Oroville will sponsor rural library funding application

OROVILLE – The Oroville City Council gave the nod to the Friends of the Library to pursue federal funding to help build a new public library, a goal the group has been working on for the past several years.

The council made the decision at their Tuesday, March 2 council meeting after discussing the issue with FOL members in attendance.

“Tony Keopke, Julie Ashmore, Chris Branch and I met to discuss funding and had a teleconference with Rose Running with the USDA Rural Development to clarify the city’s role, application requirements and funds available,” said Oroville City Clerk Kathy Jones.

Jones went on to say she was concerned that if the project received over $750,000 in federal grants, only three-quarters of the cost of the new library could be paid for through federal funds and the city would be responsible for the rest.

“Our intention is to fill the remainder with private funding,” said Ashmore, a grant writer volunteering with the Friends of the Library, adding that the group had already sent out several funding request to various foundations.

One concern the council had was the amount of time that would be required of city staff to administer the grant. Oroville has already committed to being the lead agency on grants being pursued by North Valley Hospital and the Oroville Housing Authority. Jones said she would be unavailable to provide assistance until mid to late April due to other job commitments, including the annual state audit.

“Do you still feel staff time would be kept at a minimum, that you can handle 99 percent of what is required?” Councilman Keopke asked Ashmore, adding, “At our meeting Chris Branch (Oroville Director of Community and Economic Development) did seem to feel comfortable with the process.”

Ashmore, who has written and administered grants before, said she would be able to manage the project requirements with the exception of providing the city’s financial information.

“I think we should move forward with the understanding that city staff time will be limited, especially for the next couple of months,” said Mayor Chuck Spieth.

Jones asked the city’s financial obligations would need to be documented and clarified that the only money the city would have to offer towards the project would be that in the current Library Improvement Reserve Fund, less any monies that may be used for repairs to the current building before the new library could be built.

Keopke made a motion to support the USDA Rural Deveolpment, Rural Library Initiative Grant application and the motion received a second from Councilwoman Neysa Roley and was approved unanimously.

The Friends of the Library’s original plan was to refurbish the old public library and Civic League building. However, they decided to replace the old building that was built in the early 1900s after finding out it would be less expensive to get the facility they needed by building new. The decision was then made to try and capture the Craftsman-style construction of the old building when the new library was built. Although they have architect’s drawings and a model of what they envision the new library to look like, the FOL will still need to have a plan drawn by an architect or engineer who is chosen through the public bid process, because the building is being built using public funds.

Kay Sibley, president of the Okanogan Borderlands Historical Society appeared before council to ask permission to put up two signs – one at the lot where the Boy Scout Cabin was located before a fire destroyed it several years ago and one at Madeline Wells Park, behind the library.

“We have the original Boy Scout sign and we would like to put it back where the original Boy Scout Cabin was, with the oldest picture we can find of the cabin and some of its history,” said Sibley.

Rod Noel, Superintendent of Public Works, said the lot was used extensively by the Senior Citizens Center which is located across the street.

“Maybe you can incorporate a planter there to make it more visible,” he suggested.

Sibley said the sign for Madeline Wells Park was being made by the same company that does signs for the National Park Service “so they’re quality.” She said the sign would include some history of the park and asked for ideas on where it could be placed as well as a financial donation.

After some discussion of location, the council agreed to pay $200 of the sign’s $400 cost of construction.

In an update on Oroville’s efforts to get the state to transfer Osoyoos Lake Veterans State Park to the city, Jones said they had an additional 15 letters of support from people in Oroville, as well as some from Tonasket and Canada. In addition, several petition forms placed around town have been filled. Representatives of the city will bring these and any others that came in by March 5 to Lakewood, Wash. on March 11 when the city makes its next request for the transfer. The Colville Confederated Tribe is also asking for the park.

“There’s a lot of concerned people out there that would like to see the city operate the park,” said Mayor Spieth.

Supt. Noel said that he and Jones had spoken with Ken Nichols of the State Aeronautics Division of the Department of Transportation about the airport. There are $88,371 that have been set aside for Oroville that if not spent will go away.

“There is about $56,000 in carry over from the fence project, so $37,785 needs to be donated or lost before the deadline passes. Omak has a project and they are looking for $400,000 to borrow out of $1.2 million,” said Noel.

Oroville will let Omak have their airport project money and Omak will pay the city back when Oroville is ready to proceed with its runway project. A similar deal was struck with Colfax which Oroville loaned $60,000 last year.

“That still leaves us money for 2011 projects,” Noel said, adding that Oroville will probably need to borrow money when the runway project begins in 2015.

“That gives us a little time to save our share,” he said.

In an airport related matter, Steve Johnston, the airport services manager, said the “Big World of Flight” group would be at Oroville’s Dorothy Scott Municipal Airport on May 18 to talk to K-8 kids from Oroville schools. The volunteer group teaches kids about general aviation.

“I’m just tickled to death to have them back,” Johnston said. “They are an all volunteer group and they bring their own aircraft and pay for their own fuel.”