TONASKET – The Chamber of Commerce heard a presentation about the reasons for the Janis Bridge closure and construction during their meeting on Tuesday, June 9.
The presentation, given by Washington State Department of Transportation Engineer Dustin Vaughn, also included the efforts the agency has taken to ensure that travelers know Tonasket businesses are still open despite the detour from Highway 97 to Highway 7.
“I was asked why the DOT was doing this project now and the answer is a financial one,” Vaughn said. “The project has a hard start date of June 15 which means they’ll start posting the closure signs at Ellisforde, but people don’t have to get onto Highway 7 until Fourth Street. There are 30 working days for this project and July 27 is the last day. We’ve added a few signs, black writing on bright orange, to say “Tonasket businesses open’.”
After hearing this, Alice Attwood, city clerk, suggested placing these signs not just on Highway 7 for travelers on the detour, but also at Ellisforde, to let travelers know before they get onto Highway 7 that Tonasket businesses are still open.
Bertha Wandler said she has been hounding the county to put up driveway signs with flags on Highway 7 so people know to slow down and expect cars coming from them.
“The county is changing the speed limit to 35 miles per hour for the whole Highway 7 during the project,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn said if any problems arise during the project period, the DOT should be contacted and he also stated he is available to answer questions and take comments. Vaughn’s number is 509-324-6162.
The chamber also heard a presentation from Matt Wells, the Farmer’s Market manager.
“This year, our first sale day was Thursday, June 4,” Wells began. “This market started 11 years ago with three vendors. It was a social gathering as well as entrepreneurial. Last year, we had 318 vendors with a high of 30 on one day. We’ve finally got approved for Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program, which is for WIC and Seniors through the USDA.”
Wells said all agricultural items must be locally grown in order to be sold at the Farmer’s Market. He added that last year was the best year the market has had so far.
In other chamber news, Vice President Terry Mills said the membership goal was 30 and there are now 59 members and President Kari Alexander said she thought the Founders Day activities went well despite the heat.
“I want us to get a tent for next year,” Alexander said. “Tents were the only way we had shade and we can also use it for Winter Fest. We can put heaters under it and trap the heat in.”
Finally, Peter James, from the Okanogan Family Faire said the Spring Barter Fair had about 4,500 people, made about $2,000 and brought in approximately $89,000 to the county.
The next Chamber of Commerce meeting will be on Tuesday, July 14 at noon in Whistler’s Family Restaurant.