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Donation Recommended For Fountain Construction

The Columbia Gateway Urban Renewal Advisory Committee is recommending donating $100,000 dollars for development of an artistic fountain at Lewis and Clark Festival Park.  City officials have been working on the project for the last two years, and the Urban Renewal Agency had already promised the funds, which are in its current budget.  Projected costs have been reduced over time to just over $187,000, with a private donation of $87,500 in hand.  Cost savings were achieved through donated material from Wasco County and the Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation District, and donated labor from local contractor Monte Wasson Excavation.  Plans call for the project to be finished in time for a July 4 dedication.  The recommendation goes to the Urban Renewal Agency board, made up of The Dalles City Council.

February 17 Prep Basketball Roundup

Boys Basketball Columbia River Conference Pendleton 72, Hood River Valley 60:  Wes Persinger scored 22 points and Sonny Green as the Buckaroos led from wire to wire to take sole possession of first place in the CRC.  Noah Noteboom and Dallas Buckley scored 12 points apiece to lead the Eagles, who remain in second place in the league by one game over Hermiston.   The Dalles 48, Hermiston 44:  Coby Conlee scored 13 points and Colin Noonan tallied 11 to go along with nine rebounds to lift the Riverhawks to their third win of the season.  Dillon Zimmerly led the Bulldogs with 15 points.   Big Sky Tournament First Round Dufur 77, Ione 36:  The Rangers will face Sherman in round two on Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Hermiston. South Wasco 64, Mitchell-Spray 46:  The Redsides move on to meet regular season league champ Horizon Christian in a semi-final at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Hermiston.   Girls Basketball Columbia River Conference Hermiston 46, The Dalles 43:  The Bulldogs clinched the league title by holding off a spirited effort by the Riverhawks. Pendleton 77, Hood River Valley 35   Southwest Washington Class 1-A District Tournament Columbia 34, Eatonville 33:  The Bruins keep their season going with the narrow win, and will face Kalama on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at W.F. West High School in Chehalis.   Greater Columbia League Tournament Bickleton 34, Lyle-Wishram 33

Nichols Stepping Down As Gorge Commission Director

Columbia River Gorge Commission executive director Darren Nichols will step down from that position in April to become the Associate Director of the William D. Ruckelshaus Center in Seattle.  Nichols has been head of the Commission’s staff for three years.  During his tenure, Nichols and his five member staff was working to stabilize basic funding for the agency, and increasing the capacity for collaborative regional planning and bi-state partnership.   Nichols plans to spend some time with his family and wrapping up work on a law degree in environmental and natural resources before moving on to the Ruckelshaus Center.   Nichols says he will remain available as needed while the Commission selects a replacement.

Kindergarten Enrollment Jump Could Leave HR Schools In Financial Hole

A dramatic jump in the projected enrollment for full-day kindergarten in Oregon for the 2015-16 school year has the Hood River County School District facing the potential of having to trim up to one million dollars from its budget for next year.  Last week the Oregon Department of Education raised its estimate for kindergarten enrollment, the first with state mandated full-day classes, from 18,000 to over 25,000.  The Legislative Joint Ways and Means Committee budget puts state funding for K-12 education at $7.235 billion, and Hood River Schools Superintendent Dan Goldman says that’s not enough for his district to maintain what it has.  Goldman says to ensure the Hood River district can maintain what it has; the state K-12 budget figure needs to reach $7.5 billion.  The district is holding a community listening session on the budget Tuesday night at 6 p.m. at Wy’east Middle School in Odell.

White Salmon Prepares Summer Water Plans

With very low snowpack on Mt. Adams…the City of White Salmon is beginning to prepare for possible water conservation measures this summer.  Mayor David Poucher says they are not using their two wells at this time to leave them for summer use, and drawing as much as possible Buck Creek.  Poucher says this is a big reason why they have been working with the state on developing aquifer storage recovery.  He notes they did a test for two months, putting water back in the aquifer to help replenish it…but the results of that are not known.  

Port of HR Waterfront To Be Busy This Summer

Hood River’s waterfront will be busy with construction this year.  Between the Naito hotel and office building complex, new construction on the Expo Center property, a path along the west side of the Nichols Basin and much more, it might be the most work done since fill work to create what is now the waterfront.  Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says all of that makes planning for the future even more important than it has been.  Planning for Lot 1 along the Nichols Basin is continuing.  One issue that Port officials will be watching is parking.  McElwee says the Port Commission considered doing a comprehensive parking plan this year, but elected to wait until 2016 to see how the current construction work that will take away Slackwater Beach parking impacts the waterfront.

Work On Expanded NW Cherry Fest Continues

The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce is continuing work on the expanded Northwest Cherry Festival set for late April.  It will run Friday, April 24 to Sunday, April 26, with most events running all three days.  Part of the goal of the expansion is to increase visitation from out-of-town.  Chamber CEO Lisa Farquharson says it is a long-term effort, probably three-to-five years.  Farquharson feels the Cherry Festival is the right type of event, but they need to strategically plan who to reach out to.

What’s Next For Legislature?

One of the big questions around the Oregon State Capitol is how the ascension of Kate Brown to the Governor’s seat will change the dynamic of the legislative session.  52nd District State Representative Mark Johnson says he doesn’t know what to expect from the Portland Democrat, noting it’s hard to project which issues she will emphasize.  59th District Representative John Huffman says he is looking forward to moving away from the John Kitzhaber controversy and getting back to the day to day business of government.  Brown officially takes over as Governor on Wednesday.

February 13-14 Prep Sports Roundup

Wrestling Hood River Valley finished fourth and The Dalles ninth in the Oregon Class 5A Special District 4 wrestling tournament at Vannet Court.  HRV sends four wrestlers to the state 5A meet in two weeks in Portland, including Christian Marquez, who won the 132 pound district title by defeating Matthew McCain of Redmond by technical fall 3:54 into the final match.  Angel Jones, Jason Shaner, and Junior Manzo all earned state invitations.  Joe Linebarger will represent The Dalles at state after finishing second at 220 pounds.   Stevenson finished eighth and Columbia tenth at the Southwest Washington Class 1A District wrestling meet at Kelso.  Stevenson’s Colton Van Pelt won the 160 pound division, topping Artimus Johnson of Hoquiam 8-0 in the final.  Noah Richert of Stevenson will also go to the Mat Classic in Tacoma witha third place finish at 152 pounds, while Paul Demchuk of Columbia also won a state invite with a fourth place finish at 182.   Regina Bell of Columbia won the 130 pound title in the Region 3 girls’ wrestling tournament along with a spot in the Mat Classic by defeating Natasha Williams of Skyview 16-14.   Goldendale qualifies four wrestlers to the Mat Classic at the Region 3 wrestling tournament, led by a second place finish by Bryce Wilkins at 170 pounds.   Swimming Hood River Valley won the girls’ title and finished second behind Pendleton in the boys’ competition at the Columbia River Conference Swimming Championships at the Hood River Aquatic Center.  The Eagle girls’ won nine events, including dual victories for Allison Burke, Kylie Webb, and Dhani Freeland, while the boys grabbed six first place finishes, including three relay victories.  The Dalles finished third in both the boys and girls competition, as Andrew Clifford and Ben Feil won two events each.   Skiing Lucy McLean and Austin Keillor of Hood River Valley had big days in Mount Hood League ski races at Mount Hood Meadows.  Both won the slalom and giant slalom events held over the weekend.   Boys Basketball Hood River Valley 72, The Dalles 62 Horizon Christian 79, Spray-Mitchell 42 Horizon Christian 70, South Wasco 46 South Wasco 81, Ione 37 Sherman 56, Arlington 37 Sherman 65, Dufur 58 Dufur 60, Condon-Wheeler 42   Greater Columbia League Boys Basketball Tournament Yakama Tribal 60, Lyle-Wishram 41 Bickleton 59, Lyle-Wishram 55   Girls Basketball The Dalles 55, Hood River Valley 44 Condon-Wheeler 52, Dufur 31 Sherman 31, Arlington 30 Dufur 42, Sherman 26 South Wasco 41, Ione 36 South Wasco 52, Horizon Christian 29 Horizon Christian 34, Spray-Mitchell 24   Southwest Washington Class 1A Girls Basketball Tournament Elma 53, Columbia 35:  CHS vs. Eatonville at Kelso on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.   Greater Columbia League Girls Basketball Tournament Lyle-Wishram 32, Bickleton 27 Sunnyside Christian 72, Lyle-Wishram 34:  L-W vs. Bickleton at Goldendale on Tuesday at 6 p.m. for a state tournament berth.

Local Legislators React To Kitzhaber Resignation

Local legislators reacted to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s announcement today with a sense that it had become inevitable the Governor would step aside.  59th District Representative John Huffman called it a sad state of affairs, and that he hated to see anyone’s political career end in this manner.  The Dalles Republican said he had been hopeful the legal process would be allowed to play out, but “tragically, it seemed like Gov. Kitzhaber seems to have been almost his own worst enemy in this regard, and just kept compounding his own problems on a daily basis.”  52nd District Representative Mark Johnson said it was a sad day for Oregon, but added the Legislature has a lot of work ahead of it.  The Hood River Republican felt “this creates a lot of questions about what kind of leadership we’re going to have, and we desperately need some good leadership.”  Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli said in a statement Kitzhaber’s resignation is an unprecedented situation for Oregonians, adding the state’s leaders need to work together to lead a thoughtful transition that respects Oregon citizens and restore trust and accountability with the Governor’s office and the executive branch.  House Speaker Tina Kotek, who on Thursday joined Senate President Peter Courtney in asking Kitzhaber to resign, said Kitzhaber has accomplished much for Oregonians in his 35 years of public service to the state, and was a distinguished leader.

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