The Oregon Department of Transportation announced on its Twitter feed that Interstate 84 between Hood River and Troutdale has reopened.
Union Pacific has filed suit in federal district court in Portland against Wasco County and the Columbia River Gorge Commission, seeking a ruling that local and National Scenic Area ordinances cannot stop the railroad’s plans for a second mainline track around Mosier. In its filing, Union Pacific claims the Interstate Commerce Act pre-empts County and Scenic Area ordinances, and declare use of the County’s Scenic Area land use ordinances to stop the expansion unconstitutional. Opponents of the project blasted the filing, with Friends of the Columbia Gorge conservation director Michael Lang saying the lawsuit shows a “callous disregard” by Union Pacific for the Scenic Area, tribal treaty rights, and the safety of Gorge communities. Wasco County Commissioners denied Union Pacific’s application, saying treaty tribe objections required them to deny it under their Scenic Area ordinance. The expansion would occur in the area of last June’s oil train derailment and fire near Mosier.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Hood River, the Central Columbia River Gorge, Western Columbia River Gorge, and the Upper Hood River Valley to be in effect until 4 p.m. Wednesday, as a complex low pressure system is it expected to bring another 8 to 14 inches of snow to the area. Snow is to increase again this evening, and continue into Wednesday afternoon. There is a winter weather advisory in effect for The Dalles and the Eastern Columbia Gorge until 10 a.m. Wednesday, with two to four inches of snow forecast in that area, and four to eight inches in the Dufur, Maupin, and Moro areas. An east wind to 15 miles per hour is expected with stronger gusts as you move west in the Gorge. Lows tonight should be around 20, with highs tomorrow in the low to mid 20’s. Some relief from the snow might be in sight, with none forecast for Thursday and Friday, but temperatures are to remain well below freezing both days.
Hood River City Councilors sent a resolution to staff for revisions to declare that the City is inclusive and will not act as an arm of federal immigration authorities, but it won’t declare Hood River a “Sancutary City.” Mayor Paul Blackburn says they are using advice from the state immigration rights group CAUSA to make the declaration that Hood River is “an inclusive city in solidarity with other sanctuary cities.” He adds they want it known they stand with immigrants living in the area, but the term sanctuary “carries with it the implication if immigration enforcement were to arrive we would bar the door and not let them in, which is, of course, something we can’t do.” The resolution will come back to the Council at their next meeting on January 23. Blackburn noted the Council has already made its decision to proceed with the resolution, so it will probably be placed on the consent agenda.
Wasco County officials are asking their citizens to take part in a brief online survey in advance of strategic plan work coming up later this month. Commissioner Steve Kramer says there are only three questions, centered around their vision, mission, and values statement. Commissioners and county staff will hold a retreat next week to work on getting their strategic plan finished. Kramer says the most important thing is to have a road map to the best for their constituents.
The Hood River City Council has decided to have a committee do more study of a plan to place parking meters on some streets in the waterfront area. City and Port of Hood River officials have been considering installing meters for the upcoming summer recreation season. But business owners in the waterfront area have expressed reservations, and have proposed some alternatives. City Manager Steve Wheeler says a committee will take a look at the options available. The Port of Hood River was scheduled to discuss waterfront parking at its meeting Tuesday evening, but it was postponed due to weather.
After the large weekend snow fall and the possibility of more snow over the next few days, The Dalles Public Works Department will be working today and tonight to remove snow from the downtown area. That work may lead to occasional lane closures on 2nd and 3rd Streets, as well as on side streets, along with temporary on-street parking restrictions to allow removal of snow from the parking strips. The City of The Dalles is also reminding community members that property owners and residents are responsible for the removal of snow and ice from sidewalks adjacent to their properties. When clearing parking lots and driveways, business owners and residents are asked to avoid piling the snow from driveways
Two of the victims in Friday’s shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport have ties to The Dalles. The Miami Herald reports 70-year-old Shirley Timmons died in the shooting, while her husband Steve Timmons was wounded and at last report was in a coma in a south Florida hospital. The Herald says Steve Timmons is retired from Northwest Aluminum in The Dalles, where the radio stations of AVC Communications in Cambridge, Ohio says he reached the position of vice-president. They were living in Senecaville, Ohio, and were to celebrate their 51st wedding anniversary on January 28. The couple was on their way to a family cruise leaving from Fort Lauderdale.
A couple of Port of The Dalles properties that have stood vacant may be about to be occupied soon. Port Executive Director Andrea Klaas says three lots on Klindt Drive near the Port offices have been on the market for a number of years, but there has been strong interest in two of them. She expects a building on one of the lots will be a 14,000 square foot space that should be ready in spring, and another project is in the development stage. Klaas notes the Port is seeking commonality in businesses in the community that can help them tap into an industry that can support all of those businesses.
Hood River County officials are beginning to enter into their budget process for the 2017-18 fiscal year. County Administrator Jeff Hecksel says staff has begun its work, with staffing requests being put in for initial review. He says in the end the budget will probably remain status quo. County Commission Chair Ron Rivers says he plans to bring up the possibility of creating new revenue streams for the County at the Commission’s goal-setting session later this month.