The Port of Hood River has reached a settlement agreement with its insurance company in which the Port releases its claims of damages for an alleged allision involving the Interstate Bridge in last September in exchange for the company paying the Port $106,000 and allows access to its specialized engineers. The Port has expended $148,000 at this point in costs related the suspected allision in which an unknown boat is believed to have hit a pier and may have cost to the bridge liftspan, but they have a $250,000 deductible, and Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says it was questionable on whether the Port could have proven the damages in court. The risk for the Port is what the future costs would be if more lift span repairs are needed. McElwee says it will be another three to four weeks before the bridge’s skew monitoring system is operational again, then live testing of the lift span will take place to determine if it can return to normal operations again.
A bill to rename The Dalles veterans’ clinic after Sergeant First Class Loren R. Kaufman, a native of The Dalles and one of Oregon’s 14 Medal of Honor recipients, has been signed into law by the President. The clinic named in his honor will be called the Loren R. Kaufman VA Clinic. Oregon Second District Congressman Greg Walden said the tribute is fitting. Sgt. Kaufman was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his bravery and selfless actions to save his company while serving in the U.S. Army during World War II and the Korean War.
The Hood River County School District has received the results of tests on water quality in district buildings, and it shows all school facilities have clean water that falls within normal water quality limits. The results confirmed previous tests conducted in 2014. The only facility in the district with an elevated lab result was a sink at the District headquarters located in the Human Resources offices. The facility is not used for student instruction. Additional testing of all District Office fixtures will be conducted, while existing water coolers in place for many years will continue to be utilized for all district office staff and visitors while that takes place.
A public hearing before the Wasco County Planning Commission on Union Pacific’s request to expand the existing railroad siding on either side of Mosier for four miles of new second mainline track and realign the existing track has been pushed back to September. County Planning Director Angie Brewer says Union Pacific requested the postponement. The hearing had been set for July 5, and is now planned for September 6. It had already been moved from its originally scheduled date of June 7.
The Hood River County School District board selected Dr. Corinda Hankins Elliott to fill the zone 3 seat on the panel. Hankins Elliott was tabbed from a field of three applicants for the position after interviews on Wednesday evening. Hankins Elliott is a pediatrician who has been a volunteer in a number of May Street Elementary programs in recent years. She will serve on the board for the next year, filling the term of Kateri Osborne-Lohr, who stepped down with the end of the school year after nine years in the position. The seat will be on the May 2017 election ballot. Zone 3 represents the downtown and eastern portion of Hood River.
A preliminary report by the Federal Railroad Administration says Union Pacific’s failure to maintain its track and track equipment resulted in the oil train derailment in Mosier on June 3. The report released today says the FRA investigation found that multiple lag bolts in the section of Union Pacific track where the derailment occurred were broken and sheared, leading to tie plates loosening from the ties, which allowed for the rails to be pushed outward as trains moved across them. The report noted the Union Pacific train was equipped with an air brake system, and FRA-conducted simulations after the derailment showed that if the train was equipped with newer electronically controlled pneumatic brakes, it could have led to a less severe incident. Union Pacific said Wednesday it would resume oil train traffic through the Gorge this week, with the railroad saying it has an obligation to its customers and under federal law to transport various goods on a daily basis, including hazardous materials. The FRA says it is evaluating potential enforcement actions, and confirmed a temporary speed restrictions through Union Pacific’s Portland subdivision, including a ten mile per hour speed limit in Mosier. After release of the report today Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, along with the groups Friends of the Columbia Gorge and Columbia Riverkeeper, renewed calls for a halt to crude oil traffic through the Gorge.
Union Pacific will resume transporting oil by train on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge sometime this week for the first time since the derailment in Mosier on June 3. Union Pacific spokesman Justin Jacobs confirmed what he called “normal operations” to resume over the course of the week, including the transport of crude oil. He added the railroad has an obligation to its customers and under federal law to transport various goods on a daily basis, including hazardous materials. He added if customers deliver a crude oil tank car that conforms to U.S. Department of Transportation requirements, Union Pacific is obligated to transport the rail car to its destination. Several government officials in Oregon and Washington along with environmental activists have pushed federal authorities to place a moratorium on oil trains through the region, saying they are too dangerous. Meanwhile, Jacobs said a preliminary estimate of a diesel fuel leak from a train that stopped at Bridal Veil on Tuesday is about 200 to 500 gallons in size, and personnel are on the scene assessing what happened, with the locomotive being moved to an area where it can be better studied. He added responders determined there was no impact to waterways.
The Columbia Gateway Urban Renewal Agency Advisory Committee is recommending getting fresh appraisals of the Blue Building and Granada Theatre before putting out an asking price on the properties. City of The Dalles staff presented proposed listings for those properties and the Recreation Building at a Tuesday evening meeting, with list prices that included what the Agency paid for them along how much had been invested in them. But some members of the advisory committee felt new appraisals would give them a better knowledge of what to put in a listing price. There was consensus to not appraise the Recreation Building, noting that building would likely be torn down by a developer. The vote to make the recommendation was 5-1, with City Councilor and Urban Renewal board member Linda Miller voting no, saying the appraisal would not make a difference in the sale process and was an unnecessary expense. The recommendation goes to the City Council acting in its capacity as the URA board at their meeting this coming Monday evening.
The Hood River County Planning Commission will be conducting a public hearing this evening on a time, place, and manner ordinance for the production, processing, and retailing of recreational marijuana. County Community Development Director John Roberts says planning staff took a basic approach toward the ordinance, proposing farm and forest zones to allow growing, processing in exclusive farm use and industrial zones, and retailing in commercial zones, while staying away from residential zones. Roberts adds staff is recommending no marijuana operations be allowed in rural residential zones. He noted the average size of rural residential properties in Hood River County to be about two acres, which is much smaller than most areas.
Firefighters are doing mop-up work today on a 45 acre wildfire that started Monday afternoon about five miles west of The Dalles. The Chenoweth Fire began around 5:20 p.m. on state-protected land and burned through the night before Oregon Department of Forestry and Steelhead Enterprises crews could extinguish all visible flames. The ODF’s Brian Ballou says firefighters today will continue to strengthen trails creating a containment buffer and work on hot spots. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.