Oroville receives FAA funding, accepts bid for airport fencing

OROVILLE – The Oroville City Council approved a $403,985 FAA grant and accepted a bid from a contractor to build a fence and two helipads at the city’s airport.

The council made its decision at their June 3 meeting after City Clerk Kathy Jones made them aware that the grant to make the improvements at Dorothy Scott Municipal Airport had arrived.

“The FAA grant is here for our fencing and helipad installation,” said Jones, who further explained that she “got a little nervous” when the city hadn’t received it sooner.

The city will use a $16,225 grant from the state Department of Transportation – Aeronautics Division as part of their match for the federal grant.

“This covers all of our project, plus the engineering fees,” said Jones.

Councilman Jason Blotsky made a motion to accept the funds and it was seconded by Councilman Tony Keopke and approved.

The issue of the perimeter fence and access to properties from the city’s Westlund Road was again raised. Representing property owners who use the road, but do not have an easement, Real Estate Agent Rocky DeVon said, “I’d like to sit down and negotiate access if the FAA ever does decide to fence it off… to protect the city and my clients for the future.”

The mayor and council indicated they would be willing to discuss the matter of access further, but made no commitments at Tuesday’s meeting.

Bids from three companies vying for a chance to build the fence and helipads were received by the city and were opened that night.

Northwest Fence Company bid $375,732, THG bid $473,590 and C West Construction bid $489,515, said Jones, who added that the city’s engineers on the project, USKH, had estimated it would cost $527,267.

“With these bid amounts we can do all the options, build the fence, helipads and install an automatic gate,” said Jones. “USKH recommends we accept the bid from Northwest Fence Company.”

The council agreed and the Spokane- and Coeur d’Alene-based company, in business since 1980, received the job.

Roni Holder-Diefenbach, executive director of Economic Alliance, discussed the various ways her organization was promoting economic development throughout the county.

She said her organization had been discussing such topics as regulations regarding heat and agricultural workers and contractors with the state Department of Labor and Industries.

“We are trying to find topics of interest to the local business community,” she said. “We are also surveying the communities about what you guys feel is important to economic development.”

Oroville Planner Chris Branch applauded Holder-Diefenbach for her efforts and said that it was “neat” that she was stepping into a field that had included her grandfather and mother.

“Her family has quite a history in economic development. Roni is new to the business, but she’s very enthusiastic,” said Branch.

Ryan Frazier approached the council seeking a location for a private recycling company to place bins.

“I went down to Ellisforde and spoke with the people who have the recycling facility and they would just need some land to set out bins,” said Frazier. “They can take plastic, cardboard, metals and magazines.”

City Planner Chris Branch and Superintendent of Public Works Rod Noel have talked about potential locations for the collection of recyclable items in the past. Branch said he had spoken with county officials about again placing a recycling bin in Oroville.

“Visibility is important… sometimes it can be too visible and everyone starts using the bins as garbage cans,” said Branch.

Oroville and other towns have experienced people, mostly from outside the city without regular garbage pickup, using the bins rather than paying for waste disposal or hauling their items to the transfer station or landfill.

Supt. Noel voiced concern about the city providing public land to a private company because of potential liability issues.

“Setting up recycling is something the city wants to investigate though,” said Branch to Frazier.

Mayor Spieth suggested Frazier meet with the solid waste committee to further discuss the issue and see what might be arranged.

Under new business the council discussed revisions to the public nuisance ordinance regarding homes with clutter, rubbish and other eyesores. Oroville Police Officer Hill asked Planner Branch and Permit Administrator Christian Johnson about enforcement.

“The ordinance is vague, we find that people collect what they deem to be valuable,” said Clay Warnstaff, Oroville’s interim police chief.

He added that offenders were given a number of days to clean up the mess and that his department was proactive and did several follow-ups after the first contact.

“They are allowed a number of days to clean up. We work with them as long as they’re continually working on cleaning it up within a reasonable amount of time,” said Warnstaff.

The police department takes photos of the nuisance and uses them to judge what progress is being made.

“I would like to have a method where once a problem has been addressed it goes on file. For example, we have one individual who will clean up and then go back to having a nuisance again,” said Councilman Jon Neal.

Branch said that he would get a copy of the Grandview, Wash. ordinance that says if a property has more than three occurrences a year they go into the chronic nuisance category which has stiffer potential penalties.

In another matter concerning the police department, Mayor Spieth requested a 10 minute executive session to discuss covering the vacancy in the police chief’s position.

“I would like to continue with Clay (Warnstaff) in the interim position so we can take our time with making the final decision. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Clay or the troops yet though,” said Spieth.

“I have a dedication to Randy, but he’d want us to move on and for the time being we are exploring our options,” the mayor added.

Chief Randy Wheat recently passed away after a long battle with cancer. Warnstaff had been interim chief while Wheat underwent cancer 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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