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The News

Thursday, 02 July 2015 00:00
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Kevin and Julie Schalock have sold their business, Chewelah Insurance Agency, to Bill and Marianna Boyd of Spokane, effective July 1.
“Due to health issues, the need to remove ourselves from ownership in the business became the deciding factor to sell. This was a very difficult decision to make, as the agency has been in the family since 1968 and over the last 37 years we have been extremely fortunate to have had great employees and great customers,” explained Kevin Schalock.
The Boyds were one of several agencies interested in purchasing Chewelah Insurance, according to Schalock.
They have owned Boyd Insurance Brokerage in Spokane since 1996.
“Bill and Marianna were adamant from the start that they wanted to keep the current staff. Offers from other agencies would have removed current staff members and that was not something that we wanted to happen,” Schalock said about choosing to sell to the Boyds.
“Julie and I want to thank all of our customers and friends for their continued support through almost 37 years. Small towns are an amazing place to live and work but the time has come for a new path. We would also like to thank, and we can’t thank them enough, our agency staff including Tamara Bowman, Barry Meyer, and Valerie Skirlaw. They have been awesome!” Schalock said emphatically.
Schalock indicated that the Department of Licensing agency will continue to be open at the same location, continuing to operate in conjunction with the insurance agency.
“Please welcome the Boyd family to Chewelah. They have two daughters and two sons and have skied at 49 Degrees North for several years and love the area. We know they will be a good fit for Chewelah,” Schalock concluded.

 
Thursday, 02 July 2015 00:00
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With extraordinary heat and drought conditions across the state — and forecasts for more of the same — Governor Jay Inslee and Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark are taking steps to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.
One June 26 Inslee issued an emergency proclamation for all 39 counties, activating critical resources needed to prevent and contain expected wildfires. The emergency proclamation gives the Washington State Department of Natural Resources the ability to call on the resources of the National Guard and the State Guard on short notice to assist in responding to wildfires.
“The fire danger now is unlike any we’ve seen in a long time, if ever,” Gov. Inslee said. “We need to be prepared for the possibility of an unprecedented fire season.”
The declaration comes early this year in an effort to have firefighting resources ready to quickly mobilize and stamp out fire starts before they expand to larger wildfires. The order also empowers the Washington State Emergency Operations Center at Camp Murray to coordinate all incident-related assistance to the affected areas.
Last week, about 125 new Washington National Guard members received firefighting training in Yakima. Last year, more than 850 Guard members helped fight wildfires.
In addition, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark has banned all outdoor fires on Washington State Department of Natural Resources-protected lands. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is likewise banning all campfires at state parks and on the ocean beaches Seashore Conservation Area.
This new burn ban, which supersedes DNR’s June 22 statewide burn ban, prohibits campfires in state forests, state parks and anywhere else on the 13 million acres of Washington forestlands DNR protects from wildfire. It will be valid from June 26 until September 30.
“Our forests and grasslands are so dry that once a fire starts, it will be more difficult to suppress. We need to take all precautionary steps possible, and residents should do whatever they can to reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires,” said Goldmark.
The expanded statewide ban prohibits all fires, including wood and charcoal fires in designated campground fire pits or campfire rings. Gas and propane cook stoves are allowed. Fireworks and incendiary devices, such as exploding targets, sky lanterns, or tracer ammunition, are always illegal on all DNR-protected forestlands, including state parks.
The DNR burn ban does not cover federal lands such as national forests, national parks, national wildlife refuges or other areas administered by federal agencies. It also does not cover county and municipal parks. Visitors to national, county and city parks should contact the park for specific restrictions on campfires.
The Governor and Commissioner are also urging people to limit their use of fireworks, or forgo fireworks completely.
“Fireworks, while often part of our Fourth of July celebration, pose an increased risk with the extremely dry conditions we’re experiencing this year,” Gov. Inslee said. “We’re strongly urging people to not use them this year and celebrate in a different way.”
Residents are encouraged to contact their local officials to determine whether any city or county ordinances are in place that prohibit the use of fireworks.
DNR fire and forest health experts believe some of the uptick in the number of earlier fires is due to years of persistent drought on the east side of the Cascades, which have weakened forests and made them more susceptible to insects and disease. Ailing forests become flammable “tinder bombs” ready to ignite from a human-caused spark or lightning strike.
Over recent years, the state wildfire season has begun earlier and with greater intensity. As of June 23, there have been 313 wildfires across the state. In 2014, by this date, there were 214 wildfires; in 2013 there were 169; in 2012 there were 155; and in 2011 there were 55 wildfires by this date.
DNR is awaiting legislative action on requests for $4.5 million for additional firefighting teams and equipment and $20 million to improve the health of drought-ravaged, flammable forests.
Last year’s fire season was the biggest on record in Washington, with the largest state fire ever — the Carlton Complex — destroying more than 250,000 acres. More than 1 million acres of Washington’s landscape has been consumed by wildfire since 2009.
-Submitted by DNR

 
Thursday, 02 July 2015 00:00
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A dramatic drop in stream flows caused by drought will restrict water right usage for Stevens County irrigators starting this week. The 58 junior water users on the Colville River will have their water use regulated for the first time ever this year. The river is currently flowing at 28 percent of normal, according to the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE). The junior water right irrigators (rights issued after 1977) have water rights that can be restricted when stream flows drop below certain levels as set by law. Junior water users will have to call a hotline to find out if they can irrigate that day. In a normal year, junior water users aren’t typically asked to restrict their use until late September, according to DOE.
The reason for the restrictions is tied to drought being experienced throughout the state. DOE said snowpack in Washington melted a month early, and 43 percent of rivers statewide are now running at record-low levels. Snowpack is the primary water supply for most of Washington’s rivers. In a normal year, snow accumulates over the winter and then slowly melts in the spring and summer with the runoff feeding the state’s rivers and farms.
Low snowpack has also contributed to the Colville River running at its lowest level since 1977, according to Jessica Payne, Communications Manager for DOE.
“We have only seen the (Colville) river this low a handful of times in 91 years,” said Payne. “We pull river data from a USGS gaging station on the lower Colville River before it empties into Lake Roosevelt to monitor the river levels.”
The impacts of the low water include the curtailment notices to junior water right holders as well as increased risk of wildfire.
“These are really hard times for farms and fish, and many people in the state,” said Ecology Director Maia Bellon in a recent press release. “We’re working hard to provide support and relief across the state to communities and irrigation districts.”

By Jamie Henneman, The Independent Staff

 

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