Oregon State 52nd District Representative Mark Johnson says an e-mail campaign advocating for increased funding for K-12 education is the best grassroots efforts he has seen as a legislator. But whether it will result in change is an open question. The Ways and Means co-chairs budget number of seven-point-two-three-five billion dollars is not considered enough. Johnson says they need to get to at least seven-point-five billion to even tread water, and he is frustrated by a continued drop in K-12’s share of the state general fund budget dating back to the 2003-05 biennium. The Hood River Republican says the education budget is the top discussion point among legislators at this time.
Washington lawmakers are becoming increasingly concerned about this year’s drought conditions, and the potential for increased fire danger. 14th District Representative Norm Johnson says state officials are going to hold a meeting in Olympia on April 2 with federal deputy chief of state and private forestry Jim Hubbard to discuss forest health and the fire danger the Northwest will probably face this year. Johnson added one of the people who will take part in the meeting is SDS Lumber President Jason Spadaro, who will represent mill and forest owners during the discussion.
The Dalles 17, David Douglas 6: The Riverhawks win their second straight game to begin the season.
Newberg 3, The Dalles 1
Track and Field
Centennial 68, Hood River Valley 67: Centennial won the final event, four by 400 meter relay, to win the season-opening dual meet. Parker Irusta won three events for HRV, while Thomas Morrell III did the same for Centennial.
Hood River Valley 73, Centennial 59: Jestena Mattson won three events for HRV, while Sascha Bockius won a pair.
Hood River Valley 7, Gresham 1
Gresham 7, Hood River Valley 1: Maddy Graham won the lone match for HRV.
The man who died in Monday’s standoff and house fire in The Dalles has been identified as William Rengigas. Wasco County District Attorney Eric Nisley says an autopsy by State Medical Examiner Karin Gunson found Rengigas died of smoke inhalation in the fire at 1100 Mt. Hood Street, and ruled it a suicide because he could have left the building at any time before the smoke overcame him. Wasco County Sheriff’s deputies went to the house to serve Rengigas eviction papers authorizing his forcible removal from the residence after it was repossessed by the financial institution that owned it. Officers heard gunshots from inside the house and retreated, then observed smoke coming from the eaves of the home as additional law enforcement officers arrived and tried to get Rengigas to come out. After a number of hours the Oregon State Police SWAT team breached the house and the fire accelerated. Firefighters found Rengigas dead. Evidence suggested that Rengigas shot and killed one of his dogs…while the second was found dead at Rengigas’ feet by investigators. The fire was determined to have been set by Rengigas. The public is asked to assist law enforcement in locating any family members of Rengigas. Efforts by law enforcement to find any next of kin have been unsuccessful.
The body of the resident who died after barricading himself into a house at 1100 Mt. Hood Street in The Dalles on Monday has been sent to the Oregon Medical Examiner’s office in Clackamas to determine the cause of death and make a positive identification. Wasco County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Lane Magill says investigators are working on piecing together what happened inside the house after deputies heard gunshots when they attempted to serve eviction documents Monday morning. Soon after that smoke began coming out of the eaves of the house, and a little more than four hours later the house began to be consumed by fire that produced thick black smoke. Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue crews discovered the body after the blaze was extinguished. Officers set up a perimeter around the house and attempted to negotiate with the occupant, but never received a response at any time during the incident. Magill says they are trying to piece together how the person died and the cause of the fire. He adds it may take until Wednesday to reach next of kin and announce the identity of the resident.
We are into the final days to file for the Oregon’s special districts election in May, and there are still some positions in Hood River and Wasco counties lacking candidates. In Hood River County positions with no one having filed include a seat on the Hood River County Transportation district board, three seats on the Parkdale Rural Fire District and Parkdale Sanitation panels, and two seats on the Crystal Springs Water District and Port of Cascade Locks boards. Offices with no candidates in Wasco County include the zone three seat for North Wasco County School District 21, zone five in the South Wasco County School District, two Dufur School Board positions, various numbers of seats on the Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue, Mosier, Juniper Flat, Tygh Valley, Columbia Rural, and Wamic fire districts, and the same for water districts in Wamic, Pine Grove, Tooley, and Tygh Valley. Filing deadline is Thursday at 5 p.m., and for information contact Hood River County Records and Elections at 541-386-1442 or the Wasco County Clerk’s office at 541-506-2530.
The Port of Hood River is embarking on updating its master plan for the Ken Jernstedt Airfield. The Federal Aviation Administration requires an update every seven years. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee notes the most recent seven year master plan cycle included completion of a shift of the runway location, closure of Orchard Road, and development of a parallel taxiway on the north side of the airfield. McElwee says this cycle may address where the fixed base operator should be located, and the current plan is to move it from the south side of the runway to the north side. McElwee notes the FAA will want to see some other projects in the plan, including perimeter fencing around the airport. The Port’s airport master plan committee meets this Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the WAAAM Museum facility adjacent to the airport.
The cruise ships start to arrive in The Dalles starting April 1. The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Lisa Farquharson says brochures are ready and the Floozies are ready to greet the visitors. She adds the Chamber has sent out a reminder to businesses to put their best foot forward for the guests, and make sure their locations are clean. Farquharson noted there are high school students looking for community service work for credits to graduate, and the Chamber can help businesses get in touch with them to help with their clean-up.
One person is dead after barricading himself inside a house on the 1100 block of Mt. Hood Street in The Dalles for about four hours, and the house eventually was severely damaged by fire that produced thick black smoke Oregon State Police Lieutenant Pat Shortt said as fire crews worked throughout the structure a single fatality was discovered. The name of the deceased person is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. Shortt said the incident began around 8:25 a.m. on Monday when deputies arrived at the house to serve civil papers on the resident living there, but had to back away when gunshots were heard. Officers set up a perimeter around the house and attempted to negotiate with the occupant when smoke began to come from inside the residence. Shortt says officers were never able to speak to the occupant at any time during the incident. The Oregon State Police Arson/Explosives Section arrived on scene, and just before 12:30 p.m. drove an armored car to the house and called for the occupant to come out. It was at that time the fire became intense. Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue crews used a ladder truck to drop water on the fire from above, and then crews were given the go-ahead to approach and attack the fire. The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office is the lead investigative agency. Colonel Wright Elementary School and St. Mary’s Academy were placed in a lockdown that was lifted in about two hours after it was determined there was no immediate threat to students or staff.