by News Director Jennifer Colton
541.567.6500 or 541.289.NEWS or KOHUnews@gmail.com


Hermiston City Council, School Board meeting
April 24, 2017
Hermiston City Council talking festival street during its work session at 6 this evening. The city could approve the final design of the street at its regular meeting follows at 7 with a public hearing on the creation and application of a Neighborhood Commercial Overlay Zone, that would be on the north side of Highland Avenue and SW 11th St. Votes expected to create the zone as well as to approve a bid from General Pacific to supply new water meters.
The meeting also including a presentation on Cindo de Mayo and National Law Enforcement Appreciation Week. Both of those in May, and, as usual, public comment will be taken. Read the full agenda here.
The Hermiston School District also meeting tonight. That work session begins at 6:30, and it will be at Armand Larive Middle School. You can find the full agenda packet here.

Rotary installs Peace Pole at BMCC
April 21, 2017
Colorful flowers, a Hermiston wind and spring sunshine surround the newly installed Peace Pole at the Eastern Oregon Higher Education Center this week. Representatives of Rotary International of Hermiston and BMCC students gathered for the installation Thursday afternoon.

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BMCC students and Hermiston Rotarians plant flowers around the base of the Peace Pole on Thursday afternoon

The pole has four sides, each proclaiming, “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in four languages: English, Spanish, Russian and Japanese.
"This is to start a conversation and continue a conversation because there is so much unrest in the world," said guest speaker Mike Caruso.
Caruso, of the Newberg Rotary club and co-chair of the region's Peacebuilder Committee spoke about the purpose of the pole and its history.
The first peace pole installed in Japan in 1976.
"Today there's more than 250,000 peace poles around the world, including even in Antarctica, Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for so many years," he said.
The pole at BMCC is the third Rotary Peace Pole to go up in Hermiston, joining poles on the Oxbow Trail and at Hermiston High School. A fourth peace pole, in McKenzie Park, was installed by Girl Scouts.
The Peace Pole capped the college's Arts and Culture Series, which brought a dozen speakers and presenters to the campus.

Holocaust survivor and author Manny Taiblum speaks with students and visitors after his presentation.

The Arts and Culture series is an annual event for BMCC.

Good Shepherd focuses on sleep
April 21, 2017
Good Shepherd Medical Center is focusing on sleep and issues with sleep for its employees and the community. Health Educator Kathy Thomas says the issue began with an employee survey where 80 percent of hospital employees say they only get 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night.
This week, Dawn Germain and Donna Carlson presented information on “A Good Night’s Rest” highlighting some information on why sleep is important.
"Drowsy Driving is the second leading cause of fatal car accidents," Carlson said, adding 27 percent of people say they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Sleep amount and quality also affects weight, aging, and overall health. When looking at children, toddlers should receive 11 to 14 hours of sleep a night, school children 9 to 11 , and adults, a minimum of seven hours of sleep. To help you get a good night sleep, they have a few tips:
Get exposure to bright sunlight, limit exposure to blue light three hours before bedtime and supplement strategically.The team says you should also sleep in a cool environment, practice mindfulness at least 20 minutes a day and exercise 30 minutes a day. Also, don’t eat within 3 hours of bedtime.

Robotics hit Houston
April 20, 2017
Today, two Umatilla county teams put their skills to the test from the FIRST Robotics Competition World Championships in Houston, Texas. They’re Umatilla's Team 4125 Confidential and 6442 The Modern Americans, from Pendleton. The teams are on the ground in Houston, and Umatilla's team headed to the competition this morning.
"They have had such an amazing season. We're really proud of them," Umatilla superintendent Heidi Sipe said. "For the high school team, this is the fourth time in their six year history to qualify for the World Championships, which is phenomenal."
The team visited NASA yesterday and will take on the competition today with both the team’s robot and for the chairman’s award, which focuses on the impact a team makes in its community.
"Competing for Chairman's at the World Finals is pretty incredible because if they win Chairman's, they then have a standing invitation to be at World's every year moving forward," Sipe said.
You can follow the robotics team today with live streaming or on the Umatilla Robotics Facebook page.

Study highlights vaccines
April 20, 2017
Despite high immunization rates in Oregon, Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, still spreads into new communities in outbreaks. State Epidemiologist Steve Robison says his recent study of Oregon's 2012 Pertussis outbreak found unvaccinated children got sick earlier.
"If you have something in common with other parents - same neighborhood, same schools, same social networks - then that actually opens a route for the disease to spread," Robison said.
Robison says the unvaccinated get sick first and are not helping build community protection from the disease.
Umatilla County Public Health Director Jim Setzer says the study highlights a known issue.
"It just serves, again, to underline the need to vaccinate your children. That immunizations and vaccinations are the cheapest, most effective way to prevent illnesses like Pertussis," he said.
Setzer says there are valid medical reasons for exceptions and evidence, including Robison’s study, shows illnesses travel more quickly through non-vaccinated communities.
"Parents shouldn't depend on herd immunity and the willingness of other children to protect their own children," he said.
Vaccinations and immunizations are available at Umatilla County public health offices. Immunization rates across Oregon are now at 90 percent but may need to be closer to 97 or 98 percent to have community protection across the state.

City takes over Conference Center
April 19, 2017
In a 6-0 vote with one abstention, the Hermiston City Council last night voted to turn over management of the Hermiston Conference and Community Center to Parks and Recreation and not renew the lease with the Greater Hermiston Area Chamber of Commerce.

The council chambers at Hermiston City Hall full and overflowing for the meeting as more than a dozen members of the community spoke out. Some comments focused on potential uses for the conference and community center or for the old Carnegie library, which the city has offered the lower level of to the chamber, but most focused on the value of the chamber of commerce. Phil Hamm, former chamber president spoke about the history of the community center and relationships with the city – and with the Eastern Oregon Trade and event center. Hamm said he appreciated the city offering the chamber a space but maybe the Carnegie basement wasn't the best option.
"I understand the city doesn't have a responsibility there, and I appreciate the city's willingness to provide that kind of space," he said. "I still think that hasn't been worked out quite well enough, and I'm still concerned about the general community's use of the conference center - not just a Boys and Girls Club or Parks and Rec."
Other local residents agreed the city should have taken more feedback and had more open discussions.
"Am I sad to think of it being repurposed and not continuing like that in community? Yes, but mostly? I'm disappointed," said Bryan Wolfe.
Much of the public comment centered on rumors, from the idea the city would tear down the conference center or move all city offices inside it. The city shooting down many of those and saying the intention is to continue to host community events as well as expand parks and recreation programs. City staff also reiterating they have no obligation to host the chamber of commerce. Many speakers said should focus on regional events with local events still taking place at the conference center.
Every member of the Hermiston City Council speaking after public comment. John Kirwan says the issue is complicated by emotion, and Mayor Dave Drotzmann says the action just begins the discussion.
The Chamber will continue to manage the Conference Center through the end of this year. Hermiston Parks and Recreation to take over management in 2018. Drotzmann says the city is interested in hearing other options about locations for the chamber offices.

Fire in Umatilla tri-plex
April 19, 2017
A fire Tuesday  morning in Umatilla. Members of the Umatilla Rural Fire Protection district responded within 10 minutes to the 600 block of E street to find the tri-plex building fully enflamed. 10 Firefighters responded, and six adults displaced. The Red Cross is provided emergency service

BMCC focuses on arts and culture
April 18, 2 017
This week, Blue Mountain Community College celebrates its Arts and Culture Festival. Events going on today on the Pendleton campus, but for Hermiston, the festival takes place tomorrow and Thursday with presentations, guest speakers, and events lasting all day.
Hermiston Center director Jacelyn Keys says they didn’t plan to have a theme this year but ended up with one that came out of the speakers. From refugees to social isolation, dogs to serve veterans to the first-hand account of a Holocaust survivor, the program centers on conflict, peace and learning from history.
"We chose not to have a theme this year, but one presented itself," Keys said. "We really get an opportunity to look at history and what these people are saying about history, about their lives, and how are we a part of the solution as individuals?"
The programs begin tomorrow at 10 in the morning with a presentation on Sex Trafficking in Thailand and end with Helday de la Cruz speaking on art and activism at 5. On Thursday, Hermiston events begin at 9 and end with a presentation on Rotary International’as Peace Pole Project and the installation of a peace pole at BMCC Hermiston.
BMCC is bringing its Arts and Culture festival to Hermiston on Wednesday and Thursday. See the complete schedule for Hermiston and Pendleton here.

Driver charged in Westland crash
April 18, 2017
Charges for a driver in Saturday evening’s collision on Westland Road near Agnew.
23-year-old Efrain Narcizo Mateos allegedly driving westbound on Westland when he drifted into the eastbound lane, hitting another vehicle, which tried to swerve out of the way but was hit on the passenger side. The driver and two passengers in the other car injured. One passenger transported by air ambulance to Kadlec, the other two taken by ground ambulance to Good Shepherd Medical Center.
Mateos charged with three counts of second-degree assault, driving under the influence, hit and run, reckless endangering and reckless driving.

Arts and Culture Schedule
April 17, 2017
BMCC is bringing its Arts and Culture festival to Hermiston on Wednesday and Thursday. See the complete schedule for Hermiston and Pendleton here.

Two shot in Stanfield
April 17, 2017
In Stanfield, two men shot at a party early Saturday morning. Officers responding to a report of a loud party on South Main Street found two adults had been shot, both with non-life threatening injuries. Both men treated at Good Shepherd Medical Center and later released. The Major Crime Team has been activated to assist in the investigation.

Commissioner talks Drug Court
April 17, 2017
Umatilla County Drug Court faced the chopping block in the county’s budget for the next fiscal year, but County Commissioner Bill Elfering says it isn’t going away completely.
"It's not gone away, but it's going to be morphed. We just can't continue the program we had without having the funding for it," he said. "The treatment will still be there, the reporting will still be there. They'll still be being treated, and they'll still have accountability."
Drug Court allows individuals convicted of drug or alcohol offenses to have treatment and counseling instead of going to prison.
Elfering sits on the Local Public Steering Committee, the group charged with distributing state funding for community justice. It’s also the group that decided the county could not continue funding the drug court program as it has existed because state funding continued to decrease.
"It's now reached the point where that program has a $500,000 deficit," Elfering says. "The governor's budget cut it way back this year, and we're short trying to run drug court the way we've been doing it."
Elfering says the reformation will save about $300,000. That does include cuts to personnel and downsizing the program, which has run as many as 100 participants

Youth take Way of the Cross
April 17, 2017
On Friday, a crowd filled the parking lot at Our lady of Angels and then at Butte Park to re-enact part of the story of Easter through “The Way of the Cross,” a presentation of the Living Stations of the Cross.
While the crowd participated with prayers, song and reverence, what the crowd might not have realized is that many of the volunteer actors are still in their teens. 18-year-old Edgar Guerrero says this marks the third year he’s taken a part in the Way of the Cross, and growing up, he knew he wanted to get involved.
"I feel if the younger generation sees us doing this now, they'll want to do it when they grow older and will want to get into the church more," he said.
That same motivation brought Matthew Pihl to the Way of the Cross. At 14, he took the role of Jesus, blood, cross, and all.
"The younger generation is the future of our church," he said. "This is my first-I've always helped out-but this year I took the role of Jesus...I'm pretty nervous, but I'm also excited."
Vincent Trevino is a co-coordinator of the event. He says Field and other young participants volunteer every year.
"There are a lot of youth in Hermiston that want to do good and show what Jesus actually did for us," he said. "This is one way for the youth here in our Parish to participate and show other youth that there is a good path also."

Kissler arrested for rape
April 16, 2017
Just before 5 in the morning on Saturday, the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a rape in the Irrigon area. 35-year-old Jason Kane Kissler arrested on rape and other related charges. He remains in Umatilla County Jail with a bail of $500,000.

Another principal search for Hermiston
April 16, 2017
Hermiston searching for another principal. Desert View Elementary School principal Michael Roberts announcing he is heading to Scottsdale, Arizona to be the director of elementary programming.
Roberts has been at the helm of Desert View for four years, and he says his family will miss Hermiston and the school district staff. The Hermiston School district also looking to fill Devin Grigg’s position as that principal is also heading to Arizona.
The district hosting a “meet and greet” for the four principal finalists at Sunset Elementary this Thursday from 2:45 to 4:15 in the afternoon.

Harkenrider groundbreaking set
April 13, 2017
Coming up next week, a ground-breaking for the Harkenrider Center. That ceremony set for 5:30 on April 18th.
It begins the process of constructing the new community and senior center. Larry Fetter says they are giving the contractor twelve months to complete the project, but they don’t think it will take that long – they’ll know more once construction begins. It will also impact driving in the construction zone, and, once the building is complete, they'll work to renovate and redesign the parking area.
Fetter calls the current parking area “a bit of a disaster” The new parking plan will have landscaping and will serve the library, the building department and the Harkenrider Center. Fetter says they contemplated making the parking lot one level, but opted for improvements to the two-level system.
The city is also working closely with the Hermiston school District on the project. The district owns the property of the current fairgrounds as well as the property the Harkenrider Center will sit on. Assistant Superintendent Bryn Browning says its been a partnership since the beginning and they have worked through some options to help ease the transition, including offering holidays meals at Hermiston High School.
The Hermiston Senior Center will have a temporary kitchen at Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church.
Follow the link to see the floor plan for the Harkenrider Center.

Sports scams return to Hermiston
April 12, 2017
The Hermiston Chamber of Commerce and the Hermiston School District releasing statements this week about a company fraudulently contacting business owners.
In the scam, the salesman claims to represent Hermiston High School and is selling - or needs to fill an invoice for - sports poster ads.
Larry Usher, Director of Athletics and Activities for the Hermiston School District, had contacted the company several weeks ago. At that time, the company said they would stay out of Hermiston, but reports again this week. There is a complaint on file with the Oregon Department of Justice under file number FF5392-16. You may add to the case file if you are contacted by the fraudulent vendor.
Usher says any advertising or sponsorship requests for the Athletic Department would come directly from him or Lindy Thompson, the athletics secretary.
And, as a reminder, all calendar ads for Hermiston High sports have been sold for this year. Businesses won’t be contacted for sponsorship until he beginning of the 2017-8 school year.

Good Shepherd launches virtual clinic
April 12, 2017
Good Shepherd Healthcare System is launching its Virtual Care Clinic this week: The ability to meet with a healthcare provider over your computer, phone, tablet, etc. from you home or wherever you are. Good Shepherd Spokesman Nick Bejarano says they are partnering with Carena Health on the Virtual Care Clinic because of access to care.
"We realize that there's definite need in our community for emergency care services, and this extends beyond that because they're able to treat a plethora of illness and injuries that you don't have to go to the emergency department for," he says.
Bejarano says it will also, then, freeup staff in the emergency department to handle emergencies and accidents with less cases of colds, sore throats and ear aches.
Robert Bernstein, medical director of the Good Shepherd Virtual Health Clinic, says if an issue is something to be concerned about, provide some treatment and, in some situations, even prescribe medication.
"Basically it's a consultation," he says. "It's a way for somebody to talk to a family medicine doctor or nurse practitioner from the convenience of their couch at home or their office space, and they can do that 24/7."
Using the virtual care clinic costs a flat rate of $35. You can find out more here.

Hermiston City Council to vote on Chamber move
School District looks at high school plan
April 10, 2017
The Hermiston City Council expected to vote on Conference Center Management tonight during the regular meeting. The proposal brings the conference center under the umbrella of the Parks & Recreation Department and offers space in the renovated Carnegie Library to the Chamber of Commerce for $1 for five years. According to meeting documents, the council has two options: accept the proposed action or re-affirm the existing contract with the chamber of commerce to operate the conference center through Dec. 31 of 2018. City administration is recommending the first option. The packet also includes a letter from former City Manager Ed Brookshier saying the time has come to re-task the conference center property to best meet the needs of the community.
The agenda also includes a request to apply for grant funding from the Federal Aviation Administration to complete an update to the Hermiston Airport’s long-range plan. Public comment will be taken during the meeting as well.
That meeting begins at 7 tonight at Hermiston City Hall. You can read the whole agenda here.
The Hermiston School Board also meeting tonight. That meeting at 6:30 at the Hermiston School District Office on SW 11th. The meeting study items include an update on the Hermiston High School Demolition and Site Expansion Plan – that involves demolition on the former Umatilla County Fairgrounds – as well as an impact study on athletics. Click here for a full agenda.

Umatilla Robots heading to Worlds
March 9, 2017
Umatilla’s Team 4125 Confidential is heading to Houston.
The team competing in the Pacific Northwest District Championship in Cheney, Washington this weekend, and, although they didn’t qualify based on the robot’s performance – they did again take home the Chairman’s Award, which means, they’re heading to the World Championships in Houston.
Here's a look at the award-winning video:

Hermiston Recycling Event tomorrow
April 7, 2017
The Hermiston Recycling Event runs from 9-3 tomorrow in the gravel parking lot at Umatilla Electric Cooperative on Elm Avenue, and Hermiston Parks and Recreation Director Larry Fetter says they’ll take in almost anything. You can find a list of items on the event page of the city's website.
Items do need to be separated before arriving. Bins will be provided, and volunteers will be on hand to help unload items, especially large ones. Fetter says tires have been one of the most popular items in past years, and this year, they will take tires on or off the rims.
Around Hermiston, crews of volunteers from “I Love My City” also hosting a spring clean up this weekend. There’s no registration required if you’d like to join.
You can come out on Saturday and watch for the groups of bright red, “I love my city” shirts.You can find out more at Ilovehermiston.com.

TRCI inmate dies
April 7, 2017
An inmate death this morning at Two Rivers Correctional Institution.
52-year-old Michael Shaw found unresponsive in his bed at 5:45 this morning. He was pronounced dead at 6:32. Shaw jailed since July of 2022 on one count of first-degree sex abuse out of Marion County. His earliest release date was Sept. 28, 2025.

ALMS awarded $3,500 grant
April 7, 2017
Armand Larive Middle School awarded a $3,555 Fuel Up to Play 60 grant.
The grant funds have purchased a computer, accessories and software for ALTV. The lack of computer equipment limited ALTV students when and what projects they could do. The new computer equipment will enable ALTV students to make more Food Hero time lapse recipe videos to help educate students on healthy recipes.
Armand Larive Middle School teamed up with and Angie Treadwell, Family and Community Health Umatilla-Morrow SNAP-Ed Program Coordinator for Oregon State University Extension Center to apply for the grant.
The Fuel Up to Play 60 Grant is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by the National Dairy Council and NFL, in collaboration with the USDA, to help encourage today’s youth to lead healthier lives. You can learn more at www.fueluptoplay60.com.

ODOT reminds drivers of deer migration
April 7, 2017
It is the time of year to watch for deer on Oregon roadways. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) advising motorists to be on the lookout for migrating mule deer, especially on US97 and other Oregon highways
The bulk of the deer migration starts in early April and extends until mid-May this season in Central Oregon primarily with some stretches of Eastern Oregon affected. ODOT expects the deer to be moving in large numbers through the hotspot corridors along US97, US20 and OR31. Most of the animals will be traveling during the dawn and dusk hours, but motorists can expect to see them at any time.
Find more information on ODOT's wildlife Crossings page.

City taking over Conference Center
April 6, 2017
The city of Hermiston is taking over the Hermiston Conference Center in 2018.
The Conference Center has been the home of the Greater Hermiston Chamber of Commerce for two decades and is contracted with the city until the end of the year. Hermiston Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says the City has offered the chamber use of the lower level of the old Carnegie Library on Gladys. That building currently houses the city’s building department on its upper floor.

The City of Hermiston has offered the chamber use of the lower level of the former library.

"The city is in the process of investing $125,000 to renovate the lower level of the building," Morgan says. "That would be approximately 1,000 sq feet of high quality office space. That space will be available to the chamber in January of 2018 if they choose to use it."
Morgan says the plan is to have the city’s Parks and Recreation Department move into the office space and manage the conference center.
"Long-term is still a little in flux, but make no mistake: for 2018 and likely several years after, it'll still be operating as a conference center," he said.
Chamber Executive Director Debbie Pedro says the chamber will likely move in late December but they haven’t decided where. Pedro was notified of the change this past Tuesday. Pedro says the community associates the conference center with the chamber and they’ll now begin looking at what the next steps will be.
"Our board will be coming together in May for a planning session, and we're really excited to see what it's like to just be a chamber," she said.

The city has paid the chamber a management fee for running the conference center, and Pedro says the chamber was profitable and they’ve put in more than $100,000 worth of investments into the building, including purchasing the new reader board, new carpeting in the meeting rooms and offices and helped fund the new sound system.
Pedro says their concern about the city’s proposed location is being visible in the community. Morgan says if the chamber chooses not to use the conference center, the city will use it for space for other departments.

Third-graders topple Battle of the Books
April 6, 2017
A team from Hermiston heads to a state competition this Saturday. They’ve beat out other students at their school, their city, and their region to claim a spot in the state match for Oregon Battle of the Books - And they’re all 8 and 9 years old.

They’re called the Book Bombers. The third grade team is Cate Doherty, Ellie Larsen, Glyn Lystrup and Caden Lloyd, After winning their school competition, the students moved on to regionals in La Grande where they beat teams of 10-year-olds, 11-year-olds and even 12-year-olds. Cate says they did it by learning from other teams.
"It was a lot of fun seeing other people and how they were stronger in some points than us," Cate says. "I think that really helped us. We weren't strong in a lot of points, so once we started watching, we got those bonds together, and I think we're a lot stronger now."
To compete in the elementary Battle of the Books challenges, students in third through fifth grade had to read 16 assigned titles. On the Rocky Heights team, Three of the students read all 16 books for the competition with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Matilda taking the top of the favorite lists. Glyn says the reading is the easy part.
"Why did we do Battle of the Books? For most of us, the thing was that we want to read," he says.
The students have given up their recesses and lunch periods to study and practice, and it’s paid off – they conquered a 16-team elimination bracket to take the top spot in the Region 6 Competition and it might be the first time a third-grade team has won at the Eastern Oregon Regionals.
"We're trying to go back and see when a third-grade team has won," she says. "We're really proud of them. I think they've done a great job, and it's a great testament to the program."
Team coach and teacher Melissa Doherty says the team has worked with study guides by librarian Kristi Smalley and they’re getting ready for the big battle this Saturday at Chemeketa Community College. All four students say they hope to keep their team moving next year regardless of how state goes.

Court updates: Pleas in cattle, meth cases
April 5, 2017
On Monday, Michael Hockensmith accepting a deal in Umatilla County Circuit Court in the ongoing animal neglect case involving a mismanaged herd near Hermiston. Last week, the county sold the bulk of the cattle at the auction at Northwest Livestock.
Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says the deal ends a time-consuming process for the sheriff’s office that lasted for much of the winter and through the calving season. On Monday,
Hockensmith convicted of five counts of first-degree animal neglect in order to have the remaining charges dismissed. The 180 days of jail was suspended, but He has been given five years of bench probation as part of the sentencing, meaning he cannot own animals for five years. An exception was granted for a horse he already owned that was determined to be in good condition despite the neglect of the cattle.He changed his plea to guilty Monday and paid $600 in fees and fines.
Rowan says the final cattle likely to be sold today and the sheriff’s office now looks forward to the next challenge.
In other court news, Pendleton business owner Jason Lybrand pleading guilty yesterday to the felony possession of methamphetamine.
The charges came from phone calls Lybrand made in September of 2016 while incarcerated. He asked his mother to meet with a man who was supposed to purchase five pounds of marijuana. She declined, and detectives applied for a search warrant of Lybrand’s truck. In addition to the five pounds of marijuana, they also found 11 grams of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
Lybrand sentenced to 3 years of formal supervision, and seized case of 7,500 dollars – plus a fine of $3,000 – to go to BENT.

Hermiston Cyclist killed by semi
April 4, 2017
A Hermiston man killed last night after being struck by a semi at the intersection of Highway 395 and Elm.

Fatal cyclist.JPG (23376 bytes)

Hermiston Police saying a semi-truck turning off Highway 395 onto Elm Avenue struck the 55-year-old cyclist just after 8:15 last night. The semi continued to travel eastbound on Highway 730 until it was stopped at the Washington border. The semi has been processed for evidence, and Oregon State Police conducting a crash reconstruction.
The cyclist pronounced deceased at the scene, and HPD chaplains offered counseling the family.
“At this point it is too early in the investigation to speculate all factors involved for what transpired. Because of the dangers at this intersection we do have it under video surveillance and this incident was partially captured. We will use that evidence and other information gleaned during the investigation to present to the district attorney’s office," Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says. “Other factors considered in matters such as this will be speed, visibility of the bicyclist, any potential impairment from all parties involved, witness statements, etc.”

Tickets for Umatilla Boosters
April 4, 2017
The 10th annual Umatilla Boosters Steak Dinner and Auction this Saturday at the Hermiston Conference Center. The
Booster member Melissa Webb says they’re hoping for a crowd of 200.
"Tickets are actually limited this year," she says. "We're concerned we're going to sell out, which is a great thing."
The event starts at 5:30 this Saturday. It will include both live and silent auction items as well as raffle items, as well as the ticket.
Tickets are available from any Boosters member at $25.
"There's a handful of tickets left. At the door they will be $30, so if you're interested in going, definitely talk to one of us. We'd love to sell out," she says.
Webb says that does include hometown mortgage. If the the event does not sell out, tickets will be available at the door. You can find out more at the Umatilla Booster Club’s facebook page.

Dairy passes permit hurdle
April 3, 2017
The Oregon Department of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Quality granting what they call the most protective permit of surface water and groundwater to date. It’s for the proposed confined animal feeding operation, or CAFO, in Morrow County that could have up to 30,000 animals. A release from ODA suggests Lost Valley Farm will have 16,500 cattle in the first year before ramping up over a three-year period. ODA saying the permitting for Lost Valley Farm has been a two-year process receiving more than 4,000 public comments. The organizations saying the farm is near Threemile Canyon Farms, already one of the largest dairies in the state, and will be a similar size prompting the strict water regulations. The dairy has an agreement to purchase drinking and process water from the Port of Morrow if needed. The release says the dairy to bring in 125 to 150 jobs to Morrow County and will likely be inspected three to four times a year.

Fire retirement, promotion
April 3, 2017
Umatilla County Fire District 1 celebrated the retirement of Battalion Chief Jeff Adkins on Thursday. Adkins has served with the Hermiston Fire Department, now Umatilla County Fire District 1, since 1991. and Friday, naming Capital JW Roberts as the newest Battalion Chief for the organization. Roberts will be the shift commander for B-shift starting tomorrow. He will continue as the EMS coordinator until the district hires that position this fall or winter.

UCSO sells cattle
April 1, 2017
The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office selling the once-neglected herd they’ve been managing since January. The sale bringing in just over $140,000, which will allow the county to pay off what it’s spent on the herd and replenish the sheriff’s office account before the remaining money goes to the cattle’s owner, Michael Hockensmith. Hockensmith facing more than 200 charges of animal abuse for the condition of the herd, which the sheriff’s office says was mismanaged and malnourished.

Umatilla Airman dies in Syria
March 31, 2017
25-year-old Air Force Staff Sgt. Austin Bieren named as the security forces airman who died in Syria this week. From Umatilla, he was assigned to the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. Officials did not immediately release any additional information about what happened to Bieren, but an initial news release said the death appeared to be the result of natural causes.

Umatilla Robotics host fundraisers
March 31, 2017
Umatilla High School's Robotics team will hosting fundraisers over the next week to raise money for upcoming competitions in Cheney, Wash., and – potentially – in and Houston, Texas.
April 1st, Team Confidential will have a Can/Bottle drive starting at 8:00 a.m. across the street from Harvest Foods in Umatilla. On April 4, they will be hosting a Potato Feed and Auction at Umatilla High School, 6-8:00 p.m. Tickets for the Potato Feed and Auction are $10 each or $30 for 4. You can email the team at umatillarobo@gmail.com if you are interested in buying tickets for the feed or helping the FRC team by donating.
The team competing in the Pacific Northwest Regionals in Cheney April 6-8, and if they qualify, they’ll head to the world finals in Houston.

Hermiston supports housing
March 29, 2017
The City of Hermiston wants to add housing, and they’re taking a step to help it along.
Hermiston Assistant City Manager Morgan points to the decision of Auto Zone to go with Pasco instead of Hermiston as an example of the need for housing. The retailer was looking to hire 250 people but chose the Washington location because Hermiston didn't have a large enough available work force.
While AutoZone chose to locate in the Tri-Cities because of the population size, Morgan says the number of commuters coming into Umatilla County from Benton and Franklin counties had increased by 1,000 people a day in four years. Although Hermiston has had growth and new construction, Morgan says it isn’t enough.
"We haven't been adding enough houses to keep up with the demand," Morgan says.
To promote development, the city is working with the owners of about 40 acres of property off Diagonal Road. The property has been zoned industrial since the 1960s but hasn’t developed while homes spring up around it. The city’s now going to pay half the costs of rezoning that property to residential and commercial. It’s not an immediate plan, but it’s a start.
"This is probably four or five years down the road before you see any dirt being turned on any housing development," he says. "What we need to do is make sure we're setting the stage so if a developer is interested, it would be financially viable."
Morgan says the property could hold up to 100 units, whether that’s single-family homes or multi-family structures.

Boardman Workforce Center readies
March 29, 2017
In less than a week, the Boardman Workforce Training Center opens. It’s a campus for Blue Mountain Community College, and staff spending this spring break week moving from the former location to the new facility next to the SAGE center. The first day of the new center is the first day of spring term – and that’s Monday.
Morrow County School District Superintendent Dirk Dirkson says the opening is a great partnership for the community.
"We're really looking forward to coordinating with Blue Mountain, the Port of Morrow and all of the businesses that are interested in this development - and all of the students from our three high schools, Heppner, Irrigon, and Boardman," Dirkson says.
The facility is the first of the college’s major bond construction projects to be completed. It’ll house BMCC’s industrial systems technologies, data center tech and early childhood education programs.
Starting Monday, the center will be open from 10 in the morning until 9 in the evening Monday through Thursday and 10 to 5 on Fridays.

Driver dies near Adams
March 28, 2017
One driver dead after a three-vehicle wreck on Highway 11 near Adams Tuesday, March 28. Officials saying the woman was the driver of an SUV involved in the wreck with two semis. The highway closed for several hours during the investigation and HazMat cleanup of diesel. Umatilla County The occupants of the semis were not injured. The woman’s identity has not been released.

HPD amps up road enforcement
March 27, 2017
Be careful with your morning coffee and when you drop kids off at school next week: The Hermiston Police Department starts upping enforcement today, March 27, of a problem Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston has been going on for months.
"The issue at hand that we've been dealing with for months - educating the public - is that it's not OK to stop in the roadway while waiting to get into a drive-thru," Edmiston says. "Effective today, our education campaign is over, and I've directed the officers that they're to use enforcement when warranted."
Edmiston says the issue boils down to common sense and respect, and the department has had an education period for the past few weeks, letting people know they are violating the law – and that changes today. The enforcement applies to all of Hermiston, including at schools and businesses. Edmiston says the campaign did start because of traffic at the Hermiston Dutch Bros.
"The last thing the police department wants to do is adversely affect any business," Edmiston says, adding he has met face-to-face with the owner. "He's extremely receptive. He understands there's a problem."
Edmiston says the property owner has already submitted preliminary plans to the city to expand the space in the drive through. We’ll have more with Edmiston on today’s Odds and Ends Program.

Hermiston Council talks budget
March 27, 2017
A meeting tonight of the Hermiston City Council, and the budget a topic during this meeting as well. The council to have a public hearing on the proposed supplemental budget before voting on it. Also on the agenda: an update on EOTEC and an intergovernmental agreement between the city and the urban renewal agency about the festival street.
The council also to proclaim April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month
That meeting begins at 7 at Hermiston City Hall, and you can find the full agenda here.

Gospel Homecoming set for Sunday
March 23, 2017
On Sunday night, a gospel homecoming at 6:30 at the Hermiston Conference Center.
Organizer Steve Walker says it comes from a desire to bring people together over music, regardless of Christian denomination.
"We get together for this, most of it's music, and a chance to get together, rub shoulders, and maybe meet some new friends," Walker says.
The event began in 2007 but took a few years off. It's coming back this year. The evening will include musicians, a magician, performers, and sing-a-longs with classic gospel music lead by Doug Fernbacker.
"As a Christian, you don't know people in other churches, you don't know other groups," Fernbacker said. "This is kind of a common thing - the music - between all of the denominations.
The event is free and nondenominational. It will include some refreshments during the intermission. For more information, call Walker at 541-571-1090

Harkenrider Center gets a contractor
March 22, 2017
On Monday, the Hermiston City Council approved a contract with G2 Construction for the building the Harkenrider Center, the new senior center planned for downtown Hermiston. Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says the bid came in about 80,000 lower than expected.
"The bids mean that we're going to be able to get more work done than we would have otherwise," he says. "We're going to be able to include an elevator into the basement now."
Morgan says the planning has included an unfinished basement, but having the elevator already included in initial construction will save the center money down the road.
"The basement will not be occupied for three to five years, but that $80,000 bid item for the elevator means we'll be able to pay for that now instead of trying to raise $80,000 when we want to develop that in the future," he says.
The total bid approved by the council just under 2.3 million dollars. Much of funding comes from a federal Community Development Block Grant. A pre-construction meeting scheduled for April 11 to review the construction schedule on the project.

Savings Match program meeting tonight
March 22, 2017
Tonight (March 22) a parent meeting for the Match College Savings program at Hermiston High School. College Bound Coordinator Liz Marvin says its for "The great thing about this program is that for ever $1 a student saves, they receive $5 in match," she said.
The program will match up to $1,600 of a students savings, which would give the student a total of $9,600 toward higher education.
It’s a financial need based program, and Marvin says preference given to freshmen and sophomores – and spots are limited. Marvin says they only have six slots open this term, and the applications have to be submitted within the next couple weeks.
To learn more about the program and see if your student qualifies, that meeting at 6 in the Hermiston High School Library. The presentation available in both English and Spanish. Contact Liz Marvin at 667-6412 for more information.

Council considers EOTEC, leases
March 20, 2017
Tonight, the Hermiston City Council meeting at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center. The evening begins with a work session to discuss EOTEC with the Umatilla County Commissions at 6, followed by the regular council meeting at 7. Both meetings at the EOTEC event center.
On the council agenda, ordinances to clean up wording in the Hermiston Code of Ordinances, amend the transient room tax, and consider approval of long-term leases between the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center and the Umatilla County Fair and Farm-City Pro Rodeo. They’ll also consider awarding G2 construction the contract for the Harkenrider Senior Center.

Read the full agenda here.

Umatilla robotics heading to PNW Finals
March 20, 2017
This weekend, 57 students and four chaperones from Umatilla headed out to Ellensburg, Washington, for a regional event with the FIRST Robotics Competition. Saturday, Team 4125 Confidential ended with a second-place overall finish and the Chairman’s Award in hand.
Umatilla Superintendent Heidi Sipe says the Chairman’s Award is the highest honor a team can receive during a regional competition. Now that the team has qualified for the Pacific Northwest Finals, they’ll look toward placing well enough to make it to the world finals, which will be in Houston this year.
The success of the team has lead to some impressive growth in its six years: from nine members in the first year to 57 this year.
Here's a look at the reveal of the robot for this year's competition:

You can follow the progress of Umatilla's FIRST Robotics Team and their robot - Dewey - on their website or Facebook page.

Store closures announced: Del's and JCP
March 17, 2017
Del’s Feed and Farm Supply to close. Tractor Supply Company announcing yesterday the Del’s location in Hermiston will close this fall.
“On behalf of the entire Del’s team, we are extremely grateful to our Hermiston customers for their many years of patronage,” said Jeremy Miller, district manager of the Hermiston store.
In addition to the Hermiston store, all seven remaining Pacific Northwest locations will close later this year. The company will honor all product warranties at Tractor Supply locations.
In other store closures, both JCPenney locations in Eastern Oregon on the list of recent cuts announced today (March 17).
JCPenney closing 138 stores in June, and that does include five of the 14 locations in Oregon. The department store closing locations in Pendleton, La Grande, the Dalles, Grants Pass and Astoria.
The Pendleton store has been in its location on Main Street since 1911, and is the oldest surviving store in the company. The La Grande Store has operated at its site, also on Main Street, since 1914.
Kate Coultas, a senior manager in JCPenney's corporate communications division, says approximately 5,000 positions nationwide are impacted by the closures: The Pendleton store has 21 employees; the la Grande store has 13.
Coultas says she does not yet know what will happen to the store buildings after the closures in June.
The store in Kennewick location not included in the closures.

Search and Rescue seeking members
March 17, 2017
For the Umatilla County Search and Rescue Unit, the sunshine and warmer temperatures signal the start of a busy season as people head into the forests and mountains –and potential risk.
"It's important (to have Search and Rescue) because of the numbers of areas we have, particularly forested areas, where people go up and end up getting lost or misguided," Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says. "This gives us an opportunity to go up there and bring them safely back home."
The SAR teams have also helped out with searches within towns as well as with some major crimes. And, right now, they’re looking for more members, from radio operators to water rescue.

The unit is in its training mode right now, preparing for spring. Twenty members of the county search and rescue team spent a morning last week hiking at Grecian Heights Park in Pendleton, carrying a back that includes 20 pounds of survival and first aid gear.
Search and Rescue volunteers must be able to pass nine core competencies including land navigation, physical fitness, and first aid.
"We're always looking for more volunteers. It's a great group of people, very dedicated," Rowan said.
Umatilla County SAR is a non-profit organization. If you’re interested in joining Umatilla County Search and Rescue, you can contact Rowan or Sgt. Dwight Johnson at 541-966-3611.

Made to Thrive spring cleaning
March 16, 2017
This weekend, an event to support Made to Thrive – and help kick start your spring cleaning.
Made to Thrive was created to keep at risk and foster youth involved in activities, including sports, music, and dance. They’re funded through grants and private donations, as well as fundraisers. One of those is this weekend.
It’s the fourth annual Garage Sale Fundraiser, and it’s in two stages: drop off and sale. The drop-off is this Friday (March 17) at the Hermiston Conference Center. Made to Thrive founder Kris Dammeyer says if you need any furniture picked up, you can contact Made to Thrive to schedule a pickup, although they do prefer items be dropped off if possible.
The sale takes place the next day, Saturday, also at the conference center, from 8 to 2, and Dammeyer says it’s a big boost for both Made to Thrive and for the shoppers.
"It's all donation based," she says. "We don't put prices on anything except some of the really big items."
You can contact Made to Thrive for more information by stopping at the office on Second Street, online, or by calling 541-289-2343.

Heppner goes green this weekend
March 15, 2017
This weekend, Wee Bit O’Ireland festival returns to Heppner. From March 16 through March 19, it’s the 35th annual event, and it starts tomorrow night. The Wee Bit o' Ireland opens with Vendors Square tomorrow, that’s the neighborhood Center on Main Street across from the City Park, and A Rose in Bloom play performance. The vendor square stays open through Friday, where an Irish Dinner and 3 on 3 basketball tournament highlight the schedule, but the main day is Saturday.
"Saturday starts early with the sheepdog trials. If you've never been to sheepdog trial before, it's really very interesting. There's a lot of skill with the dogs and the trainers," says Sheryll Bates, executive director of the Heppner Chamber. "Then, of course, we have food, children's activities."
Bates says the favorite events will return this year, including the welly toss and the leprechaun run as well as the revival of the O’Planky team relay race competition.
"And of course we always have our Great Green Parade as kind of a send-off for all the Irish, and you'll see lots of green there," she says.
Bates added if you don't have green to wear, you can always purchase some in Heppner and participate.
Events continue through Sunday where the festival ends with Road Bowling at 1:37 in the afternoon.
Find the full schedule of events at the chamber website.

Hutchinson-Talaski takes plea deal
March 14, 2017
Karen Hutchinson-Talaski sentenced in Umatilla Circuit Court yesterday afternoon.
Hutchinson-Talaski taking a plea deal, pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree theft, one of second-degree theft, in a deal that keeps the former director of the Umatilla Chamber of Commerce out of jail.
The deal allows Hutchinson-Talaski to avoid jail time by having the 180 days suspended as long as she completes three years of probation, writes an apology letter to Umatilla and its chamber and completes 80 hours of community service. She also has to pay restitution to the chamber to the tune of $8,057.
Hutchinson-Talaski accused of withdrawing funds from chamber accounts.
Representatives of the Umatilla Chamber Board provided a statement during the sentencing:
“The fact that she only receives three years probation, restitution, and community service – that’s not enough. The board does not feel that’s enough to, for lack of a better term, teach her a lesson.”
As part of the deal, Hutchinson-Talaski will also have to take theft counseling. As part of the deal, the remaining charges were dropped.

Free lunch on immunity and nutrition this week
March 14, 2017
This Thursday is the Lunch and Learn for National Nutrition Month. The lunch is free and open to anyone; it begins at noon in Conference Rooms 1 and 2 at Good Shepherd Medical Center.
Katrina Larson, with Diabetes and Nutrition at Good Shepherd Medical Center, will lead the presentation.
"We're going to be focusing on what you can do to boost your immune system," Larson says. "It's been a particularly rough year for a lot of people as far as sickness is concerned, so we wanted to talk to people about how you can support your best immunity and try to defend your body against some of those germs and bugs that are making people so sick.
Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

One meeting on, one postponed
March 13, 2017
The Hermiston School District meeting at 6:30 p.m. today in the district boardroom. The district will recognize its classified employees of the year, continue its discussion of budget parameters and meet in an executive, closed-door session to talk about union negotiations. Find the full agenda here.
There is, however, no Hermiston City Council meeting tonight. That meeting has been rescheduled for next Monday, and it’ll take place at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center instead of Hermiston City Hall. A work session begins at 6 p.m., followed by the regular city council meeting at 7.

Residents sound off on bond
March 13, 2017
The Hermiston School District will have a $104 million bond proposal on the ballot for Hermiston voters this May. Friday, local residents took the opportunity to sound off about the request.
"We're going to end up paying more in property taxes than we do in principle and interest on our houses," said Geri Weigum. "That was supposed to be guaranteed 10 years on that last bond, and those projections? There's no way you're going to go that whole time without wanting more money."
Weigum asked the district to consider other, creative options, like year-round school before asking for a tax increase. She - and others at the noon presentation on Friday, one of three the district offered - says she supports students but doesn't think the community can afford it.
"You guys are taxing us to death," Weigum added.
Other residents supported the bond or had questions answered. One of the most common was the issue of expansion at Hermiston High School - and how long that would resolve the issue. In one case, Board member Karen Sherman answered the question.
"Realistically, as we look at these projections, we have to be thinking about a new high school," Jim Stearns said.
An expanded wing to Hermiston High School is one of the largest ticket items on the bond proposal. Others include building a new elementary school on Theater Lane and replacing both Rocky Heights and Highland Hills Elementary.
Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann spoke out in favor of the bond.
"It's either larger class sizes, in modulars, or we as a community decide we can afford an extra $13 a month and we have facilities which are appropriate to teach our kids in," he said.
Drotzmann is a former school board member whose children went through Hermiston Schools but have since graduated.
If it passes, the bond expected to increase property taxes by a about a dollar per one-thousand of property value.

Firefighters battle stairs to raise funds
March 10, 2017
This weekend, firefighters with Umatilla County will tackle 69 flights of stairs, 1311 steps and 788 feet elevation – in full turnout gear.
"When you're in the stairwell with all those other firefighters, it gets really hot. It's just putting one foot in front of the other for each step," he said. "That's the hardest part.
Umatilla County Fire District 1 team captain Corey Gorham has participated for seven years in the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb. A team of 10 local firefighters will take the challenge on Sunday in Seattle to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Gorham says he first became involved after his daughter was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012.
"I've seen what that organization does for patients and patients' families," Gorham said. "I appreciate what that organization does, and I want to continue to give back."
The Stairclimb is a challenge for the firefighters, but it is primarily a fundraiser. The team has met its $10,000 fundraising goal, but there is no donation cap. Donations will be accepted through the end of the month.
"It's a fundraiser for a organization that I believe in. All the money that's raised by individuals and teams goes to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
You can find out more at the event website,and donate on the team page for Umatilla County Fire District 1.

Sandstone Middle School has backpack food drive
March 9, 2017
Tomorrow (March 10) is also the last day of the Sandstone Middle School Backpack Canned Food Drive. The drive started Feb. 27 and runs through Friday. Students at Sandstone Middle School came up with the drive after finding out more about the Agape House backpack program, which sends food home with local students who might not have food at home on the weekends. The team has even created a video to promote the drive.

All items collected will go directly to Hermiston families in need.
The school is collecting:
Canned spaghetti or Ravioli (any brand) 15 oz.
Chicken noodle soup (any brand) 10oz.
Boxed macaroni and cheese (any brand) 7.25 oz.
Canned tuna fish packed in water (any brand) 5 oz.
100 % juice boxes or pouch (any flavor) 5 oz.
Instant oat meal packages
Applesauce packets or cups (any brand) 3-6 oz.
Ritz crackers (these must be tubes of crackers)
Sandwich cracker packs (peanut butter and cheese flavors)
Top Ramen noodles (packs preferred, not cups, no spicy flavors please)
Peanut butter in a plastic jar (any brand) 15-18 oz.
Small bags of chips 1-3 oz.
Small boxes of raisins 1.4 oz.
Chewy granola bars (any flavor, any brand)

American Dream comes to life tomorrow
March 9, 2017
Hermiston students are learning the American Dream, and they’re ready to put it on display. It’s part of a musical put on by the third grade classes at Rocky Heights Elementary. The students take on different roles in the nation’s history and will be performing the musical tomorrow in the auditorium at Armand Larive Middle School.

American Dream.JPG (84662 bytes)
Third-graders prepare for "The American Dream Musical" during a dress rehearsal on Tuesday.

"There is nothing so moving as watching over 90 third-graders sing their hearts out, say words like "Emancipation Proclamation," and every student, whether they're shy, come to life. It will move you," says teacher Jessica Campbell.
Campbell says it's a lot of work, but it's worth it. children memorize 10 songs, the preamble to the Constitution as well as speaking lines.
"We do this because it's something they really remember," she says. "It's more than just reading a book or talking about it or seeing pictures. It really helps them connect to these characters and the time period."
Rocky Heights Principal Jared Farley says the musical is a tradition at Rocky, and it’s also a way to intertwine subjects.
"The kids get an opportunity to engage in something they might not otherwise be able to, to grow performance-wise, but also still learn about what they should be learning: social studies and American history," Farley says. "The opportunity to bring these things together is fantastic, and that's why we keep doing it."
The performances are open to the public tomorrow. They’ll be at 9 in the morning and at 6:30 tomorrow night.
They will have a live feed for the evening performance, if you can’t attend but would still like to experience the musical. That’s streaming from the district’s website.

District forums on proposed bond
March 9, 2017
Hermiston School District will hold a community forums to share
district accomplishments, information on student growth challenges, safety and security concerns, an overview of aging infrastructure and facts about the proposed 2017 bond.
Three sessions are scheduled for Friday, March 10, in the Hermiston School
District Boardroom: 7 a.m., 12 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Translation services will be available.
All who are interested in learning about the different aspects of the bond, or who have questions, comments or concerns are encouraged to attend.

Groups seek teen input
March 8, 2017
From Umatilla’s Teen Advisory Council to Agape House, local groups are reaching out to young people. Last night, the Umatilla City Council made the Youth Advisory Council a standing advisory board to the city council, and meanwhile, the Eastern Oregon Mission, which covers Agape House and Martha’s House is looking for young people.
Board Member Larry Hansen says board decided a year ago to open the board to high school juniors and seniors. The teen members have all the same roles as the rest of the board.
"They are fully voting members," he said. "We're excited about the ideas they bring. They think of things we don't always consider."
If you are interested, you can contact agape house at 541-567-8774 or by stopping by the facility at 500 Harper Road.

Stanfield School Board meets tonight
March 8, 2017
Tonight, a meeting of the Stanfield School Board. That meeting begins at 6 in the district conference room.
On the agenda, a public input period, administrative reports, a presentation from the school resource officer as well as approval of the district calendar and budget calendar. Also on the agenda, a personnel evaluation for the district superintendent. That’s an executive session, which is not open to the public. The rest of the meeting is.
Read the full agenda here.

Umatilla bond sells higher than expected
March 8, 2017
Another bit of good news for Umatilla, the Umatilla School District bond sales came in better than expected, making the district an additional $600,000 without changing the cost to taxpayers.
Voters in Umatilla last year approving the $10.5 million bond to fund projects at all three Umatilla schools, including roof replacements, security remodels and replacing aging equipment like the boiler and windows at Clara Brownell Middle School.
District Superintendent Heidi Sipe says the bond funds will be used within those original projects, but some upgrades will now be possible.
Thanks to a $4 million grant from the state, the entire project will now have a budget of $14.8 million.

Hermiston sets kinder registration
March 7, 2017
Hermiston School District announcing its dates for kindergarten registration for the 2017-18 school year. Registration will be at each elementary school main office, and the registration period is April 3 through 14th. Parents must register the student at the school the child will attend, and there is a boundary map on the district’s website if anyone isn’t sure which school boundary that means. To be eligible for enrollment into kindergarten this fall, students must be 5 years old by Sept. 1, 2017. Parents and guardians are encouraged to bring the student’s birth record (birth certificate, baptismal certificate or passport); social security number; proof of residence; and health/immunization records to complete the enrollment process.

New fires, fire updates
March 7, 2017
A fire reported just before midnight last night on Orchard Avenue in Hermiston. The preliminary findings lean toward an issue with the home’s gas furnace, but the investigation will continue later today. Umatilla County Fire District 1 reporting no injuries and the family of six was able to escape the home safely.
The American Red Cross providing emergency support for the family.
The Red Cross also responding after a fire last night on Mission Gulch Road in Pendleton. That fire affecting two adults.
More details also coming out about the fire at a residence on Hat Rock Road on Sunday.
Umatilla Rural Fire Protection District dispatched just after 6:30 Sunday night to that home. Umatilla Fire Chief Steven Potts says the home likely a total loss. Family members saying a lithium battery exploded, causing the fire. The official cause still under investigation, but Potts says the living room was fully engulfed when fire crews arrived.
The two residents both transported to Good Shepherd medical Center, and one kept overnight for observation after smoke inhalation.
Two pets died in the fire, and three made it out.
Umatilla Rural Fire Protection District and Umatilla County Fire District 1 responding. A gofundme page has been set up for the family.

Moda Assist update March 7
March 6, 2017
Sunset Park currently at 10,836 votes in the Blazer's Moda Assist contest. In second place, Portland's Jason Lee Elementary has 8,706.
If you'd like to vote for Hermiston to receive the playground equipment or find out more about the program, visit www.nba.com/blazers/assist.

Winter driving in mountain passes
March 6, 2017
The Oregon Department of Transportation issuing a warning of winter driving conditions today. The National Weather Service is advising of a Winter Storm Watch, with snow accumulations of 9 to 13 inches above 4500 feet. Impacted areas include Meacham, Tollgate, Ski Bluewood (WA) and other sites. Snow is already on some route and more will continue through the day. Snow is expected to taper off Wednesday morning. Travelers can expect snow covered and slick roadways, plus possible blowing and drifting snow in some areas. Expect winter conditions along sections of Interstate 84, OR 204 (Tollgate Hwy.), and other routes. Drive with caution, plan extra travel time, slow down and stay safe. Check TripCheck.com or call 511 / 800-977-6368 for update highway conditions.

Firefighters take on blaze off 395

A fire burning off Highway 395 between Hermiston and Stanfield.

Photo by Umatilla County Fire District 1

The dispatch call came in at 11:20 Tuesday night, and firefighters from Umatilla County Fire District 1 were still on scene at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
The fire burning in bales of cardboard in a site off the northbound side of the highway. Highway 395 northbound was closed during part of the firefighting operation. That is now open, but crews are still on scene, and some of the cardboard is still burning.
Umatilla Rural and Echo Rural fire protection districts also responding.

Schools call for diversity, safety after immigration concerns

This week, Hermiston Schools Superintendent Fred Maiocco released a letter titled, “Freedom from harassment, bullying, discrimination.” In it, he reaffirmed the district commitment to providing students safe learning environments – regardless of citizenship status.
"I want all of our families and students to know that they're safe in school," Maiocco said Tuesday. "We support diversity. We're here to make sure students have a great learning environment and that they're free from any bullying or harassment in our schools."
Maiocco said students need as much stability as possible in order to learn, but politics and fear have a direct impact on the classroom. The superintendent added they have set up crisis counseling for some students too upset to learn.
"Part of it is that kids are coming to school, perhaps with parents in that status, and worried about whether or not their parents are going to be home when they get there," he said.
Maiocco said there are laws and policies in place on how situations are handled at schools and that in general, schools cannot discriminate based on citizenship status and can’t be involved in immigration enforcement.
The district has released the statement on its website and social media. You can read the full letter here.

Expect delays on Hwy. 730

Work started Monday on an upgrade project on a section of U.S. Highway 730 in Umatilla. It’s expected to continue for the next several weeks. The project is for signal upgrades, sidewalk improvements and a pavement overlay this year. Signal and sidewalk ADA ramp work starting yesterday. The eastbound traffic signal at Brownell Blvd and Interstate 82 being upgraded with new controllers and video detection to make it more efficient and reliable, and about a dozen sidewalk ramps will receive ADA upgrades between River Road and Brownell.
Following the signal and ramp work, Paving expected to begin in late-April and will run from Southshore Drive to McNary - The paving operation will skip downtown Umatilla. Travelers can expect lane closures and minor delays for the signal and sidewalk upgrades with more significant delays during the paving work. The $2.5 million project should be completed around mid-June, and traffic fines are double in the work zones.

Hermiston School Board talks budget

The Hermiston School Board has a work session and meeting that begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, at Sunset Elementary.
Sunset will have an opportunity to present about what’s going on in the school, and with the time of year, the district superintendent also expected to approve a proclamation making March 6 to March 10 "classified Employee Appreciation Week."
It’s also the time of year the board starts planning its budget. The board begins by setting budget planning parameters and directing district staff to formulate a budget within those restrictions. The parameters involve an ending fund balance, so how much money is left in the district accounts to carry over each year, as well as an estimate of student enrollment. They’ll then estimate how much money the district will receive from the state school fund and will decide how much to set aside in the PERS reserve for the projected 2017-18 increases. During the work session, the board to review the parameters from last year and discuss setting those for the upcoming budget.
The district does have an executive session on the agenda, this one about union negotiations. The meeting and work session are open to the public – the executive session is not.
You can find the full agenda here.

Holiday Inn slates grand opening

One of the tallest buildings in Hermiston has its grand opening this week.
Coming up Friday, Feb. 24, the opening celebration for the new Holiday Inn Express and Suites on Highway 395. Manager Steve Arasmith says all 93 rooms are ready to go.
Arasmith says the chain looked at multiple sites but chose Hermiston because they considered it a good place to grow.
"The growth rate of Hermiston over the last 10 years has just been tremendous, and we got excited when we saw that," Arasmith says. "When we saw things like EOTEC coming in, the hospital over here with its expansion, those things show a really strong economic growth, and we wanted to be a part of that."
The hotel has 42 employees. They are looking to hire a sales position and other positions as they continue to grow. The hotel did have a soft opening.
That grand opening this Friday noon to 2 and they’re welcoming everyone to attend.
Arasmith says the hotel meeting and breakfast areas will be open as well as rooms and the indoor pool and the fitness center. Refreshments available during the event.

Firefighters battle blaze in Stanfield

A fire Tuesday morning at an industrial site in Stanfield.
Umatilla County Fire District 1 responding just after six yesterday morning at Oregon Dehydration off Hoosier Lane.

dehydration fire

Photo by Umatilla County Fire District 1

The fire started in an industrial drier and moved into the filtration system. About 20 firefighters taking about three hours to battle the blaze, much of it focused on keeping other buildings safe. Firefighters did have some trouble responding to the fire because of mud up to a foot deep. No injuries reported, and staff was evacuated. Fire Marshal Tom Bohm is investigating. No word yet on a cause or the total damages.

Downtown action

On Feb. 28,  an “action planning” meeting with the City of Hermiston to talk about how to improve downtown.
The first hour of the meeting slating informational presentations, including results of downtown stakeholder interviews that found five primary needs downtown: more retail and restaurants, more downtown events, a perceived lack of parking, building upgrades, and beautification.
Emma Porricolo completed the study and will present on her report during the meeting. In the second half, small group meetings. Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says he hopes it will be action oriented.
"We've done planning downtown ad nauseum. There's really a lot of momentum right now," he says. "When you stop and get everything down on paper, there really is some momentum going... We hope to continue that."
The organizers say anyone is welcome to come to the first half without making a commitment to any of the action plans. They are asking those who sign up for an action committee to agree to have follow-up meetings to get things done.
The event from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center on airport road.

BMCC grants target high school students

Blue Mountain Community College receiving two grants totaling $50,000 to support college readiness programs. The grants are from GEAR UP, that’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs
The two $25,000 grants will each fund a different program this summer. The first, an academic enrichment program, June 26 through 30 at the Hermiston Campus to introduce 9th and 10th graders to college, leadership and community. It’s free for participants and includes travel and classroom experiences.
The second summer program is BMCC’s first-ever GEAR UP Summer Bridge Program, which will take place July 10-Aug. 4. The program allows 12th grade students to earn college credit and experience college while receiving and motivational support during the first year of college. While more information regarding the Summer Bridge program at BMCC is coming soon, qualified 9th and 10th graders can register now for the June Academic Enrichment Program by visiting www.bluecc.edu/enrollment-services/gear-up.


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Hundreds speak out on state budget

Oregon has a budget shortfall, and about 400 East Oregonians came out to give their voice on how that money should be spent.
The crowd filed the commons at Hermiston High School on Friday evening in a hearing with the state's joint ways and means committee. They came from La Grande and Pendleton. Boardman and Baker City to testify on how the state should spend its money.

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Members of the Joint Ways and Means Committee watch a video about Hermiston during a hearing at Hermiston High School.

Nancy Nathenson, a state representative out of Eugene opened the event.
"We're asking everyone to stay within the guidelines," she said. "This is your meeting, and we want to hear from you."
Each speaker had 2 minutes, and so many turned out in Eastern Oregon, they easily overfilled the 2-hour space. Their issues were as varied as the communities and industries they represented from economic development and historic preservation through a transportation package to repair eastern Oregon roads and against closing the pendleton crime lab.
"Most - many - of our crime scenes are outdoors. If it was hours and hours or the next day for that crime investigation team to get there, we would lose vital evidence," Baker County District Attorney Matt Shirtclif said, pointing to a recent case where the crime team from Pendleton was there in two hours and provided evidence that secured the conviction.
Shirtcliff joined a panel with Umatilla County DA Dan Primus and Union County DA Kelsie McDaniel to talk about the need to keep the Pendleton Crime Lab open. That lab, the only one in Eastern Oregon, is on the chopping block in the governor's budget.

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Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann speaks to the state's Joint Ways and Means Committee, Feb. 17 at Hermiston High School.

Many of the speakers chose to talk about education and funding. They held signs in the audience and asked for adequate funding for K-12 and higher education. Ginger Ogle, a longtime teacher, was one of those.
"We need to make the hard choice to have enough funding to take care of every citizen in this state," she said. "That is your job, and I am begging you to do it, even if it means raising corporate taxes."
If you weren't able to attend the hearing on Friday, you can still have your voice heard. The email for the committee and written comment is waysandmeans.budget@oregonlegislature.gov.

A Day Without Immigrants impacts Hermiston
Nationwide, “A Day Without Immigrants” marked on Feb. 16. All immigrants, including citizens, legal immigrants and undocumented residents, encouraged to not attend work or classes. The movement designed to show how much immigrants contribute to the country’s economy in light of recent legislation.
In Hermiston, the movement closed the doors to Fiesta Foods, which posted its doors and on social media the store would be closed Thursday in support of the community.
At Blue Mountain Community College, students notified instructors on Tuesday and Wednesday that they would miss classes on Thursday.
Local schools reporting higher than usual absenteeism.
In addition to the not attending work or school, some immigrants opting not to go shopping or eat out to highlight the economic impact.
Some critics saying the movement glorifies illegal immigrants, primarily from Mexico; supporters saying those statements show the need for awareness and political statements as most of those protesting “A Day Without Immigrants,” are in the country legally and not all immigrants are Hispanic.

Morrow County sets snow days

Now that February has hit its halfway point, the Morrow County School district releasing its plan to make up snow days. Schools in Boardman and Irrigon have closed seven days this winter; schools in Heppner closed five. To make up for lost instructional time, the district has added four days into its calendar – April 7, 14, 28, and May 12. The Morrow County School district does not typically have classes on Fridays, but studetns need at least 900 hours of instructional time to meet state minimum requirements.

Pendleton schools face lockdown

Pendleton schools on lockdown or lockout for less than an hour on Thursday.
District Superintendent Andy Kovach saying someone in Pendleton High School inadvertintly triggered the lockdown around 9:40 Thursday morning by misdialing a phone number.
The district and law enforcement treated it like a real threat until they could determine students and staff were safe.
Kovach says the system worked correctly, and police were able to respond and determine no threat to students or staff.
Kovach said it is district policy that when one school goes into a lockdown, all other schools go into a "lockout" where classes continue as normal but all entrances and exits to the school are closed.
All schools returned to regular operations at 10:30.

Smoke, fog cause accidents

Six people injured after multiple accidents on Interstate 84 last night near Boardman. The accidents on both sides of the freeway from 8:30 until 9 p.m. Monday after fog and smoke from the Boardman Tree Farm sent visibility to almost zero on I-84.
Boardman Fire Department reporting six people transported to area hospitals, all by ambulance, as well as six vehicles involved – three passenger cars and three semis.
Umatilla County Fire District 1 did provide mutual aid and transported two patients. No information on the extend of the injuries currently available.
Interstate 84 was closed in both directions for more than three hours.

New firefighters begin academy at UCFD1

Six new employees put boots to the ground in Umatilla County Fire District 1 on Monday. The two-week academy will help introduce the new employees to procedures in the local Fire District 1. Fire Chief Scott Stanton says the six men, are all firefighter/paramedics but need to learn how systems operate in this local district.
"That's really what this two weeks is about: So that when March 1 rolls around and they start shift work, they have a good understanding, they've had a lot of practice putting on our packs and working with our medical equipment so they're really ready to go to work," Stanton said.
The new positions were funded through the consolidation and reformation that created the Umatilla County Fire District 1 last May. It’s part of the effort to staff the station on Diagonal.
"We're so thankful to the public for supporting us last may with the reformation," Stanton said. "March 1, our station 22 is going to be open for the first time 24/7/365. It's been there 31 years, so we're excited about that."
Stanton says they’re planning an open house at the station on diagonal sometime in April when the station is up and running. For the new employees, the two-week academy will last through February 24.
While fire celebrates new employees, next door in the Shannon Safety Center, the Hermiston Police Department is recruiting for volunteer reserve officers.
Reserve officers have much of the same training and duties of full-time police officers but in a part-time, volunteer capacity. Reserve officers must be willing to volunteer a minimum of 36 hours every three months.
Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says the reserve officers can lead into full-time positions. One-third of the department’s current officers are former reserve.
For more information, you can download an application on the city’s website or pick up one from HPD directly at 330 S. First Street in Hermiston. The closing date is April 3 at 5 in the afternoon.

Two meetings tonight (Feb. 13) in Hermiston

Tonight, the Hermiston School Board and the Hermiston City Council each meeting.
School Board
Meeting: 6:30 at the District Office.
The biggest study/discussion item is the results of an economic impact study from the bond proposal. The district expected to ask voters for a bond proposal worth more than $100 million during the May election to fund new construction, including a new elementary school, expansion on Hermiston High School, and replacement of each Rocky Heights and Highland Hills.
Other items include a review of Graduation Rates, an update on the Lil Pups preschool program and approval of some budget appropriations.
A closed-door, executive session is planned to evaluate administrative performance
Also on the agenda, the approval of the 2017-8 school calendar. The school year runs from Aug. 28 until June 7. It does include five snow make-up days. Graduation set for June 9, 2018.
You can see the full agenda here.
City Council
Work Session: 6 p.m.; Meeting: 7 p.m. at Hermiston City Hall.
Representatives from the Hermiston School District will have a work session with the Hermiston City Council at 6 at Hermiston City Hall. The work session is a presentation about the proposed bond.
Also on the city council agenda tonight, a combo debut resolution. That will authorize the sale of bond for three projects: EOTEC-related construction, Festival Street construction and parking improvements and the remote read water meters. The council recently voted to increase rates to pay for the installation. You can find the full agenda here.
The work session begins at 6, and the city council meeting begins at 7.

Hermiston Armory closes for lead testing

The Oregon Army National Guard Armory in Hermiston is closed to the public. A warning sign on the door says, “Lead Dust Hazard. Closed to the Public Until Further Notice” with the contact information for the Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office, but officials say the closure seems much more scary than it actually is.

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Chris Ingersoll, deputy public affairs officer for the Oregon National Guard, says the closure is a precaution because the most recent lead testing in Hermiston showed lead amounts over the limit.
"The National Guard Bureau has set a nationwide policy that if any samples were found during lead testing to be above 40 micrograms per square foot, then the armory had to closed to the public until it could be cleaned, retested, and verified," Ingersoll said.
According to the lead test report, all areas the public has access to were cleared, including the walls, floors and ceilings in the entry area and central meeting room where public events typically take place. The floor in one gear storage area, however, tested above the limit, and that has prompted closure to the public as of this week. For now, they don’t have a date when it will reopen, but officials say it will as soon as they can.
"We're trying our best," Ingersoll said. "We understand the armories are an important part of the community and that people like having use of the armory for events. We're trying to get them cleaned and retested as soon as possible so they can open for reuse."

Ingersoll says how long it will be closed depends on when they can get the cleaning crew out to Hermiston. Once the armory is cleaned, they will retest and then reopen.

See the full report here.


Hart, Marvin honored at Awards Banquet

The 47th annual Hermiston Distinguished Citizens Awards Banquet last night recognizing community members and organizations.

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Pat Hart accepts the Man of the Year award.

Man of the Year went to Pat Hart, retired fire chief and longtime Hermiston resident.
"As has already been said from this stage tonight, I am very humbly honored to receive this award," he said. "There are so many in this community that do so many wonderful, worthwhile things that deserve this award just as much or more than I."
Hart thanked his wife and the community, as well as the audience for coming out to support the award winners.
Woman of the Year went to Liz Marvin, Project College Bound coordinator for Hermiston High School and active volunteer. In true educator fashion, she presented her thank-yous in a three-step process.
"Three points: I thank our wonderful community. I am humbled to be part of the sorority of the women of the year... I thank God. I pray that my ears and heart stay open, and I thank my family very much," she said.

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Liz Marvin was named the 2017 Hermiston Woman of the Year.

When introducing the woman of the year, she was described as dedicated and dependable as well as having a big heart for the community. That same theme carried over for the business of the year, Good Shepherd Healthcare System, as well as for the Award of Merit, which went to Charlie Clupny. Clupny honored for his work with Court Appointed Special Advocates, Meadowood Springs Speech and Learning Camp and as a volunteer firefighter. He said he will continue volunteering and fighting for those area that earned him the award.
"I will continue to honor everyone that I have a chance to meet," he said. "Thank you very much for this honor."

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Charlie Clupny accepting the Merit Award during the 2017 banquet.

Jeanne Jewett received the chamber of commerce’s Spirit of Excellence award, and Terry Cummings, chaplain for Umatilla County Fire District 1 and the Hermiston Police Department, received the Fire Service Award.
The Hermiston School District recognized its educators of the year for each building and named its overall educator of the year chosen from the 10 building-level nominees. That honor went to Garth Lind, a fifth-grade teacher at Desert View Elementary.
The two Altrusa Outstanding Young citizen awards going to Vanessa Ambriz-Mendoze and Elias Ismael Arenas.

Obesity listed as concern in health report

In 2016, 19 percent of children in Umatilla and Morrow Counties were classified as obese. Another 14 percent are overweight. Nine percent are underweight.
Those are some of the conclusions pulled from the Children’s Health Assessment Report. The report surveyed parents of children age 11 and younger across Umatilla, Morrow and Union Counties. Jim Setzer, Umatilla County Public Health Director, says they mirror the adult health priorities.
"The one that jumps out to me is obesity and that whole eating, activity lifestyle," Setzer said. "The good news about that is it's best addressed by the community and the family."
The Children's Health Assessment Report released to the public recently. Other finding including that 76 percent of parents had taken their child to the dentist in the past year, meaning 24 percent had not. Eight percent of parents reported their child had been diagnosed with asthma, 5 percent that a child had been diagnosed with ADD.
Setzer said few of the children's health issues are unavoidable and most can be helped by community changes.
"We see that there are behaviors of adults that affect kids - car seat use, exposure to second hand smoke - there are some issues found in that report that we need to work on as a community - not just because they affect our health, but because they affect our children," he said.
Also included in the report, only 2 percent of parents reported their child did not have health insurance, and 29 percent reported they had taken their child to the emergency room in the past year.

Fatal collision near Paterson takes two local lives

A fatal car accident across the border near Paterson, Washington Washington taking the life of two Umatilla County men yesterday. Washington State Police saying 29-year-old Ramiro Valdez-Galvez, from Umatilla, and 37-year-old Pedro Santiago-Menchu, of Hermiston, each pronounced dead at the scene.
The collision yesterday morning on Washington State Route 14 in Benton County, about six miles east of Paterson. A 2000 Chrysler Minivan driven by Alfredo Perez, age 48, also from Umatilla, traveling westbound when it attempted to pass another westbound vehicle and collided with a semi driven by Abel Garcia, from Toppenish. Garcia was not injured. Perez was taken to Kadlec with serious injuries. Both vehicles were totaled. The crash is still under investigation.
The Benton County crash one day after a snowplow and semi on I-84 east of Pendleton. The commercial truck attempted to pass the snowplow on the right and struck the snowplow on the passenger side, causing it to enter the center media and roll on its side.

Both vehicles were damaged and had to be towed from the scene. The driver of the semi, Bryon Kilmer, he’s 38 and from Sweet Home, Oregon, was cited for Unsafe Passing. It is illegal to pass snowplows on the right while they are in the act of plowing.

Hundreds of dead birds in Stanfield, Milton-Freewater

An 18-year old Irrigon man has been arrested and charged with rape, allegedly of a female younger than 14 years old.
Kenny Cole Blurton arrested Thursday by the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office after the county grand jury indicted him on four counts of second-degree rape, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, three counts of unlawful sexual penetration and one count of second-degree sodomy. The incidents are alleged to have happened between July and December of 2015. Blurton’s bail is set at 250,000. He was lodged at the Umatilla County Jail.

Hundreds of dead birds in Stanfield, Milton-Freewater

Hundreds of dead ducks reported on private properties near Stanfield and MIlton-Freewater. Oregon Fish and Wildlife testing the birds as a potential outbreak of avian cholera. ODFW is concerned because a flock of ducks died from the same thing in Burbank, Wash., near Pasco.
Michelle Dennehy, with ODFW, asking people to notify the agency if they find dead ducks. ODFW agents are collecting the carcasses and disposing of them to reduce the amount of bacteria in the environment. Avian Cholera is one of the most common diseases among ducks and geese; it can kill within six to 12 hours of infection.
Symptoms of avian cholera are lethargy, convulsions, swimming in circles, and erratic flight plus mucous discharge. ODFW strongly encouraging the public to not handle sick or dead birds and to keep pets away. The public is asked to report sick or dead birds to ODFW by calling 1-866-968-2600 or by email at wildlife.health@state.or.us.

Fire Service Day today, Jan. 27
Today is a good day to thank a firefighter.
Today is Fire Service Day, and Ric Sherman, of the Umatilla County Fire District 1 Board, says it’s a day designed to say thank you.
It started in 2004, and Sherman was right there at the beginning, including testifying to the state legislature.
While Sherman recommends delivering cookies, cakes, or other goods to the firefighters, Fire chief Scott Stanton says it doesn’t take much to make a firefighter feel appreciated: even a simple thank you makes a huge difference.
Fire Service Day is statewide. Sherman says Umatilla County Fire District 1 has staff out at three of their stations on a daily basis. They also recommend thanking volunteer firefighters at any Oregon department for keeping their communities safe.

Transient with "gun" arrested at BMCC
A homeless man arrested yesterday after taking a gun into the Eastern Oregon Higher Education Center and fighting with police.
The center serves as the Hermiston campus for Blue Mountain Community College, and the campus was almost full when 62-year-old Richard J. Mills, a transient, entered the building with what appeared to be a handgun in his hand.
No students were harmed, and BMCC vice president of admin services, Tammie Parker, says the situation was well handled as staff and police responded to the threat.
An employee of the Umatilla County District Attorney’s Hermiston office at the Stafford Hansell building noticed Mills and the gun walking toward the college building just after 12:30 yesterday afternoon and reported it to Hermiston Police Department. Officers were responding when Mills entered the building. As the police spoke to him, Mills began to yell and cause a disturbance, at which point he was taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct. He was taken to the Umatilla County jail in Pendleton. He did have two air soft handguns in his possession. Both guns were seized as evidence.
Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says the department is familiar with mills who has show aggressiveness to offers during multiple incidents.
The incident has prompted discussions and updates in policies at the BMCC Hermiston campus. Parker says safety is taken seriously.
BMCC did offer support services for staff and students who witnessed the incident with Mills.

Police standoff ends in suicide
A seven-standoff in Pendleton ended in a Wednesday night.
At 12:09 Wednesday, Umatilla County law enforcement asked to watch for a suspect in a double-murder in Shelton, Washington. 33-year-old Jason Abernathy was believed to be armed. A Pendleton Police Officer located Abernathy’s vehicle at the Motel 6 in Pendleton just before 1 in the afternoon.
Shortly thereafter, US Marshals arrived in Pendleton to provide investigative/apprehension assistance to the Pendleton Police Department. A perimeter was quickly established as additional resources were requested from the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police and Hermiston Police Department.
Trained negotiators were able to speak with Abernathy around 3 in the afternoon. Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts says other motel guests were moved and roads closed down while they negotiated with Abernathy before the suspect took his own life.
Several attempts to re-establish communication with Abernathy went unanswered before Oregon State Police SWAT breached the door to Abernathy's motel room in an attempt to render aid and/or take Abernathy into custody; however, Abernathy was found to be unresponsive.
Detectives from the Pendleton Police Department and Oregon State Police in cooperation with the Oregon Medical Examiner's Office and Mason County Sheriff's Office processed the motel room. The Mason County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating. Questions   specific to the Mason County criminal investigation should be referred to the Mason County Sheriff's Office.

Crime down in Hermiston, aggravated assault up

The overall crime report for Hermiston is out – and crime is…. Down.
The Hermiston Police Department has released the annual Crime Statistics report, which compiles violent and property crimes for state reporting. The 2016 report shows 513 total crimes reported last year – a 2 percent decline over 2015 and a 32 percent drop below the previous 10 year average.
Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says the 10-year trend is very encouraging.
"Over the course of 10 years, the population has increased 15 percent, but we're roughly down half of what (crimes) we had in 2007," Edmiston said.
Earlier this month, we reported on the two categories Edmiston knew would be high: rape and aggravated assault. Edmiston says now that the final statistics are in, they have more information: 57 percent of the aggravated assaults were domestic violence related; 43 percent of the incidents had a controlled substance involved – primarily alcohol. Only one of the events was gang related.
Violent crimes overall are 12 percent below the 10-year average, according to the report, and property crimes hit a new low.
Despite the trend, Edmiston says they continue to ask people to work to lesson the likelihood of becoming a victim.
"We know that there are opportunists out on the street looking to take advantage of people," he said. "Fortifying your house or taking measures to lessen the likelihood of you being a victim is all we ask. If you see something that looks suspicious, call us.
The full 2016 crime report is available on the city’s website.


Tom Spoo named Administrator of the Year

When the Hermiston School district announced its 2017 Administrator of the Year Monday evening, the only person shocked at the announcement was the recipient, Tom Spoo, principal at Hermiston High School.

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"I'm extremely humbled and honored to receive this award. It was something I didn't truly expect to get because I don't look at myself as the most deserving, accomplished administrator in the district," Spoo said. "I think there are others that are more deserving, but regardless, I'm extremely humbled and honored to receive the award."
Spoo has been principal at Hermiston High for two years and has worked for the district for 23 years. He began his career as a high school ag teacher, moved on assistant principal at the high school then served as Armand Larive middle school principal for four years before taking the high school’s top spot.
District staff says Spoo was recognized for being a team player and a people person, the way he supports the growth of others, his dedication to excellence and goes above and beyond without being asked.


Rest area stabber sentenced

In Morrow County, the man who stabbed a woman at a rest area near Boardman will serve 65 months in prison – that’s about five and a half years.
18-year-old Talon Davis, from Idaho, sentenced recently. Morrow County District Attorney Justin Nelson says the sentence took into account showing justice for the crime, making the victim comfortable and making sure Davis has the treatment he needs to prevent future issues.
Davis was under the influence of both methamphetamine and marijuana when he stabbed a Wasco County woman in the women’s restroom. He did not know the victim and did not attempt to flee the scene. Davis was 17 at the time of the crime in May.
He will be required to have supervised treatment for mental illness and drug addiction after his release.


Pain management, drug abuse forum in Hermiston

A community forum scheduled in Hermiston to talk about a known problem.
"We all know people who have problems with alcohol, and, now, over a period of time, we've gotten to know a lot of our family members and friends are hooked on prescription drugs," said Dr. Chuck Hofmann, the clinical director for the Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization, or EOCCO.
Hofmann says the group is hosting sessions about chronic pain management – and prescription drug abuse. The Hermiston event is from 6:30 to 9 on Thursday, January 26, at Good Shepherd Medical Center.

Hofmann says the event is for people who have been on painkillers and might be looking for another option, family and friends of those who might have a prescription drug problem or anyone who is interested in combating the issue.
Hofmann says nothing like this has been done in Eastern Oregon. He says they are working to make sure it’s an interactive forum – not a lecture.

Registration is requested to guarantee they have enough food. It’s eocco.com/community/ for the registration for the community forum. There will be a forum for healthcare providers on Jan. 27. The group is also scheduling events in Pendleton, Ontario, and La Grande. For more information, visit www.eocco.com or listen to the Odds and Ends program at 8 in the morning on Jan. 20 on AM 1360 KOHU.


Hermiston remembers Martin Luther King Jr. - and looks forward

Despite the cold and ice, almost 100 people took to the streets of Hermiston yesterday for the 17th annual Community Peace Walk in recognition of Martin Luther King Day.

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The march ended back at First United Methodist Church where a performance by the Children of Polynesia allowed walkers to warm up before the guest speakers and open mic period.
Jesus Rome opened the discussion before the open mic and guest speaker.
"As I see this whole room full of different colors and races and cultures and languages, it always excites me. This is what Martin Luther King's dream was: For all of our colors and cultures and races to come together as one."
After the open mic period, the event wrapped up with a social and refreshments. This was the 17th annual peace walk in Hermiston. It’s sponsored by the local Black International Awareness Club.


City approves plan for Ranch and Home

Plans moving ahead for the Ranch and Home shopping complex.
Last night, the Hermiston City Council unanimously approving a development agreement for the property off South Highway 395. Hermiston Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says the proposed retail store will be an “anchor tenant” on South 395 to guide development in that region.
""The major benefit to the community is that there will now be another major shopping center on the south side of town," Morgan said. "We're quickly running out of good, viable commercial real estate along Highway 395 through town."
In order to bring the project, the city has offered an incentive package.
"In exchange for constructing a 108,000 square foot Ranch and Home retail store, then we will reimburse their permit fees as well as their system development charges," Morgan said.
The total incentive package is about $100,000. Morgan says the company will pay the fees into the general fund, then once the project has its certificate of occupancy, that money will be refunded to the company.
During the meeting, The council also expected to ask the county to change the name of Airport Road. The road that the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center is called East Airport Road but doesn’t connect to the airport.
Morgan says having two roads named in such a similar way – Airport Way which travels to the local airport and Airport Road – also poses a risk for emergency responders. Because Airport Road is a county street and not within the city limits, the city council does not have the authority to change the name. They’ll be asking the county to make a change without giving a recommended replacement.
During the meeting, the oath of office also given to Municipal Judge Thomas Creasing, Mayor Dave Drotzmann and councilmen Manuel Gutierrez, Doug Primmer, John Kirwan, and Rod Hardin.


SAIF reschedules seminars - For safety

SAIF has postponed its free ag safety seminar due to… safety.
Kevin Pfau with SAIF says the Hermiston ag seminars, which serve Umatilla and Morrow counties, were scheduled for this weekend but were postponed due to roads not being safe for traveling.
SAIF is Oregon’s nonprofit workers’ compensation insurance company. The new seminars are March 6 in English and March 7 in Spanish. They will be at the Hermiston Conference Center. The rescheduled seminar will be open to additional attendees.
Pfau says SAIF holds seminars in 16 difference Oregon cities, many of them in Eastern Oregon. The Hermiston seminar serves Umatilla and Morrow counties, the seminars this weekend had 130 people signed up for the seminar in English – and another 70 signed up in Spanish. Pfau says it's a testament to their seminars, which are a combination of entertainment and information.
All registered attendees will be notified of the cancellation and the new dates.
For more information, including registration for the march seminars, you can visit www.SAIF.com/agseminar.