With fire season looming in the Northwest, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden underscored the urgency of passing a wildfire funding fix to allow better forest management in a floor speech. Wyden and Idaho Senator Mike Crapo have been working to pass their bipartisan bill, which would fund the largest wildfires from a similar disaster account used to fund other natural disasters. Wyden says the wildfire season never really ends now. Wyden and Crapo say freeing up Forest Service funds currently used to pay for major wildfires would allow the agency to manage timber sales, restore streams and maintain trails in Oregon and across the country.
The City of The Dalles held a second public workshop this week on updating its Transportation System Plan. Those at the sparsely attended session weighed in on a number of projects that could go into the plan to guide transportation investments through 2035. City Public Works Director Dave Anderson says their consultant will take information gathered in recent weeks to begin to finalize a list of projects. Once a final draft plan is ready, it will go to hearings before the municipal planning commission and the City Council.
Teams from 40 area middle and high schools will compete in the Google Wind Challenge on Saturday at The Dalles Civic Auditorium. Google’s Dave Karlson says competitors are given a box of parts to build a wind turbine that will be judged for energy production and how well it can lift a weight. The public is invited to attend, and there will be a STEM Fair featuring OMSI and hands-on exhibits from other areas. The Wind Challenge runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday in The Dalles Civic Auditorium. Columbia Gorge Community College and the Gorge Technology Alliance are also taking part in the event.
Track and Field
Columbia’s boys won a four-school Trico League meet in Stevenson, while the host Bulldogs finished fourth. The Bruins won eight events to take the victory. CHS and Stevenson tied for third in the girls’ competition, won by Seton Catholic. Columbia’s Stacia Bell won both the shot put and discus.
Hood River Valley 5, The Dalles 3
Hood River Valley 5, The Dalles 3
The Dalles Public Works Director Dave Anderson is hoping public comment can help move the City’s application for an Oregon Water Resource Department grant to pay half of the cost of replacement of the Dog River water line. The City’s request for four million dollars ranked only 23rd out of 34 applications representing 51 million dollars, and the state has only 14 million to distribute. Anderson is hoping public comments to OWRD can move The Dalles up the rankings for funding to replace the over 100-year-old wooden line. He adds the pipe currently leaks one million gallons of water a day during peak flow, and replacement would mean more water would stay in the stream rather than being diverted. Public comment is being taken through Friday, and can be done through the Oregon Water Resources Department website. Five other projects in the region are up consideration with the Mosier Deep Water Supply Well, Kingsley Reservoir expansion, and Coe Branch Pipeline and Efficiency projects all in the top ten in the department’s rankings.
A Wasco County Planning Commission hearing on Union Pacific’s request to expand an existing railroad siding on either side of Mosier has been postponed. It was originally scheduled for this coming Tuesday, but has been rescheduled for June 7 at 3 p.m. at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. The Union Pacific application seeks to expand the existing railroad siding on either side of Mosier for just over four miles of new second mainline track and realigned existing track. It includes five new equipment shelters, drainage structures, a retaining wall, new lighting and signage, and wireless communication poles The request also includes off-site wetland mitigation east of the primary project site.
Hermiston 9, Hood River Valley 1
Pendleton 4, The Dalles 2
Stevenson and Columbia split, the Bulldogs win game one 9-7 and the Bruins game two 14-10
Sherman 10, Dufur 0
Sunnyside Christian sweeps Lyle-Wishram 14-10 and 10-9
Naches Valley sweeps Goldendale 8-3 and 18-0
Hermiston 7, Hood River Valley 5
Pendleton 6, The Dalles 0
Track and Field
The Dalles’ Avery Cardosi won three events in a meet involving the Riverhawks, Hood River Valley, Lyle-Wishram, and Klickitat at Sid White Field. HRV’s Sebastian Barajas, Audrey Marble, and Katie Kennedy and The Dalles’ Luke McLean and Paul Clark won two events each.
Columbia 2, Seton Catholic 1: Yvon Escoto scored two goals as CHS remains unbeaten on the season.
Toledo 7, Stevenson 0
Wilson 8, Hood River Valley 7 (overtime)
Hood River County School District Superintendent Dan Goldman believes the district is in a position for the first time in a number of years to put programs back into its budget rather than cutting, but they still have to prepare for cost increases coming soon. Goldman notes Public Employee Retirement System costs will go up in 2017-18, along with impacts from the Affordable Care Act and the state’s minimum wage increases. But he notes the district has set up a $1,800,000 biennial reserve fund to protect itself from changes that come from the legislative level. Goldman says proposals for 2016-17 include adding two physical education teachers for elementary schools, adding counselor positions at the elementary level, returning foreign language instruction to the middle schools, and adding another teacher to the high school’s alternative program. The first district budget committee meeting will be May 4 at 6 p.m. at Hood River Valley High School.
By a 4-2 vote, the Columbia Gateway Urban Renewal Agency Board voted to reject all three requests for proposal for the Granada block and move ahead with putting all three properties on the block up for sale with conditions on redevelopment. The vote by the panel, made up of The Dalles City Council and Mayor Steve Lawrence, came after Councilor Dan Spatz made an impassioned case to not move toward a sale, saying the URA had invested thousands of dollars and should stay the course, focusing on a hotel/conference center concept to generate jobs downtown. Spatz made a motion based on that argument calling for going out for a request for qualifications that Russ Brown seconded, but they were outvoted 4-2. The other four then voted to put the properties up for sale. Taner Elliott noted they could always go back to do a request for qualifications. Brad Timmons, representing Granada Block Hotel Development, asked the board to negotiate based upon that organization’s RFP, which City Attorney Gene Parker had told Councilors they could not do without an acceptance of the RFP.
The Hood River City Council took two-and-a-half hours of testimony on proposed amendments to the City’s zoning ordinance to deal with short-term rentals during a second hearing session on Monday night, and will come back in two weeks to begin deliberations. Testimony fell under similar lines as what Councilors heard two weeks ago. Those seeking to eventually eliminate short-term rentals in residential zones asked the Council to go along with a five-year amortization plan recommended by the municipal planning commission. But others touted STR’s contribution to the City’s tourism economy, adding a belief the changes would not expand affordable housing opportunities. Councilors will come back on May 9 to begin deliberations. One hurdle to any changes will be the need to gain four votes from the five remaining members after Councilors Laurent Picard and Becky Brun recused themselves two weeks ago, noting they have both rented out their homes on a short-term basis in the past.