Developers ask for delay on Wasco County wind farm

Map showing original scope of project as submitted to Oregon's Energy Facility Siting Council.

Map showing original scope of project as submitted to Oregon’s Energy Facility Siting Council.

 

THE DALLES (AP)— Developers seeking to build the Summit Ridge Wind Farm nearThe Dalles are asking to shrink and delay their project.

The Oregon Department of Energy said Friday it will take public comments on the proposal until Sept. 19.

LotusWorks, an Irish company, is asking to extend an Aug. 19 deadline to begin construction by two years. It’s also asking to reduce the maximum number of wind turbines from 87 to 72, reduce the peak generating capacity, and increase the maximum height for the turbines and blades.

The proposed wind farm is located southeast of The Dalles near the Deschutes River in Wasco County.

Thompson Park Pool Project Update 08 29 14

The Northern Wasco County Park and Recreation District staff, along with professional consultants involved with the Thompson Park Pool Project, are putting together the final details on the construction contract. Once this document is signed by all parties involved construction of the pool will begin immediately . Northern Wasco County Park and Recreation District is currently on site performing project related tasks in removing plant material surrounding the wading pool and equipment from the mechanical room and bathhouse that can be utilized at other Park District facilities.

The Dalles Kiwanis Club Annual Steak Feed

The Dalles Kiwanis Club is warming up the grill for the annual Steak Feed Thursday after Labor Day. This year it’s Thursday, Sept. 4, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Sorosis Park. The event is the club’s major fund-raiser for community projects, most of which serve children and youth. Adult meals include a eight ounce sirloin steak, baked potato, coleslaw, roll, dessert and drink for $15. Free meal for children 12 and under features a hot dog plus the other entrees. Tickets are available from Kiwanis members or may be purchased in the park Sept. 4.

Telephoned threat temporarily closes Hood River Bridge

A telephone bomb threat closed the Hood River Bridge last night. According to a press release from the Hood River Police Department, the Klickitat County Dispatch office received a call that said there was a bomb on the bridge and that it would go off in 20 minutes. Officers from the Hood River Police Department, Hood River County Sheriff’s Office, White Salmon Police and Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office responded and closed the bridge. Officers from the Hood River Police Department visually inspected the bridge deck, walkways, lift span and lift control center and were unable to find any suspicious devices. At 10:30, with no further threats received, the bridge was re-opened. The call came from a large generalized area in Skamania County. Deputies from the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office checked the general area of the call, but were not able to find any suspicious activity or persons responsible

Truck driver stabbed in bizarre incident on I-84, 15 miles west of Ontario

08 24 14 stabbing of truck driver on I-84 west of Ontario

Oregon State Police (OSP), with the assistance of the Malheur County District Attorney’s Office, are continuing the investigation into the stabbing of a commercial truck driver Monday afternoon along Interstate 84 abou t fifteen miles west of Ontario. The suspect is in custody and the truck driver, who was stabbed multiple times, is being treated at a Boise-area hospital. 

Updated information indicates on August 25, 2014 at approximately 12:09 p.m. (PST), OSP received a report of a stabbing along Interstate 84 eastbound near milepost 358. A commercial truck pulling two tanker trailers containing milk driven by CHARLES D. VANZANTE, age 63, from Jerome, Idaho, was traveling eastbound on Interstate 84 when, unprovoked, a Buick Lacrosse displaying Washington license plates driven by an adult male began ramming the truck’s diesel tanks. 

VANZANTE pulled the truck and trailers to the side of the road and stopped. The Buick’s driver stopped the car against the side of the truck, got out and entered the truck where he stabbed VANZANTE multiple times. 

The suspect, who has not been positively identified, fled up a hill south of the scene and then returned back to the truck where he briefly engaged in a second struggle with VANZANTE. He then was surrounded by several citizens outside the truck and convinced to stay as OSP troopers began arriving at the scene and took the suspect into custody at gunpoint. 

An OSP lieutenant and trooper initiated emergency medical care on VANZANTE until relieved by medical responders. VANZANTE was transported by air ambulance to St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho. His injuries were determined to be non-life threatening. 

The suspect has been lodged in the Malheur County Jail for Attempted Murder and Assault in the First Degree. Additional charges are pending. The vehicle was confirmed stolen out of Pasco, Washington. 

OSP Criminal Investigations Division detectives are continuing the investigation and working to positively identify the suspect. 

OSP was assisted by Malheur County Sheriff’s Office, Baker County Sheriff’s Office, ODOT, Treasure Valley paramedics and Huntington ambulance. 

Photograph – Oregon State Police 

Google supporting Mid-Columbia broadband study

Google Supports Project to Address Broadband Challenges in the Gorge
Google has funded a Mid-Columbia Economic Development District and Wasco County Economic Development Commission project in Wasco County to support addressing challenges with broadband access.  “Each day, access to the Internet becomes more and more important to finding a good job, and accessing services or information,” said Dave Karlson, Site Lead for Google’s operations in The Dalles.
Amanda Hoey, MCEDD’s Executive Director, noted that “Access to broadband is necessary for economic development, particularly in our rural communities.  This project, with Google’s support, will bring our region closer to having the universal access that will help our communities grow and thrive.”
Robust, affordable broadband access is a key link to markets, customers, and services for businesses and communities. Broadband is an especially vital infrastructure for rural areas that have high proportions of small, home based businesses, agricultural enterprises, and other businesses and community organizations that rely on connections to broader markets for their success.
However, due to Wasco County and the Columbia Gorge’s rural nature, and challenging and diverse terrain, building broadband infrastructure to serve our region can be incredibly costly for a limited customer base.  Increasing access to high-speed internet service would have a significant impact on the vitality of these un- or under-served rural communities and businesses throughout Wasco County and the Mid-Columbia.
Staff will work with communities in South Wasco County to build a business case for broadband service in areas without it utilizing a model developed and tested in our region.  This effort will study demand for service, collect information on community assets, and identify potential funding sources to extend internet access to rural customers. As this model, developed while addressing broadband access challenges in rural Klickitat and Skamania Counties with support of the Washington State Broadband Office, is tested and updated, it will provide a toolkit for other rural areas to address these challenges.
To address the other side of the equation, broadband adoption and utilization, the project will build on the Wasco County/Q-Life Strategic Plan’s recommendations around outreach on the value of this technology.  The team will host “Web Works: Anywhere” forums that highlight local businesses and organizations successfully utilizing broadband access currently available. A pilot forum was held in Dufur during Spring of 2014 and allowed neighbors to learn from neighbors about strategies to take advantage of broadband’s access to the services, customers, and community.
Google’s strong commitment to addressing the digital divide has resulted in significant investment in the community near The Dalles Data Center.  Since 2010, Google has invested over $266,000 in free WiFi for The Dalles Public WiFi project.

 

Special report: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area urban area boundary policy

PlenaryPresentation08062014 1BACKGROUND The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on November 17, 1986.  The Act directed the states of Oregon and Washington to enter into a bi-state compact to manage an 85-mile long corridor from the mouth of the Deschutes River on the east to the mouth of the Sandy River on the west, and the lands from the river to the ridgetops visible from Interstate 84 in Oregon and State Route 14 in Washington.

The compact created the Columbia River Gorge Commission, which manages the area in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, under the auspices of the National Scenic Area Management Plan created in the early days of the Commission.

Under the plan, land in the National Scenic Area (NSA) is divided into three broad categories: General Management Areas (GMA), Special Management Areas (SMA) and Urban Areas. GMA lands have some restrictions on development; SMA lands have considerably more restrictions, and Urban Areas are exempt from Scenic Area restrictions all together.

There are 13 Urban Areas in the NSA, including both incorporated and unincorporated communities. In Oregon they are The Dalles, Mosier, Hood River and Cascade Locks. In Washington, they are Wishram, Dallesport, Lyle,  Bingen, White Salmon, Home Valley, North Bonneville, Carson and Stevenson. PlenaryPresentation08062014 6Many people are surprised to learn that, after 28 years,  these critical boundaries are still in limbo in many places. That’s largely due to the fact they were drawn with thick markers on fairly low-resolution maps by Congressional staffers late on the night before the bill was introduced.(See above)

The Act itself makes these crude maps the official determination of the boundaries in Section 4 (a) (2),which reads in part, “… the boundaries of the scenic area shall be generally depicted on the map entitled ‘Boundary Map, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area,’ numbered NSA-001 sheets 1 and 2, and dated September 1986, which shall be on file and available for public inspection in the offices of the Commission and of the Chief, Forest Service.”

In 2005, the Gorge Commission hired professional surveyors to determine the exact exterior boundary of the National Scenic Area. That is now complete and full legal descriptions of each portion are completed.

Recently,the Commission hired a team of surveyors to repeat the process for the boundaries of the 13 Urban Areas. The surveyors reported they were able to determine “90 to 95 percent” or the boundaries without a problem. But for some areas standard survey practices weren’t enough to determine what Congress had intended. That led the Commission to set up a series of facilitated public meetings with a number of stakeholders to try and reach consensus on Congressional intention of nearly three decades ago.

The first such session was held August 6th at the Readiness Center at Columbia Gorge Community College. Following a plenary session involving approximately 45 stakeholders, a smaller technical group met that same day.  The technical group will meet on September 16  and October 23 to consider the issues and report back to the larger plenary group in a session on November 13. Final recommendations will be sent to the Gorge Commission, which may make further changes before adoption. All meetings are open to the public.

Below are Power Point slides and  underneath each one an audio file recorded from a presentation made by Tenneson Engineering President and CEO Benjamin B. Beseda at that first session. Slides and commentary explain some of the issues facing the two committees: PlenaryPresentation08062014 12  

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