Tonasket won't participate in Fire Economic Recovery Strategic Plan

TONASKET – Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb was sorely disappointed when a motion he put before City Council members failed for a lack of votes. The motion called for paying the NCW Economic Development District $2500 to be part of a data collection survey called the Okanogan County Fire Economic Recovery Strategic Plan.

The NCWEDD, a three-county agency that is federally funded, received a grant for an economic recovery strategy that required cities involved to have matching funds. City Clerk and Treasurer Alice Attwood read a letter from Michael Guss, Executive Director of NCWEDD, that said a consultant from Seattle was hired to craft the economic recovery strategy, and that it would focus on communities invested in the project. By contributing to the grant, cities were allowed to appoint a member to the steering committee, and hold one of the meetings in their area.

“If we can contribute the $2500, I can leverage them to help me get data specific to Tonasket,” said Plumb. “Talking to (City Planner) Kurt (Danison), it sounds like they are excited about doing something for Tonasket; some economic development kick-starting.”

Plumb said the NCWEDD had a grant to start the process for the south part of Okanogan County following the Carlton Complex, and were about to begin when the Okanogan Complex fires began and they realized they would need to expand it to the north part of Okanogan County as well.

“Oroville contributed $500, but they didn’t have the same impact we did,” said Plumb. “All the communities that were integrated into this have contributed.”

“We have had two back to back fire seasons with the communities impacted, but there are no guarantees the same impacts will occur again in the future,” said City Council Member and USFS employee Jill Vugteveen. “I’m not sure about investing in this.”

Plumb said the NWCEDD was trying to reach out to see that Okanogan County’s needs are being addressed at the state and local level.

“That is the responsibility of our county commissioners, and if they were doing their job the governor’s office would have been here quicker than they were,” said Vugteveen.

“They want to do surveys; talk to businesses to see what kind of economic impacts they have had to their businesses now that they are six months out,” said Plumb.

“You could go to a Chamber meeting and get that kind of information; see if they were impacted,” said Vugteveen. “You could go to a meeting and ask the question for free.”

“Someone from the governor’s office stopped by and asked me what the impact was that I see and I don’t really know. I want to be able to have that data and have someone besides me see it and interpret it,” said Plumb.

In other city business, the council approved the use of a Traffic Safety grant from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to purchase a new radar unit for one of the police cars, and two full sector systems including scanners and printers so police officers wouldn’t have to write tickets by hand.

“I applied for and got the grant; now I just need to ask your permission to use it,” said Police Chief Darren Curtis.

The Council also approved Ordinance #764 amending Chapter 9.34 of the Tonasket Municipal Code entitled “Lewd Conduct.”

“We made the language more specific on what lewd conduct is,” said Plumb. “The attorneys looked it over ad approved it.”