Locals from Okanogan County ask Legislature for help in Carlton Complex Fire recovery

Legislator: Rep. Brad Hawkins
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A proposal is moving through the state House to provide funding for economic recovery in Okanogan County following the devastating Carlton Complex Fire last July that destroyed homes and businesses. John Sattgast reports from Olympia.

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Community leaders from Pateros, Twisp, Winthrop and throughout Okanogan County traveled to Olympia Thursday to testify before the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee. They spoke of the impact and destruction to businesses, families, schools, property and homes.

Carlene Anders is the executive director of the Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery Group and a volunteer firefighter in Pateros.

Anders: “We had tremendous loss. We’re looking at over 150, 160 homes in that area. For a small community, it’s huge. We had two-to-four students, K through 12. There wasn’t one grade that was missed, K through 12, that didn’t have kids who lost their homes. Complete devastation.”

Sattgast: State Representative Brad Hawkins of East Wenatchee has introduced House Bill 1125, which would provide an additional five-hundred-thousand dollars in the state budget for economic recovery after the fire. The dollars would be provided from an existing fund called the Economic Development Strategic Reserve Account. Hawkins said the money could also be used to leverage additional federal funding.

Hawkins: “It’s going to be a long recovery. It’s going to be, as you mentioned,  up to ten years. And this is a very small amount, but it is just one of the tools in the toolbox I thought the state could use to help in the recovery. ”

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Sattgast: Committee members watched a compelling video which showed the devastation and described through a locally-written song the tragedy that befell the communities. Hours later, the House approved an amendment to the supplemental operating budget that allocates one-point-two million dollars for recovery efforts. The committee will vote on Hawkins’ bill on Monday.
John Sattgast, Olympia.
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