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Local survey reveals deep emotional issues for students at home

WENATCHEE — Touched by the suicide of a high school student, Kamryn Fowler decided to do something. A Wenatchee High School senior, she was really worried about the mental health of her peers during the pandemic.

Somehow, she wanted local leaders to hear their voices before more suicides followed.

Fowler, who described herself as a social butterfly, said the first couple of months home were a struggle because she didn’t have social interactions.

“It was really hard for me to spend so much time at home. I have been struggling in school. I did not have a lot of motivation,” Fowler said. “These past few months, I’ve learned to focus on helping others rather than just complaining about what I’m missing out on these days. I decided to take some action for some people struggling more than I was.”

Fowler decided to conduct an online survey of teenagers in the Wenatchee Valley asking them about their physical and emotional concerns. She created a Google Form of questions exploring the health consequences of at-home learning and quarantine.

She received 106 responses from middle and high school students. Before the survey, Fowler did not know a lot about what her peers were going through.

“I really just talk to my close maybe five friends. We just discuss our thoughts of being at home. I got a small glimpse of what my close friends were going through. I really wanted to understand and get a sense of the community and what the student body as a whole was feeling,” she said.

seabrook / World photo/Don Seabrook 

Kamryn Fowler, a Wenatchee High School senior, presented a survey of her classmates' health to school officials and the health district last month.

Some of the responses were very emotional and raw.

“I was blown away by some of the home situations these kids are going through — domestic violence, toxic households, and drug use,” Fowler said. “I’m heartbroken school isn’t an option for kids to escape from their home life. I was taken aback by some of the responses.”

Wenatchee School District Director of Learning and Teaching Mike Lane, who supervises all the district counselors, said he was impressed with Fowler’s initiative and thought she put into the survey. But the survey responses did not necessarily surprise him.

“We know this is not ideal and that people are struggling,” he said. We are doing work at the building level designed to provide additional levels of support until we can all our students back in the building with us, Lane said.

Most concerning for Lane are the issues around depression and anxiety. He said last week the district hosted an online community forum with two psychologists from Confluence Health presenting on depression.

He said they spent about half the time with a live question-and-answer session taking questions from students, parents, and the community. Lane feels the event really made a difference.

“The reason I say that is the questions were heartfelt and authentic. Some were a little bit hard for the psychologists to answer. We were excited. We had just under 100 viewing the event live. We have it posted on our YouTube playlist called the Wellbeing, kind of a campaign we have going,” Lane said.

Initially, the goal in releasing the survey was to empathize with her peers, Fowler said. She wanted a safe place for teenagers to share their thoughts anonymously. She wanted to share this with the school district leaders, public health administrators, and even government leaders.

“There’s nothing much I can do to bring kids back into school, but I really wanted to empathize with my peers, understand what they were going through, but I want to spread awareness to our leaders instead of them just looking at the facts of our COVID numbers rising and declining,” she said.

Update: Second escapee arrested in Malaga

MALAGA — Escaped Okanogan County Jail inmate Kristofer Wittman was arrested Wednesday near Malaga.

Wittman, 28, was arrested about 1:50 p.m. at the Yo Yo Boat Launch, which is about four to five miles south of Rock Island Dam, the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Agents with the U.S. Marshal’s Office learned that Wittman was staying in an abandoned trailer about 1.5 miles south of where the pavement ends on Tarpiscan Road, the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. Local law enforcement responded to the area by boat and ground and then arrested him when he was seen leaving the trailer.

Provided photo/Chelan County Sheriff's Office 

Kristofer Wittman, who on Jan. 5 escaped the Okanogan County Jail with inmate Christian White, was arrested Wednesday in a remote area near Malaga, about five miles south of Rock Island Dam.

Wittman and Christian White, 53, escaped the jail Jan. 5 through an HVAC system that led to a roof. Wittman attempted to escape Dec. 26 from the same section of the jail, said Okanogan County Sheriff Tony Hawley in an interview Wednesday. Both escape attempts occurred in an area that was annexed into the jail several years ago and has vulnerabilities the original portions of the jail do not, he added. The jail has repaired the two areas.

Wittman is being held at the Chelan County Regional Justice Center on suspicion of second-degree escape and first-degree malicious mischief. He’s expected to be transferred back to the Okanogan County Jail.

White was arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s Office Tuesday in Portland with Cashmere resident Teresa Lancaster, 64. She was arrested on suspicion of second-degree rendering criminal assistance and criminal conspiracy. Hawley said he’s not sure why White and Lancaster were in Portland and noted that extradition from Oregon to Okanogan County could take a few weeks.

Before his escape, Wittman was in custody on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle, attempt to elude, obstructing, reckless driving, second-degree driving with a suspended license, second-degree attempted escape and second-degree malicious mischief.

White was in custody for a Department of Corrections warrant, attempt to elude, possession of a controlled substance — methamphetamine, hit and run, third-degree malicious mischief and fourth-degree assault.

Hawley said he’s unaware of any crimes committed by Wittman or White while they were out of custody.

Trump impeachment
Bitter Senate trial could bog down Biden's first days

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The second impeachment of President Donald Trump by the U.S. House of Representatives, for inciting last week’s deadly rampage at the Capitol, could set off a bitter Senate fight that entangles the early days of President-elect Joe Biden’s term.

Trump, whose turbulent four-year term in office is due to end next Wednesday, became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice when the Democratic-led House voted 232-197 on Wednesday to charge him with inciting an insurrection. Ten of Trump’s fellow Republicans joined Democrats in approving the single article of impeachment, including Dan Newhouse, the 4th District congressman from Sunnyside.

The swift impeachment appears unlikely to lead to Trump’s ouster before Biden takes office on Jan. 20. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected Democratic calls for a quick trial in the Republican-led chamber, saying there was no way to finish it before Trump leaves office.

Biden, a Democrat, has urged Senate leaders to avoid a bitter trial during his first days in the White House so that they can focus on the economy, getting the coronavirus vaccine distribution program on track and confirming crucial Cabinet nominees.

“I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation,” Biden said in a statemWednesday night.

Biden’s inauguration has been scaled back due to security concerns and the COVID-19 pandemic. The West Front of the Capitol building, where the swearing-in occurs, is now fortified by fencing, barriers and thousands of National Guard troops.

The House passed the article of impeachment — equivalent to an indictment in a criminal trial — accusing the Republican president of “incitement of insurrection,” focused on an incendiary speech he delivered to thousands of supporters shortly before the riot. In the speech, Trump repeated false claims that the election was fraudulent and exhorted supporters to march on the Capitol.

The mob disrupted Congress’s certification of Biden’s victory over Trump in the Nov. 3 election, sent lawmakers into hiding and left five people dead, including a police officer.

Under the Constitution, impeachment in the House triggers a trial in the Senate. A two-thirds majority would be needed to convict and remove Trump, meaning at least 17 Republicans in the 100-member chamber would have to join the Democrats.

If Trump is already out of the White House, historical precedent suggests the Senate could disqualify him from holding office in the future with only a simple majority vote.

McConnell has said no trial could begin until the Senate was scheduled to be back in regular session on Tuesday.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, set to become majority leader this month, said that no matter the timing, “there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate; there will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanors; and if the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again.”

House leaders did not say when they would formally send the charge to the Senate for consideration.

Asked if it would be a good idea to hold a trial on Biden’s first day in office, U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, one of the House members selected to prosecute the trial, said: “I don’t want to preview it, but certainly not.”

The emotional impeachment debate took place in the same House chamber where lawmakers were forced to duck under chairs and don gas masks as rioters clashed with police outside the doors on Jan. 6.

No U.S. president has ever been removed from office via impeachment. Three — Trump in 2019, Bill Clinton in 1998 and Andrew Johnson in 1868 — were impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 rather than face impeachment.

In a video statement released after Wednesday’s vote, Trump did not mention impeachment and took no responsibility for his remarks to supporters last week, but condemned violence.

“Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence,” Trump said.

Some Republicans argued the impeachment drive was a rush to judgment that bypassed the customary deliberative process, and called on Democrats to abandon the effort for the sake of national unity and healing.

The Republicans who voted to impeach included Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican.

The House also impeached Trump in December 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress stemming from his request that Ukraine investigate Biden and his son Hunter ahead of the election. Democrats accused him of soliciting foreign interference to smear a domestic political rival. The Senate in February 2020 voted to keep Trump in office.

Icicle Broadcasting plans to sell its Chelan stations

WENATCHEE — Icicle Broadcasting on Tuesday announced plans to sell three of its four radio stations, with the goal of finding a local buyer.

KOZI-FM/AM, which covers Chelan, and KZAL-FM, whose signal covers the Wenatchee Valley, will be put on the market, while KOHO-FM, which serves the Wenatchee Valley, will remain with Icicle Broadcasting, according to a press release.

“KOZI is a well-known part of the Chelan community and it is very important to us to make sure that KOZI remain a local resource,” Icicle Broadcasting General Manager Elliott Salmon said in a press release. “Our owner, Harriet Bulitt, has always been committed to local radio and she feels strongly that KOZI/KZAL should stay in local hands.”

The sale of the three stations, which will be based in Chelan and have a combined total of six employees, could take months. Icicle Broadcasting will continue to operate all four stations until a sale is completed.

Media broker Patrick Communications has been retained to handle the sale.

“As you know these are very attractive stations committed to serving the local community,” said Greg Guy of Patrick Communications. “While we have received a number of inquiries, there is not a deal currently in place. A sale typically takes six to nine months to complete including approximately 90-120 days for the FCC license transfer process. Given the attractive nature of the market and performance of the stations, I expect significant interest in the stations.”

KOZI-FM 93.5 provides an adult contemporary format. KOZI-AM 1230 has a local sports and news/talk format. KZAL-FM 94.7, known as Z-Country, features contemporary country music.

According to the press release, the restructuring and sale is designed to “preserve the viability of the company’s mission of community radio.”

The decision to put the Chelan stations up for sale has been under discussion since March, said Deb Hartl, Bullitt’s personal assistant.

“The timing is driven by Harriet’s desire to have her input in determining the next owner of KOZI/KZAL,” Hartle said in an emailed response.

Bullitt celebrated her 96th birthday in September. In late 2018, she announced the transfer of ownership of Sleeping Lady Resort to the Icicle Fund, a nonprofit she founded in 1998. She still lives on property next to the resort.

Her plan at that time was to keep the radio stations, which are part of a separate venture.

KOHO remains under the Icicle Broadcasting umbrella, which Bullitt still owns. It was formed after purchasing KOZI and KOHO from Jerry Isenhart in 1999, continuing a family interest in broadcasting. Bullitt’s mother, Dorothy Stimson Bullitt founded King Broadcasting in Seattle.

KOZI, which was established in the Chelan community, remained headquartered and focused there, while KOHO’s studio was located on the grounds of Bullitt’s Sleeping Lady Resort, on Icicle Road outside Leavenworth.

In 2012, Icicle Broadcasting relocated KOHO’s studio and the main business office to Wenatchee, following the purchase and remodel of the former KPQ building at the corner of North Mission and First streets. The move was touted as a way to get its sales and broadcast operations under one roof and a step toward business growth and improved coverage.

Wenatchee’s radio market has seen some other changes recently. In June, Resort Radio’s Sunny FM and Wheeler Broadcasting entered a management and programming agreement allowing Sunny FM to handle operations and programming for KEYG’s stations and translators, effectively extending Sunny FM’s coverage range. Under the agreement, the office for both businesses is in Wenatchee.