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MCCOG unwinds its many programs

Mid-Columbia Council of Governments met Tuesday for an update on progress of transferring programs to other agencies. MCCOG, which serves Wasco, Hood River, Sherman, Gilliam and Wheeler counties, voted in November to dissolve their intergovernmental agency.

Here's the situation so far:


The Transportation Network, which operates the LINK bus, dial-a-ride and a Medicaid transportation brokerage for seven counties, is transitioning smoothly to the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District and Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Inc.


The StRUT program, under which students rebuilt donated computers and other electronic equipment and provided them to schools, has closed, and will likely reopen in conjunction with a recycler in the Willamette Valley.


The Area Agency on Aging is transferring on Jan. 31 to the local office of Aging and People with Disabilities on a temporary basis.

Under the state's rules governing transfers of AAA programs, adjacent AAA programs have priority for absorbing this region's AAA and two of them have indicated to the state they are interested. Those are Northwest Senior and Disability Services, based in Salem, and the Community Action Program of East Central Oregon (CAPECO) based in Pendleton.

Deb McCuin of the State Unit on Aging said she expected it would take about six months for the state to pick one of the two and begin the transfer process, but in response to a question from The Dalles Mayor Steve Lawrence, McCuin agreed that it would be possible for the state to conclude that neither of those adjacent AAA programs would be suitable to absorb the local program. In that case, she said, the state would open the selection process to any agency.

MCCOG earlier strongly supported the program going to Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Inc., which is based in The Dalles, is intimately familiar with the region and local situation and which operates a number of compatible programs.

MCCOG had gone so far as to formally request that the state bypass its normal selection process and open it to all interested agencies, which the state declined to do.


Tuesday’s meeting also provided more definite information about the building codes division, which Wasco County Commissioner Rod Runyon called “The big marble in the ball game.”

That will be taken over by the state as of Feb. 1, and will likely be housed at the county offices on East Second Street in the same building as the county public works and planning departments. Runyon said the state contacted him to get information about the people to contact in Sherman, Gilliam and Wheeler counties to see whether they wanted to continue to be served by the office in The Dalles or operate the programs in their own counties.

The MCCOG board also moved to hire the Oregon Solutions team with the Association of Oregon Counties for $7,500 to advise MCCOG on dividing the remaining assets of MCCOG.

That may or may not include the approximately $3.5 million in the Building Codes reserve fund, which could possibly be a contentious process.


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