Out of My Mind, Jan. 5, 2012

Interesting to look back at the year that was

If you get the chance take a moment to look back with us over the previous year’s headlines, I always find it interesting.
We saw several recurring themes in 2011, especially when it came to government agencies. County residents seemed to get most hot under the collar regarding increases in our electrical rates and the direction of the still unfinished Comprehensive Plan. Public meetings on both issues were often well attended and tension filled.
Other recurring themes, mixed in with annual festivals and events, included the ongoing battle to pay down the warrants at North Valley Hospital, plans to annex and provide sewer service to the Mill Drive/Seventh Street area of Tonasket and discussions over how to pay back the loans for the Eastlake Sewer System. Then there were the ongoing city council and school board meeting discussions.
Something that dominated the news for a time this spring, and a story that I’d almost already forgotten about, was the spring runoff that brought worries about potential flooding between Tonasket and Oroville. It was no flood of 1972, but it was good to see local county and city governments doing their best to prepare for the worst should it have happened.
The canola crushing plant got a lot of ink this year as they kept trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together to start up their business. Just last month they crushed their first big run of canola seeds. We continue to wish them all the best in the new year as they bring badly needed new jobs to the area.
It came as no surprise that the area had taken a downturn construction wise. Vacation-housing had slowed considerable from the couple of previous years. Okanogan County Assessor Scott Furman let us know just how much it had dwindled when he announced that the latest yearly reassessment showed a 10 percent drop in property evaluation in the Oroville area.
In fact, the only construction other than at Oroville Reman and Reload seemed to have been done by the federal government with work underway on a new Border Patrol Station and Nighthawk Port of Entry – both multimillion dollar projects.
Although the schools continue to struggle with financing as the state keeps cutting back, there was often good news from Tonasket and Oroville School Districts. Lucky Oroville students got to travel to the Dominican Republic and to Turkey on cultural exchange programs, Dave Mitchell was named a Washington Hall of Fame Coach, a Tonasket student was accepted into the Washington Aerospace Scholarship Program at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, two Oroville teachers won a $10,000 technology grant for the school and George Thornton was a Golden Apple winner for teaching excellence. To start the year off right the Hornets handily won in their first visit to Qwest Field in the Emerald City Kickoff Classic. Much positive news came out of both schools.
Although I don’t look forward to actually typing up our Looking Backs, I do enjoy the reminder of how active our coverage area is and the many diverse things that combine to make our communities what they are. I hope you enjoy this first installment of our year in review and stick around to read about the second half of the year next week.