Oroville Council learns more about upcoming jet ski races

OROVILLE – Raleigh Chinn and Roger Harnack, representing the Lake Osoyoos Cup Jet Ski Races planned for this summer, appeared before the Oroville City Council at their Tuesday, May 20 meeting.

“We anticipate seventy to eighty plus jets ski teams,” said Chinn, who is heading up the race committee for the Oroville Chamber of Commerce.

The racing is planned for June 28 and June 29 and will run from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. daily, according to Chinn. He

“We are in communication with U.S. Customs and the Border Patrol regarding the race to the border,” Chinn said, referring to an all out endurance event that would take racers from Deep Bay Park to the border and back again.

However, most of the races will be held just offshore and will be around buoys on a one-half to one-mile long course, according to Harnack, who represents the Jet Ski Association.

“We have various classes that go around buoys. Anybody who owns a jet ski can participate, you just have to join the Jet Ski Association to race,” said Chinn.

A year’s membership in the association is $45, according to Harnack. Chinn added the race committee would be getting insurance for the event through the association.

“We’re excited about getting this thing as an inaugural event,” said Chinn.

Harnack said Pateros, which has a jet ski race, got the approval of their city council to have tent camping at the boat ramp park.

“We are asking for camping, just tents in the park, and a place to park an RV or two if we need them,” said Harnack, who races with his 12-year-old daughter.

He said his daughter had been racing for three years, starting when she was just nine-years-old.

“We have multiple classes from beginners on up. The kids are really fun to watch,” he said.

He added that some of the top rated Canadian teams already consider Osoyoos Lake as a highly sought after spot for jet ski races.

“There were races in Penticton and Skaha a couple of years ago and at Kelowna. However, the Western Canadian races have moved to Alberta and Saskatchewan,” Harnack said.

“The difference between us and the hydros is that for the jet ski races the pits are open to anyone as long as there is no drinking or smoking. Also, unlike the hydros we run whether it is a sunny day or pouring rain… and waves, they live for those conditions.”

Chinn said the Oroville Chamber had already paid the park use fee. Mayor Chuck Spieth suggested the fee be refunded as the recent blues fest was allowed to forgo the fee for that community event and the council agreed.

Harnack said he expected between 30 and 40 racers would want to camp at the park.

The council approved tent camping at the park for racers, as well as $500 from the city’s Hotel/Motel Tax funds for advertising which is part of the money that had been set aside for the annual Can Am Apple Cup Powerboat Races which have been cancelled for this year. They also approved a request for an ambulance and crew to be on standby with the understanding that it may have to leave if called to respond to an emergency elsewhere.

Debra Donahue, Oroville Ambulance Coordinator questioned Harnack and Chinn about whether there were people that could respond to a water rescue and they assured her that there were.

“I feel we need to have someone that is trained to get them out of the water,” she said.

Chinn and Harnack said there is no charge to watch and it should be a good draw to the area and the races should prove to be an economic benefit to the town.

“For one thing the racers will by as much gas as you can sell in town,” said Harnack. “It should also be good for the restaurants, grocery stores, the Pastime and the Plaza.”

The mayor and council all expressed their approval of the races.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Councilman Ed Naillon.

Project Reports

Rod Noel, superintendent of Public Works, was asked to report on the various city projects underway.

“The North End Reservoir Project is underway and work has resumed. As of yesterday (Monday, May 19) the tank crew had got the floor together. I expect by the end of this week the tank should be fully constructed,” said Noel. “It looks like the crew that is putting it together knows what it is doing.”

Noel said the waterline for the Central and Cherry Street project should also be installed by the end of that week as well.

“It is on schedule and the crew should start doing the pavement grinding by next Tuesday (May 27),” said Noel. “I think they’re doing a fairly decent job… especially those new ADA ramps.”

Rally at the Border Blues

Oroville Police Chief Clay Warnstaff, a member of the Rally at the Border Blues Fest Committee, reported on the event which had taken place the previous weekend.

“There were roughly 225 tickets sold and we are happy about that… we were hoping for 500,” he said, adding that the weather probably played into the lower numbers.

“It went well there were no incidents, no DUIs. These were pretty good people I think,” said Warnstaff, referring to those that attendance, many of whom were participants in the Run for the Border charity motorcycle ride from Wenatchee.

“Hats off to the community for supporting us… everyone jumped in and donated to the event,” h said.

Narcotics Task Force

The city received a letter requesting Oroville’s continued participation in the North Central Washington Narcotics Task Force operational agreement.

“Next year they want $2000, that’s twice as much,” said Councilman Jon Neal, questioning the increase and adding that Omak’s fee had only gone up 18 percent.

“That means we’re going to get twice the attention,” quipped Mayor Spieth.

Chief Warnstaff said the task force was not getting the outside funding it had been and was looking to its members to help make up the difference. He also said Oroville does not lend an officer to the task force and that might be why they are being asked to pay more.

“Looking at the hard drug statistics startled me… heroin use is up by 75 percent,” said Warnstaff.

“Considering the list of services, I think it is worth it… our kids are worth it,” said Councilman Naillon.

Angry Customer

There was also some discussion about an angry utilities customer who was rude to an employee at city hall. He also called the city clerk and used profanity. In addition the customer had come to the council chambers, but left just before the meeting began.

“I think if something like this happens Clay (Chief Warnstaff) should be called,” said Mayor Spieth.

“The language he used could get him charged with disorderly conduct and taken away to jail,” said the police chief.

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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