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June 29, 2021

Community Members,

As we navigate this unprecedented week of extremely high temperatures, I wanted to convey a few concerns I have for the safety of our community and our residents.

The health and welfare of our residents is of utmost importance – especially during this heat wave. While we may see individual day temperatures break all-time records for one or more days, it is even more disconcerting that we are experiencing so many in a row. The cumulative effect can be devastating for the health and welfare of our community and neighbors. Please do all you can to keep yourselves cool if possible. If you must be outside, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I’ve learned that our need for water in such extreme temperatures exceeds what our thirst signal will tells us to consume. Bottom line, if you wait until you “feel thirsty,” it will most likely mean you have waited too long and the effects of heat exhaustion and even heat stroke may already be occurring. Equally important is to replenish your electrolytes to be able to utilize the water. Sports drinks are good for this. Stay out of the heat if you can, and drink lots of water and sports drinks ongoingly if you cannot. Please extend that advice to your pets, and check on any of your neighbors who you know might be needing help along these lines. Care for each other. And if anyone needs a cool place, read on in this letter and head to City Hall for an air-conditioned respite.

As Mayor, I’m using my emergency powers to open up City Hall, in cooperation with the local library staff, to use the entire first floor of the City Hall as a cooling center. This is the best way for us to have a direct impact on each community member’s individual health and welfare. This means, among other things, that we will not be restricted to the current COVID limits, but can allow as many residents who need to get relief from the heat to do so, up to 100% of our occupancy limits. Because this occupancy level is greater than would be possible using social distancing, and because it will be open to all regardless of vaccination status, people using this space will be required to wear a mask while inside. Please bring yours with you! We will place chairs around as needed in the downstairs lobby, the library, and the council chambers. People will be able to stay as long as they need to within the hours the cooling center will be open. Today, this area will be open until 6 PM. Wednesday through Friday, because the library itself is open later on those days, we will have the cooling center open from 9 AM until 7 PM. We trust that a small break in the weather will come over the weekend, and at least allow for more cooling in the evening and night hours as we drop back below 100-degree highs.

With extreme heat for an extended period comes concern for fires in our forest lands that so beautifully surround our mountain community. We have already been experiencing drought conditions that made our fire danger higher than normal for this time of the year. (While many areas of our mountains had higher than normal snowpack, that is not as relevant to fire danger as the need for ongoing precipitation in the spring in the form of rain, which we did not receive.) We are the number one community in the state in terms of being at risk for fire impacts to our town. By the end of this week, we will be a tinder box, just needing the smallest of sparks to set fire to our beautiful and heavily treed surroundings.

This, just as we celebrate a holiday that has been traditionally marked by celebrations centered around items which, by their nature, are about providing that spark. I love a good fireworks show as much as the next person. And I have used the old “Safe & Sane” fireworks with my kids growing up. And I have been at parties where private individuals have set off more commercial-type fireworks. However, this is definitely not the year for such traditions. Can we please, please find other ways to express our joy at our freedoms this year? There is simply far too much risk.  Is it really worth endangering the beauty of our small valley? Or even worse, our homes and potentially some lives? I don’t think so, and I know Chelan County Fire District #3 doesn’t think so. In an official statement yesterday from Dave Nalle, Deputy Fire Chief of Prevention, he reminded us that “Possession and use of any firework, including Safe & Sane, is illegal in Chelan County and the City of Leavenworth. It is a crime that is punishable by a fine, or incarceration in County jail, or both.”  I saw something a few days ago that I felt expressed my feelings quite well: “Do the patriotic thing this year, and don’t use fireworks.” Stand up, true patriots all! Defend our home!  Stay safe, and cool, and celebrate the amazement that is our nation without fireworks this year.

Carl J. Florea, Mayor
City of Leavenworth
700 Highway 2
Leavenworth, WA 98826
(509) 548-5275
[email protected]

For a downloadable copy of the letter, click here.

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