Wednesday, November 26, 2014
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Tag Archives: Columbia gorge

Another Tale from the Twin Tunnels

above: Mosier Creek and the Mosier Rock Quarry.  below: Proposed access road for the Mosier Rock Quarry across from the trailhead for the Twin Tunnels Trail.

Don’t worry, this one does not involve the death of wildlife. Not today anyway. My dog and I are nearly done with our run. I wasn’t feeling very adventurous this morning, so we stuck to our default route—through Mosier, along the old highway, through the tunnel, up to the next viewpoint, turn around, retrace steps. We had passed a handful of other trail users along the way—four solo cyclists, four walkers, and two fellow joggers to be exact (okay, make that two handfuls)—but the slight threat of rain seemed to have kept the crowds away. We’ve just turned off the Twin Tunnels trail, heading back toward Mosier, when my dog—who is generally clueless—stops to look back toward the hillside that now separates us from the trail. I instead watch in awe as two young deer exit the trail from the same point we had, as though they were also on their way home from a daily jog along the Twin Tunnels trail. (I’m quite sure I would have noticed them though.) They apparently didn’t expect us to stop and turn around, because they almost trip over each other when they realize that we’re still there, watching them from our perch in the middle of the road. Recovering gracefully, they finish crossing the old highway and duck into the thickets of scrub oak, right at the point of the proposed access road for the Mosier rock quarry, should it be allowed to re-open. (A pending proposal would dump thirty gravel trucks per day—carrying 30,000 pounds of rock—right onto the old highway for over seven months out of the year... Read More »

No Public Allowed–A Call for Government Accountability

Historic Mosier School

UPDATE, FRIDAY A scheduled negotiation between District 21 and the Mosier Community School was canceled Thursday after the negotiation teams were advised by the Oregon Department of Education that they could not meet without public notice and public presence—per Oregon Public Meeting law. The meeting, however, did not require a quorum and therefore should not be subject to Oregon Public Meeting law. In other words, they should have been allowed to meet. The law is designed to ensure that public decisions are “arrived at openly,” not to grind the operations of public bodies to a halt. Instead of throwing in the towel, District Superintendent Candy Armstrong and School Principal Carole Schmidt (along with their attorneys and other personnel) met anyway. According to Principal Schmidt, they spent five hours—from 3 o’clock to 8 o’clock—working their way through nearly every section of the proposed charter, and will be meeting again today (Friday) to finish their work. The negotiation team will attempt their meeting again on Monday and—if it is deemed necessary—the public will be invited. Stay tuned for more information. • • • • • On February 26, the school boards for District 21 (North Wasco County) and the Mosier Community School met in an executive session to discuss the District’s reasons for not renewing the school’s charter. The key words here are: executive session. In other words, it was a private meeting, closed to the public: no teachers, no parents, no students, and no community members. Unless, of course, they were a member of one of the school boards. You'll recall that the District's board decided — apparently without prior notice — to non-renew Mosier Community School's charter last month. Since then, the District has fumbled with a list of excuses for doing so (citing, for example, Mosier's being a month tardy in presenting their annual 2005-06 report, though it was the District that scheduled the presentation). More recently, the District has entered, sort of, negotiations. Due to the public nature of the discussion (the status and future of the Mosier school), it appears that this meeting was held in violation of Oregon Public Meeting law (ORS 192.610 to 192.690). This law, which pertains not just to school districts but to any governing body of a public agency, clearly states that “the Oregon form of government requires an informed public aware of the deliberations and decisions of governing bodies and the information upon which such decisions were made. It is the intent…that decisions of governing bodies be arrived at openly” (Italics added). Furthermore, “a quorum of a governing body may not meet in private for the purpose of deciding on or deliberating toward a decision on any matter except as otherwise provided by ORS 192.610 to 192.690.” ... Read More »

Pick Your Poison in The Dalles, Hood River, or White Salmon

Above: The Wasco brothers--be sure to check out their website. Below: Craig Carothers direct from Nashville.

Music lovers are spoiled for choice this week in the Gorge. First in an acoustic concert series, the Wasco Brothers and Terry Robb play Thursday night at the Dalles Civic Auditorium. Friday night take your pick between Nashville star Craig Carothers at the CCA or live Celtic music and dance at the White Salmon Library. Details below… Read More »

China’s Newest Export To The NW Is Dirty Air

Can we agree that smoggy air is really counter to the whole idea of living in the Northwest? That haze doesn’t belong in the Columbia Gorge? Turns out, a growing cause of the haze that’s increasingly obvious here, is the slew of poison spewed into the air by China. Let me for the record say — that’s a bad thing. Clean air, good; polluted air, bad. I don’t how you vote or what whack-job political commentators you listen to — I don’t care — but my 3-year-old daughter shouldn’t have to breathe China’s dirty air in her Columbia Gorge backyard. Or any dirty air, for that matter... Read More »

Safety at May and 13th

Above, a cartoon by local artist Norm Vance illuminates a very real concern for Hood River. Below, a photo by columnist Holle Lund of the intersection at May and 13th with Jackson Park in the background.

When I was asked to write an article to go along with this cartoon, I immediately searched for traffic statistics and research on the effectiveness (and ineffectiveness) of traffic controls. Then it occurred to me that you don’t need to be an expert to realize there’s a problem at May and 13th. Instead, I ask anyone familiar with this Hood River intersection to take this brief quiz: 1. As you drive south on 13th Street—on your way to Rosauer’s—how often do you pause to watch for pedestrians at May Street? 2. As you drive west along May Street, how often do you pause to watch for pedestrians as you turn left onto 13th? I’ve spent more than five years teaching and conducting research on pedestrian issues, and even I don’t do well on that quiz. There are just too many other things to be paying attention to—like whether or not you’re about to get sideswiped by an SUV. Read More »

Mosier School Is Worth Saving

By Hollie Lund The relationship between school districts and public charter schools is inherently hostile. It all starts with a community saying that the school district is failing them, and that they can do it better. So when the legal counsel for our local charter school repeatedly assured us last week that the school district was “just as interested as we were” in making the school a success, I was immediately suspicious. Especially in light of recent events. I’m a firm believer that actions speak louder than words. The Mosier School was built in 1920. It’s the first thing that greets you as you wind into town on the Historic Columbia River Scenic Highway, and it’s the pride of our community. Today, the school building is home to the Mosier Community School, a charter school with School District 21 in North Wasco County. The school has been in operation for just four years, but is already demonstrating tremendous success. It earned an “exceptional” rating in its 2004-05 state report card, and its students consistently exceed expectations in reading, literature and math. Any rational person would see this as reason enough to renew the school’s charter. But not District 21. The District has decided to non-renew the Mosier Community School’s charter, and now — if the school board is unable to re-negotiate a new one — there is a very real possibility that the community of Mosier will lose its only school... Read More »

No Measure 37 Claims In Gorge Scenic Area, Says Court

The history was complex, but a recent ruling made it plain: Oregon’s Measure 37 does not apply in the Columbia Gorge’s National Scenic Area. That was the word from the Oregon Court of Appeals last week. The ruling (read it here) came a relatively swift two months after the court heard arguments in the case. The court action was a test case specifically designed to answer the question: which has precedence, the scenic area or Oregon’s land-use development law? Defendants Paul D. Mansur and Stephen Struck — both Hood River property owners wishing to develop modest parcels in the Gorge — were represented by Oregonians In Action, the point organization for Measure 37. OIA argued in court that since Oregon had to participate in the creation of the Columbia Gorge Commission, the Commission is a state agency. Actually, the court ruled, it’s a hybrid creature, a regional bi-state commission established under a Congressional act. Wrote the judges, “we agree with plaintiff that the interstate compact between Oregon and Washington that created the Commission has the force of federal law,” making the Scenic Area exempt from Measure 37 While lawyers were hashing out the Gorge-vs-Measure 37 case, legislators were beginning to tackle the law head-on. Democrats, now solidly in control of the Oregon Legislature and the governor’s seat, say they’re considering a revision of Measure 37. They say they may address the greatest issue at hand: that Measure 37, considered a matter of fairness by a large (if dwindling) number of Oregonians, opens loopholes for potentially massive developments... Read More »

Greg Mortenson Speaks at CCA

Internationally acclaimed author to speak in the Gorge Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, recently named one of the top Asian books of 2006 by Time Magazine, will talk about his work and show images of his adventures. In 1993 Mortenson was descending from an attempt on the peak of K2. Exhausted and disoriented, he wandered away from his group into the most desolate reaches of northern Pakistan. Alone, without food, water, or shelter he eventually stumbled into an impoverished Pakistani village where he was nursed back to health. While recovering he observed the village’s 84 children sitting outdoors, scratching their lessons in the dirt with sticks. The village was so poor that it could not afford the $1-a-day salary to hire a teacher. When he left the village, he promised that he would return to build them a school... Read More »

GLCC Catches Filmmaker’s Eye

Gorge Local Currency Cooperative will hold a potluck Friday, February 2nd at Acre Coffee. This is an opportunity for member networking, public education, and discussion of "the moneyshot," a documentary by Alan Rosenblith, segments of which will be filmed in the Gorge. The mechanics of local currency may seem complicated. But how many of us actually understand the intricacies of the Federal Reserve System? It is often easy to confuse simplicity with familiarity. Not surprisingly, the highly successful RiverHOURS cooperative network, with over fifty local member businesses and a newspaper/trade directory published quarterly, have attracted both national and international attention. Most recently, independent filmmaker Alan Rosenblith. Read More »

Riparian Refuge Seeks Volunteers

Are you dying to save the environment but not sure where to start? Here is an idea: Stewardship Saturdays! Jim Clapp of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service in Washington is looking for a little help (or a lot of help) to replant three small National Wildlife Refuges on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge - Steigerwald Lake near Washougal, Franz Lake near Skamania, and Pierce between Beacon Rock and North Bonneville. I spoke to Jim Clapp this morning and he assured me these work parties are completely kid friendly. So why not make a family day of it? When I brought my boys to a Pick up the Giff work party last fall, it was fun and environmentally rewarding. Plus, because I’m desert born and raised, it was a chance to apply a parental homily: “When I was a kid we didn’t have Beautiful Forests to play in.” But more apt perhaps is this sentiment: “Someday, when you have kids, I want them to have Beautiful Forests to play in.” Here is the official Press Release... Read More »