A small fire at the Commodore Building in The Dalles early Friday morning set off the building sprinkler system, leading to water damage in a number of units in the facility. The Dalles Police Chief Jay Waterbury termed the fire “very small” and an investigation is underway. Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue Division Chief Jay Wood said activation of the sprinkler system left five units in the building uninhabitable, displacing seven people and at least three animals. Damage occurred on the first floor, second floor, and in the basement. The American Red Cross is assisting those who have been displaced. The fire occurred around 4:45 a.m. Friday.
Wasco County Sheriff Rick Eiesland says his department has ruled the death of an inmate earlier this week at the Northern Oregon Regional Corrections Facility in The Dalles was a suicide. Eiesland said Friday they are awaiting a full report from the state medical examiner’s office before the exact cause of 52-year-old Michael Scott Linden’s death is determined. Linden was found in his cell by another inmate, who notified jail personnel. Eiesland says the investigation by his office is continuing, but has found NORCOR officials had done their regular cell checks, and an ambulance arrived at the jail promptly after the inmate had told jail officials of the situation. Eiseland added Linden left a written log of that morning, which Eiseland indicated showed some depression and that the charges Linden was facing weighed heavily on him. Linden had been arrested in Hood River County earlier in the month on a number of different charges, including rape and kidnapping. The sheriff also said Linden’s death was unfortunate, and he “wished we could have done something to prevent this.”
The Northwest Cherry Festival gets rolling in its newly expanded form in The Dalles on Friday. The Open Air Market, carnival, and entertainment stage all begin operation at 2 p.m. Friday, with activity planned through Sunday. The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Lisa Farquharson reminds people that the festival is headquartered on First Street this year. Cherry Festival guides are available at gorgeradio.com. The Bicoastal Media/Guild Mortgage Home and Lifestyle Show will take place through the festival at the Civic Auditorium, open 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.
Oregon 59th District State Representative John Huffman says there is a chance a compromise could be reached to pass a transportation package that could provide additional road funds for cities and counties. Republicans have said they won’t approve a gas tax increase since majority Democrats passed the Low Carbon Fuels Standard bill. Huffman, a Republican from The Dalles, says Democrat Governor Kate Brown has been asked to try to help find some middle ground. For the package to happen, Huffman said Brown and Democrats will have to figure out how they can roll back the Low Carbon Fuel Standards bill if they won’t fully repeal it. Huffman added that he and a number of legislators had entered the session knowing cities and counties needed a transportation package to provide funding for road maintenance. Passage of revenue bills require 60 percent approval, and Democrats would need at least one GOP vote in the House to reach that mark.
An early learning literacy grant from the state is showing some dividends in the Columbia River Gorge region. Nancy Patten of Child Care Partners at Columbia Gorge Community College says 80 people who work with young children took part in a series of five trainings in the past year on early literacy for dual language learners. She says they gained valuable skills to help those children learn in two languages. The grant also allowed the purchase of several thousand dollars worth of bilingual and multi-cultural books that will be given to the Hood River County and The Dalles-Wasco County libraries.
Round three of the Rally America National Championship will take place this weekend on roads in the Dufur and Hood River areas. The Oregon Trail Rally will be in the Gorge for the eighth straight year. After a Friday night event at Portland International Raceway, the cars will be on display on Main Street in Dufur at 9 a.m. Saturday before competition stages begin. The cars will also be on display at the Port of Hood River Sunday at 9 a.m., followed by competition. Sixty teams are expected to compete in the event. Event information is available at oregontrailrally.com.
Track and Field
Columbia boys and girls won a seven-school meet in Stevenson, while the host Bulldog boys were third and the girls fifth. Columbia’s boys were led by a sweep of the top five places in the 400 meters won by Issac Bell, and a victory by Declan Liddlard in the javelin. The CHS girls won two relays, while Stevenson received two first place finishes by Madison McCrum in the long jump and triple jump, and vicotries by Breanna Frohs in the javelin and Rachel Zenk in the pole vault.
Hood River Valley 8, Pendleton 0
A bill sponsored by Washington 14th District State Representative Gina McCabe to start a campaign for businesses to increase the number of veterans employed around the state was signed by Governor Jay Inslee. The bill by the Goldendale Republican calls for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Employment Security Department, and the Department of Commerce to consult local chambers of commerce, associate development organizations and businesses to initiate a demonstration campaign to increase veteran employment. The campaign may include partnerships with chambers of commerce that result in business owners sharing information on the number of veterans employed with the chambers who then provide this information to DVA. Participants in the campaign are encouraged to work with the Washington State Military Transition Council and with county veterans’ advisory boards.
The cities of Bingen, White Salmon, and Stevenson plan to send a letter to the state expressing concern about the number of semi-trucks traveling Highway 14. The cities say the trucks go through the Gorge on Highway 14 to avoid Oregon taxes on Intestate 84, but don’t buy gas on the Washington side to help pay for their road use. Bingen Mayor Betty Barnes says the municipalities are asking the Legislature to look at changing how commercial trucks are taxed in Washington, adding there are also safety concerns for the cities where Highway 14 runs right through the downtown area White Salmon Mayor David Poucher says the cities are asking the state to close the gap in the tax differences that lead to the situation.