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Methow Valley News

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

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Chaplain collects holiday gifts for inmates there would not be enough T-shirts,” but people came through, he said. Baggett also finds the distribution of gifts tends to come out right. “I just expect the Lord to lay it on the hearts of individuals when they’re out shopping,” he said. He also collects clothing to give out throughout the year, as well as on File photo by Marcy Stamper religious occasions Rev. Bob Baggett and some of last years Christmas booty for people of other for county jail inmates. faiths. The most-needed contributions in- and pencils. Donations may be sent to or dropped clude tube socks and men’s underwear, both in large sizes; socks and sports bras off at the Okanogan County Correctional for women; hair and dental-hygiene sup- Facility, 149 Fourth Ave. N., Okanogan, WA plies; table games such as Monopoly and 98840. Checks should be made out to InScrabble; jigsaw puzzles and card games; mate Christmas Fund. Donors will receive paperback books; and notebooks, pens a letter or receipt for their tax records.

By Marcy Stamper Continuing a 20-year tradition, Okanogan County jail chaplain Bob Baggett is collecting money, nonperishable foods and clothing for the annual Christmas gift bags he provides to inmates. Baggett amasses T-shirts and underwear; candy and cookies; jerky, pepperoni, apples and oranges; and reading material and greeting cards to distribute to all inmates at the jail. He is creating 200 gift packages, about 30 for women. Baggett and his elves make the rounds of prisoners’ cells on Christmas Eve, often to the strains of carols provided by a local choir. Baggett needs about $4,000 to provide for all the inmates. As is often the case, he still comes up quite short at this time of year – he has only received about $250 so far, along with some donations of socks and underwear, but said it always seems to work out. “The good Lord challenges me every year – last year I was worried

BUDGET

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realities than tension. The $17,464,000 county budget is $3 million less than the past two years’, said Hover. Interest income has dropped dramatically, from $1.2 million two years ago to about $200,000, and sales tax revenues are down about 15 percent, according to commissioners Peterson and Andrew Lampe. Negotiations with unions with open contracts are still ongoing and have the potential to alter the final decisions and – number of jobs that will be lost, said Peterson. “Nothing is final yet. We’re still balancing and trying to crunch the numbers. Everything is sitting with the unions – it’s not been a pleasant time,” she said. “The only other alternative is to raise taxes. We can’t do that because people would hang us if we raise taxes to keep

the government running while they’re struggling,” said Hover. “How in the world do you do it in a fair way? You can’t say one department is more

“How in the world do you do it in a fair way? Every department has a job to do that is mandated by law.” Commissioner Mary Lou Peterson important than another. Every department has a job to do that is mandated by law,” said Peterson. “I’m really comfortable with how we did it because it was most fair for everybody.” The commissioners asked each department to make cuts based on their share of the total county budget.

The county is still looking to reduce overtime, a major expense in the sheriff’s department and in the courts, where employees habitually work extra hours to do paperwork. The county has talked about reducing courthouse hours so employees could complete paperwork they cannot get to during the regular workday when they are assisting the public, but no decision has been made, said Peterson. Peterson and Hover thanked all elected officials and employees for working together and doing their job with fewer resources. “Everyone knows that times are tough – everyone is pulling together and biting the bullet,” said Hover. The commissioners had hoped to adopt a new budget Tuesday (Dec. 1) but predicted they would extend the process by at least a week to incorporate new numbers, said Peterson.

Forest seeks advisory committee members By Joyce Campbell The Forest Service is taking nominations to fill two vacancies on the OkanoganWenatchee National Forest’s 15-member Resource Advisory Committee. Members help select projects that provide access, benefit the forest’s infra-

structure and improve the health of the land and watersheds, according to forest supervisor Becki Heath. In a news release on Nov. 24, Heath said, “We are looking for two individuals who can represent one of the 15 interest categories.” A pool of names will be sent to the Secretary of Agriculture for consideration. Since 2000, the forest’s resource advisory committee has helped select more than 260 projects totaling more than $6.5 million. Committee members review projects and make recommendations for the priorities for funding the projects. Nominees should be committed to working col-

laboratively with other interests for the long-term benefit of the national forest system lands. Committee members serve a threeyear term, attend three to four meetings a year in Wenatchee. They review proposed projects prior to meetings and attend a field trip during the summer and fall months in each county. Members serve without compensation, but may be reimbursed for travel and per diem expenses. Applications are due by Jan. 11. Nominees are evaluated based on their education, training and experience working with their interest area, knowledge of the geographic area, commitment to collaborative decision-making and their contribution to the balance and diversity of the committee. Application forms and information are on the regional website at www.fs.fed. us/r6. For additional information or an application packet contact Robin DeMario at (509) 664-9292.

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Weatherwatch

December “A faux Indian Summer will usher in December” – so says the Methow Valley Winter insert available everywhere in the valley. Right on! These first few days of December will have a faux feel to them with temperatures in the high 30s and no snow on the valley floor. Real Indian Summer, though, was way back in early November after the first snow in mid-October. So where’s the snow that the valley is famous for in December? Patience, dear readers, patience. The snow is waiting for the waning of the full moon, which will be happening during the first weekend. And, as the calendar would have it, the waxing of a blue moon during the final weekend (immediately after Christmas) will usher in another snowstorm, but this one will be much more vigorous than the snow of the first weekend. Weatherwatch enjoys having the moon predict the weather instead of mainly poetry! But a poem will tell us what the whole month of December will be like. Bill Biddle In May, 2008,Weatherwatch asked Duane Niatum for a poem that would capture the spirit of the season. He contributed a paean of praise for the finch as the songmaker of spring. Now he has given us a poem about winter that speaks about the cold, snowy month of December in the Methow Valley: Winter Breathing air crisp as spun frost, wind possesses our nerves, hands the running ground for snowflakes. Retreating deeper into afternoon sun, we step around the last petals of the Nootka rose tumbling to the ground, vermilion as the oldest meadow of our elders. We make raven tracks in the snow, sing back to the family of chickadees picking berries glazed with ice, aware and unconcerned with the two thorned beggars sliding by. Spun frost, snowflakes, glazed ice – December. Retreating into afternoon sun is one way of escaping the drama of winter in the Methow. But Weatherwatch readers can take solace in the verve and vigor of the snow and cold of this December. Early winter this year has had a potpourri of snow/cold and rain/warm events. This will continue throughout the whole winter, but the first blast of truly cold air will come over the first weekend accompanied by a snowstorm, then another snowstorm, and yet another snowstorm. By mid-month two feet plus will blanket the valley. And cold – brrrrr! The week before Christmas will be clear and especially cold over the solstice on the 21st. Some valley long-timers will be touting 10- to 20-below readings, vying for the lowest reading. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost will be the poem of that week. The month will end with another snowstorm and the waxing moon, which will be full on the 31st. A good December with moonlight and poetry! January? Stay tuned!

editor@methowvalleynews.com

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