Three people, including a seven-year-old boy, were killed Saturday evening in a head-on collision on Highway 14 three miles west of North Bonneville. According to the Washington State Patrol, an eastbound pickup driven by 24-year-old Heath Martin of North Bonneville drifted over the center line and struck an on-coming van driven by Anatoliy Goy of Kent. Both drivers were pronounced dead at the scene, as was a young child in the van. Three others in the van: 49-year-old Mariya Goy, an 11-year-old boy and a seven-year-old boy, were transported to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland. It is not known if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the accident. The accident occurred just after 8 p.m. Saturday, in front of the Skamania County Fire District #5 station.
With a deal between Oregon Governor Kate Brown and eight key legislators to repeal the clean fuels program passed early in the session in order to raise 200 million dollars for transportation projects having been leaked to the media, the question of whether the deal can actually happen takes center stage. The Oregonian and OregonLive.com reported this morning a series of closed-door talks led to the bargain, and 19 House Democrats have sent a letter to Brown threatening to scuttle the deal. On Mid-Columbia Today this morning, Republican 26th District Senator Chuck Thomsen said he thinks the deal can gain approval, but it depends on how the Governor deals with members of her party in the House. The Oregonian reports part of the deal would replace the clean fuel standard would be replace by a biofuel-blending program in which fuel distributors would be required to buy any available fuel the state Agriculture Department determines would have a lower carbon impact, be safe for engines, and not cost more.
Washington 14th District State Representative Gina McCabe is drafting a bill to help first responders deal with emergencies involving individuals with autism and other disabilities. McCabe started working on the bill after being contacted by the parents of a non-verbal autistic child in Wapato, and met with parents, first responders, police, and others in Olympia this week. The Travis Alert bill would create a system for a colored, reflective puzzle-piece decal that could be placed in a vehicle or on the main entrance of a residence to indicate a person with disabilities could be present. It would also create an enhanced 911 program for parents to optionally submit information pertaining to their child’s disability so first responders would know how to best address the emergency situation. The emergency notification system would be coupled with increased education and training requirements for first responders on how to approach individuals with disabilities in times of crisis.
The Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation District open the new swimming pool at Thompson Park Thursday afternoon. The Northern Wasco County Aquatic Center held an open swim Thursday, .and will operate on a full schedule Friday starting at 5:30 a.m. District Executive Director Phil Lewis says the pool is ready to go, while some of the amenities are still being worked on. The pool’s grand opening will take place Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. Full pool schedule information is available at nwprd.org.
The Hood River City Council will receive affordable housing recommendations at its meeting on Monday evening. A technical advisory committee and the consulting firm ECONorthwest have been working for a number of weeks to prepare a comprehensive housing needs analysis, buildable lands inventory, and housing strategy. The needs analysis will include an assessment of whether Hood River has enough land within the Urban Growth Boundary to accommodate expected population growth and an inventory of vacant land in Hood River. The strategy portion will focus on increasing residential land use efficiency, secondary housing, and a short-term rental housing policy. The Council meeting begins at 5:30 on Monday evening in Hood River City Hall.
The Senate Appropriations Committee has moved forward a concept backed by Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to provide for the Interior Department with funding for an expected amount of wildfires, but then pay for firefighting costs above that amount through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Many Western lawmakers have sought such a move for years, contending the cost of battling catastrophic wildfires has hampered the ability of the Forest Service to do fire prevention work. Merkley says the concept is still a long way from becoming law, noting the broader bill with the plan in it passed on a split partisan vote with a series of policy riders that could be harmful to environmental programs and the Clean Power Plan. Merkley and other Democrats voted against the broader bill.
FISH Food Bank on Saturday will celebrate the opening of their new facility in Hood River on 1130 Tucker Road adjacent to Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. The facility has actually been open for a little over month. A community open house is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, and will including a ribbon cutting, music, and dancing. The new 5,660 square foot building will serve as a distribution center in Hood River, a storage facility for the organization’s county-wide operations, and also a community resource with a commercial kitchen and attached classroom. There are also larger and more efficient freezers and cold storage facilities to store perishable foods.
The Dalles Area Relay For Life will take place Saturday at Sid White Field on the Wahtonka campus. This year’s event to benefit the American Cancer Society will include opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. and continue until midnight. Niki Piacente says they have already surpassed their goal for this year to raise $30,000. The public is invited to come and take part in events throughout the day. Highlights include the Survivor lap right after the opening ceremonies, and the Luminaria ceremony at 10 p.m.
Wasco County Commissioners approved a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget passed unanimously essentially as developed by the budget committee. That left intact a $314,000 allocation for the North Central Public Health District, $81,033 lower than what the three-county district says it needs to maintain current service levels. The County Commission and the District Board have been at odds over governance issues, but Commission Chair Scott Hege said it is possible the County could reconsider its contribution level when its review of the district wraps up near the end of 2015. Documents presented by the health district to the Commission indicated the reduction would lead to the layoff of two people and a reduction in walk-in reproductive health and immunization services from five days a week to one. But in an e-mail to local media after the meeting District Director Teri Thalofer said the decision on reduction in force will be reconsidered at a special board meeting next Tuesday in light of Hege’s comments.
An agreement is in hand to resolve a years-long dispute between Wasco County and the City of The Dalles over who should have responsibility to maintain nearly 15 miles of roads in areas annexed by the City. Under the deal, the County and City will work together to chip seal the roads, and then the City will take over responsibility. City Manager Nolan Young says a change in City in-fill development policies to allow streets to be developed with good surfaces without other infrastructure until urbanization is complete set the stage for the agreement. County Commissioners approved the agreement Wednesday, and the City Council will vote on it on Monday.