Senator hasn't stopped pushing for community
Before a tour of the new school under construction, Sen. Linda Evans Parlette speaks to a group of sophomores at Lake Roosevelt High School who had written her letters as eighth-graders at Nespelem Elementary to encourage her help in fuding a new school. Parlette wanted to let them know their involvement and letters made a difference. - Scott Hunter photo
State Sen. Linda Evans Parlette said she is still looking for ways to get federal help with Grand Coulee Dam school construction needs, and she has just two years to get it done.
Speaking at the Grand Coulee Dam Rotary Club April 23, Parlette said she's still trying to connect with Sec. of Interior Sally Jewel, but she may have a new ally to call on in the U.S. Senate.
Parlette's leadership, said Grand Coulee Dam School District Superintendent Dennis Carlson, was the crucial factor in getting the funds for the new school complex in Coulee Dam.
An initial funding to replace an old transformer at Lake Roosevelt High School included money for planning the new school. When a jobs bill came up, the plans already in place made the project "shovel ready," when Parlette could position the project for enough funding to serve as the local area's match for state funds.
That happened April 11, 2012. Just two years later, Carlson pointed out, the district expects to open the new school next September.
"We're still looking for money for the gym," she said, adding that then-senator Derek Kilmer who had chaired the state's capital budget committee, is now in the U.S. Congress, representing Washington's 6th District as a Democrat.
"So I have somebody that I don't have to start from scratch with," Parlette said. "I'm not done with this project."
Parlette, a Republican, represents the 12th District, which now includes Nespelem, the largest geographically in the state. She does not intend to seek re-election when her current term ends in two years.
Parlette said the school issue is one of two she needs to speak with Sec. Jewell about, and she's seeking ways to make the connection, possibly through former Gov. Dan Evans, a mutual friend. But she noted that Jewell's office took four months to respond to an earlier letter she had sent prior to a trip to Washington, DC that Carlson made to explain the situation.