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Citizen Editorial: Mason PUD 1 & PUD 3 Commissioners - CleanHydro Highlights Hydropower and River Values

Mason County residents are seeing something on TV and in other media that has been a part of our way of life for over 75 years, yet is often overlooked: how hydropower dams and the incredible power of the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia and Snake Rivers benefit our daily lives.

This public education effort is CleanHydro. It’s coordinated by Northwest RiverPartners, an organization that promotes a balanced approach to managing the federal hydropower system on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Mason County PUD 1 and PUD 3 are members of this group and are proud to support its efforts.

Hydropower seems to have faded in the public’s awareness, along with the understanding and appreciation for the tremendous economic and environmental values of this resource.

The reasons for this are twofold. First, many people have moved here from other places where they didn’t grow up with dams and hydropower. Also, younger generations are not learning about hydropower as they used to.

Second, the energy industry has changed dramatically with the huge growth in other renewable sources of energy, particularly wind. While this has played prominently in the media, hydropower has been overlooked. This gives the perception that these newer technologies are the only renewables in the region.

That’s why Northwest RiverPartners continues to tell the incredible story of our dams, hydropower and Columbia and Snake Rivers. Last year, the CleanHydro campaign increased awareness and support for hydro by demonstrating its value to the Pacific Northwest’s environment and economy. After the campaign, 77 percent of those polled identified hydropower as a clean, renewable source of energy, up from 72 percent. Public support for state and federal laws to identify hydro as a renewable resource has increased by six percent.

The work is not done, which is why it is so important to both of Mason County’s PUDs to be a part of this public education effort again this year.

Hydropower accounts for 75 percent of Washington State’s renewable energy. Mason County PUD 1 receives 88% of its energy from hydro, while PUD 3 receives 87%.

Hydropower is clean; it doesn’t burn fossil fuels and it keeps our carbon footprint about half that of other parts of the country. Hydroelectric power is inexpensive power. It costs much less compared to wind, coal, nuclear and other energy sources.

Hydropower and the Columbia and Snake River commerce system provide many other benefits to the region. Tugs and barges use the rivers to transport billions of dollars worth of agricultural and other products to the world and employ thousands.

CleanHydro is about reviving the conversation about the importance of hydropower. It’s about reminding people of the tremendous energy, economic, and environmental benefits these resources bring to their everyday lives. Telling that comprehensive story helps people appreciate these benefits and understand why they make the Pacific Northwest the envy of the rest of the country.

Take a moment to visit www.CleanHydro.com, which features information about our hydropower. We have a great story to tell. We are proud to be a part of it and hope you’ll join this conversation.

Ron Gold
Board President, Mason County PUD 1

Tom Farmer
Board President, Mason County PUD 3

Citizen Editorial: It’s All About The Topic!

Only 2 people, citizens of the City of Shelton, showed up at this week’s City Commission meeting, which is typical of most City meetings. The City Commission, like most of the Commissions within the county, welcomes Citizens to come to the meetings to learn about all City (County or Port) Business, not just controversial issues. Citizen attendance at public meetings, like citizen voting appears to suffer from citizen apathy. Participation verses second guessing is not nearly as worthwhile, interesting or news worthy.

Jerry Eckenrode, Shelton, WA

Citizen Editorial: 10 Realities about the SHS Swimming Pool

1.  The District receives taxpayer dollars for maintenance & operation, including the pool.  In the past 4 years needed maintenance was not performed on the pool. Pool resurfacing has not been done, largely because the school board delayed the decision to move forward until the window of opportunity was nearly closed.  Sufficient time to accept bids and perform the work was too limited.
2.  In the past 8 years the pool facility has been updated.  The district has spent $500,000 to replace the roof, remove siding, and repair all dry rot.  The HVAC system was replaced dropping estimated utilities by almost half.  Students have painted the locker rooms and begun updating the bleachers.  
3.  Repairs need to be made in the mechanical room. In the past several years the concrete was exposed to concentrated chlorine, creating unnecessary damage to the pool facility.  Once the repairs are made the reasonable pool life will easily be extended 20 -30 years.  (Refer to board meeting minutes November 2012 report from Bob Woods.)
4.  The needed repairs coupled with the deferred maintenance are difficult numbers for the school board to accept, as there are other deferred maintenance projects demanding attention, such as the OBJH roof.  The roof is 20 years old, and there has been known leaks for 15 years.  Did anyone contact the contractor?  In the January 28 study session the board was informed there were no new leaks to the OBJH roof even after severe winter winds and rain.  At that time the board was also informed that minor repairs would be needed for the roof in the ballpark of $75,000.  Why suddenly is the roof pitted against the swimming pool?  
5.  Based on district documents, it costs $160,000 annually to operate the pool.  This number is largely an employment number with $114,000 going directly to payroll for pool management and 25 lifeguards and instructors.  Additional costs include $5,700 for pool chemicals and an estimated $40,000 in utilities (down from $70,000 in 2009-10).  The $160,000 also does not reflect the pool revenue of more than $57,000, bringing operation costs to approximately $103,000.
6. The cost of moving the 3rd grade swim program to another facility could easily cost the district $100,000 annually for pool fees, instructors, lifeguards, and transportation.  This does not include the extended time away from the classroom students will need to have or the additional wear on buses.  
7.  Rental for an alternate facility for the HS swim teams could easily exceed $20,000 annually.  Add to that transportation expenses, at least an additional hour daily traveling outside the community, and reduced study time for students, the cost to the district and students skyrockets.
8.  Due to the cost prohibitive nature of relocation of both the 3rd grade students and the HS swim teams these programs will likely be cut completely.  The district will then spend taxpayer dollars originally slated for the pool on other projects.
9.  The pool cannot be drained for extensive periods because the local water table is too high.  In order to "mothball" the facility there have been 2 options presented recently.  Option A. Change the pool chemicals saving a small amount annually. (The water will need to be kept clean and circulating to prevent stagnation.) Savings would present themselves in the form of reduced payroll.   Option B.  Fill the pool with gravel rendering the facility useless.  This option will not resolve the 120+ PE students daily that will be displaced due to pool closure.
10.  The School Board has decided not to pursue the Ameresco energy grant that included the updating of pool lighting making it more energy efficient.
 
 
 
So what options are available to the school board?  
 
1.  Certify the scaffolding supporting the pit lid for an additional 18 months, with the pit lid to be replaced in the summer of 2015.
2.  Resurface the pool in the summer of 2014.
3.  Reach out to the community for support. Seek out sponsors for the pool.  Treat the pool like the football or baseball field by selling ad space. The terms would necessarily need to be different as the number of eyes seeing the ads would be different, this is a working solution.
5.  Reach out to service organizations for assistance.
6.  Solicit ideas from the community for other district projects like the stadium lighting, the fast pitch field, and the tennis courts.
7.  Search out grants for various district projects.  There are those in the community willing to help.  
8.  Shift pool management and payroll to a Parks and Recreation District.
9.  Reach out to Community officials for help and ideas to meet the district needs.
10.
11.
 
 
There is a solution that does not involve closing the pool.  We are a community full of intelligent insightful people.  We are capable of finding a solution to meet the needs of all.  We must approach the situation with a spirit of listening and compromise.
 
Do not use the Guise of “Our Priority is educating the Children”, there is more to education than curriculum, numbers and the bottom line.  If a child does not feel a sense of connection to their school they will withdraw, test scores will fall and dropout rates will increase. If we work together we can find a solution that is in the best interest of the children as well as the community.

Jacquie MacAlevy
Shelton

Citizen Editorial: SHS Swimming Pool: Valuable for Students, Valuable for Our Community

Recently, the Shelton School Board has been considering whether to close the high school swimming pool. I respect the tough job of determining financial priorities with a limited budget, even so I would like to encourage the board and local citizens to ponder the extraordinary value the pool adds to our county.

The pool provides important programs for students and youth including swim lessons, PE, boys and girls swim teams, third grade water safety program, Quick Water Swim Club, life guarding classes, and employment opportunities. The pool provides important programs for families including open swim, pool rental and swim lessons. The pool provides important programs for adults and seniors including adult lap swim, water aerobics, and open swim.

It would be difficult to name one other facility in this community that provides such a wide range of programs to the whole population, child to senior. In addition the swimming pool is used extensively on a daily basis by the school district. On average, 205 students use the pool every day, including 160 high school students in PE classes. Another 100 people use the pool after school hours. That’s a lot of people in our community using the pool on a daily basis for exercise, recreation, and health.

It is a fact the pool needs repairs. The cement lid in the equipment room is badly cracked and is currently supported by temporary scaffolding. The swimming and dive tanks both need resurfacing to maintain their structural integrity. Based on district documents from January, 2014 the estimated cost for these repairs is just under $250,000. The school board at the January 28 study session predicted repairs would be approximately $300,000. Recently the school board president mentioned the possibility of a $500,000 price tag. On the positive side, according to the director of school district maintenance these repairs do not have to be done all at once but can be spread out over a few years. In addition, the required maintenance would extend the lifespan of the pool by potentially 20 years or more.

I’m a numbers person so I think it’s valuable to look at the approximate expense of fixing and running the pool over the next 20 years.

Repairs ($300,000-500,000) + day to day operations ($121,000 less $57,000 in revenue = $64,000) spread over 20 years = yearly expense of $79,000-89,000

That still sounds like a lot of money until you start looking at the cost per student per day over those 20 years.

200 students per day over a 180 day school year over 20 years = 720,000 days of student use of the pool If we break down the cost of repairing and running the pool per student day, the amount is only $0.11 - 0.13 per day.

Only 13 cents per day for a student to use the pool! Add in all the other people that use the pool after school hours and the cost per person drops even more. Now, this estimate is not exact and cannot predict future costs or inflation; even so, it illustrates the exceptional value the school district receives from this facility. I would predict there are few if any other buildings in the district that are giving this kind of of bang for tax payer buck.

Members of Shelton School Board, please continue to consider all options for keeping the SHS pool open, including looking beyond your own budget constraints to possible community partnerships or grant opportunities. This does not just have to be a school district issue; the strong response from local residents indicates that we are ready to stand with you and look for solutions. For a reasonable amount of money spent over a few years, we can ensure this important and much loved asset remains available to our students and citizens.

Sally Karr
Shelton, WA

Citizen Editorial: Open Letter To Officials

An Open Letter To The City Of Shelton, Mason County, The Port Of Shelton, The Chamber Of Commerce, And The EDC

Why is it that the only businesses that come to Mason County and the City of Shelton, are heavy industrial which have environmental contamination issues? Is this because these companies cannot find other counties or cities that will allow them to operate, and Mason County and the City of Shelton have a reputation for permitting just about anything. I have heard Mason county called, ‘A Toxic Dump’. We cannot afford both the environmental and monetary cost that these companies bring.

It is time for the County and City to reinvent their image goals with the future not the past. Why can’t we try to attract technology that does not come with pollution or contamination.

The County and City have been left with such huge challenges of all the contamination from the last hundred years, that we can ill afford to allow anymore of these types of businesses.

So I am asking the City, the County, the Port, the Chamber of Commerce, and the EDC to try to attract new safe, non-polluting, successful companies to bring their businesses here. We have a beautiful area if we can just get it cleaned up.

Has anyone thought of making the County and City the MODEL FOR TOXIC CLEANUP, a successful program of cleanup that could be used all over the Country. Isn’t this an idea that would get Federal Funding to implement?. Instead of fighting all the efforts to eradicate the pollution and contamination, to actually work with the people trying to keep out and cleanup pollution and contamination that Is here.

This is an alien thought to many but the time has come to face reality. WE CANNOT AFFORD ANYMORE CONTAMINAITON.

Pat Vandehey, Shelton

March 12, 2014