Wenatchee World

Brewster after-school club gives students a sanctuary — Next stop, East Wenatchee?

Story published in The Wenatchee World Jan. 22, 2016.


NCW — Tim and Jennifer Isensee have taken their two sons to the Brewster Boys & Girls Club since its grand opening in March.

Since then, the family has seen changes to their 11- and 8-year-old boys’ manners, friendships and self-esteem.

I wish that all children in the town could go because, I mean, it’s only $30 for a whole (school) year, which is nothing,” Jennifer said, “and I’ve seen a lot of kids with their confidence boosted and being more active.”

The Snohomish County Boys & Girls Club has helped keep the Brewster club financially stable after the Carlton Complex Fires, director Brian Paine said. Once the Brewster club is able to fully recover from the fires, becoming self-sufficient, a regional, multi-million-dollar Boys & Girls Club facility could come to the East Wenatchee area.

I can’t wait to bring this to the Wenatchee Valley,” Paine said. “We’re so close to doing some really great things … I’m over-anxious all the time.”

This could be two to three years out. A corporate sponsor is already lined up, but he wasn’t able to name them. It could cost anywhere from $3 million to $5 million, he said.

The club has already seen high attendance in Brewster, averaging between 50 and 100 children between ages 5 and 18 each day after school. The Brewster Boys & Girls Club has more than 250 registered members, Paine said.

The mission of the club is to “enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens,” Paine said. “The whole premise of Boys & Girls Club is to be open when school’s not open.”

According to statistics provided by Paine, 86 percent of Washington alumni said the Boys & Girls Club helped them graduate from high school.

We thought it was a good avenue rather than coming home, sitting on the couch, watching TV, or going to daycare,” Jennifer Isensee said. “My kids don’t want to come home … they tell me, ‘Can you come pick us up at 6 when it closes?’”

The club offers specific programs, such as Passport to Manhood, for kids of various ages. Paine said the club focuses on a fun learning environment, being a safe place with quality people, facilities and equipment.

When you provide those things for kids, kids will want to be a part of it,” he said.

To donate to the club, Paine can be contacted at 509-689-1192 or by email at bpaine@bgcsc.org. Donations are also accepted online at bgcsc.org by selecting the Brewster club through the Snohomish County club’s site.

What we’re about to do is a game-changer,” Paine said. “I’m excited about it.”

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Wenatchee World

Nearly five times more heroin seized in 2015 as crisis is declared in Washington

Story published in The Wenatchee World Jan. 13, 2016.


WENATCHEE – New data show heroin use is rising in the Wenatchee Valley as a large group of Washington state agencies last week declared a “crisis” with opioid and heroin abuse statewide.

Officials with the Columbia River Drug Task Force seized nearly five times the amount of heroin in 2015 compared to 2014, according to statistics provided by the agency. In 2014, 549 grams were seized. That jumped to 2,676 grams in 2015.

Last week, a group of state agencies released a working plan to combat opioid abuse across Washington.

Washington state is currently experiencing an opioid abuse and overdose crisis involving prescription opioids and heroin,” the report said. “Approximately 600 individuals die each year from opioid overdose with an increasing proportion of those deaths involving heroin.”

Four groups were established to work on the issues including: preventing misuse of opioids, treating opioid dependence, preventing deaths from overdose, and using data to monitor and evaluate. The agencies that released the plan include the state Department of Health, state Department of Social and Health Services, state Department of Labor and Industries, the state Health Care Authority, and the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.

In 2013, the Columbia River Drug Task Force investigated 17 cases involving heroin. That number increased to 43 in 2014, and dropped back to 27 in 2015.

How do you stop it?” Sgt. Chris Foreman with the drug task force said. “You stop it by going after the people who are bringing it in … that’s what we’re doing by working up the chain of suppliers. Most heroin comes into the valley from Snohomish County, he said.

Foreman said like many things, the internet and social media could be a factor in the increase. “I think it’s something that is a trend throughout the whole West Coast, but specifically from the major cities of Portland and Seattle. I think for whatever reason, people started abusing prescription opiate medication,” Foreman said. “Addicts out there wanted to get high and heroin was the solution.”

In the last three years, heroin addicts have accounted for 8.7 percent — 225 — of the patients treated by The Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment in Wenatchee. Six of the 225 patients were youths.

What we treat is addiction — we don’t treat drugs,” executive director Loretta Stover said Friday. “Addiction is the epidemic.”

In the heroin recovery process, addicts go through withdrawal. That includes pain, muscle aches, sweating, chills — “a horrible, horrible case of the flu,” clinical director Chris Tippett said.

In treatment, (heroin addicts) don’t need to be segregated,” Tippett said. “They’re not strangely odd or different than people that are there because of other substances. They fit in to the fabric of the treatment program. They do just as well, success-wise (and) completion rate-wise.”

Officers with the drug task force, which focuses on Chelan and Douglas counties, also investigated 128 methamphetamine cases in the last three years. In the past two years, they seized 2,949 grams of meth and 673 opiate-based pills.

Most of the stories I hear, (addicts) start out with a legitimate prescription, particularly in that 20 to 35 age group,” Tippett said of the opiate-based pills.

Opiate-based pills include OxyContin, Xanax, and Suboxone. All are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but they are traded on the black market by drug users.

[Suboxone is) mainly used when heroin addicts can’t afford heroin, since heroin is going for $15 to $20 for a (tenth) of a gram,” Foreman wrote in an email. Most heroin addicts use up to a gram a day, he said. Suboxone pills go for $10 to $15 in our area.

Dr. Michael Travers is one of the only doctors in the area who prescribes Suboxone. The drug is a combination of two drugs: a long-acting opiate combined with an opiate antagonist.

Suboxone reduces cravings in people who have a heroin addiction, Travers said. Patients come into his Chelan practice and declare their addiction — Travers puts them on a plan to begin recovery.

The addicts have major problems in terms of turning their lives around,” he said. “The addiction itself is something that really takes control of their life.”

Brand name Suboxone is covered by insurance carriers, and Travers estimated it goes for about $20 per dose. “It’s very effective,” he said. “That’s not to say people don’t abuse it — they do.”

Currently, Travers has up to 40 addicts who are on this program. They are monitored at monthly checkups for using drugs or alcohol. He said most patients stay on the drug long-term.

We’ve got a lot of addicts in the Valley,” he said. “I have never seen so much.”

Wenatchee World

Going for the gold

Story published in The Wenatchee World July 22, 2015.


WENATCHEE — If there’s one thing that makes 24-year-old Jordan Broderson nervous about competing at the Special Olympics World Games, it’s not the gold medal on the line.

In May of 2010, Jordan Broderson, drives his ball at Sahalee Country Club. Photo by Don Seabrook.
In May of 2010, Jordan Broderson, drives his ball at Sahalee Country Club. Photo by Don Seabrook.

It’s all the fans who will be watching his every step, in person and on national television.

This is going to be my first time in the Special Olympics World Games with people watching me,” Broderson said Monday. “This is going to be a lot more different.”

Broderson is one of five athletes from Washington who will compete at the games, which kick off Saturday and run through Aug. 1.

Broderson qualified for the world event last summer at the Washington State Summer Games on Joint Base Lewis McChord.

It’s been a lot of practice for the Special Olympics,” Broderson said. He’s practiced with his dad, Dusty, and step-dad, Chad Sangster, for years.

When Broderson was as young as 2, he played with plastic golf clubs. By age 7, he was playing with a real set of clubs.

Broderson has competed at state Special Olympics for at least the past 12 years, winning a gold medal all but one of the years.

I’d like the gold medal (at the World Games),” Broderson said just before heading to Seattle Monday afternoon.

In October, Broderson traveled to Indianapolis where he practiced with Team USA.

His Team USA coaches are Alan Hirschman from Texas and Andrew Cameron from Minnesota.

In February, Broderson went to Los Angeles to play the course where he will compete next week. “It’s much more brighter and much more nicer,” Broderson said of the California course. He doesn’t foresee any challenges with playing his game at this course.

Broderson regularly golfs at the Wenatchee Golf & Country Club and Three Lakes Golf Course. During the winter, he plays at Golfer’s Edge, an indoor golfing facility in downtown Wenatchee.

He’s worked awful hard to get here,” Sangster said.

The Washington athletes and their coaches left Sea-Tac Airport at 6:45 Tuesday.

First Lady Michelle Obama is expected to appear at the opening ceremony Saturday.

Broderson’s parents and family friends will travel to the Los Angeles area to cheer him on.

Although he’ll stay with Team USA at the hotel, he will see them at the course each day.

I’m kind of getting excited that my family will get to come to this one,” Broderson said.

It’s anticipated that 6,500 athletes and 2,000 coaches from 165 countries will be represented through the course of the games. Nearly 25 Olympic-style venues in the Los Angeles area will be used to accommodate an expected 500,000 fans.

The games will be telecast on national networks beginning Thursday. The Countdown to the Special Olympics World Games with Robin Roberts airs at 6 p.m. Thursday on ESPN.

For a complete TV schedule, go to: espn.go.com/extra/specialolympics.

It’s not just golf that Broderson has played in his time as a Special Olympics athlete. He also has played soccer and basketball, but golf is the one that he likes most — and wins most.

I don’t have to run in golf,” Broderson said, “…just have to ride carts.”

Wenatchee World

20 years in the making: Wildfire exhibit set to open at museum

Story published in The Wenatchee World July 21, 2015.


WENATCHEE — Chris Rader has worked in some capacity with the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center for the last 10 years. In that time, there’s only been one exhibit with a crew larger than the one planning a new wildfire exhibit that’s 20 years in the making.

Nearly 30 people have been working in some way, regularly, to make the exhibit come to life, Rader said.

Set to open to the public Sept. 4, the Wildfires and Us exhibit will boast 141 pictures, most of them taken by local photographer John Marshall. There will also be 13 text panels, and 10 themes of wildfire education, in nearly 2,700 square feet of space.

The exhibit is going to raise awareness of some of the problems and get people thinking about maybe governmental changes that would make it easier to restore forest health,” said Rader, the museum’s communications and programs coordinator.

Fire tears through trees along the Wenatchee River west of Leavenworth in Tumwater Canyon during the 1994 Hatchery Creek Fire. Photo by John Marshall.
Fire tears through trees along the Wenatchee River west of Leavenworth in Tumwater Canyon during the 1994 Hatchery Creek Fire. Photo by John Marshall.

The exhibit will also feature trees with burn scars, firefighting equipment lent by the Forest Service, and clothing required to fight fires.

Some reference will be made to the Sleepy Hollow Fire, Rader said, but it won’t be the main thrust of the exhibit.

Marshall’s photos date as far back as 1994 when large firestorms, including the Tyee Creek Fire, broke out near Leavenworth and Entiat, Rader said.

In 1994, I had no idea they’d be at Wenatchee Valley Museum,” Marshall said. Now he is excited for the public to be educated on the area’s environment. “People need to understand that we live in an environment that historically burns quite often.”

Originally, the plan was to have before and after photos of the 1994 fires in the exhibit. Marshall took photos from the same locations on a regular basis as wildland regrew. After the Carlton Complex Fire last year, the planning group decided to expand the scope of the exhibit to tell the whole story of wildfire in the eastern Cascades.

It’s part of the ecosystem,” Rader said. “Wildfire around here is inevitable … so we’re not going to change it.”

The museum hopes to educate the public on types of fires, natural forest conditions, plants and animals that have adapted to fire, and the benefits of prescribed burning.

Stopping wildfires has not been good for the forests, Rader said. That has allowed forests to become too dense, creating more fuel for wildfires to get out of hand.

Museum staff also plan to partner with Wenatchee and Eastmont School districts to get students into the exhibit and out to Squilchuck State Park for hands-on learning about the forest and wildfires, Rader said.

An advisory committee helped raise money for the exhibit and educational programming, Rader said. The committee plans to hold a wildfire seminar in town later this year. Gov. Jay Inslee met with the group earlier in June.

The exhibit is expected to cost up to $75,000 for staff time, materials, educational programming for students, and a contract with Marshall.

It’s been a challenge,” Marshall said. “When I’m out taking pictures, all the decisions are on my own, but this is something that’s a cooperative project with the museum and it involved other people’s opinions, so that makes it different.”

Once open, Wildfires and Us is scheduled to run through Nov. 21. The current exhibit, Extraordinary Ordinary People, will close Aug. 8 for the team to set up Wildfires and Us.

The exhibit team began planning for Wildfires and Us in January, and is moving “full-steam ahead” for the fast-approaching grand open.

It’s a complex subject. There’s so much that we could say,” Rader said. “It’s been challenging to narrow down our message.”

Wenatchee World

Continuing coverage: Plane crashes near Mazama, 16-year-old survives

Story published in The Wenatchee World July 15, 2015.


MAZAMA — Search and rescue crews continued to search Tuesday afternoon for an airplane bound for Lynden that crashed Saturday with three people on board.

On Monday, 16-year-old Autumn Veatch walked on to Highway 20 near Mazama from the Easy Pass Trail area. She was a passenger on the airplane, traveling with her two step-grandparents, Leland and Sharon Bowman, of Marion, Montana.

Veatch remained at Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster in stable condition on Tuesday. Outside, two dozen reporters, some from across the country, waited for her to be released, hoping to hear her story.

Initial reports indicated that Veatch stayed with the plane for a day after it crashed, but Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said she left the plane “pretty much immediately.” She walked for two days and tried to sleep at night, but was just too cold, Rogers said.

Veatch didn’t eat or drink anything during that time. She followed creeks in the mountains until she found a footbridge, which took her to a trailhead, and eventually to Highway 20, about 20 miles north of the Mazama Store, Rogers said.

She’s just a tough young lady,” Rogers said. “She kept focused and kept doing what she had to do.”

At Highway 20, two unidentified men stopped and drove her to the Mazama Store, where 911 was called.

On Tuesday in Brewster, her father, David Veatch came out twice from the hospital, once in the morning to get some McDonald’s McNuggets for his daughter’s breakfast, and in the afternoon to head to his motel for a shower. He said little to the waiting reporters, except that doctors were seeing his daughter. When asked if they would go home on Tuesday, he said it depended on the doctors.

16-year-old Autumn Veatch survived a plane crash near Mazama, shortly after posting this picture on her Instagram account.
16-year-old Autumn Veatch survived a plane crash near Mazama, shortly after posting this picture on her Instagram account.

Meanwhile, search crews are focusing their efforts in Okanogan County near the Easy Pass Trail, but will continue searching the outlying areas, said Barbara LaBoe, Washington State Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

The trail is in some of the roughest terrain in the state, LaBoe said.

At 3 p.m. Tuesday, four aircraft were searching — two planes, a Department of Homeland Security helicopter, and a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, LaBoe said.

A helicopter from the U.S. Navy searched until about 11 p.m. Monday using night vision goggles but didn’t find the crash sight, LaBoe said.

Fixed-wing airplanes from the Civil Air Patrol have been called off the search, said Jessica Jerwa, a spokeswoman for the CAP. The aircraft are no longer necessary because of the information Veatch provided authorities on the location of the crashed plane.

Helicopters are able to use the “hover and hold” method while searching, Jerwa said. It’s easier for a helicopter to do this than an airplane.

You could fly over wreckage in a flat meadow and still not see it,” Jerwa said. Searchers are looking in a vertical space — on the side of mountains.

Jerwa said this area of the Cascade Mountains is considered “the Alps of Washington because they’re so rugged … so that complicates things.”

K.C. Mehaffey contributed to this report.

_____

Updated 11:10 p.m. Tuesday

MAZAMA – Aerial search crews found plane wreckage in the north Cascade Mountains Tuesday evening. The Washington State Department of Transportation, however, has not confirmed that it’s the wreckage of a plane that crashed Saturday on a flight from Kalispell, Montana.

DOT spokeswoman Barbara LaBoe reported just after 10:30 p.m. Tuesday that the wreckage was spotted. So far, the wreckage has only been seen from the air.

Ground crews will be coordinated through the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office, LaBoe said in a news release.


Story published in The Wenatchee World July 16, 2015.

BREWSTER — On Monday, 16-year-old Autumn Veatch was finding her way out of the forest. On Wednesday, she was back home.

The teen, who survived a private plane crash near Mazama, was released from Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster around 6 p.m. Tuesday. Veatch was treated for dehydration, minor burns and lacerations, hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Marshall said Wednesday morning.

Veatch walked on to Highway 20 from the Easy Pass Trail Monday afternoon. Her step-grandparents, the only other passengers on the plane, Leland and Sharon Bowman of Marion, Montana, are still unaccounted for.

The Skagit County Sheriff’s Office began ground operations at 8 a.m. Wednesday to find plane wreckage spotted Tuesday night by aerial search crews, said Barbara LaBoe, a Washington State Department of Transportation spokeswoman. The plane was flying from Kalispell, Montana, to Lynden.

A second plane has been missing since Saturday afternoon, according to the DOT, and search crews were working to reach plane wreckage found around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in Whatcom County, which borders Okanogan County.

Two passengers were on board that plane from International Falls, Minnesota, to Orcas Island. The plane was traveling over the Cascade Mountains around the same time as the flight from Kalispell.

The flight from Kalispell dropped off the radar just after 3:20 p.m. Saturday. The Minnesota flight lost radar connection “several hours” before the Montana plane was last picked up on the radar, the DOT said in a news release. “There is no evidence the two missing planes were involved in any mid-air collision,” the DOT reported.

The family of the Minnesota passengers didn’t notify officials until late Tuesday night, a DOTnews release said.

Thunderstorms hit the North Cascades northwest of Mazama on Saturday from noon to 6 p.m., when both planes were expected to be passing through, said Bob Tobin, meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Spokane office. Winds were gusting up to 25 mph.

Tobin said there were up to 100 lightning strikes during the six-hour period from Lake Chelan to the Canadian border, mainly along the Cascade crest.

The DOT has been in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board over the past few days. LaBoe said those crews might begin investigating once the crashed aircraft are reached.

Wenatchee World

New system to streamline homeless services

Story published in The Wenatchee World July 10, 2015.


WENATCHEE — The city of Wenatchee and homelessness organizations are about to launch a system to streamline services for homeless people.

The system is expected to be running by the end of August.

Officially called coordinated entry, it is intended to make it more likely for families to be served by the right organization more quickly, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

More than 400 people in Chelan and Douglas counties were deemed homeless in a January report from the state Department of Commerce.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development mandated coordinated homeless entry systems across the nation. In 2012, the Department of Commerce made it a grant requirement. More than 19,000 people are considered homeless in Washington.

The local system has been planned by the city and a homelessness task force in the last year. A little more than $1.25 million in grants was awarded to the city for homeless funding and $55,000 of it will go to coordinated entry this year.

Most of the $1.25 million comes from Chelan and Douglas county real estate transaction fees and state homeless grants, said Steve King, the city of Wenatchee’s community and economic development director. None of the funding comes directly from the city.

Seven homeless service organizations will receive grant money for coordinated entry, mostly for staff salaries, said Sandra Van Osten, grants program coordinator for the city.

The largest amount of coordinated entry funding — $15,166 — goes to Catholic Family and Child Services, which will operate a coordinated phone hotline and serve as a site location for a homeless person to be put in touch with the right resources.

These organizations will also receive funding as a coordinated entry site location:

  • Community Action Council: $10,430
  • Women’s Resource Center: $6,965
  • YWCA: $6,965
  • SAGE: $3,500
  • Upper Valley Mend: $3,500
  • Chelan Valley HOPE: $3,500

The amounts are based on how busy the Wenatchee Homeless Steering Committee predicts the organizations will be and the location of the office, Van Osten said.

Wenatchee City Council members approved the contracts in April. The contracts last through 2015, and amounts could fluctuate based on the data and number of users at each location, Van Osten said.

A little less than $5,000 of the coordinated entry budget will pay for city staff salaries, supplies, and meeting expenses.

Coordinated entry will provide the seven agencies with “data-sharing” and a customized, computer-based intake form, King said.

Right now, if you go to a homeless center, they have all their own intake services,” Van Osten said.

Under the new system, when a homeless person requests services at one of those locations, the information provided at the time of intake is put in a Department of Commerce computer system called the Homeless Management Information System, referred to as HMIS.

If homeless people call the hotline or go to one of the locations participating, they can still be referred to a local organization that’s not part of the alliance, Van Osten said.

The new system will also help organizations prioritize resources to people who are determined the most vulnerable, King said.

All homeless service-providing organizations in the region were offered the opportunity to participate in the alliance, but some choose not to, Van Osten said. Those organizations have different philosophies on providing such services and collecting personal information. City grants require that type of information to be collected from clients, she said.

Homeless people who request services from one of the locations can opt to not provide their contact information, but still receive services, King and Van Osten said. In that case, they would be counted in the system but recorded as anonymous.

The digital intake form for the HMIS has yet to be completed by the Department of Commerce, Van Osten said. The department has told the city it will be done in a couple of weeks.

A brief testing period will be followed by getting agencies up and running on the new system. The organizations will spend up to two weeks using a soft launch of the system.

By the end of August, the region is set to be fully functional using a coordinated entry phone line and HMIS.