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Local News

Wasco County Commission Appoints Magill As New Sheriff

The Wasco County Commission has appointed Chief Deputy Lane Magill to fill the remainder of Sheriff Rick Eiseland’s term when Eiseland retires on April 30.  County Commission Chair Rod Runyon says the training of Magill has been on-going for a number of years, and he expects a seamless transition, adding he expects Magill to continue to be a real asset to Wasco County, bringing a new skill set to the Sheriff’s position.  The Sheriff’s position is up for election during this year’s election, and Magill was the only person to file for the ballot.  Magill has been with the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office since 2002, and was appointed as Chief Deputy five years ago.

Bill To Force Forest Service To Finish Cooper Spur Exchange Heads To House Floor

A bill authored by Oregon Second District Congressman Greg Walden to force the U.S. Forest Service to complete a land exchange on Mt. Hood that was approved by Congress seven years ago has taken a major step forward.   The Mount Hood Cooper Spur Land Exchange Clarification Act was approved unanimously by the House Natural Resources Committee Wednesday, and is headed to the full House.  Walden says the bill co-sponsored by fellow Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer would force the Forest Service to complete its work in a timely manner.  A 2009 law authorizes a land exchange to allow development of 120 acres of federal land in Government Camp in exchange for 770 acres of non-federal land at Cooper Spur, and called for the Forest Service to complete the exchange within 16 months.   But it still has not occurred, and the new bill would restate Congress’ intent that the Forest Service move quickly to complete the exchange, addresses disagreements over a conservation easement, and allows for a more transparent appraisal process.  Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have introduced similar legislation awaiting consideration by the full Senate.

URA Committee Recommends Selling Granada Block Properties

The Columbia Gateway Urban Renewal Advisory Committee has decided to recommend the rejection of all three proposals received for the Granada Block in downtown The Dalles, and put all three properties up for sale with conditions for redevelopment.  That decision came after a review panel which had initially recommended entering negotiations with Charles Gomez and Debra Liddell of Wateska, Illinois decided to now recommend selling the properties.  The couple had proposed rehabilitating the Granada Theater, turning the Recreation Building into four small store fronts along with a commercial kitchen and diners club, and use the Blue Building for three more store fronts, but advisory committee members one month ago questioned whether the pair realized the condition of the Granada and have them submit a new proposal.  Then the review committee received advice from City Attorney Gene Parker that the approach would violate the law unless a new request for proposal open to all was issued, leading to the new recommendation to sell.  That now goes to the Urban Renewal Agency board, made up of The Dalles City Council and Mayor Steve Lawrence.

HR County Building Antenna Project Designed To Fill Downtown Coverage Holes

An information meeting on Hood River County Sheriff’s Office 9-1-1 Division plans to install grant-funded radio system improvements atop the County Business Administration Building to fill holes in emergency radio coverage did not draw many people.  It was the first step in the permitting process to add antennas to those that already exist on top of the building at Sixth and State.  County Sheriff Matt English says they need to fill holes in their radio coverage in downtown Hood River, noting with additional computers in the area operating on frequencies similar to those used for law enforcement channels, there is large amount of interference.  The next step in the project is to apply for a conditional use permit from the Hood River City Planning Department.  The project will be funded by a $130,000 grant from federal Homeland Security funds.

Details For Use Of White Salmon School Property For Pool Being Developed

The White Salmon Valley School Board held a worksession with the City of White Salmon’s swimming pool committee to iron out details for use of land across from Whitson Elementary School to build a new pool on.  District Superintendent Jerry Lewis says the big concern was dealing with the loss of parking and ensuring the safety of students if the property is used for a pool.  He adds the district’s Safe Routes To School project is connected with that lot, and the board is putting minimum requirements on available parking spaces.  The board will have an action item before it during its meeting next week to move forward with the project.

March 15 Prep Sports Roundup

Baseball

Hood River Valley 9, Barlow 4:  The Eagles jumped out to a big lead early, and rolled to their second straight win to begin the season.  Connor Coerper went three for three and drove in two runs at the plate while striking out seven, and Dallas Buckley drove in three runs.

Adna 17, Columbia 2

 

Softball

Hood River Valley 5, Barlow 4:  Zoe Munn and Makenna Zeller drove in two runs apiece, and the Eagles held off a late Bruin rally to win the season opener for both teams.

HR URA Adds Housing As A Goal In Heights Urban Renewal District

The Hood River Urban Renewal Agency has decided to add housing as an identified goal for the Heights Urban Renewal District.  City Manager Steve Wheeler says adding housing to the goal list would open up some options for using tax increment financing to help assemble land to create affordable housing in that area of Hood River, if the URA board wished to move in that direction.  Wheeler says other cities have used urban renewal to address housing needs, particularly in regard to preparing infrastructure for home construction.

Tipping Fee Hikes To Slightly Increase TD Disposal Rates

The Dalles City Council approved slight rate increases for The Dalles Disposal to defray the cost of a state-mandated increase in tipping fees at the Wasco County Landfill.  The disposal company was notified last month by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality of a 30-cent-per-ton increase effective on April 1…and another 28-cent jump three months later.  As a result, residential garbage pickup bills will go up two-to-ten-cents per month on April 1, with a similar increase three months later.

In other business, the Council returned a proposed ordinance to allow recreational vehicle park development on land zoned for medium or high density residential uses back to staff to review non-residential sites like Chenowith Creek and Eagles Lodge properties.  Councilors were concerned about taking up limited residential properties for an RV park, while acknowledging the need for such a facility in the region.  They are currently allowed outright in General Commercial and Recreational Commercial zones, and by permit in the Commercial/Light Industrial District.

Goldman “Cautiously Optimistic” About Adding Programs In 16-17

As the Hood River County School District works toward developing a budget for next school year, Superintendent Dan Goldman is “cautiously optimistic” that the district may be in a position to add programs rather than cut.  Goldman’s first two budgets as superintendent have involved cuts, but he believes efficiencies the district has made in recent years are paying off, allowing the buildup of reserves to pay for jumps in Public Employees Retirement System costs, create a five percent reserve fund, and put enough in contingency funds to take care of emergencies.  With those three moves, Goldman says that will take the district through the next biennium, while acknowledging the district is very dependent on the state for its future fiscal health.  The first district budget committee meeting will take place in early May.

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