Oregon Second District Congressman Greg Walden was tabbed by the House GOP Steering Committee to be the next Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Republican from Hood River will be the first chair of that panel, the oldest standing legislative committee in the House, from the Pacific Northwest. The Energy and Commerce Committee has responsibility for the nation’s telecommunications, consumer protection, food and drug safety, public health research, environmental quality, energy policy, and interstate and foreign commerce. Walden has been on that committee since 2001. He said he was “deeply honored to earn the support of my colleagues to chair this incredibly important committee,” adding “Americans are looking for big improvements out of Washington.”
The month-long Hood River Holidays celebration kicks off Friday evening. Downtown merchants will start things off with a happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., followed by a parade beginning at Seventh and Oak at 6 p.m. and heading downtown, followed by the annual tree lighting and caroling at Overlook Memorial Park at 7 p.m. Matt Werbach of the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce says while visitors do come to the town during the holiday season, the center of this event is the local community. Werbach adds the Chamber is encouraging the local community to do their Christmas shopping in the local area.
The North Central Public Health District will kick off its community walking groups program this Saturday morning at Lewis and Clark Festival Park in The Dalles. The district’s Dillon Melady says Step It Up! The Dalles is intended to encourage physical activity through social support. Community-based walking groups will meet weekly and walk together in an effort to promote healthy habits. Saturday’s event will run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., starting at Lewis and Clark Festival Park with groups walking different routes around The Dalles. For more information on the Step It Up! The Dalles program, call North Central Public Health District at 541-506-2600.
Hood River County has instituted a temporary seasonal closure of gates on some forest roads in the county. Gates were closed and locked Thursday in an effort to block vehicular traffic and protect the County’s road system during a time of year when it is most vulnerable to damage. Gates that were locked are on Post Canyon Road just to the north of Post Flats Staging Area, Riordan Hill Road approximately ¼ mile to the west of Family Man Staging Area and another near Binns Hill Road, on upper Riordan Hill Road accessing the Viento Ridge area, and across Forest Road 2400 north of Lower Kingsley Reservoir. The gates will be closed for the remainder of winter season and will be reopened on or about April 1, 2017.
Sandy 61, Hood River Valley 42
Glencoe 63, The Dalles 36
Stevenson 78, Horizon Christian 55: Austin Brannan scored 28 points and had nine rebounds, while Issac Hoidel added 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs.
Riverside 57, Columbia 44: William Gross scored 16 points and Brady Trullinger 12 for the Bruins.
Sandy 37, Hood River Valley 27: The Pioneers used a second quarter run to take the lead for good. Hannah McKinney led Sandy with 11 points, while Emily Curtis topped HRV with 11.
The Dalles 57, Centennial 50
Stevenson 52, Horizon Christian 47: Amya St. Martin led the Bulldogs with 14 points while Peighton Campbell added 12.
Riverside 52, Columbia 30
Representatives of over 20 different community groups formalized on Tuesday the creation of the Food Security Coalition, pledging to work together to reduce hunger in the Gorge. For the last six months the agencies have worked to identify gaps in the food system and set priorities to reduce food insecurity in the Gorge through an Oregon Solutions process. Ken Bailey of Orchard View Farms, a co-convener of the Oregon Solutions project, says the coalition will allow collective resources to be used. The Coalition has already been awarded grant monies to fund a program manager that will work out of the Gorge Grown Food Network, which will be a “backbone organization” for the coalition. The group has also developed a collaboration between tribal members, the Department of Human Services, and the Oregon Food Bank to begin bi-monthly deliveries of produce to Celilo Village.
The Hood River City Council on Tuesday night took its final vote to adopt short-term rental licensing and application rules. With final rules now adopted, City officials say an STR license application packet will be finalized and released as soon as possible. The deadline to complete that application will be set once the packet is made available. The application to verify and establish prior existing STR operations, in order to gain “grandfathered” status from certain new STR land use rules, is available and due by December 12. It is also on the City’s STR webpage, along with the final rules adopted Tuesday night.
There will be a 40 minute closure of both lanes of the Hood River/White Salmon Interstate Bridge beginning at 3:30 a.m. on Thursday. Early morning bridge users are advised to plan ahead for potential traffic delays of 40 minutes or more in duration or seek alternate routes. The closure is required for maintenance work on the bridge’s lift span.
Hood River City Councilors have asked Mayor Paul Blackburn and City Manager Steve Wheeler to prepare a “Sancutary City” ordinance similar to one developed in San Francisco. Blackburn had brought up the topic during Monday’s Council meeting, explained such a move would mean Hood River city law enforcement would not be active partners with federal immigration officials because the incoming Trump administration is professing plans to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, which he considers “an unconscionable humanitarian and economic disaster for our city.” About fifteen people spoke before the Council on the subject during Monday’s meeting, with a mixture for and against such a move. One big conversation topic was potential recriminations from the Trump Administration in regard to federal funding the City receives in a variety of areas. The issue will come before the Council again on December 12. In other business, the Council passed the first reading of code amendments needed to implement short-term rental licensing requirements, with final passage set for Tuesday in a special meeting at 6 p.m. in Hood River City Hall.
The Dalles City Council accepted a “gap analysis” of the municipal public works department that contains recommendations to increase efficiency in the department. Rob Moody of the consulting firm TKW, which did the report, emphasized the analysis found a lot going on right within the department, noting the report focuses more on how things are done and having one team in public works moving in one direction rather than divisional silos working independently. Mayor Steve Lawrence says the hope is to increase efficiency. Moody said it would probably take 12 months to implement changes in the department, but also pointed out culture change does not occur quickly but develops over a period of time. He also said he felt there was positive energy around this effort from those involved in the public works department.