A veteran member of the Washington 14th District Legislative contingent wasn’t happy with the tone of Governor Jay Inslee’s State of the State speech. Republican Norm Johnson felt Inslee, a Democrat, offered no indication of seeking to work with legislators on both sides of the aisle, and felt that message should have been there with the 147 total members of the Senate and House split with 74 Democrats and 73 Republicans. Inslee touted proposals to eliminate a handful of tax exemptions and to raise some taxes as he looks for revenue to address what he calls “the nation’s most unfair tax system.”
With the recent departure of the heads of the Planning Department and Public Works, Wasco County Commissioners want to look at how they structure administration of those two departments. Former Planning Director John Roberts moved to Hood River County, and Public Works Director Marty Matherly retired. Commissioner Rod Runyon notes with the departures and both departments housed in the same building, it’s a good opportunity to look at different management structures. Runyon added they might not make any changes. Arthur Smith is currently interim Public Works Director, and Angie Brewer is interim Planning Director.
The Cascade Locks City Council unanimously approved an application to the Oregon Water Resources Department for a cross transfer of water rights between the City and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Cascade Locks would transfer a half-cubic-foot per second of the City’s Herman Creek water rights to ODFW, which will apply to give the same amount of their Oxbow Springs water right to the City. It’s designed to shorten what has been an on-going process to provide Cascade Locks with the spring water necessary for Nestle’s proposed bottling water plant in the city in exchange for the creek water to enhance fish production in low flow periods. City documents project the cross-transfer process could be finished by mid-2017. Approval of each one is contingent on approval of the other. A number of environmental groups oppose the proposed bottling plant.
Hood River County is embarking on a visioning process to determine whether to create a park at Punchbowl Falls. Western Rivers Conservancy has purchased over 100 acres along one point-five miles of the Hood River from the falls northward, with the intent of selling into to the County for a park. That area has been used for recreation for years while owned by Longview Fiber and PacifiCorp. The visioning process is expected to take three months, with a goal of creating a conceptual park development and management plan in time for the 2015 grant cycle. The land is appraised at over one million dollars, but County Administrator David Meriwether notes Western Rivers is willing to sell to the County for half of that. A public forum on the subject is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the County Administration Building.
When Hood River County Commissioners hold their annual goal-setting session at the end of this month, trying to track vacation rentals will be a topic. It’s part of the continuous discussion on trying to find ways to encourage development of attainable housing in the face of high home and land prices in the County. Commission Chair Ron Rivers says they need to get a handle on how many vacation rentals are actually out there. Rivers expects duration of rental to be a big part of the definition, and how to apply transient room taxes will also be discussed. The County Commission worksession will take place on January 31 at 9 a.m. in the Hood River Hotel, and is open to the public.
The Governor’s Regional Solutions team for Wasco, Hood River, and Sherman counties is looking at how to get high speed broadband access to rural areas to assist in economic development. Team member and Port of The Dalles Executive Director Andrea Klaas says they are anticipating receiving a two million dollar allocation from the state in the next year, and would like to use one-point-five million of that for developing the Internet access in rural locations. Klaas says it’s become critical to have high-speed Internet access to allow business to take place in rural areas.
The Washington Legislature has convened in Olympia for its scheduled 105-day session. Democrats and Governor Jay Inslee say more revenues are needed for a projected budget shortfall of more than two billion dollars, while Republicans say the state has enough for existing services and education, and the focus should be on efficient spending. The lead budget writer for House Republicans, Bruce Chandler of the 14th District, thinks increasing taxes would hurt the state’s economy, which he believes has stabilized but has not recovered. Inslee gives his state of the state speech on Tuesday.
Hood River Valley 69, Woodburn 61
Heritage 68, Hood River Valley 53
Horizon Christian 52, Dufur 44
Horizon Christian 65, Arlington 22
Dufur 68, Ione 29
Sherman 63, Spray-Mitchell 26
South Wasco 77, Condon-Wheeler 27
Sherman 76, South Wasco 66
Sunnyside Christian 61, Klickitat 29
Sunnyside Christian 68, Lyle-Wishram 26
Zillah 92, Goldendale 54
Naches Valley 61, Goldendale 33
St. Helens 46, Hood River Valley 29
Kalama 79, Stevenson 19
Dufur 47, Horizon Christian 19
Dufur 39, Ione 23
Arlington 31, Horizon Christian 29
Sherman 47, Spray-Mitchell 36
Sherman 48, South Wasco 38
Condon-Wheeler 53, Sherman 17
Sunnyside Christian 55, Klickitat 15
Sunnyside Christian 68, Lyle-Wishram 26
Zillah 65, Goldendale 32
Naches Valley 59, Goldendale 27
Joe Linebarger finished second at 220 pounds to highlight The Dalles’ effort at a tournament at Portland’s Cleveland High School. Linebarger fought through a bracket with a number of the top 220 pound wrestlers in Class 5A before falling in the final to Juan Hernandez of Putnam 11-9.
Hood River Valley’s Jessica DeHart and Payton Rigert both finished second at a tournament in Kelso, leading HRV to a 16th place finish among 56 schools.
Wasco County Commissioners have sent a letter to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber asking for a disaster declaration for orchardists impacted by November’s freezing temperatures. In the letter, Commissioners point out some local orchards suffered damage with the potential of significant crop loss due to the freeze that took place the week of November 14. Temperatures were at historic lows for that time of year, and Commissioners say losses that occurred as a result could be disastrous for local fruit growers. A disaster declaration by the Governor could allow growers to obtain low interest loans.
About 10,000 people have shared their opinions on how the Oregon Liquor Control Commission should implement the new law allowing the sale of marijuana for recreational use through an on-line survey. OLCC spokesperson Karynn Fish says the agency is looking closely at what Colorado and Washington have done so far with their marijuana regulations, but the agency is more concerned with getting local input. The survey remains open until Monday at marijuana.oregon.gov. The survey will be used to draft the agenda for a planned “listening tour” of the state beginning later this month.