A holiday sightseeing train operated by the Mount Hood Railroad had a minor derailment Friday evening. According to the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office the train, which was carrying 214 passengers, had four cars come off the tracks north of Pine Grove, approximately three miles outside of Hood River, at 5:15 p.m. There were no reported injuries, and the rail cars are upright. Emergency crews assisted Mount Hood Railroad personnel. All passengers were helped off the train and transportation arranged to get them back to Hood River.
The Eagle Creek Fire was updated to 100 percent containment today following an official review. Current incident commander Chris Harper says the change reflects a determination that the fire is not expected to grow beyond its perimeter, and is not the same as officially declaring the fire “out.” He noted timber and other flammable natural materials may still be smoldering within the fire perimeter. An incident commander with the U.S. Forest Service is still assigned to the fire and will continue to evaluate the situation. The Forest Service’s Eagle Creek Fire closure, which includes numerous recreation sites in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and Mt. Hood National Forest, remains unchanged except for Multnomah Falls Lodge and front plaza, which opened Wednesday.
The U.S. Senate unanimously has passed legislation sponsored by all four Oregon and Washington senators to enable the Bureau of Indian Affairs to make safety and sanitation improvements at tribal treaty fishing access sites along the Columbia River. The Columbia River In-Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites Improvement Act calls on the BIA to conduct a much-needed assessment of current safety and sanitation conditions at the sites in coordination with Columbia River Treaty Tribes. It also authorizes the Bureau to work on improving conditions in several areas including structural improvements to restrooms, washrooms, and other buildings, safety improvements through wells and infrastructure to address fire concerns, electrical infrastructure to ensure safe hookups, and basic sewer and septic infrastructure. The bill now goes to the House.
Hood River will kick off its Christmas season tonight with a parade and tree lighting downtown. The parade starts at 6 p.m. on Seventh Avenue and Oak Street and heads downtown, ending at the Hood River News parking lot. There will be a tree lighting and caroling at State and 2nd at 7 p.m. The Hood River County Chamber of Commerce’s Hood River Holidays promotion is underway, and Chamber Executive Director Mike Glover says downtown Hood River provides a unique shopping experience. Later in December, customer parking will be free throughout the city of Hood River from December 11th to the 25th.
Jeff Helfrich of Hood River has been appointed to the Oregon State House District 52 seat. The 49-year-old was selected by a unanimous vote of Multnomah, Clackamas and Hood River County Commissioners to fill out the remainder of the term of Mark Johnson, who stepped down to become President and CEO of Oregon Business and Industries. Helfrich has had a long career in law enforcement, including 25 years in community policing with the Portland Police Bureau, and served in the U.S. Air Force. Helfrich has served as a member of the Cascade Locks City Council, Cascade Locks Planning Commission, Cascade Locks Budget and Charter Review Committee and Mid-Columbia Economic Development District Board of Directors. The District 52 seat will be on the November 2018 ballot.
Hood River Valley 65, Sandy 57
The Dalles 54, Reynolds 47
Stevenson 91, Horizon Christian 59
Columbia 68, Riverside 65 (overtime)
The Dalles 43, Centennial 38
Sandy 36, Hood River Valley 31
Stevenson 58, Horizon Christian 43
Riverside 49, Columbia 16
The annual “Everyone Loves A Firefighter”…or ELFF…food drive is coming up in The Dalles and Dallesport next week, and the call has gone out for volunteers to help in the effort. ELFF commander Eric Pyles of Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue says they need help as they collect canned food donations during the three nights of the drive next week. The ELFF food drive starts in the east side of The Dalles on Tuesday night, continues in the west side of The Dalles on Wednesday evening, and finishes up in the Dallesport-Murdock area on Thursday night. The drive takes place between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on all three nights. To volunteer, call Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue at 541-296-9445, or show up at MCFR on Tuesday and Wednesday between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., or go to the Dallesport-Murdock Fire Department on Thursday night at the same time. MCFR, Dallesport-Murdock Fire Department, The Dalles Lions Club, St. Vincent dePaul, and the Salvation Army are all involved in the food collection effort.
Newly appointed Oregon State House District 59 Representative Daniel Bonham is in Salem getting a crash course in being a legislator. Bonham was appointed one week ago by Wasco, Deschutes, Jefferson, and Wheeler County Commissioners to fill the remaining time on former Representative John Huffman’s term. The Republican from The Dalles says he will run for the seat in the 2018 election, noting county commissioners indicated that was a key factor for them in making a selection. Bonham says at this point one of his main goals is to get to know the various public officials and citizens within the 59th District, and educate himself on the issues important to them.
Multnomah Falls Lodge reopened to the public on Wednesday for the first time since the Eagle Creek Fire. The opening includes the Historic Multnomah Falls Lodge, front plaza, and the Interstate 84 parking lot. It’s the first phase for reopening the Multnomah Falls Recreation Site since the area was evacuated September 4, two days after the start of the Eagle Creek Fire. Damage to the lodge itself was limited to smoke damage and minor repairs, however measures were needed to protect the facility from falling rocks, trees, and other debris. The lodge will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, except in cases of inclement weather. Visitors must access the lodge through the I-84 parking lot. When parking is full, the gate to the lot will close. The recreation site, managed by the U.S. Forest Service, is one of the most popular natural attractions in Oregon, hosting millions of visitors each year. Nearby waterfall viewing areas – including the popular lower viewing platform — and the surrounding trail system remain closed until the next round of repairs is completed.
As the Port of Hood River tries to completed needed maintenance welding on the deck of the Hood River/White Salmon Interstate Bridge, crews are gearing up to do the work in the rain when it is feasible. Optimal conditions for this work would be dry, sunny weather, but various factors in the summertime and early fall have pushed the work window into the rainy season. A total of approximately six more days are needed to complete the work, so crews will be on the bridge welding between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. whenever possible until the project is finished. Motorists should expect 15 to 25 minute delays during the single-lane closures. Flaggers will be on the bridge directing traffic and ensuring safety of the workers. Traffic alerts will also be posted on the Port’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.