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Matt Kearny | I can see clearly now!

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What a difference a year makes!

Last year at this time, we were just coming off several weeks of intense smoke in the Wentchee Valley.

The affects were widespread on the sports and recreation scene as numerous tournaments and events were canceled over a five-week period. Schools were hard hit economically, as practices were bussed out of the area and games moved to other towns. Even many indoor events were scratched. It really came to mind last weekend, when the valley played host to the Apple Cup Soccer Tournament.

It, too, was a victim of the fires in 2012, and a costly one. Not only did more than 1,000 kids lose a chance to compete here, but a significant amount of anticipated sports tourism spending was wiped out. Hotels, restaurants and retail outlets felt the brunt of it. The Sports Council estimated more than $300,000 was lost in sports tourism spending alone. Ouch!

I have to say that memory was still fresh as I toured the full soccer fields last weekend — especially on Sunday, when the skies were blue and the valley was standing tall. Teams and accompaniment from all over the state were here, many for the first time. The fields were lined with players’ families and friends.

That kind of positive exposure can only pay off later when those families are considering where to spend vacation time in the future.

They’ll remember that great fall weekend they spent in the Wenatchee Valley back in 2013.

Matt Kearny can be contacted at 509-662-2116 or