More discussion of potential flooding by Oroville City Council

OROVILLE – The head of public works and the police chief gave a quick report to the Oroville City Council about a meeting they attended the day before with representatives of the county’s emergency management department and National Weather Service regarding potential flooding in Okanogan County.

“Scott Miller (director of emergency management) said the normal flood season runs from mid-May through mid-June, but increased river levels have been extended out through the end of June,” said Rod Noel, Public Works Superintendent at the Tuesday, May 17 city council meeting.

Police Chief Clay Warnstaff said it was reported that the snowpack was not anywhere near where it was in 1997 or 1972, although there has been an unusual amount of snowfall in the mountains for this time of year.

“The increased flows are from warm weather and rain, they said we can handle one or the other, but not both,” said Warnstaff, adding that he thought the Oroville area was going to be okay.

As of the council meeting, the Okanogan River had crested at 14.20 at the river gage near the Janis Bridge south of Tonasket, according to Noel. (the river reached floodstage last Monday, see related story).

“The Colocum, south of Wenatchee got hammered with three inches of rain… that could have been us, but we didn’t get it like predicted,” Noel said.

He added that Osoyoos Lake level was at an elevation of 912.29 feet, but in 1972 it was five feet higher at its peak at 917.50 feet.

“I noticed a little water at the park,” said Mayor Chuck Spieth, referring to Oroville’s Lake Osoyoos Veterans Memorial Park.

Noel explained that the standing water was due to a combination of rain flowing down the hill and sprinklers that were running. He said the city crew needed to work on changing the sprinklers in that section of the former state park.

“We’ve worked our way into a few more sandbags, so we will have some more on hand,” Noel said. “Okanogan County’s policy is to give 50 bags if a resident asks for them and they can usually get more if needed.”

There was also some discussion about where to move the Culpepper and Merriweather Circus scheduled for Wednesday, June 15 should City Park be flooded. Two alternatives that were suggested for moving the circus which is being brought to town by the Chamber of Commerce were the soccer fields and Bud Clark Ballfields, although no back-up site has been approved at this time.

In other old business, Councilman Ed Naillon said, “The young man that did the new sign at the ballfields for his senior project is making revisions to the paint. He had put the sign up to take a photo for his project presentation and is correcting some of the issues. David Castillo needs a lot of credit for following through on his project.”

Noel reported that the work is progressing on the concession stand at Veterans Memorial Park.

“There were many more details that were needed to bring it up to Health Department requirements,” he said.

Noel explained that most of these had to do with separating drains for the sinks, as well as adding GFI protection for the electrical and new backsplashes.

“Thanks Rod, we really appreciate it, your guys do good work,” said Naillon.

City Clerk Kathy Jones informed the council that the rental house at Veterans Memorial Park would need a thorough cleaning before furniture can be moved in. The council gave her permission to find a cleaner for a one-time thorough cleaning with regular housekeeping services to be hired at a later date.

Police Chief Warnstraff said he had received an email from Columbia Ford pertaining to the Ford Explorer patrol vehicle being purchased through a federal Stone Garden grant of $22,500 from Homeland Security for the police department. He said that after paring down some of the dealer-installed options and having them installed here, the remaining cost to the city would be $9,198 including tax.

“We had budgeted $2,900, but I had another Stone Garden grant for equipment that can be rolled in and we will have enough,” Warnstaff said.

The police chief said he had spoken with Mike Ash and he will be installing the other options locally, but was asked to see what the dealer would charge to install the antenna there, as they have an installer that does that on a regular basis for patrol vehicles.

There was also a question about where the taxes on the vehicle would be paid, here or at the dealership location.

“Their tax in Longview is 8.2 percent and ours is 7.7 percent and if we paid here then that would be additional savings,” said Clerk Jones.

Under new business, the question of the need for another portable restroom and garbage bin at the baseball fields was brought to the council’s attention. Since the start of the new adult softball league there has been a big increase in the use of the park.

The mayor and council agreed that it was great to see the park being utilized by the new softball league, along with the youth baseball programs as was intended when the former orchard land was purchased by the city for the park.

Although a final decision wasn’t made, the council discussed finding another port-a-can to buy or rent for the park and there was also some discussion about increasing the user fee to help cover the additional costs.