two way access opens up the possibility of giving outside people more access to your home. Boss stated that there are programs that can process 16,000 passwords a second. However, no one is going to go to the trouble for nothing. “I’m just saying it can happen.”

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Garett Boss gave an interesting take on how smart meters could be hacked.

Councilman Ray Dobbs asked if the opportunity is there to hack into the two way system, has it happened? “Absolutey,” stated Boss. “It’s happened in New York and Los Angeles to turn off power.” Dobbs then asked if the smart meters were smart enough to tell who hack into it? “No!” replied Boss.

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Councilman Ray Dobbs

Casal brought up the point that the City had promised a workshop and that it hadn’t happened. Mayor Cooney replied that it was setup, but the PUD cancelled and that he was affording the time at a Council meeting for them to be heard. He then told the group that he spent time with the City Attorney and that the City can’t do anything about stopping the PUD’s program. “I wanted the public to have a say, but this is between the PUD and you,” said Cooney. “I hope you feel you got heard.”

Councilman Tim Hollingsworth said the PUD is state regulated and that it is difficult for the City to come between them. Port Angeles is the only City to block smart meters in the state because they own their utility.

City Attorney Quentin Batjer that of all the cities I the state, Port Angeles is the only utility that is city run. “I would urge any action be taken up with the PUD commission. For the city to take any action, it take findings of fact to justify it and at this point would be imprudent of this juncture,” said Batjer. “My analysis is that this issue is a policy issue, not a legal issue.”

Dobbs asked if other technologies were being explored. “Is that something being considered by the PUD?” Stoll replied that RF is the most common technology being used. “The utility has not made up its mind, but the feasibility of using the fiber network is important.”

Dobbs asked Commissioner Ann Congdon why she voted against the smart meter program. She replied that her background was in biology and that she research the issue and felt compelled to vote no, but didn’t want to get into all of the reasons at the meeting.

Mayor Cooney read a resolution that was passed unanimously by the council. It read in part that the Mayor and the City Council of the City of Chelan:

  1. Recognizes Chelan Citizens for participating in the public dialog including City of Chelan and Chelan County PUD open public meetings.
  2. Recognizes the Chelan County PUD for a widespread public input process including 18 informational meetings across Chelan County and numerous other meetings, post cards, e-mails, media and website information.
  3. Wishes to convey our concerns about Advanced Meters and encourage the Chelan County PUD to carefully weigh the input of our citizens, and to decide in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of our community.
  4. Requests that the PUD explore all technology for backhaul of data.

For more information on the advanced metering system go to the PUD’s website
at:www.chelanpud.org/advancedmeters.

For more information on public concerns, visit the Smart Meter Awareness Group website at: http://www.facebook.com/pg/smart.meter.awareness.

Hospital hires interim CEO

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Lake Chelan Community Hospital has hired an interim CEO to take Kevin Abel’s place. Abel is leaving soon to take a new position in Whitefish Montana.

“We are very pleased to have Steve on board as our interim,” said Mary Signorelli, LCCHC Board chair.  “We look forward to working with him on all of the projects we have begun and feel confident that he will serve our community very well.”

Press Release
For Immediate Release

Lake Chelan Hospital hires Steven Patonai as interim CEO

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Steve Patonai
Interim CEO at Lake Chelan Community Hospital

Chelan, WA – Steven Patonai, who has more than 25 years of senior healthcare executive experience, will start as interim CEO at Lake Chelan Community Hospital & Clinics (LCCHC) Monday, March 19. He replaces LCCHC CEO Kevin Abel, who is leaving this month for a new CEO position with North Valley Hospital in Whitefish, Montana. Patonai will serve as CEO while the LCCHC Board looks for a permanent CEO to replace Abel.

Patonai comes from Houston, TX, where he worked as CEO for two major hospitals. His experience also includes executive experience in a variety of hospitals, from smaller organizations to tertiary medical centers, providing him with a diverse wealth of expertise, including hospital operations, physician recruitment and hospital construction.

“We are very pleased to have Steve on board as our interim,” said Mary Signorelli, LCCHC Board chair.  “We look forward to working with him on all of the projects we have begun and feel confident that he will serve our community very well.”

Patonai, who began his medical career as a pharmacist, has a personal interest in local healthcare. He and his wife Sharon own property in the valley and are currently building their retirement home near Rocky Point. He first visited Chelan when working as CEO of Auburn Regional Medical Center outside Seattle more than 15 years ago.

“Lake Chelan Hospital is very well positioned,” he said, “and Kevin Abel has done a great job. With the new hospital building project, it’s an exciting time to be part of local healthcare, and I hope I can have a positive impact.”

Patonai looks forward to working in a smaller hospital where he can interact more closely with staff and patients. “It gives me an opportunity to return to the roots of why I got into healthcare in the first place,” he said, “to help people.”