The Dalles City Council voted to use building code services from Wasco County if the County elects to take on the role as the Mid-Columbia Council of Governments divests itself of services, but also continue to leave its planning department in City Hall. Wasco County officials have approached the City about purchasing the current MCCOG building to locate both building codes and planning departments for both bodies to provide one-stop services, and the Council indicated it was interested in continuing that discussion, but there were many questions still to answer. MCCOG is trying to finish finding new homes for its services by the end of the year but The Dalles Mayor Steve Lawrence, who is on the MCCOG board, says that isn’t necessarily set in stone, adding it is probably time to bring local contractors into the discussion. The County has the option of turning the building codes program over to the state, but County Commissioner Scott Hege told the Council he was concerned about how well the state would service the area.
United Way of the Columbia Gorge is in the midst of its annual fundraising drive. United Way board chair Paul Blackburn says they have a goal of $275,000 during this current fundraising campaign for their five-county service area of Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Klickitat, and Skamania counties. Those who would like to donate to United Way of the Columbia Gorge should go online to unitedwaycolumbiagorge.org. The United Way’s annual holiday concert with rock violinist Aaron Meyer and his six-piece band will be on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in the Gorge Room at the Best Western Plus Hood River Inn. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for kids under 12, and are available in advance at Waucoma Bookstore in downtown Hood River.
Homelessness in The Dalles is a growing problem, and it will take a number of different solutions to address it. The Dalles Mayor Steve Lawrence and City Councilor Tim McGlothlin appeared on Bicoastal Media’s Mid-Columbia Today program Tuesday morning to discuss the topic. McGlothlin has been working extensively on the topic, and he points out that there are many different faces of homelessness, and there is no one solution that will take care of all of them. He adds one request he keeps hearing is for a secure place to store belongings. Mayor Steve Lawrence says a town hall on homelessness will be held by the City, probably soon after the start of 2018.
Interstate 84 will see periodic rolling slowdowns and delays Tuesday through Thursday as crews remove the lane restriction in place in place since September at Shellrock Mountain near milepost 52 west of Hood River. Since the Eagle Creek Fire, I-84 traffic has been one lane each way for a little over a mile to allow room for crews clearing hazard trees and other fire debris from adjacent Shellrock Mountain. Fire-related hazards have been cleared and I-84 at milepost 52 will be restored to two lanes in each direction by Friday afternoon. Rolling slowdowns will create short windows without traffic allowing crews to safely remove temporary concrete barriers and restripe the highway. Each rolling slowdown could generate 20 minute delays for travelers, and will take place as needed throughout the day, mostly from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition, the right lane of eastbound I-84 will remain closed for about a mile at milepost 53 until December 18 for the construction of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail segment from Wyeth to Lindsey Creek.
Governments in Hood River County are taking a look at a County Energy Plan developed over the last year by an 18-member steering committee. Hood River County and the cities and ports of Hood River and Cascade Locks have collaborated on the project to develop a plan for the County to convert to cleaner and more locally-based energy sources. Hood River City Councilor Becky Brun says while many cities have done these type of plans, it is an unusual for a county-wide effort to take place, and particularly for a smaller county. The plan calls for replacing power generated from fossil fuels with cleaner renewable energy sources in buildings, water systems, and transportation by 30 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050, and to generate 50 percent of the county’s energy needs from diversified local sources by 2050.
The Klickitat County Commission will hold a workshop Tuesday evening in Goldendale to hear a presentation from Yakama Nation Housing Authority Chair Elena Basset on a proposed affordable housing development planned for Dallesport. First word of the proposed tribal housing project brought a number of concerned residents to a meeting in Dallesport in June. County Commissioner Jim Sizemore says the Commission will be learning about more details of the housing authority’s proposal, noting land acquisition has taken place. The workshop will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Goldendale Grange. The public is invited to come and listen, but Sizemore said it is a workshop for the commission and public comment will not be taken.
Both The Dalles and Hood River city councils meet this evening. Tonight’s agenda in The Dalles includes discussion on the design and construction of a new secondary clarifier for the municipal wastewater treatment plant, a proposed rate increase from The Dalles Disposal, and a proposed co-location of City and Wasco County planning and building codes services. The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. in The Dalles City Hall. In Hood River, the City Council will get a close look at a design for the new Children’s Park structure and the County Energy Plan document. It begins at 6 p.m. in Hood River City Hall.
Hagen Pence racked up 303 yards rushing with three scores and threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Derek Frakes to lead the Dufur Rangers to a 60-18 win over the Hosanna Christian Lions in the Oregon Class 1A high school football final Saturday in Cottage Grove. The Rangers led 30-6 at halftime, taking complete control of the game in a sequence in the final two minutes of the first half in which they stopped the Lions at the goal line, then went on a 99-yard drive in six plays, culminating in Cole Kortge hauling in a 12-yard touchdown pass from Frakes. Ian Cleveland had 14 tackles and Curtis Crawford 11 to lead the Dufur defense, which dominated the Hosanna Christian offensive line. The Rangers won their third straight state championship, and ninth overall during Jack Henderson’s 31 years as their head coach.
A six-mile section of the western portion of the Historic Columbia River Highway from Larch Mountain Road to Bridal Veil re-opened Wednesday morning, eleven weeks after it was closed by the Eagle Creek Fire. Vista House at Crown Point, one of the most popular attractions the Gorge, was also scheduled to re-open Wednesday. The road has been closed since September 4. Guy Talbot State Park is open, with a short trail leading from the parking area to Latourell Falls, and Bridal Veil State Park and trail is also open. Hikers should expect winter conditions at both locations. The Historic Columbia River Highway remains closed between just east of Bridal Veil and Ainsworth with no timeline set for re-opening. Multnomah Falls Lodge and the Multnomah Falls parking area on I-84 may re-open by the end of the year.
Hood River County Commissioners voted to proceed with phases one and two of a rebuild and expansion of the Kingsley Campground, subject to finding funding. The proposal calls for 50 campsites of various types to be constructed after Farmers Irrigation District completes expansion of the Kingsley Reservoir that will flood the current campground. Currently the campground operates in the black with 24 spaces and no host, and Commission Chair Ron Rivers points out the expansion would add host spaces that would allow a more professional operation. The County will be seeking grant funds to build the campground, taking advantage of Farmers Irrigation District replacement compensation as a match. In other business, Commissioners approved ending the $22 a month billing assessment to users in the Windmaster Sewer Service District at the end of November. Ownership of the sewer line will be transferred to the City of Hood River as planned in the 2008 agreement that led to its construction.