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Local News

HR Schools Budget Could See Change Before Board Approval

The Hood River County School District’s budget committee last week recommended a fiscal plan for the 2015-16 school year, but there could be changes before the district board gives its final approval in June.  That’s because an increase in the state revenue forecast the day after the budget committee action figures to increase the district’s state funding by about $300,000 to $350,000.  Superintendent Dan Goldman points out that’s about the amount of cuts they had to make in the budget, but knowing the potential for other future costs including a jump in Public Employees Retirement System contributions in two years, it is doubtful staff would recommend using all of the increase to restore cuts.  Goldman says early calculations from the Oregon School Boards Association have the PERS increase costing the district about one-point-one million dollars.

Grant Sought For Home Repair

Klickitat and Skamania counties along with the cities of Bingen and White Salmon are seeking a Washington State Community Development Block Grant to establish a fund for home repair grants for those in need.  Bingen Mayor Betty Barnes says they are seeking a $400,000 grant to establish the fund.  If approved, Columbia Gorge Housing Authority would administer the fund.

Ballots Due On Tuesday

Time is ticking down to submit ballots for the special districts election in Oregon.  It’s a fairly busy ballot in Hood River County, with contested races for three Columbia Gorge Community College board seats, two for the Port of Hood River, three for the Port of Cascade Locks, three for the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District, and a Hood River County School District board position.  It’s a bit quieter in Wasco County with a limited number of contested races, the most notable being the zone two seat on the North Wasco County School District 21 board matching incumbent Dean McAllister and former board member John Fredrick.  There is also a three-year local option tax for the Dufur Recreation District on the ballot.  Ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. on Tuesday.  In Wasco County they should be returned to the County Courthouse in The Dalles or Maupin City Hall.  In Hood River County ballots should be taken to the County Administration Building or Cascade Locks City Hall.

Port of HR To Get Report On Marina Future

Port of Hood River Commissioners this week will be receiving a report this week on the future of the marina.  Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says they have asked an outside consultant to take a look at the marina and make some recommendations.  McElwee noted the mix of motorized and sailing watercraft, the growth of sailing in the marina, and the increasing demand for shell space for dinghy storage are all part of what they will be learning about.  The report will be given at Tuesday’s Port meeting, beginning at 5 p.m. in the Marina Center boardroom.

Color Dash A Success

Saturday’s Color Dash in The Dalles appears to have been a hit.  The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Lisa Farquharson says they had around one-thousand people take part in the 5K run that saw the runners doused in colored dyes at various points of the route.  Farquharson added around half of the participants were from outside of The Dalles, some from as far as Montana and Wyoming.  Proceeds for the run were split between the Chamber and the Mid-Columbia Health Foundation’s “Level The Playing Field” campaign.

Man Hit By Train Identified

The man who was hit by a train while walking on the railroad tracks on Sunday night east of Stevenson has been identified.  Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown says 54-year-old Russell Stotts of Stevenson had been walking along the tracks after fishing with friends.  Brown says Stotts’ friends warned him the train was coming, but he did not move out of the way.  Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Gus Melonas says the crew of the freight train sounded the horn, but the man did not respond.  The accident occurred shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday.

May 15-16 Prep Sports Roundup

Track and Field

Hood River Valley won both the boys and girls titles at the Columbia River Conference championships in The Dalles, earning 14 boys and nine girls entries at this coming weekend’s Oregon Class 5-A Championships in Eugene.  Sebastian Barajas, Justin Crosswhite, Parker Kennedy, and Parker Irusta won two events each for the HRV boys, with Tyrone Stintzi and Mason McDowell also grabbing first place finishes.  Jestena Mattson won three events for the HRV girls while Emily Viuhkola added a pair, with the Eagles also getting a win from the four by 400 meter relay team.  The Dalles girls finished third and the boys were fourth.  Yasmin Hill won two events and Katie Conklin one for the Rivehawk girls, who grabbed six state meet berths.  The Dalles’ Sant Strassheim won the boys’ 300 meter hurdles and finished second in the 110 hurdles to qualify for state in both.


Columbia won the girls’ title at the Trico League Championships in Stevenson.  Lauren Thiesies, Stacia Bell, Haley Bell, Aidan Liddiard , and the four by 100 and four by 200 meter relay teams grabbed first place finishes for the Bruins.  Stevenson finished fifth, thanks in large part to three first place finishes for Madison McCrum.  LaCenter won the boys’ title with Columbia second and Stevenson third.  Shawn Tardiff and four by 400 meter relay team scored wins for CHS, while Raymond Hernandez had two first place finishes and Brandon Campbell one for Stevenson.


Lyle-Wishram was the boys’ winner and Bickleton the girls’ victor in the Greater Columbia League Championships.  Gabe Montoya won three events for the Lyle-Wishram boys, while Bickleton’s Lindsay Brown won three in the girls’ competition.


Horizon Christian won the boys’ title while Griswold nipped Horizon by two points to win the girls’ championship at the Big Sky Conference meet in Moro.  Top individual efforts included Sherman’s Isaiah Coles winning three boys’ events and Taylor Darden of Dufur winning two girls’ events.



Hood River Valley 5, The Dalles 3:  Ryan Ward struck out 14 in five innings to lead the Eagles to the win, as the Riverhawks were eliminated from post-season consideration.


Sherman swept Dufur, winning both games by 5-3 scores.



The Dalles 9, Hood River Valley 6:  Grace Helyer’s three-run homer in the seventh inning lifted the Riverhawks to the win in the regular season finale for both teams.  The Dalles will host a Class 5-A play-in game later this week, while Hood River Valley will be on the road.


LaCenter 7, Stevenson 1



The Dalles finished in a tie for second with Summit at the Class 5-A Special District 1 Tournament, as Bend won the team title.  The Riverhawks’ Marisa Cianci advances to the state tournament in Portland this coming weekend with a second place finish in singles, while Johanna Wilson and Anna Miller are also headed to state after a second place finish in doubles.


Hood River Valley’s Scottie Ziegner is headed to state after helping HRV to a third place finish in the boys’ Special District 1 tournament.  Ziegner finished third in boys’ singles.

Former Sheriff’s Wife Wounded In Accidental Shooting

The wife of former Wasco County Sheriff Darrell Hill is in serious condition at Mid-Columbia Medical Center after being wounded by him in an accidental shooting on Saturday morning in The Dalles.  According to the Oregon State Police, 75-year-old Darlena Hill suffered a gunshot wound to her abdomen when her husband, 76-year-old Darrell Hill, was handling a firearm which he thought was unloaded and it discharged, striking Darlena Hill.  Darlena Hill underwent surgery at MCMC, and the OSP says she is in serious condition.  A September 2014 article in The Dalles Chronicle reported Darrell Hill had been diagnosed with rapid progressive dementia.  Law enforcement officials responded to the scene of the incident at 950 Pomona Street in The Dalles at around 8:52 a.m. Saturday.  The Wasco County Major Crimes Team is investigating the shooting, with the Oregon State Police leading the investigation and working in cooperation with the Wasco County District Attorney.   Darrell Hill was in law enforcement for nearly 50 years, serving as Chief of The Dalles Police Department and then Wasco County Sheriff from 1996 to 2004.  He has been married to Darlena Hill for nearly 57 years.

Sunshine Mill Makes First Urban Renewal Loan Payment

The Sunshine Mill has made its first payment to the Columbia Gateway Urban Renewal Agency towards paying back a $600,000 dollar loan to make improvements to the facility at the east end of downtown The Dalles.  The $150,000 payment had originally been due in November, but was pushed back to May 15 under an agreement between Sunshine Mill owners James and Mollie Martin and the agency.  It’s part of a three-year plan to pay back the loan.  The Sunshine Mill and Copa di Vino currently employ 76 people at the site.  Under the plan agreed to in December, a $100,000 payment is due on May 15, 2016, and another $350,000 on May 15, 2017.  Then a $318,000 payment to purchase the property is due by May 15, 2018.

Madras Administrator Named New Wy’east Middle School Principal

The Hood River County School District has named Sarah Braman-Smith to be new principal at Wy’east Middle School.  Braman-Smith has spent nine years as an administrator at Madras High School, the last four as the principal.  Prior to that, she taught at the elementary, middle and high school levels as a language arts and English Language Learner teacher, and in a self-contained classroom for children with behavioral challenges.  Braman-Smith will be replacing Catherine Dalbey at Wy’east.  Dalbey moves into a new position as the district’s Director of Human Resources on July 1.




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