The White Salmon Valley School District starts its school year on August 30, and there are a number of staff changes from previous years. District Superintendent Jerry Lewis says they had a number of retirements, and all of the district’s schools will see new personnel. Lewis says they are finishing up hiring new employees, but he says the shortage of teaching candidates was noticeable during the search process. He noted normally they would have 15 to 20 applicants per certified position, but this year it only got as high as six to seven. Factors in the low numbers of candidates include a smaller amount of students taking teaching programs in college, and the cost of housing in this region.
The Skamania County Fair opened Wednesday in Stevenson, and will run through Sunday. Fair Board member Paul Pearce says admission remains free, thanks to the volunteers and sponsors who support the event. There will be entertainment on the stage throughout the fair, including a talent show Thursday at 7 p.m. Fireworks are planned both Friday and Saturday nights over Rock Creek Pond, with the fair’s Timber Carnival to take place Friday through Sunday. Meanwhile, the Wasco County Fair gets underway Thursday and runs through Sunday in Tygh Valley. Thursday will feature free admission at the fair. There will also be ranch sorting in the horse arena at 5 p.m., while the 4-H Fashion Show is at 7 p.m. The annual fair rodeo will take place at 7:30 Friday and Saturday evenings, with the demolition derby on Sunday.
The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a missing Stevenson area resident. 47-year-old Matt L’Hommedieu was last seen last Thursday night, August 11, at about 8 p.m. leaving his residence near mile post 2 on Loop road. L’Hommedieu was heading east on foot and was believed to be carrying only a cell phone. He is a white male adult, 5’10” tall and weighing approximately 165 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. There is no clothing description available. Anyone with any information regarding the whereabouts of Matt L’Hommedieu is asked to call the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office at (509) 427-9490 and leave a message at extension 2046. Please call 911 if the information is a life safety issue.
The Hood River County School District Board and Superintendent Dan Goldman have set their goals for the 2016-17 school year, and many of them revolve around the recently passed bond measure that includes construction of a new May Street Elementary and a science and technology addition at Wy’east Middle School. Goldman says the next year will be dominated by planning, with very few visible construction projects. He noted many of the Goldman adds one of the major steps the district is undertaking is applying to Standard and Poor’s to increase the district’s bond rating from A-plus to AA-minus, which would save the district millions of dollars in interest payments. The process to select an architectural firm to handle design of the various construction projects.
The City of Bingen is getting ready to submit an application to the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board to do renovations on a part of Humboldt Street. Mayor Betty Barnes says the project would be in the 200 and 300 blocks of Humboldt, which is a main artery one block from Highway 14. Bingen plans to apply for a $654,000 grant from the state, with the City providing a five percent match of 35-thousand dollars. The Bingen City Council will consider the application at their meeting this evening at seven in City Hall.
PacificSource Community Solutions’ Columbia Gorge Coordinated Care Organization announced that it will receive payback of more than $2.5 million from Quality Pool payments that the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) withheld from all CCO’s payments during 2015. In a statement, PacificSource Community Solutions said it will allocate the money received from OHA back to the care providers for the Columbia Gorge CCO, as well as create funds over which the Columbia Gorge Health Council has decision-making authority. The pool of funds will be used for initiatives throughout the Columbia Gorge, strategically aimed at improving the health of the community. The Columbia Gorge CCO was one of 16 CCOs statewide to receive the full quality payout, and it was the only CCO that met performance targets on all 17 of the quality measures determining how successful CCOs have been at improving care, making quality care accessible, eliminating health disparities, and curbing the rising cost of health care for the populations they serve. Performance on clinical measures in the Columbia Gorge CCO was the highest in the state in three areas: follow-up care for people who have been hospitalized for mental health conditions, assessment for children in foster care, and rates of timely prenatal care for pregnant members.
Staci Coburn has been selected to fill a vacant position on the Port of The Dalles Commission. Coburn has been Chief Financial Officer at Duckwall Fruit in Odell since 2010, and prior to that was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Columbia River Bank. Coburn takes over for Bob McFadden, who retired after a 17-year stint on the Port Commission.
Fire damaged a pair of mobile homes early Monday morning at 2525 West 8th in The Dalles. According to Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue, the fire started around 4 a.m. in a single-wide mobile home that suffered significant damage. It then spread to a shed that burned to the ground, and a second mobile home that received exterior damage. One resident was taken to Mid-Columbia Medical Center for treatment of an injury. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. Crews from Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue and Dallesport were involved in extinguishing the fire.
Tests of the Port of Hood River Interstate Bridge lift span found it was in working order, and normal operations have resumed. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says the Coast Guard has been informed the span can operate for marine vessels moving down the Columbia River. The Port has been examining the alignment of the lift span since a suspected allision last September in which a boat is suspected of hitting a bridge pier. McElwee said two span guides on the south end that broke during testing were replaced by newer guides that use a roller to prevent the lift span from moving northward, resulting in better safety controls. He adds the Port wants to restore a couple of stop systems for the lift span to increase the margin of safety.
Cruise The Gorge weekend brought plenty of people into downtown The Dalles, now the question is how to maintain a level of activity on a consistent basis. The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Lisa Farquharson says the exposure is something that you can’t purchase in a marketing campaign. Farquharson says the community is beginning to do better at presenting entire weekends with numerous events to offer to the outside world. She says the next weekend like that will be September 10, when the Route 30 Soap Box Derby will take place in The Dalles.