More questions than answers

The community meeting on the closure of the Assisted Living in Tonasket probably resulted in more questions than answers. It certainly gave those in attendance in the Oroville High School Commons something to think about.

Tuesday there were hearings on whether a petition brought by Danny Gratrix and Rosa Snider for a recall and an request for a temporary injunction stopping the hospital from closing at the end of the month. While the injunction was apparently denied, the petition to hold a recall of all the hospital commissioners was withdrawn, according to Snider. She said it was hard going up against the hospital which had its own publicly-funded lawyer. She said the deputy prosecutor didn’t help matters by joking with the hospital’s attorney and saying that the petition didn’t meet the statute. Fearing that proceeding would ruin their chances at rewriting the petition to meet the statute, Gratix and Snider withdrew it, she says.

Pouring salt on the wounds of the Concerned Citizens for Tonasket Assisted Living, Mike Howe, attorney for the hospital district requested and was awarded attorney’s fees and reimbursement for the cost of all the hospital administrators and the three commissioners that attended the hearing, according to Snider. She thinks that this is a form of “corporate welfare” because the public pays for the attorney fees and for the administrators’ time anyway. However, if the group that requested the injunction doesn’t pay, who does? The taxpayers do.

We’re not sure of all the facts on why an Okanogan County Superior Court Judge denied the injunction, but plan on following up next week when it isn’t so close to deadline. We inserted the little article on page one, but we realize there’s more to the story and hope to have something online soon.

One of the biggest takeaways from the Oroville meeting is the claim that the top nine salaried employees have received a combined $288,018 worth of pay increases in the last two years. That’s a lot while the hospital district is still struggling to pay off in the neighborhood of $2 million in warrants to the county. The CEO/Administrator saw her salary increase from $130,208 to $160,160 dollars, an increase of nearly $30,000 a year. And while the median household income, according to the 2010 census was $47,000, many people in the county would be happy to just be earning an annual income of what the CEO got in raises in the last two years.

Snider said that attorney Howe said that the numbers are incorrect. Snider wonders how they can be when she says opponents of the assisted living’s closure got the figures from the hospital district through Public Records requests.

Another question that was raised concerned whether Maintenance and Operation’s Bond Levy money is going toward making payments on the combined Assisted Living Bonds. The group fighting the closure says that’s what the State Auditor says it should be going toward. They claim that if that was being done, a seven-year loss of $821,000 would have actually been only $18,270 over seven years – that’s about $2,600 a year or a few bake sales.

The question is, whose figures are right those fighting the closure or those who say they’re protecting the hospital district from all going under? It looks like round one went to the commissioners and the administrator last Tuesday. Are the opponents of the closure going to fight on? We think they might have the people behind them.

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 the Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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One Response to More questions than answers

  1. James Brant March 25, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    So I was googling and found this article as it mentioned my grandfather, Henry Kniss. I live in Seattle and as a kid would come over in the summer. As a kid I remember the Harts (I think that is who it was), they owned an insurance agency, they were great to me. My grandfather remarried eventually to a girl named Virginia and they live in a house just up from the border.

    My Grandfather retired from the military, U.S. Army, and after my grandmother died, in southern California, he went to work for the U.S. Forest Service, which eventually brought him to Oroville. After traveling the world, Oroville was his last place to live. I was last in Oroville a few years ago and visited my grandfathers grave site. It had been the first time there since his funeral. At the time of his death I was a member of the U.S. Air Force President's Honor Guard and came home from Washington, D.C. for the funeral.

    Hank found a home in Oroville, he loved the people and became part of the community. In the military you do not get to do that and he loved it. My father too was in the military and Hank is how my father met my mother.

    I suspect the City has named other things after other people, perhaps it is worth doing a few to remind todays generation who these people were. Thank you, Jay Grant.

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