New perimeter fence at Oroville’s airport will include automatic gates

OROVILLE – A new perimeter fence designed to keep unwanted visitors, including wandering deer, off the runway at Oroville’s Dorothy Scott Municipal Airport, will feature security gates that allow access with a keycard.

The two cantilever gates — one 20′ and the other 16′ will allow access to those with businesses and hangers at the airport and to Oroville’s Skyview Industrial Park and private property located north of the city’s Westlund Road. Access to these automatic opening gates will be either with keycards held by those granted permission by the city to use the gates or by remote controls to be placed in the city’s emergency vehicles, according to Public Works Superintendent Rod Noel.

Noel said installation of the higher priced gates will also require a new electrical service to provide their power.

“The cost estimate for the two cantilever gates is just short of $50,000,” said City Clerk Kathy Jones. “It will take about three weeks to make the contract amendment and if the FFA approves then it will cost the city at least $1000, $2500 if the state Department of Transportation, Aeronautics Division does not approve their share.”

The gates originally planned for the two access points would have been manually operated swing gates and much less costly. Since the cost of the other fence work is coming in lower than originally estimated it is felt the FFA will approve the changes.

Mayor Chuck Spieth and others at the meeting voiced some concerns that by putting $50,000 of the federal and state grants toward the gate it may preclude use of the money elsewhere if it is needed in the future.

“What else are we going to give up on our scope if that money goes toward the gates?” asked Spieth.

Councilman Ed Naillon said there could be advantages to having automatic gates for both access for neighboring property owners, as well as emergency vehicles.

“With card readers we will be able to track who goes in and out and it will be easy

for the city to cut off access to people who are no longer allowed,” said Naillon, citing the added security advantage.

When asked by Naillon how many vehicles would pass through the gates each day Airport Service Manager Steve Johnston estimated approximately 10 vehicles.

Councilwoman Neysa Rowley made a motion to approve the change that would include the automatic gates and it was seconded by Councilman Walt Hart III and carried unanimously.

“I would like to report that part of the fence is up and we have some very upset deer,” said Johnston. “They look at the fence and their ears go up and then they run back up the hill. If that fence had not been there we’d have had a problem with them already.”

The FFA grant also included the construction of two helipads which have been completed. Supt. Noel said he would like to put some gravel around the area of the helipads to better allow vehicle access. Otherwise vehicles could get bogged down in the nearby soft ground, he said.

On a related issue, Debra Donohue, the city’s ambulance coordinator, asked permission to request a trial landing on one of the helipads by MedStar Ambulance Service. She said she would like to make it an event for those who want to come watch the helicopter do its trial landing.

Under new business, Jones said the ambulance will again be present at high school football games after the city and school district worked out a plan. The plan is at least partially the result of talks between Oroville School District Superintendent Ernie Bartleson and Mayor Spieth.

“I’ve talked with him several times over the last week or so,” said Spieth. “They have to have a billing and we need to document it in the minutes for the three on-call personnel to attend for the shift.”

At the time of the Tuesday, Sept. 16 meeting there were four remaining home football games. The school agreed to pay $50 to defray the cost of ambulance and $10 each for the three crew members standing by at the games. By doing it this way the city and the school will keep in line with state requirements and not raise any red flags among the state auditors.

“They will only charge anything over that for transport, not for a band aid or a cold pack,” said Jones.

“I personally appreciate this generous offer because $50 is nothing,” said Councilman Naillon, who is also a teacher with the school district.

Earlier in the evening the council refused a request by a local business owner to remove a water reconnection fee.

“There is a set policy and we cannot make an exception unless we do it for everyone,” said Councilman Jon Neal, voicing the majority opinion among the council members.

Clerk Jones also reported a survey of the parts of the city hall and the building to the north that will be demolished to make way for the city hall expansion found little of concern in the way of hazardous materials.

“There was nothing major except we have to have certified removal of some of the tiles, lead paint and some glue. There is some asbestos tile in the safe area and in the bathroom area,” she said.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are the Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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