Chelan County looks at new vacation rental regulations

WENATCHEE — Regulations on short-term vacation rentals are back under discussion.

The Chelan County Planning Commission held a May 22 study session to consider new county code proposals created by BERK Consulting of Seattle.

The planning commission rejected a proposal last year to regulate vacation rentals, agreeing regulation is needed, but deciding the proposal did not do a sufficient job.

The planning commission recommended the county hire a consultant to come up with new regulations, which it did.

It is now the planning commission's job to review the new draft regulations and send recommendations to the Chelan County Commission.

Some of the ideas proposed include:

  • Allowing short-term rentals only in certain areas, such as rural low, medium and high-density residential and require an accessory use or conditional use permit in others.
  • Capping new nightly rentals to 1% growth each year, based on the total number of existing nightly rentals.
  • Banning new short-term rentals for at least three years in the Peshastin, Manson, Chelan, Leavenworth or Wenatchee urban growth areas and around Lake Wenatchee.
  • Adding a restriction of two guests per bedroom, with no more than 10 guests allowed per nightly rental.
  • A qualified person would need to be listed at all times who can be at the property within 30 minutes and be reached by telephone 24 hours a day.
  • If passed, all short-term rentals would require a county permit to operate and it would be illegal to run a short-term rental without a permit.

The Short-Term Rental Alliance of Chelan County is against any additional regulation on rentals except a cap on the number of people staying at each place, STRACC President Mike Beverick said. The county should enforce its existing regulations on noise, trash and parking on short-term rentals, he said.

Cottage Inn closes after 80 years in business

WENATCHEE — The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was the final nail in the coffin for the Cottage Inn, which has closed permanently after 80 years in business. The business climate in the state is what truly did the family restaurant in, said owner Dan Sutton.

Sutton, who has owned the restaurant for 16 years with his wife Cheryl, said they love their customers and the institution of the restaurant, but found the state is hostile toward small business.

"When you have a minimum wage-based business, which all restaurants are, and you have a 46% increase in the minimum wage over a four-year period and then you add sick leave and other issues like that — as well-intended as those might sound, they are devastating to small businesses. We had thought about retiring, so when the COVID-19 outbreak came along it really just helped make up our mind. It was time to start a new chapter in our life," said Sutton, a Douglas County commissioner.

Some restaurants have been doing takeout orders since the pandemic began, but Sutton said that was never going to work for the Cottage Inn.

"One of the things I'm very good at is business — projections and calculating income, weighing risk versus loss. We would have to have a minimum of 50 takeout orders a day to keep one cook and one person at the door paid with our overhead," he said. "The reality of doing 50 a day, six days a week did not pencil out. I knew it was a losing proposition."

Sutton said closing was an emotionally difficult decision to make because of the people it will impact.

This ends a 45-year career for Sutton in the restaurant business, which began in Wenatchee, moved to Seattle, then back to Wenatchee again for the past 16 years.

Wenatchee moves forward with $3.7 million road project

WENATCHEE — Portions of 37 streets throughout Wenatchee will be overlaid as part of a $3.7 million project the city is undertaking this year.

The city will also replace or build about 204 curb ramps so that sidewalk connections meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

"We're grinding the edges of the roadway and putting an inch of new asphalt on all the roadways, as well as digging out any areas that have failed," Project Engineer Jake Lewing told the City Council on April 23.

The council approved a construction contract of a little more than $3 million with Central Washington Asphalt, the lowest of three bidders for the project. Work is expected to begin in May and finish in October.

A map of streets included in the project is available at wwrld.us/2VUxfYG.

Wenatchee plans parking lot project near Loop Trail

WENATCHEE — The Linden Tree area near the Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail will have 111 day-use parking stalls after a city project is completed.

Wenatchee will be paving the gravel lot at Ninth Street and Walla Walla Avenue and adding 63 new parking stalls, lights, stormwater treatment and landscaping.

The City Council on April 23 approved a $551,580.91 construction contract with J&K Earthworks of Rock Island. RH2 Engineering did the design.

Chelan County PUD owns the property, which is mostly undeveloped except for a building used by the Row and Paddle Club, which has a lease with the PUD.

According to an agreement, the city is responsible for the project's design, construction and funding and the PUD will continue to own and maintain the site after the project is completed.

The city will put $516,142.64 in state Local Revitalization Financing toward the project, and the Wenatchee Row and Paddle Club will pay the rest.

Construction is expected to start after the statewide stay home order was lifted.

Home sales hold steady through March

WENATCHEE — Home sales in the Wenatchee market in March — before COVID-19 shutdowns were in place — were up slightly from the year before and were selling for about the same price.

The biggest change, according to the report released by Pacific Appraisals, is the number of active listings — 132 — which was 33% more than February's numbers and 45% over March 2019's 91 homes.

The expectation is that impacts of the pandemic shutdown will show up in April's report that will be released in May .

First-quarter home sales reports for the Leavenworth market show a 23% increase in the number of homes sold — 37 in 2020 compared to 30 in 2019, with the median sales price climbing from $373,298 in 2019 to $550,000 in 2020. The number of active listings dropped 10%, with 38 this year compared to 42 in 2019.

In Cashmere, first-quarter sales increased from eight in 2019 to 11 in 2020, while the median sales price dropped from $345,000 to $320,000.

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service reports sales increased from 34 in the first quarter 2019 to 44 this year, with sales ranging from $175,000 to $2.1 million.

The reported median home price climbed from $367,500 to $409,000. The median price of waterfront homes for the first quarter climbed from $520,000 in 2019 to $1.025 million this year.

EarthWise Pet opens despite fire, pandemic

WENATCHEE — EarthWise Pet store owners Kinda Summers and Thomas Manning opened their doors April 3, despite challenges ranging from fire to COVID-19.

They were two days away from getting their first shipment of product Dec. 17 when fire broke out.

"The light at the end of the tunnel started to dim," Manning said.

They had been working on opening the store for nearly a year in the Mission Street Village, 212 Fifth St. A second store, in Yakima, was in the works as well.

It was a total family commitment. Daughter Kelsey Manning, who has a degree in organizational and business management from Arizona State University, signed on to manage the Yakima store, and daughter Mackenzie Crawford, who had been working as a surgical technician at Confluence Health, agreed to manage the Wenatchee store.

Manning has a degree in engineering and has worked for a machinery manufacturer for 34 years, managing service and support for customers in 23 different countries. Summers, an Eastmont alum, has a degree in business. She spent most of her career in the dental industry in Wenatchee.

The decision to go into business started with a love for animals — the family has nine rescue animals between them — that became a passion for helping pets thrive through good nutrition.

They started researching business models in 2018, visiting pet food stores across the Northwest before landing on the EarthWise Pet franchise.

"We made it a bit harder on ourselves than necessary working to open two locations within a couple months of each other," Manning said.

They worked with MJNeal Associates' architect Mark Seman on the design.

They mostly side-stepped disaster in December. The fire occurred in the space next door, though they sustained water and smoke damage.

The Yakima store opened Feb. 7.

Then, in mid-March, COVID-19 arrived.

Wenatchee's opening day arrived and they found a way to make it work despite the shutdown, with curbside and delivery service. As an essential business, they are allowed to sell pet food and supplies.

"We may have opened with one hand tied behind our back with the grooming salon and self-wash shut down, but we're open," Manning said.

Plans filed for 384-lot subdivision in the foothills above Maple Street

WENATCHEE — Developers plan to convert 167 acres of orchard land above Maple Street into hundreds of residential units over the next nine years.

The project would bring 384 residential lots to the foothills and expand the area's road system.

"This is one of the largest developments Wenatchee has seen in quite some time," Community Development Director Glenn DeVries said April 27.

Developers plan to add a second access point to Broadview by connecting Maiden Lane down to Maple Street. The western end of Springwater Avenue would also be extended up to Maple Street.

The 167-acre project site sits on six parcels owned by Bart and Sheila Clennon. The developer is Triad Maple LLC, a Seattle company owned by Fredrick Grimm.

It's part of a large segment of land annexed by the city last April, DeVries said.

The plans call for the residences to be built in three phases.

The first phase would include approximately 100 units and be completed by 2022. The second phase of an additional 100 units would be completed by 2024. The third phase would include the remainder of the units and be finished in 2029.

As currently planned, the development would include a range of housing types, including standard single-family homes and multi-family condos. A community center and RV storage areas are also being considered for the development.

Museum receives funding for community space improvements

WENATCHEE — Upgrades are in the works to Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center's sound and lighting systems and stage improvements such as a modern mounted projector and built-in multimedia equipment.

The museum will receive $275,000 in state funding, but the total cost of the project isn't yet known.

Funding was included in a supplemental capital budget the Legislature approved in March. Construction was expected to start this summer, but will likely be delayed due to COVID-19.

The museum's community space is used for events like meetings, forums, banquets and celebrations. The goal is to increase attendance at those events and provide a better experience for all, including those with hearing and/or visual impairments.

The project was identified in the museum's strategic planning process as a priority, said Kristin Lodge, director of development and communications.

"It's become pretty apparent, particularly as events are larger, that our sound system just really isn't up to par and the space wasn't designed for the use that it's getting these days," she said.

She said they'd also like to be able to dim the lights for PowerPoint presentations or videos, and to spotlight live performers.

The museum also plans to add new chairs and tables as well as a folding partition to help with acoustics.

County OKs more funding for Slide Ridge project

WENATCHEE — The Chelan County Commission approved $231,226 in additional funding for a project to prevent mud flows over South Lakeshore Road on Lake Chelan.

South Lakeshore Road was blocked twice last year due to mud flows that came from an area referred to as Slide Ridge.

On April 28, the county extended the contract for KPFF Consulting Engineers, the company that designed the project, to allow them to provide feedback during construction, said Jill FitzSimmons, Chelan County spokesperson. The total cost of the contract is $435,226.

The county plans to remove a culvert near Slide Ridge and build a bridge in the area to allow debris to pass under the road and into Lake Chelan, FitzSimmon said. Berms would also be placed to protect private property owners on either side and channel the flows. Construction will likely start sometime in summer 2021.

The total cost of the project is about $2.8 million and will be funded using grants from FEMA and the Chelan County Flood Control Zone District.

Slide Ridge is frequently hit by intense summer thunderstorms that deliver more than an inch of rainfall in an hour's time. The county has spent nearly $750,000 removing material from the road in that area since 2003; between 2003 and 2017, the county has removed 62,000 cubic yards of debris.

Wenatchee Valley Chamber cuts staff by half

WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce is reducing its staff by half to help adjust to an anticipated $260,000 drop in revenue as a result of COVID-19 shutdowns.

Three positions were eliminated starting May 1 and two staff members are taking furloughs. That includes Executive Director Shiloh Burgess, who will be off through July 31.

Burgess is expected to serve in a volunteer capacity as an ex-officio board member a couple hours a month "to provide strategic guidance as we navigate the weeks and months ahead," said Chamber Board President Stacy Luckensmeyer.

Burgess said the chamber's two revenue streams, one from memberships and the other from contracts with the cities of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee, are both expected to shrink. The city contracts are paid with lodging tax revenues.

The chamber this year has a projected budget of $1.2 million, with about $850,000 of that in operating costs. The expectation is to see the operating budget drop by 25% to 30%, Burgess said.

The positions eliminated include the communications specialist, which had been held by Sebastian Moraga, and the sports tourism/outdoor recreation coordinator position held by Patrick Norlin. The third position is the leadership coordinator, currently held by Jerrilea Crawford. She was planning to leave the position in June and the chamber had planned to turn it into a part-time social marketing position. Now, that post will go unfilled.

The part-time visitor center host position held by Jan Lutz also is being furloughed. The hope is to bring that post back on July 1, Burgess said.

East Wenatchee street projects underway

EAST WENATCHEE — City construction projects for a roundabout, sidewalk and crosswalks are underway.

KRCI is building the roundabout at the intersection of Highline Drive and Third Street SE. Construction is expected to finish June 19.

Pipkin Construction is working on sidewalks and crosswalks, part of the Transportation Improvement Board Construction Project that includes:

  • Installing sidewalk along the north side of Third Street NE, from the Wenatchee Reclamation District canal to about 150 feet east of North Georgia Avenue.
  • Upgrading the crosswalk at North Georgia Avenue and Grant Road and installing a crosswalk at North June Avenue and Grant Road.

That project also is expected to be complete in mid-June.

Including engineering and construction, the total estimated costs are $905,377 for the roundabout and $489,876 for the Complete Streets project.

West Cashmere Bridge starts year-long closure

CASHMERE — The West Cashmere Bridge and part of Goodwin Road closed May 4 and will remain that way until fall 2021 while a new bridge is built.

Motorists should plan to take other routes to Cashmere or Highway 2, such as Stine Hill Road near Dryden or Aplets Way in Cashmere. Detour signs are on Highway 2, Stine Hill Road and Sunset Highway.

Chelan County has a $19.3 million contract with Seattle-based SB Structures for the project, estimated to cost about $25.5 million total. It's being paid for with federal, state, local and private dollars, including a contribution from Crunch Pak.

The new bridge will span the Wenatchee River near the current location on Goodwin Road and cross over Highway 2/97 to Hay Canyon Road, where a roundabout will be located.

For project updates, see wwrld.us/2T0GNB3.

Ziply Fiber completes acquisition of Frontier Communications’ northwest operations

WENATCHEE — Frontier Communications' phone, internet and television customers in Chelan and Douglas counties have a new service provider — Ziply Fiber.

The change became official May 1 with the completion of the $1.35 billion sale of Frontier's operations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana that started a year ago.

The company has about 4,000 customers in Chelan County and 2,000 customers in the western part of Douglas County.

As part of the transition, Frontier Communications employees in the Wenatchee office will become Ziply employees, said Ziply CEO Harold Zeitz.

Customers will see a new name on their monthly bill and might be prompted to reset their user name and password on certain applications, but won't see too many other changes. Current fees for phone, internet and TV service will remain the same, though Zeitz said he expects service to improve.

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GWATA names Flywheel investment prize finalists

WENATCHEE — The six finalists for the top prize at GWATA’s annual Flywheel Investment Conference are:

  • Agtools: A data and intelligence platform for the agriculture market with offices across North America, including Wenatchee.
  • Golden SHERPA: A Spokane-based curated company offering a platform that matches individuals searching for senior living placement with empty beds at communities.
  • Humming Hemp: A Richland company that makes hemp-based snacks and pantry staples.
  • Joule Case: A portable power station that replaces gas generators and provides power wherever the power grid is unavailable or unreliable, based in Seattle.
  • Parrots Inc: An assistive robotics and medical devices company that creates companions for people with mobility and communication challenges.
  • Stormwater Controls: A Silverdale company that designs and manufactures a line of modular stormwater contamination reduction systems.

The conference moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was streamed live on May 20. The network of Flywheel angel investors will announce the winner of the $125,000 grand prize on June 1.

The organization received 38 applications from Washington startups.

Last year's top prize went to Beta Hatch, an agriculture company that raises mealworms for fish and poultry food. It plans to open a flagship production facility in Cashmere.

Chelan County faces budget problems from fewer building permits

WENATCHEE — Chelan County's Community Development Department is running into a potential financial challenge: It isn't receiving as many building permits.

The reason for the slowdown is because of the COVID-19 quarantine putting a hold on new construction, Chelan County Assessor Deanna Walter said.

The county is seeing about 65% of the number of permits it normally would for this time of year, Community Development Director Jim Brown said.

The department receives about $1.45 million a year from building permit revenue, he said. It has received $365,000 as of early May, which is about half of where it should be.

The county hasn't made any plans if there is a shortfall in the Community Development Department, Brown said.

A few larger commercial projects might help make up the difference, Walter said. Commercial permits cost more than regular building permits and there are a few larger projects happening this year.

By law, revenue generated from issuing building permits can only be used to compensate for the cost of issuing the permit, Brown said. The money does not go into the county's general fund.

Douglas PUD renewable hydrogen project gets state money

EAST WENATCHEE — A renewable hydrogen pilot project by the Douglas County PUD is moving forward with help from state funding.

Last year, state Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, introduced a bill that was signed into law to allow PUDs to produce, distribute and sell renewable hydrogen.

This year, state Rep. Mike Steele, R-Chelan, requested $250,000 be included for the Douglas County PUD's project in a supplemental capital budget the Legislature approved this past March. That money will go toward design and engineering primarily provided by East Wenatchee-based RH2 Engineering.

PUD spokeswoman Meaghan Vibbert said the utility in October purchased 109 acres in the Baker Flats industrial area for about $2.1 million. That property, which will also house a substation and switchyard, will be used to build the pilot project using excess capacity from the Wells Hydroelectric Project.

Vibbert said the PUD in April purchased a 5-megawatt hydrogen machine from Hydrogenics Corp. for about $9.5 million.

The pilot project is expected to be operational next year.

Port selling three Lineage buildings on Columbia Street

WENATCHEE — The Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority on May 6 listed three of its Lineage Logistics buildings for sale.

The three former fruit warehouses sit on 1.5 acres on the northeast corner of Columbia Street and Orondo Avenue. They're part of a 125,000-square-foot campus the port purchased last year for $4.5 million, or $36 per square foot.

The port is offering three sale options for the buildings, said CEO Jim Kuntz. All three buildings can be purchased together with a minimum sales price of $2.1 million, which breaks out to roughly $57 per square foot.

Or the northern building can be purchased by itself for $1.05 million and the southern building can be purchased by itself for $1.3 million. Those both work out to around $73 per square foot. The port factored in its planning and environmental review work when setting the price, Kuntz said.

Interested developers will have to submit proposals that outline their vision for the property, how many jobs will be created and examples of past adaptive reuse projects they've completed, according to the port's request for proposal documents.

The port will collect proposals until June 12 with a decision expected in early July.

The port owns eight other former Lineage buildings on the southern side of Orondo Avenue. Those will likely be divided and sold in two sets. The port plans to list the southern buildings in late summer and the middle buildings after that, Kuntz said.

The three northern buildings could be one of the first major development projects after the state-mandated COVID-19 business restrictions are lifted, Kuntz said.

Link Transit gets $7 million in federal aid to keep running

WENATCHEE — Link Transit will receive $7 million COVID-19 aid from the federal government.

The funding is part of the $25 billion in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration received to put toward transportation systems.

The money will almost completely cover the loss of revenue the transit agency is expecting from the reduction in sales tax, due to the pandemic, Link Transit General Manager Richard DeRock said.

The agency expects to see about a 25% percent decrease in sales tax, DeRock said. The money might also help the transit agency continue a planned expansion of service slated to begin July.

Sales tax makes up about 82% of the agency's budget, said Eric West, Link Transit spokesperson. The agency's total budget for 2020 was set at nearly $21.8 million.

Link has seen about a 60% decrease in riders since the pandemic started, DeRock said. But it has also needed to increase riders on certain routes to enforce social distancing. Large buses can carry 12 people while maintaining social distancing, but smaller vehicles only five.

The funding can be used for almost anything as long as everything is in compliance with federal laws and the transit unions sign off on it, DeRock said. It is based on reimbursements, so the agency will fill out paperwork requesting certain expenses be reimbursed and wait for approval.

Link Transit services Chelan County, as well as the Eastmont, Waterville and Orondo school district boundaries in Douglas County, West said.

Wenatchee's farmers market opens with new rules

WENATCHEE — It's not like it used to be, but it's going.

With controls and restrictions in place, as well as a limited vendor lineup, the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market opened for business May 9 at Pybus Public Market.

To meet COVID-19 health guidelines and restrictions, the market is smaller than years past, with only two rows of vendors instead of three.

"Usually, we do have more (vendors) at the beginning of the market," said Jessica Huerta, market manager. "We'd have our artisans and our nonprofits who are here, but we had to cut that out."

She added, "Our artisans were really bummed to not be able to be here today. We're hoping that we can bring them back in a few months."

The market capped the number of customers allowed inside at 36 and only allowed three customers per line. Patrons were directed to enter through the south, nearest the parking lot, and exit through the north side of the market. There was also a hand washing station near the entrance and arrows directing foot traffic.

The farmers market runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

Eastmont Park pump track is taking shape

EAST WENATCHEE — The Eastmont Park pump track was paved in early May by members of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. It has been a three-year effort on the part of Eastmont Parks and Recreation and the Alliance.

Eastmont Parks and Recreation Executive Director Sally Brawley said they were inspired to build a pump track after seeing another local pump track. Several years ago, she went to look at the Leavenworth pump track after it was built.

Brawley said they were impressed with how inclusive the pump track was, with bikes, scooters and skateboards. She reached out to Travis Hornby with the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.

It took three years to come to fruition but that is just how government rolls, she said

"You have to think these things through. Nothing moves quickly in government. There was fundraising that needed to happen. We put together a Memorandum of Understanding with Evergreen. That had to go through their people and our board had to approve everything," Brawley said. "It took a little time to put together but the end result is just really nice."

The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance has wanted to do something in Eastmont Park for a long time, Hornby said.

The track was designed by Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Hornby said, and supported through donations from Northern Fruit, Douglas County, EMBA, Confluence Health, Stemilt Growers and private donors.

Brawley isn’t sure when the park will open officially.

"I really hope we can open it sometime in June. I really don't know. It depends on the governor and where we are at," Brawley said. "We don't want to invite crowds by opening too soon. It will be fenced until we can safely open in terms of group management."

Group forms to oppose residential short-term rentals

WENATCHEE — A group of Chelan County residents have formed an organization opposed to the existence of short-term rentals in residential areas.

Residents United for Neighbors in Chelan County argues that the county's code has never allowed short-term rentals and wants the county to ban existing and future short-term rentals in residential areas that do not have owners on site.

The group has more than 200 people on its mailing list, said Barbara Rossing, Residents United for Neighbors spokeswoman.

The organization does not want to eliminate all short-term rentals in Chelan County, but wants them to be restricted to commercial or tourist zones.

The Chelan County Planning Commission is reviewing a draft of the potential regulations, which will be submitted to county commissioners for a final decision, tentatively scheduled for Aug. 4.

Short-term rental owners last year formed the Short-term Rental Alliance of Chelan County to oppose new regulations proposed at that time. Its president, Mike Beverick, said their organization opposes new regulations on short-term rentals except a cap on the number of people staying per night.

EPA awards grant to study NCW redevelopment projects

NCW — The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a $600,000 assessment grant to assist in the possible redevelopment of several sites in Chelan and Douglas counties.

The grant was awarded to the Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority and the cities of Wenatchee and Rock Island. The three proposed assessing and mitigating environmental issues at several sites.

The original application included the former silicon smelter in Rock Island, the former Lineage Logistics buildings in Wenatchee and the current Chelan County PUD headquarters building along with several other sites.

PUD finances stable so far amid COVID-19 shutdown

WENATCHEE — Chelan County PUD's first quarter financial reports show little impact to revenues and costs as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The second quarter reports could be different, PUD staff reported to commissioners Monday, but forecasts show the pandemic isn't expected to have significant impacts on year-end results.

The district's finances remain strong and all metrics are being met, said Mark Mullins, Enterprise Risk Management director. Bottom-line results through March 31 were a little better than budget, with lower costs offsetting lower revenues, Mullins said.

The year-end forecast puts bottom line results at a little less than $54 million, down about $4 million from budget. Electric use is forecast at 95 percent of budget.

"The impacts of reduced power use, COVID-19 response programs and delayed work is difficult to forecast at this time," Mullins said. "We expect the Q2 results and forecast will provide better insights on year-end expectations as we learn more about COVID-19 impacts."

Project closing Dryden Transfer Station in early June

DRYDEN – Chelan County's Dryden Transfer Station will be closed June 1-10 so the concrete floor of the push pit where garbage is collected can be replaced.

The $130,000 project, being done by Combined Construction Inc. of Mukilteo, includes removing loose and damaged concrete flooring and rebar and then replacing the rebar and pouring a new concrete surface. New perimeter fencing around the pit also will be installed.

The improvements should last 10 to 15 years, said Chelan County Public Works spokeswoman Jill FitzSimmons. Similar maintenance work on the push pit was completed in 2006.

"Over time, the floor of the garbage collection area, called the 'push pit,' wears down from garbage being dropped in it as well as from heavy equipment working in the pit to load garbage for transportation to the East Wenatchee landfill," she said.

Initially, she said, the work was part of a larger project, which would have added a second tipping floor to the transfer station, but those bids came in too high.

"We are moving forward with this general maintenance item, to fix that push pit, and postponing the second tipping floor for now," she said.

During the closure, commercial customers will haul directly to Waste Management's East Wenatchee landfill. Upper Valley residents can use the Waste Management Transfer Station at 1421 S. Wenatchee Ave. For information, visit wwrld.us/2LFMDTS. The work at the Dryden facility does not impact the Chelan Transfer Station.

Irrigation district did not retain proper documents for auditing

SQUILCHUCK — The state Auditor's Office found a local irrigation district was not in compliance with state records-keeping law.

The Lower Squilchuck Irrigation District did not properly retain copies of its receipts, customer billing and vendor payments for 2016, according to the state auditor report. The reason for the improper retention was the hiring of a new secretary who did not receive clear instructions or training on proper document retention requirements.

Because documents weren't retained, the state auditor was unable to confirm the validity of the district's financial activity in 2016, according to the report.

The district responded that it has since put new safeguards in place. In 2016, the district hired a new secretary who was told by the previous secretary that all bills and bill payment records should be discarded as they were already saved with the Chelan County Treasurer.

This was because the secretary prior to 2016 would keep income and expenses on a handwritten form that was easily altered to suit her purposes, according to the district.

The records are now kept by the district and also presented in forms downloadable from the Chelan County Treasurer, the district said in response to the state report.

North Cascades Bank donates $50,000 to local food banks

CHELAN — North Cascades Bank is giving $50,000 to food banks in North Central Washington.

While food banks are always in need of donations, local food needs have increased exponentially due to the impact of COVID-19.

"This week, food banks in all of our marketplaces are going to receive a cash donation from us to supplement the diminishing food donations they are currently receiving," said Charlie Guildner, president and CEO of the bank. "An added benefit to our communities is that these funds will be spent locally on groceries and supplies, further reinvesting these dollars back into our local economy."

North Cascades Bank is a division of Glacier Bank of Kalispell, Montana. It has branches in Chelan and Wenatchee.

DNR land swap protects plant unique to Malaga

MALAGA — A land swap involving the state Department of Natural Resources will help protect an endangered plant, Whited's milk-vetch, found only in the Malaga area.

DNR is exchanging 2,198 acres of state trust land near Malaga for 2,205 acres owned by Ravenwing Ranch, according to a department news release.

The land is next to the DNR-managed Upper Dry Gulch Natural Area Preserve, which protects the largest population of Whited's milk-vetch, which is found only within a 10-square-mile area near Malaga.

According to the release, the properties were intermingled before and the swap consolidates them into contiguous ownership. The Board of Natural Resources approved the exchange May 5.

Whited's milk-vetch is classified as endangered by the state and as a species of concern by the federal government.

Supernova business competition deadline is June 15

WENATCHEE — Entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses looking to expand to North Central Washington have until June 15 to enter the Supernova Business Launch Competition for a chance to win $10,000 in cash to help launch their venture.

The event, sponsored by the North Central Washington Economic Development District, is designed to bolster Main Street businesses — everything from services, manufacturing, distribution and health care to retail, technology and agriculture.

Applicants, and their completed business plans, will be vetted by a committee, with 16 semi-finalists announced in July. The public will vote to narrow the slate to the final four and, on Aug. 20, decide the winner.

The competition, initially introduced in November, was set to wrap up in June. The schedule was changed with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Workshops and other support classes for applicants are now offered online.

The competition is open to businesses that would be based in the Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan or Ferry counties.

For information, go to supernovablc.com. The NCWEDD also is offering a series of workshops for applicants and other businesses. For details, visit ncwedd.com.