One Community Health in The Dalles and Hood River has received a $70,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation to support the Oregon Children’s Dental Health Initiative. The funding will enable the rollout of a comprehensive oral health plan in Hood River and Wasco Counties. One Community Health officials say a key component of the plan will be a school-based dental health program for underserved elementary and middle school children. The grant will allow OCH to hire a program coordinator, implement new programs in Wasco and Hood River Counties to ensure more youth receive sealants they need, create and improve upon school-based dental programs for elementary and middle school students, and design and implement educational components for children, new and expectant mothers, and the community at large.
There will be only one contested local race in Hood River County after a late withdrawal just before Tuesday’s filing deadline. A.J. Kitt confirmed this morning he was withdrawing from the race for County Commissioner in District 2, citing a personal reason that would prevent him from putting his full energy towards a campaign. Kitt added he struggled with the decision because of the amount support he had received since announcing his candidacy. Kitt’s withdrawal leaves Port of Hood River Commissioner Rich McBride as the lone candidate to succeed Maui Meyer, who decided not to seek re-election. Incumbent Commission Chair Ron Rivers and District 4 Commissioner Les Perkins are unopposed, as are Sheriff Matt English and District Attorney John Sewell in their re-election bids. There are three candidates for Justice of the Peace in Cascade Locks: Brad Lorang, John Harvey, and Donna Mohr.
In Wasco County, there are two locally contested elections after the filing deadline. One matchup has been known for sometime, as long-time journalist Rodger Nichols challenges incumbent Steve Kramer for position two on the Wasco County Commission. There are also two candidates for County Treasurer, with Ryan Rooper and Elijah Preston filing for the seat. Lane Magill is the lone Sheriff’s candidate, as he looks to succeed the retiring Rick Eiesland, while incumbent District Attorney Eric Nisley, Clerk Lisa Gambee, and Assessor Jill Amery are all unopposed.
There will be some contested area seats in the Oregon Legislature this election cycle. Two Democrats have filed in House District 52, as Mark Reynolds and Walt Trandum seek to oppose incumbent Republican Mark Johnson, who is unopposed for his party’s nomination. In the 59th District, Republican John Huffman has filed for re-election, while Tyler Gabriel is the lone Democrat in the race. Incumbent Greg Smith is unopposed in the 57th District. Two Democrats, Stormy Gayle Ray and W. Mark Stringer, have filed to challenge Republican Ted Ferrioli in the 30th Senate District, while Republican 29th District Senator Bill Hansell is opposed by independent Barbara Dickerson. Circuit Court Judges Janet Stauffer and John Wolf are unopposed for their positions. Oregon Second District Congressman Greg Walden is being challenged in the Republican primary by Paul Romero, while James Crary is the lone Democrat to file.
Wasco County and a number of municipalities within the county are exploring the possibility of sharing the costs to hire someone to deal with nuisance code violations. County Commissioner Steve Kramer explains code compliance officers from Wasco County and the City of The Dalles are overloaded with cases, and Dufur, Maupin, and Mosier can use some help dealing with nuisance issues. Kramer says Dufur Mayor Robert Wallace brought up the concept, and officials have met once to begin to explore the possibility of sharing costs for such a person. Whether it would be a part-time or full-time position has not been determined.
The Hood River Police Department is seeking the public’s help as it investigates the assault of a Trout Lake man ten days ago. According to the department, Kozen Sampson reported he got out of his vehicle in the area of 12th and Eugene to do obedience training with his dogs when he was approached by a man who yelled and kicked Sampson’s car door, hitting Sampson in the head. The man then referred to Sampson as a Muslim and walked away. Sampson is a Buddhist Monk and was dressed in a brown robe at the time. He sustained injuries to his face from the attack. The suspect is described as a white male with brown hair. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Hood River Police Detective Sal Rivera at 541-387-5257.
The Skyline Hospital Foundation will honor one of the hospital’s long-time employees and volunteers during their annual Cultivate Columbia event on Saturday. The foundation’s Elizabeth Vaivoda says O.J. Hecomovich has been a nurse and community volunteer at Skyline for more than 60 years. Hecomovich worked in Skyline’s surgery department for a number of years, and now volunteers each week to escort guests to their destination in the hospital, and takes care of the plants and flowers in the facility. Cultivate Columbia is an art, dinner, and auction event that benefits the Skyline Foundation’s various programs and services, and will take place in the hospital’s meeting space this Saturday evening.
County health departments and various public and private agencies are about to embark on conducting a regional community health assessment. The assessment will involve Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, Klickitat, and Skamania counties, and is required by public health districts, coordinated care organizations, and hospitals. Hood River County Health Department director Ellen Larsen says they are trying to structure this assessment where all interested parties are on the same page. Larsen noted collaboration in this area has brought over two million dollars of grant funds into the region. Larsen said they will start the survey this summer as they try to take advantage of public events to do outreach, with results back by late fall.
Authorities are saying troopers who shot and killed rancher LaVoy Finicum, one of an armed group that occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for several weeks, were justified in their actions. They say the officers believed Finicum was reaching for a loaded gun at the time. Harney County District Attorney Tim Colahan Tuesday said Finicum alone is responsible for what happened. Also announced Tuesday: the Department of Justice is investigating FBI agents who were at the scene who might have fired shots during the incident and failed to report it.
Wasco County is receiving a grant of just over 290-thousand dollars to do three-quarters-of-a-mile of improvements to the Tygh Valley-Wamic Road. The money is coming from the Federal Lands Access Program, and Commissioner Steve Kramer says the grant comes as a bit of a surprise, as the County thought it was no longer in the running for it. The work will involve new pavement, guardrails, and signs, extending improvements done to another piece of the road last year. Kramer noted grants like this one are crucial for the County to get needed road work done.