TONASKET – A Night Out with Tonasket Police event held Friday in Founders’ Park was well-attended by community members, kids and emergency personnel.
The event organized by Maria Moreno included kids games and prizes along with refreshments served from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with Steve and Marylou Kriner grilling hot dogs.
Tonasket EMTs attended, along with Okanogan County Emergency Management Director
Maurice Goodall and Jason Utecht with Tonasket Fire Department.
“This is awesome. I’ve been wanting to meet these guys,” said Tonasket resident Kathy Anderson. “I’m excited to have good police here.” Looking over at the ambulance, Anderson added, “I’m glad we have good EMTs now, too.”
The new police force of chief Darin Odegaard and officer John Cruz have been engaged in meeting the community as much as they can fit in to busy schedules.
“Yesterday we went to the school and met with the kindergarten through third graders and had lunch with junior high students,” said Cruz. “It was a really good time. We will be reading with the kindergarten classes next week.”
Cruz said the police department will be donating classroom supplies to all four kindergarten pods next week.
“I’m a fan of the new police force,” said Okanogan County Prosecutor Branden Platter. “It’s easier to work with people who care about what they are doing, care about the community and doing the job right. I’m a fan. I think they’re getting the job done. They aren’t just people who want to make arrests, but people who want to help.”
Aaron Kester, who serves on the Civil Service Commission along with Jerry Anderson and Phil Christy, said three people were interviewed for the two current openings at the police deparment. “They all looked good,” said Kester, adding they elected to extend the emergency status Officer Cruz was hired under.
Also in attendance was Arian Noma, a candidate for the Okanogan County Prosecutor position, who said his objective is prosecutorial reform.
“We need to change our system and reduce the tax payer burden. It costs too much to have people in prison. We can’t afford it,” said Noma. “My goal is to get the kids off drugs. Try more stable housing, better education and jobs.”
“There was a lot of great conversation and intermixing,” said Tonasket Mayor Dennis Brown. “It was a nice turnout. It was all done by donation and Maria really did an awesome job.”