In life change is the only constant

We were surprised by the announcement that state Senator Bob Morton was retiring as of the first of the year.

It seems like Bob has always been our senator here in the seventh district, and he has been for the past 22 years. If you’re old enough you can cast your mind back quite a ways and remember when he followed in the footsteps of Sen. Scott Barr, who also represented the seventh district for many years.

Anyway, even if your politics didn’t always match up with Bob’s, he really did try to represent the feelings of the majority of the folks who lived in his district. He fought hard for farmers and ranchers and those that wanted to put the natural resources of the district to work. He was a strong advocate of water and property rights. And rather than just accept that there was one way to solve the salmon issue and dams, he personally experimented with ways of rearing salmon in buckets in streams. His 2011 Salmon Report: Salmon in Washington State ( is an interesting read. We were unaware that he had been a hunting and fishing guide in both Washington State an Alaska. We were also unaware that Alaska used a model of private hatcheries to help build their salmon populations.

Bob was always friendly and willing to listen, he has some big shoes for the state’s Republican party to try and fill. He will be missed in the seventh district.

Hospital Health

Our hospital district always seems to have something ailing it. Nearly three decades ago it overcame a a heavy financial crisis. With today’s warrants still high it has a ways to go before it’s back in the black again. Under the last administration, separating the district into different divisions seemed to help with reimbursements, especially with longterm care. Further efforts by the current administration have continued to chop away at the nearly $2 million in warrants still owed.

Of particular concern is the state of health of the Assisted Living facility. The latest analysis indicates that it is hemorrhaging money – unable to take in enough money through Medicaid, which most of the residents rely on to cover the actual costs associated with running the facility. And with uncertainty about the future regarding government reimbursements for the other divisions in the district it’s hard to see how the district can go on subsidizing assisted living.

The hospital district hasn’t said it will close down the assisted living, no one wants that, but it is looking for ideas to try and keep it financially viable. That’s kind of the way things were when the nursing home (extended care) was in trouble. Hopefully someone, or some group, will step up with an idea on par with the one that helped to save the nursing home.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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