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Ben Mitchell

Stories by Ben

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A team with experience, HRV boys tennis looks to make its mark in 2015

Eagles beat Franklin, Gresham to start the season 2-0

The HRV boys varsity tennis team started their season last week with a bang, defeating Franklin, 5-3, on March 16, and then crushing Gresham, 7-1, two days later (HRV was scheduled to play Century on March 19, but the match was cancelled due to a scheduling conflict.)

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Young HRV golf team is looking to rebuild

HRV’s boys and girls golf program may have a young roster, but it’s an expanding one — at nearly 20 golfers, the team is twice the size in 2015 as it was 2014.

Track team on their marks in home debut

The first track meets of the season can often mean more about getting into shape and measuring athletes’ abilities than they are about posting record times, but after HRV’s meet Wednesday against the Centennial Eagles, Coach Donnie Herniesen was pleased with his squad’s performance right out of the gate.

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Eagle girls lacrosse loses a ‘nailbiter’ to Lincoln in OT

Lincoln 10, HRV 9 (OT)

The Hood River Valley girls lacrosse team has been tested early in their season, with their home debut Tuesday evening featuring a contest against the Lincoln Cardinals that was cold, wet, and went right down to the wire.

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Despite rally, HRV falls to Gresham in home opener

A mid-game rally bolstered by solid pitching from Hood River Valley’s freshmen wasn’t enough for the Eagles to get a win in their home-opener against Gresham Monday night, falling to the Bulldogs, 10-4. The score on paper, though, didn’t accurately reflect how well the Eagles performed for the majority of the non-league contest.

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Spring is in bloom

Plenty to do — with your buds

Spring break — March 23 to 27 — is right around the corner for Hood River County School District, Horizon Christian, Mid-Columbia Adventist Christian School and Columbia Gorge Community College students.

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Spring sports have sprung

Hood River Valley High School athletes were busy this past week practicing and gearing up for the upcoming spring sports season that starts in earnest next week.

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HRV ski team first at state

HRV dominates alpine events

Mt. Hood’s snowpack may be lacking, but Hood River Valley’s ski-racing abilities are not.

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HRV basketball falls just short of state playoffs

One of the best seasons in recent memory for the Hood River Valley boys basketball program came to end Tuesday night, when the Eagles narrowly lost to LaSalle Catholic College Preparatory, 75-70, as well as lost their chance to make the post season for the first time in two decades.

CL Port looks to acquire land near fire hall

Port also considering BOTG toll increases

The Port of Cascade Locks is looking to acquire a county-owned property in the city that the port hopes to use as a site for economic development.

Oil train issue is heating up again

Report shows increased oil going through the Gorge

The focus on oil trains running through the Gorge has largely remained on the Washington side, where the vast majority of crude, particularly coming from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, enters the National Scenic area.

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Drug dog goes from Shelter to Sheriff

Luke patrols with Deputy Travis Paulsen

One of the newest additions to the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office has already been making a name for himself around the department, helping deputies make drug bust after drug bust — and looking pretty adorable in the process.

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Man charged with murder in 2009 Eagle Creek death

A Bend man has been charged with murder in connection with the death of a Portland woman that occurred in 2009 west of Cascade Locks.

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Caregiver accused of stealing patient’s money over a period of years

A Hood River caregiver is facing multiple felony and misdemeanor charges after allegedly stealing well over $10,000 from a female patient of hers over a period of three years.

Maxam Nutraceutics’ Jim Cole hit with injunction

Court order results in shutdown of HR business

A U.S. District Court judge has ordered a permanent injunction against Hood River businessman James Cole, who has been accused by the federal government of selling “adulterated” and “unapproved” dietary supplements under his company Maxam Nutraceutics.

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Vaccine exemptions jeopardizing ‘herd immunity’ in local schools

The state of Oregon has the highest percentage in the U.S. of people seeking non-medical exemptions for childhood vaccinations and new data shows that some schools in Hood River County are above that already high state average.

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Man charged with murder in 2009 Eagle Creek death

A Bend man has been charged with murder in connection with the death of a Portland woman that occurred in 2009 west of Cascade Locks. Stephen Wagner Nichols, 40, was arrested Feb. 12 at the San Francisco Airport for allegedly murdering Rhonda Kristen Casto, who was 23 when she died Monday, March 16, 2009 on the popular Eagle Creek Trail.

Ordinance to revise ‘unusual’ BOCC land use review process

Hearing on proposed ordinance Feb. 11

The Hood River County Planning Commission will hold a hearing next week to decide whether it should amend an “unusual” zoning ordinance that currently does not allow the Board of County Commissioners to modify land use decisions made by the planning commission.

Sen. Thomsen, Rep. Johnson share thoughts on Leg. Session

The 2015 Oregon Regular Legislative Session began on Monday in Salem and Hood River Republican legislators Sen. Chuck Thomsen and Rep. Mark Johnson are gearing up to promote their bills while also facing a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate.

Police arrest juvenile in Feb. 4 vandalism spree

The Hood River Police Department has arrested a 17-year-old juvenile male they say is responsible for a recent vandalism spree on the west side of the city of Hood River.

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Mt. Hood snowpack lacking

There’s still hope, but as dismal winter continues, water worries grow

For those who have been snow dancing, it may be time to learn some new steps.

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Beer to home and outdoor education highlight local legislators' bills

As the Legislature convenes Monday, a look at what bills local lawmakers are sponsoring

The Regular Session of the Oregon State Legislature opens Feb. 2 — Groundhog’s Day! — and Hood River legislators Rep. Mark Johnson and Sen. Chuck Thomsen have sponsored a total of over a dozen bills for the upcoming session.

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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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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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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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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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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.

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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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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.

City of Cascade Locks sells old fire hall

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

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.