Wasco County Commissioners have decided to hold two more public hearings before deciding whether to put a road district proposal on the November ballot. The hearings will take place August 6 at 5:30 p.m. in the Wasco County Courthouse, and on August 11 at the same time at Dufur High School. Commissioner Scott Hege said a number of people asked for an additional hearing for south county residents after being unable to attend the first last week in Maupin due to fire issues. He adds whether the district will be put on the ballot is still very much up in the air. Hege noted most of the comments Commissioners received at the hearing in Maupin were against forming the district.
Motorists in the region should plan for a pair of major overnight road closures next week. On Monday night, Highway 14 near the tunnels east of Lyle between mileposts 76 and 81 will be closed in both directions beginning at 8 p.m., reopening at 6 a.m. Tuesday for repaving inside the tunnels. Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 11 p.m. until 4 a.m., the Hood River Interstate Bridge will be closed as part of the work being done on the entrance ramps on both sides of the bridge. Emergency vehicles will be allowed to cross.
Hood River County Commissioners have received a preliminary feasibility report on a proposed biomass generator to heat Parkdale Elementary School, and it appears the project would be viable. County Administrator David Meriwether says the County will be sharing the report from consulting firm Wise Wood with the Hood River County School District to see if they want to continue exploring the project. Meriwether says there are some grant fund opportunities coming in the near future, and they would need to move relatively quickly to get the project in place. The County and School District have talked about biomass heat for Parkdale Elementary with an aging heat system at that facility and the inability to get natural gas there.
The Dalles Mayor Steve Lawrence says a recent report by the City of Hermiston showing water and sewer rates in The Dalles are substantially higher than in other Eastern Oregon cities should trigger a renewed discussion on the subject. Lawrence pointed out he needs more information to put the Hermiston report in context, saying he needs to know if the comparision numbers are based one the same factors. Lawrence noted population projections used to determine plans for water and sewer upgrades a number of years ago do not seem to be coming true, and that needs to be considered along with how the City actually funds those improvements. He also says the City’s bond rating was recently upgraded, and that was partially due to the large amount of reserves they have.
The Hood River County Fair is underway in Odell. Wednesday’s events include the 4-H Style Review at 5 pm. on the Park Stage and performance roping and hat dancing with Tony Galvez at 6:30 p.m. in the Frank Herman Arena. Thursday will be Senior Citizens Day, with Hood River County seniors admitted for $5. Fair Manager Clara Rice says there are once again golf carts available for those who need help getting around the fairgrounds. Thursday evening entertainment will include a John Denver Tribute with Ted Vigil at 7:30 p.m. on the park stage, and Carrie Cunningham and the Six Shooters will perform at 8 p.m. in the barn area.
Hood River County Commissioners have decided to wait until the state provides more clarity on policy issues before proceeding with the long-talked about unincorporated community plans for Odell and Parkdale. County Administrator David Meriwether says the plans, which were supposed to be done as part of periodic review of the County’s land use plan years ago, could end up with a fairly restrictive unincorporated community boundary, and Commissioners are worried that might not be in the best interest of the County. Meriwether noted the state Land Conservation and Development Commission is trying to figure out how to deal with problems in periodic review processes experienced by 40 to 50 different cities and counties. He added the County did receive grant funds for putting the unincorporated community plans together, which could complicate the matter.
Opportunity Connections, which provides services to people with intellectual disabilities to help them live independently, will hold two public sessions in Hood River and The Dalles on Thursday as the organization works on a five-year planning process. Executive Director Rita Rathkey says changes in state and federal regulations are changing the kind of services they can provide. Rathkey adds a recent Governor’s order in the wake of a pending lawsuit by a disability rights organization against the state of Oregon will shutdown referrals to sheltered workshops by next summer. Public meetings are set for Thursday, first at noon at the Opportunity Connections office in Hood River at 1102 12th Street, and at 5:30 p.m. in The Dalles at 506 East 2nd Street.
The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a robbery that took place at the Salmon Falls Park and Ride along Highway 14 near milepost 27. Undersheriff Dave Cox says 70-year-old Allen Ferrians had stopped to use the restroom at Salmon Falls on Saturday after a day of fishing, and was approached by one of two motorcycle riders who brandished a handgun and demanded money. Ferrians gave him about 250 dollars and the motorcyclists left the area. The pair is described as riding large cruiser type motorcycles, both wearing black leather and helmets, one with a black visor and the other with a mirrored visor. Cox says the investigation is continuing, and anyone with information is asked to call the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office at 509-427-9490.
The City of White Salmon is reporting a major break in a water line in the Cherry Street area that is causing water outages in about 80 percent of the City. They hope to have it fixed by 5 p.m.
Work on the approach ramps to the Port of Hood River Interstate Bridge is about to get underway. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says contractor Wildish Construction is staging today, and work should start on Tuesday, and there will be delays on weekdays for about three weeks between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. McElwee says repaving is being done on approach ramps on both the Oregon and Washington sides of the Columbia River. Work is expected to continue through August 8. McElwee indicated there would be about four overnight closures of the bridge during this construction period, to be scheduled at a later date.