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Fire rating drops to eight

Trout Lake News for Nov. 13

By the

Trout Lake Newswriters

Sandi Thygesen, 395-2318

Terry Scott, 395-2760

Pat Arnold, 395-2233

Bonnie Reynolds, 395-2527

Find a comfortable chair -- this is going to be a long column -- and keep reading. I saved the best for last.

Our high school soccer team has done it again! It will be going as first seed to the regional meet in Spokane on Friday, where the top four teams in our region will compete for one berth to the state-wide "Final Four". Regional competition is single elimination. Trout Lake plays Valley Christian on Friday. If Trout Lake wins that game (go team!), it plays again on Saturday. Congratulations, players and coaches. On to the Final Four in Tacoma!

Upcoming events: Thursday, Nov. 13, Roger Gadway will be speaking about the Frontier Center (the soon-to-be senior center and west-side county building) to the Grange meeting, at the Grange Hall at 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 18, is the next regular Tuesday Potluck at the Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall. The speaker will be Rev. Don Shaw, who is the peace chairperson of the Presbytery of the Cascades. This is a regular third Tuesday event to which all are welcome. Recent discussions have been on apartheid in Africa and on freedom of religion as defined in the U.S. constitution. Call Ardith Thompson or Bettina McCuiston for further information.

Nov. 22 brings the annual Holiday Fair at the school multipurpose room, a great place to find Christmas presents, buy some really good candy and baked goods, see your friends, and start your holiday season. The fair is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with coffee and rolls early and lunch from 11:30 on. The fair is sponsored by the Community Club. Call Laurie Sherburne for information.

As I write this, I am happy to have power. At my place we have had four outages in the last two weeks, and everywhere in town has been out at least twice. The first two outages were trees down in the windstorm, which also blew a tree down onto Cook's garage and another onto Hostetter's house. The third outage was a log truck dumping a load at the Warner/Sunnyside corner, an event which happens every so often. The fourth (dare we think final for this month?) was a wire down near the Forest Service. Just a little reminder to all of us to have our supplies ready for emergencies.

Those of you below the Sprint switch on Warner will be happy to know that the old battery switch has been replaced with a modern switch that should continue to work even during power failures. The old battery switch was good for 12 hours or so, and then if the power wasn't back on our phones went out too. A thing of the past, as of last month.

Thinking optimistically, Trout Laker Judy Barnes wants to know if anyone in town offers sleigh rides when there is snow. Call Judy at 395-3613. Jingle bells optional.

Some people asked me, so I asked Monte Pearson about the farm activities on his place along the highway. The machine with the big tires was spreading lime, a centuries-old organic practice for improving soil. Monte was liming to correct the soil pH prior to planting alfalfa. He is preparing the 20 acres bordering the school for planting hay, and the pasture acreage is being renovated. All of Trout Lake's dairy farms follow organic practices, which stress soil health and improvement, including the use of lime.

Community Council news: Andy Jacobsen, Monte Pearson, Ray Thyggesen, and Pat Arnold were elected to the Community Council -- Ray on a write-in campaign to serve out Glen Lucas' position. Thanks to all who voted.

Landfill money projects will be selected at the December meeting. Two projects were proposed at the November meeting, and of course others could be brought to the December meeting. Landfill money is in short supply this year, with $250,000 to be split between the 17 (more or less) communities, as opposed to the $500,000 available a couple of years ago.

One proposal came from the Fire District to purchase 30 pager/radios. The present pagers are inadequate in that they may receive the tone alerting to an emergency, but they do not always pick up the address, so that the firefighters/EMTs do not know where to respond. The proposed new units could pick up the signal from the new repeater in Glenwood and would be radios as well as pagers, allowing better communication between fire department personnel in town. The units cost $610 each, complete with a holder.

The second proposal was from the school to create a community fitness center. The last unfinished room, across from the new meeting room, would be minimally finished and outfitted with indoor fitness equipment. Uses would include weight training, senior citizen fitness, aerobics, community classes such as dance or karate, and the on-going use by students. Seniors Stephanie Bennett and Sierra Long have chosen for their senior project to construct an outdoor volleyball court and the school's proposal includes a small amount to cover costs for that project beyond donations already being made by community members.

These are two excellent, economical, and useful proposals. Council members would like to hear your opinions before or at the next meeting on Dec. 3. Should only one proposal be sent on to the county, and if so which one, or should the council propose partial funding for both?

The Community Council has moved the meeting from the Grange Hall to the new room at the school (the room was finished using 2003 landfill funds, alert readers will remember).

Now, the headline news. Fire Chief Steve Koenig met on Nov. 5 with an inspector from the Washington Survey and Rating Bureau. The Bureau sets community ratings for fire protection levels. When the first Fire District was set up Trout Lake was rating class 10, or unprotected. George Woodruff petitioned in 1959 to be raised to a rating class 9, and that was granted. Various efforts followed, by Bill Carroll in 1967, and Bill Moran in 1981, 1990, and 1997, to upgrade to rating class 8, but all were denied on the grounds of inadequate equipment and facilities.

Ever since Trout Lake got the new fire hall, engine, and tanker (partly financed by landfill money) we have been anticipating an improvement in the Trout Lake rating, with a subsequent decrease in our fire insurance premiums. Steve has been working hard on providing the documentation and paperwork that had to go with the application, and the list is long: training records, water company and fire district management plans, locations of hydrants, water pressure zones, 911 information, and much more. He finished, he got the inspector here, and it looks like we qualify for the big EIGHT, which means you are better protected and may see a substantial reduction in your fire premiums. The Rating Bureau recommendation goes to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner for approval, which will take two to three months, but no problems are anticipated. The Fire District will notify everyone when the approval is officials. The OIC notifies insurance companies, but once you have the notice from the Fire District you may want to call your company yourself.

Those who are not in the Fire District will be downgraded to a rating level 10, which will make fire insurance either impossible or very expensive. You can tell if you are in the district by looking at your property tax bill. If you are in the District you will be paying the assessment. If you are not in the District this may be the time to find out how to have your property annexed. Over the years some properties have opted out.

Our Fire District would be more than happy to receive a small donation from your insurance savings. The next step, up to a rating level 7, is feasible but requires equipment upgrades.

So thank you to Steve for seeing this process through, to the many generations of District Commissioners and Fire Department staff who worked on this, and to Glacier Springs for their work on hydrants, plans, and all the other things they had to have in place. What a great satisfaction to achieve this goal that has been pursued since 1967, and for us all to know that we are really safer and better protected. Pat Arnold, newswriter.


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