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Ephrata schools levy heads for approval in first ballot tally

| February 10, 2021 1:05 AM

Staff report

The Feb. 9 special election included 29 precincts and 28.03% voter turnout of 11,138 registered voters. Three hundred ballots were left to count and 3,122 were counted as of 8:04 p.m. Tuesday and the next tally was scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday. The election will be certified Feb. 19.

Wahluke School District

Voters in the Wahluke School District rejected a three-year, $4.5 million request to make repairs and upgrades to district buildings.

The count at 8:04 p.m. showed 59.18%, or 274, “no” votes and 40.82%, or 189, “yes” votes, according to the Grant County Auditor’s website.

The money would’ve paid for roof repairs at Saddle Mountain and Mattawa elementary schools, and upgrades to security cameras and entry systems at all district buildings. Irrigation systems throughout the district would have been upgraded as well. The bond would’ve paid to replace scoreboards in the gym at Mattawa and Saddle Mountain elementaries, and the Wahluke Junior High gym scoreboard.

Saddle Mountain also would’ve received a new heating-cooling system and hallway carpet. The parking lot at Wahluke High School would’ve been resurfaced.

“There were certainly some challenges that made it hard,” interim Wahluke superintendent Andy Harlow said. The COVID-19 pandemic kept kids out of school for varying amounts of time, and the district had an interim as the superintendent, and the coronavirus outbreak also made it difficult to get the district’s message out, he said.

District officials probably will offer the levy to voters again, Harlow said, since the projects still need to be completed. In the meantime there will be some hard decisions, he said, when it comes to paying for needed repairs.

Ephrata School District

Voters in the Ephrata School District got their chance on Tuesday and approved a four-year replacement levy in a 65.39% (1,470) to 34.61% (778) vote that will help fund school activities like athletics, music, technology and security that are not covered by state or federal funds.

The approved levy will set the local school assessment at $1.85 per $1,000 of assessed value for the next four years, and is set to rise slowly over time to $2.03 by 2024.

The levy needed 50% plus one vote to pass.

Grant County Fire District 10

Voters in Grant County Fire District 10 approved a proposal to increase the number of fire district commissioners from three to five. The district merged with Grant County Fire District 11 in 2020 and currently has six commissioners.

The vote tally Tuesday was 69.44%, or 284, “yes” and 30.56%, or 125, “no.”

Commissioner Dwight Vander Vorste said two commission seats will be up for election at the end of 2021. One will be eliminated, and candidates will file for the remaining seat.