Car sharing has arrived in Hood River
Carsharing is here! Three Honda Clarity electric carsharing vehicles have arrived in Hood River and will be available to rent by the hour or day, beginning in early June. The City of Hood River vehicle bases are located at the Hood River Fire Station and the Columbia Street parking lot at 5th Street. A third vehicle is located on Port of Hood River property at the waterfront on North 1st Street. Two additional vehicles will be added later this summer at Columbia Cascade Housing properties.
To rent a vehicle, community members download the “Envoy There” app reservation system on their smartphones. The app will show vehicles in town, their current electric charges, instructions, and costs to rent by the hour or day. Vehicles must be returned to home bases and plugged in to charging station for the next user.
City Council approved the agreement with nonprofit electric vehicle (EV) company Forth (forthmobility.org) for a three-year pilot EV carsharing program. Forth received a Federal Department of Energy grant to bring the program to Hood River and test the practicality of EV carsharing in rural environments. The program is known locally as the Clean Rural Shared Electric Mobility Project (CRuSE). At the end of the three-year project period, ownership of the charging equipment will be transferred to the City.
Electricity usage will be covered by Forth, while a $19,657 City in-kind contribution is the value of City-provided parking spaces, staff time and anticipated car rentals for City business. The contract has no net impact on the City’s budget.
Public Works boosts City park maintenance
Users may notice City parks are particularly attractive this season. This could be partly due to spring buds and blooms, but also a result of increased investments by the City Public Works Department.
The Public Works parks crew consists of two-members year-round to care for 13 City parks. After a busy year of added demands caused the COVID-19 pandemic, the parks crew leveraged seasonal assistance from local landscape companies to improve a few City Parks with bolstered spring maintenance. This helped the small crew focus on remaining parks to do the same.
“The higher level of maintenance is basically needed seasonally,” says Public Works Director Mark Janeck. “We feel it’s in the public interest to supplement our small team for these enhancements.” Visit the city’s webpage for more information on City parks.
May is Bike Month
Expect to see lots of bikes around town in May. May is Bike Month in Hood River as proclaimed by City Council. Hood River residents are encouraged to discover healthy, green travel options to get to work, school, or for errands.
Consistent with Bike Month, May 5th was National Bike to School Day. There’s also a May Street Elementary parent-led bike train scheduled for every Friday through June 15th. Bike trains have two parent “conductors” at the front and rear to help students learn bicycle safety and safe routes.
And May 17-23 is National Bike to Work Week. Our partners at Mid-Columbia Economic Development District and Commute Options have sweetened the deal by launching the “May Walk and Roll Challenge” to encourage Hood River residents to walk or bike to work. Participants can win prizes from local businesses by logging active transportation commutes on the Oregon Department of Transportation’s “Get There Oregon” platform. By logging at least five trips by May 31 participants are eligible for prize drawings in the first week of June. The more trips logged increase your chances of winning. These projects all align with City transportation and sustainable energy goals.
Low Impact Development is beneficial
Low Impact Development, sometimes called “Green Infrastructure,” has many earth-friendly benefits. They include creating wildlife habitat, improving water quality, providing groundwater recharge and enriching local beauty.
Low Impact Development (LID) is an onsite approach to stormwater management using techniques like vegetated areas, natural or manmade swales, rain barrels, green rooftops and permeable pavement all which capture and retain water onsite.
LID is important as more hard surfaces are developed in growing communities. In undeveloped areas, LID design can be planned by protecting natural areas and reducing pavement. Many subdivisions and planned unit developments (PUDs) in Hood River have employed LID techniques during development. Private property owners can incorporate LID techniques into their current landscape as well.
See the City’s LID webpage for ideas on LID techniques to consider.
Farmer’s Market returns to Columbia Lot
Hood River Farmer’s Market returned to the City’s 5th & Columbia lot in May and will continue the event every Saturday from 9 am – 1 pm through November.
As an essential service, Hood River Farmer’s Market was able operate during the pandemic. Despite attendance being down slightly in 2020, sales increased 16% over 2019, making last year a successful market year. In 2021, health and safety guidelines continue to be in place.
The City of Hood River waives fees for this event which enables Hood River Farmer’s Market to bolster its SNAP match program. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients receive an extra $15 match to spend at the market. “The $15 match means if someone spends $15 in benefits, we give them $30 to shop with,” explains Market Manager Hannah Ladwig. “The City’s support helps us foster a more inclusive market where everyone has access to fresh, local food. The program also increases sales for family farmers, directing federal benefits to local businesses.”
One local SNAP customer said about the Gorge Grown program: “It has allowed me to spend much more money on local produce and products. I feel able to buy a nice variety of seasonal, nutritious produce without worrying about my ability to have enough food budget at the end of the month.”
The Hood River Farmer’s Market is a program of the Gorge Grown Food Network. Visit GorgeGrown.org to learn more about the Hood River Farmer’s Market plus other local markets and programs.
Hood River County continues to add positive cases for COVID-19 to its record. Although Hood River County has one of the highest vaccination rates in Oregon, vaccination rates will be key to reopening Oregon’s economy.
Governor Kate Brown last week announced a new statewide target vaccination rate of 70% among those 16 and older (at least one dose received). Achieving this target will allow Oregon to reopen its economy and lift the majority of health and safety restrictions. Hood River County’s vaccination rate is currently over 65%. This rate allows the county to move to the Lower Risk level for COVID-19 beginning Friday, May 21. Once the statewide target of 70% is reached, counties will no longer be assigned risk levels.
Vaccines are currently available and accessible in Hood River County. Increasing the County’s vaccination rate will help not only our community, but all of Oregon. The Hood River County Health Department has a dedicated website with a phone number or email address to call for questions, as well as more information on where to get vaccines locally.
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