Hood River City Councilors approved raising water, sewer, and stormwater rates and systems development charges. The rate increase average about six-point-six percent, and will result in a jump of around six dollars on the typical residential bill, and represent the first increases in about five years. Systems development charges on new development had not been increased since 2009, and will go up by 33 percent for sewer and 48 percent for water. City Manager Steve Wheeler says those increases are a function of dealing with growth. In other business, the Council approved ordinances accepting the buildable lands inventory, housing analysis, and population study discussed at a lengthy special session last week.
A delegation has returned from a visit to The Dalles’ Sister City, Miyoshi, Japan. The Dalles Mayor Steve Lawrence made the trip, and said he was very glad he did so, noting the graciousness of the people of Miyoshi. Lawrence says the two communities are very similar, each with a dam and a large river. One of the things he most noted was the value placed on education by the community. He added a new school he visited on the trip had been built in part from donated trees that were milled to help construct the building. He says the most important thing about the Sister City relationship are the cultural exchanges done by the students of both communities, with delegations going every year. A group of Miyoshi students is coming to The Dalles in October.
Containment of the Cougar Creek fire along its southern flank north of Glenwood has been achieved and there is now minimal fire activity in that area. Klickitat County Emergency Management this morning rescinded the level 1 evacuation advisory that was in place for residents of Glenwood north of Ladiges Road. The fire has burned 35,000 acres and is listed as 15 percent contained overall. In spite of very active fire behavior and short range spotting in a number of areas, there was minimal spread of the fire Monday. Crews worked into the early morning hours to control spot fires and made good progress with implementing the plan to increase containment around the upper east flank. An extensive effort is still needed to secure the head of the fire as it moves northward, and fire managers say burnout operations are progressing well and will continue for the rest of the week. Residents should expect to see significant smoke in the vicinity and in adjacent areas as burnout operations occur. It is possible that the fire will move into large piles of slash and may produce significant amounts of smoke as it does. A community meeting is scheduled for this evening at 6:00 p.m. in the Glenwood School gymnasium. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest has closed the Mount Adams Wilderness Area, including the portion of the Pacific Crest Trail that runs through the Wilderness Area, until October 30 or until rescinded.
Fire behavior increased on the north and northwest flanks of the Cougar Creek Fire on Sunday. As forecasted, increased temperatures and low humidity contributed to fire spread as spot fires progressed into critically receptive fuels. The fire north of Glenwood has burned 34,953 acres, with containment downgraded to 15 percent over the weekend. Crews continue to strengthen and secure containment lines along the south and east portions of the fire. An increased amount of smoke from the fire is expected today, as burnout operations will be conducted on the north end of the fire to attempt to slow progression to the north and northwest. Inaccessible terrain, heavy dead and down fuels and indirect containment lines continue to pose a problem to firefighting personnel. A community meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. in the Glenwood School gymnasium.
The County Line 2 Fire on the Warm Springs Reservation is now 67 percent contained, having burned 65,078 acres. Strong winds in the fire area have subsided, with no major increase in the fire size due to effective operations ahead of and during the wind event. Minimal growth is expected on the north edge of the fire. Infrared shows heat remaining in the canyons. Additional growth is expected on the west flank in one canyon and the smaller drainages that surround it. Northwest winds could make containment difficult, as it pushes the fire towards the containment line being built ahead of the fire. A review of damages and losses of residences and out- buildings/structures has shown this fire burned two occupied homes and one vacant home, one occupied home was damaged beyond repair, and four abandoned homes and one vacant house were lightly damaged. There were a total of twenty-three out-building structures burned.
The Hood River City Council will consider an overall six-point-six percent increase in water, sewer, and stormwater rates at their Monday evening meeting. City Manager Steve Wheeler says it has been about five years since those rates have been increased. Mayor Paul Blackburn pointed out that Councilors had intentionally held off increasing the rates over the last few years with tougher economic times. The combined increase of water, sewer, and stormwater bills for the average resident will go up by about six dollars a month. If approved, the increase would be effective on October 1. Systems Development Charges for new construction will see a much bigger increases of 33 to 50 percent under the proposal.
This year’s fire season has provided a test of Klickitat County’s new emergency communications system, and so far it’s proving its worth. County Commissioner Jim Sizemore says the recent Highway 8 Fire near Roosevelt was a prime example of how the additional towers helped emergency personnel be able to do their jobs. He added Washington State incident command used the County’s communications channels because it was better than what they had. The new system has also been of assistance in the recent Cougar Creek Fire. Sizemore noted the system is broken down into west, central, and east operations systems. The state is currently using the west system on the Cougar Creek Fire.
A 75-year-old man from The Dalles who became lost Thursday while hiking in the Laurence Lake area in the Upper Hood River Valley was located Sunday afternoon in good condition. The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office says David Bullock was able to find his way back to the west end of Laurence Lake and flag down a fisherman. Bullock had become separated from his wife while on a day hike Thursday afternoon when he wanted to go check out a rock formation. Bullock told the Sheriff’s officers on Sunday that when he came back down from the rock formation he became lost, and he went back to the rocks then down another direction. Bullock reported hearing a search helicopter on Friday, but could not get to a location to be seen. Sunday morning he came to a point where he could see the lake, allowing him to hike down to it. Bullock survived on stream water and built a shelter to keep himself warm at night. He was reunited with his family at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, where he was taken for evaluation.
The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office says searchers will continue to look for a missing paddle boarder until he is found, but believe it is highly unlikely he has survived. Andres Pombo of Florida was reported as missing on Frida afternoon, when he fell off his paddle board in Viento State Park area while practicing for a weekend race. A kiteboarder saw Pombo fall into the water in very strong swells but quickly lost sight of him. Several other paddle boarders were on the scene within minutes but were unable to find him. Searchers from the Sheriff’s Office and several other regional agencies spent the weekend looking for Pombo. Members of Pombo’s family are arriving in the area. The Sheriff’s Office reports Pombo was not wearing a personal flotation device or a lanyard while on his paddle board. Authorities urge everyone on the river to use a floatation device as required by law and other available safety equipment when using the river for recreation. The Columbia River current is stronger than most people believe and strong winds increase danger when you go into the water.
Searchers are looking for a 75-year-old man from The Dalles who became lost Thursday while hiking in the Laurance Lake area in the Upper Hood River Valley. Hood River County Sheriff Matt English says David Bullock was last seen shortly before noon on Thursday when he dropped his gear with his wife and went to check on something he had seen. His wife called the Sheriff’s Office at about 4 p.m. Thursday, and a search team could not find him before dark. English says four ground teams, a military helicopter, and additional aircraft are involved in the search today, with more regional search teams set to arrive as the day goes on. Plans are being made to continue the search tomorrow if necessary. English describes Bullock as an experienced hiker in good shape, but was dressed only in a t-shirt and shorts and had left his supplies with his wife.