Tonasket Council sets public hearing on Six Year Transportation Plan

TONASKET - Tonasket City Council's second meeting in June will include a public hearing for the Six Year Transportation Plan....

TONASKET – Tonasket City Council’s second meeting in June will include a public hearing for the Six Year Transportation Plan. The community is invited to come and express any needs they see at the meeting about roads in the city of Tonasket. The needs are prioritized every year, and filed with county agencies for future funding. The public hearing is set for the June 23 meeting, which begins at 7 p.m.

Tammy Tatum of Okanogan Properties and manager of River Road Mobile Park (formerly John’s Landing/Oaks Trailer Park) appeared before the council to request ten new septic connections. The city is currently in the process of updating the septic system at Parry’s Acres, including a rebuilding of the lift station. Mayor Plumb said Tatum’s timing in making her request was very good and the city would consider it.

Tatum said the the owner, Gary Fant, was considering expanding the trailer park. She said they still needed approval from the Department of Health and the building permits, but approval for the septic connections was the first step.

“We haven’t started that project yet, so if we could spend a little more money on it and give you more service in order to provide more affordable housing in that area, it’s a win-win situation,” said Plumb.

Public Works Supervisor Hugh Jensen said “the way the pump hours are right now we could handle the extra ten or fifteen” connections.

Soccer organization representatives requested a presence at the May 12 meeting. Jean E. Ramsey was the only one present, and wanted to know why the city shut down parking along the road into and out of Chief Tonasket Park. Mayor Patrick Plumb responded it was impossible to get an ambulance in there with cars parked along the road. Ramsey was told there are parking lots available for visitors to the park, and once the Splash Park opens it will have designated parking. The Splash Park is scheduled to open the first week of June.

2015 DECLARED YEAR OF THE AIRPORT

Lee Orr and Don Colbert of the Tonasket Airport Improvement Club said the airport courtesy car was no longer usable. Plumb said the city had delivered a surplus police car over to OK Chevrolet, and suggested that be used as the courtesy car.

Council member Scott Olson said it would be a good deal, as the city was not going to do anything else with the car. Audience member and former council member Ramsey said as a passenger car it held up fine.

Orr next requested the city assist the Airport Improvement Club with an insurance issue. He said there was a privately owned aircraft fuel station at the airport that the city was requiring liability insurance on. Orr said the insurance was so cost-prohibitive it would cost them more than going to Omak to buy the fuel.

“All the other cities that have fuel, the system is owned by the city,” said Orr. “We approached the council years ago and they nixed the idea, so we put in the private system, co-oped by 23 people now.”

Orr suggested the city take over the fuel system, but if they did they would need a card lock system, which would cost between six to ten thousand dollars. Plumb suggested the Airport Improvement Club meet with the Transportation Committee, made up of Claire Jeffko and Jill Vugteveen.

Orr then said the Airport Improvement Club would like to put up a permanent pavilion in their park to use for the Fly-in BBQ. He said they would build it in stages as they could afford to, starting with a pole building. Orr said they would like to take on all costs of building it, and then give it to the city so they wouldn’t have to pay property tax or pay for permits.

Plumb said they would need to work with both Jensen and Christian Johnson, the City Building Inspector.

“Let’s have 2015 be the year of the airport,” said Plumb.

A motion was made by Jeffko and seconded by Lois Rice to have Tonasket join the Airport Managers Association, with City Planner Kurt Danison as representative and Jensen as alternate.

ECONOMIC ALLIANCE LOOKING AT NORTH COUNTY

Danison reported the Economic Alliance Committee was planning a tour of the Oroville Reman and Reload on 9th Ave.

“The Economic Alliance is looking at trying to maintain some presence up here,” said Danison. The Reload plant was chosen because it is a successful and growing business in the north part of the county that has experienced some infrastructure and land use issues.

Danison said the Executive Director will be scheduling meetings with folks in the northern part of the county interested in the Alliance and how it may be able to help. Persons wanting to meet with Roni should call the Alliance at (509) 826-5107.

The Okanogan County Council of Governments (OCOG) met May 11 and approved the program for how they would spend the $28,000 Okanogan County portion of the RTPO funds provided by the legislature. The OCOG adopted a Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP), a requirement for obtaining and spending the money.

“The money will be used to defray administration costs of the OCOG and pay for consultant time to prepare a Regional Transportation Plan,” said Danison.

The $28,000 is an annual allocation and can be rolled from the first year of the biennium to the second, but must be expended by the end of the biennium or be lost.

Danison also reported the Geneesee and Wyoming Railroad (GWRR) agreed to allow the City to develop the primitive crossing located at the south end of the County Shop property. The City will next need to prepare a petition to the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) requesting a permit for the crossing, hopefully accompanied by a letter from the GWRR requesting that the requirement for a UTC public hearing be waived.

Danison said after July 1 he will be able to apply for grant funds from the UTC to get the dollars needed to design the new crossing to the satisfaction of the GWRR. He said the City would identify and pursue a variety of funding sources for the construction of the road/railroad crossing and pedestrian facility to access the park. Danison said the project would entail rebuilding the county shop road and putting in a paved pathway from downtown to Chief Tonasket Park that will tie in with the Armed Forces Legacy Park on US 97.

“It’s still a couple years out, but considering it was 25 years ago when we first petitioned them, it’s pretty exciting,” said Danison.

 OTHER CITY BUSINESS

Vugteveen expressed concern over flood damage that may have occurred for area businesses during Monday’s (May 11) storm. She said a video was made showing a wave in front of Lee Franks whenever a car went past. Jensen said Public Works was having difficulty keeping the storm drains cleared of Chinese Elm leaves. Vugteveen asked if documentation was being done to get storm water issues dealt with by the DOT. Plumb said the DOT didn’t have any funding, and Vugteveen said Tonasket projects were often given low priority.

Interim Police Chief Darren Curtis reported receiving lots of positive community feedback over proactive patrols at the school.

“We’ve got unmarked cars up there, and multiple community members have come by and thanked us for the extra patrols, which have led to a decrease in activity around the high school and alternative school,” said Curtis.

He also reported looking into purchasing a surplus Fish and Wildlife vehicle to be used for animal control. Stray animals cannot be transported in the same vehicle compartment as prisoners, and the Crown Vics have only one compartment.

While approving bills to be paid, Vugteveen questioned the city spending $66 for a 60-day supply of methocarbamol for a prisoner who had a short stay in jail last month.

“Why are we providing prisoners with more medical care than just the time they are in jail?” Vugteveen asked.

Plumb reported being pleased with U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse’s May 13 visit to North Valley Hospital.

“We conveyed to him the importance of protecting jobs there,” said Plumb. “I also invited him to utilize city hall here for monthly meetings they hold in Omak. Staff said half the issues they are dealing with are veteran issues, and we have a lot of veterans here.”

Plumb said he also saw the tour of the hospital as “a good thing for the community to go in and see the hospital.

“We supported the bond, so it’s good to come in and see the money at work,” said Plumb, an NVH employee.

The council declared May 23, 24, 29 and 30 as “Poppy Days” for the American Legion Auxiliary.

According to the proclamation, the poppy grew wild on the battlefields of Flanders, flourishing among shelled buildings and the bomb-scarred landscape. Its brilliant red bloom, so much like the blood which had been shed there, became a sign of hope and renewal for World War I Veterans who lived and walked away from the battlefields. For those who would never leave, it was a perpetual memorial to their bravery.

The nine-piece crepe paper poppy, made by veterans, serves as physical and psychological therapy. The Memorial Poppy contributions are devoted entirely to rehabilitation and assistance for veterans and their families. The poppies will be available for purchase at local businesses in Tonasket during Poppy Days.

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