Wasco County Commissioners Recap 6/24

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Wasco County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution at their meeting this morning, to oppose potential changes proposed for the Management Plan of the National Scenic Area. Among those changes are an absolute limit of 20 acres or 1 percent of the urban area forever, locking cities into their present boundaries.  Chair Scott Hege put it this way:

“The fact that people are telling us that ‘We’ll give you a token 20 acres,’ is, in my opinion offensive. It’s offensive that they don’t trust us to be able to grow our communities in  a way that’s appropriate, in a way that’s pleasing and is needed by our community and our citizens. We need tax base and we need jobs. That’s the core to everything that every community does. If you don’t have a tax base and you don’t have jobs for your citizens, I’ll tell you right now you don’t have much of a community.”

The county joins similar objections filed by the City of The Dalles, Hood River, the Port of The Dalles and Klickitat and Skamania counties. The comment period ends June 30.

Commissioners also heard reports on pandemic status from North Central Public Health District’s Teri Thalhofer and Dr. Mimi McDonell. They noted that Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order Tuesday that took effect today (Wednesday) in which 7 counties were required to have people wear masks in public if they could not maintain social separation. For five of the counties, including Hood River, the requirement was a condition of being able to move into Phase 2, loosening some restrictions. Multnomah County was allowed to move to Phase 1. The order also said that any county that wishes to be added to the list could request it. Union County, where they had an outbreak following an in-person church gathering, did opt in.  And Dr. McDonell made a formal motion to ask Wasco County to do the same:

“If we are to be realistic about where we are at and what our desires are in terms of reducing this transmission and trying to mitigate the spread of this disease, mitigate the number of people who are going to have ? effects, and to also to be able to continue to operate our economy, have people be able to continue to go to work, keep those businesses open that are open, which is what we want to do, it is my recommendation as health officer of NCPHD that Wasco County opt in to this county-specific masks, face shield and face covering guidance.”

Teri Thalhofer, who retires next week, added this:

“We’ve spent more than one 10-hour time shift, both of us in the OR with our masks on and you can do it. And is it a change? Yes. Is it uncomfortable? Yeah, in the beginning it’s uncomfortable — but so is a ventilator, so is having a family member die. All of those things are horrendous and and I think we can make that change to protect our community partners and our loved ones.”

Commissioners thanked Thalhofer for her many years of service. The subject of whether or not to opt in to the face masks in public program will be discussed at the next Wasco County Commission meeting  on July 1   


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