Oroville and U.S. Border Patrol come to an agreement on water

Central Ave. and Cherry St.

Central Ave. and Cherry St. will get a resurfacing with construction starting in April of next year. The project is expected to be finished in late 2013 and is being funded by a federal Surface Transportation (STP) grant that the City of Oroville first began applying for in 2007. The last major paving project on the streets was in 1995.

Central and Cherry resurfacing project to begin April 2013

OROVILLE – After several months of back and forth, the Oroville City Council authorized Mayor Chuck Spieth to sign an agreement with U.S. Border Patrol to supply water to their new multi-million dollar facility north of the city.

The city had a letter from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers dating back to January, but an agreement has been held up while the various federal agencies gave their stamps of approval.

City attorney Mick Howe has gone over the document and city staff recommended that the city sign it, according to Kathy Jones, city clerk.

“Mick said that most of it is boilerplate,” said Jones, referring to the thick document.

“They (the federal government) consider us a vendor because they are paying us to build a reservoir and to deliver a transportation system for the water,” Jones said at the council’s Tuesday, Sept. 4 meeting.

“They sent this to us on Aug. 27 and wanted us to sign and return it right away after they made us wait so long,” Jone said. “They know in order to build the reservoir we have to have check in hand.”

Although the city can connect the new Border Patrol station up to its north end water system, the reservoir is required in order to make sure there is enough supply to run the station’s fire suppression system without draining the entire system. When the reservoir is built it will help with reliability for the entire north end water system, according to Rod Noel, public works superintendent.

Councilman John Neal asked if the federal government was going to sign a hold harmless because the facility will not be able to connect to the reservoir right away.

“We’ve covered that in our discussions,” said Mayor Spieth.

“Mick felt it would not present a liability,” added Noel. “The system is outside town and we have domestic water available. Working on fire suppression and liability was one of my big concerns.”

Councilman Tony Koepke made the motion authorizing the mayor to sign the agreement and the motion was seconded by Councilman Neal. It passed with all voting in favor, except Councilwoman Neysa Roley, who recused herself to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Jones also reported that the city has received documentation from the state Department of Transportation and the engineer in Wenatchee regarding the Central and Cherry streets resurfacing project. Total cost of the project is estimated at $505,705. The design of the project will start in the fall and construction will begin next April and is estimated to be completed in late 2013, according to Jones.

The money comes from the Federal Highway Administration through a federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) grant to do overlays of Central and Cherry streets. These funds are to be used to improve streets that serve as minor collectors that lead to county roads. It will be a similar to the paving of Central and Cherry the city did in 1995, according to Noel.

During a discussion of the project at a previous council meeting Noel suggest the city work on an estimate to see if it can replace that part of the water line on Central at the same time the road is dug up. That older section of the water line has broken about six or seven times, according to Noel.

The city has been applying for the STP Grant every year since 2007, and its approval earlier in the year came as a surprise, according to Noel.

Stu Wells, mayor of Osoyoos, B.C., has requested the city’s support of a letter he is sending to the International Joint Commission regarding the regulation of water levels in Lake Osoyoos. The IJC recently held public meetings in Oroville and Osoyoos regarding their regulation of the water levels and discussed potential changes to how the levels are maintained.

“Any letter would be good Walt (Councilman Hart) and I attended the Oroville meeting. The commission stressed that they were there to discuss water levels and nothing else,” said Noel. “They adjust the lake levels, but regarding how they do it and how often they do it I think it would be a good thing to have a local commission.”

“I agree,” said Councilman Hart, who made a motion to support a letter to the IJC. The motion was seconded by Councilman Koepke and passed.

The council also gave approval for CenturyLink to run fiber optic cable to connect Verizon to AT&T to fiber they already have on the tower at the Oroville-Tonasket Irrigation District water reservoir on Highland Drive.

“They are resubmitting this with a vault in a different location. The line will be mostly aerial and where it needs to be underground they say they already have conduit and a pull pit,” said Noel.

The council gave Noel permission to approve CenturyLink’s request if he felt that it was within city guidelines.

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 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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