Emergency management plans discussed at city council meeting

TONASKET – Emergency safety was the main concern at the Tonasket City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 23 at city hall.

The meeting began with a presentation from Scott Miller, Homeland Security coordinator for the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office. Miller first explained the council is in compliance legally to join the county in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan. He next gave the council an all-hazard mitigation plan which is required by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to receive money to fix a city before and/or after an emergency. In order to receive funding, each city must approve the plan.

“You’re still welcome as a city to create any emergency plan within the city for first response,” Miller said. He added that the public has an expectation that public figures will respond to disasters immediately.

“I believe that the nature of the emergencies we are going to see in the county are going to increase,” Miller said at the end of his presentation.

The council next heard from Bob Raymer from Bob Raymer’s Machine Works. Raymer has a contract with the city to repair a dump truck. In his quote to the city for the project, he failed to cite he would need approximately 50 percent of the price of parts to begin the job. He stated at the previous city council meeting, he had asked Mayor Patrick Walter for the deposit and the mayor asked Deniece Miller, accounting-records clerk, to write him a check.

City Clerk-Treasurer Alice Attwood said that Miller asked her if she could write the check. Attwood stated that they could not write the check that way and it would have to be approved by the council during a meeting.

Councilmember Jean Ramsey said the council’s problem is that their lawyer recently told them they can not pay for things before they receive them. Raymer stated he would have finished the dump truck by now if he had gotten the deposit two weeks ago to buy parts. Councilmember Connie Maden moved to pay the deposit toward completion of the dump truck rebuild and the council approved the motion.

Toward the end of the meeting, Leroy Orr spoke to the council about the airport planning meeting he attended. The council discussed the airport, stating that fixed-wing flights have been rerouted to Okanogan because those pilots won’t land at the Tonasket Airport at night due to a previous concern about the lights. Orr said the lights on the runway are now on pilot control, so planes should no longer have a problem landing at Tonasket Airport at night. He said the MedStar pilots also know the lights have been fixed. MedStar is an air ambulance service that sometimes uses the airport to pick up patients being transferred from North Valley Hospital to other medical care facilities.

Maden said MedStar is interested in placing a helicopter in the north county and she would like Tonasket to be considered for this placement. She said MedStar is just starting their research into placing a helicopter at a north county airport.

The next city council meeting will be on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall.