The Hood River County elections’ office has verified that backers of an initiative petition to amend the Hood River City Charter to require authorization from voters before municipal parkland could be sold turned in enough valid signatures to put it on the November ballot. The next step is for the initiative to be presented to the City Council within 30 days. The Council can adopt the initiative and it will become effective immediately or they can reject the initiative and it will go to the November election. 1,245 signatures were collected by petitioners, which was well over the 762 needed for the ballot. Filed by Brian Carlstrom and Tracey Tomashpol, the initiative would amend the City of Hood River’s charter to require an authorization by the city’s voters before city parks could be sold or transferred for any purpose not related to public recreation.
The Dalles City Council approved an ordinance to address graffiti abatement. Community Development Director Steve Harris said the City did not have specific language on graffiti abatement in its codes, treating it has as general nuisance. The ordinance sets time periods for property owners to address graffiti, with Harris noting locations not promptly dealt with can become targets to be hit repeatedly. The time periods, calling for a five-day period for owners to remove the graffiti with the opportunity for hardship extensions, were a topic of discussion among Councilors. Councilor Darcy Long-Curtiss called it “government overreach,” and asked for the ordinance to be read in full. Harris added the City is working with Wasco County Youth Services to provide graffiti removal services upon request.
The Hood River City Council approved a timeline for filling the Mayor’s position that will be vacant when Paul Blackburn resigns in September. City Manager Rachel Fuller says applications will begin to be accepted on July 15, and the deadline to file applications will be August 23. The timeline calls for the City Council to conduct interviews at its September 23 meeting.
A Gresham truck driver was taken by LifeFlight to PeaceHealth Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver after his truck and tractor rolled on Highway 14 about two miles east of Stevenson. According to the Washington State Patrol, the truck driven by 59-year-old Jimmy Cloud was traveling eastbound on Highway 14 just before 12:30 Monday afternoon when the vehicle crossed the center line, rolled onto the driver’s side, and slid into the westbound ditch. The WSP identified speed as the cause of the accident. Cloud has been charged with driving too fast and driving with a suspended license. There was no word on Cloud’s condition.
What is now described as two fires about four miles west of Parkdale have burned an estimated 85 acres, and have been 35 percent lined and ten percent contained. The 1620 Road Fire was reported Monday morning burning in brush, slash, and young timber on private land. Oregon Department of Forestry spokesperson Christie Shaw says a spot fire was detected Monday afternoon burning in a draw to the east of the main fire in dense vegetation and less accessible terrain. No structures are threatened. Overnight firefighters worked to complete line around the original fire perimeter using dozers and existing roads, with handline construction around the larger spot fire continuing today. A Type 3 management team is taking command of the fire to provide additional support to firefighters and resources. Aerial resources available to support ground operations today include two fireboss scooper planes, two heavy air tankers, a Type 2 helicopter, and a Type 1 helicopter. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The Hood River City Council will consider whether to give the go-ahead to Hood River Garbage’s parent company Waste Connections to add a 2.61% surcharge to customers’ bills for the cost of recycling. Recycling has become more difficult since China stopped accepting some materials a couple of years ago, severely impacting the market for plastics in particular. Hood River County and Cascade Locks are also looking at the surcharge. The increase would add about 54 cents a month to the bill of a residential customer with 32-gallon curbside pickup. The Council will hold a hearing on the proposal this evening at 6 p.m. in Hood River City Hall.
Klickitat County will hold an informal open house on Thursday evening to talk to the public about plans to construct a new County Services Building in Goldendale across from the County Courthouse to replace a number of annex buildings that have reached a point where the cost of repair has become prohibitive. Commissioner Rex Johnston noted with bonds for building the Pioneer Center and sewer service improvements in Dallesport coming off the County’s books soon, it can free up monies for a new building. The informational open house will be Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Courthouse in Goldendale.
Applications are now being taken to fill a vacancy on the Columbia Gorge Community College Board of Education for a positon representing Wasco County. Wasco County residents within the CGCC district are eligible to fill the remaining portion of the current term in position two, which will run through June 30, 2021. The seat became vacant when Dana Campbell resigned at last week’s CGCC board meeting. Those who might like to fill the position can send a letter of interest with qualifications, telephone, and address to Tiffany Prince in the Columbia Gorge Community College President’s Office, 400 East Scenic Drive in The Dalles, zip code 97058 by July 9. The board is recommending interested candidates attend the July 16 board meeting and be prepared to attend the panel’s all day retreat on July 30.
A Hood River County Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a cougar Friday night at a residence in Cascade Locks. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the cougar was adjacent to a vehicle with an infant inside at a home on John Quincy Avenue, preventing the mother from being able to safely remove the child. The cougar remained in close proximity when a deputy arrived, and at that point due to continuous close proximity and danger to the family because the animal would not leave the area, the deputy shot and killed it. There had been three sightings of a cougar in that neighborhood over the past three weeks, and officers believe this was the same animal, and that it was growing increasingly comfortable in a more urban environment and was demonstrating a decrease in its fear of humans. The animal has been turned over to Oregon State Police Fish & Game.
The Dalles Planning Commission approved a recommendation to City Council to remove the current Bed and Breakfast and Vacation Rental permit from the land use section of municipal code to set the stage for introducing a Short Term Rental license into the code’s business section, which oversees Transient Room Taxes. Community Development Department Planning Tech Joshua Chandler told the Commission that the Council would not actually act on the recommendation until language for STR licenses is prepared for consideration. He noted 16 of the 21 STR’s currently permitted in The Dalles were processed since September. The current permit is handled through an administrative action, is good for five years, and is free even though it takes nearly ten hours of staff time to process. Chandler said the City Council will probably address the issue later this summer. There was some testimony questioning making the recommendation before the new language is finished.