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mt-about1SITE CHANGES JAN 1st 2014 - As I made the regular readers aware a couple of months ago, we here at MT are moving forward.  For the last two plus years the concentration has been on strictly local issues.  Most are aware that I do a national radio show.  That format will be ported over here as the next two election cycles are so very important and transcend the local arena.

Starting shortly the live show viewer will be functioning on a daily basis along with the call-in feature.  For those of you with an interest in national politics /cultural issues you may find it of interest.  Follow Montesano Today on Twitter also for topical information on a daily basis.  Our LIVE SHOW VIEWER page for more information as it moves forward.  Menu bar at top of every page for our new archive features.

While I will continue my column here in the local newspaper for the time being on local issues,  our focus here on the website will return to the national stage. …….Tom


SNAKEHOSPITAL DIST. FLIM FLAM –  apparently you and I as home owners are now wanted to take care of all the retirement benefits for the hospital employees prior to the proposed new public take over……this just keeps getting better and better.  TAKE A LOOK AT THEIR FINANCIALS - new FAT CAT SALARY INFORMATION ADDED….


Montesano VFW and Rolling Thunder gather to bring awareness for POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

April 19th, 2014 Montesano WA.  Two groups joined together today and yesterday,  despite heavy driving rain, to bring attention to the only US Prisoner of War held in Afghanistan.  Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.  Two groups formed today, Saturday, facing both directions.  According to organizers, approximately 30 joined with the event friday as well.  The two day event was held on the Devonshire Bridge freeway overpass in Montesano.

Robby Robinson of Elma joins in for the event.  Representing the local Montesano chapter of Rolling Thunder.

Robby Robinson of Elma joins in for the event. Representing the local Montesano chapter of Rolling Thunder.

Mike Lunceford of Montesano waves flag atop Devonshire Bridge

Mike Lunceford (right) of Montesano waves flag atop Devonshire Bridge.

EXCLUSIVE – Grays Harbor Hospital Financials Discovered – Millions and Millions and Millions in debt

BREAKING – MONTESANO TODAY EXCLUSIVE  FRIDAY APRIL 18TH 2:30 PM    -If you are not familiar with the services of GUIDESTAR they post information on non profits such as the Grays Harbor Community Hospital.  According to the 2011 tax return CLICK HERE TO VIEW, the hospital is very heavily in debt, both long and short term, as reported by the non profit watchdog Guidestar, which as indicated on the first page of the tax return is open to public inspection.

I will leave the accountants to pour over it, yes I saved a copy in case it suddenly goes off line.  It is a large PDF file.

I think after spending five minutes with the return and liabilities….we all can understand why the hospital was hesitant to release them.  Comment section is open on this thread.  Yes, the information was sent to the Daily World as well as the Vidette.


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UPDATE:  more sources – MORE….IT GETS WORSE

According to the Wa. Dept.  of Health, screen shot below, the hospital has over 50 million in bonds alone we will be picking up liability for.  CLICK HERE FOR BUDGET REPORTS


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Two million a year just in interest payments……and they don’t want to fire anyone?  Who has been watching the money?

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Vickie Raines comes out in favor of Hospital Dist. despite refusal to release debt information

Vickie Raines, Candidate for Grays Harbor Commissioner,  made her position known this morning concerning the new proposed Hospital District.  She signed the petition and announced she will be voting for it, despite the hospital refusing to let us know the cost, or their debts.  I think we are getting a look into how she will be voting in the area of taxation to the home owners here in the harbor should she become elected.


PERSONAL NOTE:  it wasn’t too long ago I wrote what many considered a glowing column for the Vidette on my interview with Vickie.  I mentioned that as time went on, we would find out where she stood on things to make our decision for the new open spot on the County Commission.  Well, now we are getting an insight.  Apparently Vickie is unconcerned about the millions the hospital owes and future retirement and benefit packages to past employees that they now want us, you and I as taxpayers to pick up.  It is just my opinion, but a county commissioner that is unconcerned about protecting the home owners by a simple requirement that the hospital actually disclose what they owe……is someone I can’t support for the office.  We went through the “you have to vote for it to see what is in it” already with Obamacare, and look where that has got us.

I commend Vickie for having the courage to state her opinion, however, there is something larger in play here.  I understand her….vote hospital no matter what they owe or what it costs the taxpayers on her personal level, but by running for office – she has to think about the taxpayers first.  We have been down this road with commissioners voting their ideology, it didn’t work out well for us.


UPDATE: later in the day…….the financials are out.  CLICK HERE  I wonder if Vickie will have a change of heart?


Montesano Councilman Chris Hutchings has solution to streets

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 11.36.27 AMFOLLOW UP – NEW PROPOSED STREET TAX: I wanted to wait until it came out in print. While everyone at the city has basically thrown their hands up in the air with proposals in the millions to fix the pot holes around here…..only one…..let me repeat that…only one,  Montesano Councilman Chris Hutchings – seems to both know what he is doing and putting forward clear common sense proposals.

Chris ponders that if the city would just divert part of our city forest cuts, we could easily, over time, get our streets fixed without raising taxes on people here who just can’t afford it. He won’t make any friends up on that dais,  as taking away the cookies from the cookie jar of public funds dips into pet projects.

Look, nobody has been rougher on Hutchings over the last few years than me. All small ball stuff though. When it comes to the big issues, he seems to have the only clear voice out there and usually well thought out solutions to big problems.

We as a community need to start bantering his name out there for the next Mayor spot. It is time we started encouraging the people we need in leadership rather than the norm….waiting to see who is putting up yard signs and getting what we get.  We have seen how that works out.

Good solution to a complex policy problem Mr. Hutchings.

Grays Harbor Hospital District Dog and Pony Show Begins

Ya….I have a few questions.  Why won’t they release their debts that they want us harbor home owners to pick up?  Are we now proposing to create 3,000 new public employees with all the cost and headaches associated with that mess….ever try to fire one?  What is the cap to our property tax as they continue to lose money?  Is there a cap?  $1,000 a year , 2, how about $5,000?  What are the current salaries of the hospital….we have a right to know and see the books.   Don’t we?

What lawsuits have they lost and the cost?  What lawsuits are pending?  They want us to pay for it via our property taxes, do we have the right to know or not?  Or is this just another “you have to vote for it to find out what’s in it“?

My prediction – none of these questions will be answered.  If they are, they will never get this thing past the voters who will have to pay for it.

(I wonder if they replaced the PR pictures in the below flier with faces of homeowners, that  would have to pick up the tab for this lunacy,  if they would be smiling.  I can see why they are smiling though.  Job for life with automatic pay increases, top notch benefits and it doesn’t matter if they lose money or not…..they just up the property tax to the Grays Harbor homeowners.  I’d smile too.  Here is the pitch so far.  We are losing so much money as a private business we are all going to lose our jobs.  Nobody will buy us so we want you taxpayers to be responsible for us.   We want you taxpayers to pay our bills but we aren’t going to tell you what they are or what we owe…. and when we want more money we will just automatically raise your property taxes every year with no end in sight.  Nice try, but even I don’t think the voters of this county are that stupid.)

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Elma should sacrifice their citizens for the good of Grays Harbor


I read with interest the story featured in the Vidette this week concerning the people of Elma and their Mayor David Osgood, discussing the merits of writing a letter to the Port of Grays Harbor. In the proposed letter they were thinking about complaints concerning the coming Port of Grays Harbor oil trains for a variety of reasons. Certainly they are concerned over their town being cut in half as much as 12 hours a day, but they seemed even more concerned over the inability to get their emergency responders over said tracks.

Just who do the people of Elma think they are? We here in Montesano would never think of asking the port to do such things, nor even think about writing a letter like that! Never, our Mayor and City Council are firmly in the Port boat concerning the coming oil trains. We here in Montesano don’t care about such things and realize that certainly there will be deaths associated with them. Really though,  aren’t a few deaths because people can not receive medical attention, or pulled from burning car crashes outweighed by the handful of new union jobs the port will receive?

This outlandishly selfish behavior by the residents and elected government of the City of Elma are a black mark on the East County. We are aware that the letter is only in its “thinking about it” stage, but imagine how the mere thought of such a thing would make the port officials and port commissioners feel?

We as East County residents have come to terms with the coming oil trains, and are  frankly unconcerned about the explosive nature of the tank cars or the eventuality of spills into our streams, rivers and harbor. There is more at stake here than the whining hand wringing residents of the City of Elma. Have they even considered the ramifications of this letter….should it ever actually be sent? There are a host of out of work friends and relatives of those associated with the port just waiting for good jobs. Sometimes we need to think of others first.

Paying for luxury items like safety walkways would have to come out of the port budget. What would you suggest – cutting into year-end bonuses for port employees, or cutting back of overseas junkets – like they just took to the Philippines? Expecting port officials to cut back or stay in budget motels and fly coach isn’t what we are about in Grays Harbor.

As if this proposed letter wasn’t enough, the City of Elma also had the nerve to ask for the port to pay out of their own pockets for a walk way over the tracks so that medics could park their car on one side of the parked train cutting the town in half, hoist up their gear and walk over the train on said walkway, get into a medical or fire truck always parked on the other side – and then attend to medical emergencies on the cut off side of town. As if people would hold off dying waiting for them. Really, have you ever heard such a ridiculous request? They would have to build one in Montesano as well. And exactly who would pay for this walkway? The Port? I don’t think so. To save just a paltry few Elma lives a year? The cost of the walkways they built for themselves to do exactly the same thing at the port complexScreen Shot 2014-04-16 at 8.32.13 AM was very expensive. If the people of Elma are sooooo concerned about their residents dying, let them
build a catapult. We don’t worry about a few residents screaming for help in car accidents or heart attacks here and there in Montesano because of the oil trains. No sir! Our elected  city officials are better than that.


The people of Elma need to take their example from the City of Montesano. Realize that there will be fewer, but better people in the new and coming East County. The elderly, accident prone and slow, thinned out. As is often the case, Montesano again leads the way by example. Think of the greater good, keep your mouth shut….and take it. We would never think about writing a letter like that. The sacrifice of the unlucky few Elma and Montesano residents for the betterment of the Port of Grays Harbor bottom line is a worth while future. If saving a few lives a year was worth the expense, our three port commissioners would be speaking out in favor of building these walkways. They haven’t said a word and apparently don’t think the expense is worth it, we need to follow their example. Those of us who live on the right side of the tracks….will honor the sacrifice of the few.

Film – Early Grays Harbor 1920s – our history

From the UW description of the film:  “A collection of recovered films from the 1920s and ’30s gives insight into the life and times of the small Washington communities in Grays Harbor County. The films, meticulously restored by the UW Libraries film preservation experts, were shot by photographer Charles D. Anderson and reveals how the sense of community in this southwestern Washington town has stood the test of time.”

ED NOTE:  this was recently sent to me and I was unaware of the films.  I contacted our local newspaper editor who was aware and in fact had one of his reporters looking into it at one time.  Will post information here as I learn more.  Tom


April 15th 2014 – the Editor of The Vidette here in Montesano was kind enough to forward a report that none other than our current sitting City Councilman Marisa Salzar wrote.  Thank you to the Vidette for sending and allowing to re-post the information on our shared history here in the harbor…Tom.  Visit THE VIDETTE


Published 3-7-13 by Marisa Salzer

A rare collection of newsreel films featuring Harbor life at its economic peak in the 1920s has made a nearly century-long journey back into the hands of its descendants and residents.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words — moments frozen in time, some of them decisive — movies can move us with their magic. They can be a time machine,” said John Hughes, chief historian for the secretary of state, lifelong Harborite, and former editor and publisher of The Daily World and The Vidette.

The public will have a chance to see these films for the first time at the premiere showing of the documentary of these films at 2 p.m. and at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 9, at the historic 7th Street Theatre. The documentary is narrated by Hughes.

“These newsreels are nothing less than a community treasure,” Hughes said.

A box of highly combustible 35 mm tinted and black and white nitrate film was discovered in a commercial storage unit in Seattle after its contents were purchased during an auction several years ago. Randy and Gina Noll brought the films to the University of Washington Libraries after learning about the university’s Home Movie Day event.

Though the University of Washington did not have the capacity to “work with the deteriorating reels,” Hannah Palin, film archives specialist of the special collections division at the university, said, it sought the expertise of the Library of Congress. “According to George Willeman, Library of Congress nitrate vault film manager, the films were extremely rare newsreels shot by C.D. Anderson, a photographer from Aberdeen. The films were shown in conjunction with national newsreels on the movie screens of Aberdeen, Hoquiam and Grays Harbor,” Palin said.

Noll recognized its importance and donated the films to the university in 2004, to give the films an opportunity to be restored and brought back to life, explained Joyce Agee, associate director of development for the university’s library.

One of the films contained a strange scene that was released to the public approximately a year ago in attempts to identify what was being filmed. A group of children and adults were seen walking in a circle in a large field, then standing still. With the center of the circle cleared, a man stands on a crate in the center of the circle and hands a document to a boy who holds it over a fire until it burns. The crowd then ran in one direction, disappearing from the scene.

“It was the utter weirdness of that clip that got me interested in the project. I looked at the project as a mystery that needed to be solved and I took it on as a personal challenge,” said Roy Vataja, vice president of the Aberdeen Museum of History board.

Vataja explained that on a hunch, he determined that the scene took place at the end of a school year, and searched newspaper clippings for any clue that would solve the mystery. His hunch proved to be correct — he determined the gathering was of school children and adults for what might be a mortgage burning ceremony for Franklin School, located near the site of the since-demolished natatorium in Hoquiam.


With the help of two grants from the National Film Preservation Foundation, preservation was done by Colorlab in Maryland, producing new prints of the original films, then transferred to a high-end master videotape with DVD viewing copies, Palin said. Another grant was awarded to write a collection guide and to post the entire collection on the university’s digital collection’s website.

The final portion of the collection, consisting primarily of tinted footage, was preserved with funding from the Apex Foundation.

While the films were being restored, the University of Washington Libraries formed a “true partnership,” Agee said, with representatives of the Harbor to create a documentary featuring many of these films. Those helping include Hughes, John Larson, director of the Polson Museum, Mickey Thurman of the 7th Street Theatre Association and Realtor and local historian Tom Quigg.

“It is a great example of a collaborative effort that was executed well,” Larson explained.

In fact, the university hopes the documentary project encourages other communities in Washington to look in their storage units and dig up their own old films and bring them to the university, Agee said.

Under the direction of Ann Coppel, of UWTV, the documentary came together with interviews from those involved in the project as well as current-day shots of where the scenes were originally filmed. The Grays Harbor Community Foundation provided the final grant that gave the university the support to “take the production from good to great,” Agee added.

The person who was most instrumental in bringing this film together was Vataja, said his partners on the project. He “was able to make it all come alive,” Larson said.

“Roy has been an absolute Godsend,” Thurman agreed. “He has spent countless hours at the library researching old newspapers.”

Vataja’s fascination with Harbor history began when he was a young child in the 1970s, he said.

Reflecting on what he was seeing in downtown Aberdeen, he said, “The buildings are so cool. I noticed that there were no buildings older than 1903, which made me ask why and the next thing you know, I was at the library, reading old newspapers on microfilm.”

In fact, Vataja was so involved in Harbor history, he was named to the Aberdeen Museum of History’s Board at the age of 17 and currently serves as vice president.


The “roaring” ’20s was named “because prosperity reigned all across America. On the Harbor, people from all walks of life and ethnicity were joiners. There was a profusion of fraternal, social, church and union groups: The Elks, Eagles, Moose and Masons; the Odd Fellows, Rotary and Neighbors of Woodcraft; guilds, ladies’ auxiliaries and the venerable Daughters of the American Revolution with their pinkies in the air. There were Finnish halls (three, in fact), Swedish, Norwegian, Croatian and Italian Halls. People went to the movies at least twice a week; to dances and parties every weekend. Afterward, they went to Chinese restaurants that stayed open until 2 a.m. They knew their neighbors and gathered often to play cards or charades; to listen to the radio, gossip and laugh,” Hughes said.

Hughes estimates that nearly 70 percent of the historic buildings, some of which are shown in the films, are still standing today. The Harbor was the lumber capital of the world during this time, in which Aberdeen’s population topped 22,000 and Hoquiam’s at 15,000, he explained.

In 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Aberdeen’s population at nearly 17,000 in 2012 and Hoquiam at nearly 9,000.


The documentary will be shown twice — at 2 p.m. and at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 9.

Guest speakers will include Lizabeth “Betsy” Wilson, Dean of the University of Washington Libraries; Paul Constantine, associate Dean of the University of Washington Libraries and director of special collections; Nicolette Bromberg, University of Washington Libraries visual materials curator; Hannah Palin, University of Washington Libraries film archives specialist; Ann Coppel, director of UWTV; Ray Kahler, president of the 7th Street Theatre Association, Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney, Larson of the Polson Museum and Vataja of the Aberdeen Museum of History.

A surprise guest of honor will be featured during the 7 p.m. show.

“Anderson’s movies are ‘reel-life’ — everything from a wedding at the county fair to fire drills at every school in town. The nuns in their habits shoo the kids down the stairs at St. Mary’s; high schoolers at the towering Terrace Heights School flood onto the front lawn, the girls in their starched dresses and hair bows. On Thanksgiving, Aberdeen and Hoquiam football players in their leather helmets square off on a quagmire as thousands cheer,” Hughes said.