It was the end of an era at the Wasco County Commission meeting Wednesday, December 19. Rod Runyon had served as Wasco County Commissioner for eight years and was honored for his service with a presentation by Chair Steve Kramer followed by a staff reception with a cake decorated with a big thank you.
In his last motion as commissioner, Runyon moved that the county take over operation of the Building Codes Division, which had been operated since February by the State of Oregon on a temporary basis, following the dissolution of the Mid-Columbia Council of Governments. MCCOG had taken over operation from the state, contracting with Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam and Wheeler counties to provide service from an office in The Dalles. Runyon’s motion passed unanimously.
A key element in the county’s decision was the announcement by the state that if the county decided to turn the operation permanently over to the state, they intended to close to office in The Dalles.
Several contractors were present for the vote Wednesday and told stories of delays up to three months to get plan approvals under the current system, delays that had a negative impact on their businesses.
Runyon prefaced his motion with the caution that the county had never operated the building codes division before. “So if you had bumps in the road [with the state operating the program],” he said, “you’re going to have more bumps in the road.” He also included an instruction to the staff to be flexible and to negotiate a smooth transition with the state.
Though Runyon’s term as a commissioner soon ends, he will take up a new position as a member of The Dalles City Council when that body first convenes in January.