Oroville City Council conducts business in the dark

OROVILLE – While they may never have been accused of it, at least to their faces, the Oroville City Council “literally” conducted business in the dark when the power went out about halfway through their meeting Tuesday, Sept. 17.

After stopping to collect some flashlights, the council barely skipped a beat and continued with their agenda, including an update on the Similkameen Trailhead Grant. Chris Branch, director of Community Development, reminded the council that County Infrastructure Funds, often referred to as .09 funds, were used to buy the property for the trailhead. The property was then turned over to the county for further trail development as part of their Okanogan County Trail System. Branch said there is still money remaining from the $180,000 grant to further enhance the trailhead, especially for restrooms and parking development.

However, according to Branch, the current Okanogan County Commissioners do not see the same value in tourism as their predecessors.

“They’d like us to take it back over. Some of the smaller items have been completed, but the bigger components are more costly like the restrooms, a shelter and excavation for parking,” said Branch.

Much of the matching funds required for grants that are being used for trail development have come from volunteers through the Pacific Northwest Trails Association and through the Oroville High School wood shop and metal shop classes, as well as the Okanogan Borderlands Historical Society.

Branch said he just wanted to make the council aware of the potential for the city to take back the trail and said he hoped the county would continue to allow the city to use its engineer for permitting purposes.

The Similkameen Trail follows the old Great Northern Railroad line starting in Oroville on Kernan Road and moving parallel to the Similkameen River to a point near the old Enloe Dam Powerhouse. There is also a trailhead at Taber Vineyards near the old railroad bridge that is part of the trail.

Veterans Memorial Park

In a tourism related issue, Rod Noel, superintendent of Public Works, reported the project to bring electrical and water hookups to 18 additional camping spots at Osoyoos Lake Veterans Memorial Park, will begin in this fall. The electrical service will be upgraded from 400 amps to 800 amps, trenches will be dug to each site and Vassar Electric will do the electrical work, according to Noel.

“It looks like the cultural study will be okay,” said Noel, who answered council’s question that the study was $6765 of the project’s $57,714 cost.

Currently there is only one campsite with water and electrical hook ups. In the past it has been offered to the campground host.

Kathy Jones said that the contract for reservation system the city has been using, the same system used by the state when the park was theres, ran out last year. She said the new contract calls for a $500 set up fee and is for one year, while the first contract was for three years and required no set up fee.

Jones recommended the city renew the contract for one year and then look into other options that may be less expensive. She pointed out, however, there is value in the fact that it is the same system the state uses as many people who have camped at Veterans Memorial are used to making their reservations there.

Rosa Snyder spoke to the council about the concession stand that was rented by her son at the park.

“I apologize for not being able to finish out the last couple of weeks. We have been doing a lot of work out at the market,” said Snyder, who offered suggestions for the next person or persons that rent it.

She said she could supply a vendor list and added that Pat Davidson of Frontier Foods had been very helpful, as was Mike at the health department.

“We would also be happy to help whoever you find in the future. We would even help in finding equipment. This was a wonderful opportunity you offered to a young couple,” said Snyder.

“We really appreciate you stepping up and helping to run it through the summer,” said Mayor Chuck Spieth.

Jones said that with the second months receipts, even though the concession stand got opened late in the season, made more than the last renter did all summer.

Free Tire Collection Event

After hearing that the transfer station was going to be used for the free tire collection event sponsored by the state Department of Ecology, the council decided since the Ellisforde Transfer station was a collection site, one would not be located in town. In fact, other than Brewster, none of the cities in the county have agreed to locate a collection site. The other sites will be the Twisp Transfer Station and the Central Landfill.

There was concern that locating the collection site here would require extra time from the city crew, as well as open the city to liability if one of the volunteers got hurt.

“Why have two sites within five miles?” asked Noel.

“I would be more comfortable with this option. They (the county) have more equipment to handle the tires,” said Councilman Tony Keopke.

Jones said that when the city was asked if they would allow a collection site, the request made no mention of the transfer station as being a collection point.

“I’d like to have it here, but can understand when there is another so close,” said Councilman Walt Hart III.

North End Reservoir

Noel updated the council on the new reservoir being built to serve the North End Water Users, as well as ensuring enough water for fire protection of the new U.S. Border Patrol Station.

“They’ve (the contractor) have got started out there. They are excavating the site and so far they haven’t hit any rocks, it appears there is a nice shelf there to locate on,” said Noel.

Noel said it looked like the project is moving forward and the pipe installation should begin next week.

“They are going to keep the road watered to keep the dust down as they were told they need to respect the neighbors,” said Noel.