John McKay

After the Freedom Foundation released a powerful video in support of the Slidewaters Water Park in Chelan County, a growing number of persons are questioning the state's decisions about COVID closures, Namely why some casinos and water parks are open, but Slidewaters and others are NOT. The video was released earlier this week, and appears to be going viral.

In brief, Slidewaters remained open in defiance of the business closures in Chelan County while they challenged with a lawsuit. Eventually, two judges passed over then dismissed the suit. Labor and Industries 'shut' down the waterpark July 22. The Freedom Foundation has been standing by the facility and owners-operators in their legal battles. L-I threatened the owners-operators with fines and jail time if they did not close.

It has been noted that Great Wolf Lodge in Centralia (the Grand Mound location) had a grand re-opening June 19. They are operating at limited COVID capacity limits, but the facility does contain a water park. A check of their website  August 26 shows the water park is OPEN.  The resort is located in an area that is a Federal land trust with the Chehalis Indian Tribe. We called their reservation hotline to confirm they did re open in June. You have probably seen TV Ads for them recently.

It has been noted that Legends Casino in Toppenish was not allowed to re open until August 13th. It is located on Fort Road in Toppenish. It too, like Great Wolf, is located on Federal tribal land, the Yakama Nation territory.

Many on social media and elsewhere are wondering why these inconsistencies exist. One facility is open, another is not. Some say it's because of the Federal tribal issue, but that does not explain why Great Wolf has been open over six weeks longer than Legends. They're both tribal. Great Wolf contains a water park, much like Slidewaters, yet one is open, the other is not. Slidewater's owners-operators said they were utilizing a Chelan County Health District approved COVID safety plan, and no cases have been attributed back to the water park.

It could also have to do with each county's Phases. Lewis County, where Great Wolf is located, is in Phase 3, while Yakima County (Legends) is in modified Phase 1.5 like Benton Franklin.

Slidewaters is in Chelan County, which at the present time is also in a modified Phase 1.5.  Chelan, Douglass, Benton, Franklin and Yakima Counties are all still in this Phase.

We have reached out to 2 different sources at the Washington State Department of Health with questions, but have yet to hear a reply as to what the exact criteria used was, and exact reasons for these inconsistencies.

To citizens, this appears to be yet another example of the inconsistent, and confusing manner in which the State of WA is applying business closures due to COVID-19.