The Port of Hood River’s Nichols Basin west edge pedestrian path project committee got a look at preliminary design plans from consultant Walker/Macy. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee notes the biggest change eliminates motor vehicle access to Slackwater Beach. The plan also contemplates making changes to 1st Street to create additional parking to compensate for the loss of Slackwater Beach parking. Next up is development of more detailed plans by the end of September, with an eye toward going to bid in November. The Port currently has $776,000 available for the project, primarily from grants.
The Columbia River Gorge Commission is preparing to make a pitch to Oregon and Washington lawmakers for funding to add staff to cut down on the back log of tasks it is facing after years of budget cuts. Gorge Commission Executive Director Darren Nichols says a preliminary set of findings from an administrative assessment by Portland State University and the University of Washington showed a minimum of 25 full-time employees would be needed to do the job outlined in the National Scenic Area compact. Nichols says he has been in contact with the governor’s offices in both states to try to develop a budget request for the next biennium that can get through both legislatures. The Gorge Commission’s current level of staffing will go up to six next week, and was at a high of ten in 2007.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden pressed for passage of an emergency funding bill that would provide additional money to fight catastrophic wildfires in the West. Wyden and Idaho Senator Mike Crapo have developed a bill to allow some fire suppression costs to be funded by a disaster account instead of borrowing from other areas like wildfire suppression. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski announced that her emergency supplemental appropriations bill would include an additional $615 million dedicated to wildfire suppression costs. The bill also includes language to allow some fire suppression funding to be funded out of a disaster account, based on the Wyden and Crapo bill.
The Dalles Main Street has hired Matthew Klebes as its first executive director. Klebes has been an AmeriCorps Resource Assistance for Rural Environments volunteer in The Dalles since August of last year. He said he is eager to continue the work the Main Street program has started in downtown The Dalles, noting tremendous potential exists. Klebes begins in his new position on August 18. The Dalles Main Street works to promote downtown utilizing promotion, design, organization, and economic restructuring. Its office is currently located at The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce.
A 43-year-old man was arrested at his home in The Dalles on Wednesday by the Mid-Columbia Narcotics Task Force. The Dalles Police Chief Jay Waterbury says Shonn David Watson was taken into custody as officers executed a search warrant in the 800 block of Richland Court. Waterbury adds officers seized drugs and firearms from the home. Watson was lodged at NORCOR on charges including possession and delivery of a controlled substance within a thousand feet of a school, felon in possession of a firearm and a restricted weapon, and possession of a firearm with the serial number removed. Waterbury said the arrest was the culmination of a lengthy investigation.
Northern Wasco County PUD is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever was responsible for damage to a power pole in The Dalles. The PUD says the pole at the intersection of East 11th and Dry Hollow was damaged at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon when it was struck by an early 2000 model grey four-by-four pickup truck with a homemade looking tool box with stickers all over it in the bed of the vehicle. Witnesses could not get a license plate number due to damage to the vehicle. The driver is described as a blond haired male in his late 20’s. Anyone with information is asked to call The Dalles Police Department at 541-296-2613.
The next phase of the State Street Urban Renewal Project will begin on Monday. Excavation to extend underground utilities from Front and State Street east to the intersection of East 2nd and State will start Monday and take about a week. Traffic on State Street through the work zone will be limited to one lane, with flaggers on hand. Traffic delays of ten to 15 minutes are expected.
Fire destroyed a modular home in the Columbia View Heights area of The Dalles on Monday afternoon. Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue Chief Bob Palmer says the fire at 422 Summit Ridge Drive occurred shortly after 12:30 p.m. Monday, and was 75 percent involved when crews arrived. Palmer noted it was fortunate the fire did not spread in the hot conditions. He said the owner had cut the grass just days earlier, and that helped prevent the fire from spreading. The home was unoccupied at the time of the fire, with the owner and a contractor doing renovations. Palmer says the cause of the fire is under investigation.
Hood River City Councilors approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Port of Hood River to allow the City to build a new pipe on Port land to put treated effluent from the municipal wastewater treatment plant farther into the Columbia River in exchange for the City helping to do some path work. City Manager Steve Wheeler says a pedestrian path will be built on top of where the pipe is installed at the end of the Hook. The pipe is being moved to put treated effluent farther into the Columbia River into a better mixing zone as a result of a the creation of the sandbar at the mouth of the Hood River a few years ago. In other City business, the Council tabbed Victor Pavlenko to serve on the municipal planning commission.
By a three-to-two vote, The Dalles City Council voted to wait and see what Wasco County decides to do with its proposed road district before placing a three-cent a gallon municipal gas tax increase on the November ballot. Wasco County Commissioners will hold two more hearings on the road district proposal in early August before deciding whether to put it on the ballot in areas other than The Dalles. That had Councilors wondering if they should wait to see what happens, and if revisiting a combined road district might be a better course of action. Councilor Dan Spatz noted both the City and the County are in a bind due to the loss of federal timber dollars, with a County road district creating property tax compression issues while a City gas tax doesn’t benefit the County. The City Council has scheduled a special meeting for August 14 to discuss the topic, and they could move to put the gas tax on the ballot at that time.
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