Columbia River Gorge Commission executive director Darren Nichols will step down from that position in April to become the Associate Director of the William D. Ruckelshaus Center in Seattle. Nichols has been head of the Commission’s staff for three years. During his tenure, Nichols and his five member staff was working to stabilize basic funding for the agency, and increasing the capacity for collaborative regional planning and bi-state partnership. Nichols plans to spend some time with his family and wrapping up work on a law degree in environmental and natural resources before moving on to the Ruckelshaus Center. Nichols says he will remain available as needed while the Commission selects a replacement.
A dramatic jump in the projected enrollment for full-day kindergarten in Oregon for the 2015-16 school year has the Hood River County School District facing the potential of having to trim up to one million dollars from its budget for next year. Last week the Oregon Department of Education raised its estimate for kindergarten enrollment, the first with state mandated full-day classes, from 18,000 to over 25,000. The Legislative Joint Ways and Means Committee budget puts state funding for K-12 education at $7.235 billion, and Hood River Schools Superintendent Dan Goldman says that’s not enough for his district to maintain what it has. Goldman says to ensure the Hood River district can maintain what it has; the state K-12 budget figure needs to reach $7.5 billion. The district is holding a community listening session on the budget Tuesday night at 6 p.m. at Wy’east Middle School in Odell.
With very low snowpack on Mt. Adams…the City of White Salmon is beginning to prepare for possible water conservation measures this summer. Mayor David Poucher says they are not using their two wells at this time to leave them for summer use, and drawing as much as possible Buck Creek. Poucher says this is a big reason why they have been working with the state on developing aquifer storage recovery. He notes they did a test for two months, putting water back in the aquifer to help replenish it…but the results of that are not known.
Hood River’s waterfront will be busy with construction this year. Between the Naito hotel and office building complex, new construction on the Expo Center property, a path along the west side of the Nichols Basin and much more, it might be the most work done since fill work to create what is now the waterfront. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says all of that makes planning for the future even more important than it has been. Planning for Lot 1 along the Nichols Basin is continuing. One issue that Port officials will be watching is parking. McElwee says the Port Commission considered doing a comprehensive parking plan this year, but elected to wait until 2016 to see how the current construction work that will take away Slackwater Beach parking impacts the waterfront.
The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce is continuing work on the expanded Northwest Cherry Festival set for late April. It will run Friday, April 24 to Sunday, April 26, with most events running all three days. Part of the goal of the expansion is to increase visitation from out-of-town. Chamber CEO Lisa Farquharson says it is a long-term effort, probably three-to-five years. Farquharson feels the Cherry Festival is the right type of event, but they need to strategically plan who to reach out to.
One of the big questions around the Oregon State Capitol is how the ascension of Kate Brown to the Governor’s seat will change the dynamic of the legislative session. 52nd District State Representative Mark Johnson says he doesn’t know what to expect from the Portland Democrat, noting it’s hard to project which issues she will emphasize. 59th District Representative John Huffman says he is looking forward to moving away from the John Kitzhaber controversy and getting back to the day to day business of government. Brown officially takes over as Governor on Wednesday.
Hood River Valley finished fourth and The Dalles ninth in the Oregon Class 5A Special District 4 wrestling tournament at Vannet Court. HRV sends four wrestlers to the state 5A meet in two weeks in Portland, including Christian Marquez, who won the 132 pound district title by defeating Matthew McCain of Redmond by technical fall 3:54 into the final match. Angel Jones, Jason Shaner, and Junior Manzo all earned state invitations. Joe Linebarger will represent The Dalles at state after finishing second at 220 pounds.
Stevenson finished eighth and Columbia tenth at the Southwest Washington Class 1A District wrestling meet at Kelso. Stevenson’s Colton Van Pelt won the 160 pound division, topping Artimus Johnson of Hoquiam 8-0 in the final. Noah Richert of Stevenson will also go to the Mat Classic in Tacoma witha third place finish at 152 pounds, while Paul Demchuk of Columbia also won a state invite with a fourth place finish at 182.
Regina Bell of Columbia won the 130 pound title in the Region 3 girls’ wrestling tournament along with a spot in the Mat Classic by defeating Natasha Williams of Skyview 16-14.
Goldendale qualifies four wrestlers to the Mat Classic at the Region 3 wrestling tournament, led by a second place finish by Bryce Wilkins at 170 pounds.
Hood River Valley won the girls’ title and finished second behind Pendleton in the boys’ competition at the Columbia River Conference Swimming Championships at the Hood River Aquatic Center. The Eagle girls’ won nine events, including dual victories for Allison Burke, Kylie Webb, and Dhani Freeland, while the boys grabbed six first place finishes, including three relay victories. The Dalles finished third in both the boys and girls competition, as Andrew Clifford and Ben Feil won two events each.
Lucy McLean and Austin Keillor of Hood River Valley had big days in Mount Hood League ski races at Mount Hood Meadows. Both won the slalom and giant slalom events held over the weekend.
Hood River Valley 72, The Dalles 62
Horizon Christian 79, Spray-Mitchell 42
Horizon Christian 70, South Wasco 46
South Wasco 81, Ione 37
Sherman 56, Arlington 37
Sherman 65, Dufur 58
Dufur 60, Condon-Wheeler 42
Greater Columbia League Boys Basketball Tournament
Yakama Tribal 60, Lyle-Wishram 41
Bickleton 59, Lyle-Wishram 55
The Dalles 55, Hood River Valley 44
Condon-Wheeler 52, Dufur 31
Sherman 31, Arlington 30
Dufur 42, Sherman 26
South Wasco 41, Ione 36
South Wasco 52, Horizon Christian 29
Horizon Christian 34, Spray-Mitchell 24
Southwest Washington Class 1A Girls Basketball Tournament
Elma 53, Columbia 35: CHS vs. Eatonville at Kelso on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
Greater Columbia League Girls Basketball Tournament
Lyle-Wishram 32, Bickleton 27
Sunnyside Christian 72, Lyle-Wishram 34: L-W vs. Bickleton at Goldendale on Tuesday at 6 p.m. for a state tournament berth.
Local legislators reacted to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s announcement today with a sense that it had become inevitable the Governor would step aside. 59th District Representative John Huffman called it a sad state of affairs, and that he hated to see anyone’s political career end in this manner. The Dalles Republican said he had been hopeful the legal process would be allowed to play out, but “tragically, it seemed like Gov. Kitzhaber seems to have been almost his own worst enemy in this regard, and just kept compounding his own problems on a daily basis.” 52nd District Representative Mark Johnson said it was a sad day for Oregon, but added the Legislature has a lot of work ahead of it. The Hood River Republican felt “this creates a lot of questions about what kind of leadership we’re going to have, and we desperately need some good leadership.” Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli said in a statement Kitzhaber’s resignation is an unprecedented situation for Oregonians, adding the state’s leaders need to work together to lead a thoughtful transition that respects Oregon citizens and restore trust and accountability with the Governor’s office and the executive branch. House Speaker Tina Kotek, who on Thursday joined Senate President Peter Courtney in asking Kitzhaber to resign, said Kitzhaber has accomplished much for Oregonians in his 35 years of public service to the state, and was a distinguished leader.
An at times emotional John Kitzhaber announced this afternoon he is resigning as Governor of Oregon, effective on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Kitzhaber is stepping aside amid a criminal investigation involving himself and his fiancée Cylvia Hayes, who is alleged to have used her relationship with Kitzhaber to land contracts for her business as a clean-energy consultant. Kitzhaber says he is confident he has not broken any laws or taken any actions or been dishonorable in his actions, and will cooperate with all investigations. He added “I am equally confident that once they have been concluded Oregonians will see that I have never put anything before my love for and commitment to Oregon and faithfully fulfilling the responsibilities of the public offices I have held.” Kitzhaber also expressed his disdain for what has transpired in the press over the last few months, saying ”it is deeply troubling to me to realize that we have come to a place in the history of this great state of ours where a person can be charged, tried, convicted and sentenced by the media with no due process and no independent verification of the allegations involved.” He said he was more troubled many of his former allies accepted the allegations at face value, but understood why he was asked by Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek to resign. Kitzhaber said it was not in his nature to step away from a job he has undertaken, apologizing to those who had supported him in his re-election bid last year, adding he would continue to pursue shared goals in another venue. He also said “One thing I hope people know about me is that I love this state and its people, its rivers, its mountains and its landscapes with every fiber of my being.” Kitzhaber served just over 12 years as Oregon’s governor, from 1995 to 2003 and from 2009 up to now. Secretary of State Kate Brown will take over as Governor when Kitzhaber steps aside on Wednesday.
Read the Governor’s announcement that he will resign: http://1.usa.gov/19fHFrP
The firestorm around Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is getting hotter. Willamette Week and KINK and KXL in Portland are all reporting Kitzhaber’s staff wanted to destroy thousands of the governor’s e-mails from his personal account that had been sought by reporters under public records law…but state employees refused to carry out the request. Destruction or concealment of public records is a criminal misdemeanor. The Oregonian is reporting Kitzhaber has retained a Portland criminal defense attorney, Janet Hoffman. Democratic legislative leaders told Kitzhaber this morning that he should resign. Senate President Peter Courtney and House Majority Leader Tina Kotek delivered the message, and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler has issued a statement saying he thinks Kitzhaber should step down. In addition, Senate Democrats held a meeting this morning, and Senator Rod Monroe is quoted by The Oregonian as saying he thought Kitzhaber would resign today. However, at a press conference Courtney termed Kitzhaber as “defiant” during their meeting this morning. Earlier today, Secretary Of State Kate Brown said she had a private conversation with embattled Gov. John Kitzhaber that was “strange” and contradictory. Brown says the governor had asked her to fly back to Oregon from a conference in Washington, D.C., but when she arrived, he asked why she had returned. Brown said she found question “strange” and it’s “clearly a bizarre and unprecedented situation.” She said Kitzhaber told her he’s not resigning, but then began a discussion about a transition. Brown would become governor if Kitzhaber steps aside in the wake of influence-peddling allegations involving his fiancee, a green-energy consultant.