The U.S. House has for a second time passed legislation that could remove some red tape for the Port of Hood River’s economic development and habitat restoration projects. The provision is contained in a compromise version of water infrastructure legislation known as the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. Oregon Second District Congressman Greg Walden says regulations dating back to the construction of Bonneville Dam in the 1930’s require the Port must get approval from the Army Corps of Engineers for activity on land near the Hood River, even though the Port owns the land. That process can be slow and expensive, and the new legislation would remove that requirement. Walden says the bill is expected to be passed by the Senate in the coming days, and be signed into law by the President.
A multi-vehicle non-injury accident on westbound Interstate 84 near Mosier limited traffic to one lane in that direction Tuesday morning. The Oregon State Police says that accident involving three commercial trucks and a passenger vehicle occurred around 5:15 a.m. near milepost 69. Both westbound lanes were blocked for a brief period of time. An investigation into the accident is continuing.
A federal judge has struck down Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban, saying it is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Michael McShane threw out the voter-approved ban today. State officials have said they’d be prepared to carry out same-sex marriages almost immediately, and couples lined up outside the Multnomah County Clerk’s office in Portland in anticipation of the decision. Four gay and lesbian couples brought suit arguing Oregon’s marriage laws unconstitutionally discriminate against same-sex couples and exclude them from a fundamental right. State officials refused to defend the ban, and McShane earlier denied a request by the National Organization for Marriage to intervene on behalf of its Oregon members. An appeals court this morning refused the group’s request for an emergency stay of McShane’s decision.
Unemployment rates in Oregon Mid-Columbia counties in April remained about the same as they were in March. Oregon Employment Department statistics put Wasco County’s April rate at six-point-six percent, the same as in March and down four-tenths of a point from April one year ago. Hood River County checked in last month at five-point-four percent…down a tenth-of-a-point from March and nine-tenths of a point from one year ago. And Sherman County’s April unemployment rate was six-point-two percent, down a tenth-of-a-point from March and from seven-point-five percent in April 2013.
Ten Klickitat County school districts have received a state grant to install a school emergency response system with a direct link to the Klickitat County Emergency Operations Center facility. The districts receiving the advanced safety system include: Bickleton, Centerville, Glenwood, Goldendale, Klickitat, Lyle, Roosevelt, Trout Lake, White Salmon Valley, and Wishram. The new technology to be installed in coming months will provide a direct and nearly-instant connection to 9-1-1 dispatchers in Goldendale, along with capability for dispatchers and responders to remotely see and hear in real time what is happening at the source of the alarm, facilitating earlier dispatch with a much improved view of what is actually occurring at the school. The grant will cover more than $19,000 per school for the new system.
One person is missing after a raft capsized on the Klickitat River near the Yakima/Klickitat county line over the weekend. The Yakima County Sheriff’s Office reports two people were in the raft when it overturned on Saturday afternoon. One person was able to get out of the water and report what happened. The search for the second person is continuing in Klickitat County waters, and the raft has been recovered.
Voters in Oregon have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to turn their primary election ballots back to county election offices. At last report turnout in Wasco County was at 24-point-seven percent, and 20-point-six percent in Hood River County. Ballots can be taken to county elections offices or designated drop sites. In Wasco County, there are drop sites at the 5th Street entrance to the courthouse in The Dalles and at Maupin City Hall, and in Hood River County they are at the County Administration Building on 601 State Street in Hood River and at Cascade Locks City Hall.
The Port of Hood River Commission will discuss a plan from a committee on the concept plan for a path along the western edge of the Nichols Boat Basin. The Port will be looking at extending the contract of design firm Walker Macy. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee says the question is whether to start design work when the project depends on two grant applications to the state, and the outcome of those won’t be known for at another month. McElwee says they do have a clear concept plan for the basin which will drive requests for zone changes to allow the path and water access to happen, and will be useful regardless of when they receive grant funding.
There were a few additional filings for the August primary election in Klickitat and Skamania counties as the filing period came to a conclusion at the end of last week. In Klickitat County, Lori Hoctor turned in the paperwork to run for re-election as prosecutor, and she is opposed by David Quensel, while Jonathan Lewis became the third PUD Commission candidate, joining Dan Gunkle and Sherry Carver in seeking position three on that panel, and Elizabeth Hallock filed for West District Court Judge, joining Dave Brown and Jeff Baker. Earlier filings created contested races for County Commission position two, assessor, and sheriff. In Skamania County, Adam Kick filed for re-election for prosecuting attorney and is unopposed, while Thomas Linde and Dan Gunderson join Bob Wittenberg and Liz Green in seeking a Skamamia PUD Commission seat. There are also contested races for auditor and County Commission position three. The primary is on August 5.
North Central Public Health District has received a $14,000 grant from the Greater Oregon Chapter of the March of Dimes to launch activities aimed at supporting women of reproductive age. The district says it will work with medical providers in the area to support the project. Risk factors that may affect a healthy pregnancy will be addressed and assistance offered to decrease them. One example is in the area of smoking and pregnancy. The district says statistics show 19-point-two percent of women in Wasco, Sherman, and Gilliam counties report using tobacco during pregnancy, higher than the state rate of 10-point-six percent.