Airport, hospital, correspondence dominate Tonasket council

TONASKET – The City Council had a relatively short meeting April 22.

The council approved granting North Valley Hospital three spots in the City Hall/Library lot for the duration of the construction at the hospital. Hospital Administrator Warner Bartleson requested use of the spaces through October 2009.

The hospital will pay for signs designating those spots as for their use. They will also issue permits to people for the use of those spots and will refrain from parking extended cab pickups or oversized vehicles in those spots.

Councilmember Connie Maden recused herself from the discussion and Councilmember Jean E. Ramsey voted against the motion. It passed 3-1.

Two couples with property adjoining the Tonasket Airport made a request to build hangers on their land and concrete pads linking their land to the airport.

Ed and Claire Jeffko and Jerry and Marla Dent made the request. Combined, the two couples own about 150 acres west of the airport.

“The bottom line is, we want runway access from our private property,” Jeffko said. He said that many other small airports in the state were trending towards the same thing.

Another local pilot said that while he did not disagree with the Jeffkos or Dents, he did think that the city should be aware of the airport’s plan and the 36 available hanger sites. Only 12 of those are currently in use, he said. The pilot said that he believed the council should see the airport.

“It’s your airport and I think you should be aware of the situation before making any decisions,” he said.

Both the Jeffkos and the Dents currently have access to their property by Airport Road, Ed Jeffko said.

“We want to work with the city and do what’s favorable for both parties,” he said.

Mayor Patrick Walter said he was concerned about what private access to the public airstrip might do to pending state grants. He advised the council to see the presentation as an informative session, rather than making any decisions.

Ed Jeffko said he didn’t expect to get something from the city for nothing.

Councilmember Joyce Fancher said she was concerned about future growth in the area, a concern echoed by the pilot.

“The first batch of houses and people living around the airport are pro-airport and are flyers,” he said. “But people get old and houses sell. The new folks don’t like the noise. We’ve lost a lot of airports in Washington State because of that.”

Walter said they would meet with their airport planner and review the plans before making any decisions about the private access.

The council passed two budget amendments for the 2008 year. One was for a city project and the other was for water.

Maden has also been discussing possible police station locations with Chief of Police Rob Burks. She said they need to know how much money will be allocated for that.

“It’s hard to plan when you have no idea of the amount of cash available,” she said.

Walter said he didn’t know.

“The only thing that we’re certain of right now is that the building needs to go away,” he said.

Councilmember Jill Vugtaveen is working to have a city flag designed. The current draft includes an apple in the center with four designs representing different parts of Tonasket life – a cow, cowboy on a bronco, a plane and a tree, in royal blue and yellow. For a three foot by five foot flag, it will cost from $187 to $300, she said.

Walter read a proclamation for National Volunteer Week, which is April 27-May 3, 2008. Tonasket is celebrating it all this week with a conclusion party thrown by the AmeriCorps at the high school commons at 6 p.m., followed by a dance. They will award the adult and youth volunteers of the year at that time.