Legislators tell of ‘efficient’ short session

COUNTY Sheriff’s Office gets a funding boost with the help of local legislators, at a time when budget shortages cast a shadow on agencies’ ability to respond to a variety of public safety needs. At right are Sheriff Matt English at the Feb. 28 school safety forum, with Deputy Pete Hughes, to his right and school resource officer Joel Ives, far right. At left is Michelle Hughes of the Juvenile Department.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
COUNTY Sheriff’s Office gets a funding boost with the help of local legislators, at a time when budget shortages cast a shadow on agencies’ ability to respond to a variety of public safety needs. At right are Sheriff Matt English at the Feb. 28 school safety forum, with Deputy Pete Hughes, to his right and school resource officer Joel Ives, far right. At left is Michelle Hughes of the Juvenile Department.



The 2018 Legislative Short Session ended on Saturday, which included the passage of numerous budget allotments. Of these funds, a significant portion will directly benefit Hood River County for fire relief and economic development.

“As far as short sessions go, this has never been done before. It took bipartisan and efficient work, and we got it done,” said Sen. Chuck Thomsen.

“To come into my first session, not knowing every nuance within the Legislature, and to be able to bring back this kind of help to my community, I couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Rep. Jeff Helfrich. In a press release, the two Hood River Republican leaders reported that the largest allotment of $500,000 in lottery funds will go toward the Port of Cascade Locks (HB 5201) for a new business park, one of the port’s economic development programs.

Thomsen said, “I threw in this request during the thick of the discussion a week ago, and it landed perfectly. I give credit to Gov. Kate Brown for working with us on this, as well as Nate Stice from the Governor’s Regional Solutions office.”

Jess Groves, president of the Cascade Locks Port Commission, said, “We had the fire and our community has been struggling. We made this ask for infrastructure and the recruitment of new business and we are grateful.”

Wildfire recovery funding was also secured; $151,000 will be allocated to both Multnomah and Hood River County Sheriffs’ offices for equipment and training. Its passage with HB 4152 makes Rep. Helfrich “two-for-two,” passing both bills he chief sponsored.

Helfrich said, “We worked very closely with Sheriff Matt English to craft this bill and had many area supporters come down to Salem and write letters — bringing HB 4152 across the finish line.”

English said, “We know that our search and rescue crews will have to navigate through burn affected areas for years to come. HB 4152 will help us ensure our people have the safety gear and awareness they so badly need in the wake of devastation caused by the Eagle Creek fire.”

Although the economic development and safety funding packages are specific to Hood River County and the main highlights of the 2018 sessions, several other funding needs were met.

Helfrich and Thomsen both worked to secure $300,000 for Oregon Food Bank cold storage improvements — to coincide with their successful crop donation program, started from Thomsen’s bill four years ago.

Another accomplishment was $302,524 for the Oregon CASA Network. Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, is an organization that trains and supports community volunteers to serve as court advocates for foster children who have been abused and neglected.

Helfrich said, “It wasn’t quite as much as we wanted, but it was still a great win. CASA does amazing work supporting our most vulnerable Oregonians — our children.”



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