Maryhill Museum free admission for residents of certain counties

For nearly two decades, Maryhill Museum of Art has extended free admission on designated weekends to its neighbors in Oregon and Washington. On June 24 & 25, 2017 residents from the following counties are granted free admission upon presentation of an I.D. with address. Oregon — Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Harney, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Malheur, Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa Counties. Washington — Adams, Asotin, Chelan, Garfield, Douglas, Ferry, Grant, Kittitas, Mason, Lincoln, Pierce, Pend Oreille, Okanogan, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston, Whitman, and Yakima.

ODOT eclipse update: T minus 2 months

 

Path of the eclipse across Oregon, courtesy of NASA

Don’t be a luna(r)-tic: Arrive early, stay put and leave late

Oregon will experience quite a show in two months, when the moon’s shadow cast by a solar eclipse begins its 2,500-mile-per-hour journey across the United States.

But if the predicted one million visitors in Oregon’s path of totality for the Aug. 21 eclipse don’t properly prepare or aren’t paying attention, that show won’t be the celestial dance they came for. It’ll be a cosmic traffic jam on the roads below.

ODOT is expecting that many Oregon highways will be especially crowded in the days around the eclipse. We ask that, when you’re traveling, you keep your hands on the wheel, your mind on the task, and your eyes on the road—not on the sky.

Statistics show that many crashes are the result of distracted driving and traveling too fast for conditions. So we’re encouraging you to avoid unnecessary distractions during your travels—and especially when Oregon highways will be very crowded during the time of the eclipse. That means planning your travel well in advance; knowing where you’re going; and for long trips, knowing where you’re going to go when the need arises!

ODOT will have crews posted along critical travel routes to keep motorists mobile and safe, and will be providing travel updates via Tripcheck.com and 511 so you can be prepared with the most current travel information available. Properly supplied and informed, we all can avoid becoming “highway luna(r)-tics” during the eclipse.

You should:

  • Expect traffic changes. ODOT does not plan to close any state highways. But as traffic volumes increase, ODOT may restrict some left turns to and from highways in order to keep traffic moving. Cities and counties may choose to do the same thing on their streets and roads.
  • Help keep roads clear. Staying off the roads helps make sure emergency service vehicles can get through. Take care of errands well before Aug. 21. Limit your trips to help keep the roads clear. Ride your bicycle!
  • Travel with friends. Joining friends and family for the trip to totality will reduce the number of cars on the road. Find carpool information at www.drivelessconnect.com.
  • Caution friends, family and other visitors: Tell them to #DriveHealthy: Arrive early, stay put during the eclipse and leave late afterwards. If everyone jumps on the highways all at once right after the eclipse, no one will go very far very fast. Remember, all travelers have a shared responsibility to stay safe.
  • Be prepared. Plan ahead for your basic needs such as food, water, gas for the car and bathroom breaks in case you’re stuck in traffic. Plan to get to where you need to be before you need to go!

We’re all in this together. Be prepared. Help your neighbors and other travelers to be prepared. And please enjoy Oregon!

For updates, visit www.Tripcheck.com.

Jaime Herrera Beutler to host telephone town hall on June 27th

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler will be hosting a live telephone town hall on June 27th at 5:15pm Pacific Standard Time. All residents of Southwest Washington’s third congressional district are invited to join Jaime for a conversation about health care, taxes, the economy, and whatever else is on their mind.

Southwest Washington residents can sign up to receive a call to join the telephone town hall by visiting this link and entering their contact information. They can also contact Jaime’s Vancouver office to be placed on this list by calling (360) 695-6292.

Residents can also call in to join the telephone town hall at any point during the event by calling 1-877-229-8493 and using the passcode 116365.

During the live telephone town hall, Jaime will be giving a brief update about her work in Congress, and then taking questions from participants.

 

Northwest Members of Congress Seek Protection of Columbia River Ecosystem, Hydropower Infrastructure

Dept. of Interior must continue playing a key role in preventing spread of destructive mussels that could cost region $500 million

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Members of Congress from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke requesting assistance to combat the spread of an invasive species of mussels that threatens the Columbia River system, fisheries, and hydropower infrastructure.

In a bipartisan effort, U.S. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Raúl Labrador (R-ID), Adam Smith (D-WA), Denny Heck (D-WA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dave Reichert (R-WA), and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) signed the letter urging Secretary Zinke to maximize federal resources to effectively combat the invasive spread of quagga and zebra mussels that threaten the region.

 

Dear Secretary Zinke:

We write to draw your attention to the immediate threat of invasive mussels to the Pacific Northwest region and request your assistance, through the Department of the Interior, in combating their spread. 

In November 2016, invasive mussel larvae were detected at Canyon Ferry Reservoir and Tiber Reservoir in Montana. Prior to this detection, the Pacific Northwest remained one of the only regions in North America without invasive quagga and zebra mussels.  Any further spread of invasive mussels would have devastating and extensive impacts on the economy, natural resources, and river operations throughout the region. In fact, if invasive mussel populations become established in the Pacific Northwest, it is estimated to cost our region $500 million every year just to manage the effects of an infestation. 

Therefore, we believe it is imperative that we work together to ensure that these species do not breach the Continental Divide and invade the Columbia River system. Failing to do so would likely result in widespread infestation throughout the Columbia River Basin. Once these mussels are introduced, there is no known way to eradicate them. 

The Department of Interior is critical for augmenting efforts of the States in preventing the spread of invasive mussels through such means as establishing and operating watercraft inspection stations and invasive mussel monitoring. The earlier an invasion is detected, the more cost-effective and successful management efforts will be. We appreciate any efforts the Department can undertake to coordinate with stakeholders for monitoring best practices, and we applaud the Department for establishing the Invasive Species Working Group and its several subcommittees focused on this issue. 

As you continue in these efforts, we request that the Department do everything possible to ensure containment at the source at high-risk federally infected waterbodies, which is the most effective way to prevent any further spread of invasive mussels. The main source of infected watercraft entering the Pacific Northwest region originates from the Lower Colorado River system, particularly from Lake Mead National Recreation Area. In past years, Members of Congress and states have requested that the Department institute mandatory inspection and decontamination for all vessels leaving infested federal waterbodies, unfortunately the Department has yet to implement this request. As you establish new priorities at the Department of Interior, we reiterate this request and ask for immediate attention to this serious economic and environmental issue. 

We offer our assistance and willingness to work with you and your staff on this matter. Thank you, we look forward to your response.

Firefighters tackle Rhodes Canyon Fire east of Clarno

Contributed photo Lisa Clark

Nearly 100 firefighters from the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Wheeler County worked on the Rhoades Canyon Fire burning east of Clarno, Oregon and south of Highway 218 Wednesday afternoon. Steep slopes and afternoon winds caused the fire make short runs, increasing the size to 10,000 acres. Although the fire grew, crews have been successful in getting line around portions of the fire and containment has increased to 30 percent.

Wind, low relative humidity and dry fuels remain a concern for suppression efforts. Crews will work throughout the night to improve existing lines to create a solid anchor point, and will progressively build line along the flanks of the fire. Crews may also use small burnout operations to help contain the fire. Helicopters and SEAT planes will continue to use water and retardant to knock down the hottest parts of the fire and support ground firefighters during the day.

Highway 218 remains open. The fire has not reached the John Day River and the river remains open; however, boaters should be aware that helicopters may be dipping buckets in the river during daylight hours. When helicopters approach, boaters should hold up until the helicopter has moved away.

McCabe explores solutions for 2018 insurance coverage options in Klickitat County

This month, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner announced Klickitat County may be without health insurance coverage in 2018 as carriers have not filed plans in the county for Washington state’s 2018 individual health insurance market. Rep. Gina McCabe, R-Goldendale, says she is working diligently on the issue and hopes to help restore options for Klickitat County residents.

“Since Obamacare, the gradual decline in insurance options has become an all too familiar trend in rural and coastal communities throughout the country,” said McCabe. “Right now, my office has been in close contact with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner and my colleagues who serve on the House Health Care Committee, who are both in search of a solution. We have also been helping field questions for Klickitat County residents who stand to lose coverage in 2018.”

As of March 2017, more than 1,100 people in Klickitat County were enrolled in the individual market. This year, only two options — one in the exchange and one in the individual market — are available in the county.

Currently, those without a health insurer available in their county can seek coverage through the Washington State Health Insurance Pool (WSHIP), the state’s high-risk pool. Because WSHIP is not considered a qualified exchange insurer, subsidies are not available to off-set the costs for medium-to-low-income families. Additionally, those who can afford insurance but who do not purchase a plan will still be required to pay a penalty, or the “individual shared responsibility payment,” which can amount to more than $600 per person.

At the federal level, the Health Care Options Act of 2017 was introduced to provide relief to those living in a county without insurance options in the exchange. U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler announced her support for the bill last week.

Statewide, eleven insurance carriers have filed for the 2018 individual market. Earlier this year, Community Health Plan of Washington and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options announced they will not participate in the 2018 individual market. An estimated 8,500 Washingtonians will be affected as a result.

The 2017 legislative session ended on April 23. The Legislature is now in a second 30-day special session to complete work on a new, two-year operating budget.

New coalition praises mayor’s decision, promises vigilance

A newly-formed group,  the Goldendale Water Coalition, showed up at the Goldendale City Council Tuesday night to thank Mayor Mike Canon for recommending that the city not pursue any water bottling plant options, and to keep up pressure on the council to keep bottlers out.

In his report, posted online as part of the council meeting packet Friday, Mayor Canon concluded his promised report by writing ““The development of a proposal with Nestlé would require additional staff and manpower, additional funding for increased manpower and consultant time which could overwhelm the City’s limited budget. Based on the foregoing, I recommend the City take no further action.”

After eight people had spoken supporting the mayor’s decision under the public comments item on the agenda, local businessman Terry Luth took the group to task:

“I heard everybody get up and talk,” he said, “Because they’re against Nestlé’s or any such type of item. I’m not against them if they’re controlled. What I  am against is the two-facedness of everybody sitting right here. Because the next time there’s a council meeting, Mr. Mayor, how many people are going to be here, besides myself, these two people and maybe one other? None of y’all will be here again until somebody wants to do something in Goldendale to keep Goldendale alive. If you want to get economic growth, then man up and  come to these meetings.”

That drew this response from former Goldendale librarian Naomi Fisher: “I’m sorry, but I feel very insulted that you called me two-faced when you don’t know me and don’t know what I’ve done. I really think we can have more constructive conversations about economic development in Goldendale if people would quit the reflex of saying, when somebody expresses a concern, they lash out and make personal attacks like we just heard here or they say, ‘Well, you’re just gonna be against anything that provides jobs.'” She and others speakers were careful to say they were all for good family wage jobs and were not at all anti-development.

Yakama tribal attorney Keegan Bordeaux drew the most applause when he cited some specific concerns that generated fierce tribal opposition to any water bottling plant removing water from the Goldendale system.

“Fish cannot survive in the Columbia River without sufficient water quality, quantity and temperature,” he told councilors, “making every cold water source, including those around Goldendale, vital to the future health of the Columbia River fish. Any threat to these water resources is an attack on the health of our fisheries, and the Yakama Nation’s treaty-reserved rights to participate in those fisheries.”

Though council members gave a consensus approval to the mayor’s conclusion, Councilor Guy Theriault asked if this meant that the subject was closed forever. “What I’m asking is, there was a gentleman who brought this to the city’s attention. If he wants to still try to continue researching, doing what the city cannot afford to do, on his own, and brings it to the city’s attention [showing] how this could benefit the city and its residents, is that still a viable option?”

Mayor Canon replied the if the research had been done properly, the city could at least discuss it, leaving the door open a small fraction.

In an otherwise routine meeting, City Public Works Director Karl Enyeart reported crews would be doing crack sealing on city street, that the sewer project will start on June 26 and run 25 days and that the bid opening for the Columbus overlay project would be on June 21st.

Police Chief Reggie Bartkowski noted that the department had been working very hard, with the officers making 16 arrests recently for drug charges and that he anticipated “a whole bunch more arrests in the near future.”