In Wasco County, there are two locally contested elections after the filing deadline. One matchup has been known for sometime, as long-time journalist Rodger Nichols challenges incumbent Steve Kramer for position two on the Wasco County Commission. There are also two candidates for County Treasurer, with Ryan Rooper and Elijah Preston filing for the seat. Lane Magill is the lone Sheriff’s candidate, as he looks to succeed the retiring Rick Eiesland, while incumbent District Attorney Eric Nisley, Clerk Lisa Gambee, and Assessor Jill Amery are all unopposed.
There will be some contested area seats in the Oregon Legislature this election cycle. Two Democrats have filed in House District 52, as Mark Reynolds and Walt Trandum seek to oppose incumbent Republican Mark Johnson, who is unopposed for his party’s nomination. In the 59th District, Republican John Huffman has filed for re-election, while Tyler Gabriel is the lone Democrat in the race. Incumbent Greg Smith is unopposed in the 57th District. Two Democrats, Stormy Gayle Ray and W. Mark Stringer, have filed to challenge Republican Ted Ferrioli in the 30th Senate District, while Republican 29th District Senator Bill Hansell is opposed by independent Barbara Dickerson. Circuit Court Judges Janet Stauffer and John Wolf are unopposed for their positions. Oregon Second District Congressman Greg Walden is being challenged in the Republican primary by Paul Romero, while James Crary is the lone Democrat to file.
Wasco County and a number of municipalities within the county are exploring the possibility of sharing the costs to hire someone to deal with nuisance code violations. County Commissioner Steve Kramer explains code compliance officers from Wasco County and the City of The Dalles are overloaded with cases, and Dufur, Maupin, and Mosier can use some help dealing with nuisance issues. Kramer says Dufur Mayor Robert Wallace brought up the concept, and officials have met once to begin to explore the possibility of sharing costs for such a person. Whether it would be a part-time or full-time position has not been determined.
The Hood River Police Department is seeking the public’s help as it investigates the assault of a Trout Lake man ten days ago. According to the department, Kozen Sampson reported he got out of his vehicle in the area of 12th and Eugene to do obedience training with his dogs when he was approached by a man who yelled and kicked Sampson’s car door, hitting Sampson in the head. The man then referred to Sampson as a Muslim and walked away. Sampson is a Buddhist Monk and was dressed in a brown robe at the time. He sustained injuries to his face from the attack. The suspect is described as a white male with brown hair. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Hood River Police Detective Sal Rivera at 541-387-5257.
The Skyline Hospital Foundation will honor one of the hospital’s long-time employees and volunteers during their annual Cultivate Columbia event on Saturday. The foundation’s Elizabeth Vaivoda says O.J. Hecomovich has been a nurse and community volunteer at Skyline for more than 60 years. Hecomovich worked in Skyline’s surgery department for a number of years, and now volunteers each week to escort guests to their destination in the hospital, and takes care of the plants and flowers in the facility. Cultivate Columbia is an art, dinner, and auction event that benefits the Skyline Foundation’s various programs and services, and will take place in the hospital’s meeting space this Saturday evening.
County health departments and various public and private agencies are about to embark on conducting a regional community health assessment. The assessment will involve Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, Klickitat, and Skamania counties, and is required by public health districts, coordinated care organizations, and hospitals. Hood River County Health Department director Ellen Larsen says they are trying to structure this assessment where all interested parties are on the same page. Larsen noted collaboration in this area has brought over two million dollars of grant funds into the region. Larsen said they will start the survey this summer as they try to take advantage of public events to do outreach, with results back by late fall.
Authorities are saying troopers who shot and killed rancher LaVoy Finicum, one of an armed group that occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for several weeks, were justified in their actions. They say the officers believed Finicum was reaching for a loaded gun at the time. Harney County District Attorney Tim Colahan Tuesday said Finicum alone is responsible for what happened. Also announced Tuesday: the Department of Justice is investigating FBI agents who were at the scene who might have fired shots during the incident and failed to report it.
Wasco County is receiving a grant of just over 290-thousand dollars to do three-quarters-of-a-mile of improvements to the Tygh Valley-Wamic Road. The money is coming from the Federal Lands Access Program, and Commissioner Steve Kramer says the grant comes as a bit of a surprise, as the County thought it was no longer in the running for it. The work will involve new pavement, guardrails, and signs, extending improvements done to another piece of the road last year. Kramer noted grants like this one are crucial for the County to get needed road work done.
Washington 14th District Representative Norm Johnson says he is not impressed by Governor Jay Inslee’s threat to veto bills on his desk unless a supplemental budget arrives on his desk by Thursday, the final scheduled day of the 60-day session. Johnson, a Republican, says the Governor, a Democrat, is out of line, noting it is not unusual for a budget agreement to not be in place at this point of a session. Inslee said while negotiations between the Democratic-led House and the Republican-led Senate are continuing, lawmakers need to “pick up that pace substantially.”
The Hood River County Chamber of Commerce is putting together a relocation packet outlining why someone should live and work in the community. Chamber Membership Manager Matt Werbach says they took on the task when larger employers in the region said they were having trouble finding qualified employees to help move their companies forward. He says the packet looks to highlight the advantages of living in Hood River. Werbach says the information will also address one of the major issues facing people trying to move to Hood River, finding housing at an affordable price. Werbach says when the packet is finished, it will be made available to local businesses and put on the Chamber’s website, hoodriver.org. He adds the information will be updated as needed.