The Oregon House will vote on a three-tier system for a minimum wage today, but talks behind the scenes involving Republicans and moderate Democrats could lead to a new proposal. 52nd District Representative Mark Johnson has been a part of those discussions, and says there is a lot of interest to find something that could find bipartisan support. He said such a package would continue to allow Portland metro area to head towards a minimum wage of 15-dollars-an-hour, while the rest of the state would top out at 11 dollars. The Hood River Republican added there could also be consideration of adding a training wage. Johnson did say he expects the current package before the House to pass today, and it has already been approved in the Senate. House leaders earlier this week said they wouldn’t consider changes until the current package is passed. Senate and House Democrats have pushed for the three-tiered minimum wage jump, saying they believe a November ballot measure that would increase the wage to 15 dollars an hour across the state would pass.
The application period for Columbia Gorge Community College Foundation scholarships for fall has been moved up. Applications are being taken now, with awards to be made in May. CGCC Foundation Manager Steph Hoppe says they used to make the awards just a couple of weeks before school started, but after talking to students and staff decided an earlier process would give students a better chance to plan for what to expect for financial support. Scholarship application information is available on line at cgcc.edu.
Columbia Gorge Discovery Center will open a new traveling exhibit this weekend that follows the 1843-44 travels of Lt. John Fremont on his expedition to map the Pacific Northwest. Discovery Center Marketing Manager Susan Buce says Fremont was an unlikely hero and colorful character who eventually made a bid for President, and he stopped in The Dalles along with Kit Carson at the Wascopam Mission. The exhibit opens to the public on Saturday, and will be at the Center at least through the early summer. Saturday’s opening will feature a 1 p.m. presentation by Bill Cossitt, who will talk about the search for Fremont’s howitzer believed abandoned in the Sierra Mountains in January 1844.
Southwest Washington Class 1A Girls Basketball District Tournament at Kelso
Montesano 56, Columbia 27
Elma 68, Stevenson 34
Big Sky Conference Boys Basketball Tournament Play-In Games
Dufur 45, Ione 30: The Rangers will meet South Wasco in the tournament semi-finals on Friday in Madras.
Horizon Christian 53, Condon-Wheeler 32: The Hawks advance to play Sherman on Friday in Madras.
Wasco County Sheriff Rick Eiesland told County Commissioners on Wednesday he will be retiring effective April 30. Eiesland had previously announced he would not run for re-election for the job he moved into in 2004. He served the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office for a total of 28 years. After submitting his retirement letter today, Eiesland said he is turning 65 next month, adding law enforcement is a young man’s game, and he feels it’s a good time for a transition. Eiesland recommended County Commissioners appoint Chief Deputy Lane Magill to fill the remainder of his term. Magill has already announced he will run for Sheriff in the upcoming election. Commissioners will act on that at a later date.
The Columbia Gateway Urban Renewal Advisory Committee is asking for more information on a proposal by an Illinois couple to create a cultural and performing arts center in the Granada block area of The Dalles. In their proposal, Charles Gomez and Debra Liddell include development of the Blue Building for retail or restaurant opportunities along with some loft apartments, and four retail storefronts and a banquet hall in the Recreation Building, along with refurbishment of the Granada Theatre as a performing arts center. Committee members decided to ask for more information in part to ensure the pair realized what kind of work will need to take place to rehabilitate the Granada. A recommendation from the committee had been expected for consideration this Monday by the City Council in its capacity as the Urban Renewal Agency board, but City Economic Development Project Coordinator Daniel Hunter indicated that will be pulled from the agenda until more information is received. The agency received three different proposals for the Granada block. In other business, the advisory committee recommended using urban renewal funds to purchase the Tony’s Town and Country building rather than borrow from the City. In January, the agency entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement between the agency and Tokola Properties of Gresham to turn the building into a mixed-use development. Cost of the property is $450,000, and is currently held under a purchase agreement between the URA and the property owners. The sale needs to be finished by March 1.
Columbia River Conference Boys Basketball
Pendleton 93, Hood River Valley 51: The Buckaroos led from start to finish at Vannet Court, as Daniel Adams led five Pendleton players in double figure scoring with 26 points. Parker Kennedy topped HRV with 19.
Hermiston 79, The Dalles 58: The Bulldogs roared back from a 20-7 first quarter deficit to seize control of second place in the Columbia River Conference. Chance Flores led Hermiston with 28 points, while Dakota Murr tallied 25 for the Riverhawks.
Columbia River Conference Girls Basketball
Hermiston 62, The Dalles 22
Pendleton 71, Hood River Valley 33
Greater Columbia League Girls Basketball Tournament
Lyle-Wishram 73, Yakama Tribal 54: Lacy Carse scored 33 points on ten three-point field goals to help the Cougars clinch a berth in the Washington Class 1B regionals next weekend. MaeLynn Luke added 29 points, as Lyle-Wishram will face Sunnyside Christian in the district title game on Friday evening at 6 p.m. in Zillah.
Big Sky Conference Girls Basketball Tournament Play-In Games
Horizon Christian 38, South Wasco 32: The Hawks advance to play Condon-Wheeler in the Big Sky Tourney Semi-Finals on Friday at 6 p.m. in Madras.
Arlington 57, Dufur 26
The Port of Hood River’s next step in preparing the old Hanel Mill site for development is to get utilities in place. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says they have learned they will be responsible for an off-site water line upgrade to provide for fire suppression needs, and it could cost up to $325,000. McElwee said it is not clear whether or not this could delay completion of the project, but the Port does have to sort out how to finance the work. He adds removal of the waste from the old log pond on the site is not yet done, but will probably take place in spring.
It may only be February, but planning for this year’s Northwest Cherry Festival is in full swing. The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Lisa Farquharson says planning sessions have been on-going for the last three months. She says this year’s theme will be “Highway to Cherrytown,” tying in with the 100th anniversary of the Historic Columbia River Highway. Farquharson adds by having the Festival theme tie into the highway, the event will be promoted by the state as it publicizes the anniversary celebration for the road. The Northwest Cherry Festival will take place from April 22-24, and applications for the April 23 parade are available at thedalleschamber.com.
The remodeling of White Salmon City Hall after three years of negotiations with the municipal insurance carrier is underway. Mayor David Poucher says the reconstruction of the building, which suffered water damage after a pipe broke three years ago, got started after a settlement was reached with the insurance company to provide over 300-thousand dollars on the claim. When done, City offices will move back in the building, and the White Salmon-Bingen Police Department will move into the building that has served as an interim City Hall. Poucher is hoping City Hall will reopen in early summer.