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The Worm: Health District spins tires trying to buy local

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The Chelan-Douglas Health District wanted more than anything to buy its new all-wheel-drive vehicle from a local dealer, but the idea never gained traction.

Government policies, legalities, intricacies and strategies — you know, the usual — routed the district down a well-worn road to buy the vehicle through a state contract with a Longview dealership.

Mary Small, spokeswoman for the health district, couldn’t help but sigh. “We had to go with the state contract to get the best price, one we could afford,” she said. “It’d be great to buy our vehicles locally, but we’re too small an entity and the bidding process is too complicated for just one car or truck.”

Plus, the district rarely replaces one of their rigs. Of its six vehicles, the oldest is a 1998 Jeep, tough and reliable, “and we’ll keep it as along as we can,” said Small. “But who knows how long that will last?”

In fact, the last time the district needed a spankin’ new vehicle was in 2003, and district honchos faced the same dilemma — how to buy locally? — and it didn’t work back then, either.

In the end, the district paid about $18,000 for a 2012 all-wheel-drive Ford Escape, the only AWD vehicle on the state’s contract list. “We didn’t really have much choice,” said Small, “but I’m sure it’s a good vehicle that’ll serve our purposes.” It’ll arrive in two to three weeks.

The district needed a rig with all-wheel drive for inspections of septic systems that are sometimes in out-of-the-way places. And to carry more than one or two passengers to meetings and other events.

A small SUV like this one provides the best utility for everyone on staff,” she said. “But a local purchase would have been nice.”

Little dog caught: People who called the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society about a dog wandering around the grounds of the Wenatchee Valley Medical Center can breath easy. The dog has been caught and is in good health at the shelter, said Dawn Davies, Humane Society director.

The dog had been wandering around all of the last week of January and kept running away from Humane Society officers who were trying to catch it. Finally, a WVMC employee befriended it and was able to get it to a place where officers could get it. The dog is described as a male, brown and white dog with a short tail and short hair. It was wearing a blue collar.

The owner has a few days to claim the dog before it is put up for adoption, Davies said.

DN’T TXT & drive: Remember those shocking — and effective — anti-drunk-driving campaigns from high school? Cops hauled in wrecked cars crunched into shredded heaps. Wheelchair-bound teens told gut-wrenching stories. Heartbroken moms spoke about the loss of their kids.

Fast-forward to the future. Joining drunk driving as the newest highway horror is distracted driving: Phoning and texting from behind the wheel.

Two weeks ago, Wenatchee High School launched a distracted-driving campaign sponsored by the Wenatchee Police Department and two local companies, Farmers Insurance and Precision Collision Auto Body.

Arriving at school that morning, kids saw a beautiful Ford F-150 pickup bashed head-on in a distracted driving accident. A distracted driving video played during lunch periods. And kids were asked to sign a “DN’T TXT & Drive” banner and pledge not to text while cruising down the road.

Just so you know, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported last year that distracted driving (phones, food, kids and other diversions) was a factor in 9.3 percent of fatal crashes in 2009. In a more recent NHTSA survey, 6 percent of respondents involved in crashes reported using a phone at the time of the accident.

Mark Lovell at Precision Collision noted that state law bans all drivers from using hand-held devices and texting while driving. Novice drivers are banned from using both hand-held and hands-free devices.

So, are you driving along, reading this on your smart phone? Hmm?

This week’s worm was compiled by World reporters Mike Irwin and Dee Riggs. Have a tip? Email newsroom@wenatcheeworld.com.