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Stop seeking federal money for local school

Letters to the Editor


In the July 11 issue of The Star, Roger Lucas’ article on Linda Evans Parlette’s advocacy for an additional $15 million to upgrade the school district’s existing fields, track and gym, the following quote was cited: “This belief is supported by the Coulee Community Act of 1957 which states, ‘It is of prime importance to the government that these communities continue to function as wholesome and attractive communities suitable as residences of personnel essential to the care and operation.’”

Sen. Parlette cited this statement in letters to Rep. McMorris Rogers, Sen. Murray and Sen. Cantwell to get funding support for the school. The Star cited the same statement in the July 11 editorial to encourage the local community to contact the bureaucrats to do the same. I looked up the Coulee Dam Community Act of 1957 on the web and found it had no such wording in it. Thereupon, I contacted Sen. Parlette’s office and asked where I could find that statement in the 1957 act. They acknowledged

that it was not in the act itself, but was part of a letter that Rep. McMorris had drafted to the USBR concerning The John W Keys III Pump Generating Plant Modernization Project. In that letter, Rep. McMorris cited Senate Report No. 267, p3 (1957) as showing the intent of the 1957 act. It is in that report that the complete statement occurs and the context is revealed. The statement should have included “… to the care and operation of the $300 million plant, as well as to care for the hundreds of thousands of persons who visit the installation each year”.

I feel that it is a stretch to suggest that this is a legislative intent to fund the local schools in 2012. Also, Rep. Rogers’ letter to the USBR was asking for the total cost of $46 million to be included in the Pump Plant Project. As we all well know, the state had already earmarked $14 million to the school district at the time of this letter (01-31-2012). I feel that the community should thank Rep. Parlette for getting the additional $17 million, be content with the $31 million designated to complete the “educational part” of the project, and to cease going after another $15 million from the financially distressed Federal Government. Lastly, all of this can be found on the Internet and The Star has a particularly useful pdf detailing a lot of the correspondence on this matter involving Rep. Rogers, Superintendent Carlson, the USBR and Senate Report No. 267.

John Overby

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Reader Comments

swhunter writes:

Editor’s response: Authority to act was not cited from anyone’s letter, but from the very law you reference, in the third from the last paragraph. The Coulee Dam Community Act of 1957 gives the secretary of the Department of Interior the authority to do whatever it takes to make Interior’s functions regarding the Grand Coulee Dam more efficient and economic. It is no stretch at all to understand that that should include assuring that schools meet the standards expected by current and prospective employees and their families — employees without whose contributions of labor and expertise the dam would cease to function. Given that the very reason it is impossible to raise the money through normal means is the abnormally high land holdings of the federal government, it is in the interest of the Department of Interior to contribute to the schools, so it can attract high quality employees. From the act’s Section 11: “(b) The Secretary is authorized to enter into contracts with the municipality whereby either party might undertake to render to the other such services in aid of the performance of activities and functions of the municipality and of the Department of the Interior within or near Coulee Dam as will, in the Secretary’s judgment, contribute substantially to the efficiency or economy of the operations of the Department of the Interior.” -- Scott Hunter