News today, history tomorrow

Add Open Studios tour to list of events luring visitors to Gorge this weekend

Yikes — this weekend is starting to look a little scary, what with all the stuff going on.

Add to the list (sorry for delayed appreciation here) of the annual Gorge Artists Open Studios Tour, April 11 (today) through Sunday, April 13. See wild artists in their native habitat.

Thanks to Caroline Mead at the Columbia Center for the Arts for reminding us about this great chance to visit artists in their studios, from The Dalles to Mt. Adams and in between.

It’s all free, and open to everyone. Self-guiding tour maps are available from local visitor info providers, including the Hood River Visitor Center near the Marina.

“All participating artists have been juried in,” Mead says. “They represent the highest quality of work available in the region and a broad spectrum of media, styles and subject matter.”

Get more info at the web site, or direct questions here or to participating artist Linda Steider via e-mail or by calling 509-493-1974.

Oh, you ask, what else is going on?

Hard-Pressed Cider Fest in Odell.

Start of Pear Blossom Festival month.

Start of Gorge Wine Growers Passport tasting room tour month.

That’s all.

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When this snack tray rolls around, you know you’re gonna wanna nibble …

Lots of stuff going on in and around the Hood this month. Here’s a roundup of items worth your attention …

Several readers shared link to a nice Gorge plug, “36 Hours in Hood River, Ore.,” that appears in the April 6 print and online editions of the NY Times. …

It’s Passport month for the members of the Columbia Gorge Wine Growers Association. Kicking off this weekend (April 12-13), the event runs for three weekends, and features lots of promotions in the nifty little passport that wine lovers will be taking around the area. Look for trickle-back to other area businesses.

Speaking of wine, Wine Enthusiast magazine, in its May 2014 edition, lavishes the love on several bottles from local producers. It gives a 92-point rating to the Analemma 2012 Oak Ridge Gewurztraminer, and 91 points to the Mosier winery’s 2012 Atavus Vineyard Gewurztraminer. Across the river, Syncline Winery scores six 90-plus ratings, led by the 95-point evaluation of its 2011 Ciel du Cheval Syrah and 93-point 2011 Boushey Vineyards Syrah. James and Poppie Mantone’s label also garners 93 points for its 2011 Grenache, 91 for both its 2012 Boushey Vineyard Grenache Blanc and 2011 Mourvedre from Red Mountain, and 90 points for its 2011 Mourvedre incorporating a variety of Columbia Valley fruit. Bravo! …

Oh, learn more about the wine stylers of Lyle in this Oregon Wine Press story, plus updates about new tasting rooms at Analemma and Viento wineries

GO! (Gorge Owned) is amping up the volume for Earth Month, which culminates April 22 in Earth Day, and a screening of the documentary film, “The Clean Bin Project.” Go here and learn about ways you can save mama Earth, enter the Tod Lefevre Sustainability Champion Awards and take part in Washington’s Community Pride weekend. …

The next meeting of the informal downtown business group is coming up at 8 a.m. Tuesday, April 15, in the back meeting room of Bette‘s. Topics for discussion include First Friday planning, recycling options, potential for another downtown Rail Jam event, and street banners. All are welcome. …

First Hard-Pressed Cider Fest rolls out on Saturday, April 12. Details here at the sponsoring Chamber of Commerce web site





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Mystery solved: Meet the new courts, same as the old courts (just … newer)


You may have seen the teaser ad in the Hood River News, but you haven’t yet read the news behind the ad.

Buzz readers asked for details. Clearly, there are passionate tennis people out there.

“Do you have any info on the big yellow advert in Wednesday’s HR News?” wrote local therapist Sally Reichmuth. “People are wondering.”

“As an avid tennis player, I’m dying to know more!” wrote Keely Kopetz, part of the family-run Wy’east Vineyards. “Tennis courts take up a lot of room so maybe a new building is going up? Are they hiring tennis coaches? And who are ‘they’?!?! Surely this will put the very well-established tennis program at Hood River Sports Club into some sort of jeopardy.”

Not to worry, Keely. Clark Emmerson, who owns the Sports Club with his wife, Carol, confirmed for us that “we are the guilty ones. We’re actually, literally putting in new tennis courts. We’re going down to the original surface, and reinstalling state of the art hard surface courts.”

The Emmersons, who bought the club in 1998, added the courts 13 years ago.

“In keeping up with the level of tennis that we have brought to the community, we felt it was time to treat our current members to brand new courts,” Emmerson told the Buzz. “And with the influx of new people into the  community, we wanted to take the opportunity to draw new interest.”

Work will start Monday, April 14. “If all goes well, they’ll be done around April 21 or 22,” Emmerson said.

The club is the only full-service facility in Hood River, with indoor swimming pool, racquetball, jacuzzi, sauna, and spaces for aerobic and weight-training.

In addition to hosting a variety of classes and kids in the Gorge Gymnastics program, the club also takes gymnastic equipment and instruction into local schools.

Club members have reciprocal use privileges with the Dalles Fitness and Court Club, which the Emmersons bought six years ago.

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Summit Projects shifts direction, prepares to move from longtime offices

Summit Projects, an early entry in the digital marketing universe and a fixture upstairs from Doug’s Sports since 1997, is embarking on a major business transformation, according to company founder and chief executive Craig Sabina.

The changes involve layoff of seven people and relocation of a smaller, core staff of four from their current offices to space that Sabina owns above G. Williker’s, The Gift House and other Oak Street retailers. That move will occur by June 1. The company will also have two employees working in Dallas, Texas.

Sabina says the company has been exploring and growing into the design of hardware and integrated software, specifically for the aircraft industry. Sabina says they started working with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, then developing apps for pilots, and then evolved into product and software design for BendixKing, a subsidiary of Honeywell International.

Summit formed in February of 1995, working mainly in print publications. An opportunity to develop an early web presence for Nike led it into a specialization in that digital development arena.Sabina says the world of digital marketing has become extremely congested, making it tough to sustain a profitable business. The new avenue looks much more promising, he said.

“Our growing opportunities in product development are exciting, to say the least,” he said in a news release. “They really leave us with no option but to sharply increase our focus in this area, winding down the digital marketing side of the business for the foreseeable future. As a company going forward, our investments in staff and infrastructure will be in the industrial design space.”

Two years ago, the company experienced some major upheaval, with a walkout by several staffers who disagreed with the company’s direction.

Sabina had high praise for the seven people who will be leaving the company. “They are great people,” he said. “They’ll bring tremendous value to any company fortunate enough to hire them.”


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Double Mountain chalk artist Ayers tells tales behind the ales

Anneka Ayers displays just one of her dramatic chalk art tributes to Double Mountain beers.

Anneke Ayers displays just one of her dramatic chalk art tributes to Double Mountain beers.

Ever look up from your coaster and cold one over at Double Mountain Brewery, and find yourself thinking, “OMG, that is some amazing artwork up on the wall.”

Thank Anneke Ayers — and Jarod Jensen.

Jensen did a lot of the panels before Ayers took over in July 2013. That’s when Ayers, a University of Montana student of digital media design, joined DM as its marketing coordinator.

With that position, she inherited responsibility for overseeing the chalkboard panels for each new beer hitting the DM lineup.

There are a bunch, each uniquely creative and compelling.

Taken together, however, they can look a bit like visual overload. You have to drill down close to isolate on the fun.

Ayers does much of her work using digital design software, but for the wall panels, she does everything by hand using colored chalk.

That talent also translated recently to new labels for recent bottled DM brews — the Sinister 7, Carrie Ladd and Sacre Bleu releases.

Beyond her day job, Ayers freelances — whipping up chalk art at Dirty Fingers Bicycle Repair and for the Flathead Lake Brewing Co. in the little town of Bigfork, Mt., north of her alma mater.

Chalk on, grrrl.


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Coming soon to a Hood near you, the sound of backhoes and hammers

Signs of spring, or an economic rebound, or all of the above? Several significant construction projects are moving through the planning process.

Hood River Planning Director Cindy Walbridge gave us a quick overview:

  • Sieverkropp Subdivision, has been approved by the city Planning Commission, for 98 units east of Rosauers out to the edge of the Hood River bluff. The project has some broader implications, which we’re hoping to explore with the applicants as time allows.
  • Ixtapa Mexican Restaurant, pre-application for construction of a new drive-through coffee shop, 6,000-square-foot restaurant and three-bedroom home, on 1.6 acres south across Cascade Avenue from its current location in the Hood River Square shopping center. The applicant is working out details. More later, he told The Buzz.
  • A new, two-story building on 12th Street, north of the Pine Street Bakery and tortilla shop, planned by Billy Sullivan, the same gent who spearheaded those earlier projects. In a brief note to The Buzz, Sullivan wrote that he’s working through the design review process, toward the dream: “There are no details yet other than I am planning to remove the old bike shop building and attempt to build a two-story structure with retail on the ground and spartan lofts above.” Submitted plans show Apple Green occupying space on the south side, and a business called Clay’s Smokehouse occupying the north half. Above those businesses, apartments would open to a deck above pavered patio for the ground-level businesses.
  • Barone Holdings LLC is pushing ahead with completion of its Willow Ponds Planned Unit Development, at far west end of May Street. The project went on hiatus when the housing market slumped around 2007. Plans call for the new portion to cover 9.8 acres, bringing the whole project to 19.3 acres. Early work since 2003 has led to 23 homes on 27 lots. The project has strict design controls, includes nearly 6 acres of dedicated open space. Bio-swales and native plants thrive on captured runoff. More details later.
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Layoffs at Cloud Cap send 25 workers scrambling for other gigs in UAS sector

Cloud Cap Technology, one of Hood River’s tech-sector success stories, is reported to have laid off about 25 percent of its work force on Monday.

A photo clip from the Cloud Cap Technology web site, showing its team.

A photo clip from the Cloud Cap Technology web site, showing its team.

Dan Coulom, public relations manager, confirmed that the layoff affected 25 positions.

“UTC Aerospace Systems reviews its business plan regularly to ensure that our units around the world are staffed appropriately to meet customer requirements,” Coulom wrote in an e-mail. “As part of this exercise, we recently made an adjustment in our Hood River operations through reduction of 25 positions. This action will not affect our business, nor our ability to serve our customers.”

One of the laid-off workers, who requested anonymity, reported a day after the layoffs: “I may have something lined up, so I feel fortunate. Lots of other VERY unhappy folks out there. That’s the hard part with working in the UAS industry, even the hotbed here in the Gorge — you better hope your gig works out.”

Cloud Cap makes guidance systems, stabilized camera applications and engines for the UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) industry, which includes such Gorge-based companies as Insitu and Aeroval.

Cloud Cap, founded in Hood River about 14 years ago, sold to Goodrich Corp. in 2009, and United Technologies acquired Goodrich in 2012, managing Cloud Cap under its UTC Aerospace Systems division.

As all this was unfolding in Hood River, on the other side of the bridge in Bingen, Insitu on Tuesday was celebrating receipt of a new $8.3 million maintenance contract. Ups and downs.

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Tubs of ice cream arrive just in time for annual opening at Mike’s

As Mike Kitts stocks tubs of ice cream in freezers behind her, ice cream scooper Amanda Knox helps relay tubs between delivery truck and the storage area on Monday morning.

As Mike Kitts stocks tubs of ice cream in freezers behind her, ice cream scooper Amanda Knox helps relay tubs between delivery truck and the storage area on Monday morning.

Tubs and tubs and tubs of ice cream moved quickly Monday morning from the delivery vehicle from Prince Puckler’s Gourmet Ice Cream in Eugene to the freezers below and behind the serving shed at Mike’s Ice Cream in Hood River.

Why all the hubbub?

Duh. It’s all in preparation for the noon opening of Mike’s on Tuesday, April 1, the traditional resumption of ice cream service at the downtown Hood River institution.

Service continues through October.

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