Year in review – looking back at 2007The first six months

Editor’s Note: This week we take a look back at just a few of the stories that made the front page of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune during the first the first half 2007. The rest of the year will be reviewed in next week’s edition.


Three vying for May Festival Queen – Jessica Santana, Alysia Cumbo and Rachel Marringer have thrown their hats in the ring for a chance this year’s May Festival Queen’s crown.

Oroville grows by over 150 acres in less than a year – The City of Oroville grew by more than 65 acres after the council unanimously accepted a petition for annexation at their first meeting of the year-bringing the small city’s total growth to over 150 acres in less than a year’s time.

It’s official: Gail Milliken can stay in the U.S. – About to get married and planning her honeymoon, little did Milliken know the journey she was about to take was not to some warm tropical isle, but rather a two and a half year odyssey to remain in her adopted country.

Walter ends student-police ride-alongs – Carmen Arroyo wants to become a police officer. She feels her dream was jeopardized when Tonasket Mayor Pat Walter ruled community service volunteers could no longer ride with the police while they are on patrol.

Cocaine worth $4.3 million seized near Chesaw – U.S. Border Patrol agents seized more than 136 pounds of cocaine near Chesaw bringing this year’s total drug seizures in the Spokane Sector to over $18 million.

May Festival Royalty selected – Jessica Santana was chosen to serve as this year’s May Festival Queen in a selection night at the Oroville High School Commons. She will be attended by her royal court, Princess Rachel Marringer and Princess Alysia Cumbo.


Oroville Chamber of Commerce installs officers – Ardi Fitzthum was installed as Oroville’s Chamber President and the local wood product’s industry, including Zosel’s Lumber, Oroville Reman and Reload and the Weyerhauser Chip Plant, were honored as Business of the Year.

Noble Law honored by county Hort Association – Horticulture Association members honored Noble Law, a mainstay of the tree fruit industry, while Okanogan County Commissioners declared Jan. 25 as Noble Law Day.

Oroville couple found love in unusual way – Valentine couple Sergit and Jasleen Singh’s love was the result of an arranged marriage by their families back in India. After six years, the couple who own the Oroville 76 Quickmart, are still going strong.

Clinics report virus with flu-like systems making the rounds – Clinics in Oroville and Tonasket report they have seen several patients with the norovirus, which has symptoms very similar to the flu and can lead to dangerous dehydration.

Heavy freight corridor designation could bring many new jobs – Oroville’s city planner has been working with various local businesses and agencies in an attempt to have the four miles of SR97 between the city’s railhead and the Canadian border designated a heavy freight corridor in an effort to create new jobs and attract new businesses.

Tonasket Post 82: Suspension removed, charter reclaimed – After a new slate of officers was sworn in during an installation, the Post was presented their charter back by past state commander Mike Montaney.

Ice fishing brings smiles – The third annual Northwest Ice Fishing Festival held on Sidley Lake attracted 171 anglers, nearly three times that of the previous years. This year the grand prize of a 14-foot Lund fishing boat went to Rich Blaine of Oroville who caught the single biggest fish.


Howell honored as Tonasket Chamber Citizen of the Year – Tonasket Chamber of Commerce members honored Yvetta Eylar Howell as 2007 Citizen of the Year for her work with Habitat for Humanity, the Tonasket Garden Club and as moderator of the Tonasket Community Church.

Tonasket Tigers earn state berth – The Tiger boys’ team earned their first invitation to the 1A state basketball tournament since 1991 after defeating Riverside Christian at regionals.

Walter and Branch lobby in Olympia – Tonasket Mayor Pat Walter and city planner Chris Branch took their wish list to state legislators on a visit to Olympia for the Association of Washington Cities’ Legislative Action Conference.

Lynx project hopes to study big cats movements in wake of fires – State will study effect of last year’s two devastating fires in the Loomis State Forest on the state’s biggest lynx population through special radio and GPS equipped collars.

Oroville has advantage of being at start of water trail – Addressing the Oroville Chamber of Commerce Arnie Marchand discussed the Greater Columbia River Trail, part of three trails that will connect from ‘border to border’ from Oroville to the Tri Cities via the Okanogan and Columbia River.

Council united in asking Mayor Walter to resign – Council members rebuked Tonasket Mayor Pat Walter March 13 unanimously passing a resolution 5-0 “suggest[ing]” he resign.

Response plan recommended in case of school violence – Representatives of the Okanogan County Sheriff’s office appeared before the Oroville School Board to discuss planning for an event like a school shooting. “We want to be proactive rather than paranoid,” said Deputy Shawn Messinger.


Walter stresses he is no ‘micromanager’ – Dramatizing his actions before a council gallery three times its normal size, Tonasket Mayor Pat Walter played to the larger audience March 27, insisting he is no micro-manager. The move was a return volley fired by the mayor in response to council criticism and a resolution suggesting he resign.

Project manager for proposed mine not surprised by appeal – An environmental group’s appeal of the Forest Service’s EIS covering an access road and water pumping and discharge for a proposed gold mine near Chesaw comes as no surprise to the project’s manager.

Local rock to be featured in landscape of Seattle’s Freeway Park – A piece of Eastern Washington’s landscape will soon become part of Seattle’s Freeway Park to be enjoyed by park users and those at the Washington State Convention Center, both of which nest above the freeway in Seattle. The columnar basalt comes from a quarry near Chesaw.

Country doctor calls it a career – Dr. Walter Henze hangs up his stethoscope after 31 years of medical service and recalls how he first came to the Tonasket area and began his practice.

Oroville welcomes home three of its own – Members of the Oroville community gathered at the public library to welcome hoe three sailors — Tyson McAllister, Justin Helm and Bobby Roel — who recently returned after serving in Iraq and to honor others from the area who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Local historical society’s new name reflects more regional attitude – The Old Oroville Depot Historical Society is no more, having recently been changed to the Okanogan Borderlands Historical Society to better reflect a regional approach, say society members.


NVH to ask voters to approve new hospital facility – Representatives from North Valley Hospital met in two community meetings last week to explain the benefits of building a new hospital now, rather than waiting until it may be too late or too costly.

Mayor Walter and children celebrate Arbor Day – Tonasket Mayor Pat Walter lends a hand to fourth-graders from Tonasket Elementary who planted a ponderosa pine in Triangle Park for Arbor Day.

Cools are May Festival Grand Marshals – This year’s May Festival Grand Marshals Bruce and Joan Cool came to Oroville over 30 years ago so he could operate the family’s business near Whitestone, but they stayed to do much, much more.

Tonasket police officer fired – Police officer Janet Storey, with the Tonasket Police Department for almost five years, was terminated by Chief Robert Burks for what he described as a violation of the department’s standard operating procedures.

Seventy-third annual May Festival – For the 73rd consecutive year, indeed it was magical. Floa
ts, marching bands and of course, royalty. And almost by decree: perfect springtime weather.

Over 300 riders roar into Oroville for ‘Run for the Border’ – It wasn’t quite the 500 motorcycles they were hoping for, but more than 300 bikers made the run from Wenatchee to Oroville to raise money for needy kids.

Ecstasy valued at $5.2 million seized by CBP – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the U.S. Port of Entry north of Oroville seized 182 pounds of Ecstasy during the examination of a semi-tractor trailer. The illegal drugs have a street value of over $5 million.

Watchable Wildlife includes birds, butterflies and snakes – Those who made the journey to the Sinlahekin Wildlife area as part of the Watchable Wildlife Weekend were treated to sights including an osprey with a freshly caught fish in its talons, a variety of colorful butterflies and even a one-button rattler.

Dentist and musician create beautiful Tonasket music – Showing no false modesty and expressing confusion at their selection, Rob and Roz Nau, are selected this year’s Founder’s Day grand marshals.


Crowds brave heat for rodeo weekend – Although you could probably have fried an egg on hot Tonasket sidewalks last weekend, the 72nd Annual Founder’s Day Rodeo and Grand Parade went off without a hitch.

Oroville High School Graduates Class of 2007 -With the words “Remember who you are… if you forget, call your mother” still ringing in their ears, the OHS Class of 2007 graduated in a ceremony held Saturday. Alison Van Woert was named valedictorian, Andrea Hires was salutatorian and Elizabeth Shellenbarger received the Glover Cup.

Tonasket bids farewell to 2007 graduates – They never told each other. It was more like a secret competition in which they both quietly pushed each other. Competitors no more, Ellen Schriner edged out Pat Colbert for valedictorian and Colbert was salutatorian. For the THS Class of 2007.

Developer approaches council with annexation request – A developer with hopes of constructing over 400 new residences on the east side of Lake Osoyoos approached the Oroville Council requesting to annex the proposed development site into the city.

Wood resigns to protest Storey firing – The Tonasket council member followed through on his threat to resign if the firing of police officer Janet Storey was not reversed. He described the officer’s termination as “wrong” and added, “Good luck, we’re going to need it” alluding to any future court action involving the matter.

Driver of stolen car exceeds 100 mph to elude police – The driver of a car stolen on the west side of the state hit speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour on Chesaw and Eastlake roads as he tried to elude Oroville Police in the early hours of June 14.

Bus options expanded for county residents – For 20 years Chris Zaferes helped people catch the bus in New York City, now the former bus driver carries his mission to county residents as board president of Okanogan County Transportation and Nutrition. He and county clerk Jackie Bradley recently helped secure more funds from the state to continue to update the county’s fleet of small busses.