Tonasket City Council updates on projects

TONASKET – The Tonasket City Council provided updates on a number of civic projects that are progressing through their planning stages at the Tuesday, March 13, council meeting.
Tonasket city planner Kurt Danison said he met with three property owners affected by the need for an easement to complete the Mill Drive/Bonaparte Creek sewer project and said that they seemed to be willing to provide the easement access.
“They’re willing to provide easement through their property so we can connect up the sewer through there,” Danison said. “They were under the impression that water was included in this… I don’t know how it came about… I don’t think we said we were going to put in a water system there.
“I think they walked away with a better understanding.”
The council planned an open house for March 20 for residents to interact with the engineers and councilmembers on the sewer project committee.
The council also responded to a memo Varela and Associates seeking to clarify priorities on the upcoming street improvement projects that had been discussed at a previous council meeting. The project was facing a delay without such a prioritization as funding for the project may not be enough to complete the entire “wish list.”
“We want the (hospital parking crossing) beacon as the base project,” said Mayor Patrick Plumb. “The rest we will have done as we have the funding to complete.”
The council authorized Councilwoman Jill Vugteveen and Danison to make a final decision to move forward, with a priority on creating a “straight shot” from one end of town to the other along at least one side of the road with ADA-approved curb access ramps.
The airport runway seal project’s target schedule is for completion before the Father’s Day Fly-in.
Meanwhile, the council granted public works director Bill Pilkinton a leave of absence of indefinite length and appointed Hugh Jensen as acting public services director.

Fuller passes exam, video policy progress

Police Chief Robert Burks said that he is working on a policy governing the department’s handling of data collected during video surveillance.
Burks also announced that officer Audra Fuller passed her civil service exam and has been hired as a full-time officer.
Burks said he is finalizing a “wish list” to be submitted for Stonegarden describing how potential grant money would be used. Stonegarden grants provide money for local law enforcement entities to use while assisting in U.S. Border Patrol operations, although any equipment purchased is not limited to those operations.
“Oroville was able to get an SUV through Stonegarden grant money,” Burks said. “This is the initial part of the process that we do every year. We don’t necessarily get everything we ask for, but this money can fund equipment that we need and can be used to fund overtime hours.”
One of his wish list items is an ATV.
“My goal to have an ATV ordinance like in Okanogan,” Burks said. “Tons of people ask about and support it. There’s ways of tying in cities and towns to recreational areas, and if you pass the ordinance it helps that happen.
“They have the same laws as driving a vehicle — you need a drivers license, helmet, turn signals, stay on the road and obey all the traffic laws.”
He added that a city-owned ATV could also help with some maintenance projects, such as sidewalk snow plowing.

Looking ahead

Vugteveen and Councilman Scott Olson, working as the finance committee, said they are already doing preliminary work on the 2013 budget.
“We’re looking at making some decisions about health care before start building the budget,” Olson said. “We trying to gather information and work on discussing employee salaries. We want to get some parameters set so that we’re not having to be hashing those out in November and December.”
Councilwoman Selena Hines noted that she had recently seen a petition in town opposing the crematory project, but that it had only collected 19 signatures in about three weeks’ time, and a number of the signers weren’t from the Tonasket area.
“We do need to listen to the voters,” Plumb said. “But according to our charter a petition doesn’t officially contest a decision. When they get turned in they get filed the same as complaints.”

Mayors meet

Plumb met with mayors from several other cities in the county to see if there was interest in creating interlocal agreements for the sharing of resources, such as heavy equipment or, for example, a video camera system for examining water or sewer systems.
“It could be a way to share expenses for some of those things,” he said.
“We need to be careful to look after the best interests of Tonasket,” Vugteveen said. “Sometimes people have different perceptions of these things and they don’t work as well once they’re put into practice.”
“That’s why before doing anything you’d want to have an interlocal agreement (in place),” Plumb said.
The next council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 27, in the council chambers at the Tonasket 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.

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