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Quad City Herald
Brewster, Washington
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August 9, 2001     Quad City Herald
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August 9, 2001
 

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J~ Quad City HeraM predicting the--- WI Thurs Aug. 0 Frf, Aug. 10 Sat Aug. 11 Sun Aug. 12 97 60 ~r Mort Aug. 1395 59 ~3 Tues Aug. 1493 57 ~r Wed Aug. 15 92 57 ~r WWW. W~,at h~ .cOlll 98 61 ~ ~ ! Serving the towns of Brewster, Bridgeport, Mansfield, Pateros and lower Methow Valley Volume 100 No. 4 Brewster, Washington liSPS 241-920 5(} August 9, 201}1 Washington State Senator Linda Evans-Parlette (left) and U.S. District to a new fiber optics. Win. E. Vallance photos Senator Maria Cantwell connect the Bridgeport School Gene Schmidt recognized as Administrator of the Year United States Senator Maria Cantwell and Washington State SenalaeLinda Evans-Parlette were in Bridgeport Tuesday. August 6; one to help ctmneet the ' Bridgeport School District to a new level of broadband connectivity to the Internet and the world, and two, to congratulate Bridgeport School Superintendent Gene Schmidt on being selected The Learning Space's Administrator of the Year. Senator Cantwell and Senator Evans-Parlette toured the Bridgeport School's elementary and high school's computer labs along with members of the Douglas County PUD, and local educators. Senator Cantwell, with the help of Douglas County PUD's Lynn Lowther, fused the splices of fiber/broadband to give the Bridgeport School a high speed communi- cations link. The link is part of Douglas County Community Network's fiber optic plan and will help make educational programming available. Senator Cantwell applauded the efforts of the Douglas County PUD and the visions of the educational leaders in Bridgeport. "Thank you for your vision and the leadership it took to make this a reality," Cantwell said. Cont'd on page 12 Bridgeport School District superintendent Gene Schmidt was recognized by local and state officials for being chosen Administrator of the Year. Washington State Senator Linde Evans-Parlette (left) and U. S. Senator Maria Cantwell (center) speak with Bridgeport students. A state auditor's report detailing areas of concern with management in Okanogan County government will be released at the end of this week. Auditors reviewed the county's man- agement for 2000. The report says audi- tor's found that some construction con- tracts issued by the water resources de- partment were let improperly, and that Commissioner Dave Schulz committed an being the only person - on ethics violation "The project was not approved by me. l stepped down." Dave Schulz, Okanogan County Commissioner rl ethics violation by who signed vouch- ers for a grant project that in-' volved his property. The auditors also found inadequate supervision of evi- dence from the Su- perior Court, as well as inadequate su- pervision of some federal grants by the water resources department. In ad- dition, the auditors were concerned about some cash ac- counting proce- dures and monitor- ing of grant sup- plied by the state Department of Commu- nity, Trade and Economic Development. The commissioners requested an audit of the water resources department earlier this year. It has since been eliminated, and its responsibilities have been transferred to the planning and development department. County workers will stop managing the grants that were the focus of the auditor's concern. The county got into the grant busi- ness because it was the only entity with a grant writer, Schulz said. Many of the grants were awarded to allow farmers in the upper Methow Valley to drill wells and stop taking irrigation water from the Methow River. Schulz was one of them; the auditors said he com- mitted an ethics violation when he was the only commissioner signing vouch-, ers for $14,086 on the project. The commission chair (Schulz was chair in 2000) can be the only signer of vouchers, but any vouchers signed by the other commissioners must include both signatures. Schulz and Commis- sioner Bob Hirst said that until this year the commissioners divided voucher- signing duties, with the chair signing some and the rest going to the other two commissioners. Hirst is the chair for 2001, and he said the procedure now requires signatures from all three commissioners. Schulz said he excused himself from the discussion when the commissioners were deciding whether or not to accept the grant and allow the project. "The project was not approved by me. I stepped down." He said he bought 300 feet of PVC pipe and paid for some electrical installation. Those expenses were reimbursed through the grant. The clerk's office is in charge of materi- als---everything from money to stolen mer- chandise--produced as evidence in Superior Court cases. But there is not, according to the auditor, adequate supervision of those mate- rials. Brewster city officials told the auditor that some money may have been missing; Superior Court Clerk Jackie Bradley said the money has not been found. Bradley said the court does not have an evidence room. She has included it in her budget requests for some years, but it always got cut, she said. County officials are working on getting one; the ex- hibits have been transferred to the new sheriff's office in the Vir- ginia Grainger Building, she said. The accounting problem, rec- onciling a trust account, has been ongoing since 1995, according to the auditor's report. Bradley said it started when the accounting system was switched from part- computer, part-ledger to a fully computer- ized system, she said. "'We work on it every chance we get," she said, but the staff is, in her opinion, inadequate to meet all the de- mands. Hirst and Schulz said the commis- sioners plan to examine the clerk's budget during the 2002 budget process. Schulz said the commissioners bid the con- struction jobs in phases; they were on three "We must be more careful, irrigation ditches in the Methow River basin. The county did not have enough money to pay for the whole projects at once, he and this year, But state law requires construc- -'-going to tion projects to be we are bid as whole bemore projects, not in careful," p ,s.F,law requires prevailing wage rules apply to - Bob Hirst, all projects that use Okanogan Countyfederalmoney, and the recipients of Commissioner some grants did not. Schulz said the contracts should have included that language, but didn't. County officials sent letters to all recipients Cont' d on page 5 Washington State Parks and Rec- existing park, officials said. The re- reation Commission members have port written by Parks and Rec staff voted to open negotiations with the members suggests spending the Douglas County Public Utility Dis- money somewhere in north central trier to sell Chief Joseph State Park Washington. on Bridgeport Bar. Chief Joseph State Park is on This does not mean the sale is final, Bridgeport Bar, about halfway be- just that negotiations for sale can be tweenBridgeportandBrewster, origi- started, said parks commission offi- nal plans called for campsites, a boat cials. Any money that is earned from launch, picnic sites and walking/hik- the sale will be placed in the ingtrails. But thatwasbackin 1967, commission's acquisitions fund, and and the park has never been devel- must be spent to buy property, either to start a new park or expand an Cont'donpage 5 district By Cheryl Sehweizer, staff writer Douglas County Fire District No. could he collected would be 50 cents 7 commissioners discussed medical per $1,000 ofassessed property value. emergencies, respondingtothemand If an EMS district was formed, it ways to ensure emergency response could slart its own ambulance service continues with their constituents at a or sign a contract with another pro- public meeting Monday, August 6. rider. A contract between EMS dis- Fire district commissioner Bob lricts would be the only way to get Fischer said district residents re- service from Okanogan County Fire ceived emergency medical services District No. 5, Fischer said. from the city of Bridgeport or The city of Bridgeport recently Okanogan County Fire District No. :formed an EMS utility district. Resi- 5, as a courtesy. But last year dents and businesses who are paying Bridgeport's ambulance servicewas water bills are assessed a monthly suspended briefly, and in the sta- fee, depending on the size of the tus of ambulance service on Bridge- meter. Most residences are assessed port Bar was among the things that $3 per month. was reassessed. Fischer said it appears that tbe city's Fischer said district commission- utility district could be extended into ers and residents had two options--- the fh'e district. Commissioner will to form an emergency services dis- work with Douglas County Public tfict, or join an EMS utility district Utility District, which would collect formed by Bridgeport city officials, the fee. It would be assessed on dec- (The fire district can provide trical meters. The fee would be a fwefighting services only.) A sepa: maximum of $3 per month. Expand- rate EMS district would require an ing the utility district would not re- election. The maximum amount that quire a vote, Fischer said. Three empty seats in Douglas fire district Jerry Neumann flies for Position No. 2 The announcement that all three seats on the Douglas County Fire District No. 7 commission were to be contested in the 2001 general election surprised even the commissioners. But while it's an unusual situation it is right, said Pat Pennington, supervisor of elections for the Douglas County Auditor's Office. Pennington said there has not been a commissioner race in Fire District No. 7 since 1993. If no one files for the seat, the position is declared lapsed and the incumbent remains in office until a succes- sor is appointed, she said. But when a new commissioner is ap- pointed, they must run in the next general election when a fire district is contested, even if it is not the end of the term. That is what happened in Fire District No. 7, Pennington said. Cont'd on page 12 I iii !if