From all reports, there were no major issues in south Wasco County related to crowds gathering in the path of totality for Monday’s solar eclipse. Sheriff Lane Magill says overall crowd management went well thanks in part to the preparation officials did in the weeks leading up to the eclipse. Magill says they are asking the Oregon Department of Transportation for vehicle count research, but he estimated there were between two-to-three-thousand cars per hour coming into the south county on Monday morning. He adds Wasco County emergency officials will hold a meeting to breakdown how the day went to identify potential gaps they may have had to help prepare for other events and emergencies.
The Indian Creek Fire in the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness west of Hood River has been burning more actively as the vegetation and other fuels get drier, partly from the influence of a dry air mass passing through the area. The fire has spread, crossing a small drainage on the northwest side of the fire, and is now 113 acres in size. A reconnaissance flight earlier this week showed the fire was consuming surface fuels and hadn’t been burning into the crowns of the trees. Air drops on the fire have continued, with four “Super Scooper” airplanes arriving Tuesday to deal with the increased activity, and a “heavy” helicopter to increase the water-dropping capabilities has been ordered. A Cascade Type 2 Initial Attack crew is helping monitor the Indian Creek Fire at Indian Mountain, and they also identified a location on Chinidere Mountain for another camera to help monitor the north end of Indian Creek Fire remotely. Public use restrictions are still in effect for campfires, smoking, internal combustion engines, and off-highway motorized vehicles on the Mt. Hood National Forest.
The Wasco County Fair will begin its big four day run Thursday at the fairgrounds in Tygh Valley. Tomorrow is Free Family Day, sponsored by The Dalles Disposal. The fair’s Zach Harvey says this year’s fair features the return of a large-scale carnival to the event. Thursday events will also include the Senior Picnic in the Park at 11:30, Kids’ Day events at 2 p.m., and Ranch Sorting at 5 p.m.
The Klickitat County Fair is starting Thursday in Goldendale. Opening evening as per usual will bring the annual barbecue featuring products made in Klickitat County, starting at 5 p.m. Barbecue beef and pork is on the menu, along with barbecued corn on the cob, baked potato, baby carrots, and more, including dessert. Cost is $8 per plate. There will also Western Games tomorrow beginning at 4 p.m., and a free concert by James Wesley at 8 p.m. The fair will run through Sunday.
The Sherman County Fair is underway in Moro. Wednesday’s events include Freddie Prez on the main stage at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., barbecue burgers and hot dogs by the fair board at 5 p.m., the 4-H style show at 5:30, and Horse Games in the main arena at 7:15. Thursday’s docket includes a full day of 4-H/FFA judging of various animals, the Down on the Farm Chore Course at 7 p.m., and Freddie Prez once again on the main stage. Activities will continue through Sunday.
A 15-year-old girl missing since Monday morning in the Lahar Viewpoint area on the southeast side of Mt. St. Helens has been found. Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown says Katrina Osborne was found Tuesday morning by the Volcano Rescue Team near the Smith Creek Trailhead. She is in good condition. The girl had become separated from her family and friends Monday morning. She is from the Longview-Kelso area.
The City of Hood River has hired Dustin Nilsen to be its new Planning Director. Nilsen has been Senior Planner in the Wasco County Planning Department for the past two years. He has seventeen years of professional planning experience, including 10 years with the Village of Antioch, Illinois in the Chicago area, seven of which were as Director of Community Development. He also spent over three years as Senior Planner in Aurora, Colorado. Nilsen starts his new position in mid-September, which allows time to work with current Planning Director Cindy Walbridge prior to her retirement on October 2.
Hood River County Commissioners heard a proposal from County Forest Manager Doug Thiesies to create a new campground at Kingsley Reservoir once expansion of that facility is finished. The current campground at Kingsley will be flooded when the reservoir expansion by Farmers Irrigation District is done. The concept plan presented by the County Forestry Department included a first phase on the east side of the reservoir that would involve three major group camping sites, a few single vehicle camping spurs, RV sites and a dump station, day-use parking, picnic shelter, and boat ramp, with a second phase constructing more camp sites on the southwestern end of the reservoir. Commission Chair Ron Rivers said it was an impressive plan, but there are some important questions to be answered, most notably how to fund it. Commissioners asked Thiesies to bring back more details, including cost figures, at their next meeting September 18.
Two ranches in Sherman County will be honored as Century Ranches during a ceremony at the Oregon State Fair on Saturday. The Belshe Ranch and the Kee/Crofoot Ranch are both receiving the designation. The Belshe Ranch was founded in 1916 by Susanna Belshe and her son Clay on 800 acres, providing hay and pasture for work horses, and growing to the point where today the ranch consists of several thousand acres raising wheat and barley and for many years included a cow and calf operation. It is currently operated by Clay’s great-grandson Martin James Belshe. The Kee/Crofoot Ranch was founded on 320 acres Frank and Iva Kee to raise cattle and soft white wheat, the same as it does today. The Kee’s sold the ranch to their son Eben Kee and his wife Edna Crofoot Kee, and it is now operated by their nephew Dell Squire. Award winners receive a certificate signed by the Governor and Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Historic roadside signs are imprinted with the founder’s name and the year the ranch or farm was established.
There is a need for more people to become officials for high school and youth sports in the region. Phil Hukari of the Mid-Columbia Football Officials Association says the number of officials is down in all sports both in the local area and across the nation. Hukari has been official in various sports for a long time, saying it is a rewarding way to remain involved in the game. Those interested in becoming prep sports officials can go to the Oregon Athletic Officials Association website at oreofficials.org to learn more, and get contact information for Mid-Columbia associations in each sport.