The Tonasket City Council has been approached a couple of times asking it to consider allowing the use of ATVs, or All Terrain Vehicles, on the city’s streets. Although intriguing – who wouldn’t want to hop on their four-wheeler to run to town to get their mail, rent a movie or buy a loaf of bread, the council will have to balance that with public safety and variety of other considerations. The proponents of the request cite their use in Conconully and Okanogan and say that with the county commissioners help and some planning, it might be a another way to connect town with outlying communities and recreation areas like Loomis. Bringing more business to any downtown area is important for a community. More shoppers mean more dollars turning over – more profit, more jobs and more sales tax revenue for the town. Opponents, or those who are just unsure at this stage of the discussion, worry about safety — more traffic and more noise. Even if there are criteria for riding in town, such as age limits, helmet use and vehicles having to meet certain noise restrictions, it will mean more law enforcement challenges for the Tonasket Police Force. At the Tuesday, Sept. 11 Tonasket City Council meeting, one person said the ATVs would be no harder to police than those on a motorcycle. That may be, but those riding motorcycles are required to get an endorsement on their driver’s license to do so – is the same required for an ATV rider? That might be something for the council to consider. And even with an endorsement, motorcyclists are hit by those in cars, trucks, etc. all too often. When on a motorcycle you have to learn to ride like you’re invisible to traffic because to the “cagers” you often are – the ATV riders will have to do the same. The suggestion that they use a flag in town is a good one and other precautions could be worked out if the city council decides to embrace the idea. I know Mayor Patrick Plumb suggested a town hall meeting to discuss the issue further. It might be good to talk with the people in Okanogan and Conconully about how it works for their towns. Conconully seems like a natural, their already used to snowmobiles in the winter. Okanogan seems like it might be a trickier situation. But, unlike Tonasket, neither has to deal with a state highway dividing the two halves of town. Do the positives of more business potential and a greater draw for tourists outweigh the concerns over safety and added policing? The Tonasket Council has a lot to consider and maybe some more research to do about how this works in other small rural cities. That and a town hall meeting would be good first steps. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. On a different subject: We spent some time getting the regularly scheduled, repeating meetings like Tonasket and Oroville city councils and school boards, chambers of commerce, etc. up on the website calendar last week. We’d just like to let everyone know that has an upcoming event that they can place them on the calendar themselves just by going to www.gazette-tribune.com and clicking Calendar at the top of the page. A drop down menu with Add Your Event is displayed and from there you just have to fill in the blanks. Make sure to include contact information, date, time and location of the event and any other important detail. This is a great resource for clubs and those with special events like fundraisers and benefits. You upload the information, we’ll get an email and if it meets our criteria — no yard sales or for-profit business type events, and we’ll approve it and it will automatically show up on the calendar. This is especially good for repeating events like club meetings. If you have any trouble just write a few lines in the notes to the editor and we will sort it out before it goes live on the website.
Are ATVs on the street a good fit for Tonasket?
About Gary DeVonGary 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 the late Larry DeVon and Judy 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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