Voters support Emergency Communication System upgrades

McMillan and Weddle lead in race for Tonasket City Council seats

election-results-clipart-1OKANOGAN – Voters are showing overwhelming support for an increase in the county sales tax to update the communication system used by police, fire and ambulance in the first count of the Nov. 5 general election ballots by the Okanogan County Auditor’s office.

The proposition had 4417 votes in favor in the first ballot count and 2194 against. Okanogan County Proposition 2, Sales Tax for Emergency Communications Systems and Facilities will be used to replace aging radio repeater equipment that is based on 40 year-old technology and is at the end of its useful life. Manufacturer’s support is ending for the current equipment in 2020. The system is used by all fire, EMS and police first responders in the county. The system is crowded due to a 19.6% increase in the volume of events these agencies have responded to based on the data for the years 2011 through 2018. Voters were asked to approve a two-tenths of one percent (.2 percent) sales tax to support the necessary improvements to the system.

Voters within the Tonasket city limits were asked to decide between Jeff McMillan and Deanna Swallom for City Council Position 2 and between Alisa Weddle and George Hill for City Council Position 4. Mary Lou Kriner, an incumbent, is running unopposed for City Council Position 5. All three positions are four-year terms.

McMillan is leading in the Tuesday vote count with 60 votes to Swallom’s 29 votes. Weddle was currently leading with 53 votes to Hill’s 42.

Tonasket School District had three school board positions that are up for election. All three are for four-year terms and all candidate ran unopposed. Louis Rhoads will serve in Director District 2; Joyce Fancher, an incumbent, in Director District 3 and Jennie Wilson, Director District 5.

The new emergency communication system will also be an improvement on the old which was a one channel system from the first responder to county dispatch. The new system will have a four channel radio system, “increasing talk capacity for first responders to coordinate their response” leading to increased efficiency and effectiveness. The four channel radio system will allow law enforcement, fire, EMS and Emergency Management to each have their own channel.

The next vote count is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 8. The votes are unofficial until certified on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019.