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

OHA meeting time change
June 19, 2018
The Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen expected to host a community forum today on the future of the Oregon Health Plan, including one today in Hermiston. The time of that meeting has changed. Instead of from noon to 2, that is now from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.:
Tuesday, June 19
Hermiston, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.*
Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center
1750 E Airport Road
Find out more by clicking here.

Schools take on absenteeism
June 15, 2018
School’s out for summer in Umatilla and Morrow counties, but schools ramping up multiple projects – including a look at why students miss school. Chronic absenteeism applies to students who miss 10 percent of school days. Intermountain ESD Superintendent Mark Mulvihill says missing school in primary grades can be an indicator students will not graduate high school.
The state is funding a chronic absenteeism initiative: 26 districts have been identified as most at risk for chronic absenteeism, and the state is taking over work with those. ESDs – including InterMountain – are focusing on the next tier of high-risk districts, and that includes six districts in our area, four of them in Umatilla County: Hermiston, Pendleton, Umatilla, and Milton-Freewater.
The ESD has hired Landon Braden chronic absenteeism coordinator to help tackle the issue locally. ESD assistant superintendent Jon Peterson will oversee the initiative.
That initiative will work with students in K-12 as well as preschool.

Summer Fun Day Camp opens
June 15, 2018
This afternoon, a big group of kids will be hanging out at the Hermiston Family Aquatic Center. They’re part of the Summer Fun Day Camp with Hermiston Parks and Rec.
The camp began this week, and if you’re interested in signing your kids up – it’s not too late. Children ages 6 to 12 can be signed up for a week at a time, and the camp runs through Aug. 3, Monday through Friday 8 to 5. You can contact Hermiston Parks and Rec for more information.

UCFD1 battles two fires
June 14, 2018
Two fires yesterday near Hermiston. One causing evacuations of multiple buildings on Columbia Drive. That fire beginning around 2:30 next to the parking lot for the Department of Human Services and burned about 3 acres. DHS, Worksource Oregon and Blue Mountain Community College’s Columbia Hall all evacuated for about an hour. Around noon yesterday, fire crews also responding to a grass fire along Highway 730 near the Washington State line. Both fires serving as a reminder to avoid the area of a fire if possible and to slow down if you must travel past emergency responders.

BMCC Commencement tonight
June 14, 2018
Blue Mountain Community College has its commencement ceremonies tonight at the Pendleton Convention Center. More than 160 of the 308 students who have completed degree and certificates from all BMCC campuses this year are expected to walk tonight, including the facilities in Hermiston and Boardman.
The students come from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Arizona and range in age from 17 to 62. The commencement ceremony is open to the public. Guests are asked to arrive at the convention center before 6:45 p.m., which is when the processional begins. The ceremony itself begins at 7 and is expected to last about an hour.

3 fires in 48 hours, millions in damages
June 11, 2018
Major fires hitting Hermiston yesterday and this morning, including $3 million in damages to the Hermiston 7th Day Adventist Church. That fire beginning around 4:30 yesterday morning. Umatilla County Fire District 1 reporting the file likely began because a heat source was too close to a source of ignition. Hermiston police assisting in the investigation. Also Sunday morning a structure fire on Northeast 10th Street caused by a faulty hot water tank that caused $75,000 to the home, making it a total loss. The fires continue. An RV and a shed on fire in Hermiston this morning just after midnight. That fire had spread to an area full of scrap metal, wood and car parts as well as a 100 gallon propane tank that was actively venting fire. That fire put out by 3:30 this morning, and the cause is still under investigation.

Budgets, trails, shipping containers on agendas
June 11, 2018
Tonight, the Hermiston School Board votes on its budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year. They will have a budget hearing that opens at 6:31, and the board will vote on the budget during its regular meeting. That’s at the Hermiston School District Offices, and you can find the agenda packet at this link.
The Hermiston City Council also has a budget on its agenda tonight – and a hearing. The budget hearing will follow a public hearing on the Harkenrider Senior Project. The purpose of that hearing to discuss the project and answer questions from the public. Also on tonight’s agenda, discussion and possible action about regulating shipping containers used for storage or shops in the city as well as consideration of bids on the West Highland Trail. The bids range from $343,000 to $412,000 – the city budgeted $450,000 but was hoping bids would come in closer to $308,000. Find a link the full agenda here.

Shooting victim dies
June 11, 2018
Erik Campos Navarrete, died over the weekend.
Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says the Hermiston 26-year-old removed from life support late Friday night, and his organs were donated.
Navarrete suffered a gunshot wound to the head last Monday, June 4. Cause of death was the gunshot, and Hermiston Police are now investigating the shooting as a homicide.

UEC sells EOT
June 1, 2018
Umatilla Electric Cooperative has sold Eastern Oregon Telecom – to the telecom’s executive team. EOT was created in 1999. The telecom now has 17 employees and more than 3,500 internet and telephone customers. Joe Franell, EOT general manager and CEO saying the founders were visionary in creating a locally owned and controlled internet and telephone company, adding that while EOT is initially owned by the senior executives, the intention is to to offer all employees a stake in the business.
"The employees of EOT are committed to providing world-class telecom services to Eastern Oregon and believe that employee ownership is the best way for that to happen long term,” Franell said. “We will be looking at ways to wisely grow the business."
The form of employee ownership yet to be determined, and the terms of the sale were not released. The next step for the new owners is strategic planning.

Umatilla prepares for graduation
June 1, 2018
Tomorrow, Umatilla will celebrate the class of 2018. Umatilla Superintendent Heidi Sipe says they’re excited, and the students are ready to become graduates: The class has an 86 percent 4-year graduation rate and 75 percent of students have committed to trade or apprentice programs, college, or military service. Five students have completed their associate degrees with their high school diplomas.

Benefit for student with cancer
June 1, 2018
Tomorrow evening, a benefit dinner and auction for Hermiston high school sophomore Jasmine Ellwood. Jasmine, the daughter of Hermiston Police officer Mike Ellwood, has been diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma. The benefit is a tri tip dinner, live and silent auction. That’s from 5 to 9 in the Hermiston High School commons. The cost is $15 per person or $40 per family of 4All money raised will go directly to the family to help offset costs of travel and treatment to and from OHSU.

HHS hosting NHS induction
May 31, 2018
Hermiston High School will induct twenty-seven new members into the National Honor Society tonight. That, in the high school’s auditorium, at 7 p.m. The students have to demonstrate high standards of scholarship, service, leadership, and character: The Hermiston High School Chapter has been active since 1949.

Hermiston Aquatic Center ready for kickoff
May 31, 2018
This weekend – starting tomorrow – a kickoff celebration for the Hermiston Family Aquatic Center. They’ll be open 1:10 to 6:45 Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
Recreation Supervisor Brandon Artz says once school is out for the summer that allows them to open the pool for the regular season. After this weekend’s kickoff, the aquatic center will reopen June 8.

HPD makes theft arrest
May 30, 2018
An arrest connected to several recent car prowls in Hermiston.
On Monday evening, officers arresting 22-year-old Jesse Martinez for his alleged connection to the vehicle break ins. A release from HPD says Martinez had tools for breaking into cars when he was stopped, and he did have stolen property on his person as well. HPD saying Martinez said he had been given the pants and did not know stolen items were in the pockets. Martinez arrested and charged with theft and unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle.
Police Chief Jason Edmiston says car prowls tend to happen in a pattern based on weather. He has said it’s often a crime of opportunity and if a potential theft can see valuables, they’re more likely to attempt to enter your vehicle.
"We continue to encourage the public to take your valuables out of your car, continue to make sure your cars are locked," Edmiston said.
If you see anyone suspicious – including someone looking into windows of unattended vehicles, contact local law enforcement.

City Council talks zoning changes
May 30, 2018
During the Hermiston City Council meeting last night, a hearing on rezoning property off Diagonal from industrial to residential. This is the 400-acre plot near O So Kleen – which will remain in a strip of light commercial zoning. Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says the changes make the property more accessible for developers.
"Houses don't pop out of the ground instantly tomorrow as soon as you start working on them, but I think these are the kinds of things that will really pay dividends long-term," he said.
The City of Hermiston taking multiple steps to make property more attractive to developers, including the new water tower in northwest Hermiston.

Drive 4 UR School set for Saturday
May 30, 2018
This Saturday, Hermiston High School hosting a Drive 4 UR School Event from 9 until 3. During the event, Ford vehicles will be at the school, and for every test drive, Ford Motor Company will donate $20 to the school, up to $6,000. The proceeds will benefit the high school volleyball program.
Hermiston High School will provide free drinks and hot dogs for everyone who test-drives a vehicle, and a bounce house available for the kids, PAWS animal shelter will have pets available for adoption on site.

City Council talks zones, ordinances
May 29, 2018
Tonight, the Hermiston City Council meeting at 7. On the agenda, a hearing and rezoning of property on Diagonal from light industrial to primarily residential. The city will also have a presentation from the Hermiston School District and will discuss changing ordinance codes, primarily dealing with yard and garage sales. Find the full agenda here.

Wolfe honored by NPPA
May 25, 2018
May Hermiston resident Bryan Wolfe has receiving the Northwest Public Power Association’s top honor for community service this week. Wolfe, a longtime member of the Umatilla Electric Board of Directors, received the Paul J. Raver Community Service award on Tuesday during the NWPPA’s annual conference in Boise. The award honors an individual or company who has demonstrated superior leadership in the betterment of cities, states, or regions, according to a release from UEC.

Ahumada arrested after standoff
May 24, 2018
More details coming in about last night’s standoff outside of Boardman that ended with the arrest of 33-year-old Alex Ahumada, a person of interest in the shooting Saturday in Hermiston. A release from the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office saying an anonymous tip came into the Boardman Police Department at 2:48 yesterday that a subject law enforcement was looking for was at a home outside of Boardman. Boardman Police, Morrow County Sheriff’s Office responded, along with Hermiston Police and Oregon State Police. Ahumada had barricaded himself inside the residence, and OSP’s SWAT team arrive. After a four-hour standoff, Ahumada was taken into custody. He was taken to the Umatilla County Jail on a no-bail parole violation warrant. Further charges are pending with the ongoing investigation.

Students cause evacuation
May 24, 2018
Two students were taken into custody at Hermiston High School yesterday, causing an evacuation and panic from students and parents after pulling a fire alarm. As part of the safety protocol between the district and Hermiston Police, the school was evacuated and eight officers from HPD responded –I including supervisors – in full tactical gear. The policy of treating fire alarms as emergencies necessitating tactical gear went into effect earlier this year as a response to some active shooting incidents involving a shooter pulling a fire alarm to make students leave classrooms. In March, Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston said the tactical gear was not intended to cause fear but helps protect the officers.
Umatilla County Fire District 1 also responded and confirmed no fire in the building. The two high school students are both under 18, so their identities will not be released. Edmiston saying had the students been 18, they would have been charged with disorderly conduct. They were released into the custody of their parents, and classes resumed on their regular schedule

Fire claims Hermiston home
May 23, 2018
Total loss reported in a home fire this morning in Hermiston.
The fire at 1335 W. Joseph Avenue reported at 4:45 this morning, and crews from Umatilla County Fire District #1 are still on the scene. Early investigation suggesting that fire started in the attic of the double-wide manufactured home. No injuries reported. Mop up still taking place, and the cause still under investigation.

Alleged burglar in custody
May 22, 2018
A suspect in the storage unit thefts around Hermiston is in custody. Kennewick Police arresting Russell Scott Greene at a hotel within their jurisdiction where officers found suspected stolen property.
As of this morning, Greene listed as an inmate in the Benton County Jail on charges of “fugitive from justice” with no bail or release. Hermiston Police have been searching for Greene in connection to a large amount of stolen property housed at the Hermiston Police Department. Officers issuing regular reminders to local residents to check storage facilities for signs of burglary and to claim taken items from the police station. HPD saying they will work with Kennewick police in their ongoing investigations.

Dyslexia presentation Thursday
May 22, 2018
Coming up this Thursday, "Facts about dyslexia, not myths." It's a special, free presentation from 5:30-7 Thursday night at Good Shepherd. The InterMountain ESD's Scott Smith is leading the presentation. He says dyslexia is says it’s one of the leading causes for students struggling in reading and dyslexia affects about 20 percent of students. For questions: email Dr. Scott Smith, Intermountain, ESD, Scott.Smith@imesd.k12.or.us

HPD looking for person of interest in shooting
May 21, 2018
A shooting Saturday night in Hermiston that left one man with non life-threatening injuries. The Hermiston Police Department responding just before 10 p.m. Saturday night to a 911 call at 220 E. Beebe Ave. The victim taken to Good Shepherd Medical Center in a private vehicle, and good shepherd confirming he was the victim of a gunshot. He was transferred to another medical facility. Hermiston Police looking for 33-year-old Alex Aumada, from Boardman, as a person-of-interest in the case. HPD saying the shooting does not appear to be a random act and that the two men know each other well. Both the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office and Oregon State Police assisting. It's an active investigation.
HPD also issuing a reminder on social media on Friday that they are continuing to see reports of telephone scams. Those can be reported to local law enforcement

Umatilla honors Torres-Medrano
May 21, 2018
Selene Torres-Medrano is the Umatilla Distinguished Citizen of the Year for 2018.
"I'm kind of freaking out because I wasn't expecting it, but I'm really happy," Torres-Medrano said. "Giving back to the community is something I love to do."
Torres-Medrano honored for her work giving back to the community. In addition to serving on the Umatilla City Council, she is an active volunteer and organized a mental health campaign for Umatilla schools.
During the DCA banquet on Friday, Umatilla also honoring Banner Bank as Business of the Year and each Nanci Sandoval and Salud Campos as co-winners of the George Alan Curtis Spirit Award.

HEF announces grants
May 18, 2018
More than $40,000 awarded in grants to Hermiston educators this year, according to an announcement from the Hermiston School district and Hermiston Education Foundation this week.
The foundation recently awarding its spring grants, totaling more than $29,000. The bulk of the money this season supporting the music programs at Hermiston High School
The grants include $15,000 for new choir robes and stoles for the Hermiston high School vocal music program and $10,000 to replace percussion and brass instruments for the band and music programs.
The spring grants also supporting a classroom set of ball chairs for the Rocky Heights Resource room, a lending library of speech and language therapy materials for the district and equipment to do self portraits in portrait and drawing classes at the high school. Rounding out the spring awards, a grant to purchase 40 tickets for theater students to ravel to Capital Theater in Yakima to attend a professional theater production.
The spring grants in addition to the $10,225 awarded in the fall. Those grants funding robotics computers at Armand Laive Middle School, materials for the spring musical at Sandstone Middle School and for “Seusical the Musical” at the high school.
Grants from the Hermiston Ed Foundation are designed to support educational opportunities for students in the Hermiston School District. Much of the money comes from fundraisers, and the grants are awarded by the HEF board based on applications.

Givens out, extension district a no
May 16, 2018.
One County Commissioner out and another facing a run-off in the November election after Tuesday's primary election.
In one of the closest races of the night, Athena Mayor John Shafer taking the county commissioner spot away from incumbent Larry Givens. Shafer had 6,071 votes – that’s 52 percent, just above the limit for a run-off election. Givens had 47 percent of the vote with 5,484. The remaining half a percent were right-in votes. George Murdock, the other standing County Commissioner in the primary, will appear on the November ballot in a runoff election after failing to get more than 50 percent of the vote. Murdock will face Rick Pullen in November. Murdock had 45 percent of the vote, Pullen had 30, and Tom Bailor had 24 percent.
On the Hermiston City Council, Mark Gomolski narrowly toppling Lori Davis and Jackie Linton for Ward 1 in the city. That one will go on to November. Gomolski had 653 votes – that’s 36% of the ballots while Davis had 33 and Linton had 31. Roy Barron, Jackie Myers, and Doug Smith taking their wards each with more than 55 percent of the vote.
In Umatilla County, 63 percent of voters said no to the Umatilla County Exension District. In Morrow County, 54 percent of voters also said no.
For Circuit Court Judge, Rob Collins beating Mike Breiling 60 percent to 40 percent.
Morrow County voters selecting Don Russell for County Commissioner with about 70 percent of the votes over Raymond Akers.

Election turn out low - and last minute
May 16, 2018
The election a bit of a strange one for Oregon’s vote-by-mail system. Voters turning in ballots all the way up until the deadline last night and keeping elections staff busy.
The overall county turnout coming in just over 30 percent. Umatilla County has more than 42,000 voters, and only 13,000 ballots arrived at the elections office. Umatilla County Elections director Kim lindell saying that's not what they expected.
"It's pretty typical for a primary election which doesn't have a lot of contested races in it. This one did, so we were expecting at least 43 percent," she said.
Lindell saying everything went smoothly. In Morrow County, the turnout about 34 percent.
The results all unofficial for now. Ballots will be certified in two weeks

City steps out of farmer's market
May 15, 2018
Another change for a farmer’s market, this time it’s the city of Hermiston stepping aside. On Friday, Mitco Investments announcing they will be going forward with a farmer’s market. City staff last night saying they do not want competing farmers markets.
"Mitco has apparently reversed course and has announced plans to actually go forward with their planned Farmer’s Market, but they seem to be characterizing the city’s market as some kind of competitor. I want to be very clear. I don’t see an adversarial relationship between a city-operated market and a market operated by Mitco. Our only interest is in ensuring that there will at least be a market this summer, regardless of who operates it. If that means that it’s Mitco, and that market appears to be viable, then that’s excellent, and we can again step aside," reads a city statement.
Assistant City Manager mark Morgan saying the city stepped in to make sure a market took place but as long as Mitco’s market is viable, the city will not need to offer its own.
"There will be a Farmer’s Market one way or the other, and Mitco still has until the end of 2018 to complete their facility, which as far as we’re concerned, is being treated just like any other applicant for a building permit," Morgan said. "I guess if nothing else, I think this outpouring of community support for the Maxwell Marketplace Pavilion has justified the City’s financial contribution toward the project."
That financial contribution $220,000 the city awarded to Mitco Investments, the bulk of which went toward the construction of the Maxwell Pavilion. That’s the project that was slated to house the farmer’s market before Mitco announced it would not be completed for the farmer’s market opening next week. City staff saying Mitco is being treated the way any other business would with its permit.

MAXWELL Marketplace Pavilion Floor Plan 9-25-17 (2)-min.JPG (143031 bytes)

An architectural drawing submitted by Mitco when asking for the city match of $220,000 on its pavilion clearly shows walls and windows in the pavilion structure.

The city also pointing out the initial documents provided by Mitco, which lead to the $220,000 payment, showed both doors and bathrooms, the two items Mitco has said are not required and the city is targeting him about in his permit complaint.

Feuding Farmers - markets - possible
May 14, 2018
A possibility of feuding farmer’s markets this summer.
The past week has been a hectic one for the future of Hermiston’s Farmer’s Market. On Wednesday, Mitch Myers and Mitco Investments saying they would not host the farmer’s market because of a disagreement with the city of Hermiston on permits. On Thursday, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department agreed to take it on.
Hermiston Parks and Recreation Director Larry Fetter saying plans are beginning to take place. The city will host a farmer’s market in festival street from 4 to 7 on Thursdays.
"We're excited about using the Festival Street for the Farmer's Market - it's going to be a good location," Fetter said. "We'll have large tents there for shade and lots of food vendors, then we're going to focus on home-grown farmer's markets."
Fetter saying they will also host activities and entertainment and partnering with the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce and first Thursday events in downtown. Fetter says they’re looking for suggestions as they move forward with a plan that’s evolving by the day. They’re also actively looking for vendors and partners who may want to be involved.
On Friday, however, Myers saying he doesn’t want the city stealing his hard work and will be hosting a farmer’s market… at the Maxwell Siding Event Center, which he also owns.
That could result in feuding markets next month.

Law Enforcement Appreciation Week this week
May 14, 2018
This week is law enforcement appreciation week and blue ribbon week. Ribbons to show support for law enforcement officers are available in Hermiston at the Hermiston Police Department as well as Ace Hardware, Banner Bank, Bi Mart, City Hall, Eastern Oregon Physical Therapy, Hermiston Drug, Hermiston High School, , G & S Tire, Les Schwab Tires, and Umpqua bank
The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office again hosting a law enforcement memorial ceremony at Til Taylor park in Pendleton. Undersheriff Jim Littlefield says it is an important is tribute.
"We want to honor law enforcement, especially fallen law enforcement, correctional officers," he said. "Those things are very important to us, and we invite all members of the public to come."
That ceremony begins at 11 a.m. on Friday. A motorcade will follow the ceremony from Til Taylor Park to the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office.

Airport lease, EOTEC board tonight
May 14, 2018
Meetings tonight for the Hermiston School Board of Education and the Hermiston City Council.
On the council agenda, another lease for land at the Hermiston Municipal Airport – this one to Ross Brandt Electric. They’ll also
They’ll also vote on the five men nominated for the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center advistory board. Those individuals are: Lucas Wagner, Mike Kay, Vijay Patel, Steve Williams and Steve Eldridge. That meeting begins at 7 tonight. Find the full agenda here. The Hermiston School Board meeting begins at 6:30.

Car crashes into power pole
May 10, 2018
A vehicle crash last night on Elm Street where a car hit a power pole, knocking down multiple bower lines. Umatilla County fire District One closing Elm between Diagonal and 4th Street. The resulting power outage affecting more than 1000 homes and businesses in addiction to closing the road for more than 3 hours. Power was restored just before midnight.

Morrow County presents 10 Meritorious Conduct Awards
May 10, 2018
Yesterday, the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office presenting the Meritorious Conduct Award to 10 people who went above and beyond the duties of a citizen in response to an incident on Dec. 17, 2017 that involved a burglary, chase in stolen vehicles, shots fired, and a vehicle fire. Four of the citizens are Morrow County residents, and six are from Yakima and were in Morrow County on a bird hunt. The awards related to an incident on Dec. 17, 2017. The local residents include Roger Britt, who discovered the burglary that has just occurred and pursued the suspect. The other local residents are Scott Smythe, Pablo Cisneros-Garcia and Phil Carson. All three involved in pursuing the suspects, putting out a vehicle fire, and assisting in controlling a high stress situation. The bird hunters from Yakima are Myrl Brown, Max Brown, Cord Brown, Dru Brown, Robert Rogers, and Lanny Gill.
A release from the sheriff’s office saying this is the first time in at least 30 years the award has been presented to a citizen

Mitco cancels Farmer's Market
May 9, 2018
No Hermiston Farmer’s Market this summer? That could be the case after Mitch Myers, of Mitco Investments, pulled out of the event yesterday. Myers had been slated to operate the farmer’s market at the Maxwell Pavilion, across from Bi-Mart. That was scheduled to have a season kick off on Saturday, June 2, and run from June 7 through October 4. A press release from Mitco saying they are “unable to complete improvements necessary to host the Farmer’s Market due to unreasonable building permit requirements placed on the Maxwell Marketplace Pavilion Project by City of Hermiston Building Official Chuck Woolsey.”
The building inspector issued a stop work order on the site last week, requiring the project include exit signage and restrooms. Myers says those are not required because the pavilion is a “shade structure” and not an enclosed building.
The city has not yet issued a statement after Myers’ announcement last night at a vendor’s meeting for the farmer’s market.

Drug take back day sets record
May 8, 2018
Last week, the 15th annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Totals now in, and the Drug Enforcement Administration saying Oregon set a record. Nearly 7 and a half tons of drugs were collected in Oregon.That’s 14,000 pounds, and Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says about 150 pounds of those medications were collected from the Hermiston drop box. That prescription drug box is located in the lobby at the police department. It’s open year round during HPD business hours. Across the country, the DEA collected and destroyed close to one million pounds – almost 475 tons – of unused prescription drugs. The DEA says the drug take back is one of the best ways to keep unused medications from being stolen and sold. The next drug collection day will be in October.

Stamp Out Hunger this weekend
May 8, 2018
Speaking of collecting, this weekend is the 26th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive when letter carriers across the country accept food donations during their mail deliveries.
Ernie Swanson, the postal service’s Corporate communication specialist for Oregon and Washington, says the drive was initialed by the letter carriers union out of a need to help those struggling financially. It’s the largest food collection day in the entire country, and all the food collected goes to local agencies. For the west end of Umatilla County, that’s Agape House. Dave Hughes says it’s the perfect time for food drives.
"It's always neat to have them do that this time of year because is the time our cupboards run a little bare," Hughes said. "We really appreciate it."
Plastic collection bags will be going out this weekend. You can put non-perishable, commercially sealed foods into the back, and the mail carriers will collect those on Saturday. They recommend having the food bag placed in or near the mailbox by 8 in the morning to guarantee it is collected.

Leadership presentation tonight
May 8, 2018
Tonight, a free leadership presentation, “Reaching New Heights” at Hermiston High School. It’s sponsored by Good Shepherd and features leadership speaker James Robbins. A former pastor, Robbins says he would be asked more and more to speak about leadership, how to motivate people and create a workplace that’s more intrinsically motivated. He says that morphed into a career.
Robbins will be bringing his expertise to Hermiston tonight for “Reaching New Heights,” which says its about helping people develop their own passions and reach their true potential, in turn helping a community reach its full potential. Reaching New Heights is free. That’s at 7 p.m. tonight in the auditorium at Hermiston High School. You can call 667-3509 to RSVP

Umatilla taking DCA nominations
May 7, 2018
Coming up next week, Umatilla has its Distinguished Citizen Awards Banquet, and they are still taking nominations for Business of the Year, Distinguished Citizen of the Year, and the George Alan Curtis Award. Chamber representative Jeff Wheeler says they're looking for people and business who make a difference in Umatilla.
The nomination forms, criteria and selection process, available on the chamber's website, and paper copies are available at the Umatilla Chamber office and Visitor's Center. Wheeler says those are due 'as soon as possible' so the selection committee can have final picks done before the May 18th banquet. You can also pick up nomination forms and tickets from around Umatilla at Columbia Harvest Foods, Java Junkies, Rae's Dayz and Banner Bank. That will be at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center on May 18. with a no host bar and dinner will be catered by GG’s Smokehouse
You can contact the Umatilla Chamber at 922-4825 for more information.

Ballot post deadline is tomorrow
May 7, 2018
If you’re planning to mail your ballot for the May 15th election, officials saying those ballots should be in the mail today or, at the latest, tomorrow.

Hermiston schools budget meeting
May 7, 2018
Tonight, a special budget committee meeting for the Hermiston School District. That begins at 6 at the district offices. Since this is the first budget committee meeting for the year, they will be elected committee chair and vice chair.
The group to also review current year planning assumptions and the board's 2018-19 planning parameters.
A public comment period will be available. Find the agenda here.

Packed weekend of events
May 4, 2018
The OSU Extension is celebrating 100 years in Morrow County with a Centennial Celebration and SAGE Center Gallery Opening this Saturday from 11 to 1. Morrow County 4-H and Extension agent Erin Heideman says they’ll have appetizers, guest speakers, and presentations about 4-H and other extension activities.
Guest speakers include Representative Greg Smith and Commissioner Don Russell.
Find out more by contacting Morrow County OSU Extension or the SAGE Center.
This weekend is also Cinco de Mayo, and in Hermiston, that translates to two-days of music, food, and celebration. Clara Beas Fitzgerald says it's open to everyone.
Everything takes place at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center on Airport Road this year. The event opens with the carnival tomorrow night. The opening "buddy night" offer two-for-one wristbands - those are $20 each if purchased in advance - from 4 to 9. The carnival also running through the main festival on Saturday and Sunday. Speaking of the main festival, opening ceremonies around noon on Saturday with events scheduled all the way to 11 p.m. Beas Fitzgerald says the first half of the event is family activities while the evening will cater more to adults with live music, a beer garden, and dancing. Food vendors and eating competitions will be held throughout the day. On Sunday, Cinco de Mayo runs from noon until 10 p.m.
You can find out more on the Facebook page for Hermiston Cinco de Mayo 2018.
Finally, also this Saturday and also at EOTEC, the Coastal Farm & Ranch Challenge of Champions bull-riding event. That's the one we've been giving tickets away to this week. If you aren't lucky enough to snag one of our remaining sets, tickets are $14 in advance or $17 at the door. That will also be taking place at EOTEC on Saturday. Gates open to the rodeo arena at 6, and the action begins at 7:30. You can contact Bonney's Ag and Auto Repair for advance tickets.

FFA Hosting plant sale
May 4, 2018
This afternoon, Hermiston FFA will have a plant sale on Friday, May 4, from 3:30-6:30 p.m. and on Saturday, May 5, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
The students will be selling hanging baskets, a few vegetables, geraniums, succulents, and woodshop projects.
Stop by the high school’s greenhouse to participate.

Gas leak, semis near construction
May 2, 2018
A gas leak in Hermiston yesterday afternoon after construction workers hit a two-inch gas line around 2 in the afternoon. Residents in the area of West Orchard Avenue evacuated for about an hour as a precaution. The area around 11th Street facing multiple construction projects right now, including the work continuing on the traffic light installations on 11th Street – at Elm and Orchard.
Passenger cars can avoid the area to avoid the construction, but that doesn’t apply to commercial vehicles.
"We do get a lot of truck complaints, but that's where they're going to have to stay is on those state roads," Police Chief Jason Edmiston said.
Officials advising commercial vehicles should not attempt to travel down other streets, and Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan adding that was a question ODOT asked while planning the traffic light projects – if commercial trucks could use Highland as an alternate to 11th.
"The short answer was 'no,'" Morgan said. "The trucks are just going to have to deal with the construction for now."
Passenger vehicles, of course, able to avoid 11th during the construction but reminded to follow all rules if driving in that area. The city also has construction projects in various stages impacting downtown with the festival street and Harkenrider Center – as well as projects at Newport.

Victims emergency support approved in Morrow County
May 2, 2018
More victims support coming to Morrow County. District Attorney Justin Nelson says in cases like domestic violence, families may have to stay in shelters in Hermiston or Pendleton, and the additional county funding will help keep victims closer to home.
"We asked and received some additional funding to provide emergency assistance for victims in Morrow County," Nelson said. "We want to take some of the stress off the victims."
Nelson says the funds could be used for items like rent assistance and hotel stays as well as transportation. Nelson says, for example, victims of child abuse may need to travel to La Grande, and the funds could be used to help transportation.
That funding approved as part of the 2018-19 budget for Morrow County.

Resolutions, budgets, and changing councilors
May 1, 2018
Rates, resolutions, and a resignation tonight during the Umatilla City Council meeting.
The council facing five resolutions tonight, from raising rates at the RV Park to approving the bargaining agreement between the city and the police union. The council meeting will also include a public hearing for a sewer line extension from the city of Umatilla to the U.S. Army Depot – that’s required for the city to be able to provide sanitary service to the depot and any future development on the site. If that wasn’t enough, they’re also consider awarding a contract for IT services to the Intermountain ESD and make two proclamations: one for mental health awareness and a second for Police Week and Peace Officer’s Memorial Day. Finally, the council will accept the resignation of councilman Mark Ribich.
Ribich saying he plans to continue his work with the Umatilla Chamber board but is stepping away from the council to focus on re-establishing local control and use of ACOE lands in the Umatilla Urban Growth Boundary.
That meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Umatilla City Hall.
Budget season underway for local cities, and it’ll be one of the major discussions during tonight’s Stanfield City Council meeting. During the meeting, newly appointed city councilor Ralph Parrish expected to be sworn in, and the council will take comments from the audience. That meeting begins at 7 in the city council chambers on West Coe Avenue in Stanfield.
The Boardman City Council also meeting at 7. Among regular business and public comment time, the council will consider changing the date for the July meeting – right now on July 4 – as well as meeting in a closed-door, executive session to discuss personnel. That begins at 7 at Boardman City Hall.

Screen-free week begins
May 1, 2018
This is screen-free week, a national initiative to focus on connecting in real life - not through electronics.
Angie Treadwell, with OSU extension, is one of the coordinators of local events through her work on the Healthy Communities Coalition. This year her committee is partnering with the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce, Umatilla County Health, Umatilla-Morrow County Head Start and other groups to offer an event in downtown Hermiston to align with the chamber's first Thursday.
That event running from 4:30 to 7 on Thursday night and including business sales and events, children's games, healthy foods, Zumba, floral bouquets, prizes, and an appearance by the Tooth Fairy. Find out more about Screen Free Week at Hermiston Downtown on the event Facebook page.
All events are free. Screen Free week continues on Friday and Saturday with the on-site registration for the Lovin' Spadefuls Community Garden.
You can contact the OSU extension, or Good Shepherd's Education Department for more information on screenfree activities. Screenfree week runs through May 6 this year.

Mega Dairy files for bankruptcy
April 30, 2018
The owner of mega dairy near Boardman filing for bankruptcy. The Lost Valley Farm scheduled to auction thousands of heads of cattle after defaulting on bank loans, but owner Greg te Velde filing for bankruptcy freezing all actions by creditors, including that auction. The statesman journal reporting Lost Valley Farm and te Velde lists liabilities between 100 million and 500 million dollars to more than 200 creditors. He owes about $360,000 in back taxes owed to Morrow County.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture sued te Velde earlier this year alleging waste from the dairy was endangering nearby drinking water. Last month, the state reached a settlement with te Velde to run the farm in a limited capacity until it can prove the waste treatment system is working correctly.

Echo gym will not be done by graduation
April 30, 2018
Speaking of construction, some bad news for the Echo School District. The district is in the midst of a bond-funded construction project and had planned on having this year’s graduation in their new gym.
[echo not for lack of try]
Echo superintendent Raymon Smith says with the construction push, they would have to cut corners in quality and safety that the district and its contractors were not comfortable with. Instead, this year’s graduation ceremonies will be outside.
Smith says they’re already asking Mother Nature for good weather on that day.

Fisherman who drowned saving son identified
April 27, 2018
The father who drowned saving his son on Wednesday has been identified.
35-year-old Juan Carlos Armenta Madrigal, of Umatilla, identified as the man who saved his son after the boy slipped into the Columbia River. The family had been fishing near the Umatilla Marina on Wednesday evening when the boy slipped into the river and the father jumped in to save him. The 7-year-old was treated for hypothermia. Neither the boy or his father knew how to swim, and neither was wearing a life vest.
The Umatilla School District providing counselors and support staff for students this week.

Drug Take Back Day tomorrow
April 27, 2018
Tomorrow is the National Drug Take Back Day, and the Hermiston Police Department is one of the sites participating in the nationwide event. Eastern Oregon Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention Coordinator Mike Stensrud says prescription drug misuse is a major issue in Umatilla County - and all of Eastern Oregon.
"Eastern Oregon has - actually two of the four counties  have the highest prescribing rates (of opioids) in the state," Stensrud said. "It's really a wide spread problem."
Stensrud has said many of the abused drugs - especially opioids - come from unused prescriptions. That's where the drug take back day comes in. It's an opportunity to get your unused prescription medications out of your house. Cam Strohm, with the Drug Enforcement Administration, says prior to the take back days there wasn't a method to dispose of medications.
"DEA saw an opportunity to provide a service, working with out partners, to take those unwanted and unused drugs out of circulation," he said.
There will be 60 locations in Oregon where you can drop off medications, including at the Hermiston Police Department. HPD saying the prescription drug box in the lobby is accessible during normal business hours, and anyone can drop off unused prescriptions. The drug take back day is a good reminder to do so.
For more information on the drug take back day in Hermiston or the HPD drug box, call 567-5519.

Walk in Her Shoes, Umatilla museum auction tomorrow
April 27, 2018
Saturday, the fifth annual Walk in Her Shoes fundraiser and awareness event for domestic violence services. The event at Riverfront Park in Hermiston runs from 9 in the morning until noon. Participants will move through a domestic violence scenario, choosing from limited options. Kathryn Chaney says the event is eye opening for many people.
"It's a good exercise and a good opportunity to develop empathy for those in the situation," she said.
Officials says despite its serious nature, sexual assault is still one of the most underreported and misunderstood crimes in the United States.
The walk is $15 if you'd like to receive a t-shirt, and they are also hosting a raffle during the event. All proceeds go to Domestic Violence Services.
Also this weekend, the Umatilla Museum and Historical Society is having an auction at the museum at 1 p.m. on Sunday. To raise money, they're auctioning antiques and historic memorabilia that they have duplicates of.

Heppner burning beginning
April 26, 2018
Burning south of Heppner could begin today. The Heppner Ranger District preparing for a 250-acre burn near Sunflower Flat, that’s about 20 miles south of Heppner. The burn designed to reduce the amount of dead and down fuel sources to reduce the risk of wildfire. The burning will cause smoke impacts for two to three days after ignition is complete. The district saying under the right conditions they could begin burning today and continue into next week.
For more on the Umatilla National Forest and prescribed burning, you can visit the facebook page Umatilla NF or contact he Heppner Ranger District.

Community, legislators talk student success
April 26, 2018
The Oregon Legislature’s Joint Committee on Student Success in Hermiston yesterday.

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The Joint Committee for Student Success talks with Hermiston High School students during listening sessions on Wednesday.

The committee touring multiple sites in Umatilla and morrow counties, meeting with students and business leaders, and hearing from the community, and Rep. Greg Smith, who serves on the committee, says this trip is an opportunity to introduce other state legislators to the offerings on the east side of the state
"I think the message throughout today is the collaboration between the education community and our industry," Smith said. "It's a great opportunity for legislators to see how great our youth are and to share with them how great it is living here."
13 of the 14 members met with students from Hermiston, Umatilla, Stanfield, Irrigon, Boardman, and Echo in listening sessions yesterday morning. Hermiston High School student Derek McBride says the students were able to share their perspectives.
"We're hoping they pick up just the aspect of schools, how things are run, and a community that our students and teachers actually help students," he said.

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The Joint Committee for Student Success talks with Hermiston High School students during listening sessions on Wednesday.

Electives, robotics, overcoming challenges, high school graduation, school lunch, and even the block schedule. Officials saying part of the program was to learn about school districts across the state but also to find out what pieces keep students engaged. During a public hearing last night, comments also added in tax issues, STEM and vocational training. Written comments can still be submitted. Those who wish to submit written testimony can also do so through jcss.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov.
For more information on the committee, click here.

Stanfield celebrates trucks, tractors - and trees
April 26, 2018
Tonight, Trucks, Tractors and Trees in Stanfield. Trucks and Tractors is an annual event, but Cecili Longhorn says because Stanfield is a tree city, they're incorporating in an arbor day celebration.
"Not only will we have trucks, tractors, school busses for kids to see, we'll also be giving away two large trees, and the first 50 kids will be able to plant trees," she said.
One hundred children will also be able to paint stepping stones, and, of course, children will be able to get up close and personal with the vehicles, many of which will be on scene thanks to volunteer time and effort by local farmers and emergency responders, as well as local businesses like Umatilla Electric.
Longhorn saying it's an example of the community coming together to make an event happen, including farmers and ag producers who take a night out of a busy time of year to show off their equipment .
Trucks, Tractors, and Trees from 5 to 7 tonight in Bard Park.

Joint Committee on Student Success coming to Hermiston
April 24, 2018
The Oregon Legislature’s joint committee on student success will be in Umatilla and Morrow counties tomorrow on its statewide tour, including a public hearing when anyone can comment or ask questions. That forum will be from 7 to 9 p.m. April 25 at the Hermiston High School auditorium. Participant comments will be limited to two minutes, and the group is particularly interested in where the public would like to see the state’s education investments go, and how to pay for education through tax or spending reforms.
Signups for public testimony begin at 6:30. Those who do not want to give testimony do not need to sign up and may still attend the hearing to listen. Those who wish to submit written testimony can also do so through jcss.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov
For more information on the committee, click here.

BMCC announces vet tech partnership
April 24, 2018
Blue Mountain Community College to offer a veterinary tech program through an agreement with Colby Community College in Colby, Kansas, the college announced today. BMCC currently offers a one-year Veterinary Assistant Certificate program and planned to launch a two-year associate veterinary tech program as part of the new FARM (Facility for Agricultural Resource Management) facility on the Pendleton campus; however, faced with a cost of a quarter million dollars to launch that program, BMCC now saying they’ve approved an agreement through distance learning veterinary tech program at Colby Community College offers, where students will do prerequisite work at BMCC then transition into the distance program. Find out more at

Umatilla bond updates - and extra money
April 23, 2018
Part of the Wellness Program in Umatilla is the district’s summer feeding program, which will be a little different this year because of construction at McNary Heights Elementary. Child Nutrition Director Ricki Lynn Larson says they will still offer a summer feeding program, focusing on park locations, while construction begins on the new gymnasium and expanded kitchen at McNary. District Superintendent Heidi Sipe saying the district received good news this month about its bond: they’ll receive more than $600,000 in energy rebates and funding.
"It's things like when we went into this, we weren't anticipating buying any new furniture for the facilities and we'll just continue repairing what we have," Sipe said. "What this means is if a desk breaks, we can replace it, which is so exciting."
Summer projects in Umatilla going out for bids this time, and work beginning to replace the roof at Clara Brownell Middle school. Sipe saying that will cause some parking issues at the middle school and high school because of staging.
"That's all very doable. We're very excited to get that new roof on the middle school - every wind storm we lose a few shingles," she said.
Construction to continue this summer at Clara Brownell and McNary Heights Elementary School. You can find project updates and design images on the district’s website.

Stanfield to consider bond
April 23, 2018
Speaking of bonds, the Stanfield School District may be considering one in the future. Superintendent Beth Burton says the district is working with Design West on longterm facility planning, and that will help set priorities.
"We are still in just the really gone out to the talk to the community much yet, which really needs to happen, but we didn't want to do that until we finished the longterm facility plan."
Burton says the planning will be done at the end of this month, then they’ll begin making a list of priorities and talking with the community about needs for the district.

Council to consider UMCHS leases at airport
April 22, 2018
Classroom space and the bus barn for Umatilla-Morrow County Head Start could be moving to the Hermiston Airport. The Hermiston City Council considering two ground leases, each about an acre, during its meeting tonight Each lease claims about a one-acre part of the city’s 28 acres of undeveloped land land north of Airport Way. The bus barn lease would be $2,200 per year; the classroom space about 2,100. A presentation from Lifeways during tonight’s meeting of the Hermiston City Council and Urban Renewal Agency. The urban renewal agency meeting will follow directly after the council meeting. The council meetings typically begin at 7; however, tonight’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 6, that’s at Hermiston City Hall. Find the full agenda here.
The Hermiston School District considering a contract with Chartwells for food service management and hearing a presentation from Armand Larivie Middle School during its work session tonight. That will be at Armand, and it begins at 6:30 p.m.

McNary Heights wins wellness award
April 22, 2018
Officials presenting a big award and a big check to McNary Heights Elementary today. The school receiving a School Wellness Award from the Oregon Department of Education, and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council sponsored a $2,500 grant to accompany it. Angie Treadwell, with OSU Extension, nominated McNary Heights for the award in recognition of the wellness efforts at the school, including Breakfast After the Bell, the McNary Marathon, and the summer feeding programs. Fuel Up to Play 60 Ambassador Anthony Newman, a former NFL Player, spoke to the students as part of the award ceremony and recognition. Looking at a long list of accomplishments, Newman says he's impressed
"I've been to a lot of schools and talked to a lot of schools," Newman said. "This one? It's impressive. You do a lot for the kids."
Treadwell says the Hermiston School District and Morrow County School District have also received grants from the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, but this school wellness award for McNary is something new.
ODE recognized three schools in the state with Wellness Awards for outstanding school wellness programs. The other two schools this year are Madison Elementary in the Coos Bay School District and Vern Patrick Elementary in Redmond. You can hear more about the award by listening to Friday's Odds & Ends program.

McNary Heights celebrates Earth Day
April 20, 2018
Hundreds of McNary Heights Elementary students made an annual trek to McNary Lock and Dam yesterday to celebrate Earth Day, learning about water and environment, pollution and identifying invertebrates in pond water.

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McNary Elementary students walk through a trail at McNary Lock and Dam on Thursday.

For many of the presentations, students in Umatilla High School’s advanced biology class lead the younger students through activities. Courtney Daniel was part of a team that into ponds to pull samples of water and show invertebrates to the younger students.
"I was nervous about coming and having it not be very good weather and be really difficult, but we've had so much fun," Daniel said. "We've been doing macro invertebrates, and the kids have been having a lot of fun, finding cool stuff, and I think a lot of that is because of the weather."
Nearby, a team of Roberto, Rueben, and Ivan walked students through the process of creating a water filtration system. Students selected materials then tested their hypothesis. Roberto says it’s harder than it looks and not everyone completes the filtration.
"We've had about five in each class that get it right," he said.
In addition to the presentations at the annual Earth Day, students were able to have a picnic lunch. Avery Gutierrez says she’s glad her school offers this event every year.
"I like it - the walking and just looking at everything," she said. "And it teaches us about the environment and how we can make it better."
In continuation of Earth Day celebration, Umatilla leadership students working on a clean-up day today.

CBMS names Guentert new principal
April 18, 2018
Umatilla School District ahs named Dawn Guentert as its next Clara Brownell Middle School principal, replacing Liz Durant. Guentert ahs been with Umatilla for 10 years, including as a science teacher and instructional coach. She says that experience lead her toward the new position, and she plans to continue the momentum.
Guentert will work with the current staff and principal through the spring to help with the transition to administration.

Financial aid night at HHS
April 18, 2018
For questions on paying for college next year and what your financial aid package means, counseling staff at Hermiston High School are hosting an understanding financial aid package night in the school’s library. It starts at 6 and will last about an hour. Counselor Melody Bustillos says they’re looking to offer individualized support.
Bustillos says bring your financial aid packages and college log-ins for that individualized support, and College Bound Coordinator Liz Marvin says its geared at students attending a four-year college next year – regardless of where. Both Bustillos and Marvin saying you don’t have to be a Hermiston High School student – or any high school student at all – to attend.
Contact Hermiston High School counseling for more information. That again begins at 6 tonight at the Hermiston High School library.

Paving work resumes Monday on 730
April 18, 2018
On April 23, work expected to resume in a paving project along US 730 in Umatilla, between Old River Road and Willamette Street. The work, between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m., will cause some temporary closures of the Interstate 82 on and off ramps in Umatilla. Travelers can also expect flaggers, rough pavement and delays up to 20 minutes at a time during that work. It’s expected to be completed by the end of May.

BMCC launches 20th Arts & Culture
April 17, 2018
This week, Blue Mountain Community College is talking arts and culture. The 20th annual festival began yesterday in Pendleton, and the first presentation in Hermiston is today. At 1 this afternoon, visiting artist Natasha Ria el-Scari (will be in Hermiston, on the BMCC Campus. Ria el-Scari is a poet who is a performance poet and this year's Artist in Residence for Arts & Culture Festival.
The theme is global perspectives. In Hermiston, the main days for Arts & Culture are Wednesday and Thursday. Presentations scheduled for each hour 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday with presentations ranging from "In Science We Trust," an Oregon Humanities Conversation Project, to interactive African Drumming. On Thursday, the presentations will cover the story of a Holocaust survivor, immigration rights, and Wayne Yamamoto, a World War II Japanese-American internee who will host a "fireside chat" format presentation and discussion.
On Thursday, they'll also have games and an Alpaca display at the Hermiston campus. All of those events are open to the public. Find the full schedule of presentations here, and you can contact BMCC Hermiston for more information.

Judge Hill visits HHS
April 18, 2018
On Friday, students at Hermiston High School met with this year's distinguished alumnus, Judge Dan Hill, to ask questions and take a first step toward a mentorship. In a full day on the campus, Circuit Court Judge Hill met leadership students, students at the ILC building, as well as civics and econ students, and the judge said he was impressed with students engagement - and their questions.

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Circuit Court Judge Daniel Hill speaks to students at Hermiston High School on Friday.

Students were able to ask questions on everything from what a judge does, how hill approaches leadership and even, how to avoid jury duty.
"It's been going really well," Hill said Friday. "I've been impressed with the classes, the students asking articulate questions and responding in articulate ways."
HHS Assistant Principal Scott DePew says the distinguished alumnus program highlights one HHS graduate to help inspire students for what they can achieve after graduation. This is the first year the school district has involved an alumnus in a mentorship program during the school year.
"I'm just looking forward to this time frame and this mentoring, which I really enjoy," Hill said. "Try to get some questions, answer some questions, and maybe resolve some misconceptions about the judiciary."
Hill will also serve as a featured speaker during the Hermiston High School commencement ceremonies in June.

Umatilla Robotics hits the road
April 18, 2018
In other school news, the Umatilla FIRST Robotics Competition team boarded a yellow bus over the weekend to head to the World Finals in Houston. Umatilla Superintendent Heidi Sipe says the team only had a week notice after winning the Chairman’s Award at the Pacific Northwest Finals last week, so they depleted their start-up funds for next season to make the trip. The team expects to kick off funding raising when they return from the trip next week. You can follow the progress on the Facebook page, website, and other social media pages for Umatilla Robotics. Competitions at the World Finals will be streamed online. Umatilla’s team is team 4125, confidential.

Boardman, Stanfield meeting this week
April 18, 2018
A special meeting of the Boardman City Council tomorrow night. That begins at 6 at Boardman City Hall. The action again focused on an ordinance for port vacation and rededication – this one is the second reading and decision on that. There will also be time for public comment.
The Stanfield City Council appointing a new city councilor and discussing outdoor burning during its second meeting on the month. Also on the agenda, changes to master water metering. The city has been accepting letters of interest for its vacant council seat and is expected to review those letters and select a new council member. Anyone who has submitted an application is encouraged to attend that meeting tomorrow to answer questions the council may have. The council will also meet in an executive session for the city manager’s evaluation. That meeting begins at 7 in the council chambers of west Coe Avenue.

McNary wraps up annual marathon
April 13, 2018
For the past two weeks, students at McNary Heights Elementary have been competing against themselves in an annual tradition more than three decades long: the McNary Marathon.

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Students run in the McNary Marathon outside McNary Heights Elementary on Thursday.

The students themselves, many take it as a challenge, and as they filed out on Thursday for the final day of the marathon, many took to the field running - literally.
"It's fun. I like to run," said third-grader Rueben, who had 57 laps - more than anyone else in his class - halfway through Thursday's recess. While he set out to beat a personal goal - and do as many laps as he could - fourth-grader Zoe says she prefers walking.
"It's kind of fun because you get to walk along with your friends, and sometimes your teachers go out there," she said.

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Vice principal Nicole Coyle punches a card for a student, indicating another lap.

Multiple students say the marathon is about doing their best. Staff say its about health, keeping kids active and preparing for other outdoor events , such as the annual hike to McNary Lock and Dam for Earth Day. Principal Rick Cotterell says It's also about carrying on a tradition.
"It's a time-honored tradition, and we plan to continue it year after year," Cotterell said.
The school is calculating total punches and laps, and they'll reward the boy and the girl with the most laps from each class during an assembly next week.

Candidates talk economics, mental health at forum
April 12, 2018
Economic development. Financial stability and mental health taking center stage last night during a candidate forum at Armand Larive Middle School.
About 75 people came out to hear from Five county commissioner and 8 Hermiston city council candidates
On the county commissioner side, the forum featured incumbents George Murdock and Larry Givens as well as the candidates running against Murdock for position one, Rick Pullen and Tom Bailor, and and john Shafer, who is running against Givens.
When asked what the most pressing issue was for the county, Pullen and Givens said economic development, Murdock answered housing, and Shafer and Bailor both targeted mental health. Bailor said while discussion on opioids is important, it’s not the only drug problem that has an impact on mental health.
"A lot of people are worried about opioids, but Umatilla County is the poster child for methamphetamine, and we need to address that," he said.
Candidate Bailor proposing putting together a county behavior health committee to study that issue at the county level. Shafer talked about mental health through bringing in more crisis workers.
"What I'd like to propose for mental health is, No. 1, we need to get more providers into Umatilla County," he said.
The candidates also spoke about increased funding for the Umatilla County Jail and their take on economic development. Pullen says not all economic development is created equal.
"Big industries are great. They bring in a lot of tax revenue ... but we need the jobs that are going to bring in lots of employment, not just five or six employees and a good tax base - jobs," he said.
After the county commissioner forum, eight of the nine candidates for Hermiston City Council also speaking about city issues, including the role of a city council, fiscal responsibility in the city and the Eastern Oregon Trade and event center.
The forum was broadcast and recorded by Armand Larive middle school students and staff, and you can view that on demand here.

Boardman School Emergency Drill is tomorrow
April 12, 2018
Tomorrow, April 13, the emergency drill in Boardman schools. It’s a partnership with the Morrow County School District, Boardman Police, and Morrow County sheriff.
Tomorrow is not a school day for Morrow County, so most students will be away from campuses during the event. Some students – those from Boardman High School who have been cleared to participate – will participate, as well as staff and other volunteers who will role-play as students and parents.  Staff from other school districts will observe, and Intermountain ESD Superintendent Mark Mulvihill says this is the first major drill since many safety procedures were put in place.
The drill will include emergency responder, and they’re asking the community to be aware the drill will take place and to avoid the area during drill activity.

Text-to-911 services go live
April 11, 2018
Text-to-911 services now available. Umatilla County 911 Communication Center, Milton-Freewater Police Department Dispatch and John Day Emergency Communications Center making a joint announcement yesterday that the service is now live.
Dispatch saying they still prefer the those in an emergency to call, but texting is an option for those who cannot because of the type of emergency – such as a home invasion or domestic violence – or those who are hard of hearing The press releasing saying the main thing to remember is “call if you can, text if you can’t.”
Officials also saying when texting to 911 for an emergency, the first message should be the location of the emergency (including city) and the type of emergency help needed (police, fire, or medical). Keep text messages brief and concise; using full words. Stay with your phone, and be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker.
As of right now, you cannot include 911 in a group text, and photos, videos and emoji can’t be sent.
Text to 911 service is not yet available statewide in Oregon If you send a text to 911 from a city/county without Text to 911 service, you should receive a message saying that there is no text service to 911
available at this time. For more information, go to www.nwtext911.info

Crashes close I-84
April 10, 2018
The Eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 closed this morning because of an incident that occurred before 5:30 a.m. at MP 188  While the incident was initially reported as a wreck, some reports now saying a pedestrian was involved.
The closer today on Interstate 84 following a wreck yesterday morning where two soldiers received minor injuries. An SUV crashed into the back of their Humvee on I-84, and the impact flipped the military vehicle off the shoulder of the interstate and onto its top, and two soldiers were transported to St. Anthony’s hospital in Pendleton. The Humvee was part of a convoy from Joint Base Lewis Mcchord headed toward Idaho. The driver of the SUV reportedly cited for following too close. Update, April 11:
The Eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 closed yesterday morning, and Oregon State Police releasing more information on the incident that killed a pedestrian. OSP saying 49-year-old Rosialy Tiffany of Kennewick was crossing the travel lanes of the Interstate when she was struck by a station wagon, driving by 41-year-old James Creel of Portland. Tiffany had left her vehicle, and for unknown reasons, attempted to cross the freeway when she was struck. She was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The freeway was closed down and traffic had to be routed through the town of Echo for about four and a half hours during the investigation.
Creel was not injured in the incident. Alcohol, by Tiffany, is being considered a contributing factor in the crash. No photos will be available of this crash.

Candidate forum
April 10, 2018
Tomorrow, a candidate forum at Armand Larive Middle school. The forum to feature those running for Umatilla County Commissioner as well as the nine candidates for Hermiston City Council.
Debbie Pedro, with the Hermiston Chamber, says almost a dozen candidates have so far agreed to participate. The event begins with a meet and greet at 5:30, followed by the county commissioner forum at 6. A brief intermission will take place after the commissioner forum, and the city council candidates will follow. Contact the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce for more information.
The Boardman Chamber of Commerce is also hosting a candidate forum. That one will be April 18th and will feature candidates for Circuit Court Judge and Morrow County Commissioner.

Stanfield has city council opening
April 10, 2018
If you’re interested in being involved with city politics and you live in Stanfield, they are now accepting letters of interest for a city council position. The position open after the death of councilwoman Pam McSpaddon
City Manager Blair Larsen says the city council hopes to interview and appoint someone at the April 17 meeting.
To be a city council member in Stanfield, you must be a legal voter and have been a resident for at least two years.

Umatilla Robotics heading to Worlds
April 9, 2018
Umatilla Robotics is again heading to the FIRST Robotics Competition world championships, this time in Houston. The team receiving a regional chairman’s award over the weekend, which qualifies them for the worlds competition in Houston. That’ll be in a couple weeks – the robot already crated and ready to go… the team cannot work on the robot between competitions.

Council talks NE Hermiston water project
April 9, 2018
Anderson Perry will likely design and provide oversight for the Northeast Hermiston Water System Expansion project. The Hermiston City Council voting on that during tonight’s council meeting. The preliminary authorization by the city council including just under $800,000 for design engineering, construction engineer, cultural resources reporting and construction monitoring. The fee estimate from Anderson Perry coming in at $640,000.
The council also has a supplemental budget hearing for the Hermiston Urban Renewal Agency and a closed-door, executive session for discussion of property transactions.
That meeting begins at 7 tonight. Find the full agenda here.

School Board meeting at 6:30
April 9, 2018
Also tonight, the Hermiston School Board of Education expected to officially hire Dan Greenough as the new principal at Desert View Elementary. They’ll also have reports on graduation rates and enrollment as well as accepting resignations and meeting in an executive session on labor negotiations. Follow this link for more on tonight's Hermiston School Board meeting.

Judge Hill named distinguished alumnus
April 9, 2018
In other school district news, Judge Daniel Hill named the Distinguished Alumnus for 2017-18. Judge Hill graduated from Hermiston High School in 1979. In January 2005, Judge Daniel Hill began serving as the Circuit Court Judge, 6th Judicial District for Umatilla and Morrow Counties in the Oregon Judicial Branch. Judge Hill is a Brigadier General, US Army,
For the last three years, nominations for this recognition were open in November and the alumnus announced in May. The process changed this school year to provide the alumnus an opportunity to serve as a mentor to students since the start of the school year.
On Thursday, June 7, Judge Hill will be a featured speaker at the HHS commencement ceremony: 7 p.m., at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, Washington.

Stuff the Bus raises $22,000 worth of items
April 9, 2018
Over the weekend, Leadership Hermiston hosting a ‘Stuff the Bus’ donation drive. Between busses set up at Walmart, Fiesta Foods, and Safeway, the group collecting almost $22,000 worth of goods as well as $718 in monetary donations. The items donated to Agape House, Hermiston’s Domestic Violence Shelter, the Hermiston Warming Station, and Desert Rose Ministries. The cash will be distributed to those same groups through the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce.

Umatilla County Fair announces Main Stage Entertainment
April 6, 2018
The Umatilla County Fair announcing its 2018 entertainment:

Sawyer Brown

Ned Ledoux

Skid Row

Latino Night

Blues Traveler

Tickets are now on sale. Any concert seating tickets do require fair passes or tickets as well.

Clean-ups continue tomorrow despite weather
April 6, 2018
Despite the wind and possible rain tomorrow, clean up events not being cancelled because of the weather. Umatilla City Manager Russ Pelleburg says they’re hoping volunteers will still come out tomorrow for their annual “Slam Dunk the Junk”
"Last year was our biggest year of cleanup in town - it was a great success - and we're hoping the weather doesn't throw too much of a damper on things tomorrow," Pelleburg said.
You can contact Umatilla City Hall for more information.
Tomorrow is also the final day of the Umatilla County Clean Up - week 1 at Sanitary Disposal as well as the hazardous waste day at the North Morrow Transfer Station, and the "Stuff the Bus" donations drive in Hermiston.
Tomorrow is also the citywide yard sale in Stanfield, and many of them will be set up at the little league fields in Stanfield, beginning at 10 in the morning. City Manager Blair Larsen said yard sales will happen across the city.
"We'll have a map available showing you everyone in Stanfield and Echo, where the yard sales will be," he said.
To be included in the map, sellers paid a small fee. That money is going toward Stanfield's Movies in the Park.

Steps taken to bring back drug court
April 5, 2018
Drug Court will be returning to Umatilla County.
The Umatilla County Commissioners yesterday approving a new plan to partner with Community Counseling Solutions to reboot the drug court, which was dissolved almost exactly a year ago due to funding issues. The program provides support for those struggling with addiction. The new, smaller drug court program is expected to start in July.

Clean-up week

April 4, 2018
It is clean-up week across Umatilla and Morrow counties.
In Umatilla county, sanitary disposal taking loads of garbage and lawn debris up to 454 pounds – excluding tires – for free this week.
Hermiston Parks and Recreation director Larry Fetter says the Clean-up week is the first stage of the Clean-Sweep Events for Umatilla county. The offer continues through Saturday.
Saturday is also the Slam Dunk the Junk clean up event in Umatilla, and on the Morrow County side, it’s the Hazardous Waste Event for Morrow County residents. They’ll be taking paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, filters… all those hard-to dispose of items. In Morrow County, that hazardous waste event is this Saturday at the Morrow County North Transfer Station. In Umatilla County, it’s next Saturday – April 14 - at Umatilla Electric Cooperative.
The Umatilla County recycling event From 9-3 on April 14, and again, that Boardman Event is this Saturday from 9 until noon. This month, the City of Boardman is also offering garbage vouchers to residents. You can contact the city of Boardman for more information.
For the Umatilla County events, contact Hermiston City Hall or Umatilla Electric Cooperative.

Stuff the bus this weekend
April 4, 2018
Also this Saturday, the “Stuff the Bus” event to bring collect items for Agape House, the Hermiston Warming Stations, Desert Rose Ministries, and the Hermiston Domestic Violence Shelter.
It’s a project from the current Leadership Hermiston class, and they’re collecting items from trash bags through chicken noodle soup, light bulbs to socks, as well as baby diapers, other nonperishable foods and hygiene products.
The items will be collected on Saturday then delivered to the four nonprofit organizations. Aimee Cook, the project chairwoman say the goal is to fill the busses.
Stuff the bus running from 8 to 5 on Saturday at Fiesta Foods, Safeway and Wal-mart. You can watch for the yellow school busses with banners or talk to the Leadership Hermiston members – they’ll be wearing lime green shirts.

Wyden talks guns, DACA, robotics
April 4, 2018
US Senator Ron Wyden holding his Umatilla County Town Hall meeting this morning at Umatilla High School to a crowd of county residents and Umatilla students. More than half of the question-and-answer session focused on gun violence with comments from both community members and students. Wyden saying shootings have become common place.
"This is not normal - we are better than this," Wyden told the audience.
Wyden approached what he called common sense gun policy, which had three main points:
"What I want to do is really three things: One, I want a background check every time a gun is sold in America," he said. "Every single time."
The second point is banning bump stocks and the third, lifting restrictions so the CDC can research gun violence. Questions also covered support for agricultural supporters and veterans, against privatizing VA care and in favor of the secure rural schools bill and DACA students. Wyden presented the Umatilla Robotics team with a flag that had flown over the capitol, and the team presented him with a T-shirt, making him an honorary member of FRC Team Confidential.
Wyden continues his Eastern Oregon circuit today with his Morrow County Town Hall. That begins at 9:15 at Riverside Jr/Sr High School.

Parking lot demolition begins
April 4, 2018
Construction beginning in the parking lot behind the Hermiston Public Library this week, and if you're hoping for a spot to park behind the library, it's not going to be there.
Crews beginning the demolition process on the upper parking lot behind the library in preparation of grading work for a parking lot overall. That's good news for the long term, and bad news for anyone planning on attending library programs, like morning story times. Librarian Mark Rose says they'll have signage pointing parents to the front doors instead of the customary back entrance.
"We still want to continue doing everything we can to engage the community," he said.
Rose says they have no plans to cut programs during the construction, which should be completed in early summer - and, with any luck, before the summer reading programs begins.
The parking lot changes will make a gradual incline in the parking lot that was formerly in multiple levels. The changes will add about 40 parking spaces and serve the library, the city's building department, the Harkenrider Center.

Hermiston and GEODC announce loans
April 4, 2018
The city of Hermiston also announcing a housing rehabilitation program yesterday. No-interest loans available up to $20,000 for repairs including structural repairs, electrical, plumbing and heating system repair or replacements. It’s a program funded by a Community Development Block Grant and now being issued through the Greater Eastern Oregon Development Corporation. You can visit the website for the corporation at www.geodc.net for more information.

Lavender Festival cancelled for 2018
April 3, 2018
No lavender festival this year. The annual June festival typically a benefit for Agape House, but executive director Dave Hughes says they’ve cancelled this year because a late frost damaged the lavender plants.
"We have taken the attitude that it's such a wonderful event, and it's so wonderful when the lavender is in blossom, that we will just cancel it this year so we can provide a quality event when the flowers are beautiful," Hughes said.
That event typically the last Saturday in June, and Hughes says they do hope to bring that back in 2019.

Wyden hosts town halls this week
April 3, 2018
This morning, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden hosting his Umatilla County Town Hall for the year. That begins at 9:30 at Umatilla High School. It is open to the public, and no reservations are required. The Morrow County meeting at 9:15 tomorrow morning at Riverside Jr/Sr High School.

City councils talk bills, budgets, and property tonight
April 3, 2018
Tonight, the question of whether water and sewer bills should be in the name of the property owner. That’s one discussion the Stanfield City Council will have tonight. They’ll also discuss potential burn ordinance amendments, projects to include in the next budget, and the city’s need for improved meeting and office space. During that same meeting, the Stanfield Police Department will also give its 2017 year-end report.
That meeting is at 7 tonight in the Stanfield City Council Chambers on Coe Avenue.
The Umatilla City Council updating and renewing franchise agreements tonight. On the agenda, franchise agreements to Lightspeed Networks, CenturyLink, Zayo group and Eastern Oregon Telecom. They'll also have a proclamation and announcements about Arbor Week in the city. That meeting begins at 7 tonight at Umatilla City Hall.
And the Boardman City Council will be working on a budget contingency transfer, and rededication of property in the Port of Morrow. That meeting begins at 7 at Boardman City Hall. You can contact any of those city governments for more information on their meetings.

Way of the Cross today
March 30, 2018
This afternoon, a re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross through Hermiston for Good Friday, a recognition of the crucifixion of Jesus. The annual “Way of the Cross” begins at noon tomorrow in the parking lot at Our lady of Angels Catholic Church. Father Maxwell said the church continues the tradition every year.
"Everybody is welcome, and I recommend anyone attend who would like to attend," he said. "By acting out these various points that Jesus suffered on his way to Calgary, it helps us know the depth of the love he has for us."
Youth from the church will take on many of the roles in the re-enactment, including Jesus, Roman guards, and other Roman citizens. Father Maxwell says the young people choose to participate.
"They have a little fun while they're doing it, but at the same time, these young men and women, they pray before they go, and they really try to make this not just a play but an act of love," he said.
The Way of the Cross will follow multiple stations on a path from the church to the Hermiston Butte. If you do participate, dress for the weather, for the walk, and for climbing a portion of the butte.

Umatilla Museum grand opening
March 30, 2018
This weekend is Easter, and next weekend is the grand re-opening of the Umatilla Museum. On April 7, it’ll be the new season opening for the museum and also the debut of many changes. To prepare, they’re looking for volunteers and members.
Museum board members say they’re asking volunteers to work 2-hour shifts. Those who volunteer a four-hour shift will also receive vouchers for gas and lunch. For now, the museum will be open from 10-2 on Fridays and 10-6 on Saturdays.
The Umatilla Museum in the former Umatilla City Hall, police department, and jail, on Sixth Street. They also have a benefit auction scheduled for Sunday, April 29. We will have more details on that next month.
You can call 541-626-2099 for more information or to volunteer with the museum.

BMCC receives national award
March 30, 2018
Blue Mountain Community College honored for excellence in advertising this week, taking home a Gold Paragon Award during the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR) annual conference in Las Vegas. BMCC receiving the award for its “In A World” radio ad.This is the first NCMPR Paragon Award BMCC has received.

HPD investigating shooting
March 29, 2018
Shots fired near Newport Park last night. Hermiston Police saying the report of gunshots came in just before 8:30 last night. Officers responding found a dark colored Honda sedan with several bullet holes in it. Preliminary investigation finding three occupants of the Honda were in an argument with a male in a light-colored SUV. When one of the Honda’s occupants broke out the back window of the SUV with a bat, the male in the SUV pulled a firearm. The three fled the scene, and the male in the SUV allegedly pulled up to the unoccupied Honda and shot at it multiple times. Police have not reported any injuries in the incident, and it is an ongoing investigation.

Newport streets project gets green light
March 29, 2018
The Hermiston City Council this week approving a contract to redo several streets around Newport Park, including a rebuild on Newport Avenue between 5th and 7th. Work will begin in the next month, and it should be complete late summer.
The project is mainly funded through the occupancy tax on electric bills the council approved last year in the capital improvement plan. That tax is dedicated to funding street projects.
"This is essentially the first project funded with those new funds coming in," said Mark Morgan, assistant city manager. "They'll be going in and rebuilding those roads to make a better connection."
For some areas of Newport Avenue, it will be the first time a street has been properly constructed in the area. As part of the project, the city also piloting a grant-program to provide matching funds for city residents installing sidewalks.

Crystal Apple deadline this weekend
March 29, 2018
It is spring break, but one reminder related to area schools this week – the deadline for nominations for the InterMountain ESD’s Crystal Apple awards is this Sunday. You can find the nomination form on the ESD’s website. Nominees can be any full-time or part-time employee in any of the ESD’s 18 component school districts in Morrow, Umatilla, and Union counties.

Traffic light work begins
March 28, 2018
Work picking up this week and next to install new traffic lights on 11th. The lights going in at the intersections of Elm and 11th and Orchard and 11th. Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says they expect the projects to be completed in the fall, although many of the heaviest traffic impacts will be this week with light poles and arms installed months before the "They'll non active until mid to late fall while they're doing a lot of work underground, so it's going to look like it's done long before they're active," Morgan said.
Work will take place paving at both intersections as wells as flaggers and lane restrictions on Elm, which will also have an expanded turning lane installed as part of the construction project. City officials recommending slowing down or avoiding the areas during construction, if possible Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says the police department has received grant funding to help with visibility patrols during the construction to make sure drivers follow the law and keep the roads - and the construction sites - safe.
"This is not about us writing tickets," Edmiston said. "This is about us making sure that everyone traveling through the area is operating safely and that the workers doing the work are as a safe as possible."
Morgan saying drivers can expect those primary traffic concerns to take place over the next few weeks. The city also moving forward with projects around Newport Park and the Festival Street. Both of those expected to be complete this summer.

Commissioners consider modulars for fair office
March 27, 2018
The City of Hermiston last night voting on changing governing boards at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center, but it isn’t the only change going on as part of the transition. Umatilla County negotiating an agreement to turn over its part of ownership of the facility to the city. Now, the Umatilla County Commissioners are considering putting a modular building on the property to house staff for the Umatilla County Fair.
"We have a particular need right now, along with the change in our status in EOTEC, for the county fair to have an office on the EOTEC property. That was part of our settlement with the city of Hermiston," said County Commissioner Bill Elfering.
Elfering said they’re looking at using modular buildings from the Milton-Freewater School District. With school construction replacing modular classrooms, that district releasing unneeded modular buildings
"We could, with the permission of the city of Hermiston, put one of those up as an office building at least temporarily until they're in a better position to building something permanent that would be more suitable to the site," he said.
The county authorizing purchase of two of those buildings if they are able to – the district selling them in a first-come, first-served basis.

Echo Schools amp construction in spring break
March 26, 2018
It is spring break in area schools, and in the Echo School District that means amping up on construction on its building expansion and renovation.
"Really focused this week on doing a big push and bring in extra crews to do a lot of connection pieces where the old building and the new building are going to connect," Echo Schools Superintendent Raymon Smith said.
Smith says they’ll also be working on site grading and sidewalks while they don’t have the traffic that happens during a school day. Smith said they're working to make the next week a busy but productive week.
You can follow construction projects at Echo Schools on their website construction page.

EOTEC board changes
March 26, 2018
Formation of a new EOTEC advisory committee on the agenda at the Hermiston City Council meeting tonight. They’ll also be repealing the EOTEC Authority board. The change in management groups following the city’s takeover of the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center. The City Council also considering a contract to repave streets surrounding Newport Park. That meeting beginning at 7 tonight at Hermiston City Hall. Follow this link for the full agenda.

Erickson receives fire honor
March 23, 2018
Yesterday, State Fire Marshal Jim Walker presenting the Office of State Fire Marshal's highest awards for outstanding achievement in fire prevention and safety education during the Oregon Fire Marshals Association's annual conference today.
The Golden Sparky is awarded to a fire service agency or individual for outstanding achievements in fire prevention and safety and the Silver Sparky is awarded to a civilian, company, or non-profit organization for outstanding achievements in fire prevention and safety.
The Golden Sparky award was presented to Umatilla County Fire District #1 Public Educator Gretchen Erickson and the Silver Sparky was presented to the Pendleton Lions Club.

Livestock district to go to Hat Rock voters
March 23, 2018
Residents of the Hat Rock will have two ballots this spring as they consider not only the May election but also the creation of the Salmon Point Livestock District. The area currently open range, where cattle can graze freely and do not have to be fenced in.
County Commissioner Bill Elfering saying the livestock district proposal comes from residents who have suffered property damage from cattle. Supporters of the open range say the cattle have been there since the 1960s, before most of the area’s homes were built. The petition going before the Umatilla County Commissioners on Wednesday. The Board voting to allow area residents to vote on whether or not to create the district. That vote will be April 17.

One DUI arrest in St. Patrick's Patrols
March 23, 2018
The results are in from the St. Patrick’s Day enhanced patrols.
On March 17, the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office making just one DUI arrest on the holiday – 20-year-old Joel Dominguez Jr., of Umatilla, charged with driving under the influence of marijuana. A release from the sheriff’s office saying this is the second time Dominguez has been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana – he was last arrested in March of 2017. That case is still pending in court.
Enhanced and high visibility patrols are funded through grant money from the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association. They take place on days with a higher than usual risk of driving under the influence injuries and deaths. The next patrol scheduled for Cinco de Mayo weekend – May 4-6.

Sheriff warns of warrant scam
March 22, 2018
More scams going around, this time a warning from Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan. He says it’s called the warrant scam. A scammer calls claiming to be with local law enforcement and that a local judge has issued a warrant for their arrest, often for an issue like failing to appear for jury duty.
"A lot of times, they'll even name our local judges, 'Judge Brower has issued a warrant for your arrest for your failure to appear at jury duty and to avoid being taken to jail, you can avoid that by posting bail,'" Rowan said.
Rowan saying the scammers demand the victims purchase pre-paid gift cards to pay the fine or bail amount. Rowan saying a local victim recently lost $3,000 in a similar scam, adding there are two major issues with this scam: the gift cards and the phone call itself.
"We do not call people and let them know there's a warrant for their arrest," he said. "We usually show up and take them into custody."
Rowan also saying there is no legitimate reason to have to go purchase gift cards for an immediate payment and that’s a good sign the call is a scam. He says hang up and call the organization directly, whether its law enforcement or the IRS. If you have been a victim of a scam, report it to local law enforcement.

She Also Served is this weekend
March 22, 2018
This weekend, a reminder she also served. The Boardman-based event is a two-day Eastern Oregon celebration of women veterans.
"When people think of veterans or those who served, they too often do not think of women veterans," Oregon Women Veterans Coordinator Elizabeth Estabrooks said. "One of my tasks is to really help people shift that thinking so when they think veteran, they don't just think men, but they add women on there as well."
part of the goal of She Also Served is to remind people about women veterans as well as to celebrate their service. The event begins at noon tomorrow at the SAGE with the opening of the “I Am Not Invisible” gallery, a display of photos and the back story of 22 Oregon women veterans.
"It's a beautiful, touching, powerful exhibit," she said.
“I Am not Invisible” will be on display through 5 in the afternoon on Saturday. Also during the event, a reception featuring a guest speaker and buffet dinner begins at 4:30 tomorrow evening. That is free and open to the public, but RSVP is required. On Saturday, She Also Served continues with a screening of the documentary, “Lioness” at 11. For more information, call Morrow County Veterans Services at 922-6420 or visit the website visitsage.com.

Candidate forum scheduled
March 22, 2018
A candidate forum scheduled in Hermiston. The Hermiston Chamber inviting all who have filed for positions on the Hermiston City Council and Umatilla County Commissioners to participate in the forum on Wednesday, April 11. The first half – those running for Hermiston City Council – beginning at 6 in the evening , followed by the county commissioner position at 7:30. For more information call the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce at 541-567-6151.

Wyden announces town halls
March 22, 2018
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden announcing town hall visits in Umatilla and Boardman in early April. Wyden’s annual Umatilla County Town Hall will be at Umatilla High School on April 3. That starts at 9:30. Wyden will appear in La Grande for his Union County Town Hall that afternoon and will be back on this side of the blues at 9:15 on April 4, when he’ll host a town hall at Riverside Junior/Senior High School for the Morrow County Town Hall. Wyden has held town halls in all 36 counties in Oregon every year since he was elected senator in 1996.
Find more information on the town halls and their locations by clicking here.

Stanfield man dies in motorcycle-semi crash
March 21, 2018
A Stanfield man dying yesterday in a crash on the Stanfield/Echo interchange at Interstate 84. Oregon State Police saying 40-year-old Jason Blankenship, of Stanfield, was riding a motorcycle southbound over the overpass and collided with a commercial truck just after 2 in the afternoon yesterday. Blankenship was declared deceased at the scene. The driver of the commercial vehicle, Roberto Rodriguez Dias, was not injured. The overpass and eastbound on/off ramps closed for more than three hours yesterday. OSP is continuing the investigation.

Morrow County schools looks to add behavioral classroom
March 21, 2018
The Morrow County School District working on piloting a program to focus on behavior issues in elementary classrooms. Morrow County Superintendent Dirk Dirkson says they’re Focusing on ways to help students in K-5 and focusing as early as possible.
"We're looking at kids, specifically in K-1, that really act out," he said. "We are trying to really get a behavior classroom established so we can give them the skills with t he mental health support they need, and their education. A safer environment for them and for others."
With the focus on school safety and mental health, Dirkson says they’re working to give young students support and strategies for dealing with difficult times before the issues escalate when students become teenagers.
Dirkson says it seems like there is an increase in the number of young students having behavioral issues in class, but there’s also more attention to the issue.

HPD still receiving scam reports
March 20, 2018
The Hermiston Police Department warning again about scam, particularly IRS related scams at this time of year. HPD continuing to receive reports of scammers calling local residents, pretending to the be from the IRS and saying if the victim does not immediately pay money to the fake IRS agent, they could be arrested or fact other charges. The IRS will not make first contact over the phone – they prefer first contact by mail – and will never demand immediate payment.
HPD recommends to learn more about how to protect yourself and people you care about from scams, review these resources:
AARP Fraud Watch Network:
Oregon DOJ Scam Alert Network

Clean-ups scheduled in April
March 20, 2018
The City of Boardman sponsoring a community-wide clean-up during the month of April. It’s designed to have boardman residents clean up and dispose of yard debris and hazardous materials. The City has garbage vouchers available, with a fifty dollar limit, to residents of the City of Boardman. The vouchers
are valid during the month of April at Finley Butte Landfill and the North Morrow Transfer Station.
In conjunction with the month-long clean up, Morrow County North Transfer Station will be hosting a free Household Hazardous Waste Event on Saturday April 7, 2018 from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. for all Morrow County residents. They will be collecting all paints, batteries, oils and filters, household cleaners, glues and much more. Garbage vouchers are not required for disposal of these items.
City residents may pick up their vouchers at Boardman City Hall at For more information on this program, call Boardman City Hall at 481-9252.
Hermiston offering three clean sweep events. The first, a clean up week with Sanitary Disposal from April 1-7, a recycling event on April 14 – free disposal of hazardous materials – then a community clean up in partnership with I Love My City on April 21. You can find out more on any of those activities by contacting Hermiston Parks and Recreation.

Sheriff's Office plans patrols for St. Patty's Day
March 16, 2018
A DUII and high visibility event bringing enhanced patrols this weekend for law enforcement with the St. Patrick's Day Holiday and related celebrations. Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says there's been a decline in the number of fatality accidents- both in Umatilla County and statewide.
"I think that can be contributed to enhanced patrols out there some of those efforts in getting out there and taking care of those that choose to overindulge with alcohol and/or with drugs and get behind the wheel," Rowan said.
The grant-funded high visibility events put additional patrol vehicles on the roadways to watch for distracted and under-the-influence drivers. The most recent patrol, over the Super Bowl weekend netted two DUII arrests, five citations and seven warnings for traffic violations.

Students walk out against gun violence
March 15, 2018
More than 300 students at Hermiston High School participating in a walk out this morning, part of a nationwide effort to both recognize those who died in the Stoneman Douglas school shooting last month and to support policy changes to protect against gun violence.

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Students chanting, "Save our children, not our guns," "Policy and Change," and other statements against gun violence, focusing on change and prevention.
"Children are the future. This should be a change. There shouldn't be gun violence," Senior Damaris Madero Carrillo said, her voice strained after chanting. "A small community is a much bigger voice when we're all together to make a stand, to make a difference."

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Sophomore Paul said prevention measures can include more strict background checks, limiting violence in media, and increase mental health.
"There isn't enough treatment for mental health issues," he said. "It's spiraling out of control and there are ways to fix it."
In addition to the walk-out, students also having the opportunity to fill out post cards today to send to local, state, or national elected officials, and they’re continuing to support the school’s “We Care” program, as well as encouraging students to “walk up” and help prevent student isolation.

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Principal Tom Spoo said students behaved well.
"I felt the kids did extremely well," Spoo said. "They were organized, they were peaceful. They left class at 10, and at 10:17, they went back to class."
Students also participating in the national walk out in other local school districts. In Umatilla, students had class discussions on school safety plans, reporting options and opportunities to reach out to others to keep schools safe, and the Stanfield Secondary School student government hosted an assembly, inviting representatives from Lifeways to speak about mental health and school resource officer to speak about reporting options.

HPD detains student
March 14, 2018
Hermiston police detaining an Armand Larive Middle School student for making a threat he was going to “shoot somebody in the head.” That threat made on school grounds during school hours. HPD saying the investigation revealing the statement made for attention rather than as an active threat, but the student was lodged by the Umatilla County Juvenile Department and charged with first-degree disorderly conduct. HPD saying they take these kinds of statements seriously and are holding students accountable.

Stanfield names principal
March 14, 2018
Stanfield School District has hired Steve Sheller as new principal for Stanfield Secondary School. He’s a science teacher, coach, and yearbook advisor and would take over the role with on July 1 with the 2018-9 school year.
The Stanfield School Board meeting tonight at 6 in the district conference room. Also on the agenda, the licensed staff list for the next school year, an enrollment report, and appointments to the budget committee.

Heppner ready to go green
March 14, 2018
Tomorrow night, the 36th annual Wee Bit O’Ireland festival kicks off in Heppner with the play, “Searching for Meaning” at the Parish Hall, launching a full weekend of events. On Friday, they’ll open vendor square, the arts & crafts show, and the friends of the library book sale. The Morrow County Heritage and Agricultural museums will be open, and they’ll have both an Irish Dinner and a new event, Murray’s Irish Beer and Wine Fest.
They’re also bringing back a couple new events on Saturday: Bed Races and the O'Planky race. Heppner Chamber Director Sheryll Bates says the 5K run will return, the welly toss, and children’s activities, and a 1, the Great Green Parade, followed by the bouncin’ leprechauns fun zone at the elementary school and other Irish entertainment in downtown. The sheepdog trials run on Saturday and Sunday.
You can find the full schedule of events on the website for the Heppner Chamber of Commerce.

HPD to respond to fire alarms
March 12, 2018
A policy change for the Hermiston Police Department. Effective today, officers will respond to all fire alarm activations at public and private schools within Hermiston. Police Chief Jason Edmiston says the policy change comes from discussions with area schools and an awareness that fire alarm activations have been used in some school shootings as a way to draw people out of rooms and into open areas.
"Our intent is 100 percent about the safety of our students and staff," Edmiston said. "Piece by piece we're making changes, again, to focus on the safety of the student."
Edmiston says this is in conjunction with the civilian response to active shooter training the department has offered over the past two years. Officers training more than 2,000 people over that time. The police chief saying when officers arrive at a school, they will equip safety equipment, including ballistic helmets and body plating.
"This is not about scaring anybody or an inappropriate show of force," he said. "This is about making sure our officers are equipped with tools to keep them as safe as possible."
Edmiston saying the department is releasing this information in advance so the public knows it may appear there is an active situation at a school when it could be a simple fire alarm pull. The chief saying any students caught pulling alarms without cause could be charged with disorderly conduct and held accountable

Council talks water, School Board recognizes classified
March 12, 2018
H2O on the agenda for the Hermiston City Council tonight. The council considering financing a water tower, water storage and distribution financing. The water storage tank and distribution system would be in the northeastern area of town. The preliminary estimates for the project coming in about $4.5 million, and a report suggesting the city and Umatilla county planning to pay portions of that with the enterprise zone tax abatement agreement from the Lamb Weston expansion.
During the meeting, they’ll also create an EOTEC advisory committee and discuss the council goal setting report. Before the council meeting, the group having a special work session to tour the Harkenrider senior center an Carnegie building department. Find the full agenda here.
For the Hermiston School Board, they’ll recognize the classified employees of the year, talk enrollment and discuss financial planning parameters. Those board decisions help drive the district’s budget. The board will also have a closed-door, executive session tonight. Follow this link to view the full agenda.

'Meet and Greet' for principal finalists
March 12, 2018
Hermiston School District will host a “meet and greet” event with finalists for the Desert View Elementary principal position tomorrow. That runs from 4:45 to 5:30 tomorrow in the library at Desert View. Two of the four finalists – Bruce Neil and Daniel Greenough – will be present. The other two, Mona Berry and
Paul Grimaud , will be unable to make it. The meet and greet session is scheduled for Tuesday,
Berry is a director of curriculum and instruction with Global Education Excellence in Michigan; Greenough is the current principal of Pendleton High School and Hawthorn Alternative School in Pendleton; Grimaud is the vice principal for American Creativity Academy in Kuwait, and Bruce Neil has severed as head of Ferndale Elementary School for five years, prior to that, he was the superintendent an elementary principal in the Cove School District for five years.
The meet and green open to staff and community.

Umatilla Robotics Team wins Chairman's Award in local contest
March 9, 2018
Did you miss today's Odds & Ends program talking about Team Confidential's Chairman's Award Team and singer/songwriter Jackie Lynn? Listen to the full interview here, and see the Umatilla Chairman's Video below:

Suspect still at large after manhunt
March 8, 2018
36-year-old Naythan Olney again avoiding arrest yesterday after a manhunt across the west end of the county. Olney wanted for a hit-and-run that injured a Hermiston Police Officer in February. After a reported sighting of Olney in Hermiston, a Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office deputy responding and saw a 2017 Chevy Pickup leave the home a high speeds – the pickup had been reported stolen out of morrow County. The deputy followed the pickup until it drove off the road and across an open field then onto Bridge Road heading west. Umatilla Police picked up the pursuit, tracking the pickup as it drove on and off road heading toward the interstate. The suspect then abandoned the vehicle near I-82 milepost 2 and headed toward the river. A grid search on foot commenced with law enforcement from multiple agencies, but they were unable to locate Olney.
The stolen vehicle was recovered and is being processed. A release from Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office saying Olney has been known to carry a handgun, and if anyone has information or sights him, they are asked to call 911 immediately and not approach.

Schools look at prevention
March 8, 2018
The manhunt searching for Naythan Olney causing a lock out at Umatilla High School and Clara Brownell Middle School. The district saying the schools were put on lockout – where school continues as normal but no one is allowed in or out of the buildings – while police conducted a search in the area. The school lifting the lock out once the area near the school had been fully searched.
The Umatilla incident following an incident on Friday where a Pendleton student was taking into custody after making threats about shooting schools. A mental evaluation determining that the teen was a threat to himself or others and putting a mental health hold on him. Last week there was also a rumor of a potential threat to Hermiston High School where Hermiston police investigated and determined the threat unsubstantiated. Intermountain ESD Superintendent Mark Mulvihill says the way schools and law enforcement are responding are an example of the preventative measures school districts have adopted over the years.
"We often talk a lot about after the fact and our response, but every single day we have kids in crisis, families in crisis," Mulvihill says. "Between local law enforcement and schools, we've really improved our ability to prevent these kinds of things."
Mulvihill saying the Umatilla School District, for example, handling the situation quickly and efficiently, both with action at the school and notification to the public. He says these kinds of events are emotion, but the public should trust that schools and law enforcement do have policies in place.
Multiple local school districts - including Umatilla and Echo - beginning construction projects to redesign schools for safety. and in order to lock down perimeters of schools, as in the situation in Umatilla. As part of its statement yesterday, the Umatilla School District saying they will always take the most cautious option when children are involved.

Contested election races
March 7, 2018
The filing deadline closing yesterday for the May 15 election.
On the Hermiston City Council, incumbents Lori Davis, Doug Smith, and Jackie Myers filing for re-election.
Mark Gomolski and Jackie Linton filing to run against Davis. Myers will face off against Kyran Miller. Michael Engelbrecht running against Doug Smith, and Shean Fitzgerald is running against Roy Barron. Both are neewcomers.
At the county level, both commissioner positions will be contested races. Tom Bailor and Rick Pullen filing to run against George Murdock for county commissioner. Murdock is running for re-election as is fellow commissioner Larry Givens. Athena mayor John Shafer is running against Givens.

Chamber receives $1 million for new building
March 6, 2018
Good news for the Greater Hermiston Chamber of Commerce: $1 million in funding from the state to build a new chamber facility. Chamber director Debbie Pedro says the chamber board will meet this week to determine the priorities and goals in regards to the funding.
"We're very thankful," Pedro said. "Just very, very thankful."
The chamber formerly housed at the Hermiston Community Center but moving in January into the Cornerstone Plaza after the city took over operations of the community center. Pedro says the chamber does not own property and just found out about the grant on Friday.

Boardman FFA receiving $2,500
March 6, 2018
Good news also coming from Riverside Jr/Sr High School. The school’s FFA receiving a $2,500 grant through the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund. Riverside FFA will use the funds to attend the Oregon State FFA Convention as well as upcoming FFA competitions. The Grow Communities program provides farmers the opportunity to direct a $2,500 donation to a nonprofit of their choice. The group thanking Morrow County farmer Joe Taylor for directing the funds to the FFA program.
In other Boardman news, the Boardman city council meeting tonight. On the agenda,
the city manager review and a resolution for SDC Waivers.

Umatilla to take over Lind Road
March 6, 2018
The City of Umatilla also meeting tonight, and they’ll be taking over a portion of Lind Road. It’s a county road right now, but city manager Russ Pelleberg says he expects the city to take over the bulk of that road tonight, making it a city street.
That one is ordinance number 8-22 for the city. They’ll also vote on resolutions signing agreements with Kuhn Law offices, for general city attorney services, with CIS for actuarial services and with the Department of the Army for an easement for pipeline right-of-way.
Both those meetings begin at 7 and both will be at their respective city hall

20 vehicle crash closes 84
March 5, 2018
Twenty vehicles involved in a collision that closed Interstate 84 for 12 hours from Saturday to Sunday. Oregon State Police troopers responding to a report of a multi-vehicle collision between Pendleton and La Grande at about 6:20 Saturday. The crash involved seven commercial motor vehicles and 13 passenger vehicles involved. Investigators estimate that nine occupants of the collisions were transported to area hospitals for treatment and five of those were in serious condition. Because of the complexity of the investigation, no names will be released at this time.

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OSP releasing this image from the scene of a 20-vehicle wreck on I-84.

The preliminary investigation revealed speed and black ice were contributing factors creating a domino effect resulting in the multiple vehicle collisions. Injured persons were transported by Life Flight and ambulance to St. Anthony's Hospital in Pendleton and Kadlec Regional Medical Center, in Richland, WA.
ODOT closed Interstate 84 westbound lanes until it was reopened at 8:00 a.m., on March 4, 2018. This is an on-going and extensive investigation. More information will be released when available.

Umatilla Robotics wins award
March 5, 2018
Also over the weekend, the Umatilla Robotics taking the Chairman’s Award – again – in the FIRST Robotics Competition. This time at the Clackamas Academy of Industrial Sciences. The Chairman’s Award is the most prestigious award at FIRST, it honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. It’s the fifth time Umatilla has received the award – in every year since 2014.
It was created to keep the central focus of FIRST Robotics Competition on the ultimate goal of transforming the culture in ways that will inspire greater levels of respect and honor for science and technology, as well as encouraging more of today’s youth to become scientists, engineers, and technologists.

HPD, HSD say shooting threat not credible
March 2, 2018
Hermiston Police clarifying last night no credible threat made to attack local schools today.
A rumor circulating through high school students and parents yesterday that a threat had been made to Hermiston High School today, but HPD saying they investigated and found no credible threat. The release from HPD saying there were rumors of a threat based on a misinterpreted joke between students. The student and family cooperating fully with the investigation and allowing law enforcement to search their property.

Bi-Mart changes gun rules
March 2, 2018
On the subject of threat to schools, with school shooting and gun sales debate nationwide, Bi-Mart announcing yesterday a change in policy: They’re upping the age limit to purchase a firearm to 21. A release from the company saying their goal is to support responsible firearm use and make a positive contribution to the local, regional and national discussion of this issue. Bi-Mart carries products supporting shooting sports and hunting community, but does not sell assault type weapons. The release stressing Bi-Mart has never stocked or sold AK or AR platform rifles or bump-stocks and we do not stock high
capacity magazines for these firearms. Bi-Mart officials saying they will continue to make choices based on what is best for members and the communities they serve.

Made to Thrive opens garage sale this weekend

March 2, 2018
Shifting focus now, today is the fifth annual Made to Thrive Garage Sale. Nonprofit founder Kriss Dammeyer says all funds raised in the sale will go to Made to Thrive, to help pay for participation fees for kids to join sports, music, dance, swim passes, summer activities.
The Garage Sale a primary fundraiser to bring in that money. It’s at the Hermiston Community Center, and the sale running from 3 to 7 this afternoon and from 8 to 2 tomorrow.
If you have free time this morning, they are also looking for volunteers to help organize the donated items this morning during the donation period. Donations being accepted at the Hermiston Community Center from 8 to 3.

Police Chief reflects on crime rates
March 1, 2018
Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says while crime is up 9 percent over 2016, it’ still down 20 percent over the 10 year window, despite seeing 12 to 15 percent growth in population over that time. As we mentioned yesterday, the one area he is taking a close look at is aggravated assault, which he says is on an upward trend.
"We're only talking 36 incidents, but one incident is one incident too many," he said.
In 2017, Edmiston says the suspects in aggravated assault cases ranged from 17 to 48 years old, the victims ranged from 6 years old to 64. 90 percent of the suspects were male. He says there is a small silver lining, however.
"According to the latest FBI statistics, aggravated assaults across the nation are cleared with an arrest on average 54 percent of the time," Edmiston said. "Last year, we cleared 86 percent, so I'd like to think we're doing a good job, but there's still more to be done."
The annual report from HPD analyzes crime trends in the Part 1 crimes that are reported to the FBI each year. Those include four personal crimes, included aggravated assault and murder, as well as four property crimes, including burglary. Cases of rape saw a decrease while the city had increases in larceny and auto theft.

UCFD#1 responds to fire at Stanfield IdaPro plant
Feb. 27, 2018
Another fire at the IdaPro 3D Dehydration Plant in Stanfield yesterday. Umatilla County Fire District 1 saying the call came in around 11:30 yesterday with a fire in the bagging house – the same location as previous fires. Firefighters arriving found fire and smoke from the bagging house, deploying hose lines and attacking the fire. Firefighters on scene for just under three hours.
The plan dehydrates vegetable matter, primarily potatoes, for use in dog food. It was after another fire in the bagging house – last February – that Stanfield residents began complaining about odors from the plant. The company installed new scrubbers, but complaints about the smell have continued.
Umatilla County Fire District one saying they responded to multiple EMS calls while the fire was going on, and that it’s an example of the extra staffing making a difference.

HPD officer injured at traffic stop
Feb. 27, 2018
A Hermiston Police officer injured Saturday during an attempted arrest. One of the two suspects has been arrested 0 the other is still at large.
A release from HPD saying an officer attempted stopped a Toyota Camry for a traffic violation near third and Gladys at about 3 a.m. on Saturday. The officer, believing the vehicle had been stolen, called for backup. The officers were attempting to detain 36-year-old Nathan Olney, of Hermiston, and 30-year-old Lucia Madrigal, of Boardman, when the vehicle sped away. One of the officers being dragged 30 yards before being thrown free. He was taken to Good Shepherd Medical Center, treated and released after receiving more than 15 stitches and having glass removed from his skin.
Officers found the vehicle abandoned a short while later. Inside the vehicle, tools and electronics from a burglary outside of Hermiston. Saturday afternoon, the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office took Lucia Madrigal into custody. She’s been charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle and first-degree criminal mischief. Officers continue to search for Nathan Olney, and HPD says they believe he is armed. Anyone with information asked to call 911 or 567-5519.

County, Sheriff talk funding
Feb. 27, 2018
A new budget for Umatilla County, and County Commissioner Bill Elfering says this year is drastically different from last year.
"This time a year ago, we had about $3 million of gap and we had to find a way to close that gap," Elfering said. "At this point, the budget is together, and it's looking good."
The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office is one of the departments completing its budget early for the county. Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says in addition to his county budget, he’s also asking the state for $1 million for modifications to the county jail to help address inmates who need to detox from drugs or alcohol – or who need to meet with mental health professionals.
"We're trying to create a safe environment to allow the mental health professionals come in and do their pieces," Rowan said. "Creating additional space in the jail isn't really an appropriate answer to that, but our hand has been forced because some of the other mental health components haven't worked correctly."
Rowan says the number of beds for people in crisis, whether drug or mental health related, have been diminishing across the state for the past two decades, from 50,000 bed down to 5,000.
He says the county is continuing stakeholder discussions with groups in Umatilla County including law enforcement, health professionals, and mental health providers.
Rowan says the project early estimate is about $800,000, but he has requested $1 million to help with any unexpected expenses as well as the need to potentially update the camera system and control panel.

County names review group
Feb. 23, 2018
Umatilla County has a charter review board. The charter is supposed to be reviewed every 5 years, although this review is 10 years since the previous. The committee has nine people – five of which come from the west end of the county. County Commissioner Bill Elfering says the members applied and were appointed this week to the board.
The County Commissioners this week appointing 9 county residents to the board. They are Sally Anderson Hansell of Hermiston, Jerry Baker of Athena, Genna Banica of Pendleton, Daniel Dorran of Hermiston, Mark Gomolski of Hermiston, Michele Grable of Pendleton, Jennifer McClure Spurgeon of Weston, Donald Miller of Milton-Freewater, and Kim Puzey of Hermiston
Elfering says the group will review operations at the county, including the role of the county commissioners. Any recommendations that require changes to the way the county is governed will go to voters.

Hermiston DMV office moving
Feb. 23, 2018
The Hermiston DMV office will be closed Wednesday, March 7, through Friday, March 9 , so it can move to a larger location
The new office, which will be located at 810 South Highway 395, the former umpqua bank location near Safeway. The new facility to offer more lobby space and additional parking.
Office hours will remain the same: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday except Wednesdays, when the office opens at 9 a.m. The office will close at 5 p.m.Tuesday, March 6, and reopen at 8 a.m. Monday, March 12.
The Hermiston DMV opened in its current location in 1981 with four counters to serve customers and added a fifth counter in 1999. Over the following two decades, the area’s customer needs outgrew the office’s lobby and parking lot capacity.
Any time you need to visit a DMV office, first check www.OregonDMV.com to find office hours and locations, and to make sure you have everything you need before your visit. You also can do some DMV business from home at OregonDMV.com. You can renew your vehicle registration, file a change of address or file notice of the sale of your vehicle online without getting in line at an office.

Bounds, Finley named man, woman of the year
Feb. 22, 2018
Hermiston’s Distinguished Citizen Awards Banquet last night.
At the end of the evening, Roger Bounds named the newest Hermiston Man of the Year.
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Roger Bounds named the 2018 Hermiston Man of the Year.

Bounds saying someone must have made a mistake in giving him the award before adding he was shocked and honored.
The woman of the year was Chris Finley, longtime resident and volunteer.
"I'm not normally speechless, but I really am," she said with a laugh.
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Dorothy Smith presents Chris Finley with the Woman of the Year award during the Hermiston DCA Banquet on Wednesday.

The Bob Severson Rotary Business of the year went to Mike and Jonette Atkinson of Atkinson Staffing, and a new award this year – the nobel laureate saw its inaugural presentation go to Greg Smith.
Two ‘Awards of Merit’ also given out last night – one to the staff of the Walmart Distribution Center and one to Alice Newman
"My family did lie very well to get me here," a shocked Newman said. "My husband was like, 'I have to go for the fair, so will you come up on stage with me?' I said, 'No. I stay in the background.' I do the things I do because I like to be in the background and help people. I don't like to talk."
Two Hermiston High School students honored with the Altrusa Outstanding Young Citizens Awards – Gabriella Aceves-Galindo and Kyle Ketchersid. The Fire Service Award presented to Eldon Marcum.
During the event, the educators of the year for the Hermiston School District also honored. The distinguished citizen awards presented by the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce. Officials saying they’re already taking nominations for next year’s event.

Walden joins Opioid roundtable

Feb. 22, 2018
Congressman Greg Walden presenting one of the awards at last night’s DCA. While in Hermiston, he also participated in a roundtable discussion on opioids at Good Shepherd Medical Center.
"Part of what I learned is we probably need more incentives to get more physicians trained up to provide the drug addiction treatment suboxone," Walden said.
Walden says the roundtable also highlighted the need to make grants competitive for rural areas and small communities.
Walden saying at the federal level they are also cracking down on distributors of opioids and working on developing some sort of take back program to get unused opioids out of homes.
Get hunter education certified now – Classes coming up in Umatilla County

Hunter education classes offered in Umatilla County

Feb. 22, 2018

The class is required for anyone under age 17 and under to hunt in Oregon, and encouraged for adults, too.
The following classes are coming up in Umatilla County:
Traditional classes:
? Umatilla Tribal Police Dept, Pendleton, March 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 from 6-8 p.m. and March 10 9 a.m.-noon
? Hermiston (Fox Harvesting Gravel and VFW Hall), March 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27 7- 9 p.m. and March 17 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.,
? Moro, March 29 and 30 from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and March 31 8 a.m.-noon
? Hermiston (Fox Harvesting Gravel and VFW Hall), April 3, 4, 10, 12, 17, 19, 24 from 7-9 p.m. and April 14 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Field days (for independent study students who have completed workbook or online course):
? Hermiston (Fox Harvesting Gravel), May 19, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
? Hermiston (Fox Harvesting Gravel), June 9, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
ODFW offers two types of hunter education classes: a traditional classroom experience held over several days with most material covered in the classroom by certified volunteer instructors, or an independent study option, which can be done from home via a workbook or by taking one of the four online courses available. Adults can complete the entire course online but independent study students age 17 and under also need to attend a field day to receive their hunter education certificate.
To register, provide the youth’s Hunter/Angler ID# (which is printed on all ODFW documents and stays the same from year to year) or select “New Customer.” You can also sign up at any license sales agent. Registration for an independent study field day or traditional class costs $10 and some of the online courses also charge an additional fee (ranging from $13-29 but a free online course is available).
Hunter education classes cover important issues including firearms safety and handling; hunter ethics and respect for private landowners; wildlife management and identification; hunt preparation and techniques; survival; and introductory bowhunting.

Hazmat cleans up spill on 395
Jan. 20, 2018
Hazmat cleanup redirecting traffic on Highway 395 yesterday afternoon after a crash between a chevy pickup and a semi truck spilled diesel onto the highway.

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Law enforcement redirect traffic during clean up of a diesel spill Monday afternoon.

Hermiston Police saying the crash happened at about 2 in the afternoon when a Chevy pickup traveling northbound on Highway 395 near the water tower drifted into the southbound lanes and struck a Peterbilt tractor trailer, rupturing the driver’s side fuel tank of the semi and spilling a large amount of diesel. Umatilla County Fire District 1 Hazardous materials personnel arrived on scene for containment. The driver of the semi was uninjured, and the driver of the pickup – 68-year-old James Zimmerman, of Hermiston – was taken by ambulance to Good Shepherd Medical Center with minor injuries. HPD saying there were no signs of impairment from any of the parties involved. The cleanup taking about two hours yesterday afternoon.

Stanfield Council meets tonight
Jan. 20, 2018
Stanfield Council meets tonight at 7 in the council chambers at 10 W. Coe Avenue. On the agenda, adoption of the water system master plan, a resolution bringing a student representative to the city council and a decision changing how often the council meets. Currently, the city council meets the first Tuesday of every month with an optional third Tuesday meeting if needed. If approved, the new schedule would make the third Tuesday meeting a regular meeting, so the council would meet twice a month, every month.

Power outage hits Hermiston
Jan. 19, 2018
More than 12-thousand homes and businesses lost power on Saturday after a wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour blew a tree into a transmission line northeast of Hermiston just after 3 in the afternoon on Saturday. Umatilla Electric Cooperative saying the outage affecting eight substations in the Hermiston, Stanfield, and Umatilla areas. The first substation – at Juniper Canyon - was back on line at 5:38 p.m., followed by the Feedville Substation 10 minutes later. Most of the power was restored by 6:30 p.m.

HHS launches "We Care" campaign
Jan. 19, 2018
We Care. You are loved. You are not alone. Those are three of the signs up at Hermiston High School this month as the school moves forward with its "We Care Project," a movement that began with students and is now reaching out to the community.
Student government advisor Dave Rohrman says the program began with the 37 students in ASB leadership. Facing student losses over the past year, students started a discussion of what they could do. to make a difference, especially for people feeling isolated, like they have no where to turn or no options.
Posters have been put up in the high school, and they’re now turning a focus to a community campaign as well. Rohrman says the next step is to bring yard signs into the community and in other schools. They'll continue the random acts of kindness throughout the spring and see where the program goes.
District officials saying the We Care program began before the school shooting last week in Florida. but that has underscored the need to provide statements of support for fellow students and the greater community because a simple step can change someone's day, make a connection, and make a difference. You can contact Hermiston high school for more information.

Food for Fines at local libraries
Jan. 19, 2018
A program starts today at libraries in Eastern Oregon. It’s food for fines where you trade in food donations for those library late fees. Hermiston Librarian Mark Rose says the food will go to Agape House. Every library in Umatilla County is participating, so if you owe fines to the Stanfield library or Umatilla or even Pendleton or Milton-Freewater, you can take in nonperishable foods and have those fines forgiven.

County still looking for charter committee members
Feb. 16, 2018
Umatilla County looking for volunteers to help revise the county’s charter. Although some volunteers have stepped up and applied for the committee, commissioner Larry Givens says they’re still looking for a few more members.
"We'd like to have 7 to 9 people on that committee, but we're having kind of a slow time getting folks to do that," he said.
The county charter establishes the three-member board of commissioners and grants powers to the board to make decisions for the county.
[This is a process of putting together information and data and comparing what this county - Umatilla County - does compared to other counties," said Givens.
The committee will also make recommendations based on that information. Anyone interested can contact county counsel Doug Olson for more information and an application. Commissioners had hoped to select committee members before March 1m, but Givens says that may be pushed back to March 15. Find the application here.

HSD speaking about school shootings
Feb. 16, 2018
Hermiston School District releasing advise for how to talk with students about gun violence after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida this week.
The district releasing saying students may want to know what adults are doing to keep them safe at school, in their community, and at home. District officials encourage families to have conversations, creating a safe place for children to share
their concerns.
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) recommends the following strategies:
• Reassure children that they are safe.
• Make time to talk.
• Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.
• Review safety procedures.
• Observe children’s emotional state.
• Limit television viewing of these events.
• Maintain a normal routine.
Parents, staff, students and community members are also encouraged to report any safety threats by
using SafeOregon, an anonymous tip line operated in cooperation with Oregon State Police.
Information can be shared by calling or texting 844-472-3367, e-mailing tip@safeoregon.com, or via the website safeoregon.com.

Outdoor School planning, changes
Feb. 12, 2018
While the county looks at its state, schools across Umatilla and Morrow counties turning attention toward outdoor school, an experience where fifth or sixth graders – depending on the district – take the classroom outside for an overnight experience. Intermountain ESD Superintendent Mark Mulvihill says they’re amping up the program this year. The ESD leases Buck Creek site in the blue mountains and offers free use to the districts. Mulvihill says nine districts plan to use the site this year, and with funding from measure 99, they’ve now they’ve hired a part-time coordinator – Bob McMillian – to help coordinate.
Mulvihill says outdoor school sessions will primarily run from April through June with some even in September. Some districts are now in their third generation offering the program while others will mark the first year for the program this year thanks to the state funding from measure 99.

Spokane man dies in rollover
Feb. 12, 2018
On Friday, a crash killing a Spokane man in a commercial motor vehicle rollover crash on the I 82 onramp from I 84 westbound at milepost 180.
According to a press release from the Oregon State Police, a 2004 Freightliner, towing an unloaded flatbed trailer, failed to negotiate the curve on the onramp to I 82, left the roadway on the west shoulder and rolled several times in the median. The operator, a 50 year old male from Spokane Washington was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced deceased at the scene by medical personnel.
Troopers from the Pendleton Area Command are conducting the investigation into the cause of the crash with the assistance of a collision reconstructionist.
The roadway was partially closed for approximately 5 hours to allow for scene investigation and vehicle recovery.
The Oregon State Police was assisted at the scene by the Oregon Department of Transportation and Umatilla County Fire District 1.

Good Shepherd wins service awards
Feb. 12, 2018
Good Shepherd Health Care System last week announcing employees receiving awards at the Health Care Service Excellence Conference in San Antonio, Texas.
For the awards, Employees nominate their coworkers. Those recommendations are pooled with other nominees, then a selection committee pick four winners in each category.   Hospital spokesman Nick Bejarano says four Good Shepherd employees received awards.
Amber Davis recognized as an exceptional nurse, Lucas Bradshaw as an empowering manager, Devin Goldman as Customer Experience and Quality Coordinator Program Director and Good Shepherd CEO Dennis Burke honored as an inspiring administrator.
Bejarano says in addition, the hospital received 39 awards for improvements in customer experience and customer satisfaction. That information is tracked through through a survey patients receive after being discharged from the hospital.
"We were blown away by the improvement from 2016 to 2017," Bejarano said.
The hospital's improvement awards are based on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey that hospitals participate in to evaluate their quality of care and customer satisfaction against their peers.

Givens reflects on state of the county
Feb. 9, 2018
It may feel like spring outside, but it’s still the month of February. This week, Oregon Governor Kate Brown spoke about the state of the state, and now, Umatilla County Commissioner Larry Givens talking about the state of the county.
[givens good start]
Givens saying the county is in good fiscal shape, so they will not need to make program or staffing cuts. They will also start management training for county employees and continue working with the transfer of the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center to the city of Hermiston as well as dealing with more delays in the transfer of the Umatilla Ordnance-slash-Chemical-slash-Army-Depot.
[givens county good]
Givens says the budget process will last until the end of the fiscal year. They’re also still waiting for funding from the state – that’s been allocated – for road projects around EOTEC.

Rhoades sentenced to 34 months
Feb. 9, 2018
A Hermiston man sentenced to 34 months after pleading guilty to first-degree theft, fleeing/attempting to elude a police officer, unlawful commercial manufacturing of marijuana extract, unlawful commercial delivery of marijuana and two counts of endangering the welfare of a minor.
27-year-old William Richard Rhoades arrested in December after a police chase ended with a car crashed into a house after hitting an electrical supply box. The driver had already fled the scene, but identification in the vehicle led police to Rhoades, who had more than 75 pounds of marijuana in his apartment as well as handguns that had been reported stolen.

Boardman preps for pipe work
Feb. 9, 2018
Digging will soon begin on upgrades to Boardman’s water and sewer systems. New pipe has been stacked along roadways in preparation for the project. Water and sewer upgrades have been in the planning stages since 2014 and will include new water and sewer lines in several areas throughout
Boardman. The upgrades to improve fire flow and reliability in the water systems. In December the city awarded the contract to do the upgrades to Premier Excavation of
Pasco, Washington, who presented the apparent lowest bid of $2,266,119.10. The city’s engineers, Anderson Perry and Associates, has
worked with Premier in the past and is pleased to be working with them on this project. The water and
sewer upgrades are expected to be completed in October of 2018.

Firefighters ready for stairclimb
Feb. 8, 2018
Seven firefighters from Umatilla County Fire District one are taking extra time getting in shape, praciticng stamina and endurance and fundraising for an annual event next month. It's the Scotts Seattle Firefighter Stairclimb, and it's a grueling challenge to raise funding for the leukemia and lymphoma research. The firefighters will put on full turn-out gear, including air tanks and breathing apparatus and then climb 1,356 steps - 69 stories - up a high rise building.
"It's a great experience," Team Member Destry Stewart says. "We're putting on gear between 50 and 75 pounds, and when we're doing the climb, we're thinking of the people we're doing the climb for."
Stewart says one of the best parts of the event is seeing the survivors and those battling against cancer cheering them on. It's a sentiment echoed by fellow competitiotr Mike Bozeman. For Bozeman, the first climb was a challenge and something he undertook because it sounded fun.
"As firefighters, we like to be challenged," Bozeman said. "Once I did the first climb and got to see what it's all about, I became more passionate about fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society."
The team from Umatilla County Fire District 1 is now fundraising for the event. Their goal is $25,000. You can find the link to their fundraising page on the facebook page for Umatilla County Fire District 1. You can also head straight to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society - click here for Umatilla County Fire District 1's team page  - and search for the time or any of the local firefighters to make a donation or find out more about the event.

Hermiston council sets goal-setting meeting
Feb. 8, 2018
A special goal-setting meeting for the Hermiston City Council scheduled for Saturday. It begins at 9 a.m. at the Hermiston Community Center, and the agenda shows discussion, action plans, wrap up and next steps lasting all the way into the afternoon. Find the agenda on the website for the city of Hermiston.

Intermountain ESD seeking nomination
Feb. 8, 2018
The InterMountain ESD looking for nominations for the annual Crystal Apple “Excellence in Education” awards. Those are now open through April 1. The Crystal apple awards recognize employees in ESD component school districts in Morrow, Umatilla, and Union counties, including teachers, principals, office staff. The awards will take place in La Grande on May 7 and in Pendleton on May 14. You can find the nomination form on the esd website or contact Michele Madril with any questions michele.madril@imesd.k12.or.us or call 541-966-3115.

Festival Street groundbreaking
Feb. 6, 2018
On Monday afternoon, city officials gathered for the most recent ground breaking for downtown Hermiston - this time in the middle of a street. Second street at the location of the Festival Street in downtown.
Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann speaking during the ceremony and highlighting the vision to create a festival street as a downtown gathering place and the planning so there will be no taxpayer bonded debit in the project, and it's instead funded through reinvestments of urban renewal funding. He also recognized city planner Clint Spencer, who said the project was first proposed 10 years ago.
"This is really exciting for us, and we hope to have everyone adjust to the traffic flow soon," Spencer said.
That traffic flow around the construction area proving a bit of a headache for travelers through downtown as lines of cones separate traffic near the construction zone.
"We understand that sometimes progress is messy and it's inconvenient," Droztmann said. "We ask for the community's patience as we go through this project. We believe the end result will be a beautiful new enhancement to downtown."
Visit the city's website for more on the design and timeline for the downtown festival street.

Boardman teacher arrested
Feb. 6, 2018
A Boardman teacher arrested and charged with sexual abuse.
Robert Weems, a sixth-grade teacher at Windy River Elementary, placed on paid administrative leave on Feb. 1. The 42-year-old arrested by The Dalles Police Department on Feb. 2 - that was Friday. He is incarcerated at NorCor on two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, one count of third-degree sex abuse and a charge of first-degree official misconduct. His bail set at $3,000.
A press release from The Morrow County School District saying he school district was made aware of a potential situation regarding Weems on the morning of
Thursday, February 1, and immediately placed him on leave. Weems was hired in June of last year. The district is unable to provide any other information on personnel issues.

Truck strikes bridge, delays expected
Feb. 6, 2018
Delays on Interstate 84 in Boardman after an over-height load struck the underside of the overpass, potentially causing structural damage. Work expected to last 1 to 2 weeks, and does impact both the overpass at exist 164 and the eastbound lane of the freeway.
One of the eastbound freeway lanes closed to accommodate bridge inspection and repair work, and the bridge restricted to one lane as well. The bridge to be controlled by flaggers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during repair work. Drivers crossing the freeway should plan for delays and obey traffic control flaggers while it is limited to one lane of travel. Travelers needing to cross the freeway near Boardman will need to use the Exit 165 overpass or other alternate routes.