On the calendar this week

The public is invited to take a look at the new 14-station welding lab at The Dalles campus of Columbia Gorge Community College from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 16. The lab is in the annex of the Fort Dalles Readiness Center. a tour and demonstrations will be part of the open house. This facility is made possible through support of Sherman County, Wasco County, the City of The Dalles and the Caithness Shepherd’s Flat wind farm. RSVP by e-mail or by calling 541-506-6121…

The new year will see the spotlight shine on Google apps during a series of brown bag workshops sponsored by Gorge Innoventure. Mark your calendars for the following events if you want to get smarter about cloud productivity using Google Apps 101, from noon to 1 p.m. Jan. 14; Gmail, same time, Jan. 21; Google Drive, same time, Jan. 28; and Google Calendar, same time, Feb. 4. …

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to eat — or not — at the Class Act Cafe on The Dalles campus of Columbia Gorge Community College, the student body there would like your constructive feedback. They’ve built an online survey, trying to assess attitudes and possible improvements. Because it’s the only game on campus, the captive audience there thinks they should have a voice in their dining option looks like. Their only other choice? Get in a car and go downtown …

At its 6 p.m. meeting Monday, Dec. 15, the Hood River City Council will award keys to the city to outgoing major and council members, then hold a public hearing on the Waterfront Refinement Plan – Ordinance 2015. This is the contentious zoning overlay plan that will define parameters for industrial and commercial use on open areas next in line for development. Some downtown merchants have expressed concern that commercial development there might steal business from downtown. The plan has gone through extensive subcommittee review and planning commission adoption. …



MTMCare co-founder earns innovation award from pharmacy group

Nicole Schrankel, co-founder of MTMCare

Nicole Schrankel, co-founder of MTMCare

For delivering pharmaceutical guidance to patients through her company, Nicole Schrankel recently received the 2014 Excellence in Innovation Award from the Oregon State Pharmacy Association.

Citing her exceptional dedication and commitment to the pharmacy profession, the association celebrated her work in co-founding MTMCare with Randee Bowder, RPh, in 2013. The company designs, delivers and administers medication therapy management (MTM) programs and clinical pharmacy services.

According to a media release, Schrankel, PharmD, and Bowder employ a network of pharmacists around the country who collectively talk to more than 10,000 patients annually. Most of these patients have serious medical conditions, are on multiple medications and, in many cases,​ are ​housebound. MTMCare’s phone counselors help patients avoid medication-related problems before they become serious.

“Nicole is a passionate advocate for the profession of pharmacy and her ability to speak about how pharmacists are improving the lives of patients is truly inspiring,” said Josh Bishop, PharmD Director, Health Services, PacificSource, when nominating Schrankel for the Excellence in Innovation Award.

Schrankel says an increasing number of health plans are recognizing MTM and clinical pharmacy services as a cost-effective way to help ensure that patients live longer, healthier lives.

MTMCare is based in Hood River.


Hood River Hotel leases kitchen, dining room to future Vintage Grille


Celia and Brian Kemp of the planned Vintage Grille

The space that was most recently home to Cornerstone Cuisine and, before that, Pasquale’s Ristorante, will soon re-open a new tenant and a new menu — under the brand of the Vintage Grille.

Brian and Celia Kemp have leased the kitchen and dining room space from the Hood River Hotel, and hope to complete necessary improvements in time to open by Feb. 3.

Brian currently works for Gorge Networks in business sales. Celia works as a stylist at 5th Element Salon. They have hired Matt McMahon, currently living in West Linn, to assume the chef’s duties. Hew has 15 years of kitchen experience, Brian said.

Look for a menu of steaks and seafood with some southern “soul” food in the mix as well.

The Kemps intend to keep the historic look and feel of the dining room. Behind the historic oak bar, they will stock the fixins for a good selection of martinis, plus local and imported beers on tap.

“We’re going to try to be different enough from the other restaurants in town,” Brian says.

For starters, they will offer just dinner, but hope to add lunch service as summer traffic dictates.

“We don’t want to bite off more than we can chew,” Celia says.

To help cover their startup costs, the Kemps are running a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of raising $15,000 by Jan. 8.

Until their website is built out, they’re sharing info via their facebook page.

The space in the hotel became available when management earlier this year decided to stop running a full-service restaurant. Over the last few years, the hotel had first dropped dinner service, then lunch and finally breakfast, offering only a continental breakfast setup to guests.

CGCC offers course to help maintenance techs learn electricity basics

Columbia Gorge Community College is offering an 11-week class — Basic Electricity for Maintenance Technicians — that will run from 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays beginning Jan. 5 at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center Renewable Energy Technology classroom and labs in The Dalles.

The course is designed to help service and maintenance technicians. It introduces students to the basic electrical principles, components and systems encountered in the industrial environment. The focus is on safely diagnosing and troubleshooting electrical systems and includes: direct and alternating current power supplies; characteristics of components such as resistors, capacitors and inductors; measuring instruments including meters and oscilloscopes; principles of motors and transformers; sensors and actuators; and basics of programmable logic controllers (PLCs).

Course activity primarily involves lectures and labs. Lectures will introduce the goals, procedures and components for a particular lab session. Material will be presented with a minimum of math, but an understanding of basic algebra and geometry is expected. Labs will give the student a hands-on opportunity to demonstrate the principles covered in the lectures. The goal is to develop an understanding of basic electricity and the components involved in electrical systems encountered in industry.

Cost to attend is $625 per person, or $585 per person if two or more people from the same company enroll.

To enroll or get more information contact Suzanne Burd at 541-506-6123.

Boot Camp grad shares thoughts on messaging

Interesting, thoughtful post from a graduated of the Gorge OEN Accelerator Boot Camp, passed along by Gary Rains. It’s about the challenges large organizations face in keeping their communications clear, concise, consistent and coherent. Wisdom to be extracted by those who choose to use. Check it out.

‘Day job’ wins out as Tread shoes owner Casperson seeks buyer

Take it as a cautionary tale, or take it as a reality check, but the story behind Christin Casperson’s decision to seek a buyer for Tread (formerly Zella) shoes speaks volumes to the challenges of running a small business.

Casperson moved her business from frontage on the courtyard between Doppio and the First National Bank building to an Oak Street location near Parts + Labour over a year ago.

She loves it. She thinks it’s doing fine. But she just can’t find the time in her life to keep it going while working her “day job.”

She says that if it were apples compared to apples, she might stay with Tread. But her day job, to stretch the metaphor, is a peach. That is, regular income and benefits and all those things that don’t come as defaults with owning your own business.

Things got complicated, Casperson says, when she partnered with a local clothing designer to open a store in Portland about four years ago. The short of it is, the partner bailed, and Casperson had to pursue that day job in open source software sales to cover the costs of that business.

Now that she has put that detour behind her, she realized that the day job fit her life better.

So, if you’re interested in taking an established retail brand in a high-visibility location to the next level, drop Casperson an e-mail to begin the conversation about terms.

Blue VW bus starts young couple on journey to fermenting Blue Bus food label

Kristin and Colin Franger with some of their Blue Bus packaged foods.

Kristin and Colin Franger with some of their Blue Bus packaged foods.

Neither Kristin nor Colin Franger can ever recall fantasizing as children about someday becoming famous for fermenting vegetables.

When the teachers asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” neither of them said “King Kombucha.”

Like the foods they now produce for their Blue Bus Cultured Foods label, the decision to embrace fermentation came after a long, slow, incremental march of their lives in assorted exploratory directions.

They met in Bend, in 2008, both with their eyes on outdoor learning.

Kristin, with a degree in anthropology from Ithaca College in New York, was working with troubled youth in boot camp-style outdoor programs. Colin was finishing a degree in outdoor education through Oregon State University and Central Oregon Community College.

That was where they started experimenting with lacto-fermentation. It wasn’t a business yet, but it whet their appetites.

Colin was living in a blue Volkswagen bus, parked behind the home of friends. When Colin got a job in French Gulch, Calif., at an alternative school, Kristin tagged along and got a job there, too.

They shared a desire to travel, and dreamed of Peru. By offering to help crew a boat out of Winchester Bay, Ore., they caught a free ride — to Cabo San Lucas, where they both disembarked eager to end weeks of seasickness.

Colin, who likes to kiteboard, knew the wind was good at La Ventana. They spent the winter there, camping in a sandy wash, before they bought a van and drove it back to the Hood. Colin’s brother, Blaine, and his wife, Bethany, were expecting.

Colin recalls feeling a much stronger bond to Hood River, where he had grown up, after their travels beyond the valley. So the two settled in, got jobs at Knead bakery (more fermentation), then Double Mountain (she as a server, he in brewing, with more fermentation).

After buying a house, they got excited about farming, and started thinking what they could do to build a business around the fruits of the earth, without going down the path of farming itself. Naturally, fermentation again called.

“Part of the reason for Blue Bus was to add value to the produce from our farm,” Colin says.

After 1.5 years, they found a small production space in the southwest corner of the Bingen, Wash., building that once housed Solstice Wood Fire Cafe and started fermenting in May. It’s intentionally modest, hands-on and bootstrap.

“The big thing to us, because we weren’t sure about the market, and being frugal and scared, we were adamant about taking on no debt,” Colin recalls.

So, for now, no debt equals no mechanization. They hand-shred veggies for products like their Sauerkraut, Shakedown Beet (beet and ginger), German-Korean fusion Kraut Chi and Spicy Napa.

To diversity, they started a kombucha to diversify, selling it at the Farmer’s Market, then the Farm Stand and River Daze.

At this point, most of the produce is coming off their land, and a half-acre of tilled Snowden property that nurse and former small farmer Ben Zimmerman offered them.

Kristin, who has been managing farmer’s markets for the Gorge Grown Food Network, plans to focus all her energies next year on Blue Bus operations. Market presence is growing — Blue Bus is on shelves at a dozen places in Portland, and now New Seasons in Vancouver, Wash. — and she wants to max the output from their current space.

Around here, fellow fans of fermentation can find Blue Bus product at Rosauer’s, the Farm Stand, Mother’s Market, Boda’s Kitchen, and Dickey’s and Feast in Washington.


Full Sail is a macro micro, but no matter — it’s on the top 20 list

Oh, gawd, the lists … a journalistic cliche, of dubious merit and unfailing appeal to people who love … lists. So, here you go, on the Matador Network travel site, a list of the top 20 microbreweries in America, which in this case includes a stop at Hood River’s Full Sail. A micro once, but a micro still? Who knows, who cares? The point is, it’s on a list, and lists make for great … lists (in case you, too, want to take a road trip). Sip into the Sail, and full-er up …

Lake Taco brings fresh, Guadalajara flavors to Heights

Maria Rivas and her daughter, Mary Ortega, are "cooking with love" at Lake Taco in Hood River.

Maria Rivas and her daughter, Mary Ortega, are “cooking with love” at Lake Taco in Hood River.

What the world needs now is more good tacos. Open just one week, Lake Taco delivers — on flavor, and to your door if you live in Hood River.

The enterprise of Mary and Enrique Ortega — he is the hands behind the wheel of Gorge Yellow Cab — Lake Taco (don’t you just love the word play on Lake Tahoe?) actually refers to Lake Chapala, near Guadalajara.

The kitchen and small dining area occupies the space briefly the former home of Dana’s Xtreme Burgers, up on the Heights, just south of Daniel’s Nutrition.

The Ortegas are working on getting signs out near 12th Street and on the building. For now, they’re attracting snackers through word of mouth.

Ortega, who hails from Guadalajara, Mexico, intends to make every ingredient from scratch. Fresh, masa tortillas cooked to order. Fresh grilled top sirloin for the carne asada. Roasted tomatillos. House-made pico de gallo.

Ortega learned her kitchen chops from her grandmother, who taught her to “cook with love.” Ortega’s mother, Maria Rivas, is helping in the kitchen.

Look for the Lake at 1213 June St. (but really, it’s off 12th), on Facebook, or by phone (for orders) at 541-386-2276. Open hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.