Wasco County Commissioners and The Dalles City Council approved a list of eleven projects to split $250,000 from the initial payment from Google as part of the enterprise zone agreement for its data center that is just beginning construction. County Commissioner Rod Runyon says they were targeting projects that could be done quickly. The largest award was $50,000 to the Mid-Columbia Senior Center for installation of an elevator between the facility’s main floor and basement. Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation, Wasco County 4-H and Extension, Fort Dalles Museum, the cities of Dufur and Mosier, The Dalles Main Street, Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation, and The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce all received funds.
The Columbia Gorge Community College Board of Education has filled a vacancy on the panel. Long-time The Dalles resident Carmelo Gamez was appointed to fill position one, which represents Wasco County. The seat became vacant when M.D. Van Valkenburgh stepped aside from the post. Gamez will fill the seat for the remainder of the term, ending June 30, 2017. That position will be on the special district elections ballot next spring.
The Next Door, which runs over two dozen programs to support and empower people in the Mid-Columbia region, is conducting a fundraising campaign to mark the organization’s 45th anniversary. The Next Door is working to raise $45,000 in 45 days, with longtime supporters Phil and Judy Jensen offering to match the first 15-thousand dollars raised. The Next Door began in 1971 with a group home in Hood River that eventually became the Klahre House day-treatment center and year-round alternative high school. The organization will host the Hood River Chamber of Commerce Coffee Clatter at 8 a.m. on July 15. Executive Director Janet Hamada says they want to reconnect and celebrate with former staff, teachers, students and program participants, community partners, donors and anyone else who wants to mark the Next Door’s anniversary.
In spite of varying weather conditions during harvest time, the outlook for Columbia Gorge cherries remains good, but rain in Mosier and the Hood River Valley on Monday night has caused some damage. Oregon State University Extension Agent Lynn Long says how much damage orchards in those locations suffered is still being determined. With hot weather ten days ago and cooler temperatures the past few days, Long says harvest times for Bing cherries around the region are a bit compressed. Long pointed out the cooler temperatures of the past five or six days has slowed ripening. He also noted the harvest should allow growers to get cherries to market in the important July 4th window.
The Dalles City Council has sent back to the Planning Commission the recommendations that panel had developed for time, place, and manner regulations for the processing, production, retailing, and wholesaling of marijuana. Mayor Steve Lawrence says one of the issues was a recommendation to extend the buffer to 1,000 feet around churches, pre-schools, and schools. The Council has asked for maps with 500 and 750 foot buffers. The Council is also seeking more definition on what would qualify as a pre-school or church. They also want the planning commission to look at allowing processing and production uses in light industrial zones as has been proposed in heavy industrial areas.
The Hood River City Council has asked staff to research more information as they remain without the requisite votes needed to pass zoning code amendments in regard to short-term rentals in residential zones. City Manager Steve Wheeler says they will be gathering success stories from other communities that have addressed the issue. Currently three Councilors have preferred a municipal planning commission proposal to require short-term rental owners in residential zones to be primary residents, while others want a cap and density distribution plan. Four must agree for anything to be passed, with one council seat currently vacant and one councilor having recused herself from the issue due to potential conflict of interest.
The Hood River County Administrator search has reached a point where interviews have been scheduled with five finalists. County Commission Chair Ron Rivers says a public function with all the finalists is being planned for June 29, with interviews the next day. Discussing the process on Mid-Columbia Today, Rivers said 20 people in addition to the five commissioners will be involved in the interviews, divided into four panels. The list of finalists will be made public prior to the June 29 event. Current County Administrator David Meriwether retires on June 30, but he has agreed to continue in an interim and advisory capacity until a new administrator is in place.
A second effort for water system upgrades for the Port of The Dalles Marina is about to be installed. Port of The Dalles Executive Director Andrea Klaas says the system was originally upgraded and replaced two years ago, but it didn’t function as originally envisioned. Klaas says it has been redesigned and installation will begin this week. Klaas adds the system should be fairly maintenance free but will receive quarterly checks. She also says the Port general fund is paying the $45,000 cost for the project while also trying to recoup the funds spent on the first system.
A fire ten miles east of Grass Valley is now listed at 50 percent containment level. The Currie Canyon fire was sparked by lightning on Wednesday. The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center’s morning update indicated the size of the fire has been increased to 6,200 acres due to burnout operations. Fire behavior is now termed as minimal. The fire had been threatening some recreation areas.
A Spokane man was injured in a motorcycle accident early Monday morning on Highway 97 south of Goldendale. According to the Washington State Patrol, 49-year-old Charles McWhorter was northbound on Highway 97 near the lower junction with Highway 14 at about 3:50 Monday morning when the accident occurred. The WSP report says McWhorter’s motorcycle left the roadway on a curve to the left. He then lost control and went straight, laying the bike down in a wide spot in the road. McWhorter was taken to Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles for treatment of injuries. The WSP report indicated speed was factor in the accident.