The White Salmon Valley School District is in the process of finishing the first draft of a study and survey of its facilities. It’s a requirement of the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction as a first step in planning for capital projects. Superintendent Jerry Lewis says a task force made up of a district board member, staff, and community members have been working on the study along with the Southwest Washington Educational Service District. Lewis says the district is currently dealing with capacity issues, particularly at the K-8 level.
Hood River Valley def. Pendleton 25-16, 25-12, 14-25, 25-23: The Eagles won their Columbia River Conference opener, defeating Pendleton for the first time in three years. Rebecca Johnston had 18 perfect passes and 25 digs, while Emily Curtis had 26 assists.
The Dalles def. Redmond 25-15, 25-16, 25-12
Kalama def. Columbia 25-15, 25-15, 25-10
King’s Way Christian def. Stevenson 25-12, 25-23, 25-9
Dufur def. South Wasco 25-16, 25-18, 25-16
Horizon Christian def. Sherman 25-23, 25-22, 13-25, 27-25
Goldendale def. LaSalle 21-25, 25-8, 25-18, 25-18
Hood River Valley 2, Central Catholic 0
Ridgeview 1, The Dalles 0
Central Catholic 3, Hood River Valley 0
Ridgeview 2, The Dalles 1
King’s Way Christian 9, Columbia 0
Hood River City Councilors gave more detailed instructions to municipal staff on what they want to see done with short-term rentals in their ordinances as the affordable housing discussion continues. City Manager Steve Wheeler says they are looking at breaking short-term rentals in to three categories. One category would involve renting out rooms in a home the property owner lives in and another would involve long-term residents of at least 270 days a year with an auxiliary short-term use, and Wheeler said both would be allowed. But a third category that would involve properties the owner doesn’t live at and are managed for short-term rentals would be targeted for what Wheeler termed a “very gradual” phase out involving an amortization period. Mayor Paul Blackburn believes they would begin with permits for already existing vacation rentals, with the possibility that as properties sell they would not be renewed. Blackburn said he feels the housing stock is so limited by the urban growth boundary that Hood River needs people living in the houses it has.
After a series of town hall meetings in communities heavily impacted by recent wildfires, Oregon Second District Congressman Greg Walden renewed his call for the Senate to pass meaningful forest reform legislation to help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. The Hood River Republican says while there needs to be change in how the government pays for fighting wildfires to be more reasonable and rational, that’s nothing compared to the need to better manage federal forests. Walden wants the Senate to take action on the Resilient Federal Forests Act, which passed the House in July.
It’s too early to draw full conclusions on enrollment, but after one week of classes in the Hood River County School District it is apparent that three elementary schools are at capacity. Superintendent Dan Goldman says the crowding issues are at Westside, May Street. and Mid-Valley elementary schools. He says they are reaching a crisis point, and while they were able to add a teacher at Mid-Valley and a kindergarten teacher at Westside was brought in to handle an unexpected jump in enrollment, there isn’t really any place else in those facilities to create more classroom space. The district is in the midst of a long-term facilities planning process, and recommendations are expected from a committee in a few months.
The Bingen City Council is taking applications for a new member. Councilors are looking to fill a position that will run into the 2017 general election. Mayor Betty Barnes says the time commitment includes two Council meetings a month, and some committee meetings. Applicants must have lived in Bingen for at least one year and be a registered voter. For information contact Bingen City Hall at 509-493-2122.
By a 4-1 vote, The Dalles City Council voted to terminate the employment contract of City Manager Nolan Young. Councilors and Mayor Steve Lawrence would not comment on the termination, saying they could not offer an explanation on a personnel matter. Lawrence did make a statement after the vote, saying Young had many accomplishments during his over 18 year tenure on the job, including his work on municipal budget matters, the recent negotiations for the third Google enterprise zone agreement that will result in payments to the City and Wasco County of over a million dollars per year for 15 years, and his resilience. He added that Young had supported him in his office.
Lawrence said the search for a new City Manager will now begin, noting the City Charter requires a full-time replacement within six months and they have the resources of the League of Oregon Cities available to them, even though the Council might decide to hire a consulting firm to assist in finding a replacement. Young did not comment after the vote.
Linda Miller made the motion to terminate, seconded by Russ Brown, and Tim McGlothlin and Taner Elliott voted in favor. Elliott said he hoped people would “remember the past and embrace the future.” Dan Spatz cast the lone no vote, and he said afterwards he would let the vote speak for itself.
The termination will be effective on November 15, but Young is leaving office immediately. City Clerk Julie Krueger was named interim City Manager, with Councilors noting City Attorney Gene Parker unavailable to take that role at this time due to the death of his wife Dixie. The termination activated a severance pay agreement included in Young’s 2009 employment agreement, amended to compensate for 80 hours of compensatory time, unused vacation time, and half of his accrued sick leave.
The Horsethief Butte Fire near Wishram went into the evening at 70 percent containment, and all evacuation advisories have been lifted. Klickitat County Emergency Management indicated 8,538 acres had burned, and 22 miles of fire line established. No homes were lost and crews are still assessing the extent of damage to outbuildings. Washington Department of Natural Resources fire investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire. The Southeast Washington All Hazards Incident Management Team took command of the fire and is working with resources from Washington State Mobilization, Department of Natural Resources, Forest Service and local fire districts. Highway 14 through the area reopened late Monday morning. The grass fire started shortly after noon on Sunday in the area of Oak Creek Road, and quickly spread east.
Klickitat County Emergency Management says the Horsethief Butte Fire in south central Klickitat County is now considered 50 percent contained, and has burned 8,000 acres. Nearly 300 people who were forced from their homes Sunday evening by the fast-growing wildfire have been allowed to return to their homes, with the evacuation advisory reduced to Level 1. Highway 14 through the fire area was reopened this morning, but for firefighter safety the public is asked to use alternate travel routes between Highways 197 and 97. No homes have been lost, but an undetermined number of outbuildings have been lost or damaged. This morning the Southeast Washington Management Team took command of the fire and is working with resources from the state Department of Natural Resources, Forest Service, and local fire districts to contain the fire. The plan for today is to establish control lines, conduct mop-up activities and provide an accurate fire perimeter to determine the jurisdictions that are affected by the fire. Strong, gusty winds and dry ground conditions led to extreme fire growth Sunday afternoon. The fire started at 12:10 p.m. Sunday. DNR fire investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire. The Red Cross shelter at My Father’s House Church at 207 S Klickitat St in Goldendale is still open to provide services and information.
Lila May, the little girl who touched the heart of Hood River and the Gorge during her battle with stage IV neuroblastoma, passed away over the weekend. Lila May’s mother Heidi Hall posted the news on her Facebook page. The post said Lila May passed away on Saturday, days after the family had returned from a trip to Hawaii. Lila May had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma when she was 17 months old. Her story drew support from local residents and many others as she endured countless medical procedures for the majority of her life. Last month, the community celebrated her fifth birthday with a party that was attended by what was estimated to be over one-thousand guests. A celebration of Lila May’s life will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at the Hood River Middle School Auditorium. Arrangements are being handled through Gardner Funeral Home in White Salmon.