Echo Valley’ s annual Play Day a success

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Issabelle Harris carves a line in the Intermediate race
at Echo Valley during Play Day.

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A young lady enjoys the rush and excitement of the tubing hill at Echo Valley

 Echo Valley Playday Photos

The kids were all smiling and having a great time racing down the slalom ski course set up at Echo Valley for the annual Play Day activities which included racing for all ages, a scavenger hunt and an obstacle course for the under 9 group.

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A group of the young racers at Echo Valley’s Play Day.

A lot of volunteers make this event successful every year. Ann Congdon, Tom Allen, Eric Page, John Page, Eric and Krystina Nelson, Lucas Green and the board members of the Lake Chelan Ski Club.

The skies were blue, the weather crisp, but the snow at Echo is beginning to disappear. “I wasn’t even sure we would be able to open today,” said John Page. Fortunately, the weather turned cold and the hill was groomed enough to make for some excellent corn snow for the events.

The Poma Hill was closed, but Rope Tow 1, 2 and 3 were all operational. The Tubing Hill was busy and has plenty of snow to keep it operating for another week or two.

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The views from Echo Ridge are always stunning. This is of Glacier Peak from the upper parking lot at the Ridge.

Up at Echo Ridge, it was pretty quiet. “I think a lot of people stayed away because of the harder, faster snow,” said Bruce Willett, Chelan Ranger District. But he added that the groomer had made the skiing conditions really good. “I’m hoping for more snow,” he added. Echo Ridge has a good base. The long term weather outlook is for milder, wetter conditions which would be good for both Echo Valley and Echo Ridge.

Following are the results of Saturday’s races:

ROPE 1 – INTERMEDIATE RESULTS:

  • 1st – Luke Hefley – combined runs 57.20 seconds
  • 2nd – Kole nelson – 63.30 seconds
  • 3rd – Hannah Lyman -64.11 seconds
  • 4th – Austin Pratt – 64.31 seconds
  • 5th – Raden Rogge – 64.79 seconds
  • 6th – Bailey Morrison – 65.42 seconds
  • 7th – Lily Peterson – 66.70 seconds
  • 8th – Colin Morrison – 71.25 seconds
  • DQs – Raven Pope and Isabelle Harris

ROPE 1 – ADVANCED RESULTS:

  • 1st – Nate Peterson – combined runs – 51.53 seconds
  • 2nd – Grace Peterson – 53.35 seconds
  • 3rd – George Wakeling – 53.87 seconds
  • 4th – Olivia Nelson – 55.38 seconds
  • 5th – Carter Lyman – 60.62 seconds

ROPE 2 – BEGINNER (under 9) RESULTS:

  • 1ST – Hunter Lyman – combined runs -21.39 seconds
  • 2nd – Finn Nelson – 21.67 seconds
  • 3rd – Wyatt Page – 24.97 seconds
  • 4th – Yui Hatanaka – 27.99 seconds
  • 5th – Ryoma Hatanaka – 80.89 seconds

Chelan explores solutions to affordable housing crisis

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by Richard Uhlhorn

Can’t afford to live in the Lake Chelan Valley? Need an affordable home? An affordable rental unit? It’s an issue facing the entire valley and the City of Chelan hopes to change the lack of affordable housing.

Over the next 20 years, the City of Chelan will need to find an additional 720 housing units to fill the expected growth. This would fulfill the need for all types of housing needs including seasonal.

On Tuesday afternoon, February 6, the City held a workshop in Council Chambers to explore how the City can create affordable housing for its growing senior population and the service and hospitality industry.

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City Council, the Mayor, and Staff held a workshop to explore ideas on solving the affordable housing crisis in Chelan on Tuesday, February 6.

Mayor Mike Cooney is serious about pushing for solutions to the housing crisis. He told the group that businesses in the downtown core are having a hard time hiring people because of the lack of housing. “Pretty soon, they won’t have any employees,” said Cooney.

Councilman Tim Hollingsworth remarked that young people can’t afford to move to Chelan. Many of the hospitality and service workers are commuting from outside the area.

Planning Director Craig Gildroy told the group that “We need to provide all housing types for all income levels.” He gave a presentation that included a toolbox for building affordable housing in Chelan. “We’ve never had anyone take us up on that,” said Gildroy.

The department’s toolbox includes:

  • No Density Limitations
  • Expanded downtown zones in 2017
  • Permit outright for attached and detached ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Unit)
  • Multi-Family units
  • Cottage Housing
  • Single Family, Duplex & Triplex Standards

It was brought out in the meeting that many homeowners in the City might not know about the opportunities available to build an ADU on their property. For example, a home owner might have a garage that could be turned into a small apartment for extra income and that is allowed under current regulations for a permit fee from the Planning Department.

Erin McCardle remarked that it is hard to move forward. “I want to make sure we look at solutions that impact the most people,” she said.

Hollingsworth added that there is a general lack of lower priced smaller homes or rentals in the City. “The focus has been on accommodating the higher end market and we’ve been kinda successful at that.” He mentioned the Lookout and Legacy Ridge as examples. “We need to focus on the lower end.”

One of the major problems facing the Council and City is the current one size fits all fees for water and sewer hookups. An 800 sq. ft. housing unit costs the same as a 4,000 sq. ft. residential unit. If a builder wants to build a 10 unit apartment house, he is looking at a huge number in his building costs.

Mayor Cooney stated that this meeting was the time to discuss those fees and how the Council might change them to help developers build lower cost units. Hollingsworth added that this was the stuff the City can do to attract lower affordable housing development by subsidizing the lower end. “We need to make those fees more equitable.”

Serando Robledo told the Council that they need to be very careful that any affordable housing that is constructed doesn’t become a short term rental. Hollingsworth added that this would be a code enforcement issue and a part of the qualification for lower fee structures.

Mayor Cooney moved the discussion along by telling the Council that since the Town Hall meeting, the City has been offered land and asked if the Council is willing to reduce or waive fees to get affordable housing in the City. “People are making offers to the City,” he said.

The question was who would pick up the slack of waiving or reducing fees. Cooney said it would be picked up on the higher end of the market. Dobbs added, “We would get more for larger homes.” Cooney added that a number of developers have said they are not building in Chelan because the fees are too high.

Ty Witt asked what the City was allowed to do and said, “I think it’s time to act on that.”

Hollingsworth suggested inviting some contractors in and have them discuss what would be practical to build smaller affordable units.

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Since the Mayor’s Town Hall meeting in January, developers and land owners have stepped forward to help and a number of trades, land offers and donations are being made to help with the affordable housing crisis.

The Lookout has offered three acres and expertise that could accommodate 20 homes in the $150,000 to $180,000 range, but have said it wouldn’t happen under the current rate structure I the City.

Other offers that have come into the City include 20 acres of surplus land east of the City; two developers willing to make donations; continuing discussions with Weidner for 240 market rate units; negotiations for  potential land purchase for affordable housing.

Cooney asked each Council member to write out a summary of the meeting so the City staff can see where they would like to go.

He then opened the meeting up for public comment and Kevin Sanford who teaches Current World Problems and construction at Manson High School told the Council that his students had conducted research into the problem and came up with similar results that the City has. “It is a problem in the entire world,” said Sandford.

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Kevin Sandford, a teacher at Manson High School has a construction class that is learning a trade and building small 150 to 180 sq. ft. tiny homes in hopes of helping alleviate the affordable housing crisis in the Valley. 

Sandford’s construction class in Manson came up with a solution and are building 180 sq. ft. micro homes on trailers. They are fully equipped with a kitchen, bathroom and living space. “They are learning a trade and they are excited about doing it. My dream is that local vendors will buy into the idea,” he said. The units would cost $10,000 for a single person.

Hollingsworth asked if something like this could be permitted in the City. Sarah Schrock, the City’s new Project Planner, stated that anything build offsite would have to be approved by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

John Olson asked the Council to please read his research on how Bend, Oregon is treating Short Term Rentals. Bend is charging a fee to owners of STRs and the money goes into a pot to help build affordable housing.

Sherri Schneir, Columbia Valley Housing Authority, told the Council that the City needs long term rentals. “Maybe more than home ownership,” she added.

Old Mill Bay launch to be closed from April 2 to May 18

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The south portion of the Old Mill Bay boat launch parking lot will be repaved and reconstructed this coming spring.

Chelan PUD is closing Old Mill Bay Boat Launch from April 2 to May 18 to rebuild the south half of the parking lot.

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Chelan PUD has worked with other entities to ensure that boat launching for access to Lake Chelan are available during the Old Mill Bay reconstruction work

The PUD has worked with other entities to ensure that alternate boat launch sites are available for the boating public. These include Manson Bay, Lake Shore Marina in Chelan, and the Chelan Riverwalk Boat Launch.

The parking lot work includes new asphalt, storm drainage system inspection, all new concrete curbing and new striping. Eighteen maple trees will be removed and another variety will be planted that is better suited to the conditions.

The $280,000 project is designed and materials have been ordered. The contractor is Central Washington Asphalt of Moses Lake.

The PUD had looked at keeping the launch open during the project, but determined that it would be safer, faster and more cost-efficient to close the launch.

The parking lot was originally constructed in 1986 and has required constant maintenance and repairs because of aging materials. The north half of the lot was rebuilt in 2016 and this will complete the work to improve safety, durability and access to the lake.

If you have any questions regarding this project, you can contact PUD Construction Manager Tyler Sellers at tyler.sellers@chelanpud.org or by phone at 509.661.4525. For more information, visit chelanpud.org/OldMill.

Chelan High School inducts four into its Hall of Fame

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SPORTS

Last Thursday evening prior to Chelan’s basketball games against Cashmere, the school inducted four individuals and teams to its Hall of Fame.

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Jim Talley and family gathered at Center Court in the Chelan gymnasium to be inducted into the Chelan Hall of Fame.

Jim Talley, a 1951 graduate of Chelan, was inducted into the Hall of Fame for playing on an undefeated football team and as a three year starter on the Chelan Basketball Team that took fifth place in the State in 1949, third in 1950 and winning the State Championship in 1951. Jim was also one of Chelan’s baseball pitchers, winning 49 games and losing only seven.

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Baseball Coach Dave Cullen and members of his State Championship Baseball team were inducted into the Chelan Hall of Fame.

Baseball Coach Dave Cullen and his 1999 baseball team, the Bad News Bears, won the first State Baseball Championship in Chelan High School History, beating Lake Roosevelt 14-10 to advance to take on Number 1 ranked Brewster, handing the Bears their first loss of the season, 2-0. This advanced the Chelan team to the State playoffs where they won their first game against Columbia-White Salmon 6-4 which advanced the team to the State Championship Game against Friday Harbor, beating them in a thriller, 7-6 and capturing Chelan’s first State Championship Title in baseball.

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Stephanie Parsley and her parents were honored in Center Court at last Thursday’s basketball game when she was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Stephanie Parsley was inducted into the Hall of Fame for her Golf history in Chelan and at WSU. Stephanie took fourth place in the 1A State Golf Championship in her Freshman year, 2nd place as a Sophomore in the 2A Championships and then won it all in her Junior and Senior years. Stephanie went on to play golf at Washington State University where she lettered in all four years. Over her college career, Stephanie played in 37 event and was on the first WSU team to attend the Division 1 NCCA National Women’s Golf Championships in 2003. In her career at college, she had 2 top 10 finishes and 7 top 25 finishes and was an All-Pac Academic Honorable Mention.

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Phil Cullen was inducted into the Chelan Hall of Fame on Thursday evening.

Phil Cullen graduated in 1998 and helped lead the Chelan Goats to the 1998 State Basketball Championship. After graduation, Phil attended the University of Utah where he played for four years. He was also drafted by the Seattle Mariners as a pitcher and played for them in the minor leagues for three years. He holds a degree in civil and environmental engineering and a masters in leadership. Phil was an assistant coach for three years for the Grand Canyon University Basketball team before being recruited to by the University of Utah as their Director of Player Development and Camps for three years. He then became the Director of the Ute’s basketball program. Phil is currently in his second year as the Director of Basketball Strategy for the San Antonio Spurs.

Congratulations to all of these outstanding past Chelan athletes.

Senior students and parents honored

It was Senior night for winter athletes, band members and cheerleaders in Chelan on Thursday night prior to the Chelan Goat basketball games against the Cashmere Bulldogs.

Cashmere always draws a major crowd of basketball fans from both Chelan and Cashmere and last night was no exception. The high school gymnasium was packed to the gills for the games and recognition of this year’s seniors and their parents who have participated in the Winter activities.

PEP BAND:

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Seniors include Scott Abel and his parents, Kevin and Christine Able; Corey Arevalo and his parents, Alfonso & Araceli Gonzales; Jacob Bekel and his mom, Kelli Bekel; Jacob Bell and his guardians, Christine & Kevin Abel; Malin Kraus and his mom, Kristin Kraus; Hunter Lehmbecker and his parents, Charise Turner & Donald Lehmbecker; Logan Manier and his parents, Jeff & Patricia Mainer; Corbin Morley and his parents, Kim and Cory Morley; Javier Pator and his parents, Javier & Elia Pastor; Marian Robledo and her parents, Servando and Linda Robledo; and Jonathan Zelaya and his parents, Hever & sara Zelaya.

BASKETBALL:

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Senior Ashley Oswald and her parents, Eric & Fran Oswald and sister, Molly; Jose Torres and mom, Maria Mendoza; Santago Jimenez and parents, Artemio & Olivia Jimenez and Miguel Rojas and parents, Rosa & Efran Ramirez.

CHEERLEADERS:

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Taylor Sams and mom, Sherry Erickson and sister Ashley Sams.

Congratulations to all of this seniors for you steadfast and dedicated service to your school.

Special City Workshop to explore Affordable Housing issues and recycling

This article is being sponsored by
Gaylen Willett Insurance

Tuesday, February 6 beginning
at 4 p.m. in Council Chambers

SPECIAL WORKSHOP

The City of Chelan City Council, Department Heads, Administrator and Mayor Cooney will meet in a special session on Tuesday, February 6, in Council Chambers beginning at 4 p.m. for a workshop on upcoming City Council topics and issues.

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Mike Jackson – City of Chelan Administrator

Administrator Mike Jackson told the Council at its last Council meeting on January 23 that he would consider a motion consideration on the proposed curbside recycling program. “I would like to bring forward a request to purchase recycling containers,” said Jackson. These containers will include residential (64 gallon) and commercial (96 gallon) containers. The recycle program, which Jackson would like to see rolled out around the April Earth Day event is expected to help reduce sanitation costs to the City. Action is expected on this issue.

Another topic of great interest to residents in Chelan is Affordable Housing. One of the great problems voiced by many developers at the recent Town Hall meeting was the cost of hooking up water and sewer. According to developers and builders, the cost is a killer to any project looking to be affordable. The workshop will explore the possibility of lowering those costs if a developer and/or builder is building affordable housing.

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Mayor Mike Cooney is pushing for solutions to the Affordable Housing Crisis

Other issues may or may not be discussed depending on time constraints.

While the public is welcome at all City Council meetings, public input at the workshop will only be taken up on Council approval.

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SPORTS: Chelan Basketball v Omak

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“Turn Back the Clock” RETRO night raises $300 for the Lorita Beeson Memorial Scholarship Fund

The Cheerleaders and Band members dressed in RETRO clothing for the annual Turn Back the Clock Basketball Game at the Community Gymnasium
Sports by Richard Uhlhorn

The Omak Pioneers were on hand to play the Chelan Goats at the annual RETRO night basketball game that raises money to help fund the Lorita Beeson Memorial Scholarship Fund. Each year the Lorita Beeson Memorial Scholarship Fund gives $500 to a student planning to continue their education. Each student considered as a potential recipient of this scholarship must demonstrate a need.

Joe Harris, Chelan High School Health and Fitness Teacher, has been instrumental in keeping this particular scholarship funded through the “Turn Back the Clock” RETRO Basketball game that takes place in the Community Gym. This year, according to Joe, the fund raised $300.00.

THE GAMES:

Photo Gallery: Boys – Goats v Omak

Girls – Girls v Omak

OMAK TAKES DOWN CHELAN GOATS ON RETRO NIGHT 73-57

BOYS:

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Bert Mendivil (10) scored 19 points to lead the

Chelan Goats against the Omak Pioneers

Omak.  14. 22. 20. 17.  73
Chelan. 12. 14. 13. 18.  57
“We did a good job in the first half of digging in and getting stops,” reported Coach Jeff Pearl. “We gave up a ton of second chance points.”

The Goats held their own against a hard charging Omak Pioneer team, but in the third quarter of play, after the Goats has worked back to a 5-point deficit after being 10 points down, they fell apart defensively in the early going allowing the Pioneers to build a substantial lead. By the end of the third quarter, Omak had taken a 56-39 lead and never looked back. 

With 5:17 to play, the Pioneers were up 60-46. In the late minutes of the game, Connor Wilson began to score from outside, but it was too little too late and he ended up with a respectable 13 points on the night. Guard Bert Mendivil was pretty much unstoppable on the drive and he led the Goats with 19 points. Quinn Stamps added 9 points  and Gage Estes came off the bench and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Goats.

Omak’s Kanen Ables led all scorers with 20, followed by Raven Boyd who added another 15 and Tre’ Marchand who ended up with 10 points.

Chelan is back on its home court this coming Thursday evening against the Cashmere Bulldogs. This should be an interesting game. Cashmere and Chelan have split games in their last two outings with Cashmere getting the best of Chelan in the last outing at Cashmere.

Probably the best game Chelan has played all year was in the Toyota Center when they beat Cashmere in overtime. Coach Pearl would love to see the team put together a solid 32 minutes of play this coming Thursday night which is also Senior night for the team.

GIRLS:

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Lexie Gleasman scored 15 points against the Omak Lady Pioneers.

CHELAN LADY GOATS LOSE IN FINAL MINUTES TO OMAK
Omak 55 – Chelan 52

The Lady Goats came up short against the Omak Lady Pioneers in the final two minutes of an exciting basketball game. By the end of the first half, the Goats went to the locker room head of Omak 30-23. By the end of the third quarter, Omak had come back and taken the lead 40-37.

It was the fourth quarter that was the deciding factor in this game. Both teams battled for the lead and with 5:13 remaining to play, Chelan was ahead by two, 44-42, but one and one-half minutes down the clock at 3:39 and both teams were tied up at 45 each.

From that point on Omak went on a seven point run to take a 52-46 lead and never looked back. With only 41 seconds to play the Goats desperately tried to get back in control and almost tied the game at the buzzer when Lexie Gleasman attempted an off balance three pointer that missed the basket. The game ended with Omak taking home the 55-52 win.

“It was a great game overall,” said Coach Steve Nygreen. “Our offensive tempo was better and we shared the ball. We lost our focus in some key moments in the fourth quarter.” Nygreen feels that the game was a great building block for the playoffs. “Our effort and intensity is growing more and more consistent.”

Lexie Gleasman led the Goats with 15 points and Xitlali Cruz added 11. Freshman forwards Katie Rainville and Hayley Watson combined for 16 points, each scoring 8 apiece. Rainville’s scoring basically came from offensive put-backs.
Chelan – Gleasman  15, Cruz 11, Watson 8, Rainville 8, Sams 6, Huddleston 4, M. Oswald, Ivory, A. Oswald
Omak – Romero 17, P. Abrahamson 8, Utt 8, Mendoza 8, Marchand 6, Vejraska 4, R. Abrahamson 4, Nichols, Arcineg.

The Lady Goats host State Ranked Cashmere this coming Thursday evening with tip-off at 5:45 p.m. The Lady Bulldogs are coming into the game at 11-0 (18-1 overall)

City Council agrees to $250,000 grant criteria

Chelan_1200px_280pxThe Chelan City Council authorized the Mayor to enter into a Fuel Tax Agreement with the Transportation Improvement Board for a grant of $250,000 for street and sidewalk improvements.

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Jake Longren – Public Works Department

According to Jake Youngren, Public Works, the grant money will be used for street and sidewalk projects in the City. However, Youngren told the council, “It is hard to pin down how this money will be used.”

The grant funds will be added to $270,000 from a federally funded Chelan/Douglas County Transportation Board grant and $280,000 appropriated from the Washington State Legislature, which is specifically earmarked for Woodin Avenue Bridge renovation.

Youngren said that some of the funds will be used for road surfacing and sidewalks within the City while other portions will be used to install a new waterline under the Woodin Avenue Bridge.

“Keep in mind that the primary project is pedestrian safety driven,” said Youngren. “We are looking at the most cost effective way to do the project,” he told the Council.

Council Comments:

Ray Dobbs… is looking forward to seeing a waterline extension out to the airport.

Ty Witt… said he felt the Town Hall Meeting on Affordable Housing was successful. “I hope it is the beginning of some momentum… it was a great start, but there is a lot to do.”

Tim Hollingsworth… “This is a community thing. The City is the key to solving the problem, but remember, the businesses and local folks have a role to play. It is going to be collaborative.”

Hollingsworth also asked the Mayor and Council to engage with Planning Commission members. “Make them feel a part of the process. They have a lot of work ahead of them.”

Serando Robledo… attended his first NCW Economic Development District meeting and said it was pretty confusing to him about what they do but felt it would be advantageous to work with them on projects. He also felt that the Town Hall meeting was a success. “Some of the Hispanic people attending had a hard time understanding, but were very impressed with it. The businesses want to be a part of it.”

Mayor Mike Cooney said he didn’t come across properly at the Town Hall. “I’m very interested in all housing and understand that rentals will relieve pressure. I want to make it super, super clear that I’m interested in all types of housing.”

Cooney also said he had a number of people come forward with land, skills and even a land use lawyer to help.

City Administrator Mike Jackson said there would be a motion to consider at the City’s workshop on February 6 on the City’s Curbside Recycling Program. Jackson would like to roll that program out on or around this year’s Earth Day celebration.

The Workshop on February 6 will also be considering water and sewer hook-up rates with an emphasis on affordable housing. “We will be looking at lowering the GFCs impact on the system.

Karen Sargeant, Parks Director, told the Council that the Parks Department was looking at a major work project at Lakeside Park. Most of that work will involve increasing the capacity of the park’s infrastructure to handle the crowds.

Erin McCardle, Kelly Allen and Wendy Isenhart were excused from this meeting.

The next City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 13, beginning at 6 p.m.

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Smart Meters… Safe or Dangerous

What looked like a boring City Council agenda last Tuesday evening, January 23, turned into an interesting evening that need further investigation by this reporter before reporting.

The evening started off with a Special Presentation by a group of Chelan citizens concerned with Chelan PUD’s move to install a smart meter system in the Lake Chelan Valley. Laura Folsom began the conversation by telling the Council that smart meters are not only detrimental to the environment, but are also detrimental to our health. “Particularly those with compromised health issues,” Folsom said.

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Chelan Resident Laura Folsom

The PUD’s Smart Meter Plan would establish an energy grid in the community so electricity meters can be read remotely. “We are asking you for a temporary opt out,” said Folsom.

A smart meter is an electronic device that records consumption of electrical energy in intervals of an hour or less and communicates that information at least daily back to the utility for monitoring and billing.

According to Folsom, the group has one ally at the PUD in Commissioner Ann Congdon. A telephone conversation with Congdon on Thursday confirmed her concerns with a smart meter system, but she said, “I’m only one of five commissioners. The staff and Steve Wright are absolutely convinced that RF (radio frequencies) are minimal…less than a cell phone.”

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PUD Commissioner Ann Congdon

Congdon went on to say that there are compelling arguments on both sides of the issue. She mentioned Dr Martin Pall who has studied electromagnetic fields and the dangers that lie within these fields. “He has proven it affects our cells,” said Condon.

Congdon said we are swimming in a sea of electromagnetic fields (radio frequencies) and that she hopes we don’t look back 10 years from now and ask ourselves why were weren’t looking deeper into the issue.

Congdon said that one in 42 kids have autism. “It’s at an epidemic proportion and no one knows what is causing it.” Plus, it seems that the more we use electromagnetic energy the more cumulative it becomes in our environment.

Richard Lear, Brown University, has written a paper on Dr. Pall’s research called “THE DANGERS OF SMART METERS” and other microwave transmitting technology.” It can be accessed here: https://stopsmartmetersoregon.com/category/dr-martin-pall/

Folsom told the Council that the PUD’s system would set up a grid around the whole community with a hub every one-quarter mile that picks up and sends out frequencies. “They say that they only omit a small amount of safe frequency, but when devices to read the transmissions were off the charts, it is just false what we are told. Every appliance will now come with a chip that will talk to your meter. Get 20 devices shooting that frequency around and there is a tipping point of safety,” said Folsom.

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Resident Brigitte Sztab

Brigitte Sztab also stepped to the podium as asked the City to consider opting out. She feels the community is not informed. Robin Casal asked if there was a time frame for rolling out the smart meters? Mayor Cooney replied he had no idea. I don’t know when they are rolling it out,” he said.

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Chelan Mayor Mike Cooney

Apparently the PUD made a presentation a few months ago to the Council. “We will bring it up at the workshop,” said Cooney. “There are two sides to every issue.”

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Councilman Tim Hollingsworth

Councilman Tim Hollingsworth said he would like to see the PUD’s presentation and asked, “What specifically can the City do? Do we have the authority (to opt out)? What are the ramifications?”

Mayor Cooney asked that all the Councilmembers be given the PUD presentation so that all of them are updated on the issue.

There will be more to come as the community educates itself to the benefits and potential dangers of electromagnetic fields, and how the PUD’s plan will affect them.

Over 100 attend Affordable Housing meeting

 Mayor Cooney hosted a Town Hall Meeting last Tuesday evening on Affordable Housing at the Chelan Senior Center. By the start of the meeting an estimated 110 people crammed into the Center to hear the presentations. They represented all walks of life from regular residents, real estate agents and brokers, developers, builders and those hoping that some real solutions might be in the making.

“I’m pretty sure we will see ground broken for affordable housing (this year),” said Mayor Cooney in his opening remarks. Unfortunately, he also told the attendees that the meeting would not be discussing rentals, but would be more focused on the building of affordable homes for those in a position to purchase a home. “I think you would all have an idea of what affordable housing is,” he stated.

Cooney continued his remarks by saying he didn’t believe it was hard to find affordable housing in Chelan, but agreed that, “This is a critical period in our town’s history. People starting out are having a hard time finding an affordable home.” A full one-third of the City’s staff lives outside the City and 38 percent of the hospital staff commute from outside the City.

Cooney pledged to work on the issue every week, but added that it takes an entire community working together to provide affordable housing. “We feel it is a right for people to own their own home,” he said. “Our responsibility (as a City) is to provide land for affordable housing in Chelan. We are going to try every possible way to build affordable housing,” said Cooney

The biggest issues facing Chelan is common throughout North Central Washington; No starter homes; High rents; Low inventories; a large number of second homes; and a lack of high wage jobs. According to statistics, the medium income in Chelan is $36,000.

Kevin Ramsey of Berk Consulting detailed issues facing communities in North Central Washington including Wenatchee and Leavenworth. “A limited supply of housing drives up housing prices,” said Ramsey. He used Leavenworth as an example of the affordable housing issue.

Leavenworth currently has a one percent long term rental rate with only 10 long term rentals advertised, but over 300 short term rentals available. More than 30 percent of Leavenworth’s housing is cost burdened (people paying over 30 percent of their earnings on mortgage payments or rentals) and 50 percent are severely cost burdened (over 50 percent of earnings going to rent or mortgages).

Forty percent of Leavenworth’s work force, according to Ramsey’s research are traveling over 25 miles (some over 50 miles) to get to work. The City of Chelan has a similar problem. Reggie Collins said that Chelan Fruit employees “don’t live here not because they can’t afford it, but because there is nothing to rent.”

Tim Flood, Vice President of Catholic Charities, remarked that federal funding was getting more and more difficult to obtain. “Currently (funding) is a domino game,” said Flood. “Funding is being held up because of the Hirst decision. Without a capital budget there is no funding available.” Flood also stated that there isn’t a city in Washington that doesn’t need affordable housing.

Guy Evans said that Weidner Apartment Homes wants to build out by Wal-Mart. However, he said that the current Comp. Plan doesn’t address or consider the two Chelan economies; the 425 economy and the 509 economy. “It is one size fits all.” In conjunction with that statement, Doug Goodell and his partner are building a 14 unit apartment complex in Chelan and said, “We want to build more units, but have to mitigate the costs (of sewer and water hookups).”

Chelan’s hookup fees are outrageous compared to other cities in the state. For example, in Leavenworth, a 1 ½ inch water meter and sewer connection fees for a 14 unit apartment building would cost the developer a total of $24,576. In Chelan the same services cost $164,934. The January 1, 2018 rate the fees to the developer would be $296,910 or more than 12 times more expensive than the comparable City of Leavenworth.

John Olson and Steve Kline have researched the affordable housing issue and are determined to help provide affordable housing in Chelan. “We have taken up the mantle to do affordable housing in Chelan,” said Kline. There focus will be on finding land and contractors to build rental units so that people who are now commuting from outside the City to work can find affordable rentals here. “In the summer 3,000 people work here,” said Kline. “People tend to spend money where they live.” Which, according to Olson and Kline, the money they earn here is not staying in the community?

Bill Fenton, an old time builder in Lake Chelan, asked how you make the Valley affordable. He feels that one answer lies in impact fees. “Impact fees have to be paid by the developer. If that makes it unaffordable for them to build, then build somewhere else,” said Fenton.

Affordable housing isn’t just about having homes that are affordable to purchase, but having affordable rentals for people who are not ready or unable to purchase a home. Chelan, like Leavenworth and other areas that are experiencing this crisis, need to seek a quick resolution to the problem.

The City of Chelan City Council will be discussing affordable housing at its workshop coming up in February and how the City can help with permitting and fees. Mayor Cooney is determined to bring affordable housing to the Valley. “Everyone needs to come and help,” said Cooney.