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Washington grange lands grant to serve the community during extreme heat, smoke events

The Twisp Valley Grange is already a community event space, but it hopes to expand its ability to provide refuge during heat and smoke events.
Courtesy of Twisp Valley Grange
The Twisp Valley Grange is already a community event space, but it hopes to expand its ability to provide refuge during heat and smoke events.

A north central Washington grange wants to become a haven for residents looking for respite from summer heat and wildfire smoke. The dream may come true, thanks to a grant from the state Department of Commerce.

For years, the Twisp Valley Grange has been a community gathering place for weddings and other events. But it’s a facility that dates back to the mid-20th century and it doesn’t have air conditioning. Grange secretary Mary Jane Perry and her fellow board members thought a little modernization might help it become more relevant in the community.

"We came up with this idea of, well, if we got a heat pump, one on each floor, that we could become a refuge from extreme heat. And then if we put air filters in the existing ducts, we could also become a refuge from unhealthy air," she said.

Last week, the grange landed a $242,000 grant from the Department of Commerce to improve its energy efficiency.

“Having this facility now with air conditioning on both floors and, in the not-too-distant-future, having air filtration systems, we’ll be able to offer people in the community a place to escape. Maybe they want to hang out during the day, maybe they want to hang out during their lunch hour, but it’s something that Twisp doesn’t have right now," Perry said.

It expects to begin work on the improvements this summer.

It’s not clear yet whether the grange will be able to provide respite during this wildfire season. Perry says it would have come in handy when, “two years ago, we had over 110 degrees and, at the same time, we had smoke."

By next year, the grange could be the cool go-to place in the Methow Valley.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.