2021 Year In Review - Jan.-June


Mike Maltais/QCH WAMS builders employed an efficient assembly line-like system to construct sheds in one of the livestock Quonset buildings on the Okanogan County Fairgrounds.

Amy Philpott

Christine Perry

Mayor Art Smyth Mike Maltais/QCH

Frank Herbert takes the oath of office as the newly appointed Pateros city councilman just prior to casting his first vote at the special session held Monday, March 1. City clerk/treasurer Kerri Wilson administers the oath in front of a mural of the explorer David Thompson in the Pateros Museum. Mike Maltais/QCH

Courtesy WIAA/Northwest Sports Photography ● 2020 WIAA Athlete of the Week ● 2020 2B State Basketball Tournament MVP ● 2020 2B Basketball Player of the Year ● 2020 SportsBook Live Top 50 ● Numerous multi-sport All League honors

From left, Ann (Baker) Rogers, Cindy (Baker) Hoke, and Richard Henny spruce up the landscaping at the entrance to Fort Okanogan Cemetery. Mike Maltais/QCH

Okanogan County Prosecutor Melanie R. Bailey Courtesy BluElephant Photography

Cars parked in the shape of a heart at the Nate Hart Celebration held May 8 in Indian Dan Canyon. Courtesy Gage Carson

Led by a pair of cool dudes in tinted shades the Bears’ Class of 2021 marches toward seats on a raised grandstand as commencement proceedings get underway. Mike Maltais/QCH

Jan 2021

Gebbers Farms moves forward with L&I appeal
BREWSTER – A $2 million fine levied against Gebbers Farms by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries on Dec. 21 has prompted a rapid response by the fruit company both in the form of an official statement issued by Gebbers on the same day and confirmation by a company spokeswoman that the fine will be appealed.
Amy Philpott of Watson Green, LLC, in Washington D.C. confirmed last week that Gebbers will appeal the L&I decision and do so within the time allotted.
“It is impossible to know precisely when we will hear about the appeal, which must be filed by January 12,” said Philpott. “After that, we expect that it will be months before there is a ruling, but that is our best guess at this point – and it is a guess.”
Hedline: Is part of Pateros a flood plain, city wants to know
PATEROS – Even though it sits at the confluence of the state’s largest river, the Columbia, with the Methow River, the City of Pateros has never had a flood plain map or flood zone designations. That topic and a discussion of extending city trails were key points of interest at the monthly Zoom meeting of the city council on Wednesday, Jan. 19.
Flood plan revisited
In a follow up to an earlier May 2015 meeting the city met again with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to discuss a Methow River flood map since Pateros has never had a flood map or flood zones designated.
City Administrator Jord Wilson said the city wants to know whether it has a potential flooding issue and what the implications might be for property owners affected.

Council member Christine Perry resigns
Council member Christine Perry surprised the meeting with her announcement that she will be moving to Arizona on March 1 to be closer to family. Perry advised her fellow council members that her final meeting will be on February 16.

Bridgeport approves Downtown SR173 Revitalization Plan
BRIDGEPORT – City council members started 2021 off on a positive note when one of their first official acts at their virtual January GoToMeeting was the approval of a resolution to proceed with the Downtown (SR 173) Revitalization Plan.
The plan incorporates many of the goals and policies of the Bridgeport Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2016 and targets that portion of State Route 173 that that passes through the city’s downtown corridor.

Feb 2021
 WAMS volunteers build storage sheds for wildfire victims
OKANOGAN – The Okanogan County Fairgrounds was a hub of activity for nearly two weeks last month where a crew of volunteers managed to construct 30 10-foot x 12-foot wooden storage sheds for victims of last September’s Cole Spring wildfire.
A near-dozen volunteers from the Western Anabaptist Mission Services (WAMS) in St. Ignatius, Mont., arrived at the fairgrounds on Jan. 18, and over the next 10 days built and roofed 30 enclosed sheds from donated materials. Marson & Marson Lumber and Lake Chelan Building Supply in Chelan provided the lumber for the sheds and the 300 sheets of metal roofing coordinated by Lake Chelan Building Supply from Metal Sales Manufacturing in Spokane.
Hedline: Ecology grants Brewster $6M-plus to upgrade sewer plant
BREWSTER – City council members were on the receiving end of two significant announcements at their regular monthly virtual meeting via GoToMeeting last Wednesday, Feb. 10. Mayor Art Smyth advised council that 1. the state Department of Ecology (DOE) approved the city’s application for a $6.25 million sewer grant, and 2. the Brewster-Bridgeport-Pateros Senior Center did not approve the city’s offer to assume the financial burden of maintaining their building.

March 2021

 Pateros launches study of recycled plastics industry
PATEROS – The city council met in special virtual session on March 1 to approve a contract to study Central Washington’s plastics industry. The city received $30,000 in Rural Development Block Grant (RDBG) funds for a feasibility analysis to further research the opportunity to bring a plastics recycling facility here. Councilman Frank Herbert, appointed to replace Christine Perry, took his oath of office just minutes before the session and cast his first official vote on the measure.
“We’ll be surveying industries inside and outside the Pacific Northwest to see what the needs are and to see if we can meet those needs and bring someone in,” said City Administrator Jord Wilson.

Bridgeport approves agreements for reservoir improvements, building replacement
BRIDGEPORT— City council members gathered for their first face-to-face regular monthly meeting last Wednesday, March 17 allowed under the state’s March 11 upgrade to Phase 3 of its Roadmap to Recovery plan. The 7 p.m. council was preceded by the latest meeting of the SR 173 Downtown Revitalization Committee that has been conferring regularly for the past 18 months to guide the city through its program to renovate its business corridor.
The city approved two supplemental agreements, one for professional services to replace the wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) that burned in last fall’s Pearl Hill wildfire, and the second for system improvements to the city’s second water reservoir. Both are supplemental an earlier professional services agreement negotiated in November 2019 with consulting engineers Gray & Osbourne.

April 2021

Fort Okanogan Memorial Cemetery needs its volunteers
MONSE – On a sunny Thursday morning, April 8, passers-by on State Route 97 could see three people working on the south side of the entrance to the Fort Okanogan Cemetery resetting landscape blocks in the small planting area that welcomes visitors. Next week they will add new flowers to the site as they have done every two years in the past.
Cindy (Baker) Hoke, Coulee City, her sister, Ann (Baker) Rogers, Okanogan, and Richard Henry, Electric City, were volunteering their time to honor family members buried there and one in particular, Tom Baker, who served as the site’s long-time caretaker.

Prosecuting Attorney Melanie R. Bailey issues open letter to Okanogan residents
OKANOGAN – Melanie R. Bailey, appointed by the Okanogan County Commissioners last January to fill the vacancy left by Arian Noma as Okanogan County Prosecutor, has released a letter to the public that “gives a brief update on how things are going in the Prosecutor’s office, talks a little bit about me, and thanks the community for allowing me to serve them,” Bailey wrote in her introductory remarks.
Citing a number of issues including staff shortages, case backlogs, harassment, and budgetary issues, Noma announced his resignation as Okanogan County Prosecutor on Dec. 10, 2020, that took effect on Jan. 15, 2021. Baily was appointed as his replacement effective Jan. 16, 2021. The prosecuting attorney is a nonpartisan elected office serving a four-year term.
May 2021

Healing of H(e)arts Celebration of Life remembers Nathan Hart
(Details supplied by Pateros Fire Chief Kerry Heen and volunteer Bruce Henne)
PATEROS – Volunteers from Douglas-Okanogan County Fire District 15 (DOCFD) held a benefit car wash at the Pateros station on May 1 to raise funds for the family of Nathaniel J. Emery Hart who passed away on April 12.
At the request of the Hart-Melton family DOCFD 15 volunteers planned and directed the vehicle parking a week later at a Healing of H(e)arts Celebration of Life held on Indian Dan Canyon Road on May 8. As the accompanying photo shows, vehicles were arranged in a heart-shaped pattern befitting the occasion.

June 2021
Bridgeport class of 2021 graduates 40 strong
BRIDGEPORT – A stiff west wind blowing across the campus could not dilute the air of celebration surrounding commencement exercises of the Class of 2021 at Bridgeport High School last Friday afternoon, June 4.
The class valedictorian was Brandon Valdovinos and class salutatorian was Mariam Rocha.

Brewster Class of 2021 holds commencement in the park
BREWSTER – Overcast skies and threatening rain neither dampened nor delayed the members of the Bears’ Class of 2021 from concluding their high school careers with outdoor commencement ceremonies in the park last Friday evening, June 11.
Co-valedictorians were Halle Aparicio and Miriam Garcia. Sarah Tinoco was class salutatorian. Aparicio also sang the National Anthem and Angel Maldonado delivered the Invocation. Alexia Hurtado gave the video presentation. The Benediction was recited by Dulce Roman and Luis Fernandez.

Recall action seeks removal of five Bridgeport city council members
WATERVILLE – A hearing involving an attempt to recall the five members of the Bridgeport City Council was held via Zoom in Douglas County Superior Court in Waterville last Friday, June 18. The petitioner, Bridgeport resident Michael Knox, alleges that the council has violated city and state code by failing to publish required annual Transportation Benefit District (TBD) financial reports since the city created its TBD in 2016. Specifically, Knox cited the failure to file those reports for the years 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Judge Brian C. Huber presided over the hearing that included testimony by the plaintiff, by Douglas County Auditor Thad Duvall, and, representing the Bridgeport council members, Julie K. Norton of the Wenatchee law firm Odgen Murphy Wallace, PLLC.

 

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