Columbia Gorge Hustlers split with Alpenrose of Portland in American Legion AAA baseball over the weekend. Alpenrose won game one 9-5 to hand the Hustlers their third straight loss to begin the season, but the Hustlers got in the win column in a big way in the nightcap, coming back for a 15-0 victory.
The Washington Supreme Court has remanded back to trial court claims by the groups Save Our Scenic Area and Friends of the Columbia Gorge that Skamania County is in violation of the state’s Growth Management Act by leaving 15,000 acres of privately owned forest land without a zoning designation. Writing for the majority, Associate Chief Justice Charles Johnson dismissed County claims that the conservation groups’ lawsuit was untimely, saying failure to act claims in Growth Management Act issues can be brought any time after statutory deadlines. Skamania County was required to complete a periodic review in December 2008. He also wrote the groups’ claim under the Planning Enabling Act is also timely because the County did not create an actionable inconsistency existed until August 2012, when indicated the unmapped ordinances were no longer temporary.
Hood River Valley High School’s Gio Magana was named Oregon High School Boys Soccer Player of the Year at the Oregon Sports Awards on Thursday at Nike World Headquarters in Beaveton. Magana led the Eagles to their first-ever state class 5-A boys’ soccer championship during his junior season. It’s another in a long list of honors for Magana, who had previously been named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, and is a two-time 5-A player of the year. He scored 16 goals and 13 assists for the Eagles during the 2014 season, including a goal and an assist is the championship game win over Woodburn. He currently is on the roster of the Portland Timbers U-18 Academy squad.
Work continues to complete the new Northern Wasco County Aquatic Center in Thompson Park in time for its grand opening on June 20. Scott Hege is overseeing work for the Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation District, and says final inspections will take place next week, adding the pool itself is about ready to go. Hege says a fence around the pool will be completed before the final inspection occurs, and there will be landscaping work taking place after the pool opens. He adds the biggest work they have to do is completing the splash pad outside the district office, but that doesn’t have to be finished for the pool to open. District Executive Director Phil Lewis says the pool might open to the public a day or two before the June 20 grand opening if final approval is received from the Oregon Health Authority.
The group ACTS will present its FamFest of the Gorge on Saturday at Lewis and Clark Festival Park in The Dalles. ACTS Executive Director Joe Martin says there will be events for the entire family to take part in, including physical activities, arts, and music. Fam Fest will be open Saturday from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Admission is $5 per person or $15 per family. Martin says the event is a fundraiser for his group to take students to do inner-city work in San Francisco.
Firefighters spent the night mopping up a fire between Biggs and Rufus that destroyed one home on Wednesday. Sherman County Emergency Services Director Shawn Payne says the fire that started around 12:50 p.m. Wednesday near an abandoned apartment building in Biggs. It burned about two-and-a-half miles east of Biggs and a half-mile to the south, as the fire was pushed by high winds. Payne says only one home burned, displacing a couple who were assisted by the American Red Cross in The Dalles. Several outbuildings were destroyed, as was the old Dinty’s Motel building near where the fire started. Payne said an investigator from the state fire marshal’s office found the fire was human caused but not intentionally set, with a dropped cigarette a possibility. Fifty firefighters had battled the blaze at its peak, with crews from Klickitat, Wasco, and Gilliam counties assisting Sherman County fire personnel.
Columbia Gorge Community College President Frank Toda has received a two-year contract extension from the school’s Board of Education. Board members made the move after a lengthy meeting Tuesday night that included passage of the school’s 2015-16 budget. The board gave Toda a vote of confidence, continued his contract for one year, and then added an additional one-year extension. Toda received the extension in spite of what has become a rocky relationship with the school’s faculty. Faculty members in April voted to “censure” Toda and called for his resignation, and had taken a vote of no-confidence in the fall of 2013. But the majority of the Board of Education has stood behind Toda. Soon after the faculty censure, six board members signed on to a letter printed in both The Dalles Chronicle and the Hood River News defending Toda and saying the instructors were “trying to defame their CEO.” Board member Stu Watson did not join the rest of the board in that letter. He called for Toda to step down at a board meeting in March, but received no second.
The Columbia Gorge Community College Board of Education has passed its 2015-16 budget. School officials say the budget will allow existing academic programs to continue while maintaining what they term “below average class sizes and tuition rates.” Most cuts in the budget have already been implemented, and school officials believe returning students should not notice service level changes compared to the current spring term. During budget committee work last month, that panel added back funding for a full-time student services employee at the front desk of Hood River’s Indian Creek Campus. Members of that committee told board members administrative overhead needs to be reduced from 30 percent of the budget to 20 percent in the next year. The budget includes funding to renew the college’s current academic master plan.
The Hood River County School District board approved a budget for the 2015-16 school year. The budget includes a five percent ending fund balance, but also saw the district spend $800,000 to maintain the current level of programs. Superintendent Dan Goldman says they created a biennial reserve fund to save for 2016-17 due to the state changing its plan for allocating school funds in the upcoming biennium from 49 percent in the first year and 51 percent in the second to a 50-50 split. Goldman said if the state allocates more to K-12 funding than expected they would invest it in early literacy efforts, reducing class sizes, and school safety.
The hot temperatures of the early portion of this week provided another challenge for Mid-Columbia cherry growers with harvest in full swing. Oregon State University extension agent Lynn Long says temperatures up around 100 degrees make it more difficult to get the quality of fruit growers want. Long points out orchardists take steps to pick the firmest cherries possible, including doing most of the picking in the early morning when the fruit is at its highest quality. Bing cherries are being picked this week in the Mill Creek and Mosier areas, and starting this weekend in the Hood River Valley.