Voters to decide on Parks & Rec District this fall

TONASKET - Okanogan County Commissioners gave their support to the formation of a Parks and Recreation District in Tonasket on...

“We would like to thank the county commissioners for their unanimous support of the effort to form a parks and recreation district in the greater Tonasket area. We are excited that Tonasket will have an opportunity to vote on whether a recreation district is right for our community.” Jen Widdel, Secretary, Tonasket Swimming Pool Assoc.

TONASKET – Okanogan County Commissioners gave their support to the formation of a Parks and Recreation District in Tonasket on Monday, June 29. It will go on the ballot in the fall for voters to decide on. The proposed Parks and Recreation District covers an area with an approximate radius of 15 miles from Tonasket.

“We would like to thank the county commissioners for their unanimous support of the effort to form a parks and recreation district in the greater Tonasket area,” said Jen Weddle. “We are excited that Tonasket will have an opportunity to vote on whether a recreation district is right for our community.” Weddle, who serves as Secretary for the Tonasket Swimming Pool Association, is one of several volunteers who formed a Parks and Recreation Feasibility Study Group that began meeting once a week last March to look at how a Parks and Recreation District might be able to help realize the city having a swimming pool again. The group conducted a detailed survey on parks and recreation needs in the Tonasket area.

City Council Member Claire Jeffko said Peter James, Norm Weddle, Jen Weddle, Jen Ward, Emily Bjelland, Rob Thompson, Michele Glovia, herself and fellow council member Scott Olsen “started brainstorming for at least six to eight weeks. Every single Monday we met, as we were determined to succeed.”

Jeffko said the group gathered 560 signatures on a petition to put it on the ballot.

“I got twenty-five signatures in one hour. It took us less than a week to get the required amount,” said Jeffko. “We all just took petitions and ran with it. It was quite a wonderful effort. Everyone worked together seamlessly.”

The study group met with the county commissioners on two occasions. Jeffko said the second meeting saw supporters in the audience where before there had been none.

“The Chamber was represented, the Pool committee was represented, and nurses spoke in favor of aqua therapy,” said Jeffko. “Monte Smith’s granddaughter and Noni Alley presented great talking points. Being the last to speak, I just spoke from a grandmother point of view. My grandchildren learned to swim in Tonasket, and when the eldest fell into Lake Washington, tragedy was averted because he had swim lessons. Swim lessons are a vital tool that should be available to all children regardless of family income.”

“It was amazing to pull it off. The commissioners supported it unanimously,” said Norm Weddle.

County Commissioner Sheilah Kennedy said one concern discussed by commissioners was creating another JR Taxing District and taxing the people.

“Once created and taxed, it usually never goes away,” said Kennedy. “But it was also recognized the importance to our children.”

The levy rate is set at about $15 per $100,000.

“The commissioners said they hate to raise taxes, but it is an investment in the kids, and for the community,” said Karen Stangland, Treasurer of the Tonasket Swimming Pool Association.

“It is impressive the work that went into this and the amount of money raised,” Kennedy said. The pool association has raised over half a million dollars so far.

Commissioners needed for Parks & Rec Board

OKANOGAN – There will be a special three-day filing period for all candidates who want to file for commissioner of the proposed Tonasket Park and Recreation District, according to Chief Deputy Auditor Mila M Jury, an election official for Okanogan County

There are five positions available to file for : Tonasket Park and Recreation District, Commissioner Pos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Candidates must be a registered voter and live within the proposed district. There will be no filing fee and all positions are At-Large

Candidates can file online at vote.wa.gov/okanogan, in person at the Auditors office, or by mail. Online filing will be from 9 a.m. on Monday, July 13, 2015 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Auditors Office hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the office is located in the Okanogan County Courthouse. To file by mail send to Okanogan County Auditor, P.O. Box 1010, Okanogan, WA 98840.

For more information contact the office by phone at 509-422-7240 or by email at elections@co.okanogan.wa.us.

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