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Ben Mitchell

Stories by Ben

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Feds slash timber payments to counties

Funds greatly reduced as Secure Rural Schools ends

Counties that have federal forestland within their borders recently received some bad news after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that this year’s federal timber payments to counties would be drastically reduced due to Congress’ failure to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools Act.

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Giving a boost to Gorge Commission

Legislation would create taskforce, fund more employees

The Gorge may be renowned for its beauty, but the law that protects the area, the National Scenic Act, and the entity that implements it, the Columbia River Gorge Commission, aren’t always so visible.

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Tensing up: Bridge lift span issue tied to cables; re-tension work likely this summer

The Hood River Bridge’s lift span has not been setting correctly and an engineering firm contracted with the Port of Hood River believes it has discovered why.

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Punchbowl Falls park idea sees a flurry of feedback

A call for public input on a plan to develop a county park around Punchbowl Falls has been warmly received by area residents, hundreds of which have already provided feedback on what the future should hold for the popular waterfall near Dee.

DeeTour can proceed

Developer says timeline for music venue TBD

A music venue planned for construction in Dee can now move forward after a local land use watchdog group made the decision to not continue pursuing an appeal it had filed against the project.

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CL City Council approves water rights transfer for Nestlé plant

City to file application, ODFW still on the fence

Cascade Locks took another step forward this week to bring Nestlé to the city by approving an application for a transfer of water rights that will ultimately help supply spring water for a proposed water bottling plant.

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Walmart heads back to LUBA

Retailer files notice of intent to appeal with state agency over store expansion

Just over a month after it was made, a decision rendered by the Hood River City Council on whether Walmart should be allowed to expand its Hood River store has been appealed at the state level.

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Groups seek public input on Punchbowl

First of two public meetings on park proposal held Tues.

Hood River County and conservation groups want to turn an area around a popular waterfall near Dee into a public park and are looking to the public for input on the plan.

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2014 in review

Land use squabbles, marijuana dispensaries, budget woes, and a historic win for the HRVHS soccer team were just some of the many stories the Hood River news reported on in 2014. Here’s a look back at some of the top stories from each month. Stories are categorized by the month in which they were published.

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New cell tower planned for Windmaster Corner

Verizon holds off on Multnomah Road tower

Verizon Wireless is seeking county approval to build a cell tower near Windmaster Corner after deciding to shelve plans, at least for the time being, for a tower that was to be located on Multnomah Road.

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What a gas! People pumped for falling local fuel prices

The anguish of holiday driving was likely a bit more tolerable this season for many American motorists as gas prices continue to fall to levels that haven’t been seen in several years.

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HR man sentenced to 9 months for shooting incident

A Hood River man received a nine-month jail sentence last week after pleading guilty to shooting and injuring a teenage woman on Mitchell Point Drive earlier this year.

Gorge Commission receives a mixed message on funding

Budget to stay mostly flat; increases had been earmarked for oil, coal train issue

A year after its executive director warned the agency was on the “verge of collapse” due to a lack of funding, the Columbia River Gorge Commission will not be receiving the financial boost it had hoped for.

HR County Commissioners approve garbage rate hike

Increase larger than last year’s

Garbage rates will be going up again in January following a decision from the Hood River County Board of Commissioners to approve a request for the increase from Hood River Garbage.

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Exit Mayor Babitz

Outgoing Mayor Arthur Babitz (right) accepts a plaque adorned with a key to the city from City Manager Steve Wheeler at the conclusion of Monday night’s Hood River City Council meeting.

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Hood River City Council lays out the Waterfront's future

Council unanimously passes waterfront refinement plan

In what was one of its last actions of 2014, and for some, one of their last actions as city councilors, the Hood River City Council voted Monday evening to pass an ordinance implementing the Waterfront Refinement Plan, which sets down design concepts and zoning restrictions for future development at the Hood River Waterfront.

City of Cascade Locks sells old fire hall

The city of Cascade Locks’ old fire hall finally has some new owners.

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DeeTour appeal fails due to deadlock

County Planning Commission votes 3-2 to deny appeal

An appeal against a concert and event venue planned for the unincorporated town of Dee has failed after Hood River County Planning Commissioners were unable to muster enough votes to make a decision Wednesday evening.

Agreement reached on controversial Lava Thin

Vista Ridge Trailhead off limits as groups push for more wilderness

After attracting controversy from environmental groups earlier this year, a compromise has been reached that will help move forward a thinning project proposed on Mt. Hood National Forest land west of Parkdale.

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HR City Council votes down Walmart expansion

Councilors vote 4-3 against; unknown if Walmart will appeal

In a lengthy land use hearing that was fraught with controversy, the Hood River City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday night to deny Walmart’s application to expand its Hood River location, ruling that the store’s vested right to do so had expired since expansion of the store hadn’t moved forward in years.

Gorge Commission hears coal, oil transport update

Representatives from governors’ offices plan to attend Dec. 9 meeting

Representatives from both the Oregon and Washington governors’ offices plan to be in town next week to provide an update on what each state is doing to address coal and oil transport through the Gorge.

Council votes 4-3 against Walmart expansion

In a lengthy four-hour land use hearing that was fraught with controversy, the Hood River City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday night to deny the expansion of Walmart's store on Wasco Avenue.

DeeTour appeal hearing set for Dec. 10

HRVRC challenges County’s approval of amphitheater in Dee

The DeeTour development, which attracted controversy when it was announced earlier this year, will go before the Hood River County Planning Commissioners next week, who will consider an appeal filed by a local land use group that accuses the county of making errors in how it approved and noticed the project.

Council to address Walmart expansion Tuesday

The issue of whether Walmart’s Wasco Avenue store has the right to expand could come down to a Hood River City Council decision to be delivered Tuesday night.

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Nichols Landing agreements completed, legal disputes over

Naitos look to break ground on project early next year

After over two years of appeals and nearly as many in negotiations, the legal disputes over the proposed Nichols Landing development have been put to rest.

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Camp 1805 continuing on its spirited adventure

July 4, 1805: On what has already proven to be a perilous journey, a horrific tragedy befalls the Lewis and Clark expedition — the Corps of Discovery runs out of liquor, while celebrating Independence Day.

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Measure 91 passage creates big uncertainty

Stakeholders wait and see on new rules for marijuana

If we learned one thing from this month’s general election, it’s that the voters of Hood River County are big fans of marijuana legalization.

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MHM rescinds park and ride application

Meadows cites public concern as influence on resort’s decision

Mt. Hood Meadows administrators say they have decided to rescind the resort’s application to build a park and ride in the community of Mt. Hood after hearing numerous concerns from the public about the proposal during a Hood River County Planning Commission meeting last week.

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Park and ride appeal fails

Planning commission fails to make decision, appeal likely heading to county commission

An appeal of Mt. Hood Meadows’ plan to build a park and ride in the community of Mt. Hood has failed after Hood River County Planning Commissioners weren’t able to muster enough votes to arrive at a decision during a public hearing Wednesday evening.

Early snow snarls traffic but causes no major problems in the Gorge

“It looks like a combination of slowing down, stopping to chain, sliding around, or multiple other things.”

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Winter weather is on its way

Wintry weather makes its first appearance in the Gorge this week as a cold front out of the Canadian Rockies descends on the Pacific Northwest, sending temperatures plunging below freezing.

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HR Bridge lift span not setting correctly

Traffic delays anticipated Monday for bridge inspection

A contractor with the Port of Hood River will begin inspections this week to try and figure out why the lift span of the Hood River Bridge isn’t setting properly in the down position.

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The geography of Hood River County’s vote

Precinct-by-precinct breakdown shows political divisions

The narrative that has dominated this year’s midterm elections coverage has seemed to focus on two things: the sweeping victories enjoyed by the Republican Party and relatively low voter turnout.

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Murder suspect Soto-Quintana won’t see court until next year

A Hood River man accused of murdering the mother of his child won’t go before a judge again until next year following the conclusion of a court appearance on Monday that provided no new information on the crime.

Former HR resident arrested for alleged murder of son

Jillian McCabe, 34, accused of throwing son off Newport bridge

A woman who had recently lived in Hood River was arrested in Newport late Monday after allegedly throwing her 6-year-old autistic son off the Yaquina Bay Bridge, killing him.

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‘Third Party View’ as HR cops get body cameras

HRPD’s body cameras keep an eye on public and police

The Hood River Police Department acquired a new weapon in its belt this year, but it’s not a stun gun, a pistol or a riot baton.

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LUBA rejects appeal over park and ride

An appeal filed against Hood River County’s decision to approve the initial concept of a park and ride planned for use by Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort has been rejected by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA).

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Rip City meets Swell City

Blazers shoot TV commercial with local fans

The Hood River waterfront was buzzing with activity midday Thursday as local Portland Trail Blazers fans descended upon Waterfront Park to take part in a commercial shoot for the team that will air during the upcoming NBA season.

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Mayoral debate focuses on growth

Colt and Blackburn tackle topic of development at Dog River debate

For most elections, “It’s the economy, stupid,” that is often the key issue.

City sets Walmart hearing for Dec. 2

Could decide fate of Walmart expansion

A public hearing that could decide the fate of a planned expansion for the Walmart store in Hood River will be held Dec. 2, although how exactly that meeting will be conducted is still being sorted out.

MHM parking lot decision appealed

Park and ride goes to Planning Commission review on Nov. 12

A Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort park and ride proposed for the community of Mt. Hood has been put on hold while the county addresses an appeal from a neighboring property owner challenging the county’s decision to approve the project.

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Man charged in murder case

Miguel Quintana-Soto in custody for murder of Cecilia Campuzano-Ortiz

A Hood River man is behind bars and has been indicted by a grand jury for murder for allegedly killing the mother of his child.

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County says yes to medical pot moratorium, deadlocks on tax

The Hood River County Board of Commissioners passed one measure regulating marijuana and split on a second Monday night at the conclusion of two public hearings dealing with the drug’s evolving status in Oregon.

Parks and Rec expands focus on ball fields

HRVPRD examining idea of smaller parcels, more playing fields

The question of how Hood River County will solve its ball field shortage is still up in the air as the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District continues to search for viable parcels that could be home to new public recreation facilities.

CL seeking approval of EMS support fee

After it failed due to a subpar voter turnout in May, a measure that would charge Cascade Locks electric customers a fee to support the city’s fire and EMS department is heading back to the ballot this November.

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Walmart expansion back before city council

You may have seen the mailers this summer or the full-page color ads in recent weeks in the News from Walmart regarding a potential expansion of the retailer’s Hood River location, asking citizens write or call the city and voice their support for the store’s expansion.

County approves Mt. Hood Meadows park and ride

Opponent plans appeal of Mt. Hood project

Hood River County has approved a ski resort’s park and ride planned for the community of Mt. Hood, but the lead opponent of the project has already announced she intends to appeal the decision.

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Crush caps off a great grape-growing season

The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, the leaves are beginning to turn colors, and snows are slowly creeping from their summer homes on mountain summits down the rocky slopes of the Cascades.

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Halloween haunted house unlikely this year

Organizer of popular production cites time, money, lack of location as reasons

Hood River Fire and EMS Lieutenant Paul Henke loves scaring children.

Sewage issues shut down CGCC Indian Creek Campus, classes back in session Monday

A sewer pump failure Thursday evening at the Columbia Gorge Community College Indian Creek campus in Hood River resulted in the closure of the campus to faculty, staff, and students on Friday.

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