The Dalles City Council picks city clerk as new city manager

02 02 16 Julie KruegerThe Dalles City Council has settled on a choice for a new city manager picking City Clerk Julie Krueger. She has been acting city manager since September 14, when four out of five councilors voted to terminate the contract of the previous city manager Nolan Young.

Following an executive session at noon Monday, council members came back into open session and moved to have City Attorney Gene Parker negotiate a contract with Krueger.

This decision came after a nationwide hunt. “We went through a pretty exhaustive process,” said Mayor Steve Lawrence. “We had over 40 applications; we found out what’s out there. We did make an offer to our number one candidate and we were turned down because that person selected another opportunity. And the council didn’t feel like there was someone else they wanted to make an offer to, even with more investigation. So at this time, their decision is to look inside,and ask the city attorney to see if there’s a possibility of negotiating a contract with our interim city manager. It’s a pretty straightforward choice as far as I can see it.”

Krueger, who has worked 23 years for the city, said she hadn’t originally considered applying for the job.

“After about the first month of doing the interim job, I realized that I was able to do the job and learn the things I didn’t know in a very quick manner,” she said.  “I feel like I have the support of the department managers. They have been a really good team with me. and the city council is pleased with my work and I wanted to continue on.”

Councilors could vote on a contract as early as next Monday.

Developer abandons controversial Troutdale energy project

 

Aerial view showing proposed site, from Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

Aerial view showing proposed site, from Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

Photo simulation of proposed plant and typiclal plume with Broughton Bluff in the background, as seen from the 40-Mile Loop Trail from the application for aqsiet certificate.

Photo simulation of proposed plant and typiclal plume with Broughton Bluff in the background, as seen from the 40-Mile Loop Trail from the application for aqsiet certificate.

Troutdale Energy Center, LLC (TEC), a subsidiary of Ares Management, L.P., formally abandoned its plans for the controversial Troutdale Energy Center, a 701-megawatt gas power plant that was proposed at a site sandwiched between the Troutdale Airport and the mouth of the Sandy River, which serves as the western boundary of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

“The abandonment of this proposal is proof that it lacked merit from the start,” said Nathan Baker, staff attorney for Friends of the Columbia Gorge. “In terms of resource impacts, this is one of the worst sites in the State of Oregon to build a large power plant. The site is literally at the gateway to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, which already suffers from significant air pollution problems.”

By letter dated January 26, 2016, TEC developer Willard Ladd notified the Oregon Department of Energy that the company “hereby withdraws its Application for Site Certificate for theTroutdale Energy Center . . . from further consideration by the [Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council] and the [Oregon Department of Energy].”

The proposed Troutdale power plant had been highly controversial and embattled from the start. TEC first proposed in a competitive bid to sell the project’s power to Portland General Electric (PGE), but in 2013 PGE rejected TEC’s bid, leaving it as an orphaned project with no power buyer.

TEC nevertheless persisted in pursuing a siting permit from the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC) as well as air and water pollution permits from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

In 2014, a broad coalition of environmental organizations, pilots groups, government agencies, and local citizens intervened in EFSC’s contested case to oppose the controversial project. The intervenors included Friends of the Columbia Gorge, the Oregon Pilots Association, the national organization Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the U.S. Forest Service, Interlachen Inc. (the homeowners association for Blue and Fairview Lakes), and Corbett, Oregon resident A. Michael Dianich. Other opponents to the project included the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council.

The parties in the contested case raised a variety of concerns, including air pollution impacts to the National Scenic Area, safety impacts to aviation operations at the Troutdale Airport caused by the project’s thermal plumes, aquifer impacts from water intake to cool the project, and noise and scenic impacts to the adjacent 40-Mile Loop trail, Sandy River, and Sandy River Delta.

EFSC’s contested case process lasted more than two years. At the time of TEC’s withdrawal, the parties were awaiting the hearing officer to schedule a hearing so that TEC’s expert witnesses could be cross-examined.

Meanwhile, Friends of the Columbia Gorge was litigating at the Oregon Court of Appeals a challenge to the DEQ’s air pollution permit for the project. The DEQ permit allowed the facility to emit up to 227 tons per year of nitrogen oxides, 198 tons per year of particulate matter, and 11.5 tons per year of hazardous air pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene and various other pollutants.

If the TEC project had been built, it likely would have replaced PGE’s coal-fired power plant in Boardman, Oregon as the single largest stationary source of air pollution in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

In a 2011 settlement agreement with Friends and other parties, PGE agreed to shut down its coal-fired plant in Boardman no later than December 31, 2020. “The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is already suffering from air pollution that obscures scenic views and harms plant habitat,” said Michael Lang, conservation director for Friends of the Columbia Gorge. “A major new source of pollution at the gateway to the Gorge would have only worsened those impacts.”

During the energy siting process, the U.S. Forest Service advised state agencies that air pollution from the TEC facility would harm visibility and cause nitrogen deposition in the Gorge. Visibility impacts would occur in the form of haze, as well as distinct air pollution plumes that would be visible from important viewing areas, such as Crown Point, during summer months. Acid deposition caused by the facility would have also harmed Gorge ecosystems.

The TEC proposal also severely threatened aviation safety. A Federal Aviation Administrationapproved modeling program showed that thermal plumes from the proposed Troutdale Energy Center (TEC) would create a one in one hundred risk of severe turbulence for the light aircraft that predominately use the Troutdale Airport, which likely would have resulted in fatal accidents. Thermal plumes caused by the gas plant would have exceeded the FAA’s target level of safety for light general aviation aircraft, business jets, and narrow-body jets. The hazard for business jets and narrow-body jets would extend into Portland International airspace.

The Oregon State Aviation Board, the airport tower manager at Troutdale, and organizations representing private pilots all warned for several years of the aviation hazards that would have been created by the project’s thermal plumes, but the Port of Portland and the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) ignored the warnings. Instead, the Port and ODOE relied on a flawed analysis prepared by the developer of the project. The Port of Portland entered into an agreement with TEC to allow the project to move forward on port-owned land, and ODOE formally endorsed the project in 2013.

dMary Rosenblum, president of the Oregon Pilots Association (OPA) and member of the Oregon State Aviation Board, stated that “The aviation risk modeling results exceeded our worst fears. If the TEC power plant were constructed, we would have had to advise all pilots to avoid the northern flight pattern at Troutdale or risk a fatal accident. Such severe risks are obviously unacceptable. We do not understand why the Port of Portland and ODOE both ignored the Department of Aviation’s opposition to this project. The Port of Portland should now focus on a more appropriate use for the project site.”

The power plant would also have been located within seventy feet of the regional 40-Mile Loop trail. Noise from the facility would have made it difficult for trail users to communicate, creating an unnecessary safety risk of accidents between cyclists and pedestrians. The project’s noise would have also harmed noise sensitive wildlife species in the surrounding area, including at the Sandy River, Sandy River Delta, and Sundial Island.

“Canceling this project is the right decision,” said Steve Wise, executive director of the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council. “This is a great day for the ecological health of the Sandy River, the Columbia River Gorge, and metro Portland’s air quality and energy future.”

“Gorge residents and visitors alike will be able to breathe easier with the abandonment of this massive source of air pollution,” said Michael Lang, conservation director for Friends of the Columbia Gorge. “But now that the threat of this poorly planned project has ended, we call on the Oregon DEQ, Columbia River Gorge Commission, and U.S. Forest Service to clarify and strengthen the rules that protect air quality in the National Scenic Area to ensure that large pollution sources like this will not harm the Gorge.”

Troutdale Energy Center, LLC, is a subsidiary of the Massachusetts-based Energy Investors Funds (EIF). Just six years ago, a massive explosion occurred at another EIF-backed natural gas plant, the “Kleen Energy Systems” power station in Middletown, Connecticut. The Kleen Energy explosion killed six people and injured dozens. In response, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration levied its third-highest workplace-safety fines ever issued in response to a single incident. On January 1, 2015, EIF was acquired by Los Angeles-based Ares Management, L.P.

Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife looking to buy Klickitat County parcl

OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, which owns or manages 1 million acres in the state, has identified 10 more tracts of land it may buy. The properties total nearly 10,000 acres and range from a 5,000-acre ranch in Lincoln County in Eastern Washington to 13 acres of wetlands in Snohomish County in Western Washington. Most of the properties have been used for livestock grazing or crop production.

In Klickitat County, the department is proposing 60 acres in the Bowman Creek area. The land would become part of the Klickitat Wildlife Area. WDFW’s property acquisitions have drawn criticism for taking private property off county tax rolls. Following a formula set by the Legislature, WDFW makes payments to counties in lieu of taxes, but the payments are less than the taxes a private landowner would pay. The Department is taking public comment

WDFW would set the land aside for hunting, fishing, recreation and wildlife preservation. Some land could be leased to ranchers or farmers, said Cynthia Wilkerson, WDFW land conservation and restoration section manager.

WDFW estimates the 10 properties would collectively cost $13.3 million, though the department has not yet had the lands independently appraised or made offers to landowners.

WDFW will take public comments until Feb. 12 on whether to add the properties to the 11 properties the department already plans to purchase in 2017-19. The bulk of the money would come from a state appropriation or federal grants.

Written comments on the proposed acquisitions may be submitted via email to Lands@dfw.wa.gov or by mail to Lauri Vigue, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

A list of the other nine properties follows the illustration below:

01 29 16 Bowman Creek Combo

The other nine properties for which  WDFW is seeking comment are:

Lincoln County: 5,542 acres of mostly shrub-steppe habitat in the Lake Creek drainage. WDFW considers the land important for sage grouse. The property was a working ranch until three years ago and has been for sale for five years.

Walla Walla County: 2,560 acres along and near the Touchet River. The land was once used for agriculture and is now enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, in which the owner takes land out of farm production in exchange for yearly payments.

Pacific County: 733 acres around Willapa Bay. The land has been used for agriculture and shellfish farming. WDFW would use the land for recreation and wildlife habitat.

Thurston County: 343 acres of South Puget Sound prairie. Current uses include farming. The land would be important habitat for the Mazma pocket gopher, according to WDFW.

Snohomish County: 280 acres in the Snoqualmie Valley. Current uses include agriculture. The land would become part of the Snoqualmie Wildlife Area

Kittitas County: 215 acres in the Teanaway Valley. Current uses of the land include irrigated hay fields and logging. If bought by WDFW, agriculture fields would be restored to wildlife habitat.

Lincoln County: 59 acres in the Seven Springs area. The land has been used for grazing, according to WDFW. The department intends to use the property for the Swanson Wildlife Area headquarters and fire station. The land would also provide sage grouse habitat.

Grays Harbor County: 15 acres near the Wynoochee River. The property is now private timberland. WDFW says acquiring the property would improve angler access to the river and protect hatchery steelhead.

Snohomish County: 13 acres on Ebey Island. The land is now controlled by the state Department of Transportation to make up filling in wetlands elsewhere. WDFW says it w

Written comments on the proposed acquisitions may be submitted via email to Lands@dfw.wa.gov or by mail to Lauri Vigue, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

 

High speed chase near Irrigon leads to arrest

The following is a press release from the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office:

On January 27, 2016 around 8:18am, the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office responded to a bank alarm call at the Bank of Eastern Oregon in Irrigon.  As deputies arrived, Deputy Colleen Neubert saw a black four door Nissan pickup leaving the area at a high rate of speed.  Deputy Neubert followed the Nissan pickup, south bound on S. First St.  Deputy Todd Siex was able to confirm the alarm at the Bank of Eastern Oregon was a false alarm, after talking with bank employees.

However the vehicle being followed by Deputy Neubert failed to stop at the stop sign at the intersection of S First St. and SE Wyoming Ave.  Deputy Neubert then attempted a traffic stop on the Nissan pickup.  The pickup failed to acknowledge the police emergency lights and refused to stop.  The vehicle continued at a high rate of speed east bound on SE Wyoming Ave and failed to stop for the stop at the intersection of SE Wyoming Ave and Division.  Deputy Neubert followed the pickup south bound on Division and called dispatch and advising she was in a pursuit.

The Deputies never lost sight of the vehicle.  The pursuit covered several county roads south of Irrigon.  Speeds in the pursuit reached 95mph at times.  The pickup at times left the public roadways, and traveled across farm roads and farm fields.

At around 8:30am, the pursuit crossed Interstate 84 and entered property belonging to Green Wood Resources (Boardman Tree Farm).  Deputies continued to pursue the Nissan pickup through the tree farm access roads and noted the vehicle reached speeds of 95mph at times.  The pursuit then went into farm ground to the east of the tree farm.

At around 8:49am, the pickup tried to turn north bound on County Line Rd but was unable to negotiate the left turn and lost control sliding into a dirt embankment on the east shoulder of County Line Road.  The vehicle was disabled with two flat tires on the right side.  The deputies were then able to detain the driver, Lawrence Allen Perrin, age 39, of Irrigon, Oregon; and passengers Brian William Barnes, age 29, of Umatilla, Oregon, and Cassandra Lynn Huling, age 33, of Irrigon, Oregon.

After interviews where completed, passengers Barnes and Huling were released.  Lawrence Allen Perrin, was arrested and lodged at the Umatilla County Jail on the charges of; Felony Elude, bail $7,500; Driving While Suspended Misdemeanor, bail $6,000; Reckless Driving, bail $6,000; Reckless Endangerment, bail $6,000; Criminal Trespass, bail $1,500, total bail $27,000; additional  charges are pending.

 

The Morrow County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Boardman Police Department and the Oregon State Police.

Sherman County wind farm wins state safety award

Bigelow Canyon Wind Farm, courtesy PGE

Bigelow Canyon Wind Farm, courtesy PGE

Oregon OSHA has announced that Portland General Electric Co.’s Biglow Canyon wind farm has received an award for completing its first year of involvement in the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).

SHARP provides an incentive for Oregon employers to work with their employees to find and correct hazards, develop and implement effective safety and health programs, and continuously improve. The program aims to encourage employers to become self-sufficient in managing workplace safety and health issues. Currently, about 32 employer locations in Oregon participate in SHARP. That’s in addition to about 142 employers that have graduated from the program. An employer becomes a graduate when it completes five years of SHARP.

PGE employs nine people at the wind farm near Wasco in Sherman County. Encompassing 217 turbines spread across 25,000 acres of wheat fields, the wind farm produces an average of 150 megawatts — enough to power an estimated 125,000 homes. The wind farm’s peak generating capacity is 450 megawatts.

“The SHARP program is important to us because it is driven and owned by the employees,” said Ken Brock, safety coordinator for PGE’s generating plants in eastern Oregon and Washington. “It continues to push people to look for something better or think outside the box instead of settling for the ‘we are good enough’ mindset. You look around in different industries and see so many top-down driven programs, but they just aren’t as effective. When a program is owned by the employees it changes the culture, and that’s what drives us to a safe and healthy workplace.”

Oregon employers that have been in business for more than one year are eligible to apply for SHARP regardless of size or type of business, although the program is primarily designed to help small and mid-size businesses.

One dead, six arrested by FBI in Harney County

The following is a press release from the FBI:

On January 26, 2016 at approximately 4:30PM, Oregon State Police Troopers were involved in an officer involved shooting during the arrest of several individuals near Burns.

The Deschutes County Major Incident Team will be assisting the Oregon State Police and the Harney County District Attorney’s Office with the investigation. The investigation will be conducted in compliance with Senate Bill 111 which outlines protocols to be followed when deadly physical force is used.

As released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, one adult male suspect is deceased and one other adult male suspect received non-life threatening injuries. No law enforcement personnel were injured.

The incident occurred on Highway 395, about 20 miles north of Burns. Highway 395 is expected to be closed for an extended amount of time for the investigation to be conducted.

There will be no further information released until tomorrow. Please refer to an official release by the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

Arrests Made in the Occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge: Joint Statement by the FBI and OSP – 01/26/16
At approximately 4:25 p.m. (PST) on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Oregon State Police (OSP) began an enforcement action to bring into custody a number of individuals associated with the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. During that arrest, there were shots fired.

One individual who was a subject of a federal probable cause arrest is deceased. We will not be releasing any information about that person pending identification by the medical examiner’s office.

One individual suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital for treatment. He was arrested and is currently in custody.

The arrested individuals include:

* Ammon Edward Bundy, age 40, of Emmett, Idaho
* Ryan C. Bundy, age 43, of Bunkerville, Nevada
* Brian Cavalier, age 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada
* Shawna Cox, age 59, Kanab, Utah
* Ryan Waylen Payne, age 32, of Anaconda, Montana

These probable cause arrests occurred along Highway 235.

In a separate event in Burns, Oregon, at approximately 5:50 pm, Oregon State Police arrested the following individual:

* Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy, age 45, Cottonwood, Arizona

All of the named defendants face a federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 372.

We continue to work with Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward and his deputies; Oregon State Police; and the United States Attorney’s Office to address any further outstanding issues. As the investigation is ongoing, we cannot comment further at this time.

All defendants should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.