Hood River County Commissioners are asking for more input before deciding whether to establish an overnight no parking zone at the west end of Post Canyon Drive. Indefinite parking has become a safety concern on the west end of Post Canyon Drive. During the winter several cars used the area for camping, which was a hindrance for snow removal, and some cars have continued to use it since. County Public Works proposed signage for prohibiting parking from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. on 1,400 feet of Post Canyon Drive, but County Commission Chair Ron Rivers says the Commission wants to determine if they need to go further up Post Canyon on the gravel roads where the Forestry Department has jurisdiction. In other business, the Commission in its role as the Windmaster Urban Renewal Agency Board approved distributing $200,000 in Urban Renewal funds to the Port of Hood River as a match for state funding for the construction work on the north apron at the Ken Jernstedt Airfield.
Oregon’s unemployment rate was little changed at 3.7 percent in June. The rate remained near its all time low of 3.6 percent reached in May. Oregon’s rate was significantly below its year-ago rate of 5.1 percent in June 2016 and well below the U.S. unemployment rate of 4.4 percent in June 2017 the largest gain since February 2016. Oregon Employment Department economist Nick Beleciks says job gains continued a pattern of the past year. Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment grew by 8,500 jobs, following a gain of 2,600 in May. The June increase was the largest gain since February 2016. Gains were widespread among the major industries, with 11 of the 14 industries adding jobs. Leisure and hospitality added the most, increasing by 2,100 jobs. In addition, strong hiring occurred in construction and manufacturing.
Containment of the Dry Creek Fire north of BZ Corners is now at 94 percent, as a full transfer of command of the fire from a Northwest Incident Management Team to a local Washington team took place this morning. Activities on the fire line will continue to focus on mop up and completing the remaining tasks to secure this fire within its existing perimeter. Highway 141 is open without restrictions, but motorists are strongly advised to reduce speeds and be vigilant for firefighters and equipment as they pass through the fire area between mileposts 14 and 17. Officials say people passing by could still see some smoke within the fire perimeter. Fire crews are monitoring any remaining hot spots. The fire that started on July 8 burned 337 acres, and the cause remains under investigation.
The Oregon Department of Transportation says motorists should expect delays of up to 20 minute Monday through Wednesday this week and up to an hour Thursday and Friday at the Chenoweth Creek Bridge on the Historic Columbia River Highway. The delays will take place between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. as crews begin work to replace the bridge about a quarter mile west of The Dalles city limits. The Chenoweth Creek Bridge will require a full closure for about three weeks in August while the bridge is being replaced. When that occurs, traffic on the Historic Columbia River Highway near The Dalles will be detoured through the Rowena Exit on Interstate 84. Crews with Wildish Standard Paving, under contract with ODOT, are continuing work on the $7.4 million project to repair and replace three bridges on the Historic Columbia River Highway between Mosier and The Dalles.
The Port of Hood River will begin getting ready to put together a final environmental impact statement for a project to replace the Interstate Bridge with the inclusion of five million dollars in funding for bridge replacement planning work as part of the transportation package approved earlier this month by the Oregon Legislature. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says the EIS is a crucial step in moving forward. Engineering will be taken to a 20% level, which will provide understanding of where the bridge will be located in the river and on the shore, becoming the basis of a thorough evaluation. The state funding will also help pay for some additional geotechnical work and doing alternative financial feasibility models. McElwee does add the state has not indicated when the Port will receive the funding so they can proceed with the work.
The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce is reporting traffic from tourists requesting information about the community. Chamber CEO Lisa Farquharson says they are getting ten to 15 people a day coming to the Chamber office for information, but even more are contacting them by phone or e-mail. Farquharson says The Dalles was busy this weekend with cars lined up on Main Street, and she believes they are seeing increased traffic through the town and at area attractions.
Oregon Little League Baseball Tournament at LaGrande
Sprague 11, The Dalles 8
The Dalles 10, Del Norte 3
The Dalles vs. Wilshire/Riverside (Portland), 2:30 p.m.
Mop up work continues on the Dry Creek Fire north of BZ Corners. The containment level for the 337 acre fire moved up to 50 percent. The objective of firefighters is to establish a band of “cold black” within the fire’s perimeter. “Cold black” is firefighter shorthand for a combination of completely consumed fuel and no flame or heat in the remaining fuels. That is essential to reasonably reducing the potential for the fire to escape and resume growing. It is especially important early in the fire season with the expectation of hot, dry conditions intensifying fire danger. Firefighters are striving to complete the remaining mop up this weekend. The pilot car is scheduled to be discontinued at 2 p.m. Friday. Reduced speeds and extra caution while traveling through the fire area are still recommended.
The one-acre fire west of Oneonta Gorge has been controlled, and the Historic Columbia River Highway and the surrounding trails are now open. The fire started between Oneonta Trail and the cliff west of Oneonta Gorge late Tuesday. Crews controlled the fire using a hand line, a hose lay, helicopter bucket drops, and sprinklers to create a “raining” effect on the sheer cliffs at the fire’s edge. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. A closure remains in effect at Eagle Creek Trail #440 and adjacent trails, starting at the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness Boundary, due to the Indian Creek Fire. Fire danger levels remain “high” in western Gorge counties and “extremely high” in the east Gorge.
Oregon State 59th District Representative John Huffman says he will not seek re-election in 2018. The Republican from The Dalles says he is seeking a federal appointment to oversee the state’s U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development programs, and if that happens he will step aside from the House position before his term ends. But Huffman adds he won’t seek reelection regardless of whether he is appointed or not. Huffman was appointed to the seat in 2007 and won election for the first time in 2008.