Fire District 7 looks forward to 2020

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by Richard Uhlhorn

It was a somber Chelan 7 Fire Commission meeting on Wednesday, September 18 with the passing of past Fire Chief Tim Lemon. “We’ve lost somebody special to most of us,” said Commission Chair Russ Jones. Lemon passed away from a brief battle with pancreatic cancer in No. Whidbey where he had taken on a job to help their fire department.

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With Commissioner Jay Witherbee resigning effective September 11, the Fire Commission is down to two with no intention to appoint another commissioner until after the November election.

Also missing from Chelan 7 was Commissioner Jay Witherbee. He resigned from the Commission on September 11. “He will no longer be attending meetings,” said Jones. “We have no interest in appointing a new commissioner until after the election.”

Two individuals are running for Witherbee’s seat; Karyl Oules, a long time Chelan resident and Bill Bassett. (Interviews coming shortly with the two candidates). Jones remarked that he and Phil Moller make a quorum and could vote on District issues.

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Chief Mark Donnell

Chief Donnell reported that the second half of tax revenues have not come in yet. “We are on track to receive those.” He said.

He also reported that there were 110 calls for the month of September. “There is a higher volume than normal,” said Donnell. Most of those calls were EMS calls. However, Donnell stated that the Washington Creek Fire had a significant number of vehicles involved and that 27 apparatus’ from Orondo, Pateros, the Forest Service and the DNR responded to the call. This also included one helicopter. “We had 82 personnel on the fire and it was the smoothest fire we’ve ever been on.”

Callouts are still lagging behind, but Donnell expects the District will still hit the 900 level by the end of the year.

Donnell said the goal is to have staff out of bed, down the stairs, into their fire clothes and out the door in two minutes. Emergency 71 is currently responding in 2:14 minutes.

Assistant Chief Brandon Asher reported that Orondo has one new resident firefighter and that no members were lost so far in September. “We are evaluating participation with our investment. We had a good showing last night during our drill.”

Stipend coverage is beginning to dwindle added Asher. The District is at 36% coverage. Donnell reported that the District cannot exceed 20% of the career firefighters on stipend payments. “We have a serious problem with our Stipend program,” he said. He suggested that the District could look at eliminating the Stipend program and actually hiring two more full time career firefighters to fill the gap. However, Donnell also said that wasn’t sustainable going forward.

Dan Crandall reported that the Firefighter Association began the month with $17,735.00 and ended with $16,983.00.

The big concern for the Department is retention of volunteer firefighters. The investment in each individual is huge because of rules and regulations.  The District is considering changing from calling Volunteers volunteers to firefighters.

Chief Donnell reported that there were five general goals for the District. They include:

  1. Training
  2. Community relations
  3. Staff retention
  4. Future funding
  5. Measurable goals
    Turnout to two minutes
    An effective workforce
    Fire loss vs. pre-fire valuation
    Fiscal responsibility
    Maintaining clean annual audits

Donnell said that the District would like to retain a four month reserve fund to get the District to April when the first tax revenues come in. “We had a big fat zero this year on State Mobilization,” said Donnell. Typically, State mobilizations bring in additional cash to the District.

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Fire Chief Mark Donnell and Assistant Chief Brandon Asher presented September’s information to the Fire Commission.

The District recognizes that it must have a bigger impact on the community and plans on spending upwards of $20,000 on public relations including social media, new media and other forms of communication with the public so they can better understand the Fire District.

The Budget prediction is pretty dire. The Fire District can only collect one percent over the 2020 budget amount. “People think that when the tax revenues go up, the District collects a lot more money. That’s not true. We will increase our budget by only $20,000,” said Donnell.

“There is a lack of understanding of the one percent cap,” said Commissioner Jones. “The expectation is that when taxes go up, we get a whole bunch of money. We need to educate the public.”

The Commissioners, after a short discussion in executive session, agreed to sign the Douglas County Fire District 15 Mutual Aid Agreement.

The District’s proposed 2020 budget will begin with $910,815.00, bring in $2,074,149.00 in taxes, another $227,129.00 from the SAFER grant, and add approximately $65,000.00 in additional revenue for a total of $3,277.081.00.

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City Council authorizes a Sales & Purchase Agreement for Spader Bay

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by Richard Uhlhorn

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The property outlined in the above aerial photography is for sale and the City of Chelan City Council voted 4-2 to execute a Sales and Purchase Agreement for 120 days so they can conduct due diligence on whether to purchase the $400,000 piece.

“This piece came to the City some months ago,” said City Administrator Mike Jackson at the opening of a public hearing on the potential purchase by the City of Spader Bay property just to the west of and above the Spader Bay residencial area. “Everybody has talked about morel lake access.”

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City Administrator Mike Jackson opened Tuesday’s City Council meeting with an overview of the Spader Bay Property opportunity.

The property in question is a 9.8 acre landlocked parcel owned by Linda Evans-Parlette and her sister Terry. It is the last piece of the old Ray (Toad) O’Neal orchard land. The land was brought forward by realtor Guy Evans, who represents the owners, to see if the City might be interested in purchasing the property for a potential recreational site with lake access.

Jackson remarked that the property is a part of a much larger project to investigate eight potential public access sites. The City has hired J.A. Brennan and Associates to inventory all potential water access sites and to provide the City with conceptual plans on how they can be utilized for the public’s good.

The agenda bill to be considered by the City Council was to authorize the Mayor to finalize and execute a Purchase and Sale Agreement for the Spader Bay property.

Councilmembers Erin McCardle, Kelly Allen, Ty Witt, Servando Rebelo and Ray Dobbs all had comments and questions regarding the purchase of the proposed Spader Bay property.

Before opening the meeting for public comment, the Council discussed the issue. Councilman Ray Dobbs and Councilwoman Wendy Isenhart both want to make sure that the issue would come back to Council for a final decision on the purchase of the property.

Jackson went on the record and said that he and Mayor could go forward, but the property purchase would come back to the Council after a 90 day due diligence period and Brennan’s conceptual assessment of the property.

Councilwoman Erin McCardle asked if a public workshop would be held to evaluate the property and other properties identified.  “There are three to five other sites that have a lot better access for the community,” she said.

Jackson replied that the City can also extend the 90 day period. He also stated that without an agreement it opens the sale of the land to other potential purchasers like Vin du Lac and the Lookout, or others.

“If we move forward with Spader Bay, it will include a concept plan,” said Jackson. Councilman Ray Dobbs asked who picked the 90 day period. City attorney Clinton Batjer replied that he did and that 90 days was normal.

McCardle asked what kind of parking would be available, what the additional costs might be, and what legal issues is the City going to run into.

Councilman Ty Witt said the Council has visited this discussion on five different occasions and wants to make sure that the public has an opportunity to weigh in on the property.

Jackson said they could extend to 120 days which would give Brennan plenty of time to get the conceptual plan together on Spader Bay. Councilman Servando Robledo said, “Before we do anything, we need to make sure the public is well informed.”

McCardle remarked that the public is tired of over development and has clearly said to keep space open. “We hear this over and over and over,” she said. “Keep land open without homes.” She added that the City would be remiss to not look at this as a need. “We don’t have enough information yet.”

Planning director Craig Gildroy told the Council that the Spader Bay property was a Single Family Residential are for up to 38 homes. “There is potential development and does meet our current public access code.”

Mayor Mike Cooney added that the City is doing what people have asked it to do. “It is not a done deal and there is no agenda here.” Cooney then opened the discussion to public comment.

Social media and local media outlets got the word out to the public that the Spader Bay property was on the Council’s agenda. The Council Chambers was filled to near capacity with concerned residents.

Spader Bay residents, Alice Thompson, Connie Cooper Smith, Anita Rutter and Mitch Thompson are against the City purchasing the Spader Bay property and recited many reasons why the City would be remiss if they did so.

Alice Thompson, a Spader Bay resident, was the first to address the Council. She stated that the  and property was steep, rocky and had no beach when the Lake was full. “It does not have deeded access,” she said. “It can’t accommodate traffic. Do the citizens of Chelan want to spend $1 million on this property,” she asked. “The cost of the project is too high and it would become an albatross for the City.”

Thompson went on to state that the City has other issues it should be addressing. “If you want lake access this isn’t it. If you want a view property for $1 million…

Anita Rutter stated that the Spader Bay Road is private and maintained by the residents. She was also worried about soil contamination and the fact that the area has a resident deer herd.” She urged the Council to look at other needs in the City like road improvements.

Mitch Thompson stated that $400,000 to purchase and another $600,000 to develop would added a tremendous debt load to the City over a 20 year period. “It’s a considerable obligation to take on,” he added. He also said that law enforcement would be an issue along with necessary infrastructure like bathrooms, water and sewer.

The concerns went on and on. John Olson, a candidate for City Council, stated that lake access is an issue that comes up time after time. He mentioned that Wenatchee, Brewster and Pateros all have lake access and that six acres (the Three Fingers) has been sitting fallow since he was in grade school. He urged the City to look at the potential condemning that property and stated that Goodfellow Brothers now have a pre-application in to construct 50 condominiums on the Fingers and the hillside south of Hwy. 97A. “Steve Wright, past CEO of the PUD stated that they needed to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people,” quipped Olson.

Council candidate John Olson, Chelan resident Evie Hirschberger, Skip Morehouse, realtor Guy Evans, Stan Morse and Mayor candidate Bob Goedde all spoke to the Spader Bay issue in front of Council.

Evie Hirschberger, who lives across the lake from the Spader Bay property stated that the City has better options and other ways to secure public access to the lake.

Past Councilmember Skip Morehouse stated that he felt the concern of the Spader Bay residents. “The whole idea of a Sales and Purchase Agreement is a rush. A trail would take significant work and would not be necessarily safe.” He stated that the City’s liability would be huge.

Realtor Guy Evans who is representing his mother and her sister with the property said that his observation would be a trail through the Spader Bay property could be good access to the Northshore Pathway. “I know it’s not everyone’s recreational goal,” said Evans. He admitted that development of the property would be very challenging.

Evans said that if the City didn’t purchase the property it would probably be purchased by a developer. “People who move dirt could make 14 home sites on the property,” he said.

Councilman Ty Witt said, “This site will be build on if we don’t tie it up.

Stan Morse said the City has so many needs including a maintenance problem.

Mayoral candidate Bob Goedde said, “I think instead of buying this, we need to look at other places that have more benefit.”

McCardle asked Jackson why the City couldn’t evaluate the property without a Sales and Purchase Agreement. Councilwoman Kelly Allen said that she hoped that everyone understood that on a small portion of the community was in attendance at the meeting. She thinks it is important to get the entire community’s input, not just the Spader Bay input.

Witt suggested just purchasing the land and leaving it as it is. “It was interesting to me to see all the hands go up that would rather see 13 to 14 homes on that property. If we don’t act it won’t stay that way. We know the land is worth it… lots are going for $100,000 in the valley.

Mayor Cooney, prior to a vote on the Sales and Purchase Agreement, said, “Being on the Council is a thankless job. I don’t see any consensus. The people in the community talk about how horrible the Lookout is. We have the neighborhood here tonight, not the whole community.”

The Council voted 4-2 to authorize the Mayor to execute the Sales and Purchase Agreement with a 120 day window to make a final decision. Erin McCardle and Ray Dobbs were the two who voted Nay. Tim Hollingsworth had an excused absence from the meeting.

The City will wait for the Conceptual Plan from J.A. Brennan and Associates and present that to the Community for more public input.

Spader Bay Property on City Council Agenda

The Potential Acquisition of Spader Bay is Contentious

by Richard Uhlhorn

Tonight’s City Council meeting (6 p.m. Council Chambers) might prove to be a contentious meeting. There has been a growing swell on Social Media against the City’s desire to potentially purchase 9.8 acres of property at Spader Bay.

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This is an aerial view of Spader Bay taken several years ago. The line surrounding the property is what the City is looking at purchasing and improving for an estimated $1 million dollars.

The property sits just west of and above the Spader Bay residential area and is extremely steep, rocky and, at this time, landlocked.

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The Backstory:

This property has been for sale over a period of years and is a part of the City’s efforts to find more Public Access for the community. In its efforts to look at this property for its potential for a public park, recreation and open space with a public trail system, the City Council has authorized the expenditure of $25,000 for J.A. Brennan and Associates to explore potential public access sites around the City Limits that have been shut off to the public for years.

J.A. Brennan has been retained to develop concept plans including a plan for the Spader Bay property. Brennan has been retained to conduct an assessment of potential water access sites including the Spader Bay Property.

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This is an old map outlining potential public access points that were lost when the PUD raised the lake 21 feet. J.A. Brennan and Associates will look at eight of these sites and develop a concept plan for more public access to the lake.

Years ago, when the Lookout project was just beginning, Guy Evans (Ray O’Neal’s grandson) had been retained by the Lookout developer to help with the project as general manager. At that time, Evans felt that it would be easy to obtain easement access to the O’Neal property through Spader Bay. That turned out to be impossible

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As a landlocked piece of land, the City, if it purchased this property, would have to somehow find access for the public, and would have to develop the property into a usable public recreation area.

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A recent photograph of the Spader Bay property for sale.

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A closeup of the Spader Bay hillside and shoreline.

The acquisition of open space, shoreline and trails property is supported by the City’s Pros Plan of 2016 and the Lake Chelan Community Open Space Vision Plan.

Tonight’s meeting will address the potential purchase of this property with an assumption of $1 million to be spent to purchase and improve the site.

The City plan would be to use its REET (Real Estate Excise Tax) funds to pay for the debt service if the property was purchased.

Tonight’s suggested motion is to authorize the Mayor to finalize and execute a Purchase and Sale Agreement between the property owners.

It is expected that a large contingent of residents will show up to tonight’s meeting to argue against the purchase of the Spader Bay Property. The meeting begins at 6 p.m.

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City approves contract to look at public lake access points within city limits

Last week’s City Council meeting had several citizen comments that resonate with many in the community.

John Olson, a candidate for City Council, said he was surprised that the City was retaining JA Brennan and Associates to conduct research into street ends at the lake for potential lake access points for the public. “I do like their work,” said Olson. “They are well known.” JA Brennan and Associates apparently are working on another project that puts them in a direct conflict of interest with the City.

In addition, Olson continues to draw attention to the rapid growth in the Valley, stating that there are 8,500 units on the books. “There is a tremendous growth going on here,” said Olson. He then brought up the Court decision regarding the Three Fingers and said that any high density development on the fingers will also require a 300 boat marina.

Olson brought up the condemnation of property for the new Round-About on Hwy. 150. He said the City could condemn the Three Fingers property just like they did property for the Roundabout. “We are 60 years down the road and nothing has happened there. Chelan is going to become a whole lot bigger.” He remarked that the Three Fingers represents the very last place to really build more public access.

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Ms. Carlson asked the City to join in the fight against the FCC mandated 5G rollout because of the potential health risks.

Next up to speak was Ms. Carlson who decried the City’s potential upgrade from 4G to 5G. “While I’m by no means and expert, 5G is significantly more radiation than 4G.” She went into the various potential medical issues surrounding 5G implementation. “I could go on and on about the health risks,” she said.

She asked the City Council to join in the fight against the Federal Mandate to install 5G systems. She mentioned Los Angeles, New York, Rome, San Jose and Portland, Oregon fighting the mandate. (San Francisco, Japan, Belgum, the Netherlands and other European countries have said no to futher development of 5G.)

With regards to John Olson’s public comment about potential access to the lake at the Three Fingers, the evening’s agenda included an Agenda Bill for Professional Services Agreement with J.A. Brennan Associates for a Chelan Waterfront Access Plan and a feasibility study on the 9.9 acre Spader Bay lakefront property that is for sale.

The City is interested in locations within the City limits where potential public access exists with in the City’s Right of Ways that lead out into the lake.

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Chelan City Adminstrator Mike Jackson

City Administrator Mike Jackson told the Council that this issue was confusing and was hopeful that a contract with J.A. Brennan and Associates would help clear that up. “I’m not sure where the public wants to go with this,” said Jackson indicating that there are eight sites that will be looked at right away.

The contract is for $25,443 and not budgeted in the 2019 budget, so Jackson told the Council that it would need a budget amendment to go forward.

Councilman Ty Witt said the goal is to get a concept in front of the public. “Have the public tell us what they want,” said Witt.

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Chelan Basin Conservancy’s Tammy Hauge stated that she was very happy to hear that the City was looking into potential public access to the lake.

Tammy Hauge, Chelan Basin Conservancy, said, “I’m so happy to hear this.” She then said there are 27 potential access points in Lakeside that have been identified. “Why have these easements been ignored. You are representing the public interests. These access points were deeded to the public in perpetuality.” Jackson replied that the City would inventory all of them and select eight for the conceptual plan.

Hauge said she has a map from 1929 which could be used as a good visual tool for street endings, which she stated are marked in orange on her map. Olson chimed in that there was so much information available. “We have 50,000 people on a big weekend. Keep all options on the table for our children and grandchildren.

The Council passed the agenda bill unanimously.

Also on the agenda, was a draft rate resolution to revise the No-See-Um Intersection reimbursement fees. A Utility Extension Agreement with Chelan Concrete to supply city water to the company.

Jackson brought up the $1,500 dollar a month lease with the Department of Licensing. The City’s contracted architect discussed with the City to potentially reconfigure the Planning department. This might include using the space where licensing is now situated for a conference room and meeting rooms. “If we lease we need a way to terminate that lease if we need that space.”

Mayor/Council Comments:

 Toward the end of every City Council meeting, Councilmembers, Mayor and Administrator speak about issues not on the evening’s agenda.

Councilwoman Wendy Isenhart filled in for Councilman Ty Witt at a recent hazardous waste meeting with the County and stated that a decision was made to not allow Douglas County to use the facility for free.

The City paid $17,000 to the County to complete the facility and the public is allowed to dump hazardous waste for free. “I hope it will get some use.” She also said the City would continue to pay $17,000 per year which raised Jackson’s eyeballs. He said that wasn’t part of the deal and would look into it.

Councilman Ray Dobbs said that the final day of the free shuttle was coming up and he had a chance to talk about that service. “Nobody said to not do this again (next year),” said Dobbs.

Dobbs also took and opportunity to ride along with the Marine Patrol and said it was an interesting day. “We made 11 stops, mostly about no lifejackes,” said Dobbs who added there were a few citations given.

Councilman Ty Witt remarked that the Grand Opening of the Planet Walk was successful. He also stated that the wall adjacent to the Chelan Ranger District has been permitted and that the mural should be up by mid-October.

Mayor Mike Cooney said he attended a traffic meeting and is working to get traffic off Johnson and also modifying the light at Columbia and Johnson.

Cooney also lauded the new finance director for coming up with a way to have only four budget meetings this fall.

Jackson remarked that the $17,000 to the County for the Hazardous Waste Facility was a one time deal. “There is a potential for an annual contribution.”

Jackson said that the irrigation designer has been called back to check on Lakeshore RV Park’s new irrigation system. “We even had a diver check out the intake pump to make sure it wasn’t plugged.”

Dobbs replied that the Park is losing customers because the irrigation system is coming on while they are parked. “How to get them back is the question,” said Dobbs. “People who have been coming for years are unhappy.”

Jackson replied that it is now an automated system. “We can’t just turn off one sprinkler anymore.” Dobbs said he visited five RV sites and everyone of them had a problem with the sprinkler system.

Cooney said the idea of the Department of Transportation changing East Woodin to one lane traffic east and west is a non-starter. “It is not going to narrowed down to one lane.”

Any other traffic issues on the DOT’s list will be held off until the public gets a chance to chime in. “If there is not a strong need to do it, we are not going to do it,” said Cooney.

Public Works Director Jake Youngren reported that Public Works Surplus Sale was a huge success. “We grossed $83,000 and netted $73,000. It was a great value for the services provided (by the auctioneer),” remarked Youngren. “That money goes back into our equipment fund.”

City Council meets every second and fourth Tuesday at 6 p.m. and the public is encouraged to attend and become involved in the City’s business.

Hospital moves forward despite issues

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by Richard Uhlhorn

The Lake Chelan Community Hospital held its monthly commission meeting on Tuesday, August 27 and covered a number of issues of interest to the community.

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Chairwoman Phyllis Gleasman and Mary Signorelli.

Chairwoman Phyllis Gleasman opened the meeting by thanking the board for its hard work and research into the latest round of the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) search. “We still have some hard work ahead of us, but we will get there,” said Gleasman.

The final CEO interview was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, and CEO Steve Patonai stated that there would be a time lag after the final interviews. Asked what that time line was by Dr. Guffey, Patonai said it would be less than two days, and the board would be prepared to make an offer to the selected candidate.

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CEO Steve Patonai gave several reports to the board including the ongoing search for a new CEO and a construction update.

Patonai also stated that the hospital hadn’t completed its reference checks. “We are still doing that,” he said.

On the Construction front, Patonai said there was a lot going on. “We are finalizing the design process and are on target.” He also stated that Bowden Construction would give the hospital updated pricing in September. “We are planning a special board workshop in early September,” remarked Patonai.

The Construction Team met with the City Planning Department on August 15 for a pre-application meeting. The USDA has also been deeply involved in the process.

The Hospital is also currently in negotiations with the owner of the Clinic Building for a new three year lease.

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CFO Mike Ellis gave a financial report and stated that business was down.

CFO Mike Ellis reported that the Hospital revenues are slightly down primarily because they are operating with one provider and there is a lot of Accounts Receivable on the books. Surgeries are also down and Emergency visits were down in July which is usually the season peak. Babies born the hospital is staying steady with the past.

Ellis stated that Clinic visits are just slightly above last year. Net patient revenues were not what they were last year in July. Net operating revenues are climbing, but according to Ellis, there is quite a bit of cash locked up in accounts receivable which means cash on hand is down because of the outstanding receivables.

Bad debt is down over last year, however, the business wasn’t there either. “July was a big hit,” said Ellis. “We had almost half the net revenue.” The less volume in business means much more costs by Medicare which is a safety net. Ellis is working on an interim cost report which could show that the situation is not as bad as it seems.

The board unanimously passed Resolution #606 on Surplus Equipment after Ellis asked them to allow the management to take care of the surplus disposal.

The board also unanimously passed Resolution #608 to re-instigate a Line-of-Credit. Ellis told the board that it would be prudent to open a line of credit since they were preparing to build a new hospital. “It’s a good idea to have a line of credit available,” said Ellis. The hospital did have a line of credit in the past, but Fred Miller said, “We never drew on that.”  The hospital will ask for a $500,000 line and Jordana LaPorte stated that the goal would be to not use it.

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Celeste Hankins reported on the hospital’s outreach programs

Celeste Hankins said the marketing department started adding video. She also said that NCW Life Television did a wonderful interview with EMS Director Ray Eickmeyer about Chelan’s EMS services and awards.

She also talked about the number of events and numbers of participants that were involved which is over 500 over the total of events. The hospital’s next event is a Fun Run at Wapato Point on Saturday, September 14.

On Friday, October 4, Hankins said there would be a new diabetes workshop for people who are pre-diabetic or diabetic. “The class is free and runs two and half hours over six weeks,” said Hankins.

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Human Resources Director Kate Pina told the board that a program was being instigated that would allow employees to ask questions and bring concerns forward

Human Resources Director Kate Pina that currently there is only a 20 to 25 percentengagement with employees about their concerns. “We are developing a tool for bringingup concerns and hope to get a lot of information from the employees,” she said.

The Human Resources Department is also developing a protocol for performance. Pina said that on January 1, the hospital would start a new performance protocol. Gleasman asked if she would be developing the questions and Pina replied she would.

Workplace Security was also on the agenda. Patonai said it the current (violent) events happening across the country was unfortunate. He asked how the hospital was prepared in case of a situation. “We already have a lot of measures in place,” said Patonai. “But we need to have awareness with the staff. It is a balancing act.” He stated that Mary Murphy as talked extensively about security for the new facility. Eickmeyer said that increasing access is the best way to get information out to the employees.

Murphy said that the hospital has to have comfort and security in place for the patients and employees. Eickmeyer replied, “If the employees are not safe… the patients are not safe.” The hospital does have a No Firearm Policy in place.

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Chief Medical Officer Dr. Guffey reported on some new hires.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Guffey reported that the Sanctuary has a new ARNP (Advanced Registered Nurse Fractioned) beginning work this week and will be covering inpatient duties. There is also a new ARNP starting soon to help with outpatient counseling and med management. “We also have Susan Coverly beginning work part time and we are very happy to have her,” said Guffey.

Currently there is 1.5 physicians, 2 PA’s and 2 ARNPs working at the hospital/clinic. There is one orthopedic surgeon, one general surgeon, one podiatry doctor and one gynecologist. “There is a lot of unhappiness,” said Guffey. She blamed a lack of communication as a source of this situation.

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Chief Nursing Officer Kris Hassl.

Kris Hassl, Chief Nursing Officer reported that the hospital is working on access to physicians at both the University of Washington and Providence Hospital. “We are also working on our transfer agreement with Confluence,” said Hassl.

The Hospital Commission meets on every fourth Tuesday, at 1:30 p.m. in the hospital board room. The public is encouraged to attend.

Mark Donnell officially named Chelan 7’s Fire Chief

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by Richard Uhlhorn

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Mark Donnell was officially named the new Fire Chief of Chelan County Fire District #7 at last Wednesday’s commission meeting.

Chelan County Fire District #7 commissioners officially named Mark Donnell as Chelan 7’s new fire chief at the end of its meeting on Wednesday, August 21.

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Fire Chief Tim Lemon resigned as of the end of July to take on a new Chief’s position at the North Whidbey Island Fire District. He had planned on retiring at the end of the year.

Former Fire Chief Tim Lemon was retiring at the end of the year, but ended up accepting a position as Fire Chief of the North Whidbey Island Fire District five months before his planned retirement. Deputy Chief Mark Donnell was named acting chief at that time.

Donnell gave his first Fire Chief Report at the Wednesday meeting and told the Commissioners and those in attendance the District that “so far we have had a nice and slow fire season. I’m thankful for that.”

He also reported that the District heard from the County Assessor about a new tax rate that will cost the District $15,737.00. “We will be able to recoup that money in 2020,” said Donnell.

So far the District’s call volume is down. Chelan 7 has responded to 117 calls so far this year. “It has been a slow summer,” remarked Donnell. “I would like to remind everyone that our fire season is not over yet and it might run into October.”

Turnout response time is currently running around nine minutes and slightly longer in the rural and urban areas. Donnell was surprised to see that Monday’s were the busiest days for the District while Friday was the slowest.

Donnell reported that he had just returned from the National Fire Academy and learned a lot. “There were 16 new fire chiefs and they were all saying the same thing… staffing is a problem.” Discussions centered around how to overcome that issue. “The group is trying to come up with solutions.”

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Assistant Fire Chief Brandon Asher reported on volunteers and training.

Assistant Chief Brandon Asher reported that volunteers continue to trickle in. There was one applicant for Chelan, one for Orondo and a new EMT in Entiat. Commissioner Phil Moller asked if there was anything Asher can do to keep volunteers signing up. “We are doing that now, but everyone is slowing up. It’s been good. So far it’s a good group.”

On the retention side, Asher said they have lost two volunteers. “One doesn’t have the time and the other is moving.” He also said the District is having difficulty getting volunteers in on the weekends. During the summer he was at 38 percent coverage on weekends, but expects that to rise to 52 percent in September and 53 percent in October.

Asher said that between the three districts he is attracting 20 new volunteers per year. “The most difficult is Orondo,” said Asher. “They are spread out and have now real community. It’s the most challenging.” However, he stated that the warehouse are willing to let volunteers leave work to respond to events.

Chief Donnell stated that it costs an estimated $7,700 to train a volunteer when considering physical examinations and time expended.

Asher said that several volunteers will be joining Fire District 1 in Wenatchee for “Rope Rescue” training.

There is also some Hazmat training that will give confidence to the volunteers to safely rescue people from dangerous situations.

Chief Donnell said that the Annexation process is still moving forward and that it should be completed by January 1. Annexation into the District should help homeowners insurance rates, but Donnell stated that not all insurance companies subscribe to these processes. Donnell stated that a reduction in insurance rates depends on having volunteers at stations near the annexed property. The age of the District’s apparatus also plays into the ratings as does water supply.

There was discussion at an earlier meeting regarding billing for services at illegal fires. An illegal fire is defined as a fire illegally started during a burn ban, the burning of material other than natural vegetation and burning without a permit.

Chief Donnell said he had brought up this idea with other Districts who stated they do not bill for illegal burns, but let the Sheriff’s Department and Department of Ecology deal with these issues.

“Do we want to continue moving forward with billing for illegal burns,” asked Donnell?

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Fire Commissioner Jay Witherbee questioned the idea of the District billing for illegal burns unless the entire County follows this practice.

Commissioner Jay Witherbee replied, “I would not feel comfortable being the only district to charge for illegal burns.” Donnell said he would follow up with the other districts and the County Fire Marshall.

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Fire Commission Chairman Russ Jones is concerned about the District absorbing the costs of illegal burns that could cost the District $1000’s of dollars in apparatus and response time.

Chairman Russ Jones remarked that the Sheriff will cite an illegal burn with a $200 ticket, but the Fire District response might cost the District $10,000 to $20,000. The Department of Natural Resources has billed $5,000 for a burn that got away. “I would like you to take it back to North Central Washington Districts even though we have not had a significant problem (with illegal burns).

Jones also brought up the need for another Town Hall meeting to let the community know what the District plans on going forward with a new Levy in 2020.

Fire Association Report:

Dan Crandall gave a Firefighters Association report. He said the beginning bank balance was $17,428 and the ending balance of the group was up to $17,735.

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Chelan Fire and Rescue was on hand at the Windermere SUP Cup this past month to make sure the paddle boarders were safe on water. 

The Association also helped the Windermere SUP Cup event by putting the rescue boat on the water. Jim Dalton and Judy Johnson ran the boat during the event and according to Crandall, it worked great. “They picked up one tired swimmer,” said Crandall. “It went off very well for the Fire Department.”

The Association made a $500.00 donation to Mark Tesch and his wife after their new Twisp home burned. Crandall also noted that the Back to School Fair was a great success and the association plans on supporting the Manson Swim event on September 7 by donating $500.

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Sheriff Burnett presented Chelan law enforcement statistics to City Council

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by Richard Uhlhorn

Sheriff Brian Burnett presented City Council with Sheriff’s Department statistics for the City of Chelan at Chelan’s City Council meeting on Tuesday, August 13. He was assisted by Chelan’s Sgt. Chris Foreman and Undersheriff Jason Mathews.

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Sheriff Brian Burnett gave Chelan City Council a presentation on law enforcement activities in the City of Chelan for 2018 and to date 2019.

Sheriff Burnett started the conversation by telling the Council that adult arrests and DUI’s were up substantially which he attributed to Memorial Day arrests from visiting King County deputies.

“I think we’ve done a real good job of bringing Memorial Day back to a more family oriented weekend,” said Burnett.

The Chelan unit to date has posted 214 adult arrests out of the 16,373 City Patrol Hours so far in 2019. Thirty one of those arrests were alcohol related ; 17 were assault charges; and 24 were theft charges. “DUI’s have seen a double increase,” said Burnett. Another big statistic was 36 domestic violence arrests.

Asked how the department handles loud music and noise, Sgt. Chris Foreman explained that deputies generally give the noise makers a warning first, collect a phone number and the name of the responsible home owner and/or renter. “If it continues after the first warning, they will be ticketed,” said Foreman.

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Sgt. Chris Foreman described how his deputies handled issues within the City

Burnett reported that there were no fatality incidents in the City limits.

Mayor Mike Cooney remarked that there seemed to be a lot more crime activities within the City limits. Foreman replied that there were a number of well known drug houses in the City and that his staff was spending time in those areas. “They are no longer in the City,” said Foreman.

Councilwoman Kelly Allen brought up the issue of kids jumping off the Woodin Avenue Bridge. “Where there is a bridge and water, you will have bridge jumpers,” said Burnett. He added that it is a hard one to stop.

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Councilwoman Kelly Allen brought up the issue of kids jumping off the old bridge.

Burnett reported in the 2018 annual report that the Chelan County Marine Patrol continued its partnership with the Lake Chelan School District to talk about water safety and to take students out on the water as a part of their Lifetime Activities Class.

Another partnership has been with the Lake Chelan Research Institute and the schools in both Manson and Chelan to conduct water quality testing. This program and interactions with students helps to build positive relationships and promote boating safety. “We look forward to continuing this program,” said Burnett.

Burnett told the Council that training comes with a price. “There are things coming our way and we are looking hard at how we train our staff,” said Burnett. They conduct annual in service training for 24 hours. Over a three year period deputies have to have 40 hours of continuing education to meet current standards and to be recertified.

Burnett added that Washington State has 11,000 certified law enforcement officers. “We are living in a complicated world. Some of it we don’t like.” He vowed to continue having conversations with the citizens of Chelan County.

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Mayor Mike Cooney lauded Sgt. Chris Foreman for his work as the Sgt. in charge of the Chelan’s North Division.

Mayor Cooney remarked at the end of the presentation that Sgt. Chris Foreman has been an excellent choice to lead the Chelan Division.