Beginning Monday, drivers passing between the interchanges at Highways 97 and 14 can expect intermittent daytime delays and lane closures as a new widening project gets underway. Crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will add a right-turn lane from the westbound SR 14 approach to northbound US 97. During the closures, flaggers will direct drivers through the area using alternating, one-way traffic control. Drivers passing through the area can expect delays of up to 10 minutes. The lane closures are expected to last until Thursday, July 10, and construction on the project should be complete by Friday, July 25.
Oregon and Washington fishery managers announced the Bonneville Pool will re-open for sturgeon retention on July 11-12 and July 18-19. On these days the mainstem Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to The Dalles Dam will be open for the retention of sturgeon between 38-inches and 54-inches fork length. Sturgeon fishing is prohibited in the sturgeon spawning sanctuary from The Dalles Dam downstream 1.8 miles to a line from the east (upstream) dock of the Port of The Dalles boat ramp straight across to a marker on the Washington shore through July 31. For The Dalles Pool and adjacent tributaries, managers announced an August 1 closure based on low catch rates in recent years and a shift in angler effort to fall salmon and steelhead. The pool will remain open for catch-and-release fishing through the end of the year.
Columbia River Chinook anglers can celebrate the Fourth of July with some fishing, as fishery managers announced that the lower Columbia River is re-open to summer Chinook through Sunday (July 6). The fishery will be open from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to Bonneville Dam with a daily bag limit of two adult salmonids – Chinook, steelhead or sockeye – per day. All Chinook and steelhead must be fin-clipped. Oregon and Washington fishery managers announced the re-opening of sockeye salmon retention on the lower river through July 31. The re-opening is based on run strength and the harvest to date. From this, managers calculated there were enough fish remaining on the harvest guideline for four additional days of fishing.
The Dalles City Councilors gave instructions to the municipal planning commission on where to proceed on how to deal with the costs of residential infill development, including the immediate elimination of current waivers of non-remonstrance on local improvement districts. Mayor Steve Lawrence says that is important because it simply “sticks in the craw” of some landowners, and they keep hearing the waivers are impeding the ability to sell properties. Other instructions to the planning panel included developing a network of key streets that would be subject to full improvement, creating a possible cap on the amount that could be charged to a residential property owner, and make storm water systems the City’s responsibility.
The City of The Dalles has retained the services of a business recruitment specialist. Gary Rains has many years of experience of business marketing and development, most recently with Cascade Locks. Rains will work with the City to serve as the principal contact for businesses looking to locate in the area. He will work with all interested parties, and facilitate activities that will bring new businesses to The Dalles. City Councilors recently agreed to a request from Mayor Steve Lawrence and City Manager Nolan Young to bring on a business recruitment specialist for a six-month trial period. The Port of The Dalles is partnering with the City in the effort.
Yakima businessman Ben Shoval surprisingly dropped out of the race for position two from the 14th District in the Washington State House, citing internal polling showing it was unlikely he would win. Shoval said he could not in clear conscience continue to ask supporters to give their time, money, and energy to the campaign. An edited copy of the poll done by Pulse Opinion Research of Arlington, Texas obtained by the Yakima Herald-Republic showed the lone Democrat in the race, Paul George, leading with 29 percent, followed by Goldendale Republican Gina McCabe at 21 percent, Shoval with 13 percent, Yakima Republican Adam Yoest with seven percent, and 26 percent undecided. One factor may have been the poll showing 30 percent of respondents saying they had a “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” opinion of Shoval, while 54 percent said it was important a candidate have lived in the area for more than five or six years. Shoval moved to Yakima from New York City five years ago. Shoval endorsed McCabe for the House seat. McCabe recently was endorsed by former Congressman Sid Morrison, and has backing from a number of area agricultural growers. Shoval and McCabe were the clear leaders in fundraising.
Maryhill Winery of Goldendale was named Winery of the Year at the 2014 San Francisco International Winery Competition. Maryhill won 30 awards for its wines at this year’s competition, including three double gold, four gold, 10 silver, 11 bronze, and two Best of Show honors. The San Francisco Wine Competition is the largest in the United States, with more than 1,400 wineries from 26 states and 31 countries taking part. A panel of nearly 60 wine industry professionals and journalists do blind tastings of the wines. With its performance in the San Francisco competition, Maryhill Winery will take part in an 11-city tour for trade and media with other top medal winners.
A local group is holding an on-line discussion this month on the lower White Salmon River restoration effort. The Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group inviting people to share their goals and priorities as a fish habitat conservation strategy for the lower six miles of the White Salmon River is developed. People can take part in the on-line discussion through July 20 at the group’s website, midcolumbiarfeg.com. The lower White Salmon River became free-flowing after the breach and removal of Condit Dam.
North Wasco County School District 21 board members are beginning to discuss reducing the number of zones members represent and adding an at-large position. Currently each board member represents one of seven zones, but the group is now considering dropping to six zones and including an at-large seat. Superintendent Candy Armstrong says that is because they have had difficulty filling the zone three seat, which is in the western end of The Dalles and is currently vacant. She adds each zone must be divided equally by population. Armstrong says the board has just begun discussing the concept. If the D-21 board decides to make a change, it needs to be finalized by November to allow the at-large seat to be a part of school board elections in May.
Orchardists probably won’t know the impact of late night and early morning rains on the region’s cherry crop for about a day or so. Oregon State University Wasco County Extension Agent Lynn Long says the Cherry Heights area of The Dalles received less than two-tenths of an inch of rain overnight, while Dufur received a third of an inch. Long says a number of growers have been putting anti-cracking agents on their cherries recently developed by OSU and Washington State University. Long notes many orchardists are in the heart of Bing cherry harvests, with Skeena cherries to follow.