Oroville mayor makes department head appointments

OROVILLE – Oroville Mayor Chuck Spieth asked the city council to approve his re-appointment of the city’s department heads at the council’s Tuesday, Jan. 4 meeting.

The council confirmed the mayor’s reappointment of Clerk-Treasurer Kathy Jones, Superintendent of Public Works and Fire Chief Rod Noel, Chief of Police Clay Warnstaff, Director of Community and Economic Development/Planner Chris Branch, Permit Administrator/Building Inspector Christian Johnson and City Attorney Mick Howe.

Rocky DeVon, with RE/MAX Lake and Country Realty, asked Mayor Spieth why he was not reappointed to the Oroville Planning Commission after eight years of serving on the board.

“It was not my wishes to get off the board and I was curious as to why. I was there for eight years full and part time. It if was over a conflict there were only two times that came up and that was with the Dessert Breeze Development and I recused myself because they were clients and with Verizon Cellular and that’s because I use Verizon,” said DeVon.

The mayor said it was not because DeVon had done something wrong, but it was the public opinion was there may be an appearance of fairness issue.

“The only thing I have seen is that my knowledge of real estate has been a benefit to the commission, especially when the issue might be over the others’ heads only because I deal with these issues on a day-to-day basis. I am at a loss… I always try to do what’s best for the community,” he said.

“That’s not the issue, it’s “an appearance of fairness,” Spieth responded.

DeVon went on to say that there was always going to be that issue in a small town. He gave as an example the discussion about the bin storage lot that was directly across the street from the homes of two council members. He also said that others on the planning commission were developing properties that have business with the city and that the mayor himself has several clients of his insurance agency that have come before the council over the years.

“I don’t see the difference,” DeVon said.

The mayor said he was willing to meet with DeVon to further discuss the issue.

“Let’s set something up and go from there,” said Mayor Spieth.

The council discussed approval of a “four-wheeler use” ordinance that would allow four-wheelers to travel on city streets during the winter to and from sidewalks and parking lots that they were using their off road vehicles (ORVs) to plow.

Councilman Tony Koepke said he did not like the helmet requirement when the snowplow operator was off the street in a lot or on the sidewalk. He said the helmet would restrict the operator’s view, especially when backing up. Others who plow with their ORVs said they agreed with Koepke.

After some discussion about the helmets, flags and other safety devices, the ordinance was approved, with the idea that the helmet requirement could be readdressed at a later time.

Anyone riding their four-wheeler on Oroville streets to get to and from the area they are plowing will be required to get a no-fee permit at Oroville City Hall. A description of the ordinance, with the regulations regarding the use of four-wheelers for the specific task of snowplowing will be included with each permit.

Under new business, Public Works Superintendent Noel reported that the state Department of Ecology has given the city’s new bio-solids facility at the wastewater treatment plant its Class A certification.

“They emailed us and said that essentially we are producing a quality product,” said Noel. “This exceptional quality allows Oroville to sell or give away the product and allows it to be applied to land for soil building. He also talked about why biosolids are better than any nitrogen fertilizer you can buy.”

According to an informational pamphlet available at city hall, “Biosolids are the nutrient-rich organic product of wastewater treatment. A beneficial resource, biosolids contain essential plant nutrient and organic matter are recycled as fertilizer and soil treatment.”

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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