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State grant helps clean up the Clark Mausoleum

WENATCHEE — With help from a state grant, the historic Clark Mausoleum is getting a makeover. The structure is the resting place of W.T. Clark, considered by some to be the “Father of Wenatchee.”

At the intersection of Patriot Drive and Eagle Court at the south entrance to the Wenatchee Cemetery, wooden scaffolding surrounds the structure, spackled with fresh stucco and cleared of overgrown brush. Above the mausoleum’s entrance, “Clark” is neatly carved into the stone.

In March, the Wenatchee Cemetery received a $43,000 grant from the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation to clean up the mausoleum. The grant will help repair the structure’s roof and walls, provide a new paint job and clean up the surrounding landscape.

“We’re actually restoring the exterior of the building to its original exterior when it was first built,” said David Erickson, the city’s parks, recreation and cultural services director.

W.T. Clark arrived in the Wenatchee Valley area in 1902 after building the Selah/Moxee Canal in the Yakima Valley. Clark helped further the agricultural development of the Wenatchee area as the president of the Monitor Orchard Co. and worked on building the Highline Canal, according to local historian Rod Molzahn in an article for The Good Life Magazine.

Clark was also instrumental in construction of what is today is known as the Pedestrian Pipeline Bridge. When it was completed in 1908, it carried water to irrigate the mostly undeveloped land of what is today East Wenatchee.

Clark also built the historic Wells House as a home for his wife, Adelaide, but sold it to Wenatchee businessman A.Z. Wells in 1919. He also helped establish the First National Bank of Wenatchee and served as its first president. In 1903 he bought the Wenatchee Republican, the area’s first newspaper.

Clark passed in 1937 at the age of 77, and his ashes are kept next to Adelaide in the mausoleum.

Workers have already removed the rotten wooden roof that covered the mausoleum’s exterior. They have also pulled out a number of overgrown shrubs that lined the building’s right hand wall, planted by a plot owner who didn’t want to look at the mausoleum when visiting their spouse’s gravesite, according to Erickson.

“They grew up to be much larger than the mausoleum,” Erickson said.

The grant was submitted in August 2019, approved in January of this year and the city received the contract in March. Renovations to the structure began July 16 and should be complete by the end of August.

All renovations should be covered under the grant allowance without having to be financially matched by the city.

“We’re going to be able to do the whole project within that budget, unless we find some hidden surprises along the way, but so far, so good,” said Erickson.

Update: Late-night rescue saves injured climber after nearly 24 hours of weather-related delays

Update, 9 a.m. Thursday

LEAVENWORTH — Emergency crews rescued an injured climber off of Mount Stuart late Wednesday night. High temperatures delayed initial rescue attempts, which began Tuesday night after the climber called-in for help.

The woman, 23-year-old Lucile Townley of Carnation, was struck by a falling rock, causing her to fall 20 feet, said Rich Magnussen with Chelan County Emergency Management. She suffered a fractured arm and leg, as well as a head injury.

She contacted authorities for assistance about 10 p.m. Tuesday. The accident occurred about the 9,000-foot level on the North Ridge Route, Magnussen said.

A hoist-capable helicopter from Naval Base Whidbey Island attempted to rescue Townley from the mountain Tuesday night but wasn’t able to due to her location near the summit, Magnussen said.

The helicopter crew also wasn’t able to reach her early Wednesday because of wind and high temperatures.

“The hotter it is, the less lift you have in the air,” Magnussen said. He added the blades don’t get enough “bite” in the thin, high-elevation air.

A four-person mountain rescue team was flown near the mountain by the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office’s helicopter and was with Townley when Magnussen spoke to The World at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. The team worked to lower her 1,000 feet onto a glacier that would serve as a more favorable pickup location for the helicopter, Magnussen said.

Later Wednesday, two more mountain rescue members, including a medic, were flown in to assist with the rescue. This time, they were transported by a helicopter owned by Chelan County Fire District 1.

The two new rescuers set up on the glacier in preparation for the first rescue team and the injured climber. Magnussen explained the original four rescuers didn’t expect to operate on a glacier and the new rescuers took extra snow equipment.

By 4 p.m. Wednesday, the four-person team had lowered the woman 300 feet, Magnussen said. A Navy helicopter hoisted Townley to safety at approximately 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, transporting her to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. 

Townley is in "satisfactory condition," according to the hospital.

The Mount Stuart incident was one of four rescue calls to emergency management since Monday.

Another climber fell on Mount McCausland, north of Stevens Pass on the border of Chelan and Snohomish counties, and suffered a fractured hip and cuts to the face, Magnussen said.

The injured climber was on the 5,741-foot mountain with a partner, who wasn’t injured. The two were found by a third climber, who signaled for help about 7 a.m. Wednesday. The injured climber was hoisted from the area by a King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter and flown to a hospital. His partner hiked out.

Earlier on Tuesday, a mother and daughter were hiking on 5,801-foot Bryant Peak, roughly 14 miles northwest of Lake Wenatchee, when about 5 p.m. the mother showed signs of heat exhaustion and couldn’t exit the area on her own, Magnussen said. A helicopter crew from Naval Base Whidbey Island hoisted her out.

Also on Tuesday, a 29-year-old Shoreline man was airlifted from Gunsight Peak near Stehekin after falling Monday and possibly fracturing his ankle, Magnussen said.

World staff writer Luke Hollister contributed to this report.

Trump floats idea of delaying November election

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Thursday raised the idea of delaying the Nov. 3 U.S. elections, which the Constitution does not give him the power to do, words Democrats and some of his fellow Republicans condemned and called an attempt to distract from devastating economic news.

Trump’s statement on Twitter comes as the United States is enduring the greatest crises of a generation: a coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 150,000 lives, a crippling recession sparked by the outbreak and nationwide protests against police violence and racism. On Thursday morning, the government reported the worst U.S. economic contraction since the Great Depression.

Trump, who opinion polls show losing ground to and trailing Democratic challenger and former Vice President Joe Biden, also said he would not trust the results of an election that included widespread mail voting — a measure that many observers see as critical given the coronavirus pandemic. Without evidence, he claimed that mail voting would be rife with fraud.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

The U.S. economy contracted by 32.9% in the second quarter, as the fast-spreading coronavirus sparked widespread lockdowns.

The United States has held elections for more than 200 years, including during the Civil War, the Great Depression and two world wars. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to set the timing of elections, and the 20th Amendment ends a president and vice president’s term in office on the Jan. 20 following a general election.

Democratic U.S. Rep, Zoe Lofgren, who chairs the House committee overseeing election security, rejected any delay.

“Only Congress can change the date of our elections,” Lofgren said in an email to Reuters. “Under no circumstances will we consider doing so to accommodate the President’s inept and haphazard response to the coronavirus pandemic, or give credence to the lies and misinformation he spreads regarding the manner in which Americans can safely and securely cast their ballots.”

Trump’s tweet came without warning and surprised some White House staffers. The White House referred questions about the Tweet to Trump’s re-election campaign, which in a statement said the president was simply raising a question.

“The President is just raising a question about the chaos Democrats have created with their insistence on all mail-in voting,” said Hogan Gidley, the campaign’s press secretary. “Universal mail-in voting invites chaos and severe delays in results.”

Trump had previously suggested he would not trust election results — complaints similar to those he raised going into the runup to the 2016 election — but had not so directly suggested changing the Nov. 3 date.

Trump without evidence has cast doubt on the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, which have been used in far greater numbers in primary elections amid the pandemic. He has also made unsubstantiated allegations that voting will be rigged and has refused to say he would accept official election results if he lost.

Many states earlier this year rescheduled primaries due to the fast-spreading coronavirus.

Democrats, including Biden, have already begun preparations to protect voters and the election amid fears that Trump will try to interfere with the November election or dispute results — particularly if the final result is delayed by late-arriving mail-in ballots.

Polls have shown that U.S. registered voters oppose the idea of election delay. When Reuters/Ipsos in April asked voters if they thought the election should be rescheduled due to the coronavirus, 59% opposed the idea, including a majority of voters in each party.

“A sitting president is peddling lies and suggesting delaying the election to keep himself in power,” Democratic Representative Dan Kildee wrote on Twitter. “Don’t let it happen. Every American — Republican, Independent and Democrat — should be speaking out against this President’s lawlessness and complete disregard of the Constitution.”

The Democratic National Committee dismissed the message as an empty threat.

“Trump’s threat is nothing more than a desperate attempt to distract from today’s devastating economic numbers,” DNC spokeswoman Lily Adams said in a statement. “Trump can tweet all he wants, but the reality is that he can’t delay the election.”

Back-to-school plan: Online with structure, support — and not forever

WENATCHEE — Most Wenatchee students will start school Aug. 26 without being in the same room as their teacher, but they will have instruction, structure, expectations and support.

Superintendent Paul Gordon provided that assurance Wednesday night to school board members who approved his proposed two-stage model to the start of the school year. The decision ended a two-hour meeting that included presentations by health officials on the state of the pandemic locally and comments and concerns by parents and teachers.

Gordon also noted the all-online model is temporary.

“We already have stage two planned,” he said, which will switch to a hybrid model, offering in-class instruction at first to the youngest and most at-risk students and moving up from there. “We’re not putting a hard date on it, but we will work with local health officials who are super-focused on Chelan and Douglas counties. Once we have an acceptable rate (on the spread of COVID-19), we will make the move.”

The driver, he said, is the number of cases being reported, a rate currently about nine times higher than what health officials believe is an acceptable level to be considered under control.

“This is a virus, a health issue,” Gordon told board members. “Prior to the last 15 days, we were headed down a different path, toward face-to-face instruction with a hybrid model. We made a significant shift. My recommendation tonight is to go online starting Aug. 26, for the safety and wellness of students and staff.”

Board members said they understand the need for the change in course, but believe child development and social emotional learning need to be a consideration as well.

“I agree with the temporary nature of the first stage and agree we should move as quickly as possible into the second phase,” Board President Laura Jaecks said. “While we are attempting to protect the physical health, we recognize the benefits of having children be around children, learning to interact. That’s an important part of child development. The longer we keep kids out, the more detrimental it will be in that regard. We are in a balancing place, as far as I’m concerned. We need to watch the numbers carefully and move as quickly as we can to bring kids back in.”

Board member Martin Barron said he appreciated the flexibility to change as conditions change.

“Tradeoffs are necessary and justified. What we think is the best action will change with knowledge and time,” he said.

The board will vote on the final version of the plan at the Aug. 11 meeting. The plan will then be sent to the state for approval required before school starts.

The draft plan will be posted on the district website,, in time for a Town Hall event at 6 p.m. Tuesday in which parents will get an opportunity to ask specific questions and get answers about everything from daily schedules to tech training.

Samples of the schedules presented Wednesday included set times for instruction, study, recess and lunch — not much different than students would have in the classroom. The curriculum and lessons being tackled by students remotely would continue once in-person instruction is allowed.

The district is working on plans for some at-risk and high-needs students to access in-person, in-class instruction from the beginning, Gordon said. Discussions also are underway to address childcare needs for working parents, parent support and training in the use of technology (the programs and the computers), teacher training and other issues raised by parents and teachers during the meeting. Many of the comments referenced the miseries following the closure of schools in March.

“That was an emergency plan. We learned a lot,” Gordon said.

Parents and teachers both requested more structure, he said. The district invested in an online learning platform called Canvas that will provide the foundation for much of that, and is embarking on training plans for teachers and staff. Staffing changes also are being considered to keep as many classified staff as possible employed during the all-online period, but it is possible that some staff reductions will be required.

Arrangements also are being made to provide safe, in-person orientation for students in the transition years — kindergarten/first grade, sixth grade and ninth grade so when in-school class begins, they will know their way around the new campus.

For parents who prefer to stick to the online option throughout the year, the district also is offering Wenatchee Internet Academy.

Wenatchee’s online start is similar to the plan presented Monday to the Eastmont School Board. Eastmont’s board is expected to vote on its plan next Monday. Other districts throughout the region are considering similar options. The plans from each district, once approved by the school board, must be submitted to the state superintendent’s office for approval before the start of school.

Health district moves to weekly COVID-19 reports

EAST WENATCHEE — Citing rising cases and a small staff, the Chelan-Douglas Health District has lowered the frequency of its detailed COVID-19 reports to once a week.

The reports were posted Monday through Friday but will now be posted Wednesdays in the afternoon, the district said Wednesday in a news release. Daily reports of positive COVID-19 cases will still be available on the district’s website.

“We have seen a significant increase in COVID-19 cases since July 1,” said Joyous Van Meter, the district’s epidemiologist. “In fact, 65% of our total positive COVID-19 case count has occurred since July 1. Keeping up with the data demands requires a huge amount of time for a very small number of staff available to manage it.”

The district attributes the rise in positive case numbers to factors that include a “relaxed diligence” toward avoiding crowds and gatherings since June 10 when the two counties moved to a partial reopening, the release said.

Before Chelan and Douglas counties moved to Phase 1.5 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” reopening plan, positive case numbers were on the decline, the release said.

Graduation celebrations, Fourth of July and an increase in the number of visitors into both counties also are believed to be contributing factors.