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.
Leaders from several Washington and Oregon tribes gathered at the site of the Union Pacific oil train derailment in Mosier Thursday. Tribes expressed their concerns about the transport of fossil fuels through their lands because of the risk it poses to the environment and their treaty fishing rights. Yakama Nation chair JoDe Goudy said the derailment threatens their way of life, putting fishing rights at risk. The gathering took place on the 161st anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of 1855 between the Yakama Nation and the United States government. Tribal leaders from Yakama Nation were also joined by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who currently serves as Chief Prosecuting Attorney for Riverkeeper and President and Senior Attorney for the Waterkeeper Alliance.
After receiving largely positive results in a survey of 300 registered voters, North Wasco County School District 21 officials now move forward in developing possible projects for a capital improvements bond measure. 62 percent of respondents said they had a positive feeling about the quality of education provided in D-21, and 55 percent were willing to pay more to repair or replace buildings. D-21 Chief Financial Officer Randy Anderson says the survey results maintains momentum for the building discussion. An education facilities symposium put on by a community task force on the subject will take place on June 18 at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at Mid-Columbia Senior Center.
Oregon Second District Congressman Greg Walden addressed the House on Wednesday about Friday’s train derailment near Mosier. Walden pledged to continue working with federal, state, and local officials to learn more about what happened and what can be done to make sure it never happens again. He added progress must continue to be made on rail safety issues, and new cars ordered by Congress get put into service. Walden visited the site of the incident over the weekend to meet with community leaders and first responders.
Crews in Mosier have completed transloading all oil from derailed tank cars off-site. A total of 13 cars involved in Friday’s derailment were offloaded. The recovered oil was transferred by truck to The Dalles and is now staged for transport by rail to Tacoma, its original destination, at a date to be determined. As of Wednesday morning, crews have cleaned and decontaminated all of the derailed cars, and moved two of them from the site. The empty tanker cars are being transported by truck to Portland, a process that should continue through the end of the week. Once the rail cars have been removed, crews will begin removing contaminated soil and continue other environmental cleanup and monitoring activities. Meanwhile, various groups continue to protest oil trains coming through the Gorge. The Hood River City Council reiterated a resolution it had earlier passed in opposition. Today, clergy from the Columbia River Gorge, including Members of Gorge Ecumenical Ministries and the Mount Adams Ministerial Association, gathered to express their support for the City of Mosier’s call to stop train traffic through the site of Friday’s oil train derailment until the cause of the accident is determined. And representatives of Northwest tribes will gather in Mosier tomorrow to say the incident risks their fishing rights.
Hood River City Councilors began to look at operational regulations for short-term rentals at a special meeting Tuesday evening. Councilors reviewed a preliminary draft that will come back to them at their June 27 meeting at the earliest. The fee to register STR’s will be set by resolution rather than ordinance, but City Manager Steve Wheeler says right now a figure between $200 and $250 is being considered. These regulations would be regardless of where an STR is located, but there is still a question of how far the Council can go with these until decisions are made on the zoning issues of where STR’s are allowed. Those deliberations stalled in a split vote last month, with the Council establishing an up to six month moratorium on all new STR’s in residential zones while attempts are made to find agreement.
A bill authored by Oregon Congressmen Greg Walden and Earl Blumenauer to force the U.S. Forest Service to complete the Mt. Hood Cooper Spur Land Exchange passed the House by a vote of 401-2. The bill directs the Forest Service to move forward with the underlying land exchange first approved by Congress in 2009. The 2009 law authorizes a land exchange to allow development of 120 acres of federal land in Government Camp in exchange for 770 acres of non-federal land at Cooper Spur and stated that the Forest Service should complete the exchange within 16 months. The bill passed Wednesday restates Congress’ intent that the Forest Service move quickly to complete the exchange, addresses disagreements over a conservation easement, and allows for a more transparent appraisal process. Identical legislation introduced in the Senate by Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley was passed by that body in April as part of a broader energy and resources bill.