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Local News

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Parks Board Terminates Contract With Executive Director

By a three-to-two vote, the Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation District voted to terminate the contract of Executive Director Scott Green, effective immediately.  The vote came following an hour-long executive session that Green was a part of for a time.  Green, who has been on administrative leave while a personnel matter is investigated, was in attendance during the vote in regular session.  Board Chair Catherine Whalen, Nikki Lesich, and Travis Dray voted for the dismissal, while Dean Dollarhide and Marcus Denney were against.  The vote came quickly with no discussion in regular session, and the meeting adjourned immediately following that action.  In a statement issued to the press after the meeting, the district indicated Karl Cozad would continue in his role as interim director until a permanent replacement is hired.  That process will begin immediately and take about two months.  The move comes as the district nears the formal signing of a construction contract for a new swimming pool at Thompson Park.  Cozad was given the go-ahead by the board earlier this week to complete that contract.

Bomb Threat Causes Brief Hood River Bridge Closure

A telephoned bomb threat closed the Port of Hood River Interstate Bridge for about 20 minutes Wednesday night.  Hood River Police Sergeant Andrew Rau says Klickitat County emergency dispatchers received the call at 10:11 p.m. Wednesday that indicated a bomb was on the bridge and would detonate in 20 minutes.  Law enforcement from both Oregon and Washington shut down access to the bridge, and Hood River Police officers visually inspected the bridge deck, walkways, lift span, and lift control center, and did not find anything suspicious.  The bridge reopened at 10:30 p.m.  The threatening phone call came from a large generalized area in Skamania County.  Skamania County Sheriff’s deputies checked the general area the call originated from, but were unable to locate any suspicious activity or persons responsible.

Park And Rec Board Approves Move Forward With Pool Negotiations

The Northern Wasco County Park and Recreation District board has approved moving forward with negotiations with contractor Tripplet-Wellman on a construction contract for the Thompson Park swimming pool project.  Tripplett-Wellman has completed the pre-construction phase of the project except for demolition of the current pool…which will be included in the overall project construction and will be a part of this contract.  District Interim Executive Director Karl Cozad said projected expenses are constantly being reviewed and refined…and they are now at a point to be confident that the project can move forward within available financial resources.  He also thinks contract negotiations should move quickly.  The project will commence within ten days of execution of the contract.  The goal is to have the pool ready to go for next summer.

 

Municipal Election Set In Hood River And The Dalles

It will be a crowded field in the November election seeking three seats on the Hood River City Council.  Unless someone withdraws by Friday, seven candidates will be on the ballot looking to replace three incumbents who decided not to seek re-election.  The Hood River Council hopefuls are Susan Johnson, Joseph Sheahan, Bob Palmer, Dave Bick, Becky Brun, Timothy Counihan, and Peter Cornelisan.  The three current Councilors whose terms expire at the end of the year:  Brian McNamara, Ed Weathers, and Carrie Nelson, all decided not to seek re-election.  There were no last minute filings for Hood River Mayor…leaving Paul Blackburn and Greg Colt looking to succeed Arthur Babitz, who is not looking for another term.  In The Dalles there will be a three-way race for City Council position three with incumbent Bill Dick challenged by Russ Brown and Brian Stevens, and Carolyn Wood looks to be re-elected to the at-large seat while being opposed by Taner Elliott.  Mayor Steve Lawrence and Position 1 Councilor Tim McGlothlin are both unopposed on the November ballot.

McCanna To Fill D21 Board Vacancy

The North Wasco County School District 21 board appointed Lori McCanna to fill the long-vacant Zone 3 seat on the panel.  McCanna is in management with the Oregon Department of Human Services.  D-21 Superintendent Candy Armstrong says McCanna works in a profession that uses the Sancutary model the district uses.  McCanna’s seat will be up for election this coming spring.  Armstrong noted they had two outstanding candidates for the seat, with D-21 budget committee member Aaron Bowman also considered.

White Salmon Bridge Repainting Will Cause Delays

The Washington Department of Transportation says repainting and other work starting next week on the White Salmon Bridge along Highway 141 in Husum will cause delays for about two months.  Temporary stoplights at each end of the bridge and at Oak Ridge Road will guide alternating one-way traffic during the work, leading to delays of up to ten minutes.  Crews will replace expansion joints on the bridge deck, then begin painting.  The 74-year-old bridge was last painted in 1988, and the transportation department says its protective coating is deteriorating.  Crews won’t work below the deck of the bridge before September 22, allowing rafters to float under the bridge until the first day of autumn.

Hiker Rescued On Mt. Adams

A hiker who fell and injured himself on Mt. Adams on Sunday was rescued.  The Yakima County Sheriff’s Office says the 39-year-old hiker was taken to Skyline Hospital in White Salmon early Monday.  The man had called for help at about 1 p.m. on Sunday after falling in boulders on Mt. Adams and possibly breaking his leg and ribs.  The rescue took more than 15 hours, as a storm system prevented a helicopter rescue.  Several wilderness rangers went in on foot to bring the man down the mountain.

Gorge Commission Looks To Up Staff In Budget Request

The Columbia River Gorge Commission approved its budget request to the state of Oregon for the 2015-17 biennium, and it includes a proposal to increase staff from the current six full-time positions to 11.  Most of the proposed new positions would be in planning, including a Principal Planner, two full-time development review specialists, and a resource specialist.  It would require Oregon to up its two-year budget commitment by just over $768,000, a figure Washington would have to match.  Under the compact that created the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and the Gorge Commission, the two states must provide the same amount of funding.  The Commission proposal says the staffing increase would significantly reduce its growing backlog of development review permits, pursue a recreational planning assessment and an urban area boundaries policy, give technical assistance to Gorge counties implementing the Scenic Area Act, and facilitate a discussion on the risks of increased rail transport through the Gorge.

State Street Work Resumes After Labor Day

Work will start after Labor Day on the final tasks of the State Street project in downtown Hood River.  City Manager Steve Wheeler says the goal is to finish during this calendar year.  State Street will be closed to traffic during work hours the week of September 15 to remove overhead wires and power poles.  The following week, Oak Street from First to Front and Front Street from Oak to State will be closed to complete sidewalks.  Final paving of State Street is set for the last week of October.  There will be other partial closures at times.  Restroom construction on Third and State will start in two to three weeks.

Klickitat County Still Testing Emergency Communications System

Testing is continuing on Klickitat County’s new emergency communications system.  County Commissioner Jim Sizemore says while construction on the system is done, there is some fine-tuning that still needs to be done.  Some of it involves the mountain top tower sites that give the county the best coverage, but also are susceptible to interference.  Sizemore says the interference has not caused any issues for emergency response.  He noted some of the testing found some improper wiring connections.

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