Time for a little spring cleaning in the reporters notebook
Im still waiting for someone to give me a legitimate reason as to why hydropower generated up and down the Columbia River isnt classified as renewable in Oregon.
The question arises because the Umatilla Electric Cooperative is on the cusp of being forced to buy 25 percent of its power from renewable sources (i.e. wind) in the next few years.
The crazy thing is that UEC currently buys almost all of its power from the Bonneville Power Authority. The vast majority of Bonnevilles power is hydro, which is just about the cleanest and cheapest way there is to generate electricity.
But the wind power lobby in Oregon has managed to prevent hydropower from being classified as renewable. Thus, unless UEC can get an exemption from state regulations, the company could be forced to buy much more expensive wind power (which, of course, will mean higher rates for its customers).
Weve raised a lot of awareness as to how unfair this is, said UEC general manager Steve Eldridge. Were world class when it comes to conservation.
UEC is still attempting to get some legislative help that would give the cooperative an exemption from the renewable requirement.
But if UEC doesnt get that help, it could mean the cooperatives rates could double four or five years down the line. That would be a huge hit for its customers and a very unnecessary one to boot.
The latest City of Hermiston budget has been approved by the citys Budget Committee, and as is usually the case, city officials have maintained a frugal approach.
This years budget is barely one-tenth of one percent above last years. Thats a pretty good number, especially when you consider they had to account for rising fuel prices and other unavoidable cost increases.
One of my favorite expenditures? The city is going to spend $165,000 for a new street sweeper and finally retire a 1991 model that has actually outlasted a couple of other sweepers during its tenure.
Twenty years is a good run for any vehicle. Heres hoping the city can get half that much out of its new sweeper.
Buried deep in the City of Hermiston charter is a little provision that states a city council member shall be a taxpayer and freeholder upon property located within the city of Hermiston.
In essence, that would eliminate anyone who doesnt actually own property in the city of Hermiston from ever serving on the city council. City Manager Ed Brookshier, however, has assured me that the provision isnt enforced. Thus, if you rent an apartment, you can still run for council.
Ran across an interesting statistic recently. According to the Nielsen Co., every 10-cent-per-gallon increase in the cost of gas translates into an increase of more than $10 per month for the average household.
That means Oregon residents are now paying $100 per month more for gasoline than they were a year ago.
Thats a substantial hit, and one that most families in these parts can ill afford.
Count law enforcement folks as among those who are happy that the Dean Gushwa soap opera is now over. Gov. John Kitzhaber is slated to appoint a new D.A. for Umatilla County, and the sooner he gets that done, the better.
Anytime you get a dedicated person in that position, youre going to see a more constant flow (of cases), said Hermiston Police Chief Dan Coulombe.
Coulombe wouldnt go as far as to characterize the the current situation in the D.A.s office as a backlog, but he did say the flow hadnt been consistent.
A new D.A. will definitely help that flow.
Coulombes department, by the way, will be adding a patrol officer in the new budget, bringing the total to 15. But, hell also be losing a school resource officer, meaning the overall personnel total wont be changing from 2010-2011.
The guess here is that Im not the only one anxious to get a taste of the fresh produce available at farmers markets, and the good news is theyll be opening within the next few weeks.
Hermistons Saturday Farmers Market is set to open June 4 from 8 a.m.-noon in the Hermiston Conference Center Parking lot. Vendors interested in participating should call 541-314-3751. Cost is just $10 for a 10 x 10 space.
Umatillas market, meanwhile, will open June 2 from 4-7 p.m. in the park across from City Hall, and will be open every Thursday.
And finally, heres a good word for Good Shepherd. Thanks to my innate clumsiness, I had the opportunity to make use of Good Shepherds emergency room recently (dont ask about the details). Im glad to report that I received good service from good people and got good results. I know its subjective, but from my viewpoint, they were terrific.
Now, if they could just find a cure for my clumsiness.
Know of something we need to be reporting? A piece of news youd like to see in the Herald? Drop me a note at email@example.com or call me at 541-564-4533.