Oroville's Dorothy Scott Airport abuzz with activity

OROVILLE – Steven Johnston, Oroville’s Airport Services Manager, told the city council that the amount of activity at the airport has been “amazing.”

“Throughout late August and September it just seems to be getting busier every day with the number of operations and types of operators,” said Johnston, at the council’s Tuesday, Sept. 18 meeting.

Johnston said someone has purchased a $4000 hanger to be be placed at Oroville’s Dorothy Scott Airport and that the person normally operated at the Arctic Circle, but wanted to winter in Oroville. Wintering at Oroville is something Johnston said several people with airplane operations have discussed recently.

“Homeland Security has had an operation going on continuously lately. They say they want to use as many local aircraft as they can. Something to do with testing their sensors. And we have a helicopter that called in a request to have 300 gallons of fuel on hand,” said Johnston.

He added that Big World of Flight, which educates young people on aviation, will again stop at the airport, part of their moving the program from the spring to the fall.

Johnson also asked for some guidance on whether he should attend an upcoming fall conference on airports to be held in Leavenworth.

“The agenda is on airport improvement… this is where you get the straight skinny. Do you want me to attend, I can go and sock it (the information) away, but I’m not the decision maker,” said Johnston, encouraging the mayor or one of the council members to attend.

Kathy Jones, Oroville’s city clerk, said she thought Chris Branch, the director of Community Development, was attending.

“That’s why we rely on Chris,” said Mayor Chuck Spieth.

Jones told the council that the city had received a letter from the state Transportation Improvement Board regarding federal funding for the Central and Cherry Street project.

“We wrote a letter for additional funding from TIB because we were $832 short. We applied for the funds and have been funded,” she said.

On a different matter, Jones said, “As you know we authorized the mayor to sign the agreement to provide water to the new U.S. Border Patrol Station. They signed it and sent it back, now they want an invoice.”

The agreement says Oroville will provide the water and build a reservoir and transmission line to serve the multi-million dollar facility located just south of the U.S./Canadian border. The federal government will pay the cost of the construction and the cost of the water used by the facility.

“It’s been a long process,” said Spieth.

“Almost two years,” added Jones.

Arnie Marchand, a member of the Okanogan Borderlands Historical Society, gave a short report to the council on the group’s recent activities.

“The OBHS has shut down the museum and the Visitor Information Center for the winter. Tentative counts are that we had about 3500 visitors, a little less than last year,” Marchand said, guessing that the economy and lack of signage (at the time) had led to the reduced numbers.

“Next year it will be all about Oroville with a theme of ‘Bridges to the Past,'” he said. “The following year it will be about the Okanogan Indians.”

Marchand also encouraged the council to attend the upcoming VIA 97 meeting to be held in Osoyoos the following Friday.

“It’s really going to be a heavyweight meeting,” he said.

The meeting concluded with Mayor Spieth saying the city had gotten “a very nice” letter from Steve Quick, superintendent of the Oroville School District.

“The letter commented on the cooperation of the city in working with the school district,” said Spieth.