The Four Rivers Early Learning Hub is about to reach its first anniversary of being recognized by the state. The hub is a regional group made up of Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, and Wheeler counties with a goal of working with parents and caregivers to make sure children arrive in kindergarten ready to learn. Hub coordinator Christa Rude says they have spending the past four to six months putting together the structure to operate in five counties. Rude says a team from Sherman, Gilliam, and Wheeler counties are currently doing “ready for kindergarten” professional training while dealing with the challenge of sparse population over a large area.
There is a big new yellow line running down the middle of Jewett Boulevard in White Salmon. The 18-inch stripe was installed by the Washington State Department of Transportation, which signifies cars cannot cross for any reason. White Salmon Mayor David Poucher says it came about after the City talked to state transportation officials about dealing with drivers making U-turns to get into parking spaces on the south side of Jewett. The City recently mandated back-in parking on the south side of Jewett Boulevard, and Poucher noted that a grace period is underway before active enforcement begins on August 1.
Two people from Dufur were killed and three were injured in a Sunday evening motor vehicle accident along Boyd Loop Road about thirteen miles south of The Dalles. According to the Oregon State Police, a pickup truck driven by 40-year-old Tamara Kucher was traveling east on Boyd Loop Road near Highway 197 at about 7:30 p.m. when for unknown reasons the driver lost control, traveled off the roadway into a ditch, and rolled several times. Kucher and a pickup bed passenger, 21-year-old Hunter Spears, were ejected and succumbed to their injuries at the scene. The right front passenger, 32-year-old Marshall Johnson, was taken first to Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles then to a Portland area hospital for treatment of serious injuries. Two rear seat passengers, a 17-year-old female and 16 year-old male were transported to MCMC with minor injuries. OSP troopers from The Dalles Area Command office are continuing the investigation. Alcohol, speed, lane safety and occupant safety are being investigated as possible contributing factors. The OSP was assisted by the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office, Dufur Valley Volunteer Fire Department and Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue.
The Port of Hood River is developing a schedule for live testing of the Interstate Bridge lift span, with the hope of beginning in early August. The lift span has not been in operation since a suspected allision with a boat hitting a bridge pier last September. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says the hope is to commence with testing in the next couple of weeks. At issue is making sure the bridge lift span can raise up and come back down in the proper balance. The Port recently hired an engineering firm with more expertise in bridge lift spans to handle the testing.
Even though there is no Fort Dalles Rodeo this year, there appears to be no shortage of business for hoteliers in The Dalles this summer. The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Lisa Farquharson says there is a steady stream of traffic, along with large of amount of construction in the region and the aftermath of the Mosier oil train derailment that kept hotel rooms booked. Farquharson says the impact of not having the rodeo may not be known for a while, but she added Fort Dalles Fourth activities and the upcoming Cruise The Gorge weekend bring visitors in to the area.
Three Portland men have been arrested on charges in relation to a Tuesday night shooting on Herman Creek Road near Interstate 84 in Hood River County. 20-year-old Austin Gregory Steed, 19-year-old Chance Corey Pinkard, and 21-year-old Deshone Jaheel Brooks were all lodged at the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility in The Dalles on charges of attempted murder, first degree assault, and first degree robbery. The Oregon State Police says a preliminary investigation revealed the trio drove to Herman Creek Road about four four miles east of Cascade Locks Tuesday night and met with 23-year-old Charles Kane, Jr. and 21-year-old Cody Dale Rau, both of Portland, where Kane was shot in the left arm. Kane and Rau left the scene in their vehicles and stopped along I-84 near the Wyeth interchange, and from there Kane was transported to the Gresham area by Rau to Gresham, and Kane eventually went to Portland’s Legacy Emanuel Medical Center to be treated for non-life threatening injuries. Steed, Pinkard, and Brooks were located in the area of the shooting by OSP troopers and Hood River County Sheriff’s deputies. The investigation is continuing.
The founders of a local group that envisions establishing a modern 600-seat performing arts center in the Gorge will hold a town hall-style event this weekend to outline their idea. Mark Steighner is President of the Performing Arts Initiative, and he says a feasibility study is being done to determine what is possible. He adds the vision includes a facility that can be used for a wide variety of purposes, noting current facilities in the region are limited in many ways. Steighner says the group has explored several different potential locations in the Gorge, but are not to the point of selecting one. The Performing Arts Initiative will roll out their idea to the public Sunday evening at 7:30 at Naked Winery in Hood River.
The Hood River County Planning Commission has developed its recommendations for zoning ordinance amendments to regulate marijuana businesses and short-term rentals in unincorporated areas. For marijuana, County Community Development Director John Roberts says the regulations allow growing and processing in exclusive farm use zones, processing in industrial zones, and retailing in commercial zones. He added the panel decided to prohibit growing and processing in rural residential zones due to compatibility issues and the sizes of parcels within the zone. On short-term rentals, the Commission is recommending prohibiting short-term rentals in resource and industrial zones, and allow them with a permit in residential and rural unincorporated community zones, with a total cap of 60. The County Commission will now consider the Planning Commission recommendations, with hearing dates still to be determined.
Oregon Congressmen Greg Walden, Peter DeFazio, and Earl Blumenauer have introduced legislation require railroads to inspect on foot certain tracks in high consequence areas, such as near waterways, for defects. It also calls for creation of a new trust fund to help communities prepare for accidents involving rail cars transporting flammable liquids, including crude oil and ethanol by collecting an annual fee for rail cars that do not meet Department of Transportation standards. In addition, the legislation would also require that railroads periodically use gage restraint measuring systems to measure shifts in the rails and detect weak ties and fasteners. It also authorizes funding for the Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration to hire additional track safety specialists.
Kiteboard 4 Cancer will celebrate on Saturday the tenth year of a grueling six-hour Kite Derby endurance race designed to embody the battle cancer survivors and fighters face every day. More than 200 professional, semi-professional and hobbyist kiteboarders will be in Hood River for the race that benefits Athletes 4 Cancer survivorship camps. The weekend will also feature more than ten bands, local food and brews, silent art auctions and other family-friendly activities. The theme is #NoWaitlist. When fundraising for Kiteboard 4 Cancer 2016 began, Athletes 4 Cancer had 112 survivors on a waitlist to attend the group’s Camp Koru. It is down to 54, and the goal is to make it zero by the end of Sunday. A complete schedule of events is available at kiteboarding4cancer.org.