Ground broken for Water Ranch

Jesse Olson cuts the ribbon at the Tonasket Water Ranch site at Chief Tonasket Park with some help from Mayor Patrick Plumb and encouragement from friends. Brent Baker/staff photos

Jesse Olson cuts the ribbon at the Tonasket Water Ranch site at Chief Tonasket Park with some help from Mayor Patrick Plumb and encouragement from friends. Brent Baker/staff photos

TONASKET – There’s no turning back now.

The Tonasket Water Ranch took another step toward becoming a reality on Friday, Oct. 26, as Linda Black and her team of organizers hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at Chief Tonasket Park to celebrate the beginning of the final stages of Black’s water park dream.

Linda Black and Plumb officially break ground on the Water Ranch which is planned for opening next summer.

Linda Black and Plumb officially break ground on the Water Ranch which is planned for opening next summer.

After a year of fundraising – and a lot more time than that working with engineers, agencies and local businesses to make the park a reality – Black and Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb plunged their gold shovels into the dirt at the water park site.

But not until after Tonasket Elementary School fourth graders, invited to the groundbreaking party, hosed down the mayor, TES principal Jeremy Clark and “Splash-man,” following Plumb and Jesse Olson performing the official ribbon-cutting.

I wanted the community to understand, with this ceremonial ground-breaking, that this really is happening. Right now I’m relieved; I’ll really be happy once it’s built. But I’m relieved because there is no turning back. Linda Black

Black said there is still about $10,000 to be raised for things like picnic tables and some other thigns that aren’t part of the basic infrastructure.

“The equipment is here and paid for, the engineering is paid for,” she said. “It will happen in the spring but people will still be hearing from me

Tonasket Elementary  School Principal Jeremy Clark takes one for the "team" during the water fight/groundbreaking celebration for the Tonasket Water Park at Chief Tonasket Park on Friday.

Tonasket Elementary School Principal Jeremy Clark takes one for the “team” during the water fight/groundbreaking celebration for the Tonasket Water Park at Chief Tonasket Park on Friday.

“I feel good knowing this will be available to the community, and that they’ll enjoy it. I feel that makes this year worth it.”

Doug Leese – in character as a cowboy (befitting the “ranch” theme) introduced Black’s team of supporters, including Elise Peacemaker,

Jara Donner, Cathy Olson, Stacey Kester, Chamber of Commerce president Julie Alley, city planner Kurt Danison, Tonasket Schools superintendent Paul Turner, landscape architect Ken VanVoorhis, the Tonasket City Council, and a number of local artists who volunteered their talents to enhance the project.

Linda Black honored her  team of "Wonder Women" with capes during Friday's groundbreaking, including (l-r) Elise Peacemaker, Jara Donner, Cathy Olson and Stacey Kester.

Linda Black honored her team of “Wonder Women” with capes during Friday’s groundbreaking, including (l-r) Elise Peacemaker, Jara Donner, Cathy Olson and Stacey Kester.

The first of those pieces, a fish sculpture designed by Jane Thompson, was placed at the site.

“We have $10,000 more to go, so I’ll still be selling fish,” Black said. “There’s still work going on; we’re not quite there yet. But what we’ve done has been hard-earned.”

About Brent Baker

Brent is a reporter for the Gazette-Tribune. Prior to working at the G-T, he was the sports editor for Sunrise Publishing from 2000-2005 in Michigan. He subsequently owned and operated Buckland Media, a high school sports website, in Michigan until 2010. He and his wife Kim, who have an adult son, moved to Tonasket in 2010. Brent started work at the G-T in 2011.

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