Pilot donates radio but gets scolding

Mayor warns of ‘unintended consequences’

“I think you are speaking for yourself alone but no other groups, when you are adament about a NOTAM being issued every time the city does maintenance work”

Patrick Plumb, Mayor
City of Tonasket

TONASKET – Private pilot Dave Hanna appeared before the Tonasket City Council at their Aug. 23 meeting to present a radio to the city to either be placed in the pilot’s lounge of the Tonasket Airport or to be carried by Airport Manager Hugh Jensen to inform pilots when the airport has work being done on the runway.

Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb
Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb

Mayor Patrick Plumb responded to the gift by saying he was still concerned about MedStar being able to use the airport in the event a NOTAM (Notice to Airman) was issued.

“I think you are speaking for yourself alone but no other groups, when you are adamant about a NOTAM being issued every time the city does maintenance work,” Plumb told Hanna. “The MedStar traffic is a priority.”

Lee Orr of the Tonasket Airport Improvement Association encouraged Jensen to call the FAA’s Spokane FSDO (Flight Standards District Office) to inquire about the procedures for putting out a NOTAM, and if that necessitated closing the airport. Orr said he thought other airports were known to put out a NOTAM without closing the airport when plowing snow or performing other maintenance work.

Plumb expressed his displeasure with Hanna for contacting Washington State Labor and Industries about the city maintenance crew working on the runway without a NOTAM in place.

“There could be unintended consequences from your contacting the state,” said Plumb, who later clarified he was concerned the airport could be permanently closed down.

Plumb also pointed out to Hanna that it was a Class B Felony to harass a public servant with the language Plumb was told Hanna used while addressing Jensen about working on the runway without a NOTAM in place when Hanna flew in from Butte, Montana Aug. 2.

“Also, not telling the truth to the council is a big deal,” said Plumb. “We could have just as easily solved this without going to this extent. The city has put a significant amount of time and money into that airport. We made 2016 and 2015 the Year of the Airport, so we have been trying to focus on that but we feel like we’ve been kicked in the gut.”

“We have been doing everything we can to make that airport absolutely fantastic within the limits of our budget and time, and any amount of carping is a waste of time,” said Councilmember Claire Jeffko. “Thank you, Dave, for the radio but we are doing our very best.”

In council and staff reports, Councilmember Dennis Brown said he has received complaints about loaded trucks being on Locust Street, especially with kids in the area with a preschool there. Mayor Plumb said the issue should be turned over to the Streets Committee, made up of council members Brown and Jill Vugteveen; and City Superintendent Hugh Jensen would need to speak with different business entities in the area.

“They are in an industrial zone and they have the right to do that,” said Plumb.

When Jeffko reported a metal piece of artwork placed at the Splash Park as a thank you to donors, Vugteveen expressed concern about safety issues.

“I have nothing against art, but we have to remember the intent of the park was for kids to go up there and play,” said Vugteveen.

Plumb said he would like for the Parks Committee, made up of Councilmembers Jeffko and Jensen Sackkman, to tour the park and present any possible concerns to Building Official and Permit Administrator Christian Johnson before the Splash Park is turned over to the city by the Tonasket Visitor and Business Resource Center. There is still some work to be completed, including a roof over the pavilion, before the park becomes city property.

“It may be a good idea to have an insurance person walk through down there,” said Plumb. “I want to make sure everything is under the understanding we all had and keep everyone safe.”

Councilmembers Sackman and Moreno said they had nothing to report.

“I would like to thank Mr. Hanna for the radio,” said Moreno.

Plumb said he wanted to reiterate the City of Tonasket does not grant business licenses. The discussion was in response to rumors about the possibility of an exotic dance business opening in town when a handwritten sign was placed in the window of the recently closed Texas Diner.

“No business has to come in and get permission from city council to be approved or denied. It has been that way since before my tenure,” said Plumb. “We have a very open zoning code.”

Plumb said the Planning Committee had been working on a zoning code for several years, but that they were close to having it ready to present to the council, and that it did address adult entertainment.

“The Planning Commission is independent from the council and it is designed that way in state law for them to be an independent body,” said Plumb. “They don’t have to live in town, so people who live out of town can get involved that way. I have never seen more than 10 at a meeting and we are very lucky we have the people willing to put time into that, as it is an onerous task.”

Plumb said he felt frustrated that people didn’t realize all city zoning laws were not the same.

“I can’t all of a sudden invent a law that arbitrarily controls something,” said Plumb. “I hope that we can all come to an amicable agreement about what goes on in town, but no one has to check with me about what goes on. I was surprised to discover this when I came onboard as mayor, because I always heard as a kid that certain things weren’t allowed because the city didn’t allow it. The city does not have or desire to have the legal authority to do that. No matter what our opinions are, we are regulated. I appreciate city staff keeping us on the straight and narrow that way.”

The council set Saturday, Sept. 24, as a city wide clean up day, with dumpsters available for the public to use from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the city shop on Railroad Avenue.

“Upper Valley Disposal donates their huge dumpsters and it’s amazing. We would like to thank them for their community oriented help,” said Plumb. “Because of Alice Attwood’s dedication, this program has become so successful we use less and less dumpsters each year because we cleaned up so good the first year.”

Plumb said a volunteer staff member from Green Okanogan Recycling Center would be onsite to make sure recyclables didn’t go into the dumpsters.

Attwood reported receiving an email from the Okanogan City Clerk about county commissioner candidates coming to council meetings.

“They can come but they can’t talk,” said Plumb.

“Municipal research says that’s not a good idea,” agreed Attwood. The city will draft a resolution stating the council can’t hold political forums.

Plumb thanked Governor Jay Inslee for declaring a state of emergency Aug. 23 for 20 counties hit by wildfire.

The proclamation covers Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Yakima, Walla Walla and Whitman counties.

When council member Vugteveen expressed concern about a boy-that-cried-wolf effect, Plumb responded, “It frees up resources to be put at the county level so we don’t have to plead to the state later. We want to continue to be vigilant so we don’t have a repeat of last year.”

“I salute the firefighters out there fighting these, and salute the ones who dealt with what we did have. Our thoughts are with the Spokane and Wellpinit areas. We feel their pain and hope all the resources possible are allowed to them, and we hope that recovery takes place immediately. We stand with them,” said Plumb.