The White Salmon and Bingen City Councils heard a presentation on, and discussed some of the pros and cons of, combining the two municipalities into one at a joint meeting on Wednesday evening. Bingen City Administrator Jan Brending and White Salmon City Clerk Leana Johnson gave a presentation on various aspects of such a move, including efficiencies created on top of areas where the cities already work together, options for a merger, and concerns including ensuring representation from both communities and the emotion and history of the two cities. Council discussions ranged from the practicalities of such a move, including tax rates that would probably drop for Bingen residents and go up for those in White Salmon, representation on a new Council, in particular for the smaller Bingen community, and why this is being discussed now even though there is no urgent fiscal problem currently facing either City. The issue now goes to both Councils for individual discussions on whether they are interested, with many of those involved in the meeting suggesting some kind of survey of residents be done on the topic, probably through utility bills. Bingen Mayor Betty Barnes urged councilors to talk to their neighbors about the subject. Any combination proposal would have to go to voters for approval.
Pacific Coast Producers, a grower cooperative in Lodi, California is buying the processing portion of Oregon Cherry Growers. Pacific Coast Producers plans to operate Oregon Cherry Growers as a stand-alone subsidiary that will continue to use the OCG name and operate facilities in The Dalles and Salem, with existing production facilities and employees. OCG’s fresh cherry business will continue independent of the transaction as Cascade Fruit Growers. Oregon Cherry Growers president and CEO Tim Ramsey said in a news release he believes the acquisition will be positive for the future of the company, employees, and growers. Pacific Coast Producers president and CEO Dan Vincent says the strengths of the two cooperatives align well. Pacific Coast Producers processes and packages fruits and tomatoes for private label retail and food service sales The deal is expected to close by June 17.
Fishery managers from Oregon and Washington set recreational white sturgeon seasons for the Bonneville Pool. Recreational white sturgeon retention will be allowed on Saturday, June 10 from Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam, with a bag limit of one fish and a size limit of 38 to 54 inches fork length. Angling for sturgeon is prohibited from The Dalles Dam downstream 1.8 miles from May through July, as that area has been designated as a sturgeon spawning sanctuary. Anglers are reminded that the annual bag limit for white sturgeon is two fish; any sturgeon previously tagged in 2017 count against this limit.
The Environmental Protection Agency has selected Skamania County for two brownfields environmental site assessment grants totaling $300,000. Skamania County was selected for community-wide hazardous substances grant funds totaling $150,000 that will be used to conduct seven environmental site assessments, and in addition was selected for an additional $150,000 in grant funds conduct the same tasks at sites with potential petroleum contamination. The grant funds will be used to assess the underutilized brownfields along the Columbia River waterfront and along important streams that merge with the Columbia River, including downtown Stevenson. The money will also be used to support community involvement activities, and inventory and prioritize brownfield sites. Skamania County Commissioner Bob Hamlin noted an old veneer mill site is within walking distance of Skamania Lodge, and with a clean bill of health its potential as another economic driver is “spectacular.”
The White Salmon Spring Festival will take place this weekend, based out of Rheingarten Park. A full lineup of entertainment is planned all weekend, along with a kids’ play zone and other activities. The annual parade will take place Saturday morning at 11 a.m., and festival co-organizer Amanda McDonald says this year’s grand marshals are the “Secret Elves” who hang the Christmas lights on Dock Grade Road and do much more: Celynn Vandeventer…Lloyd DeKay…Ryan Kreps…Bill Wurst…Izak Riley…and Steve Gibson. The White Salmon Fireman’s Pancake Breakfast will be Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the White Salmon Fire Hall. A complete schedule is available at whitesalmonspringfestival.com.
A new outdoor sports event will be coming to Hood River next weekend. The Outfound Series is billed as an outdoor sports and innovation festival including speakers, a start-up competition, product expo, workshops, and other attractions, centered on the Hood River Event Site. One of the founders of Outfound, Antonio Aransaenz, says they want to bring together the outdoor community in a fun setting with a business element. The Outfound Series will take place June 9th to the 11th. Ticket information is available at outfoundseries.com.
Oregon Class 2A/1A Baseball Semi-Final
Reedsport 7, Dufur 4: The Braves ended the title hopes of the top-seeded Rangers one step away from the state championship game. The Rangers finished the season with a record of 24-2.
Bingen and White Salmon City Councilors will hold a joint meeting Wednesday evening to discuss the concept of combining the two cities into one. The cities’ two mayors, Betty Barnes of Bingen and David Poucher of White Salmon, and their clerk/treasurers have discussed the possibility for a number of months, noting both communities have struggled to fill board positions. Poucher points out Wednesday’s meeting is to present the pros and cons of such a move. Both Poucher and Barnes have said if this moved forward, there would be public hearings on the subject and would eventually go to a vote of the people. Wednesday’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the White Salmon Fire Hall.
When fire season arrives in the Mid-Columbia sometime in mid-June, it’s going to be a warm season with fuels that have been built up by heavy spring rains. Rick Fletcher of The Dalles Unit of the Oregon Department of Forestry says the winter and spring moisture has led to fuel build-up. Fletcher points out that there will be two “fire bosses,” planes capable of scooping water from the Columbia River to dump onto fires, stationed in Dallesport this summer. To find help on keeping properties in the wildland/urban interface protected from fire, go to odfcentraloregon.com.
Dennis Knox has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of Mid-Columbia Medical Center. Knox is a Texas native with more than 35 years of experience in the healthcare industry. Knox comes to The Dalles from Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston. He also served as CEO at Antelope Valley Hospital, a 420-bed acute care safety net hospital in Lancaster, California, and Universal Health Services in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania where he served as CEO and managing director. Knox has a Bachelor of Arts in Management Science from Duke University, where he also earned a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration. MCMC also announced that Edwin Bode has been named interim Chief Financial Officer. Bode comes from Urgent Point in Los Angeles. Bode was previously CFO of Vista Health System in the greater Chicago area and CFO of Saint Francis Healthcare in the greater Memphis area.