City Planner Danison briefs Tonasket council on projects

TONASKET – City Planner Kurt Danison shared positive news with Tonasket City Council members after meeting with the Utilities and Transportation Commission and Railroad representatives Wednesday, Feb. 3.

Danison said the RR reps suggested a simple crossing after coming out to look at the proposed crossing at the south end of Chief Tonasket Park.

“They just want some concrete slabs, stop signs and a continuous rail through the crossing,” said Danison, “along with necessary measures to keep the crossing level and not prone to sinking.

“The UTC seems to go along with it, but they don’t hear petitions for new crossings unless it is imminent. It will probably be three to five years out before we have all our ducks in a row with financing, so the UTC suggested we don’t petition right away.”

Danison said the crossing would cost around $200,000, which was “a little more in the ball park” of what the city could afford in comparison to previous estimates. He said a design would need to be created specific to the site, as the configuration is unique, but the railroad was going to look into finding a grant for the design.

“The concrete panels on both sides of the crossing will need to be 32 feet wide, so there is a lot of expense there,” said Danison.

Dansion said he felt it was time to move forward with a public meeting with property owners south of the crossing to discuss annexation.

“The first meeting is just to gauge the public interest before putting any money into the annexation,” said Danison, “and to get a list of questions they might have about it.”

He said annexation of properties west of the crossing wouldn’t be explored just yet.

A third item Danison briefed the council on was the Economic Development District (EDD). Danison said as a federal agency, preparation of a community economic development strategy was required annually.

“Changes in the farm bill requires any agency getting money from government agencies to specified in the CEDS committee,” said Danison.

He said he submitted projects on behalf of Tonasket including improvements to Main Street (Whitcomb Ave) the southeast side of Highway 7; the area to be annexed.

“Just like any of these plans, that doesn’t guarantee someone cutting a check, but it makes people aware of the projects, and they might know of available funding,” said Danison, adding that some of the funding sources require having matching funds in hand before a grant is given.

“But it gives us some hope, as we identify projects there will be additional funding we can look at,” Danison said.

Danison also shared hopeful news about the future of the Tonasket Pool. He said the Recreation Conservation Office, whose grant cycle is this year, has received direction from the legislature to waive some of the funding match requirements in areas that are declared federal disaster areas.

“In that case, the city can apply and possibly have a match requirement as low as 10 percent. If the pool gets built as a city project as opposed to being built by the recreation committee, everything would be the same except what workers would have to be paid,” said Danison. “I’m not clear if the foundation group is going to build it and turn it over to the city, but it might make sense for the city to build it and apply for the lower match grant.”

Danison said the application for the funding is due May 2.

Mayor Patrick Plumb said would like Danison to move forward on that.

“The best chance we have of receiving RCO money is for the pool, mainly because they declared our existing pool obsolete. The timing is good because we said we wanted it done in five years, and we are almost there,” said Danison. “We can only do one application at a time, but we can get ourselves set up for two years from now to make another application. That way we would have a couple of years to work on plans for the revision of Chief Tonasket Park.”

The council also discussed the possibility of using hotel/motel tax money for data collection.

“We need to show our businesses we are going to participate in the data collection of the effects of the fire,” said Plumb. Danison said the EDD’s Michael Guss had suggested putting $2500 in the budget for it.

“Other cities are using that money for that purpose,” said Plumb.

In departmental reports, Hugh Jensen said he met with Jeff Moran to look at different locations to put in bulk water dispensing stations.

Plumb said a bill in front of the legislature now would give cities more power to disallow fire works. He said it would require a meeting with the fire chief, and if he said the situation was dangerous, the city could disallow discharge of fireworks within 30 days. Plumb said he had written to the legislature to express his approval of the bill.

“I told them on behalf of the Mayor’s office of the city of Tonasket, it would have been really nice to have this ability last year,” said Plumb. A downtown home belonging to long-time residents of Tonasket burned down last year when fireworks landed on the roof.

“But we can’t stop the sale of fireworks. It is a state permit they buy to sell them,” said Plumb. “Chinese Lanterns lit on New Years were found on an orchard four miles out of town. We could ask to not have those sold. They drift uncontrollably and could land in a dry spruce tree.”

Jeffko reported going to the US Armed Forces Legacy for the first time when she went to donate money towards a city flag.

“They were amazingly wonderful in there, I found out they do so much for the veterans here; they find them homes, jobs and feed and clothe them. They do the best they can for our veterans,” said Jeffko. “They were so kind as they told me everything they did. I left as a fan.”

“That all happened because of the dream of one individual, and now the county has come to depend on them,” said Plumb. “A salute to those guys.”

Jeffko also reported on attending a “fantastic” presentation on Lost Lake put on by the Okanogan Highlands Alliance at the Community Culture Center, as well as the yearly talent show.

“A great event and the food was really good,” said Jeffko.

Vugteveen said she attended the annual Kiwanis Ground Hog Dinner, where they were well attended and sold out of sausage early in the evening. The event raises money to support Community Youth.

Vugteveen said she was approached by several people at the dinner about resigning from council. “I assured them no, I’m still on council; just no longer mayor pro tem,” said Vugteveen.

City Clerk and Treasurer Alice Attwood reported speaking with Guss about a rural development grant for funds to help hook up the car charging station.

The council approved a request from a bicycle group called Ride for MS for about 20 people to use History Park as an overnight stop July 30.

The Council approved the Mayor’s 2016 Committee Appointments as follows: City Attorney, Michael D. Howe; City Clerk/Treasurer, Alice Attwood; City Superintendent, Hugh Jensen; Police Chief Darren Curtis; Court Judge, Roger Castelda; Building Official/Permit Administrator, Christian D. Johnson; Airport Manager, Hugh Jensen. Civil Service Commission: Position 1, Aaron Kester (2011-2016); Position 2, Jerry Anderson (2014-2019); Position 3, Phil Christy (2012-2017).

Planning Commission: Position 1, George Hill through 12-31-16; Position 2, Gayle Mailloux, through 12-31-16; Position 3, John Sanchez, through 12-31-17; Position 4, Jan Asmussen, through 12-31-17; Position 5, Kurt Haskin, through 12-31-18.

Library Board Members: Miriam Caddy, President; Evie Duncalf; James Moore and Sharon Cox.

Board of Appeals members: Bob Thompson, Moshe Levine, David Kester, Rick Baker and Dave Ogborn.

Tree Board members: Dennis Brown, Claire Jeffko, Andy Townsend, Jim Rice and Hugh Jensen.