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



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 publice – 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.

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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.