Listen: Wasco County Commission 08 19 20

Wasco County Commissioners met in regular session Wednesday, August 19, 2020. As has been their custom, they once again opened the meeting with an update on the COVID-19 virus status of the county. North Central Public Health Medical Director Mimi McDonell, reported some decline in local numbers in previous weeks.

“Not to be overly optimistic, but we should recognize that things we are doing can affect our outcomes. We are not powerless in this struggle,” she said. She later added, “I think the mask mandate across the state is, we’re really seeing the results of that and all the good work people are doing , so that is great news.”

In response to a question asked the previous week, Dr. McDonell presented not just the total number of Wasco County residents who had tested positive for the virus, but also the number who have recovered. For Wasco County, the numbers were 204 cases known, and 126 of those people had recovered. For Sherman County, it was 16 cases, 8 recovered and for Gilliam County it was 4 cases with 2 recovered.

Also reporting were Christa Rude, Nancy Patton and Nate Stice, on efforts to provide child care in Wasco County. Nancy Patton, who works in child care and other areas with Columbia Gorge Community College, had this comment and some hope:

“Initially about half of our programs did close,” she said. “The majority of those are still closed. In most cases it’s because of compromised immune systems or family members with compromised immune systems.”

“Parents that looking for child care, I think this is the biggest question.
What do I do if I’m looking for child care and how do I find it? Most important – Please call 211. 211 is a statewide call center. The early learning division has contracted with them to provide parent referrals. This broadens the time of day that a parent can be requesting referrals.”

Lynn Burditt of the Forest Service, which is in charge of federal lands in the Columbia River Gorge, reported on the latest changes:

“The major change that’s happened in recreation is that last week we did open the rest of the Historic Columbia River Highway, the drivable portion down on the west end. Multnomah Falls Lodge opened up to the start of the trail and then Angel’s Rest and a few other sites. ODOT has opened the westbound entrance into Exit 31, so if you’re traveling from The Dalles to Portland now, you can get into that Exit 31 parking lot. And we’re in the process of doing a ticketing reservation system, with the hope that if people know they can get in, they can plan that activity, and that will probably happen within the next few weeks.”

To hear the first half of the meeting, click on the grey podcast bar below:

In other actions, commissioners voted 2 to 1 to donate $50,000 for needed repairs on the Riverfront Trail. Other entities, including the City of The Dalles, the Port of The Dalles and Northern Wasco PUD have contributed to the effort, as well as $26,000 raised from local donors. The committee that began the project 33 years ago and is still meeting. They told commissioners they also had a funding request in to Google, but had not heard back from them.

They also signed an agreement with Bakeoven Solar, which plans to construct an extensive solar array project. The agreement says that the company will pay the county for any damages to the road system due to the construction project.

To hear the second part of the meeting, click on the grey podcast bar below