Walden: things are looking up

Congressman notes ‘shining ray’ of hope in HR visit

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., is working to bring more family wage jobs to Hood River and other rural Oregon counties.

He is extremely pleased about the plans by Cardinal Glass Industries to set up shop at the lower Hanel Mill site. Walden said the 75-100 family-wage jobs will help lower the high rate of poverty, hunger and unemployment in the Mid-Columbia.

“That news is a beautiful shining ray upon our valley that maybe will attract other jobs into this community,” he said.

Walden, who lives in Hood River, is working to score as much federal funding as possible for key infrastructure projects within his Second Congressional District. His ultimate goal behind pursuing these grant dollars is to bring more business opportunities into economically-depressed areas. He wants to relieve some of the financial burden that is being shouldered by struggling families.

“If we underwrite the extras with federal funding as much as possible then it lowers the water and sewer bills for people and helps their everyday budget,” Walden said after Wednesday’s meeting with Hood River officials.

About 12 city, county and port leaders gathered at the Hood River Inn on May 28 to brief Walden on the improvements that were being made because of his efforts.

That session turned “show-and-tell” when Port Director Dave Harlan handed the Second Congressional District legislator a piece of the dilapidated tollbridge decking. Harlan thanked Walden for scoring $1.35 million for replacement of the aging metal deck, which was installed in 1951 with an expected lifespan of 30 years. He said the $8 million project is scheduled to begin next spring and bring some complete night closures and crossing delays. Harlan and Walden both agree that the bridge serves as a vital link for commerce between the Oregon and Washington communities.

“This is a critical leg, it must be maintained since we have no new bridge in sight,” said Harlan.

Walden was also thanked by Lynn Guenther, city manager, for netting another $1 million that was paying for technical work on two major infrastructure projects. That money was awarded to aid in the upcoming extension of sewer lines into the Windmaster sector of the county and the replacement of the city’s aging 17-mile water main.

Walden is strongly supportive of a joint request that has been submitted by the three public entities this year. The proposal for just under $1 million will be used to establish a satellite branch of the Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) on the waterfront. The goal of the city, county and port is to interest more high-tech firms in moving to the Gorge by providing them with a highly-skilled labor force.

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