Tonasket, Berghs to move forward with crematory negotiations

TONASKET – The Tonasket City Council voted during its Tuesday, Jan. 24, meeting to begin the negotiations with Bergh Funeral Service for the long-term lease of property adjacent to the Tonasket Cemetery for the purpose of building a crematory and columbarium.
The vote came after a report from Kurt Danison of the city planning department, at which he shared their recommendation that the city lease rather than purchase the property.
“The property lease would be best for the city,” Danison said. “It’s the best way to protect the community.”
The council has not yet approved the construction of the crematory; rather, this creates an initial framework that moves the process far enough along that Bergh’s can begin getting environmental and other studies underway that would be necessary for the project itself to be approved.
“Hopefully this is where you can address as many of the community concerns brought up (at an earlier meeting) as possible,” said Councilmember Scott Olson.
“Absolutely,” said Scott Miller of Bergh’s. “I just need to know where I need to bring my proposal to when it’s ready.”
“You would work with the mayor and the staff to firm up a proposal,” Danison said. “That would come to the council and at that point the council would review that and could say yes, we will lease the property for that. And (if so) at (a subsequent) meeting you would actually have the lease agreement.”

Local RV Park owners unhappy with overstayers at Chamber’s park

Claire and Edward Jeffko, owners of Riverview Mobile Home and RV Park, expressed their concerns with the long-term campers at the Tonasket Chamber’s RV park.
“I’ve got a problem, the agreement with the Chamber was that it was supposed to be for short term visitors only,” Claire Jeffko said. “If people want to live here, then they need to find a more permanent place. They were supposed to be sending the ‘monthlies’ to myself or to Shannon.
“The Chamber shouldn’t be competing with private enterprise. I’m just asking for it to be fair.”
Councilmember Jean Ramsey noted that the Chamber had been working for the previous couple of months to remove the long-term campers. Chamber President Dale Crandall had also delivered a letter that asked the long-termers to leave by the end of the month, to which he said there was no resistance.
“They know they need to revisit the RV Park policy with the city,” Ramsey said. “The agreement was for there to be exceptions for construction workers, but those are supposed to come to the city on a case-by-case basis.”
“I take your point,” Mayor Patrick Plumb added. “I would like for you to be at any meeting (where the policy is reworked). We need there to be a memo.”

Neighborhood asks for parking ’roundtable’

Discussion regarding the ordinance prohibiting parking on city streets between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. continued, this time with Lisa Andrews of the South Tonasket Ave. neighborhood addressing the concerns of those who don’t have access to driveways or other alternate parking.
Previously, the council had asked for the neighborhood to submit a written proposal to the council on how to provide parking for those residents without other places to park while still allowing snow removal and street cleaning to take place during those hours.
Andrews said she didn’t want the neighborhood to come up with a proposal that couldn’t be implemented due to ignorance of other ordinances or laws that it could conflict with.
I would have brought a proposal but I figured I can work on proposals all day long, but without the input of (law) enforcement and Bill (Pilkinton), it’s just going to get picked apart,” she said. “I was hoping to be able to find a way to work together to come up with a proposal.”
“I don’t want you to create a proposal for me,” Andrews said. “I want to work with (law) enforcement, I want to work with Bill and work on a solution. I don’t want to have to park four blocks away when I own a house which I pay taxes on. I’ve lived there since ’05… I’m asking you to work with me and work with homeowners to come up with something.”
“Bill is very willing to work with homeowners,” Olson said. “It’s just a matter of setting up a meeting time. I would ask Mr. Pilkinton and Mr. Burks if we can have half an hour of their time and have them tell you some possibilities, then please bring something to us written up and we can go from there.”

And it’s not just the local ordinance…

Later in the meeting, the council discussed feedback from the community on the recent enforcement of parking ordinances, including a state law prohibiting parking on the “wrong” side of the street, facing traffic.
“I want to be clear,” said Mayor Plumb. “It’s called ‘law enforcement.’ If it exists on the books, let’s do something about it and enforce it. If it needs to be removed, then we need to work with the state to fix it. If we need to fix the laws, that’s the council’s job. These are the people we elected …
“I acknowledge that people are upset, but these are laws. I’m not going to ask law enforcement to (enforce) one and not the other. And if we need to fix them, that’s why we’re here.”
“We just need to accept the complaints,” said Councilmember Jill Vugteveen. “The council and maybe just me, because I’ve been pushing for this for a long time… we have rules on the books that have not been enforced for a long time. It’s happening now, and now we’re getting pushed back. It’s going to happen for awhile, because this is a change. If people are going to blame the council because we’re asking law enforcement to do that, then we’re going to have to accept that there are going to be some people calling, and they’re not going to be happy.”
Officer Audra Fuller, working in Tonasket since last fall, said she has received some of that “push-back.”
“I’ve only given a few tickets, but I have people saying I’m harassing them,” she said. “I’m OK with that; I just need to know I’m going to be backed up.”
“I appreciate what you’re doing’” Plumb said. “You’re getting full support from me. I support your department and the things you guys are doing. Complaints can be directed at me.”
Not all of the feedback has been negative.
“I’ve heard nothing but positive responses,” said Claire Jeffko, in attendance to discuss the RV Park issue. “It’s been more like, ‘It’s about time!’”

Other council actions

After reviewing three options for improving the pedestrian crossing at Whitcomb and Second (for safer access to hospital parking), the council approved an option that includes rectangular flashing beacons with no overhead pole at the cost of $60,000. In addition to being the least expensive of the three options, it is also solar-powered and features a push button to manually activate a timed crossing period.
The council also approved:
– turning over obsolete computer and copier equipment to Green Okanogan for recyling;
– changing internal fund numbers for clarity and bookkeeping purposes;
– an interfund loan, allowing the water project to borrow $150,000 from the sewer fund. This will allow Varela and Associates to do the planning for both projects at the same time, rather than having to wait for Rural Development monies before starting the water project planning. Not doing so could have required as much as $2 million in interim financing that likely could not have been procured;
– approved Varela and Associates to proceed with the water project design, contingent on lega
l and
Rural Development approval;
– created separate water and sewer project funds;
– continued its agreement with Highland Associates for city planning (10 hours per week); and $21,047 (most of it from the Washington Airport Aid Program) for the engineering portion of the $150,000 airport project (runway crack repair, slurry and line repainting).

    The city council’s next regular meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 14, in the council chambers at city hall.

    About Brent Baker

    Brent is a reporter for the Gazette-Tribune. Prior to working at the G-T, he was the sports editor for Sunrise Publishing from 2000-2005 in Michigan. He subsequently owned and operated Buckland Media, a high school sports website, in Michigan until 2010. He and his wife Kim, who have an adult son, moved to Tonasket in 2010. Brent started work at the G-T in 2011.

    Commenting Rules

    We encourage an open exchange of ideas in our online community, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. In a nutshell, don't say anything you wouldn't want your mother to read. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

    So keep your comments civil, smart, on-topic and free of profanity.

    We ask that all participants own their words by logging in with their Facebook account. It's a simple process that will take seconds and helps keep our comments free of trolls, cranks, and "drive-by" commenters. We reserve the right to remove comments from anyone using screen names, pseudonyms or false identities. Please refer to our Terms of Use for full detail on participating on our site.
    No comments yet.

    Leave a Reply