The Port of Hood River Commission approved a $285,200 dollar contract with a New Jersey company to create a support system for the existing software in use for tolling on the Interstate Bridge, and put in place a new package in use at other toll facilities to streamline the operation. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says the original designers of the current automated tolling system have retired, so they need the support system for its maintenance while a new streamlined operation is installed. McElwee says the new package will be more reliable than what they currently have, with a less expensive transponder and allow customers to have the ability to manage their own account. McElwee expects it will take over a year to get the new system ready…and the Port plans to run both systems during a transition period.
Hood River County is closing in on becoming eligible for a federal Livestock Feed Program for cattle producers. The County was listed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture seven weeks ago as a D-2, or severe drought, area. Wasco and Hood River County Farm Service Agency Executive Director Kevin MacIntyre says if the designation reaches an eighth week, Hood River County cattle owners will become eligible for the program, which covers animal death from extreme heat, or loss of feed from a native range or improved pasture. The designation is determined by an on-line nationwide drought monitor system. McIntyre says the FSA will publically announce when the eight-week point is reached. Wasco County has already passed the eight-week threshold, and FSA is taking cattle producer applications for the Livestock Feed Program.
Wasco County authorities are searching for a 63-year-old woman who has not been seen since Monday afternoon. Kristy Beachamp of Wasco County Emergency Management says Lucia Flores was last seen about 4 p.m. on Monday in the area of Reservoir Road in The Dalles. Flores is described as Hispanic, and was wearing a pink shirt, black pants, and pink shoes, carrying a black bag and a blue Walmart bag. Residents living in the area of Reservoir Road are asked to check their property, including yards and outbuildings. Please call Wasco County Sheriff’s Office at 541-296-5454 if you have any information. (Photo courtesy of the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office).
Fire crews were getting the upper hand on a series of fires along Highway 197 from The Dalles to Dufur. The initial fire Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue crews responded to was a ten to fifteen acre field fire on Highway 197 between mileposts three and four near the Auction Yard. But then another four to fires were reported in a north to south pattern down to Eight Mile Road off of 197. MCFR’s Dave Lapof said crews were getting the fires controlled with one division coming from the north and the other working from the south and moving toward the middle. There is no estimate on the total acreage burned at this time. Crews from Dallesport, Dufur, Hood River, the Oregon Department of Forestry, and the U.S. Forest Service were assisting MCFR. MCFR, the Forest Service, and ODF will be investigating the cause of the fires. The Oregon Department of Transportation closed Highway 197 six miles south of its intersection with Interstate 84 for a brief time as a result of the fires, but it has been reopened.
The two brothers facing murder charges in the 2014 disappearance of a Parkdale man have had their trials scheduled for mid-February of next year. Hood River County Circuit Judge Karen Ostrye set bail at $1,000,000 for both 22-year-old Donald Matthew Schneider and 27-year-old Michael David Schneider during a brief court proceeding Tuesday. Both men face murder, burglary, and theft charges along with other accusations in the disappearance of Jason Muschawek. Ostrye set the trial for both men to begin on February 16, with the expectation of a three-week trial. A status hearing has been scheduled for September 15. A third brother facing theft and burglary charges in the case, 23-year-old Peter Damian Schneider, will appear in court on Wednesday.
Oregon Second District Congressman Greg Walden says while Congress must carefully review details of the agreement restricting Iran’s nuclear development in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against Tehran, he will do all he can to stop a bad deal that threatens the safety of American troops, allies, and citizens. The Hood River Republican thinks the Obama Administration is rewarding bad behavior with permanent benefits in exchange for a temporary delay in their nuclear program. Congressional Republicans are openly hostile to the deal, while some Democrats are also skeptical. After receiving a copy of the agreement…Congress will have 60 days to study it before voting it up or down or taking no action, and President Obama says he will use his veto to overturn an outright rejection by Congress.
The North Central Public Health District has scheduled a second T-dap vaccine clinic for this Thursday to deal with a pertussis outbreak. District officials say 80 people attended the first clinic last week to administer the vaccine that fights against tetanus and diptheria along with pertussis. This Thursday’s clinic will run from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at The Dalles Middle School. T-Dap vaccine is also available at your doctor’s office and pharmacy. Since the first case of pertussis was reported to the North Central Public Health Distirct last month, the number of reported cases has grown to 17.
Hood River City Councilors awarded the contract for the May Street Safe Routes to School project to Crestline Construction for close to $500,000. City Manager Steve Wheeler says work on the project could begin as early as next week. It is intended to improve the intersection at 17th and May and make changes to parking and bicycle lanes to improve safety. The project is being paid for primarily through a state grant, with some local matching monies involved.
Fire officials expect to complete mopping up the Riley and Horseshoe Fires in the Mt. Adams Complex on Friday. The complex is now 83 percent contatined. Washington Incident Management Team commander Brian Gales says firefighters are working to establish a good perimeter around the Riley Fire, with the rugged terrain slowing progress. The 63-acre Riley Fire is the focus of three firefighting crews that are mopping up abundant hot spots throughout the burned area. The crews are finding them, spraying water over charred logs and turning over smoldering duff. One crew and a faller group remain at the Horseshoe Fire to seek out and mitigate remaining heat. A crew has been identified for initial attack on any new fires. The Spiral Fire, which burned an acre of timber in the Big Lava Bed 15 miles west of the Complex Sunday, was also suppressed by firefighters from the incident and Mt. Adams Ranger District.
Washington 14th District Republican state legislators Curtis King and Norm Johnson made a swing through Klickitat and Skamania counties Tuesday, meeting with various local governmental officials and media. Both are talking about the just completed 175-day marathon session. Johnson said while the session took too long, in the end he felt both the state and the district saw gains, and King had similar feelings. King and Johnson both particularly pointed out the passage of a transportation package and significant cuts in public college tuitions as key measures to come of the session.