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Opinion • The Chronicle • Oct. 9, 2013

Our View

Mill’s opening boosts economy The official reopening of the Omak Wood Products mill comes as welcome news for Okanogan County. This business will help revitalize the area’s economy, not just by providing a significant number of jobs at the plywood and veneer plant, but also in logging, shipping and dozens of other avenues that the manufacturing industry will lead into. The increased cash flow into the area will also benefit local shops, restaurants and the housing market. For an area that has been economically depressed for a while, the reopening brings hope for better times The mill currently has 87 employees. That number is expected to jump to around 100 by the end of the year as the plywood operation gets under way, in addition to the veneer production, which has already begun. By the time the mill hits full production, officials expect to employ somewhere around 200 people, with most jobs being filled by local workers. Some economists have said that for every job created in manufacturing, four or five are created in other sectors in the region. That could equate to 1,000 jobs created from March 2013 to about the same time in 2014. Colville Tribal Federal Corp. board member Gene Nicholson joked that the governor visiting Okanogan County has tyrpically meant something bad has happened. But with Gov. Jay Inslee taking time to attend the mill’s grand opening on Monday, Nicholson said this event was quite the opposite. We cannot agree more.

Changes will revamp site The Chronicle launched its revamped website last week to a wide-ranging combination of rave reviews and downright complaints. Although many of the bugs, kinks, quirks and mistakes have already been fixed at, many more remain or will be discovered in the coming weeks. The fairly sudden change has not been particularly easy for the public or for the newspaper’s staff, but this is a move for the long term. As the flaws of the new site are worked out, I Garrett Rudolph believe it will be a vast improvement in the overall product we deliver to our readers and customers. It will serve as a companion piece — not a replacement of — our printed product. Our hope is that the content filling our news pages and our online pages will be required reading for those in the region who want to stay up to date on the news of their communities. While the print product remains the newspaper’s flagship, the online site opens up possibilities for audio and video clips, photo slideshows, reader commentary and staff blogs — all of which I think will be very popular as the site gains traction. But bear with us — it won’t happen overnight. Another area I think will be popular is the Twitter widget located on the main landing page. Some regular readers may have already noticed it in action as results from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Better Newspaper Contest were sent across the airwaves live as The Chronicle’s award-winners were announced. My initial response to the Twitter feed was “Who actually uses Twitter?” But with the setup of the new site, The Chronicle’s tweets reach everybody who visits the Web page, not just those who follow us on Twitter. This unlocks an endless potential. Results of sporting events, city council votes, elections, breaking news and more all have the potential to be broadcast through Twitter. It will eventually allow readers to keep tabs on events they aren’t able to attend in person. With the massive size of the county — and the fact that many local sports teams travel all across the state for contests — this will be a key tool for our readers to take advantage of. The new site also features an interactive poll, so while you’re checking out our changes, take a moment to vote. We plan on regularly putting up new polls, in addition to the stories, photos and other features as we get the site up and running to its capabilities. As with any change, there’s always going to be some give and take, a little bit of negative along with the positives. That’s bound to be the case with The Chronicle’s website, as well. But remember, this shift comes not for the immediate payoff, but for the long-term approach to the delivery of online news in Okanogan and Ferry counties. Feel free to send me an email and tell me how much you love the new site, or how much you hate it. Just be sure to let us know why.

along the road

Garrett Rudolph is the managing editor of The Chronicle. He can be reached at 509-826-1110 or via email at

Parks, forests belong to the people National parks, forests and monuments – they’re all owned by the public to preserve public access and enjoyment of America’s aesthetic beauty. But in the wake of the federal government’s so-called “shutdown,” you’d think these public amenities were the sole property of the federal government. This past week, we’ve had several area campgrounds emptied, local boat launches barricaded, trail hikers threatened with arrest and sporting events cancelled. We’ve also seen North Cascades National Park operations and national forest offices shuttered for the foreseeable future. As a U.S. citizen, I “own” a piece of these properties. And so do you. These are our public lands, our public parks, our public boat launches, our public campgrounds and our public forests. That said, I went in search of answers to questions about the closure of the region’s public amenities being managed by the federal government. With only 17 percent of federal employees furloughed – only those deemed non-essential – I wanted to know why extra work was being done to prevent residents from accessing public lands. Extra work, you ask? Yes. Federal employees have barricaded trails, like the Pacific Crest Trail, and boat launches, such as Crescent Bay in Grand Coulee. Those, and countless other amenities, are normally unmanned

on the hot seat Roger Harnack and usually unmonitored. Federal workers have also recorded voicemail messages saying they are no longer listening to your messages. And they have posted Web pages telling the public it cannot access the amenities it owns until they are back on the job. On the National Park Service website, I found a near-blank page that said: “Because of the federal government shutdown, all national parks are closed and National Park Service web pages are not operating.” It took extra work to create that Web page, and I’m sure we paid above-averages wages for someone to create and post it. When I couldn’t find answers on the Internet, I called North Cascades National Park directly. Working my way through the cumbersome voicemail system, I finally thought I found an answer. But then, I was greeted with the following recording: “Due to the federal government shutdown, all park facilities and the backcountry are closed to the public until further notice.” Not satisfied, I decided to call Lake Roosevelt National

Recreational Area. That telephone number is “no longer in service.” You know taxpayers will be billed the reconnect fee when an employee returns to their highpaying, federal job. I headed back to the Internet and ultimately navigated to the federal Department of the Interior website, where I found the following message: “Due to the lapse in appropriated funds, all public lands managed by the Interior Department (National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Land Management facilities, etc.) will be closed.” I also found a link to the agency’s “shutdown” page at There, I located a telephone number to call for answers. To my chagrin, I got another recording that said voicemail was not being checked. I tuned into other media sources to see if anyone else had been able to get an answer as to why public amenities that are normally unstaffed and relatively unmonitored were being closed. After a few more hours of searching, I found one source that said the Department of the Interior ordered all trails, parks, boat launches, campgrounds, etc. closed to ensure public safety. You’ve got to be kidding me. I don’t need a ranger on the trail to make sure I can hike safely. I don’t need a federal employee standing on the boat launch to make sure I launch my Jet Skis safely. And I certainly don’t need a fed standing outside my tent or

beside my campfire to prevent me from hurting myself. In fact, I would bet my outdoor skills – and most of yours, too – are far more developed than those of most federal employees. Apparently, the Department of the Interior has become a fiefdom, like so many other federal agencies, believing it has to take care of its “subjects.” Whatever happened to personal responsibility when it comes to outdoor recreation? As a hiker, I head into the backcountry prepared. And if I’m not prepared, I should have to deal with the consequences. The Department of the Interior’s mission is to protect America’s natural resources and heritage and honor cultures and tribal communities. The agency’s decision to close forests, campgrounds, boat launches, trails and other public amenities isn’t done out of necessity, nor is it in support of its mission. It’s being done out of contempt for the general public, and out of the government’s desire to make the so-called “shutdown” hurt. As owners of these public lands, we need to demand the barricades be removed and public access be restored. We should not be held hostage to the demands of bureaucrats trying to protect their “non-essential” government jobs. Roger Harnack is the editor and publisher of The Chronicle. He can be reached at 509-826-1110 or via email at

From our readers I-522 would hamper growers The Chronicle is on the wrong side of I-522. I don't think you would like to even certify that your newspaper is produced without GMOs. I-522 is a full-employment guarantee for lawyers. I invite you to come see some of what fruit growers are already faced with in the name of food safety. This would be one more brick on our backs. In this case we are talking about something that the scientists are in agreement is a non-issue. Why add to our burden and the consumers’ costs over this? Brian Thompson Oroville

Smith fought for more school money Many of Sen. John Smith’s detractors continue to spread hay and select grains that have been processed through the bull. One ridiculous claim states that John Smith “would like to get rid of all public schools and have everyone provide home schooling.” The truth is that John Smith fought for and won an increase of $1.6 billion in the Washington school district budget and did so without meeting the WEA’s ongoing request for more taxes. In addition, while John’s opponent was securing his $900 PAC donation from the WEA, John was out visiting with representatives from 28 school districts to determine their future needs and priorities. Another comment states that 63 percent of John Smith’s neighbors voted against him and that only 41 percent of Colville voted for him. The facts are that John Smith lives in Columbia Precinct, where he received 20 percent more votes than his opponent. Colville has seven precincts

where he averaged 11 percent more votes, 23 percent more votes in Kettle Falls, 42 percent more in Chewelah and 38 percent more Stevens County votes than his closest opponent. I have known John Smith and his family for seven years. He is a devoted husband, a dedicated father and a Christian man who has attended a local Colville church for many years. He is knowledgeable, capable and has a proven voting record that supports the values of the 7th Legislative District. Grant Peterson Chewelah

Vote no on Initiative 522 Boo for the Chronicle’s support of I-522, better described as the Great Monsanto Boogeyman VooDoo bill. The American Medical Association, the Center for Disease Control, the major Ag paper Capital Press, the British Royal Society and many other credentialed, unbiased folks in the know have published that absolutely no objective, peer reviewed evidence whatsoever exists to link GMOs with any negative health effects. None. Zip. Zero. Nada. Ignorant, voo-doo based, anticorporate cultism is a poor basis upon which to found law. Worse, as the famed “Silent Spring” fiasco proved, such hysteria driven, torch-and-pitchfork boogeymanism does deadly harm. The emblematic hysterical ban of DDT (as opposed to simple better regulated use thereof), for instance, is now thought to have cost the lives of over a million third-worlders due to unnecessary, preventable malaria. Ignorance kills. In this world of rising population and diminishing crop land, advances in food science may become all that sustain us.

Organic foods are generally safe to eat also, but only when organic growers are required to label their products with every chemical they treat same with (and routinely they are many as any farmer knows) will I-522 be equitable, let alone intelligent. Vote no on I-522. William Slusher Riverside

Obama justified in standing ground Shortly after I arrived in the U.S. in 1962 the nation faced the most dangerous moment of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis. The stakes were frighteningly high: The very future of all mankind hung in the balance as Soviet vessels steamed toward our Navy. At the last moment, Khrushchev blinked and the world stepped back from the nuclear abyss. Today we face another crisis of comparable magnitude, but this time it is not externally driven; it comes from within. A minority of the House Republican Party is threatening the very underpinnings of our republic and the House leadership has acquiesced to their unconscionable demands. We are a nation of laws that arise from a deliberative legislative process, give and take in debate, and resolution through a vote in each House of Congress followed by the president’s signature or veto and reconsideration. A vocal minority in one chamber of Congress doesn’t get to pick and choose which laws shall be implemented or not, or even how. Forty-one votes by the House to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed to gain traction in the Senate. They lost. Each time. In a representative democracy that’s how it works. If you don’t have the votes you don’t get your bill passed; majority

rule prevails. President Obama, like President Kennedy facing his crisis, is rightly refusing to negotiate with the House Republicans over their attempt to extort and blackmail their way to achieving what they failed to accomplish through the legislative process laid out in our Constitution. To do otherwise would abet the overthrow of our constitutionally determined way of governing ourselves. He will prevail because he’s right and most Americans support his firm position. Khruschev backed down in 1962; let’s hope the House blinks too. Robert Goodwin Omak

Area supports its neighbors What a special area we live in. My friends and concerned citizens in the Tonasket, Wauconda and Aeneas Valley areas have stood beside me and supported me through my medical problems. Where else could we live that “neighbors helping neighbors” has true meaning? I love you all. Jan Smith Aeneas Valley

Letters to the editor policy The Chronicle accepts letters to the editor of 250 words or less. Letters must bear the signature and hometown of the writer and a daytime telephone number. Letters with multiple signatures or sent to multiple publications will not be considered. Letters may not include personal attacks or thank you messages. Letters are subject to editing. Publication does not imply agreement or endorsement by The Chronicle. Letters may be mailed to The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle, Attn. : Letter to the Editor, P.O. Box 553, Omak, WA 98841; dropped off at The Chronicle office, 618 Okoma Drive, Omak; faxed to 509-8265819, or emailed to news@omak

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