Mobile Homes

Staff photo by Ben Lonergan

There are an estimated 1,700 mobile homes in Umatilla County built before the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development established construction standards for manufactured homes in 1976.

A tip of the hat to the Umatilla Electric Co-op, Pacific Power and other utilities and state legislators for recognizing the challenges faced by rural mobile home owners and their effort to work on fixes like weatherization to help keep costs for residents low.

“It really has been a concern of utilities throughout the Northwest and beyond for many years. There’s an overall goal to improve energy efficiency. This is one of the toughest problems to solve,” said UEC Member Services Administrator Steve Meyers.

In the spring of 2017, UEC partnered with county assessors from Umatilla and Morrow counties to find out how many mobile homes were built before 1976, when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development set minimum construction standards for manufactured dwellings.

They estimated that more than 500 mobile homes in Morrow County, and more than 1,700 mobile homes in Umatilla County, fit the bill.

According to Meyers, some of those homes were built with no insulation at all, and can cost hundreds of dollars to heat during the winter months. The fact these utilities are working to help local people should be — and is — good news for all.

A tip of the hat to all those working to prepare the Umatilla Chemical Depot for industrial development. The depot will return to local control soon and key players in economic development — such as Greg Smith, executive director of the Columbia Development Authority — are working hard to ensure a successful future for the now-defunct federal facility. Smith said last week that he is working with one potential employer that could bring more than 1,000 jobs to the area. That’s good news.

A kick in the pants to state lawmakers who walked away from a project to develop an early warning system for earthquakes and wildfires. Just a few days before the end of the last legislative session, $12 million to be used to expand the ShakeAlert and AlertWildfire early warning systems vanished. The money was pulled from a larger funding package and questions linger as to why. Preparing for a major disaster isn’t just good planning, it is a necessity and should be a top priority for lawmakers. Why then did the money vanish?

A kick in the pants to those who continue to try to limit the Oregon Public Records law. Recently a Clackamas County judge may have opened a Pandora’s Box regarding how public records are viewed by government agencies. Judge Henry C. Breithaupt’s oral ruling contends that records created by a local government are not subject to public disclosure unless they are owned, used or retained by an agency. The interpretation could throw a wrench into a disclosure system that is designed to allow the public access to the government they support with their tax dollars. Continued attempts by government to withhold and keep secret public documents is depressing and should be a wakeup call for voters.

A kick … to everyone to get out and experience one of the best local venues around at the Umatilla County Fair and Farm-City Pro Rodeo next week. Both are solid events that deliver plenty of fun for area residents. Nothing says summer quite like the county fair, and we encourage everyone to take a little time out of your day to get out and enjoy the fair.

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