TONASKET – With the lengthy Bonaparte Creek / Mill Drive water/sewer project completed, the Tonasket City Council, at its Tuesday, Sept. 27, meeting, took time to thank Construction Manager Bill Burman of Varela and Associates for the years of work he put in on the project.
Burman himself, though, spent as much time recognizing the assistance provided by city manager Hugh Jensen, who stepped in to his current role midway through the project.
“One of the main reasons I came is I wanted to extend a heartfelt thanks to Hugh and his crew,” Burman said. “It was a very difficult project. I don’t know if we could have done it without them. They were always there to help, their knowledge was invaluable.”
“I was told because of both of you,” said Mayor Patrick Plumb. “Your dedication to the project and Hugh’s leadership really stood out. A $3.5 million project to put in sewer for a group that couldn’t afford it.
Shockingly the (Department of Ecology) stepped up to clean up a watershed that otherwise probably would have been red-tagged – we probably would have lost 40 different homes out there that couldn’t afford to do it. (City engineering firm) Varela & Associates and you two worked together so well, and it’s a tribute to you two and your dedication to the project.”
Plumb also commended the Okanogan Conservation District for its role in the project.
“They stuck with us longer than anyone should have,” he said. “You guys finished it off.”
The council dipped into their personal funds to pay for a gift certificate to Rancho Chico for Burman.
“The Council during projects cannot take public funds and give bonuses,” Plumb said. “But the council felt so strongly – nothing against Hugh – we personally threw down some American currency out of our own pockets to purchased a gift certificate so Mr. Burman would be forced to shop in town.”
The council followed that up by approving the final pay requests related to the project.
The council discussed an application for a peddler’s permit that, if approved, would allow a vendor to sell firewood within the city limits.
There was plenty of discussion about the application, in part because it hadn’t been completed, particularly in regard to legal issues the applicant may have had in the past.
“To be fair to this man, would it be fine to say I would like more research into his criminal background?” asked council member Scott Olson. “If there is some reason you were aware of a prosecution going on, if he’s turned over a new leaf, that we give him a fair shot and we do that by doing a check through the usual channels.”
Police chief Rob Burks said their was precedent for denying a permit due to an applicant’s criminal history.
“We did deny one of these on a home cleaning business – one or both of them were convicted felons,” he said. “I suggested we do it because then the city would have just given two convicted felons permission to go to people’s houses.”
Jill Vugteveen, who is a U.S. Forest Service employee, said that the applicant’s issues were a matter of public record.
“In this application … the statement as to whether he has been convicted of any crime, misdemeanor, violation or municipal ordinance other than traffic violations … he started to write something and scribbled it out and chose not to answer it.
“We need to be fair and not to just assume guilt … we should at least wait on considering the application until you’ve reviewed (the additional) information. And if we choose we can deny it because he chose not to answer the question or falsified the application.”
Olson said he didn’t want to make a decision without all of the available information.
“I want to make sure the next time someone (applies), this is how we do it,” he said. “We lose nothing by waiting.”
Attwood said she would relay that the council was researching the matter further and that it would be added to the next city council meeting agenda.
Okanogan County Transportation and Nutrition recently sent out a letter requesting additional funding, city clerk Alice Attwood said.
“They’re needing more money,” she said. “They want to know if council wants to contribute more before the end of the year. We’ve already paid what we budgeted for the year.”
Plumb asked if the letter included a dollar figure.
“No they didn’t,” Attwood said. Reading from the letter, she said that OCTN will be “Making (their) service level decisions for our senior meal service and door to door transportation service company-wide within the next couple of days and (are) trying to get an idea who will support us in this fundraising.”
“I feel threatened,” Ramsey said. “I feel like if we don’t pay, our seniors lose their services.
“I feel like they’re holding our seniors hostage until we cough up more money. It floors me that they worded it that way.”
Vugteveen and Claire Jeffko agreed.
Following some more discussion the council took no action and Plumb directed Attwood to communicate with OCTN that the council would consider requests for the 2014 budget.
Special tire collection
Attwood shared that the Okanogan County Public Health and the Department of Ecology have set up a number of tire collection sessions in the area over the next couple of months.
A maximum of 20 tires per household (no business or commercial tires, and no calcium or foam-filled tires) may be dropped off at the Okanogan Landfill Oct. 22-26; at the Ellisforde Transfer Station Oct. 29-Nov. 1; and in Oroville at 29 Kernan Street north of the Depot Museum, Oct. 28-29.
A Tire Disposal Request form must be completed and returned to Okanogan County Public Health no later than Friday, Oct. 11. Forms be obtained online at www.okanogancounty.org/ochd.
For more information contact Okanogan County Health at (509), 422-7140.