Firefighters Wednesday afternoon were battling a five-acre brush fire above Interstate 84 at exit 87 near Highway 30 east of the Amerities railroad tie plant in The Dalles Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue Chief Bob Palmer says the head of the fire to the east is out, but it is backing into heavy brush towards the tie plant. Palmer says they are forced to let it burn until they can get an anchor point. He adds a road between the tie plant and the fire itself can be an anchor point, and resources from MCFR, Dallesport, Oregon Department of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service…and Hood River are on the scene. He added as long as they keep the fire on the ground and out of the trees, there should not be a problem. The fire call came in just after 12:20 p.m. A spot fire did go up the hill towards Columbia View Heights, but was put out.
By a 4-1 vote, The Dalles City Council approved the first reading of a time, place, and manner ordinance for the processing, production, retailing, and wholesaling of recreational marijuana, but not before one councilor voted against the reading of the ordinance by title only, leading to the twelve-page document being read in its entirety. Councilor Dan Spatz said because he opposed the ordinance as presented, due to support of municipal planning commission recommendations for distances from daycares and churches not in the document, he couldn’t support voting in favor of it by title only. He also cited the oath he took when he became a Councilor to uphold the federal law, adding marijuana is still illegal according to the federal government, so he considered a yes vote in direct conflict with that. Spatz added he was glad the ordinance was read in full, because it brought out questions that could bring improvements. The ordinance will come back for a second reading in September, and Spatz says he will ask for a full reading again.
With a new member on board, the Hood River City Council moved closer to establishing new zoning requirements for short-term housing rentals, instructing municipal staff to come back with an ordinance based on planning commission recommendations. New Councilor Tim Counihan expressed his support for the planning commission concept to give preference for STR’s in residential zones to those who have established their house as a primary residence. After long discussion in which nearly every idea expressed was countered by a potential unintended consequence, on a 4-2 vote the Council asked staff to come back with an ordinance that will provide for a seven-year amortization period in which those renting homes that are not their primary residence to continue to do so to the same extent they are now, with a requirement to comply with parking requirements for STR’s within five years. Primary residents could rent their homes for a period of up to 90 days, depending on previous usage level. City Manager Steve Wheeler told the Council staff should have an ordinance before them for a public hearing at their August 22nd meeting.
The Dalles City Council and the Columbia Gateway Urban Renewal Agency have entered into a new exclusive negotiating agreement with Tokola Properties for a mixed-use development at the former Tony’s Town and Country site in downtown The Dalles. The previous agreement expired at the start of July. Mayor Steve Lawrence says the main hurdle remains the alley behind the property that is used by First Street businesses to receive deliveries by truck, and how to accommodate those while moving ahead with the development. The new agreement is identical to the previous one, and runs for 180 days.
The Hood River County Fair will be getting underway on Wednesday in Odell. Fair Manager Clara Rice says exhibits will open at noon, and there will be plenty going on all day long. The headliner for the first evening of the fair is a George Strait tribute by Bill White at 7:30 p.m. on the park stage. In addition, Banda Diamindo performs at 7 p.m. in the Frank Herman Arena. Discounted carnival bracelets for all-day rides are on sale until 5 p.m. Wednesday at the fair office and a number of area locations.
The Rattlesnake Fire ten miles northeast of Warm Springs is now listed at 80 percent containment. The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center says the fire grew in size Monday to 9,225 acres, but crews made good progress in building line and securing the perimeter of the fire. One area of concern Tuesday was on the northwest portion of the fire perimeter where the fire crossed the Warm Springs River. Crews made good progress securing that area Monday night, and if it holds, the fire may be near 100 percent containment by Wednesday. Structural protection is still in place for residences in the Culpus Bridge area. The Webster Flat road near the Wolf Point subdivision and Highway 8 east of the Kah-Nee- Ta Resort are still closed to the general public.
An accident involving two vehicles towing travel trailers shutdown eastbound Interstate 84 west of Hood River for over four hours on Sunday. According to the Oregon State Police, an SUV and 24-foot trailer driven by a 67-year-old man from Michigan was attempting to pass a pickup towing a 32-foot trailer near milepost 56 at around 11:45 Sunday morning. An initial investigation showed the SUV was negotiating a left hand curve in the fast lane and was in the process of passing the pickup/trailer combination when the SUV left its lane and hit the pickup/trailer combo, causing it to roll onto it driver’s side. The Michigan couple in the SUV were uninjured, while the five in the truck, all from Idaho, were taken Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The eastbound lanes of I-84 were closed for just over four hours on Sunday while the vehicles were removed.
The containment level for the Scott Canyon fire in Gilliam County went up to 75 percent Monday morning. According to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, the fire has burned 33,587 acres in grass and brush in moderate to steep terrain about nine miles northwest of Condon. The fire did threaten ranches with residences, along with barns and other outbuildings. Fire officials hope to fully contain the fire on Monday. The cause is not yet determined. Meanwhile, a 5,000 acre wildfire is burning on the Warm Springs Reservation. The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center reported very little activity on the Rattlesnake Fire this morning. It is burning in grass about seven miles northeast of Warm Springs.
The Hood River City Council will get a report at its meeting Monday evening on potential expansion of garbage service. Curbside composting, more refined recycling options, yard waste pickup, and standardized roll carts for streamlined pickup are all on the table. City Manager Steve Wheeler says such a move would raise residential garbage rates in the City by $7.25 a month, which would be about a 40 percent increase. Mayor Paul Blackburn says the Council is now to the point of taking public input before making any decisions, emphasizing this is not a done deal. A municipal committee involving three Councilors, garbage service provider Waste Connections, Tri-County Hazardous Waste and Recycling, and others have been involved in putting together the proposal. The Council will receive that report at its meeting beginning at 6 p.m. Monday in Hood River City Hall.
The Klickitat County Commission discussed the potential for levying a one-tenth of one percent to three-tenths of one percent sales tax for drug enforcement with representatives from the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office and the Goldendale and White Salmon-Bingen police departments at a recent worksession. Commissioner Rex Johnston noted the law enforcement groups have been asking about the one-tenths of one percent increase, but Commissioners questioned whether that would be enough to address the issue, and have asked them to report back with a more specific list of needs. Johnston emphasized the Commission would get public input either through a hearing or a vote before making any decision.