Editor,

In a small mountain community in east Lewis County, an emotional question arises: Should vacation rentals remain open to travelers? If so, will it jeopardize the health and safety of those few who live in the isolated community?

Ashford in Lewis County has a limited number of food stores, fuel and medical services. What this area does have are rushing waters, wandering wildlife, yards that are forest like. The local color is often nothing less than country. In the summer, tourists from around the world flock to visit Mount Rainier and surrounding areas to enjoy many of the resources we sometimes take for granted. 

Situated in the local paradise are an ever growing number of vacation rentals. In many ways, these rentals help improve the area and bring financial opportunities to a few of the local business owners, as well as the rental owners from outside this area.
Then the coronavirus became a reality. 

Guest still arrived, and yards and lake were invaded. Most guests came to hunker down and get away from the stress, not meaning to bring concerns.
Tempers flared, quiet opinions flared, and people took sides. Most local vacation rental owners closed their doors, while some owners who reside outside the area remained opened.

Telephones and Facebook exploded. Both sides of the question found proof that their point of view was the right opinion. Longtime friendships were damaged, and people who had not spoken in years became allies. All parties have suffered.

Yes, people speak of the concern for the elderly, at-risk residents, and the children with medical concerns. But who else suffers the blunt edge of this question? Our many responders include sheriffs, county and state officials who are working tirelessly to help everyone. 

We need to stop calling our local leaders to solve this problem. Continued fighting will only destroy what makes our beloved land beautiful. Some vacation rentals will be financially damaged by closing their doors, and some will prosper by staying open.

Go to coronavirus.wa.gov to report businesses you feel should not be operating or are dangerous. Write your senator and your governor's office. 
Do the right thing the right way.

Dennis Day

Ashford