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Articles written by Renata Rollins


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  • Senior living project still looks for funding

    Renata Rollins|Jun 19, 2024

    Proponents of a future 50- to 80-bed senior living facility in Grand Coulee learned last week that their request for $5 million in federal funds for construction costs will not make it into the 2025 Congressional budget. But local partners continue to finesse the $17 million project, with an eye toward the state's legislative session opening next January and to future requests to the federal government for additional funds. "We know the funding strategy is a multi-year, multi-source strategy,"...

  • CMC clears early hurdle in federal funding for staff tiny homes

    Renata Rollins|Jun 19, 2024

    Coulee Medical Center’s request for $3 million made it into next year’s Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration appropriations bill, released by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee last week. The housing project, called “Relief for Rural Health Workforce,” had won the support of Rep. Dan Newhouse of the 4th Congressional District. “Providing critical care in this large service area takes a unique toll on the health care providers and medical professionals that often have multi-hour commutes, necessitating a designate...

  • Kids festival, car show beat out rainy weather

    Renata Rollins|Jun 19, 2024

    Despite threatening skies that occasionally burst into rain, lightning and wind gusts to topple a shade canopy, around 150 kids and their family members came out for Koulee Kids Fest, the car show, or both last weekend. For Kids Fest, families visit participating local storefront businesses, where kids do free activities and get their event "passports" stamped, to be entered in a drawing. Based on numbers from the chamber of commerce, most families chose to focus on businesses in central Grand...

  • Banks Lake Golf Course will be sold to Colville Tribes for $1.2 million

    Renata Rollins|Jun 12, 2024

    After a process going back more than two years, the Banks Lake Golf Course will soon be owned and operated by descendents of the area's original people: the Colville Confederated Tribes. Grant County Port District #7 Commissioners quickly voted to approve moving forward with the $1.2 million purchase and sale agreement after Commission Chair Jim Keene gave a presentation on the negotiations and terms at a June 11 Port Commission meeting. It was the only item on the agenda. "I'll just say that...

  • One applies for Grand Coulee mayor

    Renata Rollins|Jun 12, 2024

    The opening for Grand Coulee mayor netted one candidate, Ruth Dalton, who serves on the city council and has been the stand-in mayor for the last month, since the previous mayor resigned. Letters of interest were due Monday, and the council had planned to interview applicants at their June public meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday, June 25 at 6 p.m. However, with the sole applicant already being a member of the council, the council may appoint Dalton as mayor at the June meeting without a formal interview, as allowed under state law, City...

  • Tribal museum now open

    Renata Rollins|Jun 12, 2024

    The Colville Tribal Museum opened for the season last week, and they've already had visitors from multiple states stop in to learn local history and culture from the Tribes' History/Archeology Department. This year, staff have installed new exhibits you have probably not seen before - even if you are local. These exhibits include twined basket work by Omak mixed-media artist and tribal member Joe Feddersen, an old dendroglyph on a San Poil ponderosa pine, and a section dedicated to the crisis...

  • First Friday kicks off summer market fun at North Dam

    Renata Rollins|Jun 5, 2024

    June 7 is the official first First Friday of 2024. This year, the Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber’s serial summertime pop-up market will be back at North Dam Park instead of Main Street. The evening market will run from 4 to 9 p.m. on June 7, August 2, and September 6. Vendors will include local businesses, art, leather and jewelry vendors, food trucks, plus a free craft table hosted by the local library, and other activities for kids. For entertainment, Kolton Carson, a Lake Roosevelt 10th grader, will be playing acoustic guitar and singing f...

  • Could you be the next Grand Coulee mayor?

    Renata Rollins|May 29, 2024

    The Grand Coulee city council is looking for the next mayor, and any registered voter living within city limits can throw their name into the ring. Interested applicants should bring a letter of intent to City Hall, 306 Midway Ave, by 4 p.m. on June 10. Letters can also be mailed to Grand Coulee City Hall, P.O. Box 180, Grand Coulee 99133. A letter of intent is similar to a cover letter for a job, and is up to individual applicants to decide what to write about. Possible topics could include: why you are interested in serving as mayor; your...

  • Banks Lake project draws new investor interest, but questions remain

    Renata Rollins|May 29, 2024

    The Banks Lake Pumped Storage Project has lingered since Columbia Basin Hydropower first brought it to the attention of local leaders in 2016. Lately the project, planned to generate 500 to 1,000 megawatts of hydropower by moving water in an underground tunnel between Banks Lake and Lake Roosevelt, has drawn attention from a new potential investor and developer. But questions remain, hurdles are high, and clear steps forward are a ways off for the proposed project that would involve...

  • CMC seeks federal funding for workforce housing development

    Renata Rollins|May 29, 2024

    Faced with a housing shortage that threatens their efforts to find and keep rural health workers, Coulee Medical Center wants to develop a tiny-home community for their medical staff. If all the pieces fall into place, the designated "critical access" hospital serving four counties and the Colville Reservation could begin purchasing 30 tiny homes this October to place on their property across SR-174. The cluster of tiny 357-square-foot homes would be developed between the grain silos and the...

  • Johnson appointed Grand Coulee interim police chief

    Renata Rollins|May 22, 2024

    After eight weeks with the position vacant, Grand Coulee now officially has an acting police chief. Grand Coulee Police Officer Levi Johnson will serve in the role for up to six months until a permanent chief is hired, the city council affirmed at their regular meeting May 21. Although the motion to appoint Johnson passed unanimously, no one from the council table made any speeches or comments surrounding the appointment. Afterwards, some council members and members of the public offered their...

  • Electric City approves scaled-back version of city park

    Renata Rollins|May 22, 2024

    Electric City's first-ever city-owned park may open this year on a parcel of city land behind the fire barn, capping off years of planning and discussions going back nearly a decade. The city council May 14 voted to approve the park committee's proposed plan, scaled back from some of the original proposals. The fenced, rectangular park will include a covered picnic shelter with tables and charcoal BBQ, a vault toilet, a walking path around the perimeter, irrigated lawn, a water fountain and...

  • Grand Coulee mayor resigns 

    Renata Rollins|May 15, 2024

    Grand Coulee is looking for more patrol officers, a police chief, a wastewater treatment plant operator, and a public works director. Starting Friday, the city will need a new mayor as well. Mayor Mike Eylar announced his intention to step down from the role, due to medical issues, at a special city council meeting May 14, less than five months after being sworn in. “Bills will continue to be paid, payroll will continue to be paid, decisions will continue to flow,” Eylar said at the special session. Councilmembers had just learned of his res...

  • Rebuild of hospital access roads starts next Monday

    Renata Rollins|May 15, 2024

    Two short roads responsible for carrying 100% of Coulee Medical Center traffic in Grand Coulee will undergo reconstruction beginning next week and lasting into the summer. Fortuyn Road and James Saunders Street will be closed except to “local traffic only” starting Monday, May 20, according to an informational flyer delivered to Fortuyn residents last week. What that means in practice for ambulances and hospital visitors is not yet known, but the contractor is working on a plan for continued access, according to Grand Coulee Clerk Lorna Pea...

  • Search for police chief starting over

    Renata Rollins|May 8, 2024

    Don Redfield will not be the Grand Coulee police chief after all, Mayor Mike Eylar confirmed yesterday. Details were closely guarded at press time, but the city will “re-cast the net,” Eylar said, based on the city attorney’s counsel. “For reasons I can’t go into, it was on advice from counsel that we not go in that direction,” Eylar said in a phone call yesterday. “I hate to pass the buck on this because the buck stops with me. But I don’t know what in particular I’m allowed to speak of, so I’m going to err on the side of caution.” City atto...

  • Whole-community town hall postponed indefinitely

    Renata Rollins|May 8, 2024

    The town hall on regionally-significant topics spanning town and county boundaries in the Grand Coulee Dam area has been postponed indefinitely, the Regional Board of Mayors decided at their May meeting last week. It would have been the first town hall of its kind, and was to include time for the public to comment on regional issues in the presence of all four mayors and most of the council members from the four towns. But diminished staffing availability meant the most knowledgeable people wouldn’t be present for the main agenda item: the p...

  • CMC sees rise in denied insurance claims, a nationwide trend

    Renata Rollins|May 1, 2024

    If you’ve received an unexpected hospital bill recently due to your insurance company denying payment, you’re not alone: Coulee Medical Center staff reported an uptick in denials by insurers when the hospital attempts to collect on claims. “They’re hanging up on our billers when they call,” Chief Financial Officer Kelly Hughes told the hospital board last month as part of her monthly financial report. It’s an issue that goes far beyond the Coulee area, and in fact appears to reflect a nationwide trend that started to become evident to hospitals...

  • Colorama will include a little circus, music, food, and more

    Renata Rollins|May 1, 2024

    Colorama gets its name from the colorful lights the Bureau of Reclamation used to project onto the milelong concrete dam to mark the start of the summer tourism season here in the Coulee, in the years before the laser light show became a summertime staple. Nowadays, a big part of the weekend festival happens at North Dam Park in Grand Coulee: the vendor fair and food purveyors, live music, a beer garden, and this year, a little traveling circus of aerialists, stilt walkers, jugglers, clowns and...

  • MPH Building on Midway bought "for the dirt"

    Renata Rollins|Apr 24, 2024

    The prominent former “MPH” auto shop on Midway Avenue has been sold to the investment firm that owns two contiguous vacant properties to the east. But the multi-million dollar hotel once planned for the block has no immediate future, according to the firm principal. “We don’t have any plans for it at all,” Caleb McNamara of Blackfly LLC said in a phone call with The Star April 12. “It just added to our piece of the pie.” McNamara’s Blackfly LLC owns the neighboring vacant building that once housed Pepper Jack’s Bar & Grille, and the building...

  • Better than panties on a milk cow

    Renata Rollins|Apr 24, 2024

    "They're going to put panties on a milk cow," explains Cheryl Pryor of the six teams from local businesses participating in the "Merchants' Panty Pull" at the Cleatis Lacy Memorial Bull Riding event on Thursday, May 9. That marks Day One of the annual Colorama Festival, followed by two days of pro rodeo events, all happening at the Ridge Riders Arena in Delano. Cindy Edwards and Pryor have been Ridge Rider volunteers for years as part of a team of four to eight people. This year, Edwards says,...

  • Colorama coming up

    Renata Rollins|Apr 17, 2024

    Over the next few weeks, you'll be hearing a lot about the 67th Colorama Festival – the kickoff to the Coulee area high tourist season happening May 9-11 this year. Part vendor fair and part pro-rodeo, the early summer community party features live music, beer gardens, bull riding, a parade, two days of pro rodeo events, a raffle drawing, cowboy breakfast, riding entertainment, a Kid Zone with games and activities, a 21+ after party, and even a little variety circus show. For now, Colorama b...

  • Emphasis patrols to watch for speeding in Electric City

    Renata Rollins|Apr 17, 2024

    Emphasis patrols to discourage speeding will be popping up in Electric City, according to Coulee Dam Police Chief Paul Bowden, whose force provides police services there. The speed limit is 35 mph throughout the main corridor of Electric City, but drivers at times increase their speed before they reach the higher speed zones on either end of town, Bowden said. This can be problematic this time of year, he said, as more traffic goes in and out of the campgrounds during the warmer seasons. The limit becomes 50 mph just after Sunbanks Lake Resort...

  • Emergency Air Ambulance: Two providers, healthy competition? 

    Renata Rollins|Apr 17, 2024

    Sometimes a Coulee Medical Center patient needs to be transferred to specialists or trauma care at a larger hospital, in a city such as Spokane or Seattle. In critical situations, air transport may be deemed medically necessary to save a life or limb. At that point, emergency room staff start making calls to one or both of the competing EMS programs covering the Coulee area. One program is called Life Flight Network - which most people informally surveyed for this story knew about - and the...

  • Grand Coulee may get another shot at DOJ grant, with fewer strings attached

    Renata Rollins|Apr 10, 2024

    A large law enforcement grant Grand Coulee turned down last year due to lack of matching funds may have a new lease on life. A U.S. Department of Justice representative contacted the city last month indicating the department would prefer the $293,195 grant be used, even if it means forgoing the local match requirement and expanding the scope of possible activities that could be funded, according to Mayor Mike Eylar. “Apparently this is a matter of, it’s simpler for them to award the money without the restrictions than it is to take the has...

  • Community Town Hall re-rescheduled: May 18

    Renata Rollins|Apr 10, 2024

    The Regional Board of Mayors again rescheduled the Whole-Community Town Hall, and much of the discussion will center on the possible creation of a regional EMS district for ambulance services. The joint public meeting will take place Saturday, May 18, at 10:30 a.m. at the Coulee Dam Ballroom, and will include time for comments from attendees. The Star editor and publisher Scott Hunter will moderate the event. The mayors whittled the agenda to two priority items: discussion of a regional EMS district, and updates on upcoming highway chipseal...

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