City Council receives post legislative report from lobbyists

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by Richard Uhlhorn

Josh Weiss, a lobbyist at Gordon Thomas Honeywell (GTHGA), gave the Chelan City Council a post legislative report on the 105 day session of the Washington State Legislature. “The city’s priorities feel short,” Weiss said. “We did not fare very well. There is a lot of work to be done in 2020,” he added.

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John Weiss – City of Chelan Lobbyist

The legislature spent $52.4 billion with a significant portion going to mental health issues. The State’s Capital Budget is $49 billion. “There is less money to be spent on transportation projects.”

Weiss did remark that the proposed new gasoline tax did not make it, but that tax collection continues to be a major source of revenue for the state. “There is definitely momentum around (passing) a new gas tax in the next two to three years. Your entire delegation was in support of this.”

With regards to the City’s request for more transportation funding for its Pedestrian Safety project fell on deaf ears because they felt Chelan had done pretty well with funding for the Woodin Avenue Bridge. Weiss feels that the City should continue work with the 12 Legislative District to keep take Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons alive in 2020.

Weiss said that Affordable Housing will continue to be a hot topic. The City had requested that the legislature allow larger City’s to participate in an affordable housing cap of $15,000. “There is opportunity there,” said Weiss.

Funding for The Chelan Butte Conservation project had mixed reviews amongst the legislators.” If you want to go forward you need to strategize.”

Mayor Cooney stated that the City needs to make sure the council is behind the Butte Project. Erin McCardle added that they need a conceptual plan. Tim Hollingsworth said, “The Legislature would like to see grassroots interest n this. I know there is a grassroots move against development up there.”

The City sought funding to move forward with the Lakeside Park project, but Weiss stated the other projects for this funding ranked higher.

In the end, Weiss said, “We do really appreciate representing you. We are developing an interim plan (to go forward) with Mike Jackson.”

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Councilwoman Erin McCardle wants to focus on transportation issues and outdoor recreation issues with the Washington State Legislature next session.

McCardle said the City needs to be really focused on short requests including transportation and outdoor recreation. Councilman Ray Dobbs asked, “Were we surprised we fell so short?” Weiss replied that he wasn’t surprised. Mayor Cooney stated that the City has tried to get funding without a lobbyist. “You an access the floor,” said Cooney. But getting the legislators attention is hard.

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Councilman Ray Dobbs asked if the City was surprised the Lobbying effort fell so short in the last session.

Weiss said that GTHGA would meet with 12 the District legislators to discuss priorities, and identify possible legislative winners.

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Past Mayor Bob Goedde is now attending Council meetings and will be running for a third term as the Mayor of Chelan.

The first part of the meeting concerned the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) with City Attorney Quentin Batjer and attorney Krystal Frost. Absent from this workshop were Kelly Allen – traveling in Europe, Wendy Isenhart and Ty Witt.

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City Attorney Quentin Batjer presented information required by law for all Council people to understand about the Open Public Meetings Act.

“The public deserves to know what it’s government is doing, said Batjer. The purpose of OPMA is to allow the public to view the decision making process. “Any final action (by a public board) must be taken in public,” stated Batjer. Executive sessions is the exception.” Each public meeting must have minutes that are promptly recorded and available for public scrutiny. Executive sessions must be limited to a specific purpose.

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Attorney Crystal Frost went over the City’s requirments
under the Public Records Act .

Crystal Frost went over The Public Records Act where government records are presumed open to the public. “It’s always a good idea to reduce a verbal request to writing,” said Frost.

Batjer said that agencies should work with requesters. “Sometimes a requester doesn’t know what they want… Narrow it down.”

City Clerk Peri Gallucci stated that the City always over produces public records. “We go over the legal limits,” she said. Time to respond to a public request depends on a lot of factors like how big it is. They also document every search.

Councilman Ray Dobbs said that each council member needs to secure their cell phones and to not use. Their personal computers for City business. Batjer added, “Don’t write anything you don’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper or on Facebook.”

Writing includes: handwriting, typewriting, printing, photo stating, photographing, and every other means of recording any form of communication or representation including but not limited to letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols.

Gallucci says that she can spend up to 20 hours a week on public records requests.

Agencies have five business days to respond to a public records request. The agency can also ask for clarification of a request if it is not reasonably clear, or does not request “identifiable records.”

Chelan Fire & Rescue Town Hall imparted a lot of information about the state of the Fire District and where it is headed

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by Richard Uhlhorn

The future is already impacting Chelan Fire & Rescue’s district. “There are proposals for over 1,000 new residential units proposed for the Lake Chelan Valley,” said Fire Commission Chairman Russ Jones.

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Commissioner Russ Jones

Jones stated that the District is not interested in running a new levy at this time. “I want to have a year’s conversation with the community,” said Jones. “When we do go for a levy increase, I want it already won.”

By law, the District is allowed to run a levy at $1.50 per thousand of assessed value, but Jones thinks the District will only ask for an estimated $1.09 per/1000 from the current tax levied at $.88 cents per 1000.

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The Line Item cost per unit at the District.
The largest cost is for suppression personnel


Fire District are hamstrung to a one percent cap on what they can collect from the tax payers, which means that for every $100 collected, the cap restricts them to  $101 the next year. “As the population grows, we can’t keep up,” Jones stated.

A $.21 cent increase from the current $.88 cent collected now would allow the District to hire two more full-time firefighters ($240,000), add $60,000 to help retain volunteers through the District’s stipend plan, and put $200,000 a year into the District’s apparatus equipment fund.

Myrna Duke, a retired Forest Service employee, stated that the District failed a levy attempt a year ago. “You found money to keep fire fighters,” she said. “Why?”

Jones replied that money came from the equipment fund. She then remarked that the District had the money to purchase a boat. Jones replied that the District paid $2,500 for a $200,000 boat and while it is true that the Chelan County Sheriff’s Department has the primary responsibility for operations on Lake Chelan, they don’t have the capability to go below the surface.

He further stated that one of the District’s rescue swimmers was near the recent drowning accident but wasn’t able to free dive the 55 feet to the victim. One of the District’s fire fighters came out with SCUBA gear and was able to retrieve the body on his own time. It took the Sheriff’s Department over one-half hour to respond to the scene.

The District, under the terms of purchasing the boat from the US Coast Guard, has to operate it for 18 months, after which the District could sell it.

Duke then asked how long it takes to get mutual aid to a fire situation. It was explained that mutual aid comes into play on a second alarm fire and can take up to 30 minutes to respond.

Commissioner Jay Witherbee remarked that consolidation would be nice, but getting voters approval would be extremely difficult because of the tribal attitude between Districts. “It’s almost impossible.”

Assistant Chief Brandon Asher said that under his grant to recruit and retain volunteers for Chelan, Entiat and Orondo, he has attracted 146 potential volunteers and that only 46 have remained. The cost of living is one of the problems in retaining volunteer firefighters. “We’ve lost four people to the Forest Service and some have gone to Alaska.”

“All of the positions we have hired are local and out of our volunteer base,” said Asher. He added that, unlike Wenatchee, the District doesn’t have enough living space for a resident program.

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Chief Tim Lemon

At the beginning of the meeting, Chief Tim Lemon remarked to those attending the  Town Hall that “We are your fire department… you own us! If we are going to maintain our services, we will need funding.”

The District covers 120 square miles. “We have to cover the city and we do get support from our neighbors,” said Lemon.

The District also participates in State Mobilization efforts for up to 14 days. “This generates revenue and gives our firefighters significant experience fighting fires to bring home.”

Chelan Fire also has vehicle extraction equipment including air bags; special rescue including water rescue swimmers, and high angle rescue capabilities.

The District conducts Fire Prevention efforts with inspections for defensible space and free smoke detectors.

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Assistant Chief Brandon Asher (left) and Deputy Chief Mark Donnell

Chief Mark Donnell is in line to become the next Chief when Lemon retires later this year. He moved to Chelan in 2013 and joined the volunteer staff before accepting a job as Deputy Fire Chief.

Donnell told those in attendance that since 2010 there has been a 22 percent increase in calls, or over 200 more calls each year.

The laws concerning fire have also changed and made the job more dependent on trained personnel. There is a two in/one out law concerning structure fires. “Down in Washougal, the firefighters ignored this rule and made a tremendous save, but were fined by the State anyway,” said Donnell.

The District maintains 2 career staff on board 24/7 and a volunteer under a District stipend program plus volunteer shift personnel. The secondary response to fire are from the home volunteer base or career call back.

In the urban interface it takes the District no more than nine minutes to respond; in the suburban it is 10 minutes; and in the rural areas, 14 minutes 90 percent of the time.

Training is a major issue with the District. To become a firefighter 1 requires 212 hours of training; a firefighter II, another 116 hours. Hazardous certification take 40 hours of training in EMT status is 200 hour of training. Hi-Low Angle rescue takes 84 hours of training and rescue swimmers undergo 40 hours of training.

Assistant Chief Brandon Asher stated that the Department has 21 pieces of equipment, some of which is over 25 years old and more that is approaching that age. “It is important to keep equipment up to date,” said Asher. “Our goal is to slowly upgrade… the new ladder truck is an example. To replace this stuff takes funding.”

Jones remarked that the District’s succession plan is to move Donnell into the Chief’s position when Lemon retires. “He is a pretty good guy to take over. He has 29 years of experience.”

Jones also said without additional funding in the future the District would be forced to eliminate one chief’s position.

While the Town Hall was not well attended, Jones and the District plan on holding a series of Town Halls to engage with the public… to find out concerns and gather information.

HOSPITAL NAMES NEW Chief Financial Officer and Chief Human Resources Officer… Hires Contractors for new hospital

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by Richard Uhlhorn

Lake Chelan Community Hospital has hired two new senior positions; Mike Ellis takes over as the new Chief financial Officer and Kate Pina is the new Chief Human Resource Officer.

Mike Ellis (left) has been hired at the Hospital’s new Chief Financial Officer and Kate Pina has been hired as the new Human Resources Officer.

Ellis said that most of his history has been in larger hospitals over the last five years. “There have been a lot of changes in the health care industry,” said Ellis. He said he was excited to be back in a rural setting.

Pina is from Arizona and said she left home directly out of high school for the Air Force where she spent 22 years. She is also excited to be in Chelan and a smaller environment.

Dr. Megan Guffey has been named the hospital’s new Chief Medical Officer and will oversee the critical operations at the hospital and clinic.

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Dr. Duffy has been named the new Chief Medical Officer at the Hospital.

The board went over its powers and duties as commissioners. Mary Murphy stated that each person on the board is only an individual with no power to make decisions. “We have to bring issues to the board,” she said. She also hoped that more people would access the board meetings and comment during the Public Comment periods of which there are two. One prior to the agenda and one following the agenda.

Responsibilities of individual board members are as follows:

  • Chairperson – Phyllis Gleasman
    Medical Staff
    Facilities Steering Committee
    Affiliations Partnerships Committee
  • Vice Chair – Mary Murphy
    Quality committee
    Affiliations Partnerships Committee
  • Secretary – Fred Miller
    Finance Committee
    Trustee/Retirement
  • Commissioner – Mary Signorelli
    Community Committee
    Credentialing
    Facilities Steering Committee
  • Commissioner – Jordana LaPorte
    Community Committee
    Finance Committee
    Warrants/Vouchers

LaPorte remarked that she would like the public to have more access to background documents. “The public doesn’t have access and I’d like to make those more available,” she said.

Signorelli remarked that all meetings were posted within 24 hours on the Hospital’s website and over the radio. “We don’t have to post to all media,” said Signorelli. Murphy shared this reporter’s concern that all media should be notified about the board’s meetings. “We want the public’s engagement,” said Murphy.

CFO Mike Ellis gave a short financial report to the board and said, “I do have ideas going forward, but the (financial) trend is the same as in prior years.”

Director of Public Relations, Celeste Hankins, told the board that a Prevention Fair would be held on June 20 at the Chelan Fire Station. This will include a Giant walk through super Colon, booths, prizes and food. She also mentioned the Hospital’s Health Challenge had 100 participants, many who had participated in past challenges.

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Director of Public Relations, Celeste Hankins , gave a
short report on Community issues

Hankins also stated that they are finishing up a Chronic Disease Self Management program and would be offering a Diabetes Self Management Class later this year.

Kate Pina, the hospital’s new Human Resources Director, said her top priorities would be to change the performance based personnel evaluations. “We will be moving towards a merit based evaluation instead of a 2% over the board raise.” Employees performing at a high level will get more than those that are not performing well.

CEO Steve Patonai reported that the Hospital has retained both Bratton Construction out of Bellevue and Jerry Boyd in Chelan to oversee the construction of the new hospital. “Both interviewed very well,” said Patonai who added that Bratton will be the overall project manager while Boyd will be the on-sight manager.

Patonai said he is excited about the hospital coming together. “We’ve got managers here who are very strong,” he said. He recognized Vicki Bodle for the numerous hats she has worn at the hospital over the past five years. “Her work has been very, very important to us.”

Patonai said the hospital would be keeping things moving and that a lot of changes were going on.

 

 

City Council had plenty on its plate

by Richard Uhlhorn

As usual, Tuesday’s (May 28) City Council meeting was full of interesting bits of information relevant to the community.

First off, the council was hit with another discourse by Mayoral hopeful, Stan Morse, on the dangers of wildfire affecting his neighborhood. However, this time Mr. Morse hit upon the fact that over Memorial Day, the City and Sheriff’s Department barricades certain residential streets behind Safeway to keep people from accessing those areas where there is no fire danger, but allows visitors to park in the Lakeside neighborhood. “You do exactly that in that corridor in town,” said Morse

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Stan Morse was back on Community Comments at the City Council meeting asking the Council to consider closing streets in his neighborhood to visitor parking.

Morse went on to complain that during the summer months, Lakeside is inundated with cars parking in neighborhoods. “It’s only a matter of time when a converter sets off a fire in our neighborhood. It is actually a threat,” stated Morse. “You park so many cars it is impossible to get a fire engine around the corners.” Morse asked them to put some “Local Access Barriers” in his neighborhood.

John Olson also addressed the Council and discussed the seasonal community shuttle service that will be coming to Chelan in July and operating through September.

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John Olson told the Council that the City wasn’t prepared for the future.

Olsen told the Council that the City and Valley are not prepared for the future, but that he wanted to address one issue… transportation. “Chelan has basically the same highway system today as it had when I was born here 72 year ago,” stated Olsen. Both highways meet in the middle of town and Olsen stated that during the summer months, traffic was becoming very bad. “Alternatives need to be sought.”

“We must get serious in getting people out of their cars and getting cars off the streets and out of the core of the town,” he stated. Olson feels the LINK seasonal Chelan Community Shuttle will be a huge step in that direction.

His other comments concerned the lack of public lake access. Olson pointed out that Wenatchee, Chelan Falls, Entiat and Pateros all have large amounts of waterfront dedicated to the public, but that Chelan seems to be out of step with the public’s need for more lake access.

Olson brought up the Three Fingers as a possible goal for the City to pursue instead of trying to spend $6 million on purchasing property on Chelan Butte.

Two special presentations were on the agenda:

  • American Viticulture Area Proclamation by the City
    Lake Chelan wineries will be celebrating the 10th year of the Valley’s AVA (American Viticulture Area) and Mayor Mike Cooney read into the record a Proclamation.

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Lacy Lybecker – Carirdeas Winery, Shane Collins – Rocky Pond, Denny Evans – Tunnel Hill, and Cheryl Nelson – Tildio Winery were on hand at the meeting. Lybecker spoke for the group and stated that the 10th anniversary celebration of the AVA would take place in the second week of June. “There will be educational and social opportunities for the public,” said Lybecker. The Chamber of Commerce will be hosing a tasting seminar and 23 wineries and a number of restaurants will be involved.

  • Roy Turner, Port of Chelan County Commissioner, was joined by Douglas County Port Commissioner Jim Huffman and several staff members of the two Districts were on hand to update the Council on the efforts to consolidate the two Districts into one regarding Pangborn Airport.DSC08088
    Roy Turner – Port of Chelan County Commissioner

    Turner explained that the two Districts pulled together a task force of community members who had some connection with the airport to discuss new funding options for Pangborn. They came up with a consolidation plan. “It has not been voted on yet,” said Turner.

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    Lisa Parks – Executive Director of the Port of Douglas County

    Lisa Parks, executive director of the Port of Douglas County, told the Council that they were reaching out to all the small communities in both counties to hear concerns and issues. She said there was a good history of the two Port District’s working together as one unit through an Interlocal Agreement.

    However, the airport has been running a $1.5 to $2 million dollar deficit, so they hired a consultant who had been the Chief Financial Officer of the Port of Everett. “We found out that we could find in excess of $500,00 in savings if we consolidated,” said Parks. “Most of that would come in reduction of staff,” she said.

    She also mentioned that there would be a savings of at least $40,000 by having only one required audit by the State. The consolidation would be controlled by three commissioners from the two ports and two commissioners from the Airport.

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    Councilman Ray Dobbs

    Councilmember Ray Dobbs stated that the City has a great working relationship with the Port of  Chelan County. He was concerned about how the consolidation would affect that relationship. Parks replied that it would not affect it at all.

    Parks went on to say that a lot of questions still need to be answered but they won’t be answered until both Port are working together. “We will do that over a course of a year to see some of those concerns are being met,” she said.

    Turner added that when consolidated, the Port District would be the largest in the State of Washington.

 

The Council held a Public Hearing on the proposed Six-Year Transportation Improvement Plan that is required by the State.

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Councilwoman Erin McCardle
Councilmember Erin McCardle brought up the City’s alleys. “Alley’s need to be a top priority,” said McCardle. Currently the City’s alleys are basically not usable. Councilmember Ray Dobbs asked what it would take for the City to get commercial trucks off Woodin Avenue and into the alleys to offload product. He said the Budweiser driver remarked that overhead wiring was an issue. “If we want to move trucks off Woodin, the alleys would have to be one-way.” said Dobbs.

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Public Works Director Jake Youngren
Public Works Director Jake Youngren said he was planning on applying for a grant for Farnham Street intersection through the Chelan/Douglas County Transportation Council. “Farnham is listed on the Regional plan,” said Youngren.

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Councilman Tim Hollingsworth
Councilman Tim Hollingsworth stated that during a recent workshop, traffic calming issues were discussed. “I would like to see that included before the Boyd Road (Widening Project).” Other issues of concern are new Cross Walks for the school areas. Youngren said the State would be addressing the crosswalk issue during their Hwy 97A paving project from Lakeside to WalMart.

Dobbs brought up the Chelan PUD Transfer Station that will be constructed up in the Boyd District. “There will be lots of work on Boyd Road,” said Dobbs. “It might be the time to put a sewer line up there.” Most of Chelan Hills is still on septic.

During the 2019 budget session, in addition to their annual funding request of $13,000, Thrive requested an additional $7,000 in funding to assist with transportation costs to and from the Teen Center. Thrive has since received a donated vehicle and is now requesting use of the funds for other purposes.

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Thrive Executive Director Amy Davis

Executive Director Amy Davis told the Council that the $7,000 would be allocated to volunteer training and other areas. She said that Thrive receives funding from other areas also. The Council voted unanimously to allow Thrive to reallocate those funds.

Council comments:

 Erin McCardle asked for help with the annual MOE Mock Council. Wendy Isenhart, Tim Hollingsworth and Ty Witt said they could do it on the morning of June 11.

Wendy Isenhart commented on the Memorial Day event at the Visitor’s Center. She also wondered why Chelan didn’t have a parade float and asked if there ever was one. Dobbs replied that back in the day of the old Chelan Bike-A-Thon, money was raised for Chelan’s float. No one knows where it is now. Dobbs suggested using some 3% money for a new float.

Isenhart is still pushing for a small boat harbor and is concerned that time will run out on the permits before it can be built.

Ray Dobbs remarked that LINK is funding the shuttle service for this year only. He said that Richar DeRock would like to see at least five people per hour using the shuttle. Tim Hollingsworth remarked that Lakeside should have a few temporary parking slots open so people can drop off their BBQ and picnic stuff before parking off site and taking the shuttle back to the park.

Dobbs said he would like to see the City put up  $2,000 to $3,000 to market and advertise the shuttle service. It was noted that the High School has 240 vacant parking slot and the ball fields have another 110 parking spots available.

Ty Witt told the Council that the Rotary Club is planning on revitalizing the area south of the ball fields as a gathering place for BBQs and other events. “We don’t want to step on toes so I’m attending the Eagles meeting right after our meeting,” said Witt.

Tim Hollingsworth remarked that the Watershed Planning Unit would be receiving $460,000 from the Department of Commerce for water rights applications.

Mayor Cooney said that Microsoft is now purchasing power from the PUD and would be visiting the area looking for opportunities in North Central Washington.

City Administrator Mike Jackson and several council members visited a parcel of land that has been for sale for a number of years. Jackson asked Jim Brennan if he could prepare a concept plan for trail access to the property and Brennan stated he could do that for $15,000. Hollingsworth said the property has a lot of recreational value. Witt stated that access would be extremely important and that public opinion would be critical to the City considering a purchase.

Jackson told the Council that he would do his best to bring access possibilities to the next meeting. Other issues are the sales price. “It is open space with water access,” said Mayor Cooney. “I can’t think of something people want more.”

allthingslakechelan banner ad-hospital x 1200There will be a City Council workshop on Tuesday, June 4.

Link Transit seeks more funding to expand services

by Richard Uhlhorn

Richard DeRock, LINK’s administrator, gave the Chelan City Council an update on Link Transit operations.

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The big news from DeRock is that there will be a new proposal on the ballot in August to raise Link’s share of sales tax up to increase the service it currently provides.

The 2019 revenue projections have 76 percent of Link’s revenues coming from Sales Tax with other revenues coming from Federal and State Grants (20%), Fares (3.5%) and other sources at a mere .4%.

Link serves 3,500 square miles in Chelan County with a total ridership exceeding 1 million riders for the fifth consecutive year.

DeRock stated that the service moves people over 550 miles a day or 2.2 million miles a year.  “That’s 17 million passenger miles,” said DeRock. They have 600 bus stops on the system serving 10 urban centers.

In 1999, Link cut Saturday services and then brought it back. The system averages 13 riders per run and the cost per hour to run the service is 25 percent lower than the State average. “We have worked hard to keep our costs low,” said DeRock.

Link has the largest percentage of alternative fueled transit fleet in the Pacific North West. It operates 42 propane powered buses resulting in a 16 percent reduction in green house gases, 99 percent reduction of other pollutants and has a 65 percent less cost than gasoline powered buses.

It also operates 10 battery powered buses with zero emissions at 1/2 the cost of diesel. Link also has the World’s first Wireless 200Kw vehicle charger.

“We went out and asked people what they wanted,” said DeRock. “Sunday service was the major thing asked and more Saturday service.”

The cost of the system to the average household is only $24.00 per year, or $8.88 per person.

Link does plan on running a shuttle from Walmart to Lakeside this summer from July 1 to September 1.

He was asked if Link provided transit services to Pangborn Airport and he replied that they didn’t because it wasn’t cost effective. “For the most part, airports don’t generate enough business to make it work,” he said.

They are also prohibited from providing services to Mission Ridge, but do donate services to the ski area.

Over the next six years, Link plans on funding the following projects if the voters approve an increase in local sales tax by 2/10 of one percent (2%). This means for every ten-dollar retail purchase, Link Transit would receive an additional two cents in sales tax:

 

  • Add Saturday service to all cities and towns
  • Add Sunday service to all cities and towns
  • Begin service earlier in the mornings
  • Operate later evening servic on some routes until 12 a.m.
  • Faster service between Chelan and Wenatchee
  • Expand coverage to reach more areas
  • Smaller buses in residential neighborhoods
  • More frequent service on major arterials in urban areas
  • Cost effective rural services.

PUD representatives were also on hand to discuss the PUD’s Regional Area Planning efforts and Lake Chelan Lake Levels.

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Jenna Rahm told the Council that the PUD was holding a public meeting to discuss the Chelan Dam Substation plan. “We are currently looking at our own property, “she said. In addition, the PUD is looking at a Fire Hardening Project that would entail replacing wood transmission poles with steel poles. “Basically, the fire would go right through the area,” said Rahm, who added, “We would be able to turn off the power and when the fire goes through, turn it back on.”

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John Wasniewski told the Council that there was a lot of information on lake levels on the PUD’s website. This year’s snow pack is only 70 percent of normal. The annual spill will be a lot less than in a normal year.

Councilman Ray Dobbs asked if the PUD would still hold its weekend for the kayakers in the Fall. Wasniewski replied that they would still hold that event.

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City Council meets every second Tuesday and fourth Tuesday of the month. The public is encouraged to attend.

 

 

Mayor Cooney and Council ask Sheriff’s Department to help work on law enforcement issues

 

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by Richard Uhlhorn

The City of Chelan held a Special Workshop on April 6 of this year which included a quarterly report from Sheriff Brian Burnett and his staff including Sgt. Chris Foreman, the head of Chelan’s force.

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The Sheriff’s Department administration came under scrutiny by the City Council at a recent City Retreat where the Sheriff provided a quarterly report for being overly ambitious with traffic stops.

At that meeting, a discussion centered around the activities of the patrol deputies. With traffic stops up approximately 40+ percent, community members have been complaining to their council members of perceived and unnecessary harassment which has also included a stop on a sitting Council member who was not just stopped but checked for Driving under the Influence even though this person hadn’t been drinking.

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Sgt. Chris Foreman is in charge of Chelan’s law enforcement duties.

After much discussion at the April 6 special meeting where a lot of comments were made by Council regarding the number of stops, particularly those stops that do not result in arrests or tickets, the City has responded to the Sheriff and Sgt. Foreman with a letter outlining the City’s wish to have the Sheriff’s Department meet Chelan’s goals for policing.

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Sheriff Brian Burnett attended the meeting on April 6.

“To sum up the input at the retreat, I think there was support for more marine patrol, greater officer presence in a proactive manner and less emphasis on the sheer number of traffic stops,” wrote Mayor Cooney.

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Mayor Cooney, City Administrator Mike Jackson, Chelan City Clerk Peri Gallucci and the entire City Council signed the letter to the Sheriff’s Department.

He continued with: “In furtherance of those goals, the City would like to see a reallocation of resources from traffic patrol to marine patrol in the summer months W’e also like to see a greater presence of officers on foot or on bicycle in the downtown area as opposed to focused traffic stops. We’d like more interaction with citizens with patrol through neighborhoods, parks, ball fields and other areas where traffic is not the focus.”

In addition, Mayor Cooney’s letter was copied to the entire City Council, City Clerk and City Administrator, and said the City would like to see presentations by the Sheriff’s Department to the public on topics such as crime prevention, neighborhood safety, active shooter drills, boating and swimming safety and other topics of community interest.

Mayor Cooney also stated that the City’s not having an influence on “our police services to match our expectations for Chelan.”

The City does recognize the balancing act that the Sheriff’s Department provides with the proper amount of law enforcement activities, and it does respect the role of law enforcement and the department’s responsibility to provide public safety.

In the end, the letter states that the City wants to work together for a balance, and is willing to discuss working towards a future plan that works, not only for public safety, but for the community at large.

Mayor Cooney finished by writing, “I also feel it would be beneficial for us to work together to plan a future ‘Town Hall’ meeting on Chelan Law Enforcement that could cover a variety of topics.”

 

Hospital forum draws 110… 1300 more have watched the live stream

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By Richard Uhlhorn

The Lake Chelan Community Hospital’s board of commissioners held a community forum covering all aspects of the hospital’s organization including Community, Quality, Finance, Affiliations & Affiliations and Facilities.

Board Chairwoman Phyllis Gleasman told those present that the changes being made at the hospital are sustainable. “We have six areas to focus on to rise to the next level (of service), said Gleasman. “The committees are a direct result of the six pillars,” she added.

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Hospital Board of Commissioners Mary Signorelli, Jordana La Porte, Fred Miller, Mary Murphy, and Phyliss Gleasman

The committee members were chosen based on their relative experience to each committee. “Everyone has their expertise,” said Gleasman. She also stated that the duties of the governing board are to have transparency with the community.

The first report was from Jordana La Porte and Mary Signorelli, both of whom sit on the Community Committee. La Porte has been on the commission since May 31 and said, “There have been a lot of meetings in the last eight months.” She said the committee has been identifying, exploring and evaluating its outreach to the community. “This is the exact type of event we have wanted. It is frustrating to have only two citizens show up at board meetings”

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Commissioner La Porte

La Porte stated that the hospital would continue to get information out to the community through Celeste Hankins and Augustine Venegas along with the events they produce.

Mary Murphy reported on the importance of the “Quality of Services” at the hospital and its clinic. “Quality is the most important thing at the hospital,” said Murphy. “Why do you come to our facilities. If you are satisfied, you will come back. That is one of our focuses is quality. We are dedicated to improving our competency,” added Murphy. “We want to be the best of the best.”

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Commissioner Mary Murphy

Elmira Forner, a Manson resident, remarked that she had an unsatisfactory experience at the hospital several years back. “I had a pulmonary embolism and there seemed to be a lack of teamwork. I hope you work on that,” remarked Forner. She got a laugh out of the audience when she said she even received a bill for a prostate exam. “Good luck to you. I hope you make it comfortable for people to go there.”

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Commissioner Fred Miller

Commissioners Fred Miller and Jordana La Porte addressed financial issues at the hospital. Miller remarked that coding (which is how the hospital gets paid) has gone from 16,000 to 68,000 items. “Money can be left on the table if it is not done correctly,” Miller stated.

La Porte added that the capital budget is in place and that the Finance Committee is focusing on two things; longer term Capital Planning and building a reserve fund for the future.

Gleasman and Murphy addressed the hospital’s move towards more affiliations and partnerships. “It is absolute key to us,” said Murphy. “We are looking at ways to benefit the people we serve; specifically ways to increase service.”

Bringing in specialists will hopefully improve revenue and bring in more patients who don’t want to leave the valley for special medical issues. “There is a lot of benefits to be found,” said Murphy.

The hospital has formed affiliations with Swedish, University of Washington’s Resident Program, Columbia Valley Community Health and Confluence Health among others. For example, CCVH offers not only primary care, but dental services and their doctors serve at the hospital. “They refer patients for diagnostic testing.”

Another resident and retired nurse remarked that she had broken her leg last year and Dr. Hutton had done the workup, but she was frustrated that the hospital and clinic don’t talk to each other.

It was explained that when the hospital purchased the clinic merging the information between the two was almost impossible. They are working on that issue.

The Facilities committee is made up of Mary Signorelli, Gleasman, the CEO, CNO, CFO, Sanctuary Director Jane Jebwabney and Ken Peters. “We have been working on the new hospital since the bond was passed on June 8,” said Signorelli. “Almost everything we have is in draft form.”

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Commissioner Mary Signorelli

In a meeting with the architect and contractor earlier in the week, they came up with a timeline for the construction of the new hospital. “Our goal has been to stay within the budget.” The hospital has $44.5 million to work with.

Over the course of passing the bond and today, the plan to build a 77,000 square foot hospital has been reduced to 54.000 sq. ft. “We had to scale down in order to stay within that budget,” said Signorelli. “This is the first time we have had anything to share with you.”

The EMS garage is not a part of the new hospital, but will eventually have a garage/office on the campus. “We feel we can build it locally for less,” said Signorelli. The Clinic was never approved to be at the hospital and that will not happen, but eventually they hope to have the clinic on campus.

La Porte stated that the scaling back of the hospital space meant getting rid of non-essential space  and shrinking room sizes. They have gone from having three Operating rooms to two and they will be smaller.

The new hospital will have 21 private beds with nine for medical issues and 10 for the Sanctuary patients with two rooms as conversion rooms. There will be seven beds in triage and two OR suites at 460 sq. ft. and one Procedure room. “It will be a very efficient hospital. We will be able to provide outstanding care.”

A resident asked where the offices would be located and Gleasman replied, “probably in portable units on campus. The administration will be in the hospital.”

Resident Karen McKellar asked how the board planned on keeping the community in the process?

Murphy replied that they would continue to produce newsletters, hold more forums and keep the website updated. “We are working hard to keep the community informed.”

Another resident asked if they anticipated further delays? “We do not anticipate further delays.” However, the plans for the new hospital must be approved by the Department of Health and the USDA. City permits will also have to be obtained.

There are contingencies in place for change orders during construction and one retired contractor stated that there will be change orders.

At the earlier meeting with the contractor and architect, it was noted that $1.5 billion in bonds has passed or is in the process of being voted on in Eastern Washington. This could have a major impact on contractor and sub-contractor availability.

Forner asked about mental health facilities and whether or not they would also be provided considering that mental health is a real issue in today’s world with all the shootings, homeless and whatever else you want to call it.

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Sanctuary Director Jane Jebwabney

Jebwabney said that a psychiatrist would be available if needed at the hospital. “We will have access to a psychiatrist.”

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CEO Steve Patonai

CEO Steve Patonai stated that they are building what they can for the next four to six years, but a part of the design would be the ability to expand on the hospital when needed.

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Paramedic Kurt Middleton

Chelan’s EMS has grant money from the Department of Health to provide Community Health Workers who will be able to visit with people in their homes and report back to physicians with the results of a check up. They will also evaluate your home for medical needs. Do you need a ramp. “It’s a new concept,” said Paramedic Kurt Middleton.

On the backside of the agenda was a Community Forum Evaluation questionnaire with the following questions to the public:

  1. What would you like to see addressed/changed for the next Forum?
  2. What topics about the hospital do you have that were not addressed tonight?
  3. Would you like to have one of the Commissioners contact you?

If you were unable to attend the Forum you can direct your questions to any one of the board members. Their email addresses are available on the Hospital Website.