Sherman County eNews #267


  1. Joseph Clayton Watkins 1965-2017

  2. Wasco School Events Center Open House & Rummage Sale, Sept. 23

  3. Public Meeting Announcement: Sherman County School District, Sept. 11

  4. Eagle Creek/Indian Creek Fire Update, Sept. 7

  5. No ETA to open I-84 or Historic Columbia River Highway due to Eagle Creek Fire

  6. Links: Things to Think About & Things to Do

1. Joseph Clayton Watkins 1965-2017

flower.rose.starJoseph Clayton Watkins, 52, of Pendleton, Ore., passed away September 2, 2017. A Celebration of Life will be held at Pendleton Pioneer Chapel on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. with a reception to follow at First Christian Church, 215 N. Main St., Pendleton, Ore.

Joe was born on April 7, 1965, in Portland, Ore., to parents Carl Leroy Watkins and Sammie Lyons Watkins. He met the love of his life Kim Ensworth in 1982 while attending Sherman High School in Moro, Ore. They graduated together with the Class of 1983. Then they attended Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton, Ore., together. Joe graduated from BMCC with associate’s degrees in both diesel mechanics and auto mechanics. Joe and Kim were married in Las Vegas, Nev., January 1, 1988. He was the proud father of two children, Jacob Matthew Watkins and Sarah Jean Watkins.

He worked for Montgomery Ward while still attending college until they closed in Pendleton. He then went to work for Pioneer Implements for a short time. He worked as a mechanic for Twig Zeigler Transmission for 12 years. After that he worked for Oregon Department of Transportation for the last 19 years as part of the “Bridge Crew.”

He belonged to the Grande Ronde Muzzle Loaders and went to many rendezvous, as “Smokn Joe!” Joe was the ultimate handyman; he could make anything happen. Joe was a true mentor, always heavily involved in his kids and including any neighborhood kids’ activities. He became a soccer, baseball and football coach, Boy Scout leader, 4-H leader, horse wrangler and sheep and pig herder, doing whatever needed to be done.

Joe was an avid outdoorsman, which he learned from his dad. He was very passionate about the art of hunting and fishing. He handed down this love to his family and friends. His sense of family and community was strong and will be missed by many organizations.

Survivors include wife Kim Ensworth Watkins, son Jacob Matthew Watkins and daughter Sarah Jean Watkins, all of Pendleton; sister Danita (Kerry) Thamert of Elgin, Ore..; mother-in-law Esther Ensworth; brothers-in-law Dave, Brad, Rich and Jimmy Ensworth; sisters-in-law Ruth, Renee, Michelle, Tracy and Megan; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. Joe was proceeded in death by his father Carl, mother Sammie and father-in-law Robert “Bob” Ensworth.

In lieu of flowers the family requests that you donate to your local youth organizations, i.e.: 4-H, FFA, Boy Scouts and Buck Boosters. ~The East Oregonian, September 6, 2017

2. Wasco School Events Center Open House & Rummage Sale, Sept. 23 

Wasco School Events Center Open House. Please come join us in celebrating our Open House and Rummage Sale! It will be held at 903 Barnett Street. September 23, 2017, from 11:00 to 3:00. The first 100 guests will receive a free hot dog and chips. Come to see what we’ve been up to. We will have a raffle, music and games!

3. Public Meeting Announcement: Sherman County School District, Sept. 11

The Sherman County School District Board of Directors will hold its Regular Board Meeting on Monday, September 11, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.  An Executive Session pursuant to ORS 192.660(2)(d) to conduct deliberations with persons designated to carry on labor negotiations will precede the Regular Meeting at 6:00 p.m. These meetings will be held in the Sherman County School/Public Library. 

AGENDA-RegularSchoolBoardMeeting 9-11-17

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4. Eagle Creek/Indian Creek Fire Update, Sept. 7

fire2The Oregon State Fire Marshal reported that progress on the Eagle Creek Fire continued overnight. There was some fire growth as firefighters worked to secure fire lines near Cascade Locks and Bridal Veil by conducting burnout operations. Westerly winds picked up in the evening causing a few small spot fires around 8:00 p.m. These were within secondary fire lines, but kept firefighters busy making sure they were completely out.

Most divisions of the fire had low-intensity fire activity, and firefighters continued to prepare and protect homes. Around 4:00 a.m., with winds again gusting to 15 miles per hour, a small spot fire ignited near a cell tower. This spot was also within contingency lines and firefighters worked to keep the fire within those lines.

With the fire now 5% contained, some key transportation functions of the Gorge are beginning to return. Union Pacific trains successfully moved through on Wednesday, and the U.S. Coast Guard is re-opening the Columbia River to night-time passage of commercial boats. Interstate 84 remains closed from Troutdale to Hood River due to debris on the roadway and the potential of rolling rocks and falling trees. The Oregon Department of Transportation estimates that about 2,000 hazard trees must by felled before the road will be safe to re-open.

More burnout operations are planned today to secure fire line near the Bridge of the Gods. This will bring an increase in smoky conditions, but it will help in securing the fire’s edge.

There will be a community meeting at Bowe Theater at the Hood River Valley High School tonight at 6:00 p.m. This meeting will include Spanish-language interpretation. An additional community meeting is being planned for Friday or Saturday in the Troutdale area.

Defending private property, historical structures in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, the various State Parks in the area and the Bull Run Watershed continue to be top priorities for firefighters.

A Red Flag warning for potential lightning remains in effect over the fire area through 11:00 p.m. tonight.

For real time and current evacuation information, please contact the Multnomah, Hood River, or Skamania County Sheriff’s Offices.

5. No Estimate to open I-84 or Historic Columbia River Highway due to Eagle Creek Fire

Plans in the works to remove hazards before opening

ODOT is working closely with our partners to determine when the 45 mile section of Interstate 84 and the Historic Columbia River Highway, between Hood River and Troutdale, currently closed by the Eagle Creek Fire can be safely opened.

Safety of first responders and travelers is the number one priority. We are taking the following steps to ensure that the highway is safe for travel:

Assess and remove danger trees: Over 2,000 trees have been identified as being in danger of falling into I-84.  We are working with forestry professionals to assess burned trees and make plans to remove those that are dangerous. Wednesday morning crews began to perform assessments in safe areas. Due to fire conditions, this assessment is only taking place from the road and not along the slopes above the highway. The number of trees is likely to rise and it will take time to remove them.

Assess rock slopes and remove rocks in danger of falling: We are hiring contractors to assess the rock slopes that tower over the highways and remove rocks before they can fall into the roadway. This work is expected to take place over the next few days, as conditions allow.

Evaluate bridges and tunnels:  Our Bridge Inspectors are working to evaluate the bridges on I-84 to ensure that structural damage did not occur in the fire. At this time, bridge damage has not been found along I-84. Crews will continue to look at the Tooth Rock Tunnel along I-84 eastbound outside of Cascade Locks.

As these assessments continue, ODOT is determining the time needed to safely address these hazards. This is occurring as of Wednesday afternoon and will continue as long as needed. Having I-84 and the Historic Columbia River Highway closed is difficult on everyone who lives in, travels through, or loves the beauty of the Columbia Gorge. Once it is safe to complete these steps, we will have the roadways open as quickly as possible.

Check for road conditions.

6. Links: Things to Think About & Things to Do

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