Union Pacific replaces lag bolts with spikes on curves in the Gorge

The following is the text of a news release from Union Pacific. Failing lag bolts on a curve near Mosier were the direct cause of the oil train derailment, spill and fire at Mosier on June 3:

Union Pacific Engineer James Ray holds up lag bolt at a June 10 explanation meeting in Mosier

Union Pacific Engineer James Ray holds up lag bolt at a June 10 explanation meeting in Mosier

Union Pacific completed its rail fastening system replacement work throughout the eight miles of curved track in the Columbia River Gorge. The track throughout the curves is secured with a fastening system that includes spikes instead of lag bolts, enhancing defect detectability during inspections.

We have a clear focus – to safely operate our trains and protect our communities,” said Wes Lujan, Union Pacific vice president – Public Affairs, Western Region. “The fastening system replacement reinforces our commitment to rail safety in the Gorge as we strive to improve upon our 99.98 percent hazardous materials safety record and achieve our goal of zero incidents.”

The company has made considerable safety improvements, reducing reportable derailments across the network by 35 percent from 2000 to 2015. In Oregon specifically, Union Pacific reduced reportable derailments by 58 percent from 2000 to 2015.

Environmental groups appeal Planning Commission approval of second track at Mosier

Three environmental groups have filed an appeal to the Wasco County Commissioners of the Planning Commission’s approval of a Union Pacific proposal to add 4.2 miles of track near Mosier, potentially increasing the number of trains daily.

Friends of the Gorge, Columbia Riverkeeper and Physicians for Social Responsibility filed the 7 page appeal in advance of Friday’s deadline.

Wasco County Commisioners have tentatively set aside a few days in the first week of November to conduct hearings at which they will take new evidence and testimony.

Whichever way the commissioners decide, it’s likely that the other side would take the next step and appeal the decision to the Columbia River Gorge Commission.

Weekend events in the Gorge


The 34th annual Hood River Harvest Festival at the Hood River Event Site just north of Exit 63 off Interstate 84. This old-fashioned fall festival brings together more than 125 vendors offering local produce and food products, plus arts and crafts, wine, cider and beer tastings. Held along the scenic Hood River waterfront, this is the Columbia River Gorge’s biggest celebration of the region’s incredible fall bounty.

Lights of Love memorial for those who have lost children, gathering at The Dalles Marina 6 pm, making a remembrance walk along the Riverfront Trail to Lewis & Clark Festival Park for a candlelight eulogy then to the Clock Tower for dinner and fellowship.

Free Science on Tap presentation 7 pm at Spooky’s, serves as the kickoff to the Oregon Lakes Association annual conference in The Dalles this weekend.


The Dallesport/Murdock Fire Department Biscuits and Gravy feed 7-10 am at the Dallesport Fire Station. All proceeds go to the Dallesport Fire Department Building Fund. Biscuits & Gravy and endless coffee and juice just $5 per person.

Renken Farms Harvest Fest at 3050 Three Mile Road The Dalles, 10 am to 5 pm. Free admission then purchase tickets for activities, food items and seasonal produce. There’s a petting zoo, so please leave your own pets at home. Wagon rides, fresh apple citer, live music, scarecrow making, children’s story time, food and more. All proceeds benefit Great n’ Small Child Development Center.

The Gorge Fruit and Craft Fair, part of the Hood River Harvest Festival 10 am to 4 pm both Saturday and Sunday at the Hood River Fairgrounds, Featuring arts and crafts, gourmet food products, fresh Hood River fruit, baked goods, local wines, jewelry, furniture, plants, flowers, soft goods, and much more with free parking and admission.

Breast Cancer Awareness Walk for The Cause event. Downtown walk begins at 11 am at Old St. Peter’s Landmark in The Dalles.

20th Annual Jerry Walker DePriest Scholarship Dinner and auction with the theme, the Roaring 20s. The event takes place at the Dufur School. Dinner is prime rib and salmon Doors open at 5:30, dinner at 6:00. tickets $25. Lots of silent auction items and some big oral auction items, including a balloon ride in the Willamette Valley and a 9-day stay at the Oregon Coast.

Casino Night Vegas style glitz and glamour evening a the Readiness Center in The Dalles to benefit the National Guard veterans and soldiers.. Dinner served from 5:00pm to 7:00pm. No host bar and live music. Admission is $30 per person and includes dinner and $50 in chips for gambling at the tables.


Check out the options at candidates night events


Klickitat County voters will get a chance to check out their choices in a pair of candidates night appearances. Wednesday, Oct 12, candidates meet at 7 pm at the Pioneer Center in White Salmon and the Thursday, October 13  event starts at 6 pm at the Goldendale Grange.

Meet-Candidates-Button 150Wasco County residents can check out both local and statewide candidates on Tuesday October 25 6 pm at The Dalles High School auditorium

Antelope residents will pay no city property taxes this year

There’s one town in Oregon where residents won’t be paying any city property taxes this year. It’s not because the city doesn’t need the money, but because officials in Antelope didn’t get paperwork into the county in time. Wasco County Assessor Jill Amery put it this way to county commissioners at their meeting yesterday

“They totally blew their deadline,” Wasco County Assessor Jill Amery told Wasco County Commissioners at their meeting Wednesday. “They could have gone to the Department of Revenue for some possible assistance, but the only reason they could get back on would be good and sufficient cause, and my interpretation is they didn’t have it.”

Had the city filed in a timely manner, It would have collected a total of approximately $4,000. That’s not a lot of money, but it can mean a great deal in a town of just 75 property owners, fewer of them fulltime residents.

Antelope residents will still be billed for other taxing districts such as the county, but the line opposite Antelope on their bills will read zero.


OSP looking for public help in Hood River County elk poaching case

09-28-16-elk-poaching-in-hrThe OSP Fish & Wildlife Division is asking for the public’s help to identify the person(s) responsible for the unlawful killing of a trophy bull elk in Hood River County.

On September 15th 2016, OSP was notified of a 6×7 bull elk that was found dead on private property on the west side on Hood River Valley off of Rhiordan Hill Rd. An OSP Trooper responded and found the 6×7 bull elk dead and left to waste in a cherry orchard. Investigation revealed the cause of death is most likely by a gunshot wound during the 2016 archery season.

A reward of $2000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. ($500 from the Oregon Hunters Association Turn-In-Poacher program and $1500 from the landowner.)

Anyone with the information regarding the case is asked to contact OSP Senior Trooper Justin Frazier through the Turn-in-Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888. Information may be kept anonymous.