Staff members are staying on
The fitness center and medical equipment shop on Main Avenue have changed hands, but customers will continue to see familiar faces there.
May 14, 2014- Business Briefs
K.C. Sherwood began work Monday
The state Liquor Control Board has tentatively approved an Okanogan, Omak and two Winthrop businesses to receive retail marijuana licenses.
Changes just part of a ‘bigger plan,’ official says
Okanogan County commissioners’ decision to eliminate two employee positions at the fairgrounds last week has been met with some outrage.
The Okanogan County Transit Authority has received a $390,402 grant from the state Department of Transportation to purchase its first three buses for the new voter-approved public transportation system.
Several companies to be considered for state licenses
There weren’t enough qualified marijuana retail applicants in the city or in Okanogan County at large to merit a lottery to determine who might get a business license, but four companies could receive theirs.
Lack of physicians to monitor patients leads to closure
Citing physicians’ scheduling conflicts, Three Rivers Hospital commissioners have decided to shut down the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program effective May 22.
All aspects of local health care system under scrutiny
Dozens of area health care professionals gathered Wednesday for the first hospital committee meeting, but not much was decided except to keep the committee going and focus on preserving services.
Three of the five highest-spending lobbying groups in Olympia during the first quarter of 2014 were labor unions, including three that represent employees paid with tax dollars.
Graham, Hufnagel will overlap during transition period
Three Rivers Hospital is paying its next CEO, J. Scott Graham, $3,461 per week as a transition adviser before the commissioners can approve his employment contract next month.
This week, our shopper takes on a whole new look in Okanogan County. As part of The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle’s continued growth strategy, our Bottomline shopper has been renamed Bigfoot Ads.
Farmers market to open OKANOGAN — The Okanogan Valley Farmers Market opens for the season Saturday morning. Market hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays in Legion Park on North Second Avenue. Opening day will feature live music, an espresso stand and a variety of plant starts, baked goods and crafts, spokesman Rick DeLap said. Some early greens also might be offered. Parking is available at the north end next to the Okanogan Fire Hall Museum, 1410 N. Second Ave., at the south next to the Okanogan Legion Hall, 860 N. Second Ave., and across the street at the Okanogan County Public Utility District headquarters, 1331 N. Second Ave. The Okanogan Valley Farmers Market site in Omak’s Civic League Park will open in June. The Methow Valley Farmers Market is open from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays at the Methow Valley Community Center, 201 Methow St., Twisp. ----- Alliance surveys businesses OMAK — The Economic Alliance is surveying small businesses in Okanogan County. Along with basic information about business size, type and ownership, the survey asks questions about employee retention, access to financing, government permitting and regulations, shoplifting and theft, worker skills, wage and benefit costs, market change, business planning, advertising, interest in business seminars and other topics. During last Wednesday’s meeting, the group heard about business financing from Umpqua Bank’s Brewster Manager Coleen Couch and North Cascades Bank Okanogan Vice President and Loan Officer Jeff Brender. The alliance will give a June presentation to the county about the .09 infrastructure fund. The board’s next meeting, set for May 28, will include a presentation about Kinross Gold. ----- Chamber elects officers BRIDGEPORT – Officers have been elected to serve on the newly revived Bridgeport Area Chamber of Commerce. Mario Martinez is president, Hugo Martinez is vice-president, Marilynn Lynn is treasurer and Amparito Martinez is secretary. Scott Wright and Ron Lewis are at-large board members. As of last week, the chamber had about a dozen members, Lynn said. Glacier reports record income KALISPELL, Mont. – Glacier Bancorp, parent company of North Cascades Bank, has announced an all-time record net income of $26.7 million for the current quarter. That’s an increase of 29 percent from the prior year’s first quarter. North Cascades Bank has branches in Brewster, Grand Coulee, Okanogan, Omak and Twisp.
McMorris Rodgers named Legislator of the Year by National Hydropower Assocation
Some want animals rounded up and removed
A half-dozen bands of feral horses are roaming the hills, trampling range land and potentially posing a health risk to other livestock. They’re not wild mustangs, but instead are former domestic animals or their offspring. And they’re causing conflict and consternation among local residents, and frustration for law enforcement officials. “People seem to think animals can adapt to their environment. They take a domestic horse out there, and they expect that” the horse can fend for itself, said Deputy Dave Yarnell, the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office’s designated animal officer. But newly released horses, accustomed to having human contact and bales of hay put out for them, don’t know what to do on their own. “They forage around. They don’t know where the shelter is, where the dangers are,” he said. He estimated there are 70-100 feral horses in the Aeneas Valley area of the Okanogan Highlands, and there have been reports of such animals in other parts of north Okanogan County. “We have had several reports over the years with wild horses, especially in that area,” Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said. “We have rounded up some over the years. There are a lot more up there.” Yarnell said feral horses can be a problem for ranchers. They eat forage on cattle grazing lands, thus making less for the cattle and stressing the land; get into springs developed for the cattle; trample native grasses; spread noxious weed seeds; damage wildlife habitat, and spread disease to other animals. One emaciated, feral horse showed up on someone’s property recently and collapsed. It was so sick it couldn’t move its head. “We thought at first it had strangles, which is highly contagious,” Yarnell said. Strangles is a bacterial upper respiratory disease also known as equine distemper. Further investigation showed the horse had an impacted molar, which led to further infection. The horse couldn’t eat and pretty much starved. It had to be put down. “That’s an example of what can happen. They can spread disease or they can suffer if injured,” he said. Another problem is with stallions, which lead the feral horse herds. They can impregnate pedigreed horses owned by breeders. Yarnell said one breeder had to abort several mares after a feral stallion visited the domestic herd. “We’ve had ranchers threaten to shoot them, but that might bring in predatory animals,” he said. “Besides, we don’t want dead horses everywhere.” On the other extreme, some people in the area feed the horses but don’t really own them. As long as the horses have the ability to move across the range, they’re considered feral. “It’s illegal for people to allow them to run at large, but there’s no crime to enforce unless the horse is branded,” Yarnell said. At that point, for branded animals, the state brand inspector can get involved. Rogers said responsibility for dealing with the feral horses lies with his office, but the costs involved can be prohibitive. The department has had a designated animal deputy, who also has other patrol duties, for less than a year and no additional budget for animal control. “We do what we can,” he said. “Deputy Yarnell has been working on this issue for several months and is trying to organize something to go and round up the horses. The biggest problem is money, but we are doing what we can.” Yarnell said a roundup looked promising for a while, when a non-profit rescue operation in Stevens County offered to come in, corral the horses and take them to be trained and adopted. “We started to put together a plan, then we found out they had some legal problems,” he said. He checked into having a professional roundup organization come in but was given a ballpark quote of $80,000 to $120,000. “It’s totally cost-prohibitive for the county to hire someone,” he said. In the meantime, Yarnell said the county encourages ranchers and interested parties to round up horses on an individual basis. “If they’re captured, people can keep them or take them to the sale yard,” he said. “The county can’t just house them.” He said the Sheriff’s Office can help facilitate roundups, and asks that he be kept in the loop if horses are rounded up. “We need to know they’re no longer at large,” he said. One ranch in the area did round up some of the horses, but eventually turned them back to the range when others in the area complained. Some people in the area don’t want the horses removed, but that’s not really a solution because of the range and health issues involved, Yarnell said. Nourishing Hand, a north end shelter with which the county contracts to care for abandoned and seized horses on a short-term, doesn’t have the facilities to deal with the feral horses, Yarnell said. There’s also been talk of creating a wild horse refuge, but that also poses problems since the horses then would be considered “owned,” he said. “How do you contain horses that don’t respect fences?” he said. “You need lots of land. Perimeter security would be needed.” The feral horses generally are well fed and in adequate health. “They’ve learned to adapt, but they’re mostly skittish,” he said. “Since it’s such a long-term situation, many are wild-born.” Compounding the problem is the continued dumping of horses. A couple showed up in Tunk Valley just recently. “People need to realize abandoning them is animal cruelty,” Yarnell said. “If they are caught in the act, there are serious consequences,” including felony prosecution. Okanogan County isn’t alone in having to deal with feral horses. The Colville Indian Reservation also is home to herds of such animals. The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs’ range office estimates there are around 1,000 feral horses on the reservation. The tribe recently received a $10,000 BIA grant for a count of the horses during the tribe’s annual helicopter count of game populations. BIA estimates every feral horse eats around 25 pounds of forage a day, or nearly 4.5 tons per year per horse.