Testing is continuing on Klickitat County’s new emergency communications system. County Commissioner Jim Sizemore says while construction on the system is done, there is some fine-tuning that still needs to be done. Some of it involves the mountain top tower sites that give the county the best coverage, but also are susceptible to interference. Sizemore says the interference has not caused any issues for emergency response. He noted some of the testing found some improper wiring connections.
A 52-year-old Mosier woman was killed Sunday morning when she was hit by a pickup truck while riding a bicycle along Interstate 84. The Oregon State Police says Ellen Dittebrandt was westbound and approaching the Viento State Park off ramp when the pickup driven by 55-year-old John Allman of Portland traveled onto the shoulder and struck the bicycle from behind. Dittebrandt…who was wearing a helmet…was pronounced deceased at the scene. She was a local artist and Mosier firefighter and emergency medical technician…having been named Mosier’s firefighter of the year in 2010. Allman was not injured and is cooperating with the Oregon State Police in the investigation. The OSP indicated driver fatigue has been identified as a contributing factor. The completed investigation will be forwarded to the Hood River County District Attorney’s Office for review. The westbound lanes of I-84 were closed for about 90 minutes Sunday morning due to the accident.
The Rowena Fire has been lined and turned over to local fire agencies for monitoring. Oregon Department of Forestry officials say the size of the fire and variety of terrain makes it impossible to completely extinguish until there is significant precipitation. Local crews will be checking the fire daily until it is declared out. Interior burns and smokes will be visible until winter when there is an increase in moisture. Fire agencies are asking people take the time to observe the location of the smoke in relationship to the exterior fire perimeter. Those who have a concern about observed smoke inside of the fire perimeter should contact either the Oregon Department of Forestry at 541-296-4626 or Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue at 541-296-9445. If smoke or fire is observed outside of the fire perimeter, call 9-1-1. The Tom McCall Trail was used as a portion of the fire line and for public safety will remain closed until sometime this winter.
Three people were injured Thursday afternoon in a motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Highway 35 and Booth Hill Road south of Hood River. According to Oregon State Police Lieutenant Patrick Shortt, a pick-up driven by 36-year-old Wesley Baker of Parkdale was southbound on Highway 35 when a car driven by 33-year-old Sharye Struiksma of Lynden, Washington turned from eastbound Booth Hill Road into the highway, and the two vehicles collided. Struiksma was taken by LifeFlight to Portland’s Legacy Emanuel Medical Center for treatment of what were termed critical injurieswhile her passengers, 63-year-old Judith Struiksma and 10-year-old Luke Struiksma of Lynden, were both transported to Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital. Baker was not transported for treatment. Highway 35 was partially blocked for about two-and-a-half hours because of the accident. The investigation of the accident is continuing.
Hood River Police continue to investigate a Wednesday armed robbery at a downtown gas station. The robbery occurred at about 7 a.m. Wednesday at the Astro station on 214 Front Street. Police reports indicate an attendant said a man was standing near the Astro office building and got the attendant’s attention as he walked by. When the attendant walked over to him, the man brandished what was reported as a large caliber gun and demanded money. The attendant complied, and the suspect then fled down First Street. Police describe the suspect as Hispanic in his early 20′s, about five-feet-seven to five-feet-ten inches tall, weighing 140 to 150 pounds, with light complexion, a thin mustache, and speaking broken English. Anyone who may have information about the case is asked to contact Hood River Police Detective Mike Martin at 541-387-5257.
White Salmon City Councilors have approved a two-year agreement to provide police services to the City of Bingen. Bingen Councilors approved the new deal earlier in the week. The new contract continues the two cities being served by one police department, but now White Salmon is simply paid by Bingen to provide police services, as opposed to Bingen owning some resources as in the past. White Salmon Mayor David Poucher says it took awhile to reach the agreement, and feels the next contract will be easier to develop. Poucher credited Six Rivers Community Mediation for helping the cities work through the process. He added the police department can now move forward with filling vacant positions.
A member of the Wasco County Roads Advisory Committee is inviting people with an interest in roads to join in a grassroots meeting next week in Dufur to discuss how to generate more funding for road needs in the County. Dennis James believed a proposed road district funded through property taxes that was considered by the County was too costly and targeted one group of people. He wants to find different sources involving all road users. James notes paying for road maintenance is a statewide problem, and Legislators need to do more to find solutions. James has scheduled his grassroots meeting for next Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Dufur City Park.
Quick response limited a Wednesday afternoon grass fire at the Exit 82 interchange of Interstate 84 to two acres. Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue Chief Bob Palmer says the fire was reported just after 2 p.m. Wednesday between the area of eastbound I-84 and East 2nd Street. Palmer noted the fire jumped the freeway and the railroad tracks, but a road in the former Northwest Aluminum property kept it from spreading. Oregon State Forestry, Dallesport, Bureau of Land Management, and Forest Service crews were also involved in the firefighting effort. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Palmer reminded people once again to be careful with fire in the current dry and windy conditions.
A lightning-caused fire in the northeast corner of Klickitat County near Bickleton has burned an estimated 13-hundred acres. The state of Washington has authorized fire mobilization, allowing resources from throughout the state to come in and assist crews from Klickitat County Fire Districts 2 and 10 and Yakima Fire District 7, along with a strike team from Klickitat County Rural Fire Districts. The fire started late Tuesday afternoon near Sand Ridge Road northeast of Bickleton. Klickitat County Emergency Management says three residences and several outbuildings could be threatened by the fire, and are at a level one “be ready to leave” evacuation advisory.
Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation District interim director Karl Cozad told the district board he will have a resolution ready for a special meeting next Wednesday to approve a contract with Triplett Wellman for construction of the new swimming pool at Thompson Park. Cozad noted the pre-construction contract with the contractor did not have specific dates in them, but this deal will. Demolition bids for the old pool have come in higher than expected, but Cozad points out that’s less than 10 percent of the cost of the project, and he’s looking at the entire project and crunching the numbers to address it in the resources available. Cozad feels comfortable at this point in saying the pool can be open by the Memorial Day 2015 target date. The board took no action during the meeting on the status of Executive Director Scott Green, who has been on paid administrative leave since early August pending investigation of a personnel matter. The district board did spend over an hour in an executive session, but made no announcements afterwards.