A veteran Washington legislator does not think an increase in the state’s minimum wage will come out of Olympia during this session. Republican 14th District Representative Norm Johnson doesn’t believe a proposed increase to $12 an hour could get out of the Senate. Johnson points out Washington already has the highest minimum wage in the country, and he isn’t sure you can ask business for much more. Fellow 14th District Representative Gina McCabe is on the committee that heard testimony on the minimum wage bill. She pointed out some business owners in SeaTac, where the minimum wage was increased to $15 an hour, testified they had to lay off some workers when it occurred to keep their labor costs manageable.
Hood River County Commissioners will hold their annual goal-setting session this Saturday. With a stable group of commissioners that has remained unchanged for a few years, Chairman Ron Rivers says they will start by reviewing the goals from one year ago and see what kind of progress they made. He says affordable workforce housing will remain a big issue. Rivers adds they will probably discuss how to get a better idea of the number of vacation rentals in the County and their impact on housing supply. Saturday’s goal-setting session is at 9 a.m. at the Hood River Hotel.
The Dalles City Council will hold a goal setting session this Monday afternoon. Councilors will prioritize their goals for the upcoming year as a precursor to budget work for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Mayor Steve Lawrence says they have taken a different approach to goal setting, starting with a blank sheet of paper rather than using last year’s goals as a starting point during an earlier meeting. He says much of the discussion involves policy as much as specific goals. Funding road maintenance figures to the top the list. Also on the list up for discussion: working with partner governmental agencies and non-profits to improve coordination of services, maintaining public safety, and encouraging efficient City government. The meeting takes place at noon on Monday in The Dalles City Hall.
Hood River City Councilors approved a contract with the firms of EcoNorthwest and Berger Abam to do a buildable lands inventory and housing needs analysis. It’s part of the effort to craft a solution to the lack of affordable housing in the area. Hood River City Manager Steve Wheeler says the work will begin with an inventory of vacant land, filtering out some properties that are not realistic to build on. Wheeler added they intuitively know some of the issues surrounding housing, but there is a need for more factual data. The inventory and analysis should be done by the end of May.
A group of senators, including Oregon’s Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, have written a letter to President Barack Obama to award the Presidential Medal of Honor to Hood River native Minoru Yasui. Yasui is most famous for his legal challenge to the order authorizing restrictions on, and the eventual internment of, more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. He deliberately violated a curfew and after his arrest took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against him. An Oregon district court eventually overturned his conviction but did not rule on the constitutionality of wartime internment. He had tried nine times to join the U.S. Army, only to be denied due to his heritage. Yasui was born in Hood River, earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon, and became the first Japanese-American to graduate from the University of Oregon law school. After his internment Yasui eventually moved to Denver, where he had a long career as a lawyer and civil rights advocate. Eight senators signed the letter to the President.
Hood River County officials are temporarily closing both Riordan Hill Road and Post Canyon Road to vehicular traffic. It’s an effort to protect the County’s forest roads during a time of year when they are most vulnerable to damage. A new gate is being installed on Riordan Hill Road about a quarter-mile to the west of the Family Man Skills Complex. By the end of the week the new gate…the existing two gates on Riordan Hill Road near Binns Hill Road, and the existing gate on Post Canyon Road just north of the Post Flats Staging Area will be closed and locked. The gates will remain closed for the rest of the winter season.
The Dalles City Council gave the go ahead for municipal staff to draw up a resolution changing the requirements for an owner to construct a single family dwelling on a residential lot. The resolution will be based on recommendations from the City Planning Commission, and includes establishing a designation of key network streets that are major community connectors, cancellation of existing waivers of remonstrance and delayed improvement agreements, and to have the City pay for installation of stormwater and curbs and the engineering work for sidewalks when required. Planning Director Dick Gassman said the basic concept for the network streets system is to acknowledge public improvements are required on certain major streets intended to provide access to the entire community. Most of those streets are already fully improved. Councilor Taner Elliott noted if the City can take the burden of engineering and stormwater improvements, it will make more people willing to build, and that will help the municipal budget’s bottom line.
The Dalles City Council voted to approve a resolution expressing their concerns with rail transport of crude oil through the City and the Gorge. Under the resolution, the Council urges the Governor to encourage federal rules to encourage safe transport of crude oil on the state’s rail lines and require coordination among state agencies to be prepared for an accident, and calls for the federal government to implement regulations regarding train speeds and rail car designs. Councilors added a clause asking the state to require shippers take on the financial responsibility for emergency response to any accident involving an oil train. The resolution passed unanimously. Councilor Tim McGlothlin pointed out they are powerless to impact the amount of oil train traffic going through the area, but can offer support for the steps outlined in the resolution.
Columbia 83, Stevenson 30: Claire Anderson scored 19 points and Kayla McClain 17 as the Bruins solidified their hold on third place in the Trico League. Breanna Frohs led Stevenson with seven points.
Dufur 53, Echo 46
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