The Port of Hood River Commission has approved entering into a memorandum of understanding with a forest products company interested in purchasing three-and-a-half acres of the former Lower Hanel Mill property. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says they are excited about working with Neal Creek Forest Products, noting the company would take about a third of the property and employ around 25 people, which would be a significant boost to the mid-Hood River Valley. McElwee did acknowledge the Port still faces the challenge of providing sufficient water service to the entire Lower Hanel Mill property to meet fire suppression requirements, but they are working towards a solution.
The White Salmon City Council has asked the designers of a proposed new swimming pool to work on reducing the estimated cost of the facility before moving ahead with a feasibility study for operating it. Mayor David Poucher says they have been whittling costs, but there is a need to go further. The cost estimate is currently three-point-nine million dollars, but Poucher says they want to get down to around three million. The City continues to study costs on taxpayers to construct the pool, as it considers seeking a pool district that would be similar to the boundaries of the White Salmon Valley School District.
Oregon 52nd District State Representative Mark Johnson says a bill to clarify recreational immunity on public properties that many cities and counties want to see passed faces an uncertain future. The bill has had a hearing, but the deadline for bills to be passed out of the house of origin is coming, and Johnson thinks it would need to be posted for a worksession by the middle of next week for it to have a chance to move. Cities and counties are pushing for the bill, but Johnson adds the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association is against it. A court ruling last year held while public agencies are immune from liability on public properties used for recreation, individuals are not, impacting the ability of using volunteer efforts to maintain these locations.
Hood River Valley 7, Bend 6 (9 innings): Haylee Baker scored from first base when a Bend outfielder misplayed Zoe Munn’s line drive with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning to give HRV the win. Bend had come back from a 4-0 deficit to take a 6-4 lead with three runs in the top of the seventh inning, but HRV scored two to tie on when hits by Baker and Munn were followed by two Bend errors with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
Barlow 8, The Dalles 5
Hood River Valley 5, Bend 4: The Eagles scored a run in the sixth inning to break a 4-4 tie and grab the win.
Track and Field
The Dalles grabbed eight first place finishes in a three-school meet at Gresham. Justin Conklin won both the 110 meter hurdles and the high jump for the Riverhawk boys while Julian Hernandez won the javelin. For the Riverhawk girls Emma Mullins won the 400, Mercy Iaulualo won the shot put, Jenna Miller took first in the 800, Marissa Heemsah won the javelin, and the four by 400 meter relay team was a winner.
Lincoln 15, Hood River Valley 13
Hood River Valley 8, Pendleton 0
Hood River Valley 7, Pendleton 1
Chenowith Elementary School, the Wahtonka Campus, and North Wasco County School District 21’s administrative office was placed in lockdown Tuesday after a man was reported with a gun on Chenowith Road near the entry to Foley Lakes Mobile Home Park. In a joint statement, Wasco County Sheriff Lane Magill and D-21 Superintendent Candy Armstrong said the man was located when officers arrived in the area, and during the incident he showed behavior indicating he wanted only to cause harm to himself. The man was taken to Mid-Columbia Medical Center for a mental evaluation with Mid-Columbia Center for Living, the weapon was located and secured, and the lockdown was lifted. The investigation by law enforcement found the incident was isolated in nature, and no school children or staff were in danger.
Oregon Second District Congressman Greg Walden will hold town hall meetings in The Dalles and Hood River next Wednesday (April 12). Walden will start in The Dalles with a town hall in the Fort Dalles Readiness Center from 11 a.m. to noon. He will then move on to Hood River for a similar event from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hood River Middle School Auditorium. Walden will also hold town halls in Prineville and Bend next Thursday, and Medford and Grants Pass on Friday.
Hood River officials say they are going to make some repairs to the current Children’s Park structure on Hazel Street to reopen it in a smaller modified scale by Memorial Day. The City held a community meeting on the structure that has been closed since a report that found 35 structural deficiencies in the 25-year-old wooden play area. City Manager Steve Wheeler says they believe they can dismantle some parts of the structure while leaving other parts that are working or can be easily fixed. The next step would be replacement of the facility, and how to pay for it. Wheeler said the 2017-18 City budget he will be presenting this spring will include some money for Children’s Park, but he says the City will also request involvement from the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District, and replacement will probably also need a community fundraising component.
The Dalles City Council has selected Jason Corey as Interim Municipal Court Judge. According to a written statement from the City, the permanent Municipal Court Judge position was offered and accepted by another candidate, who has since withdrawn from consideration. The City Council will meet in executive session at a later date to discuss their options on the permanent position. Corey is currently a partner at the local law firm Dick, Dick & Corey. City officials say he has substantial experience in municipal courts, both in The Dalles as a prosecuting attorney and in Monmouth.
North Wasco County School District 21 officials have been using a state K-12 funding figure of eight-point-one billion dollars to prepare a budget for the 2017-18 school year. That’s under the eight-point-four billion school advocates around the state have said is needed to maintain current programs, but slightly above the number in the Governor’s proposed budget. Both D-21 Superintendent Candy Armstrong and Chief Financial Officer Randy Anderson say the number the district is using leaves them about a million dollars short of what they need. State legislators have indicated there will not be significant movement toward finalizing a K-12 education budget until the state’s May revenue forecast comes out.
Work has been on-going in the Washington Legislature on a transportation budget for the 2017-19 biennium. 14th District Senator Curtis King is chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. He says they have are trying to implement projects in the 16-year Connecting Washington plan approved in 2015, but money is an issue with gas tax revenues stagnant. King says the proposal from Senate Republicans has added five million dollars to address winter road damage. He says one of the new projects he would like to include is for safety improvements for the railroad crossing on Walnut Street in Bingen.