Tonasket Chamber reviews website upgrade, RV Park future

TONASKET – The Tonasket Chamber of Commerce reviewed work on the pending upgrade of its website and discussed some options pertaining to the long-term viability to the RV Park at its Tuesday, Feb. 14 meeting.

Board member Terri Orford presented the first draft of the new web site’s look and feel for review.

“When we’re ready to launch, we’re hoping we can get locals to submit their photos to be the banner on the website,” she said. “We want to get different perspectives on the Okanogan Valley and Tonasket areas so it’s not just our perspective.”

The new site will include an integrated calendar of community events, and could include such features as Google place location links, Facebook log-ins, featured business areas on the site, and the possibility of advertising and Chamber membership self-serve dues paying capability.

With the immediate problem of long-term tenancy resolved with the departure of couple of guests who had overstayed, board member Rob Nau said that as the Chamber holds discussions with the City of Tonasket regarding park policy that long-term tenancy needed to be on the table.

“Pursing tenancy of 30 days or longer would require changes with our agreement with the City,” said Chamber president Dale Crandall. “It also requires compliance issues that are different in terms of infrastructure and tenant / landlord responsibilities.”

“It’s been an excellent source of income for the Chamber,” Nau said. “But it does have costs. The costs have run between 40-60 percent of gross income. I’m concerned if we don’t have some longer-term capability in the future, we could have a hard time breaking even.

“There are some things we could do to make it more suitable.”

Dave Kester added that the Chamber might want to look into buying the property, which currently is owned by the Burlington Northern railroad but leased from the city.

“We’re in the process of buying some of the railroad property behind the (Lee Frank) warehouse,” Kester said. “When we approached them they were very cooperative … they want to get rid of those properties. It could help with costs, so we should ask the city if it is interested, and approach the railroad. That way you would own the property instead of leasing from the city.”

“We have to address all this with the City no matter what,” Crandall said. “There’s no harm in exploring it.”

Lee Orr of the Okanogan-Ferry County chapter of the Washington Pilots Association also asked the Chamber if it would sponsor approximately 10 boxes of Smith & Nelson red and gala apples at the association’s booth at the Northwest Aviation Trade Show in Puyallup, Feb. 25-26.

“Every year we find out how many people don’t know where Okanogan County is,” Orr said. “We fill tables with information and people find out a lot about the area when they come by — like the fact we have mountains and lakes.

“We have a reputation there as the booth that gives away apples. It’s some great exposure for the county as there’s 10,000-12,000 people there.”

Orford also offered him the use of information North Valley Hospital uses to recruit new employees, while Tonasket School District superintendent Paul Turner, who was also on hand, asked if he could use that information for the district’s recruiting as well.

Chamber vice president Julie Alley reported 23 new membership applications had been returned, while treasurer Bill Nelson said he had found a laptop to be used by the treasurer for about $100 that needed only a battery to be fully functional.

The Chamber next meets Tuesday, Feb. 28, at Whistler’s in Tonasket.