Category Archives: Newsletter

Transportation 2013-2014 Highlights

Over 20,000 rides

Link Public Transportation, The LINK , public transportation system provided by the Mid-Columbia Council of Governments, plans to provide over 20,000 rides this calendar year. Our team of dedicated, licensed, professional drivers average over 90 rides per day.

Tuesday Bus Service to Portland

Due to popular demand, Columbia Area Transit (CAT) and Link Transportation Network added another day of Bus Service to Portland.Bus service from The Dalles and Hood River to Portland became available on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week.

Mid-Columbia Medical Transportation Program

MCCOG now manages the Mid-Columbia Medical Transportation Brokerage and provides medical transportation for Oregon Health Plan Plus clients in 14 counties; Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, Wheeler, Morrow, Umatilla, Reimbursement checks are provided for eligible Oregon Health Plan Plus clients asking for mileage, meals, and lodging reimbursement(s) when medically necessary.

Cutting Edge Transportation Scheduling System

The LINK installed a new web-based scheduling system called ECOLANE. This system automatically assigns and dispatches trips using real-time information, allowing LINK to schedule and reschedule trips more efficiently and to respond more effectively to service peaks and changes in demand. LINK can also respond automatically to conditions on the road, such as weather, congestion and vehicle breakdowns.  By automating existing processes, LINK saves time and enables a greater focus on safety and customer service.

StRUT 2013-2014 Highlights

Recycling Center Allocates Technology Education Resources

The Students Recycling Used Technology Program (StRUT) at MCCOG provides technology education, resources, and recycling to schools across Oregon.

E-waste Recycling Center Target

Recycling Center kept 500,000 pounds of total e-waste recycling out of landfills for 2013-14 fiscal year.

Increased Efficiency in Recycling Process

The Students Recycling Used Technology (StRUT) program overhauled their recycling process and found additional recycling revenue generating commodities. These include rechargeable batteries, alkaline batteries, lead acid batteries, power supply cases, computer cable data connectors, printer / toner cartridges, cell phones, and computer cooling fans. Each of these is a new recyclable component, or has been separated out from a previous recyclable commodity in order to generate more revenue and increase the efficiency for the recycler to process for reuse.

Workforce Development 2013-2014 Program Highlights

Workforce Re-Alignment

The Oregon Workforce Investment Board approved the creation of a Central Oregon Local Workforce Investment Area. This new local area will include: Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, Wheeler, Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson, Klamath, and Lake Counties. MCCOG is currently part of the Oregon Consortium Local Workforce Investment Area (TOCOWA) which represents 24 rural Oregon Counties. The move splits TOCOWA into 4 separate local workforce areas. The new Local Workforce Investment Board will begin to oversee workforce activities in our area starting July 1, 2015.


President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in July. The passage of WIOA provides new authorizing legislation for programs that had been authorized under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). It has been 16 years since WIA was initially passed, and 11 since it was due to be reauthorized. The new law begins July 1, 2015 and focuses more on training and skill development.

CAP Moves In

Mid-Columbia Community Action Program moved into the Gorge Career Center at 205 Wasco Loop in Hood River on October 1st.CAP provides energy assistance programs, housing assistance, food assistance, and AARP tax assistance.

Work Force Services Delivered

  • We served 729 Adults and Dislocated Workers in our two offices.
  • Our Youth program – served 26 – 17 were exited into employment, 8 obtained a degree or credential (HS diploma, GED) and 3 placed into an on the job work experience.


  • Thanks to Back to Work Oregon funding from the State of Oregon, 12 clients were placed into on-the job training opportunities with local employers. 7 are still employed- three remain in an OJT.
  • MCCOG staff taught more than 450 work readiness workshops in the past year. These include resume, interviewing, Career Information Systems, Social Media, and Dressing for Success.
  • MCCOG staff also oversee 5 job clubs each week for DHS, Vocational Rehabilitation and Wasco County Community Corrections.

Jobs Program

One of the many programs MCCOG workforce administers is the JOBS program for DHS. This is a job skills program for cash grant recipients. Last year we served 141 individuals through the JOBS program. 61 participated in a volunteer work experience… and 9 participated in a paid JOBS Plus work experience. 113 found a job.

Oregon Food Stamp Employment Program (OFSET)

OFSET is a job search program for people receiving SNAP benefits- or food stamps. We provide job search assistance and support services, including gas money and interview clothing. 400+ received these services last year.

National Career Readiness Certificate / Certified Work Ready Communities

  • Together with our partners at the Oregon Employment Department we recruited and proctored close to 500 National Career Readiness Certificate Assessments and obtained close to 50 letters of support from local businesses. The National Career Readiness Certificate measures a job applicants abilities in 3 areas: math, locating information, and reading. Oregon Counties can achieve Certified Work Ready Community designation based on the number of certificate earned and the number of employers participating.
  •  Starting last spring the NCRC started counting towards the math and reading benchmark for the Oregon High School Diploma. MCCOG and the Oregon Employment Department are working together to get the NCRC in all of our local high schools. Last year testing occurred in: The Dalles High School. Hood River Valley High School, and Dufur High School.
  • 11 young people in our area in danger of not passing were able to graduate this spring as a result of NCRC attainment. We expect that number will increase significantly in the future.

Area Agency on Aging 2013-2014 Highlights

Senior Medicare Patrol

On March 12th, 2014, the State Unit on Aging awarded the AAA a $10,000 grant with the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). The SMP is a volunteer program designed to educate Medicare beneficiaries about the dangers of Medicare fraud and to show them how to protect themselves from becoming victims. In Oregon, the SMP contracts with the office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsmen and Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program to train their volunteers in SMP and talk about Medicare fraud with their consumers.

Learning To Live Well

The Area Agency on Aging (AAA) partnered with Living Well With Chronic Conditions to provide a class developed by Stanford University, to motivate people and teach them how to take control of their health and their lives. Classes have been taught by trained volunteers in all five of our counties. In addition, the AAA received a grant from the State Unit on Aging to develop the Arthritis Foundation, evidenced based program

Walk With Ease (WWE).

WWE is a multi-component program that includes health education, stretching, strengthening exercises, and motivational strategies. Though developed for people with arthritis who want to be more physically active, it is also appropriate for people without arthritis, particularly those with diabetes, heart diseases and other chronic conditions who need to be more active.

Oregon Program Money Management Grant

With a new grant from Easter Seals in partnership with Department of Human Services our Region 9 AAA expanded the Money Management Program. The Oregon Money Management Program offers support to people ages 60 and over with limited incomes and assets who need help with money management tasks. Services are provided by trained and supervised volunteers, screened to ensure suitability to work with vulnerable individuals.

Oregon Project Independence

Region 9 AAA, along with AAA’s statewide received a significant increase in funding to the program from the 2013/14 Oregon Legislative session. This allowed the AAA to increase the program that helps seniors in our region stay in their home or apartments. This is the first time that we have a waiting list for the program.

Spring 2014 Transportation Highlights

On 4-11-14, The Link transported a group of volunteers Link Transportation Busand state officials around The Dalles and visited the:

  • VA Outreach Clinic
  • Veterans’ Home
  • The New Fort Dalles Readiness Center located at CGCC
  • Veterans’ Services office located at 201 Federal in The Dalles.

Everyone enjoyed the trip and was very appreciative of our local transportation service.

StRUT Annual Spring Conference 2014

Technology donations (used computers and components) for Students Recycling Used Technology (StRUT) have increased greatly, and we are now running out of room to store items! StRUT recently purchased a new (used) electric forklift to replace the older one which was no longer viable.

The StRUT Annual Spring Conference is being held May 16 and attendance is open to all member schools, along with our major donors(list who they are). We have over 1,000 Windows 7 and 8 computers ready to be allocated to member schools.

StRUT, along with TriMetPublic Transit and some watershed protection groups, recently attended Leatherman’s Earth Day celebration on April 16th. Leatherman Tool Group, an Oregon-based company for over 30 years, is a proud donor to StRUT. Tables were set up in two locations to educate employees about Leatherman’s relationship with StRUT. Leatherman recently donated over 2,000 lbs. of computer recyclables. There is a follow-up employee computer donation collection planned.

Oregon Military Department’s Fort Dalles Readiness Center

The Oregon Military Department’s Fort Dalles Readiness Center was just completed, with the final inspection done April 17. The initial permit was issued in June, 2012, so the project took nearly two years to complete. It encompasses a total 35,482 sq. ft., much of which will be accessible for public use. The Fort Dalles Readiness Center replaces the Webber Street armory.

Certified Work Ready Communities (CWRC)

Oregon joined the national Certified Work Ready Communities (CWRC) program on January 25, 2011. To date, thousands of Oregonians have earned a certificate and hundreds of businesses of all sizes, in a variety of industries, are supporting the certificate by preferring the NCRC in their hiring practices.
A Certified Work Ready Community is an ACT designation based on the number of NCRC’s and business letters of support in individual counties. Specific targets are set in the areas of current workers, emerging workers, and transitioning workers. The goal is to help counties attract new businesses by demonstrating they have a skilled workforce.

To learn more about Oregon’s Certified Work Ready Communities visit
Or, contact Holli Francis from Mid-Columbia Council of Governments at 541-386-6300.

National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC)

The National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) is a nationally recognized, portable credential that demonstrates workplace employability skills in the areas of Reading for Information, Applied Math, and Locating Information. The State of Oregon is currently offering the $105 assessments to residents for free. The assessments are administered at Columbia Gorge Community College in both Hood River and The Dalles, Oregon.

To register to take the NCRC, contact Anita Iken at the Oregon Employment Department at 541-296-5435 x231

Learn more about the National Career Readiness Certificate.

Oregon Program Money Management Grant

With a new grant from Easter Seals in partnership with Department of Human Services our Region 9 AAA is expanding the Money Management Program.

Financial security is more than simply having money to live on. It’s also being able to understand and pay bills on time, manage credit, organize financial papers, file taxes, and other financial tasks.


Approximately 2% of adults need help managing personal finances due to mental or physical impairments.

As one might imagine, the percentage increases with age. Without support these people are vulnerable to fraud and financial abuse. They are often isolated and living in fear of losing their independence.

The Oregon Money Management Program offers support to people ages 60 and over with limited incomes and assets who need help with money management tasks. Services are provided by trained and supervised volunteers who support the program in the following ways:

  • Bill-Pay volunteers provide one-on-one assistance to individuals who remain in control of their finances but need ongoing help to keep on track. Budgeting, organizing financial papers, paying bills, banking, and help filling out forms are examples of how Bill Payer volunteers help their clients.
  • Payee volunteers provide one-on-one assistance to individuals who do not have the capacity to manage their federal benefits such as Social Security, SSA Disability, Veteran’s, and Railroad Retirement. Volunteers manage these federal benefits on behalf of the individuals, ensuring that basic needs are met and funds are protected.
  • Office Aides help Regional Program Coordinators program operations, including processing client and volunteer paperwork and performing data entry.
  • Monitor volunteers examine client bank statements looking for red flags and needed supportive documentation.
  • Team Leaders support program volunteers at program satellite offices.

Program Safeguards

  • Program volunteers are screened to ensure suitability to work with vulnerable individuals
  • Volunteers receive specialized training with ongoing support and supervision
  • Personal and financial information is kept secure and in strict confidence
  • Operating procedures are in place to protect program participants from loss and volunteers and program sponsors from liability
  • Easter Seals Oregon protects clients’ funds from loss due to mistake or misuse by program staff or volunteers