Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue is seeking a bond measure on the November ballot that would replace the current bond that will come off the tax rolls at the end of 2017. MCFR Chief Bob Palmer says the district need to replace some aging fire apparatus and ambulances, and make facility improvements at both of their stations. He adds property tax compression in Wasco County makes it difficult for the district’s revenues to keep pace with operational costs, so they need the bond funds to replace equipment. This bond would be for 15 years, and would generate $3.85 million. The tax rate would be the same as the bond that ends in December 2017: 21 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value.
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area fire managers are planning a prescribed burn in the east end of the Gorge Thursday and Friday. It will take place in the Courtney Road area of Klickitat County. Smoke may be visible on the east end of the Gorge from both Washington Highway 14 and Interstate 84 at times during the burns. Where necessary, motorists should reduce speeds and turn on headlights. The burn is being coordinated with local fire districts and the Washington Department of Natural Resources. Prescribed burns are a proactive tool used by fire managers to reduce the threat of wildfire by removing overgrown vegetation, considered “fuel loads” by fire specialists, due to their tendency to easily spark and contribute to the growth of wildfire.
The Hood River City Council has asked municipal staff to research a handful of questions as it develops the regulations for licensing of short-term home rentals. One of those areas is developing the parameters for fire and life safety inspections for STR’s. City Manager Steve Wheeler says they may not be the exact same requirements as those for hotels and bed and breakfasts, but more than what is happening now. Councilors are also discussing what should be required of STR owners to deal with problems on the property if they are not home. For the most part the regulations will apply to all categories of short-term rentals. Wheeler was unsure when staff will have recommendations ready for the Council.
Klickitat County Commissioners are considering a second phase to its emergency communications system overhaul to add two towers to take care of remaining coverage issues. Commissioner David Sauter says the towers at Satus Pass and Red Tail in the High Prairie area would cost a total of about one million dollars, and were a part of the original system design before being removed for budgetary reasons. Sauter acknowledges the cost is a concern after already spending nine million dollars to put the system together. Sauter notes they have been rebuilding the County’s capital improvement fund, which was spent down when the system was built.
The Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division is asking for the public’s help to identify whoever was responsible for the unlawful killing of a trophy bull elk in Hood River County. The OSP was notified on September 15 that a bull elk was found dead on private property on the west side of the Hood River Valley off of Riordan Hill Road. A trooper found the 6×7 bull elk dead and left to waste in a cherry orchard. The cause of death is most likely by a gunshot wound during the 2016 archery season. A reward of $2,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case: $500 from the Oregon Hunters Association Turn-In-Poacher program and $1500 from the landowner. Anyone with the information regarding the case is asked to contact the OSP through the Turn-in-Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888. Information may be kept anonymous.
The Dalles Public Works Department will be repairing a section of water main line along East Scenic Drive on Thursday. Traffic control flaggers will direct one-lane traffic at the intersection of East Scenic Drive and Ester Way between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to facilitate the main line work. All motorists are encouraged to use alternate routes travelling East and West to avoid the work area.
Hood River Valley 8, Pendleton 0: Audrey Marble scored three goals in five minutes as the Eagles tallied seven goals in the first half of their league opener. Cielo Rivera scored two goals and added two assists for HRV.
Hermiston 5, The Dalles 1
LaCenter 1, Columbia 0
King’s Way Christian 7, Stevenson 0
Hood River Valley 8, Pendleton 0: The Eagles run their unbeaten string to 44 games since 2014.
Hermiston 6, The Dalles 0
The Dalles def. Hermiston 25-12, 25-20, 22-25, 25-20
Hood River Valley def. Pendleton 25-7, 25-18, 25-21
Dufur def. Mitchell/Spray 27-25, 25-10, 25-7
Arlington def. South Wasco 22-25, 25-22, 25-19, 23-25, 17-15
Ione def. Sherman 14-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-22
Condon-Wheeler def. Horizon Christian 25-18, 25-21, 25-18
Goldendale def. Granger 21-25, 25-14, 20-25, 25-14, 15-11
Seton Catholic def. Columbia 3 sets to 0
La Center def. Stevenson 3 sets to 0
Helicopter activity will resume in the upper Catherine and Major Creek areas this fall as part of a project to restore historic forest types in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The work is part of a U.S. Forest Service/Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area project to restore historic landscapes and reduce fire risks. The project is designed to improve forest health by creating a more open forest type comprised of fewer, larger, more widely spaced trees that will resemble historic landscapes once found in this part of the Gorge. Benefits include a reduction in the risk of high-intensity wildfire, and an increase in native biodiversity over time. Residents and visitors to the area should expect to hear helicopter noise during daylight hours and may see helicopters carrying logs and other cargo. For public and operator safety, access into the specific areas where operations are taking place may be limited.
By a 5-to-2 vote, the Wasco County Planning Commission approved Union Pacific’s application to add four miles of mainline railroad track on either side of Mosier. Commissioners spent four hours going over the application and the planning staff’s recommendation to approve it with numerous conditions. The Commission made a number of changes to those conditions, in particular removing those that would have required Union Pacific to stay within the current volume of train traffic coming through the Gorge. They also modified requirements for working with tribes on river access points, removing some specifics to allow the railroad and the tribes to work together to develop solutions. A hearing three weeks ago had brought substantial opposition to the Union Pacific application, and an appeal to the Wasco County Commission is expected. The organization Friends of the Columbia Gorge has been opposed to the project, citing National Scenic Area ordinance requirements, while Union Pacific has claimed it went through the County planning process voluntarily because state and local permit requirements cannot be applied to any facility that is integrally related to the railroad’s transportation operations. Planning Commissioner Brad DeHart said at the beginning of the meeting he had never felt more insignificant as a Commissioner, with the legal matters surrounding this issue to be played out on a different stage.
Fire destroyed two cars and a cargo van loaded with furniture in Dallesport on Monday. According to Dallesport-Murdock Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rhet Howard, the fire started while a jumpstart was attempted on one of the cars, sending a spark into the tall grass the vehicles were parked in at the corner of Dallesport Road and Hill Street. Howard says the small grass fire was quickly contained. He said the vehicles were a total loss, but nobody was hurt. He noted the fire, which occurred around 2 p.m. on Monday, did disrupt Charter cable television service in Dallesport for a time, but it was restored in time for the Presidential debate.