The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office is participating in a DUII enforcement overtime grant this holiday season. The grant is funded through the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and administered by the Oregon Department of Transportation. Its goal is to reduce instances of people driving under the influence of intoxicants this holiday season by high visibility enforcement, and decrease the number of fatalities and injuries that occur from impaired driving. The Sheriff’s Department will be increasing patrols and have deputies dedicated to searching for impaired drivers. Anyone who sees someone they suspect is driving while impaired is asked to call the Hood River County Sheriff’s Department at 541-386-2711 or 9-1-1.
The Next Door, Inc. has named Catherine Whalen as its 2014 Volunteer of the Year. Whalen has been on the Next Door’s Board of Directors since 1999, serving as Chair for the last three years. Whalen joined the Board after helping found Families First, a program of The Next Door that has helped hundreds of parents in Wasco County learn more effective parenting skills and keep their children safe, healthy and loved. Whalen works full-time for Mid-Columbia Medical Center. The Next Door is a local nonprofit that works to strengthen children and families and improve communities throughout the Gorge.
Angela Elam has been named the new Deputy Forest Supervisor of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Elam comes to the Gifford Pinchot after serving as the District Ranger of the Payson Ranger District on the Tonto National Forest since June 2011. An Arizona native, Elam has a bachelor’s degree in forest management from Northern Arizona University, and a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Arizona. She began her career as a seasonal firefighter on the Mesa Ranger District of the Tonto National Forest, and has also worked in the White River National Forest in Colorado, the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in Arizona, the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, and the Ashley National Forest in Utah.
Wonderworks Children’s Museum officially owns its building. Closing documents have been signed to transfer title of the building at 206 Madison in The Dalles from the Port of The Dalles to Wonderworks. The Port purchased the property about six years ago and leased it to Wonderworks as the nonprofit worked to raise money for improvements and purchase. The economic downturn slowed Wonderworks’ efforts, resulting in a six-year process rather than the five years originally planned. Major grant funders raised their expectations for local matches, meaning the Wonderworks had to work longer and harder to qualify for funding. The Port credited a portion of the lease payments toward loan capital as a means of making grant requests more attractive to funders. The purchase money is now back in Port coffers to be used for other economic development-related efforts.
North Central Public Health District says it has been notified of a presumptive case of meningitis in a Dufur School student. District Director Teri Thalhofer says the district has identified all exposed individuals, and they are receiving appropriate treatment. School or casual contacts are not considered at risk. Typical symptoms of Meningococcal Disease include a high fever, headache, stiff neck, and a red rash often involving hands and feet. Thalhofer notes it is not a highly contagious disease, and is transmitted only through direct contact with respiratory droplets from sneezing or coughing, or through kissing or sharing eating utensils.
Two Skamania County residents were arrested late last week after an intensive nine-month investigation into the trafficking of heroin and prescription medications. Skamania County Undersheriff Dave Cox says 25-year-old Jared Hinzman of North Bonneville was booked into jail on three counts of delivery of controlled substance, and 53-year-old Katherine Gregory of Stevenson faces four counts of that charge. Cox says the investigation continues, and more arrests will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.
Heading into 2015, Klickitat County Commissioner David Sauter says there will be an emphasis on continuing with infrastructure projects. Sauter says there are several road projects that will continue, along with continued work at the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport. The Airport board recently decided to go ahead with construction of a new flex space building, along with construction of a new hangar. Sauter says Lifeflight will take up about 40 percent of the new building, and they are actively marketing the rest of the facility. He adds they will also continue to partner with area ports on economic development issues.
With paving on State Street in downtown Hood River finished and striping in place, parking meters will go into effect soon. City Manager Steve Wheeler says those meters won’t be in operation until January 5. Wheeler notes construction on the restroom facility on State Street will continue until mid-winter, depending on weather. In addition, parking in downtown Hood River is free through Friday.
A flood watch issued by the National Weather Service remains in effect through Monday for the Hood River and the Eastern part of the Columbia Gorge as heavy rains come through the region. The flood risk for the Hood River was downgraded from “major flood” to “flood,” but water flow is forecast to rise to a peak of 14 feet by Sunday at 2 p.m. There has been snow on Mt. Hood, a reported 1 ½ feet at Mt. Hood Meadows, and that could escalate flooding risk.