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The Chewelah School Board has decided to move forward with the same bond proposal as they did in 2013 in the upcoming February 2015 election, with the hopes of gaining the elusive 200 votes that caused the bond to fail the first time.
“Based on the feedback we received, we are going to run the same bond that includes the $500,000 to improve the Gess Elementary building because it is the right one for the district,” said Superintendent Rick Linehan. “By visiting with other districts, we have determined it will not be a good move to split the bond up as it can prove confusing to people and is not the optimal move for receiving matching state funds.”
The bond proposal would allow the district to receive $10.12 million in state matching funds with $10.5 funded by property owners in the district via the bond. The proposal would remodel the existing 56,600 square feet at the Jr./Sr. High Building to “meet the needs of the district for the next 30 years and add 19,500 for additional classrooms and gymnasium/multipurpose space.” The cost of Option 1 for the district taxpayer per $1,000 of assessed value would depend on the length of the bond. A 20 year bond would cost $1.61/per $1,000 assessed, 15 years would cost $1.95/per $1,000 assessed, 10 years would be $2.75 per $1,000 assessed and 5 years would be $5.66/per $1,000 assessed.
“If we can pass this bond, the district buildings will be set for the next 50 years,” said Chewelah School Board Chair Loretta Burkey. “We are supposed to do the best job with taxpayer monies and be fiscally responsible. We 

don’t want to pass a bond just to pass a bond. This proposal isn’t lavish, it’s just the funds needed to update buildings that are 40 years old.”
The Board agreed to have Superintendent Linehan bring back an official resolution for the board to consider at the December meeting.
Prior to determining to re-run the 2013 bond, the board had considered a slightly different option, “Option 2.”
Option 2 would have added the additional 19,500 square feet to the Jr/Sr High school and provided 4 classrooms, 1 computer lab and secondary gym/multipurpose space. The existing school would not be remodeled but would be eligible for matching state grant funds at a later date. The total cost would be $6.84 million, with $2.7 million coming from state funds. The rate to taxpayers for a 20 year rate would be $.67 cents/per $1,000 assessed; a 15 year rate would cost $.81 cents; 12 years would cost $.96 cents and 5 years would cost $2.34/$1,000 assessed.
However, breaking up the bond into two separate proposals was decided against.
“There is no factual basis to think that breaking the bond up into two separate proposals would make anyone change their mind,” said Superintendent Linehan.
For more information, contact the Chewelah School District at 935-8311.

By Jamie Henneman, The Independent Staff

 
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A generous and fun-loving crowd turned out on Friday night in support of Becky Washington’s first annual Pub Crawl fundraising event. Over 120 people took part, generating $610 for the local Becky’s Best Buddies pet shelter and adoption organization.
The most exciting part of the night came when the participants gathered at the Sportsman’s Bar and Grill at 9 p.m. to hear which one had put together the best five-card poker hand to win the split- the-pot competition. As it turned out, the winner had been dealt a nearly unbeatable hand. After visiting the five local pubs, Ron and Janet Rosenberger returned with 

a nearly unbeatable hand of four aces and a king, eliciting cheers from the entire room. Only a royal flush could have topped their hand. Their winnings—half of the pot—totaled $610.
Can you imagine visiting five local pubs and restaurants, being dealt one card at each place, and having four of those cards be aces?
However, as it turned out, this was not the highlight of the event. Unknown to most of the night’s revelers, the Rosenbergers had told Washington prior to the finale, that if they won, they would return all of their winnings to Becky’s Best Buddies, which doubled the event’s donation total to $1,220.
“Janet and I have been two of Becky’s supporters for the past 10 years,” said Ron. “We always give a donation around Christmas time when she does her Pet Photos With Santa fundraiser.
“So, when this opportunity presented itself, I thought we should take the chance to give an even bigger donation than usual. Before the winner was determined, I told Becky that if we won, she should keep the money. We told only a few friends what we had done before we left.”
Later, Washington told the crowd what the Rosenbergers had done.
The participants, 122 in all, paid $10 to enter the event. They were each given a game card and sent to spend an evening of food and drink at the five local beverage establishments, and to be dealt a poker card. The five ‘pubs’ included Sporty’s, ChewVino, The Chalet, Mondo’s, The Oasis, and El Ranchito. Contestants strolled from one establishment to another, enjoying appetizers, dinner, dessert, and drinks.
“You can be assured that I will make good use of every penny of this money,” said Washington.
As it turned out, the event was a good for Becky’s Best Buddies, local businesses, and all who participated.

By Geno Ludwig, The Independent Staff

 
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In preparation for next year’s budget, the Chewelah City Council authorized a one percent increase in property tax collections for 2015 at their regular meeting on Nov. 5.
The increase, in addition to taxes from new construction and annexed properties, will result in total property tax collections of $409,275.
The council also approved new utility rates which will become effective with the December billings. A three dollar increase to the basic monthly electric charge and increases to garbage rates are the only changes for the coming year. All other rates will remain the same. Residential and small commercial electric customers will see a monthly base increase from $2 per month to $5 per month. Commercial three phase demand customers will raise from $10.60 to $13.60. Large commercial customers will increase from $208.35 to $211.35.

Base electric utility charges were lowered in 2013 from $8.60 to $2 to help customers offset a portion of increases in utility taxes and an increase in property taxes due to the city’s annexation into the Stevens County Rural Library District.
City Administrator Mike Frizzell emphasized that this new increase in base utility rates was necessary to cover a 2013 wholesale electric rate increase from Bonneville Power Administration. The council had previously decided to not pass the rate increase on to city customers.
The rate increase is expected to generate an additional $46,000 for the electric department.
Residential and commercial garbage toter customers will see a 50 cent per month increase on their utility bills. Commercial dumpster customers will see an increase as well. The increases are part of a incremental plan adopted by the council in 2013 that allows for similar garbage rate increases each year through 2017.
In other business, the council adopted a new dangerous buildings ordinance.
According to the ordinance, if the city determines that a building is “unfit for human habitation” or is “dangerous or injurious” to occupants or neighbors, the building is considered a Nuisance. Conditions indicating a Nuisance building include,”the hazards of fire or accident; inadequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects, uncleanliness, overcrowding or inadequate drainage.”
Owners of a Nuisance building will have a hearing with the Building Official (currently the City Administrator) who will give a time frame for making repairs to or demolishing the building. If repairs or removal of the building is not made, the city may undertake abatement efforts and file those expenses against the property through the Stevens County Treasurer.
The council also approved updated Public Works job descriptions, position requirements, and pay schedules. Beginning in 2015, water, sewer, and street department wages range from $19.66 to $23.02 per hour; garbage truck drivers and mechanics will earn $20.46 to $23.02; waste water treatment plant operators will be paid $23.02 to $25.90; and the Public Works Supervisor will earn $26.94 per hour.
An annual agreement with Family Support Center for 2015 was approved by the council. Family Support Center is a program of Rural Resources Community Action.
The City will pay Rural Resources $4,500 to provide services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Chewelah. According to the agreement, those services include: Trained staff/volunteers to assist victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault crimes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week; Community education and awareness to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault crimes; Recruitment of volunteers and providing them the state mandated training to assist victims; Assistance to the Chewelah Police Department when officers identify victim needs or request assistance; and provide the city with an annual report summarizing the services provided by the program.

By Jared Arnold, The Independent Staff

 

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