A bill sponsored by Washington 14th District State Representative Gina McCabe to start a campaign for businesses to increase the number of veterans employed around the state was signed by Governor Jay Inslee. The bill by the Goldendale Republican calls for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Employment Security Department, and the Department of Commerce to consult local chambers of commerce, associate development organizations and businesses to initiate a demonstration campaign to increase veteran employment. The campaign may include partnerships with chambers of commerce that result in business owners sharing information on the number of veterans employed with the chambers who then provide this information to DVA. Participants in the campaign are encouraged to work with the Washington State Military Transition Council and with county veterans’ advisory boards.
The cities of Bingen, White Salmon, and Stevenson plan to send a letter to the state expressing concern about the number of semi-trucks traveling Highway 14. The cities say the trucks go through the Gorge on Highway 14 to avoid Oregon taxes on Intestate 84, but don’t buy gas on the Washington side to help pay for their road use. Bingen Mayor Betty Barnes says the municipalities are asking the Legislature to look at changing how commercial trucks are taxed in Washington, adding there are also safety concerns for the cities where Highway 14 runs right through the downtown area White Salmon Mayor David Poucher says the cities are asking the state to close the gap in the tax differences that lead to the situation.
Google announced Wednesday the launch on its Google Maps of panoramic images of twenty sites throughout the Gorge. The images were captured through the Google Maps Trekker program…which consists of 15 lenses at the top of a mast, each angled to provide a 360-degree panoramic view. Hood River County Chamber of Commerce volunteers were outfitted with wearable Trekker backpacks, and then set out on foot to capture some of the Gorge’s most spectacular areas. The Columbia River Gorge is the first region in the Pacific Northwest to be highlighted by Google Maps Trekker.
The Klickitat County Commission will hold a public hearing Thursday evening on the three-year-old Husum/BZ plan and zoning update. County officials say members of the public requested the review. The update included rezoning some certain lands from Resource Lands allowing a variety of lot sizes to residential zoning allowing subdivision into one or two acre lots in an attempt to meet a projected need for 259 new residential lots over the next 20 years. Since the update went into effect, thirteen new lots have been created. Thursday evening’s hearing begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Pioneer Center in White Salmon.
Preparations for this weekend’s Northwest Cherry Festival continue at a quick pace, with the big three-day event beginning on Friday. This year’s expansion to three days after focusing on Saturday in previous years and a move of the center of the festival to First Street has organizers hoping this will be the biggest year ever for the event. The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Lisa Farquharson says success would be great attendance, positive feedback, and community participation. Farquharson says festival vendors have been excited about the move to three days, with a greater chance for sales and exposure.
With Klickitat County having received a drought declaration from the state, White Salmon Mayor David Poucher says it opens up options to bring water to the city if it is needed this summer. Poucher says Buck Creek, the City’s main water source, is flowing at only 35 percent of normal, and he says that has municipal officials looking at what their options are just in case. He pointed out anything they would do for an emergency should be able to be done quickly, and not be intended to last a long time. Poucher noted the current Buck Creek level is lower than back in 2001 and 2005, which were also drought years.
Twenty-four hundred Northern Wasco County PUD customers lost power Monday morning when a turkey flew into power lines, causing protection devices to open at the PUD’s 10th Street Substation. The outage occurred around 6 a.m. Monday. Power was restored in stages, with about 1,400 customers regaining electricity within 45 minutes and another 750 were back up by about 8:30 a.m. About 250 customers on Mill Creek south of West 23rd Street were without power until about 10:15 a.m., when repairs were completed.
A double-wide mobile home was destroyed by a Sunday afternoon fire in The Dalles. Dave Laphof of Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue says the fire occurred at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday at 4109 Chenowith Road. The mobile home was fully consumed by fire by the time crews were able to arrive. Two adults and two children occupied the home, and all got out safely. Laphof says the fire started rekindling this morning and crews were called in to extinguish the hotspot, so the investigation into what caused the fire has not yet begun.
Coming off its spring planning session, the Port of Hood River Commission is moving into a new phase. The Port spent 2014 concentrating on finishing capital projects that were underway. With those moving toward completion, Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says emphasis will return to property development, especially with the Port’s acquisition of the Lower Hanel Mill expected to close in early July. McElwee adds the vision for the nine-and-a-half acres include locating distribution, warehousing, and light industrial manufacturing, with the Port selling some of the property and retaining one or two lots to develop itself to meet a demand for leased property.