Governor Kotek Visits Wasco, Hood River Counties on One Oregon Listening Tour

Columbia Gorge visit includes stops in The Dalles and Hood River

Hood River, OR—Last Friday, Governor Tina Kotek visited communities in Hood River and Wasco counties on her One Oregon Listening Tour.

Governor Kotek traveled to The Dalles and Hood River to hear from service providers, stakeholders, and city and county elected officials about some of the state’s top priorities: housing and homelessness, affordable child care, and mental health and addiction services.

“I’m so impressed by the people I met today who are making things work to improve the lives of their friends and neighbors,” Governor Kotek said. “I heard very clearly about the challenges facing the Gorge around workforce and housing, as well as an incredible can-do spirit from Oregonians who want to find creative ways to partner with the state to fix problems. They shared a lot of great ideas that I will take back with me to Salem.”

The day started with a tour of the Columbia Gorge Food Bank in The Dalles. The food bank supports and collaborates with local partners, including healthcare providers and community organizations led by the Hispanic and Native American communities in the region, to provide free, nutritious food to residents of Hood River, Wasco and Sherman counties. Last week, they celebrated the completion of a new $3 million warehouse, community food center, and learning kitchen.

Following the tour, the Governor led a roundtable discussion about housing and homelessness in the region. The conversation focused on the need to build more housing and support ongoing shelter capacity, as well as how increased state partnership would help toward these goals.

Governor Kotek then traveled to Pacific Coast Producers, a fruit processing agricultural cooperative with Oregon locations in Salem and The Dalles. The fruit industry is a key economic driver for Hood River and Wasco counties. Wasco County is the top producer of sweet cherries in Oregon, and Friday marked the first day of the 42nd annual Northwest Cherry Festival. The Governor toured the facility and learned about the history of cherries in the region.

The next stop featured a lunch meeting about child care and early learning in Hood River. The lunch included educators and child care providers in the region, including representatives from Child Care Partners. The organization is affiliated with Columbia Gorge Community College and is one of 15 regional Child Care Resource and Referrals (CCR&Rs) funded by the Early Learning Division (ELD) to help families find child care and support child care providers. They discussed the impact of paying child care providers better wages and the challenges of finding the necessary space in the area to host early learning programs.

Governor Kotek then toured the Mid-Columbia Center for Living (MCCFL) in Hood River. The organization is the designated behavioral health agency for Hood River, Wasco, and Sherman counties, offering services relating to adult mental health, child and family mental health, crisis care, community support, enhanced care, and adult and youth substance use disorder.

After the tour, the Governor led a roundtable discussion about behavioral health, which included MCCFL managers, providers and counselors. They discussed workforce shortages across the behavioral health spectrum, the positive impact of the Measure 110 Behavioral Health Resource Network (BHRN) in the area, and the growth of gambling addiction.

Governor Kotek will visit every county in Oregon within her first year in office through the “One Oregon Listening Tour” to build strong partnerships across the state in order to solve problems with Oregonians, with a focus on housing and homelessness, mental health and recovery, and early learning and education.