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

State releases school assessments
Sept. 20, 2019
Test scores show Oregon public school students need to make more progress.
The results of the Smarter Balanced testing show student proficiency scores at the worst in five years: Only 40 percent of students in grades three through eight mastered math, and 52 percent of students can read and write proficiently.
The Hermiston School District yesterday announcing its results and saying 56 percent of all assessed students met proficiency standards for their grade levels in English – and 44 percent met standards in mathematics – both averages slightly above the state level
Hermiston students in elementary and middle school performed above the state average in mathematics, while high schoolers fell slightly below. In English, Hermiston students outperformed the state in every grade except fourth grade, including at the high school where 75 percent of students met the proficiency standards, well above the state level of 66 percent.
Students and families of current 4-9 and 12th graders will have access to individual student reports later this fall
through PowerSchool.
You can find the full reports on the website for the Oregon Department of Education

UCFD#1 begins work on strategic plan
Sept. 19, 2019
Fire calls over the summer were average for Umatilla County Fire District #1, but medical calls continue to rise. Fire Chief Scott Stanton says the fire district is looking at long-term planning to determine how to handle those increases.
"We're really working toward planning for our future: How do we cope with the growth of the communities we serve and how do we do that responsibly," he said.
The district and fire board are starting work on the five-year strategic plan with internal discussions on everything from equipment maintenance to training schedules. They’ll reach out to external stakeholders in November, and Stanton says it will should about three months to put together the entire packet to have it rolled out in the spring of next year.

Student success act benefits schools; DOR talks to business
Sept. 18, 2018
The school year is in swing for local districts now, and even BMCC is welcoming its new students for orientation today. Looking forward, many school district administrations are tackling what to do with the Student Success Act.
Mark Mulvihill with the InterMountain ESD says it’s exciting – and that the public should be excited too.
"Schools are funded for the first time in 30 years," he said. "Money is coming, and the game has changed. We're all trying to figure this out and do it right to ensure local communities are building the educational programs they want for their kids."
The state set aside $2 billion for the student success act, and each district receives a portion of that money. The Morrow County School District, for example, is estimated to receive about $1.8 million.
Most districts will spend the rest of this year planning for how to spend the funds, evaluating needs and seeking input from the community. The programs must be tied to achievable goals and reports submitted to the state.
Oregon Tax Bill 3427, created the state’s Student Success Fund and a corporate Activity Tax to pay for it.
Although the new funding is a boon for schools, it’s also raising questions for businesses, and that’s sending a team from the Department of Revenue around the state – including to Hermiston.
The state now needs to come up with rules for administration of the corporate activity tax, and Robin Maxey, with the Department of Revenue, says the rules cover the details.
"Who much register, when and how a business registers," Maxey said. "Who must file and who must pay the tax."
A $250 tax will be imposed on the first million dollars of a business' gross receipts, then half a percent on receipts more than $1 million. The first state meeting was yesterday in Newport, and two of the planned meetings are in our area:The group will be at the Hermiston Community Center from 5:30 to 7 in the evening on Wednesday, Oct. 2, and the next morning, Thursday, Oct. 3, from 7 to 8:30 a.m. at the SAGE Center in Boardman.

Grief Share begins tonight
Sept. 17, 2019
Tonight, a new session begins of GriefShare, a 13-week program to help people move forward through grief. Scott Zielke says each session involves a video and a support group discussion. Participants have the opportunity to speak but do not have to.
"A lot of times, just talking through your experience is healing in itself," he said. "A lot of people think they're experiencing something that no one else is. You get a lot of people together, and you realize that this is normal, but it is something that, with time, you have to work through."
The program also includes a workbook with individual activities to complete during the week. There is a cost for the workbook, but the program itself is free. Zielke says it is open to anyone 18 and older who has experienced a loss.
The 13-week GriefShare program begins tonight at Stanfield Baptist Church. The sessions are Tuesdays from 5:30-7 p.m.
No pre-registration is required.

Underage cigarillo sales up
Sept. 10, 2019
The Oregon Health Authority concerned about sales of cigarettes and cigarillos to young people.
Yesterday, the Oregon Health Authority released its annual report on illegal sales of tobacco products to minors, and it’s especially concerned about a spike in sales of mini-cigars, or cigarillos, to underage smokers, which doubled from 13 to 28 percent last year.
Umatilla County did better than last year where six stores failed the inspection but still isn’t hitting 100 percent. The sting operations for this study involved 13 attempted sales of cigarettes, three attempts of cigarillo, and four e-cigarette attempts. One cigarette sale of the 13 was successful, as was one of the cigarillo attempts,
The cigarillo sale was at One Stop Fuel, 1050 S Highway 395, in Hermiston. The cigarette sale was at the downtown Pendleton Circle K Store near Umatilla County Courthouse.
With 20 inspections in the county, that’s a 10 percent violation rate.
There were two attempts in Morrow County, one in Boardman and one in Lexington, but both inspections passed.
Tome Jeanne, with the Oregon Health Authority says it is difficult to track who is selling tobacco products because the state of Oregon does not license tobacco sellers.
"Oregon is one of only nine states that does not have tobacco retail licensure," he said. "It would require retailers to buy a license in order to sell tobacco."
That’s a topic that Umatilla County Public Health is well aware of. For for the last few years, they’ve been working on a proposal to have tobacco licensing in Umatilla County, and, last night a vote on supporting that measure went before the Hermiston City Council.
The Umatilla County Public Health proposal would charge tobacco retails a $400 permit fee that would be used to monitor sales and prevent youth tobacco use more aggressively than the state-level.

Umatilla announces grants
Sept. 9, 2019
The city of Umatilla cut the ribbon on its newly renovated Kiwanis Park on Friday afternoon, and city manager David Stockdale had even more good news: Umatilla received two grants from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. The first is grant is just under $75,000 to build a new ADA accessible restroom at Kiwanis Park.
The city is going to match the grant with $75,000 of its own – mostly in-kind work – in order to complete the project. They’re planning on starting work on the project mid-spring so it can be completed by the end of summer 2020.
The city also received a $39,000 grant toward development of its parks master plan. That plan to guide park maintenance and development over the next 20 years – and that planning should kick off in January.
In other Umatilla news, the City has its open house about the master trail plan tomorrow. That s a drop in from 5:30 to 7:30 tomorrow at Umatilla City Hall.

Hermiston council talks paving, licensing tonight
Sept. 9, 2019
The Hermiston City Council is talking electricity updates, Theater Lane paving and tobacco licensing during its meeting and work session tonight at city hall. The meeting kicks off at 6 p.m. with the workshop on updates from Umatilla Electric Cooperative and Hermiston Energy Services. The regular meeting’s expected to follow at 7 p.m.
Find the full agenda here.
One of the action items is voting on a $500,000 contract to Anderson Perry to pave Theater Lane between NE 8th and NE 10th. Anderson Perry is the company under contract for construction management at the city water tower project on Theater Lane. That section is currently gravel, and the project would have that gravel replaced to last until pavement could be done in the spring.
The council will also discuss Umatilla County Tobacco Retail Licensing, an effort being made by Umatilla County Public Health. City documents say the health department is soliciting support for the proposed program from cities in the county and Echo, Stanfield, Pendleton, Pilot Rock, and Ukiah have already given support.
The council could approve a motion in support of the program.
The meeting also has time for public comment if anyone would like to address the council on items not on the agenda, including, but not limited to, well, water rates, just as an off-the-top of my head example.
The work session begins at 6 tonight and the regular meeting at 7.

School Board meets tonight
Sept. 9, 2019
The Hermiston School Board also meeting tonight, although it appears to be light on the discussions. The meeting begins at 6:30 tonight at the district office and includes an enrollment report, financial repots, and many consent items but no new business or discussion items. They do have space for public comment, and the meeting is open to the public.
Click here for the full agenda.
In other school district items, the Blue Mountain Community College board of trustees released a statement on Friday in support of the Hermiston School District’s proposed bond.

Meeting set to prepare for workers
Aug. 29, 2019
A meeting next week with the Heppner Chamber of Commerce for businesses and individuals to see what kind of services can be provided during the construction phase of the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility. The meeting is Wednesday, Sept. 4, at 5:30 in the Heppner City Hall Conference Room. They’ll be discussing planning for the construction and the contractors coming into the area, including items like housing – both temporary and long-term – food and catering, groceries, and vehicle repair.
Construction on the wind part of the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility tentatively scheduled to begin in December of this year with about 100 contracted workers. That could peak at 300 workers.

HSD looks for outdoor school volunteers
Aug. 29, 2019
The Hermiston School District saying yesterday they’re in desperate need of male high school age or recent graduates to serve as Outdoor School Counselors this fall! HSD Outdoor School is a 3-day, 2-night experience just north of La Grande, Oregon at Camp Elkanah. https://www.campelkanah.com/outdoorschool/
The fall dates are:
9/23-9/25 - Rocky Heights
9/25-9/27 - Sunset
9/30-10/2 - West Park
10/2-10/4 - Desert View
10/8-10/10 - Highland Hills
This is an opportunity to earn volunteer hours as well as participate in team-building and leadership roles. Contact Mrs. Sandra Rice - sandra.rice@hermistonsd.orgfor more information.

Survey open for county trails project
Aug. 28, 2019
Early planning opening for the Umatilla River Trail Project, an conceptual trails project to connect trails in Echo, Umatilla, Stanfield, and Hermiston with trail systems. Umatilla County Planner Bob Walder says they’re looking for community feedback right now through a survey. The survey has 14 questions about how and why the community might use the trails.
"Maybe it's for health and livability reasons. Maybe it's to ride a bike to work or visit the library," Walder said. "That's what we're really trying to determine with the survey."
You can find take the survey through this link.
Walder says they’ve also scheduled community open houses for more feedback the first week in October.

Medelez appointed to school board
Aug. 27, 2019
A new school board member for the Hermiston School Board: Bryan Medelez. The Hermiston School Board appointed Medelez to the open position after interviewing five applicants last night. Medelez fills the vacancy on Board Position 2 left by Dave Smith’s resignation earlier this month

Umatilla ribbon cutting at Kiwanis Park
Aug. 27, 2019
The City of Umatilla yesterday announcing a ribbon cutting at Kiwanis Park. That’ll be at 1 in the afternoon on Friday, Sept. 6.
The ribbon cutting to celebrate the new park improvements and to recognize the contributions of the Good Shepherd Health Foundation and the Kiwanis Club.
In 2018, Parks and Recreation Committee invited Umatilla High School Youth Advisory Council to help identify which city parks were highest priority. The students sent out a survey and, based on a response rate of about 200, Kiwanis Park was identified as the most used and most in need of improvements.
Good Shepherd Health Foundation awarded the City an $18,000 grant towards new playground equipment. Hermiston Kiwanis donated $7,000 for lights at the basketball court. City added funding to build a second basketball court with lights, fence, and other improvements.
The ribbon cutting will include a short presentation by the Mayor, City Manager, and others. Refreshments will be provided.

School year starts today
Aug. 26, 2019
Many students in Umatilla and Morrow Counties head back to school this morning, including the Hermiston School District. Hermiston Superintendent Tricia Mooney says that could mean extra congestion on roadways and a call for caution for drivers
"We're going to have kiddos walking to school, riding bikes. We're going to have kids waiting for bust stops," she said. "Please slow down, watch the school zones and help us get our kids to and from school safely."
The start of school also means any “school day” or “when students are present” school zones are back in effect.
School starts today for first through twelfth graders in Hermiston. Kindergartners start full time on Wednesday

School board interviews tonight
Aug. 26, 2019
The Hermiston School Board of Education is meeting at 6:30 p.m.. The superintendent will recap the first day of school, and the board will interview applicants for Board Position 2, recently opened when Dave Smith resigned from the school board two weeks ago. Those interested had to have applications in to the school district office on Friday, and tonight the board will interview candidates – and could appoint a new board member tonight.
The School Board tonight will also vote on a change to the district budget – creating a 2019-2020 Youth Transition Program Grant Fund with dollars received from a grant from the Oregon Department of Human Services.
You can view the full agenda here.

City Council meets tonight
Aug. 26, 2019
Still on the topic of schools, tonight the Hermiston City Council will vote on a supporting the Hermiston School District’s proposed $82 million bond. A resolution on the agenda – No. 2134 – would support the passage of the 2019 Hermiston School Bond, known as Measure 30-130 in the November election.
Also on the council agenda, the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, an update on goal setting, and a proposal for changing the lease rates at the Hermiston Airport. The recommendation comes from the city’s Airport Board. If approved,t he rates at the city’s T-Hangers would rise from $130 and $180 a month to $155 per month and $200 per month, beginning in January 2020. The funds would go into a reserve to construction additional hangars in the future.
The council also expected to meet in Executive Session to review and evaluate the city manager’s employment contract. If any changes are made, those would go for a vote in open session after the closed-door portion of the meeting.
That meeting begins at 7 tonight at Hermiston City Hall.
Find the agenda here.

Commissioners set goals
Aug. 23, 2019
On Wednesday, the Umatilla County Commissioners approving a set of goals for the fiscal year as part of their strategic plan.
The 13 goals including re-joining the  Oregon Association of Counties, moving forward with the jail renovation project and responding to recommendations from the charter review committee about a potential city manager. Commissioner Bill Elfering says one of his personal goals is to see the completion of the transfer of the Umatilla Army Depot.
"As soon as it's ours, we want to be ready to hit the ground to accommodate those businesses and get the property blooming," he said.
Elfering saying he feels “pretty confident” the transfer will be completed by the spring of next year. He has been on the committee for six years.
The goals for the county commissioners also involving economic development, the Umatilla River Trail, and the North Highway 395 development project.

HEf Fun Run tomorrow
Aug. 23, 2019
Tomorrow, it’s the Hermiston Education Foundation’s 5k Fun Run and Walk. It’s earlier than usual this year – for a specific reason:it's a school supply drive.
Hermiston Education Foundation representative and school board member Josh Gollar saying they moved the fun run to before school in order to have those school supplies available at the start of the 2019-2020 school year. The Fun Run begins at the parking lot of the Hermiston Nazarene Church and will travel down to Riverfront Park.
The Fun Run will still include the awarding of the Fleet of Feet award to the Hermiston school that has the largest participation of runners and walkers and the most supplies donated.
Registration begins at 8 a.m., and the run begins at 9. It’s the 13th annual Fun Run & Walk for the Hermiston Education Foundation.

HK Complex now 95 percent contained
Aug. 22, 2019
The HK Complex of fires in the Umatilla National Forest now 95 percent contained, and forest officials reducing the area and road closures to provide access to forest lands not impacted by the wildfire or suppression efforts. You can find the full description of the area closure on the Umatilla National Forest website. Officials are asking the public to avoid entering the closure area.
The HK Complex still and active fire burning 15 miles north of Monument. It’s estimated at 27-hundred acres.

Pool closed by flood
Aug. 21, 2019
The Hermiston Family Aquatic Center is closed and could be closed through Saturday – or longer.
Hermiston Parks and Recreation Director Larry Fetter saying the basement mechanical room found flooded yesterday morning. The room pumped out and five electrical motors sent to a local shop to be dried, reworked, and possibly rebuilt. Fetter saying those pumps are not supposed to be submerged in water. They’re hoping to have the pumps back from the shop on Friday to reopen on Saturday, but it could be longer.
They’re still assessing damage and repairs and saying it may have been a stuck float valve in the lower surge tank caused the flood.
Fetter says he’s looking at a flood alarm to prevent future flooding.
This is the first occurrence of this sort for the Hermiston Family Aquatic Center which is now in its 17th season.
During the work, the pool is closed for all activities.

Umatilla Halloween votes due - this week
Aug. 21, 2019
The city of Umatilla approaching a deadline for its annual Trick or Treat on Sixth Street business costume contest theme. Businesses will decorate and craft costumes in line with the theme, then judges will select the best one during the October event on Oct. 25.
Mark Ribich, with the Umatilla Chamber of Commerce says there are four possible themes this year: Comics/Superheroes, games, horror, or free for all.
Surveys must be completed by Aug. 25 - that's this week. You can find the survey by clicking here.

West Nile mosquito cases double
Aug. 20, 2019
The number of mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile Virus has doubled.
A joint release from West Umatilla Mosquito Control District and North Morrow Vector Control District yesterday saying at least 25 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile Virus this year. Today – that number at 47 confirmed after an additional 22 samples collected last week tested positive. Those mosquitoes taken from areas in and around Irrigon and now Boardman, and those are in addition to positive mosquito samples in the West Umatilla Control District.
The virus first detected on July 8 th in both districts and has become more widespread since that time. Public health officials urging residents of all ages to take steps to reduce exposure to mosquitoes and mosquito bites.
Because of the increase in West Nile virus activity, the district will conduct aerial mosquito control spraying after sunset on Thursday, weather permitting.
They’re expected to target about 10,000 acres in areas around Umatilla, Irrigon, and Boardman, and east of Hermiston. No areas within city limits

Naloxone training next month
Aug. 20, 2019
In addition to battling west Nile, public health officials also continuing efforts against opioid abuse.
Kary Tuers, Addiction Prevention Coordinator for Umatilla County Public Health, says they’re offering a community naloxone training next month that focuses on helping everyone prevent opioid overdose death by giving out free overdose kits of naloxone - and training on how to use them.
"It saves lives, and that's our goal: to help prevent death due to overdose in our area," Tuers said.
The training does not require health care experience and they're inviting anyone and everyone who would like to come to attend the training, including anyone who interacts with a current user, family and friends, businesses that may see people under the influence of opioids or people who are just concerned community member.
Kits of Naloxone, goes by the brand name Narcan, will be given to training participants - and the whole event is free. It's Sept. 11 at Good Shepherd, beginning at noon, and lunch is also provided. Although
The training is free, but registration is required - you can register on Event Brite through this link.

Funland Committee to choose architect
Aug. 5, 2019
This week, the Funland Restoration Committee will select a design team for the rebuild of Hermiston’s Funland Playground, which was destroyed in a fire in June.
Parks and Recreation Director Larry Fetter says the committee will select the design team after interviewing the teams on Aug. 8 – that’s this Thursday.

Once selected, the design work will take place through the fall. Fetter says the playground will be at least the size it was before the fire – if not bigger.
Demolition of the damaged park began last week, and the city has set a date for a “Picket reclaim event”
Fetter saying they’ve had overwhelming interest in reclaiming Funland fence picket, so the city is sorting them into alphabetical order and setting a reclaim event next month.
That event will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day Sept. 20-22 at the Hermiston Community Center.

Boardman Council talks mobile vendors
Aug. 5, 2019
Two Boardman business owners asking the Boardman City Council to regulate mobile vendors. The owners asking the city to consider rules requiring parking spaces, and restroom facilities for the mobile vendors to alleviate some of the problems. Council member David Jones is the owner of the property where many of the mobile vendors are located in Boardman and recused himself from the council to participate in the discussion as a citizen – he said he would be willing to put in portable restrooms and have required parking spaces.
The city council is reviewing other cities’ ordinances and considering drafting an ordinance for Boardman. They’ll have workshop sessions to further discuss the issue but no dates have been set.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Boardman City Council is tomorrow.

Vet Town Hall, Expo this week
July 26, 2019
Tonight in Pendleton, the Veterans’ Town Hall event and tomorrow the Veteran's Benefit Expo at the Pendleton Convention Center.
The town hall tonight is from 6-7 p.m. with Kelly Fitzpatrick, director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Fitzpatrick says she’s particularly interested in issues impacting veterans in a rural area.
She’ll provide updates on programs and initiatives, as well as veteran-related information from the 2019 legislative session. She will also answer questions and take feedback on the concerns, issues, and challenges facing veterans in Eastern Oregon.
The event will be recorded and livestreamed on the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ Facebook page.
Tomorrrow, the fifth annual Veteran benefit Expo. Kelly Fitzpatrick, director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs says they’ve brought together those who provide veterans benefits from healthcare to homeloans.She says people should plan about two hours.
"Once they arrive, I think they'll really be surprised at how many benefits and how many information tables there are that they're actually interested in talking to the representatives and finding out more," she said.
The Expo is free and requires no pre-registration. The event will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 27 at the Pendleton Convention Center.
Find more at https://expo.oregondva.com/

Tribes buy Hamley's
July 26, 2019
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) has purchased Hamley’s restaurant, coffee shop and store at auction. A press release from the tribes saying they’ve had a long relationship with the Hamley family and are pleased to keep the business in local hands. They say day-to-day operations will be managed by Wildhorse Resort & Casino.
The business was founded in 1905, and the tribes were the high bidder in the auction yesterday, pledging $3 ½ million.

UCSO looking for robbery suspect
July 25, 2019
The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office requesting information on the location of Amanda Marie Warren, a 38-year-old woman from Pendleton wanted in connection with a theft that occurred at a residence near Milton-Freewater on Wednesday. Warran is a convicted felon and is possibly still in the possession of stolen firearm(s).
The sheriff’s office saying the theft reported at 6 p.m. Wednesday at a home in Milton-Freewater. The victim, an elderly man, saying he was contacted at his home by a woman offering cleaning services. He agreed, she cleaned the home and then left. After she was gone, the victim discovered items missing including his wallet and 2 firearms (a revolver and a semi auto pistol).
This investigation is on-going. UCSO is cautioning citizens, especially elderly who live alone, to be aware of the method used. In this case, the suspect gained entry by offering to clean the house, and used the
opportunity to steal items. The Sheriff’s Office saying the case of theft from an elderly man in Athena earlier in the week is being investigated as a separate case.
The sheriff’s office saying if anyone locates Amanda Marie Warren, they’re asked not to approach her but to call the 24-hour-dispatch center at 541-966-3651. In an emergency call 911.

SHIP eligible for additional funding
July 24, 2019
Good news for the South Hermiston Industrial Park – the city is eligible for more grant funding than originally expected.
The City of Hermiston is applying for grant funding from the Federal Economic Development Administration to finance about half of the costs of improvements to the industrial park. The other half being made up of contributions from the city, county, and assessments from property owners within the park. Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan saying the city received “silver lining” news late last week:
"Based on the layoffs by Hermiston Foods and Union Pacific Railroad, it does qualify us for essentially disaster relief dollars through EDA, so if they do end up approving our grant application this fall, instead of it being a 50 percent federal share, we'd actually receive 80 percent costs covered by that grant," he said.
Morgan saying that change in grant funding would cut the cost to property owners within the Local Improvement District by half. The city plans to submit the grant application around Sept. 1. They’re hoping to entice development into the park area.

Funland committee meets tonight
July 24, 2019
No onto a different kind of park: There’s a meeting of the Funland Park Reconstruction Committee tonight at the Hermiston Community Center. On the agenda, design team selection and time for public comment.
Find the full agenda here.

Radar going down in Pendleton
July 22, 2019
Radar at the Pendleton Weather Station will be down starting today and for the next three weeks starting today as crews replace the pedestal holding up the radome – the giant golf ball on top of the weather station – and upgrade equipment. The National Weather Service saying its part of a maintenance overhaul of radar systems known as the Service Life Extension Program. They’ll replace the full pedestal as well as upgrade and replace other parts while the system is down. It’s expected to take from today through the first week of August. While the radar is down, surrounding radar systems in Spokane, Portland, and Boise will continue to operate.
Find out more here: https://www.weather.gov/pdt/

Hermiston City Council meets tonight
July 22, 2019
The Hermiston city council also talking about the proposed school district bond with a presentation during its council meeting tonight. The council will also hear a report on EOTEC, a presentation from the tribes and will vote on replats of property, including changes to the former Hermiston Foods property.
That meeting begins at 7 p.m. tonight at Hermiston City hall. Find the full agenda here.

Blood shortage, blood drives
July 18, 2019
Last week, the American Red Cross declared an emergency shortage of blood because they have less than a three-day supply of most blood types. The red cross says it’s because of a summer drop in donations and increase in natural disasters.
"In summertime, people go on vacations, they're out of town, people aren't there to donate," said Eldon Marcum with Umatilla County Fire District No. 1. "This year has been a lot of catastrophe, so although they're always short of blood (in the summer), this year it's extremely low."
Marcum saying there are multiple blood drives in our local area, including one hosted by the fire district on Friday, Aug. 2, at the Stafford Hansell Government Center. There’s also a blood drive at Good Shepherd Medical Center from 10 to 3 this coming Monday and then drives the first two weeks of August at New Hope Community Church, the Oregon Trail Library District in Irrigon, Umatilla City Hall, and Boardman Pool and Recreation Center . You can visit redcrossblood.org to sign up for a time or for more information.

Stanfield talks 395, law suit, city manager
July 16, 2019
The Stanfield City Council is meeting tonight at 6 p.m. in the council chambers on Coe Avenue, and they could be reviewing city manager applications. Those application packets due at Stanfield City Hall by end of business today.
The city council has a closed-door executive session on the agenda tonight to discuss the hiring of a city manager and to discuss matters relating to the 3D-Idapro lawsuit.
The City of Stanfield also has a public meeting scheduled Thursday with ODOT regarding repairs and changes on the Highway 395 overlay project.
That meeting is a 6 in the evening Thursday in the cafeteria at Stanfield Secondary School.
There will be an opportunity for the audience to ask questions and make comments.
Find both agendas on the Facebook page for the City of Stanfield.

Economic Summit slated July 26
July 12, 2019
An economic summit later this month at Hermiston High School.
It’s the inaugural Eastern Oregon Economic Summit and expected to cover factors impacting rural Oregon’s economy from legislation to technology.
The summit from 8:30 to 5 on Friday, July 26th, at Hermiston High.
It’s hosted by the Eastern Oregon Women’s Coalition . The event will have keynote speakers in the morning and discussion panels in the afternoon on topics including recruiting businesses interested in relocation and meeting housing needs.
Registration is required and costs $25. You can register on the event’s eventbrite page.

County Emergency Declaration approved
July 10, 2019
Umatilla County has a disaster declaration from the state after flooding in April . The declaration means federal assistance to help with state and local recover efforts in six counties: Curry, Douglas, Grant, Linn, Umatilla, and Wheeler counties. The state office of emergency management estimating damages to public property in those six counties at $8.2 million
The Oregon Department of Transportation has requested an additional $3.7 in emergency relief for damages to major transportation networks.

Sheriff's Office wins jail funding
July 10, 2019
The UCSO officially announcing yesterday that the Oregon House and Senate approved $1.6 million in funding to renovate the
Umatilla County Jail. The declaration follows two years of planning and funding requests from the state.
Once completed, this renovation will help the jail staff to better accommodate inmates who suffer from mental health,
alcohol and drug, and medical issues. The current setup in the jail isn’t equipped for the continued increase in the
number of persons with these types of problems. With the renovation, the Umatilla County Jail will be better equipped
to provide a secure area where inmates in crisis could be temporarily housed until they’re treated and stabilized.

Hermiston council considers EOTEC, LID
July 8, 2019
A local improvement taxing district and a strategic plan for the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center on the agenda tonight for the Hermiston City Council.
The L-I-D would have property owners within the South Hermiston Industrial Park pay a portion of costs for new roads, water, and sewer lines within the district to promote more development. On the agenda is a resolution that would declare the intent to form the district. They’ll also vote on a 10-year EOTEC strategic plan as well as a vote enlarging the EOTEC advisory committee – adding two at-large community members.
The regular meeting begins at 7 at city hall. There is a work session at 6 to discuss parks and recreation software and an update on “family promise” with the faith-based advisory committee and made to thrive.
Find the full agenda here

Hermiston School Board to vote on bond
July 8, 2019
Back to the meeting agendas, tonight the Hermiston School Board meets at 6:30 at the district office – and they could be moving forward on asking voters to approve another bond. The board expected to vote tonight on a Ballot Question Bond Authorizing Resolution which would likely ask voters for the $82 million construction bond that the district’s facilities committee recommended last month.
During the meeting, the board will also vote on a number of items to prepare for the coming school year from the organizational cart to school lunch prices. There is a executive session on the agenda for the superintendent’s performance review.
You can find that full agenda here.

HSD pays off pre-2008 bond
July 5, 2019
The Hermiston School District Celebrating this week as it made the final payment to clear all debt from before the 2008 bond.
Most of that debt comes from a 1999 bond totaling just under $40 million.
The district still paying back bonds voters approved in In November 2008
That was an additional $69.9 million general obligation bond. The district used those funds to build new elementary schools and a middle school. The November 2008 bond payoff dates are scheduled for June 2026 and June 2029.
With the final payment of the pre-2008 bonds, the district expects “school bond” property tax rates to decrease approximately $0.40 per $1,000 of assessed value. The district's general fund property tax will remain at $4.8877 per $1,000.

Boardman seeking new councilor
July 5, 2019
The City of Boardman is looking for a new city council member.
Toni Connell resigning her seat on the Boardman City Council in order to work full time at City Hall as a utility clerk.
The city is currently seeking letters of interest from individuals willing to be considered
for appointment to fill a vacancy on the City Council. The term expires December 31, 2020.
Those interested must have resided in the City of Boardman during the twelve months   immediately preceding the appointment. Letters of interest must be received no later than 5:00pm, Thursday, August 1, 2019 to City Manager, Karen Pettigrew at Boardman City Hall for consideration. The City Council will interview the candidates, and appoint the new Councilor at their August 6, 2019 City Council meeting, scheduled for 7pm.

Using fireworks safely
July 3, 2019
Fireworks went on sale last week in Oregon, and fire marshal Scott Goff says people need to be prepared, responsible, safe, and aware when using fireworks.
Fireworks used in Oregon should be purchased in the state. Purchasing aerial fireworks out of state and bringing them to Oregon could cost you
"If they do happen to start a fire with illegal fireworks, they could be not only responsible both for the cost of the fire - we do bill for fire suppression on issues like that - there could be other legal ramifications as well," he said.
Goff says to make sure to soak spent fireworks in water as those can still start fires after they’ve been used. Goff also reminding the community that all open burning is closed in the state.
Find more on the website for Umatilla County Fire District #1
On the topic of fireworks, three local communities will present fireworks shows and other events for Independence Day: Stars & Stripes in Hermiston, Boardman Thunder in Boardman and the Stanfield Fourth of July in Stanfield.

Driver arrested after chase in stolen car
June 26, 2019
A high-speed chase in a stolen vehicle yesterday morning in Irrigon.
Just before 10 in the morning yesterday, a deputy attempted to pull over a white Ford Focus on Highway 730 – the driver instead failed to yield and fled at speeds of 70 mph. The vehicle had been reported stolen out of Hermiston. According to a press release from the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office, at one point during the pursuit, the suspect turned down a dead end street then turned around and sped toward a patrol truck in an intentional head-on collision course, only swerving at the last minute. The entire pursuit lasted four minutes, and 28-year-old Matthew James Way, of Hermiston, was arrested and charged with attempt to elude – a felony- unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, five courts of reckless endangering and one count of reckless driving. He’s lodged at the Umatilla County jail

Council talks utility district, zoning
June 24, 2019
Tonight, the Hermiston city Council will vote on forming a local improvement district to install street and utility infrastructure in the South Hermiston Industrial Park. The resolution on the agenda will not create the district or cost property owners any money – it’s a feasibility study to analyze the impacts of the district. If you aren’t familiar with the term local improvement district, you’re not alone. A discussion about the difference between a local improvement district and an urban renewal area. That’s the subject of the work session that begins at 6 tonight at Hermiston City Hall. The regular meeting begins at 7. That includes a presentational from tribal cultural affairs and both a public hearing and a vote on a proposed rezoning of a property on NE North Street from commercial to medium density residential. The urban renewal agency meeting to follow. On the agenda, two façade grant applications
Find the full agenda here.

Townhalls set for June 30
June 24, 2019
Two battling Umatilla Town Hall meetings coming up next week.
Representative Greg Walden announcing 13 town halls over the next few weeks. The Umatilla County Town Hall scheduled for Sunday, June 30th, at noon. That’ll be at Athena Elementary School.
Later that same day, Senator Ron Wyden expected to be in the county for his town hall. That’ll be at 4 in the afternoon, again, June 30, in the Bob Clapp Theater and Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton.

iCan Bike needs volunteers - for next week
June 20, 2019
The iCan Bike Program needs more volunteers – and the camp begins on Sunday.
The five-day camp runs June 23rd through the 27th and teaches individuals with disabilities how to ride a two-wheeled bicycle. They’re still looking for volunteers to help with three of their sessions: from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m., from 11:40 in the morning to 12:55 in the afternoon, and from 2 in the afternoon until 3:15. Volunteers must be at least 15 years old.
To sign up to volunteer please e-mail icanbikehermiston@gmail.com or call Tracy at 541-667-6021.

Summer Lunch programs go mobile
June 19, 2019
Lunch to-go has a new meaning this summer as multiple local school districts are taking the summer meal programs on the road to deliver food to specific sites. All local communities offer some sort of summer meal program, usually at schools, for children to eat free, nutritious meals when school is not in session.
Both Umatilla and Morrow County launching programs with retrofitted busses that can carry warm – and cold – items to meal sites with build-in equipment. Umatilla School Superintendent Heidi Sipe saying the district has provided hot meals in Umatilla’s summer feeding program for years – but they’ve all been cooked at Umatilla High School and dispersed to other sites as a schedule painstakingly drafted to make food still be warm when it arrived.
Umatilla launches its 2019 summer feeding program on Monday with breakfast, lunch, and dinner at some sites. The Morrow County School District launched its program this week with two busses carrying the food to an additional eight sites this year through the mobile initiative. The district had a contest to name the program, and a fourth-grade class at Irrigon Elementary named it “Wheels with meals.”
Morrow County School Superintendent Dirk Dirkson says they’re working with community partners to also provide additional stimulation for kids through a number of activities.
Dirkson says they aren’t done making tweaks to the new program. They’re already considering increasing to three food trucks next year – and they could expand the service to provide food during spring break and, eventually, on Fridays as well.
Dirkson says the best way to know the closest stop for a family is to check websites for the school district or the specific school a child attends. The district has 22 different lunch sites this year.
Summer meal programs across the state are typically funded through the Oregon Department of Education and USDA and provide free meals to children. Some sites, such as Umatilla, offer meals to adults at a low cost.
Hermiston’s summer meals program is also running, as is the Friends, Food, and Fun program at the Stanfield Public Library.

I-82 bridge reopens TODAY
June 19, 2019
The Washington State Department of Transportation saying the Eastbound Interstate 82 bridge should reopen this afternoon. Because of constructions, eastbound traffic has been shifted across a detour onto the westbound Columbia River bridge into Oregon 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The eastbound bridge now expected to reopen; however, it will be one lane for the rest of the week for minor repair work. The bridge has been under construction for more than two years. Originally slated to be reopened in fall 2018, the eastbound lanes remained closed because of a delay in steel work.

Missing boaters identified, bodies recovered
June 18, 2019
The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office recovering the bodies last night of two boaters missing since Saturday evening. They’ve been identified as as 44-year-old Janice Arsenault of Umatilla and 20-year-old Trenton Williams, of Idaho. Arsenault was a volunteer EMT and firefighter with Umatilla Rural Fire Protection District, and a procession of emergency vehicles marked her return last night.
Arsenault also worked the front desk at Blue Mountain Community College’s Hermiston campus. BMCC offering a crisis team for staff yesterday.
The two reported missing Saturday evening from a boat on the Columbia River. The driver of the boat, Richard Kirkendall, of Hermiston, reporting the two had been riding on the dive step of the boat while he was driving to shore. Kirkendall realized they were missing when he arrived at shore. A 911 call at 748 p.m. reported the two adults were hanging off the back of the boat. Multiple agencies searching throughout the weekend. The bodies located underwater near Bobby’s Beach by members of the Columbia Basin Dive Rescue using a side-scan, towable sonar at 8 and 8:30 last night.
The most recent update from Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office saying search efforts have been concluded and an investigation is on-going. The Sheriff’s Office thanking those involved in the search and recovery including Columbia Basin Dive Rescue,
Umatilla County Fire District and Umatilla Police Department.

ODOT presents to Stanfield Council
June 18, 2019
Delays coming to Highway 395 soon for a repaving project The Oregon Department of Transportation will present about the project during tonight’s Stanfield City Council meeting.
Also on the meeting agenda, a preliminary presentation on the City’s water rate study, a land use public hearing regarding the minimum rear yard setback in the residential zone, and a supplemental budget public hearing.
That meeting begins at 6 p.m. tonight in the Council Chambers on Coe Avenue

Umatilla talks housing, bids
June 18, 2019
Umatilla needs… more housing. Tonight, the city of Umatilla will review the results of the west county housing study, and the study says Umatilla will need more middle-range homes. . The study projects increases of 58% in homeownership rates in Umatilla over the next 20 years, including a shift to marginally higher income households. Umatilla City Manager David Stockdale says they’re seeing growth in Umatilla – and they expect it to continue.
Among the recommendations in the study, a new or updated comprehensive plan for housing and measures the city can consider to help meet future housing needs
Also on the agenda, a resolution authorizing electronic advertising for city contracts and another awarding contractor Jesse Rodriguez a $2.3 million contract for construction of the city’s industrial discharge facility project.
The council also expected to discuss the city code on poultry, council goals, and downtown revitalization grant applications.
That meeting begins at 7 tonight at Umatilla City Hall.

Search continues for missing boaters
June 17, 2019
Two boaters still missing after an incident on the Columbia River on Saturday evening. A 911 call coming into Umatilla County dispatch at 7:48 Saturday that two adults were hanging onto the back of a boat while the boat was making its way near “Bobby’s Beach,” which is near Highway 730 milepost 195. When the boat arrived, the two adults were no longer holding on and were missing. Nine agencies working together in a coordinated search for the two, identified only as an adult man and an adult woman. Although the family of the woman has spoken out, law enforcement have not released the identities of the two boaters at this time.
The search continued until 1 a.m. before it was suspended for the night. It resumed at 8 a.m. Sunday morning. The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office saying they will provide updates as more information becomes available.
The most recent update from 5 p.m. yesterday, from the Benton County Fire District #1, saying there has been no word regarding the missing boaters.

County moving forward with river trail
June 13, 2019
Work continuing on the Umatilla River Trail, formerly known as the West County Trail, an effort to connect trails in multiple local cities and build a trail from Echo to the Columbia River, along the Umatilla River. County Commissioner Bill Elfering says they don’t have a set layout for the trail yet – they’re working on determining what property owners along the river would be open to having the trail through their property
"While we can't build it across private property without the owner's position, we will just have to bypass that spot with a different route," Elfering said. "It's going to be a great trail."
The Umatilla River Trail will be nonmotorized. The county has established a group to plan the trail that includes representatives of cities and the U.S. Parks Service, and Oregon State Parks.

Umatilla plans stage-float
June 13, 2019
The City of Umatilla is busy planning for its annual festival, Umatilla Landing Days, and Mark Ribich says the chamber will premier its new performance stage this year – during the Landing Days Parade.
Clayton Homes out of Hermiston is building the stage, and the company will have employees on the float during the parade as well. It will be dedicated at Umatilla Marina Park after the parade and used for the Landing Days entertainment throughout the day.
The Umatilla Landing Days parade begins at 10 in the morning on Saturday, June 22. That moves through sixth street in downtown Umatilla.

Umatilla plans projects
June 11, 2019
Umatilla has approved its budget, and that includes three-quarters of a million dollars to build the Umatilla Business Center. It’s a remodel of the old post office across from City Hall, and the city has budgeted to refurbish the building, move the community development department into it and set up two storefronts as an “incubator” program where businesses have low commercial rent in order to get started.
City manager David Stockdale says the idea is that businesses would remain in the Business Center for a year or so, and then they would move into an independent facility as the business “grew up” and was successful enough to do so. The building will also include a 2,000 sq foot community space.
Stockdale says they’re looking at an opening date for the Umatilla Business Center in about 15 months
The Umatilla budget also includes funding for the Sixth Street Improvement Project. After eight years of planning, that project went out for bids late last week, they’re expecting construction to start in early Fall, and the project will be complete next spring or summer.

Committee to recommend school bond
June 10, 2019
The Hermiston School District will likely go out for another construction bond although at a much smaller scale than the bond that failed two years ago. That’s the recommendation the long range facilities planning committee will present to the Hermiston School Board tonight. Agenda materials saying the committee unanimously supported the district going out for an $82 million bond – the lowest of three options they were presented with. The committee recommended bond would include replacing Rocky Heights Elementary, building a new elementary on theater lane and adding a classroom annex at Hermiston High School as well as site improvements. Budget dependent the committee would also support a standalone multi-purpose facility at Highland Hills.
That bond would cost $3.65 per $1,000 of assessed value, but the district could qualify for a grant of up to $6.6 million from the department of education.
The committee expected to present its report during the Hermiston School board meeting tonight. The meeting begins at 6:30 tonight in the district office boardroom. It also include a budget hearing and a adoption of the budget and a closed-door executive session To conduct a hearing to expel minor students or to examine confidential medical records. Click this link to go to the full agenda.

City Council to vote on budget
June 10, 2019
A long evening planned for the Hermiston City Council tonight as the group votes on the city’s budget and continues to consider the strategic plan for the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center. EOTEC is the subject of the work session that begins at 6 tonight at Hermiston City Hall. The regular meeting begins at 7. and includes a report from the Hermiston School District, Committee Vacancies and a public hearing on the budget. Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan saying the council is expected to vote on that document tonight. The fiscal year begins July 1.
After the council meeting, the urban renewal agency meeting. That group will also be considering its budget.
Find the full agenda here.

INWM open reservations for 20th anniversary
June 7, 2019
It’s been a busy season for the ensembles and volunteers of Inland Northwest Musicians, and they’re quickly approaching the end of their 20th season. Director R. Lee Friese saying the final performance of the season is coming up It’s, an anniversary concert and world premier of “Life of Water,” a commissioned composition by Lawence Nash Groupe, which represents three stages of water: vapor, ice, and flowing water
"It's a unique experience to do a premier," Friese said. "No one has ever performed it before, and, as well, no one has ever heard it before."
Friese saying that getting ready for the concert is a bit different because of the nature of a world premier. The anniversary concert is 4 in the afternoon Sunday, June 16th, at the Hermiston Community Center. As with all Inland Northwest Musicians performances, the concert is free; however, they are asking to reserve seats by calling 541-289-46-96.
Also coming up:
A reminder that the PEO Garden Tour is tomorrow, as is Umatilla’s graduation Ceremony. Today also the Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation Scramble for Scholarships event, and this afternoon and tonight, Umatilla Schools celebrating bond projects with community events and tours, and echo has the first graduation in its new bond-funded gym. Looking ahead, there is a job fair scheduled for Monday afternoon at the Hermiston Community Center if you need to work on your resume this weekend, and both Blue Mountain Community College and Eastern Oregon University will have commencement ceremonies next week.

Boardman announces council opening
June 6, 2019
There’s an opening on the Boardman City Council.
The Boardman City Council is seeking letters of interest from individuals willing to be considered for appointment to fill the vacancy left by Toni Connell, who resigned in June due to taking on a new position at the City of \Boardman. Her term expires December 31, 2020.
Those interested must have resided in the City of Boardman during the twelve months immediately preceding the appointment. Letters of interest must be received no later than 5:00pm, Thursday, August 1, 2019 to City Manager, Karen Pettigrew at Boardman City Hall for consideration. The City Council will interview the candidates, and appoint the new Councilor at their August 6, 2019 City Council meeting, scheduled for 7pm

Small councils talk budgets tonight
June 4, 2019
It is budget season, and budgets are on the agenda for small city councils tonight.
In Umatilla, the agenda is packed – the packet is 74 pages – including four public hearings. One of the hearings is an ordinance about state revenue sharing,a nd three are amendments to the city code to address zoning regulations on fences, nonconforming manufactured homes, and mobile food vendors. They’ll also be considering a supplemental budget, one of nine resolutions on the agenda. Following all the action items, the council expected to discuss sanitary disposal services and a remodel of Umatilla City Hall.
The meeting begins at 7 tonight at Umatilla City Hall.
The Stanfield City Council adopting its budget tonight as well as declaring the city’s election results and levying property taxes. The council will also have an executive session on the final evaluation for the city manager Blair Larsen.
The City’s total budget is $3,751,230, which represents a 0.42% increase from the $3,735,410 budget in FY 2018-2019. The revenue increase is attributed to property tax increases, the City’s increased electric utility franchise fees, and grant funding for Street projects. On the expense side, the increase is due to annual operating and personnel cost increases, including an additional
Public Works operator position.
That meeting also begins at 7 p.m.
In Boardman, they’ll have have the budget as the first resolution tonight, along with decisions on state shared revenue, water, and sewer rate increases. The meeting also to include a presentation on Pirate Youth Football. At 7 p.m., the city will have an urban renewal agency meeting – that includes the group’s budget – and the city council meeting begins at 7:15 p.m.

Infant killed in a crash
June 3, 2019
A 7-month-old killed yesterday morning in a single vehicle crash on Interstate 84.The driver has been arrested.
From Oregon State Police:
On Sunday, June 2, 2019, at 3:16 A.M., Oregon State Troopers and emergency personnel responding to the report of a single vehicle crash on I-84 eastbound near milepost 175. Preliminary investigation revealed a silver 2003 Cadillac CTS, operated by Veronica Andrade, 39, of Boardman, was traveling eastbound on I-84 when for unknown reasons the Cadillac veered off the road onto the right shoulder and rolled.
The vehicle was occupied by Andrade and two children, ages 3 and 7 months. The 7 month old was ejected from the vehicle and sustained fatal injuries.
Andrade and the 3 year old child were transported to Good Shepherd Medical Center. The 3 year old was listed in critical condition and flown to Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel in Portland.
Andrade was treated and released from Good Shepherd Medical Center. Following her release from the hospital Andrade was arrested and lodged in the Umatilla County Jail for Manslaughter I, Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants, Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangering, and Assault 1.
Interstate 84 was reduced to one lane for approximately three hours to allow for scene investigation.
The Oregon State Police was assisted by the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office, Boardman Police Department, and ODOT

Driver identified in fatal crash
May 30, 2019
Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office releasing the identity of the driver killed in a single-car rollover near Pendleton. The 21-year-old identified as Toni Renee Brown. The sheriff’s office saying she was deceased when deputies arrived yesterday morning and saying based on information at the scene the crash likely occurred several hours before it was discovered. They say it appears that the vehicle lost traction and the driver
overcorrected, which caused the vehicle to skid and rollover. We are awaiting the results of toxicology testing to determine if alcohol was a factor.

HSD, GS offering wellness clinic
May 30, 2019
Hermiston School District and Good Shepherd Health Care System teaming up for a wellness clinic and Hermiston High School. The clinics will be staffed by medical providers from Good Shepherd Urgent Care on the mornings of June 3rd and June 10th – those are Mondays – from 8 a.m. until noon and in the afternoons on June 5 and 12th – Wednesdays – from 12 to 4.
For students that are under 18 years of age, a parent or legal guardian must sign a parental
consent form, complete a medical history form; then, return both to the Wellness Clinic staff, before the student may receive care.

Hermiston City Council meets tonight
May 28, 2019
The Hermiston City Council talking annexation, transit, and park restoration during a meeting tonight.
The council typically meets on Mondays but moving the meeting to tonight because of the Memorial Day holiday.
On the agenda, a public hearing and resolution on an annexation of property on Elm Avenue and renewal of the contract with KAYAK Transit for the 2019-21.
The council also expected to discuss ongoing restoration discussions about FunLand playground at Butte Park.
Find the full agenda here.

Bond passes in Stanfield
May 22, 2019
A construction bond for the Stanfield School District passing in the May election that ended last night.
285 ballots cast in favor of the $14 million bond - compared to 153 against. Superintendent Beth Burton saying people in the community understood there was a need and now the district can move forward with the infrastructure project.
"Lots of celebrating and thanking the community for their support," Burton said of the district's post-election plans. "We will start planning."
The district will also receive $4 million from the state to help with the project, which will build a permanent middle school addition to replace the modular classrooms, remodel the school entrances for safety and security, reconfigure the parking lot at Stanfield elementary and remove asbestos and lead pipes, as well as expanding the wood and metal shop.

In other results from the election, Morrow County voters renewing the current five year local option tax supporting general operations of the Morrow County Health District almost 80 percent to 20 percent against it. In contested elections, Emily Spike won Echo School Board position 2 in a landslide over Connie Caplinger, 105 to 18, and in Umatilla incumbent Toby Cranston beating out challenger Jennifer Armstrong 254 to 178 votes. in Stanfield, Cecili Longhorn elected to school board position 2 with 210 votes over the 192 votes cast for Jim Griffin.
Josh Goller, Dave Smith, Brent Pitney, Bonnie Luisi and Ginny Holthus retain their seats ont he Hermiston School Board. Ric Sheran and Spike Piersol , and Eldon Marcum each retaining seats on the Umatilla County Fire District #1 board.
Don Rice, Chris Brown, and Jane Hill retain their seas on the Blue Mountain Community College board, as do Verneda Wagner, Ryan Neal, and Joe McElligott on the InterMountain ESD Board.
Umatilla County had a voter 13 percent turnout. In Morrow County, it was 33 percent.

Up to 195 laid off at Hinkle
May 21, 2019
Large-scale layoffs today at the Hinkle rail yard.
A statement this morning from Union Pacific saying:
"On May 21, Union Pacific filed a WARN notice and notified affected employees that as many as 195 positions would be abolished at its Hinkle rail yard, mechanical locomotive shop and supply warehouse located in Hermiston, Oregon.
The workforce reduction is the result of accelerating its continuous improvement plan and implementing Precision Scheduled Railroading principles.
Some switching operations that took place at Hinkle Yard have been shifted to nearby yards in Portland, Oregon; Nampa and Pocatello, Idaho; Spokane, Washington, and Ogden, Utah.
In October 2018, Union Pacific announced a workforce reduction impacting various locations across our system. We also indicated it was the first of what likely will be additional workforce reduction initiatives through 2020. These steps are part of Unified Plan 2020, which streamlines operations as we ensure Union Pacific remains a strong and competitive company."

The first locomotive shop and servicing facilities at Hinkle were constructed in 1951

Scammer targets Sandstone
May 17, 2019
A phone scam reported yesterday targeting businesses in the Hermiston area. A call claims to selling ads on a calendar and raising money for Sandstone Middle School. The Hermiston School District saying the person claims affiliation with ASF Direct and is not affiliated with Sandstone Middle School or the district in any way. They say any advertising or sponsorships initiated by the district will come directly from Larry Usher, the district’s director of athletics and activities or Lindy Thompson, the athletic secretary. The district advises community members to not engage in a conversation with the scam caller,
and instead, hang up the call and call the police department.

City launches logo, link for Funland
May 17, 2019
What to donate to help rebuild Funland Park? Click here to go straight to the city's donation page.

Law enforcement memorial tomorrow
May 15, 2019
UPDATE: Because of weather the memorial will begin with the procession at Til Taylor Park at 11 a.m., then the ceremony will follow at the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office.

This is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Week as well as Peace Officer’s week, and tomorrow, the annual the Umatilla County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony at Til Taylor Park in Pendleton. The public invited to the ceremony to honor those who serve and protect.
"It's a day of celebration to remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice," said Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan
Rowan saying the ceremony begins at 11 a.m. Friday. Rowan saying if the weather is poor, the ceremony could be at the catholic church in Pendleton. After the ceremony, law enforcement will participate in a lighted procession from Til Taylor to the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office.

Flag ceremony at Funland Playground
May 15, 2019
Everyone also invited to a memorial service at Funland Park on Sunday. Larry Fetter saying they will be retiring and replacing the American flag at the park that burned early Friday morning –
"Really it's a show of this community that, 'This is our park. This is our playground. We're taking it back, and this is important to us,'" Fetter said.
He says the remembrance and rebuilding ceremony will be short – that’s at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Investigation into the fire is continuing.

Assessment: UCo residents are obese but claim good health
May 15, 2019
Yesterday, the debut of the 2018 Umatilla County Community Health Assessment report. The 134-page document outlines how county resident responded to a survey last fall on health aspects from marijuana use - that's up - to tobacco rates which are down. Most county residents saying they are in excellent or very good health mentally, but 70 percent of Umatilla County adults are overweight or obese. Tessa Elliot, with the health group that analyzed the data saying the number of overweight residents decreased - but the obesity rate increased. Elliot saying it is most likely residents "jumped" the category from overweight to obese - and more so in specific categories: especially in those who make less than $25,000 a year.
When considering the most important health concerns for the county, people put substance abuse, opioids, and mental health as the priorities, and the data seems to back up those concerns. The number of adults who have misused prescription medications has almost doubled since 2001, rising from 9 percent to 17 percent in 2018, and two percent of county residents considered attempting suicide in the past year. Twenty-two percent reported they or a family member were diagnosed or treated with anxiety or emotional problems.
As we reported last month, the health priorities for this year, based on the CHA report, are behavioral health, social determinants of health, chronic diseases, access to services, violence, and obesity.

City releases Funland plan, committee
May 15, 2019
Updates on the rebuild of FunLand Playground, which burned on Friday morning.
Parks and Recreation director Larry Fetter saying they’ve seen tremendous report from community members and service clubs.
The mayor will be creating a taskforce of community members to help redesign and rebuild Funland Playground. He will be accepting applications – something on the city’s website soon on that announcement and what the process will look like and how you would apply. Fetter saying the new design will retain the same kind of look, feel, and character of FunLand but will meet new playground safety standards, ADA compliance – and fire resistance. They’ll be working with the company Leathers to rebuild. Leathers is the same company that built the FunLand play structure as well as the rebuild of Pendleton’s Pioneer Park – with fire resistant materials that look like wood – after that park burned in 2012.
Fore more on that process and what Parks and Rec is up to, tune in for today’s Odds & Ends program.
Hermiston Police Department treating it as a criminal investigation – they have not used the word arson.
Police Chief Jason Edmiston saying the investigation has been an uphill battle for the department but they have been dealt uphill battles before and had some success.

2 deaths at Umatilla house fire
May 13, 2019
Umatilla Police have confirmed two deaths discovered at a house fire yesterday.
Umatilla County Dispatch received a 911 call at 5:00 p.m. Sunday reporting a house fire at a home on John Day Street. The Umatilla Rural fire District and Umatilla Police Department responding to the scene and located two deceased people inside the residence, identified as homeowners Roger Frances, 67, and Ruth Frances, 68.
A press release stated, "At this time, the investigation is continuing, but it is believed that this is no more than a tragic accident with no danger to the public."
The home sustained minimal fire damage but damage from heat and smoke was significant.
Roger Frances was the Public Works Superintendent for the City of Umatilla. He retired in 2013 after 25 years.
Emergency responders were on scene for more than four hours Sunday.

Council talks Hermiston Foods, EOTEC
May 13, 2019
The play structure and the fire last week at FunLand at Butte Park are not on the agenda during tonight’s Hermiston City Council meeting, but there is a good chance the topics will come up.
The city council is also talking about the future of the Hermiston Foods facility with a proposed redevelopment of the site. They’ll have a proclamation about national police week, award a contract for an overlay on Hermiston Avenue and have a public hearing about annexing property on Elm Avenue into city limits.
The city council will meet in a work session at 6 tonight to consider the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center Strategic Plan. The regular meeting begins at 7 p.m., both at Hermiston City Hall. Follow this link for the full agenda.

School Board to hear reports
May 13, 2019
The Hermiston School Board of Education also meeting tonight. On the agenda, the enrollment report, financial reports, a transportation report and a vote on the union contract for Hermiston Association of Teachers. It’s a two-year contract that includes a 3 percent cost of living increase. That meeting begins at 6:30 tonight at Hermiston School District offices. Click here for the full agenda.

Stanfield City Manager leaving
May 13, 2019
There’s also a special Stanfield City Council meeting tomorrow
he Stanfield City Council will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, May 14th to discuss the recruitment of a new City Manager. City Manager Blair Larsen saying he is departing to take a position with another city.  Public Comment is invited regarding these documents and the City Manager Recruitment Process. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the council chambers on Coe Avenue.

Fire at FunLand guts playground
May 10, 2019
A fire at funland early this morning – and a criminal investigation
Umatilla County Fire District #1 dispatched at 2:43 this morning to a fire in the Funland play structure at Butte Park. Early estimates are that 90 percent of the “castle” play structure is burned – either destroyed or damaged. The investigator spending most of this morning as part of the investigation to assess damages and origin.
The city of Hermiston is asking the community to stay clear of the area during investigation and cleanup.
Funland was built in 1995. This is the second fire at the Funland playground. It previously burned in 2001.
Officials saying they hope to have the undamaged portions of butte park open this afternoon but cannot give a timeline on the play structures.

Changes coming for U-P at Hinkle
May 7, 2019
Union Pacific Railroad is switching some operations away from the Hinkle Yard, but no word yet on what exactly that means for Hinkle employees. A U-P spokesman confirming yesterday that some yard operations will shift to yards in Portland, Nampa and Pocatello, Idaho, Spokane Washington, and Ogden, Utah.
Rumors circulating about additional layoffs at Hinkle because of the change, but the railroad has not released any information. These wouldn’t be the first layoffs: In October, Union-Pacific announced layoffs as part of its Unified Plan 2020, and some estimates place the workers let go from the Hinkle Yard at just under 100 employees since that date. The Hinkle employees around 400 people.

Pipeline, budget, subdivision on agendas
May 7, 2019
Building a pipeline, honoring police, and bringing awareness of mental health all on the agenda tonight for the Umatilla City Council.
City Manager Dave Stockdale saying the resolutions on the agenda tonight are some of the final steps before that project can move forward. The council will also consider resolutions renewing the Umatilla Community Center lease, permitting with the bureau of reclamation and signing an agreement with the special library district. Multiple proclamations also on the agenda tonight in Umatilla
National corrections week, national police week and peace officers memorial day and mental health awareness. That meeting begins at 7 tonight at Umatilla City Hall.
Find Umatilla's full agenda here.
The Stanfield City Council also meeting tonight, and they’ll be tackling the budget . The meeting begins at 6 in the council chambers on Coe Avenue. It incluse a budget committee meeting for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The proposed budget is just over $3.7 million – an increase of less than half a percent from the 2018-19 budget. The revenue increase attributed to property tax increases, the city’s electric utility franchise fees and grant funding for street project. The budget increases in personnel costs, including an additional public works operator position. City Manager Blair Larson saying the city is in good financial shape and the budget is conservative and strategic.
During tonight’s council meeting the council also recognizing former city councilor Jack Huxoll in appreciation of his 20 years of service to the city.
A subdivision presentation and a garbage rate increase on the agenda for the Boardman city council tonight. That meeting includes presentations from Ed Glenn as well as Katie Dawson, with West Glenn Subdivision.
It begins at 7 tonight.

Screen free week is this week
May 1, 2019
Children could be spending more than 32 hours a week in front of an electronic screen – and making sure they have balance is part of the motivation of screen free week, which happens to b this week. It’s an effort to use the time you would be spending on “entertainment screens” – that means you can’t use it as an excuse not to get your work done or do homework – doing other activities.
Angie Treadwell, with the OSU Extension says they’re celebrating screen free week with a special event this Thursday in downtown Hermiston. It’s from 4:30 to 7 It aligns with the first Thursday downtown. Local merchants will have activities, they’ll have Food Hero recipe tastings, spin art, flower arranging, helmet fitting, preschooler activities and fitness programs, from kids dancing through yoga and zumba.
The library will also have an activity, and there will be an event passport. Receive stamps from all the activities, and you can enter the passport for a prize drawing.

Echo, Hermiston FFA set plant sales
May 1, 2019
If you are looking for any plants this spring, this is the week to do it: both the Hermiston and Echo FFA chapters have plant sales scheduled this week.
The Echo FFA has its annual plant sale kicks off this afternoon (WEDNESDAY) from 1 to 5 in the Echo greenhouse and continues from 1-5 tomorrow, 10-2 on Friday and Saturday. In Hermiston, the sale begins tomorrow (THURSDAY)
Junior Kirsten Myers says you’ll want to come early for the best selection. The Hermiston FFA sale lasts tomorrow afternoon and from 10 to 7 on Friday. The sale is in the greenhouse.
If you’re not sure where you’ll be planting those vegetables, flowers, and succulents, the Hermiston community garden – lovin’ spadefuls – does have on-site registration this Friday and Saturday.

Pacific Power changing meters
May 1, 2019
Electric Meters are changing for Pacific Power customers across the area. Pacific Power saying it will replace about 22,000 meters in Eastern Oregon from Arlington to Adams – and most of them will be in Umatilla and Morrow counties including in Hermiston, Echo, and Boardman.
The installations begin the week of May 13 and continue until August. The smart meters expected to track outages and let customers view power usage hour-by-hour.
Hermiston Energy Services installed automated meters in February of 2018.

Teens not aware of nicotine in vaping
April 29, 2019
More evidence that teens may not realize how much nicotine is in the e-cigs they use. A study published last week in finding 40 percent of teens who reported using products only using nicotine-free products showed signs of nicotine use in tests. Kary Tuers, addiction prevention coordinator with Umatilla County Public Health, says you're more likely to become addicted to a substance the younger you try it - all the way up until age 25.
"I think the No. 1 goal that we're working on is preventing new users - and we're looking at new users who are kids, young people under the age of 21," she said. "It's very addictive, and it's very hard to quit."
Tuers says because chemicals go down smoothly when vaping, users may receive more nicotine than they realize, and the addiction can happen very quickly. Research showing about one in five high school students now say they've used an e-cig at least once over the past month, and UCO Public Health is working one education campaigns to let adults - and teens - know of the risks.

County improvement areas set
April 29, 2019
Vaping is on the rise in Umatilla County, as well as nationwide, and addiction is one of the six areas chosen for the focus of this year's community health improvement plans for the county. The focus areas come from the community needs assessment, which was sent out last fall. They'll be showing the results of the assessment during a special event May 14 at Good Shepherd, but the Healthy Communities Coalition last week releasing the six chosen focus areas: Behavior health, including mental health and substance abuse; social determinants, including food insecurity and homelessness; access to services; violence; chronic diseases, and obesity.

Fiesta Foods to close
April 26, 2019
News that the Hermiston Fiesta Foods is closing. The clearance process begins May 1 – that’s Wednesday. A statement from Craig Gaylord, president and owner of Fiesta Foods, saying the decision was made because of long-term performance of the store.
"Evaluating the needs in the markets we are in and the investments needed to sustain this store, our team concluded it made the most sense to close this store and focus on other ways we can best serve the communities we are in and perform the best: Pasco, Sunnyside and Yakima," Gaylord said in a press release.
As the closure begins, the Hermiston Fiesta Foods will have reduced hours – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

County looking for flood damage
April 25, 2019
Work continues to track flood damage in Umatilla County. This week, Andrew Phelps, director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management toured flooded locations in Hermiston, Umatilla, and Pendleton, alongside county staff. Phelps saying the state is providing any assistance they can and trying to reach the minimum threshold values required to request a federal declaration.
The county is asking any residents with damage to their homes or property from the recently flooding who have not yet been contacted to email Umatilla County Emergency Management at floods2019@umatillacounty.net. The deadline for reporting damages is April 30, 2019.

Steps to Success, In Her Shoes this Saturday
April 25, 2019
Part of that flood damage is at Riverfront Park and the Oxbow Trail in Hermiston. That damage prompting some changes and reorganization in the Steps to Success Fun Run / Walk and the In Her Shoes event, both of which are scheduled for this weekend. It’s the third year for Steps 2 Success, organized by the Good Shepherd Health Care System’s Wellness Committee. Darren Preuninger says it is designed to help people become active – at their own level.
They’re offering a one mile, 5k, and 10k. Registration is $15, and that includes snacks and lunch. For another $10, you can add a t-shirt to your registration. The event begins at 8 a.m. at the Oxbow Trail Head across from Good Shepherd.
Going on immediately after Steps to Success, the Walk in Her Shoes event, a benefit and awareness event for Domestic Violence Services. Sharon Neuvirth says The program allows participants to answer one of the most common Domestic violence questions: why don’t they just leave.
"We have stories of victims that you walk through, and you get to decide where you go for help," she said.
Neuvirth says the event is typically an indoor outreach, but they’ve moved it outdoors to add a fitness element. Walk in Her Shoes is from 9 until noon Saturday at Riverfront Park.
Steps to Success begins at 8 a.m. They will be doing on-site registration at 8 a.m. You can also register online at this link. Proceeds benefit Hermiston Special Olympics and Domestic Violence Services.

Crime trends down - thanks to weather
April 24, 2019
The Hermiston Police Department releasing crime trends for the first quarter of 2019 compared to first quarter of 2018 – and the 10-year trend.
Police Chief Jason Edmiston saying total crime is down 8 percent over the 10-year average and 7 percent over last year’s. He says they have an idea why:
"Those are obviously trends we like to see, but the reality is, weather probably played some role in assisting us," he said. "Any time you get a February full of snow, it tends to keep people inside and not out committing crimes."
Edmiston says one significant change was 47 percent drop in violent crime rates for the quarter. The police chief saying the police force has been able to handle crime in Hermiston, even as the city has continued to grow in population over past decade. He says as the population of Hermiston continues to grow, they will consider growing the police force.

Details on city's Teen Adventure Park plans
April 24, 2019
Speaking of growing - More details coming out about the Hermiston Teen Adventure Park planned for property across the street from the police station. The design phase for the ½ acre park will continue until June, but Hermiston Parks and Recreation Director Larry Fetter says they’ve used community feedback – primarily from teens – to create a preliminary design and seek grant funding. Phase 1 – the 500,000 – is the covered skatepark. Fetter says the skate park is still the primary feature, but expanding the focus allows the city to be more competitive in grant applications.
"In Phase 2, we would include a restroom, a BMX pump track - you can actually ride this pump track without ever pedaling once, if you know what you're doing," he said. "We're excited about having that."
Phase 2 will also include a parkour element, a climbing wall, and a swing set – an element Fetter says never goes out of style. The adventure park is planned for a triangle-shaped proper
You can find a video of the proposed design on the city’s facebook by clicking on this link.

EOTEC report, skatepark on agenda tonight
April 22, 2019
Coming up tonight, the strategic plan for the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center. That’s the primary item during the work session the Hermiston city Council has tonight. That work session begins at 6 p.m. at Hermiston City Hall, and the regular meeting opens at 7 with the flag salute and the a presentation from Umatilla County Public Health. Multiple annexation hearings and ordinances are on the agenda, as is information about a grant Parks and Rec is applying for on development of a skateboard and teen adventure park. The project expected to cost $1.1 million. Hear more about the teen adventure park on our Odds & Ends program. Find the full meeting agenda here.
The Hermiston School Board also meeting tonight. They’ll be at Sunset Elementary School starting at 6:30 p.m., but the work session agenda is light – including a presentation from the school, a report from the superintendent and an executive session for union negotiations. Follow this link for the full agenda.

Hermiston breaks ground on water tower
April 18, 2019
Groundbreaking yesterday of the new water tank in North Hermiston.
Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann says housing has been a top priority in Hermiston for years and this project will allow the infrastructure for companies to build.

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City and county officials break ground on the $4.1 million water storage tank and system improvement project on Wednesday.

The site will soon have a water that tower will rise almost 130 feet into the air – it’ll be elevated on columns off the ground.
The multi-million dollar water tower and water system improvements are being paid for by a partnership with the city and the county through funding available by the expansion of Lamb Weston.
County Commissioner John Shafer saying the partnership is what will make the project successful, and County Commissioner George Murdock saying he believes the water tower and water system improvements will lead to more houses.
"I would love to see a thousand houses up here," he said. "I think we need a thousand more houses."
At the groundbreaking on Wednesday, Hermiston City Manager Byron Smith says it will be about 9 months of construction, and they hope to be able to use the tank by the end of this calendar year.
Smith says the city would like to add an additional water tank to serve South Hermiston eventually, giving the city four water tanks to reduce risk if anything happens to one tank.

Stanfield has dinner, eggs, information
April 18, 2019
Tonight, the sixth annual community dinner and Easter egg hunt in Stanfield. The dinner starts at 6:30, and the Easter egg hunt will follow. Both are at Stanfield Secondary School this year. It’s a joint fundraiser for the 4th of July Committee and the Friends of the Stanfield Schools Bond, and Beth Burton, Stanfield school superintendent, says you can attend just the dinner or both the dinner and the Easter egg hunt – and they’ll have officials on site with information about the proposed bond.
The Stanfield Schools are seeking a $14 million construction bond in the May election.

Report child abuse, officials say
April 17, 2019
The month of April is child abuse prevention month – and local experts are focusing on information about child abuse, how it affects children, the child welfare system, and the community.
"It's very important to focus on that and the fact that it does happen. It's not some other place - it's locally," Marvin Hamilton said. "It happens here, and it happens every day."
Marvin Hamilton and Jessica Southwick, both with local DHS say child abuse is a concern locally, and most child abuse cases begin with someone else in the community reporting it.
"If there's something that just leaves you uncomfortable, report it, and then we'll determine if we need to go out and investigate," Southwick said.
To report, you can contact any DHS office or the state tip line.

Flood updates
April 15, 2019
Flood impacts still impacting Umatilla County, including the collapse of a footbridge in Umatilla.
An incident management team from the State Fire Marshall’s Office onsite at the Sheriff’s Office Emergency Operations Center in Pendleton as McKay Creek flooding threatens homes.
One adult living facility in Pendleton was evacuated on Saturday., and the Red Cross is operating an emergency shelter opened at the Pendleton Convention Center.
In Umatilla, the footbridge over the Umatilla River between South Hill and the Athletic Complex near Umatilla High School collapsing. The bridge is closed and blocked off. The Umatilla Police Department saying anyone who breaches the caution tape could be charged with criminal trespassing.

Second person charged in Navarette homicide
April 15, 2019
A second person charged in the death of Erik Navarrete.
29-year-old Vincent Wesley David Shermantine, of Hermiston, charged with felony murder, first-degree robbery, unlawful use of a weapon, and felon in possession of a firearm.
He has been in the Umatilla County Jail since March 29th when he was arrested on an unrelated probation violation warrant. David Summerville, 19, has also been charged in the shooting.
Anybody with information about this case is asked to contact Lieutenant Randy Studebaker at 541-667-5095.
Any additional information will be released by the Umatilla County District Attorney's Office.

BMCC celebrates Arts & Culture this week
April 15, 2019
This week, Blue Mountain Community College hosts its annual arts and culture festival with a number of speakers, presentations, and events highlight different examples of arts and culture. BMCC Hermiston Director Jacelyn Keys says the goal of the event is to broaden perspectives:
"Expose us to different ideas, different are pieces, and different elements of thinking about the world around us, so the theme this year is 'A Sense of Place' and how we define a sense of place," she said.
The sessions begin on the Pendleton campus today, and the first presentation in Hermiston is tomorrow afternoon. Hermiston campus has presentations scheduled tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday, ranging from an African market and discussion of Maasai women in Africa to the experience of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, to a woman recounting a forced childhood exodus in eastern Asia.
All sessions are open to the public. Find the full schedule of events here.

HPD makes arrest in Navarrete homicide
April 12, 2019
Hermiston Police making an arrest in a homicide from last summer.
At 1:20 a.m. on June 4th of 2018, Hermiston Police responded to a report of shots fired in the 500 block of West Hartley Avenue. When officers arrived, they found 26-year-old Erik Navarrete, who had been shot in the head and was unconscious. He was flown to Kadlec Medical Center in Richland and then taken off life support several days later.
On March 26th of this year, 19-year-old David Edgar Sommerville, of Hermiston, arrested on multiple charges, including resisting arrest, possession of methamphetamine, and carrying a concealed weapon. None of those charges had anything to do with the homicide, although Captain Travis Eynon saying Sommerville was a suspect.
On Wednesday, the Navarrete homicide case was presented to the Umatilla County Grand Jury. The Grand Jury returned an indictment accusing Sommerville of Aggravated Murder, Felony Murder, two counts of Unlawful Use of a Weapon, and Robbery in the First Degree. In the coming days, it is possible that additional persons will be charged for their suspected role in the Navarrete homicide.

No flood damage numbers until Monday - at least
April 12, 2019
Flooding and running water still reported across Umatilla and Morrow counties. Officials saying 6 inches of running water can move a car and advising local residents not to attempt to drive across moving water. Officials say it will take at least until Monday – if not longer – to determine the scope of flood damage. On Wednesday, Umatilla County Commissioners declaring a state of emergency because of flooding. County Commissioner John Shaffer saying the declaration could help the county receive state or federal aid.
"What that will do is if the threshold of damage reaches a certain level, the government will reimburse us for that," he said. "Unfortunately, we won't know what that is until the crisis is over."
Shaffer saying damages are still occurring. The city of Ukiah has declared an emergency because two levies have failed, and multiple county roads impacted by washouts and erosion because of the flooding, across Umatilla and Morrow counties.

Clean-up events this weekend
April 12, 2019
This weekend, the City of Hermiston wants your recyclable trash. It’s the second of the three clean-sweep events: Hermiston Recycling Event in the Umatilla Electric cooperative parking lot.
Larry Fetter with Hermiston Parks and Recreation says they’ll be taking all broken-down cardboard, mixed paper, clean wood, and electronics. They’ll even be taking paint, tires, scrap metal and appliances. The big thing to remember is that each item needs to be separated. They will not be taking motor oil or hazardous materials or liquids.
Visit Hermiston.or.us for the full list of what will and will not be accepted. That is again the Hermiston Recycling Event, 9 to 3 tomorrow at Umatilla Electric Cooperative.
Also on Saturday, Umatilla’s Slam Dunk the Junk city clean up event. You can contact Umatilla City Hall for more, and this weekend is also a SAGE Saturday – they’ll be building kites from 10 until 1 or when materials run out. Admission to the SAGE Center is free during the event as well.

Chamber names new leader
April 10, 2019
The Hermiston Chamber of Commerce announcing a new leader yesterday. Kimberly Nevil named the new Chief Executive Officer, replacing former executive director Debbie Pedro. Nevil is currenly a business and employment specialist with the Oregon Employment Department in Hermiston. Nevil is a Hermiston High School graduate who holds a degree in business administration from Eastern Oregon Univeristy.
She begins with the chamber on April 22.

Umatilla Robotics qualify for World Championships
April 8, 2019
Umatilla High School’s Robotics team winning the Chairman’s Award at the Pacific Northwest Championship over the weekend. The award qualifies the team to head to the World Finals in Houston – they’ll be leaving on Sunday.
Find more about Umatilla's Robotics team here.

Council heads to airport, school board meets tonight
April 8, 2019
The Hermiston City Council is heading to the airport.
Tonight a work session tour of the Hermiston Airport followed by the council meting – at the Hermiston Airport Terminal Building at 1600 E. Airport Way. That meeting begins at 7 at the location. It will include proclamation of a census countdown,
A report on EOTEC and a vote on a policy for granting water and sewer utility adjustments for customers who have a proven leak, and who have fixed the leak
Click here for the full agenda.
Recognition of the Hermiston High School Stardust Dance team is on tap for the Hermiston School Board meeting tonight. The school board will also have an enrollment report and a presentation on the special education program report card. The meeting begins at 6:30 at the district office. Find the full agenda here.

UNF warns of flooding
April 8, 2019
Finally, a warning from officials at the Umatilla National Forest that the rainfall over the weekend has increased the risk of flooding. Forest officials advising the public to use caution when traveling on the Forest, as roads and trails could be impacted by washouts or obstructions (such as rocks or boulders). That includes the Umatilla, Grande Ronde, and Walla Walla rivers, as well as the North Folk of the John Day River.
Officials saying visitors should contact their local ranger district before starting their tip. Most forest roads are still not accessible due to mud, snow or snow drifts. In addition, traveling on thawing, saturated, and muddy roads can result in resource damage and serious safety concerns, especially if visitors are unprepared. For updates on flooding, you can monitor the Umatilla National Forest Facebook page and website.

State looking for senior care advocates
April 4, 2019
There are 685 long-term care facilities in Oregon – including nursing Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities. Natascha Cronin, Volunteer Recruitment Specialist, Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, says they try to have an ombudsman – basically an advocate – in each facility, but their numbers have between 170 and 200 statewide – and she has none in Umatilla county They’re looking for more volunteers. A volunteer advocate will visit a facility weekly, but Cronin says when there are no volunteers, it is more likely the area will only be visited by staff from the program where there is a complaint. To have a training in Umatilla County, they need three volunteers in Umatilla county, so they’re looking for anyone interested in volunteering. The Minimum age is 21, and the commitment is a few hours a week. Find more on the website.

Dueling Pianos return
April 4, 2019
From the elderly in the community to the youngest in need – there are more than 200 children currently in foster care locally, and CASA works to provide a volunteer to help each one. Training for those can be expensive, and that has led to a different sort of fundraiser in Hermiston.
When in Rome is the second annual dinner and dueling pianos event to raise money for CASA.
"It's really fun," event organizer Briana Montano, with Umatilla Morrow County Head Start said. "It's dinner, dancing, wine - you can have a blast while helping foster children in our community."
The dueling pianos event is from 6-9 p.m. on Saturday, April 27th, at the Hermiston Community Center. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at the Head Start main office on 4th Street in Hermiston. They do expect to sell out, and Jesus Rome says all funds will go to the CASA program.
"This is a great thing," he said. "You get to have a good time and enjoy connecting with people in the community and bring in funds to help train advocates who advocate for children in the foster care system."
The When in Rome dinner and dueling pianos event is April 27th. Find more information on the head start website.

Diane Berry honored by ODF
April 3, 2019
Diane Berry, longtime city administrator of Echo, being honored this month by the Oregon Department of Forestry for her advocacy developing a diverse urban forest in Echo. Berry receiving the President’s Award from the department of forestry and nonprofit group Oregon Community Trees (OCT). Berry is receiving OCT’s President’s Award.
The award announcement saying Berry has worked for more than 20 years on many projects to add trees to Echo, educate the public about their importance and place trees and tree-related art in public spaces.
Berry is also one of four recipients of this year’s Oregon Urban and Community Forestry Award. She is the only recipient from Eastern Oregon.

Tree giveaway Saturday
April 3, 2019
Speaking of trees, the annual tree giveaway this weekend, sponsored by the Hermiston Rotary Club and Hermiston Parks and Recreation. That’ll be Saturday, April 6, at Smitty’s Ace Hardware. The event begins at 9 and trees are given away on a first-come-first-served basis. They’ll have a number of trees, including red maple, service berry, Colorado spruce and river birch.

Agape House seeks spring volunteers
April 3, 2019
It is Hermiston’s spring break, and Agape House has volunteer opportunities for adults – and teens who may be looking for something to do this week.
Dave Hughes says Agape House is behind this year because of the late winter weather – and they have volunteer opportunities both inside and outside the facilities. Call agape house at 567-8774 to volunteer or for more information.

Good Shepherd opens family clinic
April 3, 2019
The Good Shepherd Health Care System opening a Family Health Center yesterday. The clinic focused on serving primary car needs of men, women, and children, ages five months and up. The Good Shepherd Family Health Center is welcoming new patients and is located at the Good Shepherd Medical Plaza, 620 NW 11th St., Suite 103. To schedule an appointment please call 541.667.3830.

Boardman, Umatilla councils meet tonight
April 2, 2019
Two small city councils meeting tonight.
In Boardman, a resolution on a contingency transfer, appointment of David Norton to the budget committee and a closed-door, executive session about personnel on the agenda during tonight’s council meeting, along with reports and time for public comment. That begins at 7 p.m. at Boardman City Hall. Find the agenda here.
In Umatilla, multiple resolutions involving applying for grants. The city to apply for two local government grants from the state – one to develop a master parks plan, the other to install restrooms at Kiwanis Park. During the meeting, the city will also have the tree city USA Observation Proclamation and an agreement replacing an expired agreement with the Department of the Army for pipeline right-of-ways. That meeting begins at 7p.m.   at Umatilla City Hall. Click here for the agenda.

Stanfield opts to save water tower
April 2, 2019
The City of Stanfield is moving forward with preserving the city’s almost 100-year-old water tower.
City Manager Blair Larson says the council approached the community on how they wanted city funds used in regards to the tower:
"Either you have to tear it down because it is eventually going to be unsafe, or you have to do something to preserve it and maintain it," he said. "All those things require money; there's really no free option."
In the survey, 67 percent of people who responded wanted the tower refurbished and used as a city landmark. The city is says it will cost about $180,000 to make the structure seismically safe and repaint it, handling the lead paint.
He says it will take a couple years to budget and complete the renovation project. The next Stanfield City Council meeting is April 16..

Hermiston adds modular classrooms
April 1, 2019
Two new modular buildings coming into Hermiston Schools this week during Hermiston’s spring break. The district saying one modular being placed at Sunset Elementary School and one at Hermiston High School.
Both modulars will be installed next to the existing modular buildings at each site. A press release saying although the elementary modular is being placed at Sunset, it will help accommodate growth across the district.
A statement from Superintendent Tricia Mooney saying quote “ The district continues to experience great student growth. The addition of modular buildings will help
to accommodate the growth; though, they are a temporary solution.”
The district’s Long Range Facilities Planning Committee, is “revisiting” the growth issue to determine viable options for recommendation to the school board.”

City water tower groundbreaking, updates
March 28, 2019
The City of Hermiston announcing the date for the groundbreaking of the new Hermiston Water Tower: April 17. The groundbreaking is at noon on the 17th at the construction site off E. Punkin Center Road – west of NE 10th - and kicks off the $4.1 million water system project. It’s the city’s second water system news of the week.
On Monday, the city council approved the water system master plan, a document Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says outlines how the city expects the community to grow over time.
"We're looking at, 'OK, what do we really think the population is going to look like over the next 20 years?' and as that occurs, where is the system mostly likely to grow to and how do we serve those areas with water," Morgan said.
The assistant city manager says the document breaks down how much storage, supply, and infrastructure the city will need – and how to do that. Morgan says it’s a partner to the capital improvement plan the council approved earlier this year.

Candidates file for local school boards
March 26, 2019
Filing deadlines have passed for the May 21 election, and most local school districts will have new and familiar names on the ballots.
For the Hermiston School Board, filings include mostly incumbents seeking re-election: Dave Smith, Bonnie Luisi,, and Ginny Holthus. Brent Pitney is also an incumbent, although seeking his first election: He has filed for position 6, a spot he was appointed to last year.
While Hermiston has no contested races, that’s not the case for other local school districts:
- In Stanfield, a contested school board race in position 2 where both James Griffin and Cecili Longhorn have filed.
Karen Johnson has filed for position 5.
- A contested race in Umatilla where Jennifer Armstrong has filed for position 3 against incumbent Toby Cranston. Jon Lorence filing for position 4.
- In Echo, Emily Spike will face off against incumbent school board member Connie Caplinger.
Back to the uncontested races for Blue Mountain Community College’s board of directors, Chris Brown, of Heppner, for Zone 1, and Don Rice, of Hermiston, for Zone 5. William Markgraf, of Baker City , filing for zone 2.
In the Morrow County School District, Marcie Rodelo has filed for position 2, and no candidates are listed for the Ione School District.
Joe McEligott, of Ione, has filed for position 7 on the board for Intermountain ESD. Rounding out the ESD applicants, Ryan Neal of Boardman, for zone 1, Verneda Wagner, of Pendleton, for Zone 3, and Dale Bingham, of Haines, Intermountain ESD Position 6.
The ballot will also include Stanfield's requested construction bond.
The last day to register to vote is April 30. Ballots will be mailed out May 1-7.

City considers industrial park
March 25, 2019
A new industrial park could be coming to Hermiston off east Feedville. Discussion of the park plan is on the agenda tonight for the Hermiston City Council meeting. The city says there would be no financial change as a result of the plan, but it could lead to economic development. The work session begins at 6 p/m. at Hermiston City Hall. The regular meeting will follow at 7 p.m. and includes filling committees, a public hearing and vote on the comprehensive plan map amendment and rezone, financial reports and the goal setting report.
Find the meeting agenda here.
The Hermiston School Board is also meeting tonight. That meeting begins at 6:30 at Highland Hills Elementary. It will include a school presentation as well as a closed-door, executive session to discuss union negotiations. Click here for the full agenda.

MCSO arrests 5 after burglary investigation
March 25, 2019
A single police report lead to two search warrants and five arrests earlier this weekend. The Morrow County Sheriff saying on March 9, the office received a report of a burglary and theft at a home north of Heppner. The investigation involved multiple Morrow County staff – and a second search warrant executed on Sunday. As a result of the investigation, the sheriff’s office says a large amount of stolen property was recovered and five individuals were arrested, including:
- 23-year-old Jaden Wayne Orr, charged with first-degree burglary, first-degree theft, attempted felony elude, and possession of meth.
- 24-year-old Austin Harris charged with possession of meth and carrying a concealed weapon.
- 65-year-old Pete Haney charged with possession of meth and theft by receiving. - 31-year-old Jennifer Marie Whalen-Haney charged with second-degree child neglect, first-degree burglary and first-degree theft
- 31-year-old Adrian Julius Haney charged with child neglect and theft by receiving.
The Sheriff’s Office saying the arrests and property recovering the result of a thorough investigation and great teamwork.

Umatilla honors at DCA
March 22, 2019
Umatilla has a new Citizen of the Year: Tina Ridings! (riding a horse) Ridings is the STEM Academy site coordinator at McNary Heights Elementary.
AgSource Laboratories taking home the Business of the year honors, and three of the “above and beyond” awards were given, honoring those who have longtime service to the community.
The Above and Beyond awards going to:

  • Clyde and Betty Nobles

  • William Meade

  • Larry and Marge Nelson

The Umatilla School District handing out its bridge building award to members of the district who contribute to both the district and the Umatilla community. This year, Briana Reyes, Dee Lorence, and Rikkilynn Starliper were recognized.

Good Shepherd urges colorectal screenings
March 22, 2019
One in 22 men will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. One in 24 women could be, and Sharon Waldern, with the Good Shepherd Education Department says many people will be diagnosed late because colorectal cancer isn’t one people like to talk about.
"March is colorectal cancer month, so it is actually a good time to talk about it," she said. "It's not usually a typical topic of conversation, but it's very important."
Colorectal Cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths with more than 50,000 people are expected to die of colorectal cancer this year
Waldern saying the statistics in the local area match the national statistics – and that means many people could be at risk for colorectal cancer, and Good Shepherd is encouraging everyone to be screened – starting at age 45 if you have no family history.
Some screening Kits are available at Good Shepherd. You can call Good Shepherd Education Department for more.

UCSO finds credit card skimmer
March 21, 2019
The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office yesterday taking a report of a credit/debit card skimmer from the Space Age store on Highway 207 near Hermiston.
Store personnel found a fake device attached to one of their card readers next to a register inside the store. They do not know how long the reader has been attached or if anyone was affected.
The fake device, which consisted of a clear screen, scanner, and a duplicate keypad, was placed on top of the card reader and was affixed with double sided tape. It looks authentic. On the inside of the device are electronic
components, including a battery and a device that reads the magnetic strip on a credit/debit. The keypad could capture pin numbers as the customer types their pin number.
The Sheriff’s Office saying anyone who purchased items at the Space Age store recently to check their bank accounts for any suspicious activity and contact your bank. Contact the sheriff's office if you have any information, or have
experienced a theft.
From the release: "These theft devices are becoming more and more sophisticated. They look authentic, and can be placed virtually anywhere. Protect yourself by examining the device for signs of tampering or anything that looks out of place before using it. Examine the card reader device and keypad for looseness, cracks, dents or other damage, different colors on
the machine, and look for tape or glue. Use a credit card with a chip, which are less likely to be skimmed, if you have one."

MCSD to test mobile lunch program
March 20, 2018
This summer, the Morrow County School District is trying a twist on its summer meals program.
Most area communities offer a free summer lunch program, often at local parks or schools. This year, the Morrow County School District is testing a pilot of a mobile summer lunch program.
"We're going to be able to take the food to where the student are... whether it's down at the park, whether it's at the library or whether it's even at an apartment complex where there's a lot of kids," said Morrow County Superintendent Dirk Dirkson.
Mid Columbia Bus Company has donated the busses, and they'll be retrofitting the vehicles with kitchens and heating devices thanks to a grant from the Oregon Department of Education.
The School District will hire the kitchen staff.
The Morrow County School District has an 80 percent free and reduced lunch rates, and Dirkson says this will help make sure those children receive meals during the summer as well. The program is being modeled after a similar program in Grants Pass.

SPD investigating death of child
March 18, 2019
Stanfield Police investigating the death of a 6-year-old boy over the weekend. Emergency personnel responding to a report of an unresponsive child just after midnight on Saturday. Umatilla County Fire District #1 responding to he scene and attempting life saving measures without success. The cause of death not known at this time, but Stanfield Police saying there were no signs of foul play.
The Stanfield School District is providing counselors for students and staff today.

Dozens testify to Ways and Means
March 18, 2019
Over two hours on Friday, the state's joint ways and means committee heard from dozens of people from Eastern Oregon who spoke about their funding priorities during a hearing in Pendleton. The speakers traveled from as far as Ontario to speak to the state senators and representatives. The most common topic was funding education.
Individuals also testified about mental health care, CASA, and FFA, the OSU extension service as well as multiple testimonies about Umatilla County Sheriff's Office request for $1.6 million for a jail modification plan.
Testimony is still being taken online.

Bringing music to young people
March 18, 2019
Also last week, musicians from the WillowCreek Symphony performed for 425 fourth and fifth graders from Eastern Oregon, introducing children to the instruments of the symphony and to symphonic music. Inland Northwest Musicians director R. Lee Friese presented each musician and instrument in turn

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Students listen to the Willow Creek Symphony in the Young People's Concert at the Hermiston Community Center.

The students were given the opportunity to walk through the symphony and see the instruments up close during the annual "Young People's Concert." Despite some districts that had to cancel because of weather, the students represented seven school districts, including Hermiston, Echo, Stanfield, Pendleton and Umatilla and as far as Ione and Ukiah.

BMCC pulls from reserve; doesn't raise tuition
March 15, 2019
Blue Mountain Community College voting not to raise tuition.
The college’s board this week choosing to pull $1.8 million out of reserves to address the gap in funding and expenditures at BMCC.
The board saying a tuition increase of $1 per credit would only bring in approximately $50,000 in revenue for the College. Even a 5% increase would only generate $250,000, and the College would still need to utilize $1.5 million out of reserves. The Board chose to use $1.8 million in reserves to address the gap, and will take the next year along with incoming president Dennis Bailey to restructure how BMCC delivers education at a cost students can afford.
The Board considered survey feedback from students, as well as recommendations from a campus-wide budget committee, before coming to a resolution. The Board discussed the past state commitment to provide approximately one-third of operating costs, with the other one-third from tuition and one-third from local taxes.
This shared responsibility has changed and the students are bearing the brunt of underfunding. Currently, BMCC receives 28% from state appropriations, 32% from property taxes, 5% from other resources, and draws the largest percentage (35%) from tuition. The Board believes it’s time for the state to adequately fund community college education.
Last year, while setting the 2018-19 level of tuition, the Board heard from students that it had reached the point that they had to choose between their education and their basic needs. This year, BMCC has the highest tuition and fees for all Oregon community colleges following a 12% increase over the past two academic years.

Ways and Means Committee in Pendleton tonight
March 15, 2019
Speaking of Blue Mountain Community College, the Pendleton campus will be hosting a hearing with the state’s Joint Ways and Means Committee tonight.
That’s from 5:30 to 7 tonight at BMCC’s Pendleton campus. Each speaker gets two minutes. One person already on tap is Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan. Rowan is requesting funding for a renovation of the intake areas at the Umatilla County Jail.
Anyone testifying before the joint ways and means committee gets two minutes to present their funding priorities to the committee. The committee will try and have as many people testify as possible. That event again from 5:30 to 7:30 at Pioneer Hall on the Pendleton BMCC campus.

MCSO, UCSO engage in snow rescues
March 13, 2019
Morrow County Sheriff’s Office handling a search and rescue snow rescue on Monday evening. A couple from Heppner becoming stuck in their pickup in the snow three miles past Cutsforth Park on Willow Creek Road. Morrow County Search and Rescue activated, and two sergeants responded. They were able to contact the Heppner couple – but the Sheriff’s Office vehicle also became stuck in the deep now. A local resident was contacted and able to pull the sheriff’s office vehicle from the snow and escort everyone to cutsforth park. There were no injuries to people or damage to vehicles or property in the incident, but the Morrow County sheriff’s Office reminding everyone there is still a lot of snow in the mountains. They ask drivers to stay off deep snow packed roads and be cautious.  
Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office rescues boy after snowmobile crash
On Saturday, snowmobile patrol near Jubilee Lake located a snowmobile accident involving a 10 year old boy. The boys’s parent were with him, and the accident occurred a few minutes before deputies arrived. The boy rode over a berm and became airborne, then fell down a 15 to 20 foot embankment. The snowmobile struck a tree while four feet in the air, and the boy was thrown. He was lying in the trees with a possible broken leg. Together with two volunteers, the deputies were able to use a winch to slowly pull the boy up the embankment. He was then transferred inside a utility task vehicle 15 miles to the main highway where he was picked up by an ambulance and taken to a hospital in Walla Walla.
The sheriff’s office thanking the two volunteers who also helped load and transport the damage snowmobile, giving up their day to help others. The two men were not identified.

School calendar extended in Hermiston
March 12, 2019
The Hermiston School District on time this morning, but school will be running into mid June this year.
Last night the Hermiston School Board making a decision on the school calendar: The last day of classes for the 2018-2019 school year will be Thursday, June 13. The last day for staff will be Friday, June 14. Seniors will graduate on June 6th, as originally scheduled.

Traffic impacts expected in water project
March 12, 2019
More details released on the $3.3 million construction contact the Hermiston City Council voted on last night – including potential road delays. The partnership with Umatilla County to provide water pressure and piping to allow more than 1,000 new housing units in Hermiston over the next decade.
The project being funded through a partnership between the city and the county of reinvesting Enterprise Zone payments. Both the city and the county expected to receive $500,000 a year in enterprise zone payments starting in summer of 2020 as a result of recent industrial developments. The county is dedicating $2 million to the project; the city is covering the remainder.
The new water piping associated with the project will extend down East Theater Lane, between NE 4th & NE 10th streets, as well as along NE 10th Street between Theater Lane & Punkin Center Road, and will run along East Punkin Center Road between NE 4th & NE 10th. Most of the trenching is off road, but Morgan says there will be some periods of substantial traffic impacts along East Theater Lane. Overall, the project is scheduled to begin in Spring, 2019 and run in to mid-2020.
Premier Excavation of Walla Walla selected for the North Hermiston Reservoir and Water System Improvements.

Council to vote on Chamber property
March 11, 2019
The Hermiston Chamber of Commerce moving ahead on its building plans: The chamber has submitted an application to rezone two acres of property at the intersection of E. Evelyn Avenue and South Highway 395 from multi-family residential to commercial. The Hermiston City Council to vote on the proposal during tonight’s council meeting.
The chamber has a purchase agreement on the property
The council will also consider a $3.3 million construction contact with Premier Excavation of Walla Walla for the North Hermiston Reservoir and Water System Improvements – that’s the new water tank in NE Hermiston. Find the full agenda here.

School Board meeting begins early
March 11, 2019
The Hermiston School Board is also meeting tonight – earlier than usual. That meeting begins at 5 tonight and not at the 6:30 start time more typical. On the agenda, recognition of Hermiston High School wrestling and the classified employees of the year.
An enrollment report, long range facilities planning, and kindergarten readiness assessment data also on the agenda tonight. The board will also continue its discussion of financial planning parameters – those are the decisions that set the district’s budget.
That meeting begins again at 5 tonight at the district offices. Click here for the full agenda

Record low temperatures Tuesday
March 6, 2019
Multiple record lows set yesterday.
The National Weather Service reporting 14 new record lows in our area set on March 5, 2019. In Hermiston, the previous record low of 8 degrees was set in 1955 – the new record is now 0 degrees set in 2019. Downtown Pendleton reducing its record low from 12 set in 1955 to 1 degree, and Kennewick moving from 10 degrees down to 9, and Meacham setting a new record of –6.

West County Housing Study sets open house
March 6, 2019
Coming up a week from today, an open house to see plans for housing in three local cities. Stanfield, Umatilla, and Echo working together on a West County Housing Study that looks at a housing needs analysis and buildable land inventory. The first public meeting is a week from today at the Stafford Hansell Governance Center
"Staff and consultants will be there together making a presentation about those analysis, and this is the opportunity for the public to come out and comment, let us know what they think about housing needs," said Umatilla City Manager David Stockdale.
The Open House is scheduled for March 13, 2019, 6:30-800 pm at the StaffordHansell Government Center. The event is co-sponsored by Umatilla County Economic Development.
Staff from each city, Echo, Stanfield and Umatilla will be on hand to listen and answer questions. An opportunity for questions and answers and public input will be provided.
A second Open House will be held on May 1, 2019 where recommendations for each city will be presented.
For more information or to become involved, please contact staff from Stanfield, Umatilla and Echo.

Dave Hughes retiring from Agape House this year
March 5, 2019
Dave Hughes is retiring from Agape House.
That announcement now official, and Eastern Oregon Mission board chairman Daniel Wattenburger says they’re looking for a new executive director.
"These are some big shoes to fill," he said. "We've started that process...We've put out the application now and looking for someone who can be a forward-looking executive director for this organization."
That job posting being released this week. Hughes says he could work through the end of the year but will not be leaving the community longterm even after he retires.
"I'm looking forward to some time to write some murder mysteries," he said. "I'm not going to leave the area. My wife still has a couple years to work, so I'll be volunteering at different organizations and places and looking forward to some time being creative."
There is no set date for Hughes to leave Agape House – that will depend on when a replacement is hired and an overlapping training period. Hughes has been with Agape House since 2002.

BMCC hires new president
March 5, 2019
From one search to another, The Blue Mountain Community College Board of Education unanimously approving hiring of Dennis Bailey-Fougnier as BMCC’s next President at a special Board
meeting yesterday afternoon. Bailey-Fougnier will begin his new role on May 1, 2019.
Bailey-Fougnier was one of four finalists selected from a pool of 44 applicants for the position. Bailey-Fougnier has a Doctor of Education (ABD) in Community College Leadership from Oregon State University. He most recently worked for Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colo.,as the Vice President of Community College Affairs.
Dr. Connie Green will continue to serve as Interim President until Bailey-Fougnier’s arrival in May.

Police, budget on agendas tomorrow
March 4, 2019
Grants for the Boardman Police Department. The Boardman city council voting on two resolutions, each accepting grants from Columbia River Enterprise Zone II, one for a CAD project upgrade and the other for a school resource officer.
During the meeting, the council will also hear committee reports and have time for public comment.
That meeting begins at 7 at Boardman City Hall. Find the full agenda here.
Police equipment also on the agenda in Umatilla tomorrow night. In the current fiscal year, the city approved the purchase of seven mobile notebooks, and the Umatilla Police Department has received a grant from the Wildhorse Foundation to offset that price. The council will be accepting the $20,000 grant . They’ll also have a city manager’s report that includes everything from general updates to Facebook, time for public comment, and multiple resolutions and discussion relating to supplemental budget and appropriation.
That meeting also begins at 7 – it’s at Umatilla City Hall. Click here for the agenda.
The Stanfield City Council will discuss a resolution on housing,  ordinances about zoning and annexations and a presentation about tobacco retail licenses. You can find the Stanfield agenda here. The Stanfield meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the council chambers on Coe Avenue.

BMCC recognizes TRIO day
Feb. 28, 2019
Today is TRIO day, and [weather permitting] Blue Mountain Community College is recognizing the program.,
"It's just a day to increase awareness and support for the program of TRIO," says BMCC Trio Student Success Coach Joey Grow-Jacque says Trio is a federally funded program that provides support for first-generation, low-income or disabled college students. BMCC service almost 200 students through Trio. You can hear more about it during today’s odds and ends program on national trio day.

Diaper Dash still planned this weekend
Feb. 28, 2019
Coming up this weekend is the fifth annual Diaper Dash 5 and 10K Fun Run and Walk. Yes, it is still happening with snow on the ground, and No, you don’t wear a diaper – a package of diapers is the entry fee for the 5K.
"We're going to go for 15,000 diaper this year. We've averaged around 11,000, Organizer Dawn Kennison-Kerrigan said. "And always remember, it's all sizes."
Kennison-Kerrigan says the idea came out of a need in the community organizations that serve families and new parents. The donated diapers are distributed to multiple area organizations. 181 people registered last year, and they’re hoping for an even bigger turn out this year. The run is on Saturday and begins at Hermiston Church of the Nazarene. They will have coffee and hot chocolate before and after the dash. Race-day registration begins at 8, and the race begins at 9. Pre-registration is also available online through the facebook event page or the Hermiston Church of the Nazarene website.

Locks close this weekend
Feb. 28, 2019
Navigation locks on Columbia, Snake rivers to close March 2 for annual maintenance; The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct routine annual inspections, preventative maintenance and repairs at all navigation locks on the Columbia and Snake rivers during March. Ice Harbor lock currently remains temporarily out of service for urgent machinery repairs

Hermiston orders food pod pilot
Feb. 27, 2019
The City of Hermiston has granted a contract for a food truck food pod to Monica Todd.
The food pod would allow a collection of food trucks to gather in one location from April to October of this year. The city-owned site across Orchard from the Hermiston Post office will have picnic tables, portable restrooms, and garbage cans. Hermiston Assistant City manager Mark Morgan says a request for proposals went out late last year, and the city council accepted Todd’s proposal last night. The city will install power at the city, and Todd will manage the food pod, including recruiting vendors. Morgan said they will re-evaluate how the pilot operates
In the meantime, Todd is recruiting food truck operators to participate in the pod when it opens in April. Morgan says anyone interested can contact City Hall.
One stipulation in the pod is there is only one kind of each type of food truck to promote variety.

MCSO charges brothers with burglary
Feb. 27, 2019
Two brothers arrested and charged in burglaries in the Irrigon area
On Tuesday, February 19, 2019, the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a Burglary that happened over the weekend at a residential site outside Irrigon. More than $4,000-worth of tools were stolen.
While following up on information developed during the investigation, Dylan Christensen was arrested and some of the missing tools were recovered. At the time of his arrest Dylan was driving a vehicle owned by his brother, Devin Christensen. Devin had attempted to sell some of the stolen items while driving the same vehicle. A search warrant was executed on the vehicle and more of the missing tools were recovered.
To date, the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office has recovered approximately $1725 worth of the stolen tools. Dylan Christensen has been arrested and charged with Theft I and Theft by Receiving. Devin Christensen has also been arrested and charged with Burglary II and Theft I. The Morrow County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Umatilla County Parole and Probation Office for their assistance in working this case. This is an example of teamwork and communication by personnel both inside and outside the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office working to serve the public.
The Morrow County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate this case. We are attempting to locate additional involved parties and recover the rest of the tools. If you have any information regarding this case or the whereabouts of the missing tools, please contact the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office at 541-676-5317.

On the agenda: Hermiston School Board, Council
Feb. 25, 2019
School is delayed, but so far, the Hermiston School Board of Education still expected to meet at 6:30 tonight at Sandstone Middle School. This workshop begins the discussion of financial planning parameters, which is board speak to prepare for the district budget. The meeting also includes a presentation from Sandstone staff.
Click here for the agenda.
The Hermiston City Council expected to discuss and vote on a proposed food pod plan during its meeting tonight. The regular meeting begins at 7, but there is also a work session on the city council agenda tonight – that begins at 6 this evening and will focus on the proposed food pod. The council expected to take action on a one-year trial of the food pod once the regular meeting begins. During that work session, they’ll also discuss a revision to the city investment policy – that’s also listed for a vote during the regular meeting, as is a three-year contract renewal with the Hermiston Police union. The work session again begins at 6 tonight, the regular meeting at 7. Those are both at Hermiston City Hall.
Find the full agenda here.

Hermiston honors at DCA banquet
Feb. 21, 2019
Hermiston honored its man, woman, and business of the year last night during the 49th annual Hermiston Distinguished Citizen Awards Banquet.
As usual, the guests of honor did not know they would receive their awards. Woman of the Year Shawn Lockwood saying she spent weeks working to make sure someone else attended, thinking he was receiving an award, only to be blindsided last night.
"I'm just totally honored," Lockwood said. "I am really speechless. I love this town, and it feels really good to be honored."
Lockwood honored for her time spent volunteering, primarily with youth in the community. Man of the Year Ford Bonney was also surprised by his award, given for his 40 years of community service and civic fundraising. The introductory speech compared him to Mother Theresa, an honor he said was a "bit of a stretch"
"I'm not deserving of all the things that he said, but I owe him money, so..." Bonney said to a cascade of laughter. "I am very appreciative. This community has been great to me."
Madison Wilson was named the Altrusa Outstanding Young Citizen, and the Merit of Honor award when to Chelle Hankinson for her creation and work with Lovin' Spadefuls, the Hermiston Community Garden. Pursewell Pump received the honor of he business of the year
The evening also included a special recognition of former Chamber director Debbie Pedro and recognition of the Hermiston School District's educators of the year and the announcement of Umatilla County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jaclyn Jenkins as the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.

Sheriff heads to Salem
Feb. 21, 2019
Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan is in Salem today. Rowan and the mayor of Pendleton are meeting with the co-chairs of the ways and means committee today. One of the topics is the sheriff’s office jail modification plan. That plan would remodel the intake and holding areas to allow extra space for those brought into the jail in crisis or under the influence. The sheriff says part of the issue is because the state has reduced resources for those in mental health crisis.
Rowan requested $1 million for the jail modification project last year but did not get funding. They’re asking for $1.6 million and hoping the extra conversations and awareness make a difference.
"I'm very optimistic. We have a lot of people talking about it," he said.
The ways and means committee is expected to hold hearings later this year and announce funded projects in April. While in Salem, Rowan, the vice president of the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association, will also attend an executive meeting of the sheriff’s association.

Hermiston woman sentenced  for trafficking
Feb. 20, 2019
A Hermiston woman sentences to six months in federal prison for dealing fentanyl.
46-year-old Veronica Rivera, of Hermiston, sentenced yesterday to six months in federal prison and three years of supervised release.
According to court documents, in Oct. 27, the DEA and Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team began investigating a drug trafficking organization selling small blue pills pressed to look like 30 milligram oxycodone tablets but that actually contained fentanyl.
On two separate occasions in March 2018, Rivera sold a total of 167 of the fentanyl pills in Hermiston. In April 2018, investigators seized approximately 100 pills from a location where Rivera had hidden them and an additional 129 pills from her Hermiston residence.
On April 25, 2018, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a two-count indictment charging Rivera with distribution of fentanyl and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. She pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of fentanyl on August 14, 2018.
This case was investigated by DEA and the Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team.

Weather causes delays - again
Feb. 20, 2019
Some ice on roadways, and Kayak Public Transit has cancelled all early morning routes because of weather conditions.
All early am routes have been canceled due to weather conditions as have most of the intra-city routes: The Hermiston hopper, the La Grande Arrow, The Mission Metro, the Walla Walla Whistler and the Pilot Rocket
and Interstate 84 is closed between Pendleton and La Grande this morning due to severe winter driving conditions. Check TripCheck.com or call 511 /800-977-6368 for update conditions. No local school districts reporting any delays or closures; however, schools in Helix, Athena-Weston, Milton-Freewater, and La Grande area ll on a two-hour delay

Reckless burning, house fire arrest
Feb. 15, 2019
Reckless burning leading to a house fire in Irrigon on Wednesday. A vehicle on fire reported at 7:13 in the evening, and Morrow County Sheriff’s Office saying the vehicle parked next to a single-wide trailer, which also caught fire. Irrigon Fire Department, Irrigon Ambulance, Morrow County Sheriff’s Office, Boardman Fire and Umatilla Fire all responded to the scene. No one was in the home at the time of the fire and there were no injuries. After investigation by the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office, Joseph Palmer, 20 from Irrigon and Echo was arrested and charged with Reckless Burning and Criminal Mischief II.

ODOT warning of I-84 travel
Feb. 15, 2019
ODOT warning Travelers on Interstate 84 through the Columbia River Gorge should be ready for a wintry mix of weather over the next week and have supplies with them in case of major delays.
ODOT crews have been treating I-84 with deicer and salt both before and after a series of crashes on the icy, snow-packed road closed the westbound lanes from Tuesday night until Wednesday afternoon. The crashes delayed the arrival of the equipment that could clear the road, leading to a buildup of ice and snow.
The Gorge often sees hazardous weather. With more severe weather expected in the days ahead, ODOT recommending travelers should avoid I-84 in the Gorge if possible.
If you do go:
·    Check TripCheck.com or call 5-1-1 for latest road and weather conditions.
·    Give yourself extra time and slow down and drive for conditions.
·    Carry chains and know how to use them.
·    Carry supplies for you and your passengers – blankets, food, water, and medications

Yard sale, fishing this weekend
Feb. 15, 2019
Coming up this weekend, Agape House has a name-your-price yardsale, Oregon East Symphony has its winter chamber music festival, and
Also this weekend, it’s free to fish, crab, or clam. The free fishing is for Saturday and Sunday of the President’s Day Weekend. During these two days, no fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement) are required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon for both residents and non-residents. Although no licenses or tags are required, all other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions.

Walden announces Umatilla, Morrow county town halls
Feb. 14, 2019
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden will be in Boardman on Monday for his Morrow County town hall, and today also announcing town halls in Hood River, the Dalles, and Hermiston for early March. The Umatilla County Town Hall Meeting will be at 4 p.m. at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center on Friday, March 15.

Wheatridge is Renewable Energy facility in new announcement
Feb. 13, 2019
The nation’s first major energy facility combining wind, solar, and battery storage is coming… to Morrow County. Portland General Electric and NextEra Energy officially announcing plans to build the
Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility just north of Lexington.
A press release from PGE says Wheatridge will provide 300 jobs during construction of the wind site and 175 jobs during construction of the solar and battery storage portions. They’re expecting to have 10 full-time employees once the facility is up and running.
Permitting on the Wheatridge wind farm began in 2009. NextEra Energy aquired the project in 2017 and has expanded the project to include solar and battery storage. PGE will own about a third of the wind project. The facility expected to generage 300 megawatts of wind generation, 50 megawatts of solar and 30 megawats of battery storage.
Morrow County Commissioner Don Russell says the announcement is great news for Morrow County and will benefit communities through jobs, property taxes, and community support.
Read the full press release here.

HPD: Violent crime down from 2017, still above 10-year average
Feb. 12, 2019
Preliminary crime trends from 2018 released by the Hermiston Police Department yesterday.
"Overall, preliminary information is a fairly flat year," Police Chief Jason Edmiston said.
HPD reporting 673 total violent and property crimes in 2018 . That includes increases in burglary, arson, rape, and robbery and decreases in aggravated assaults, homicides.The largest crime area was larceny with 471 reported cases, followed by84 burglaries and 42 auto thefts. Compared to the 10-year average, property crimes were down 6 percent while violent crimes were up 22 percent with 44 incidents in 2018 and only 36 in the 10-year average. The violent crime rate was down 4 percent from the violent crimes in 2017.

Snow closures and delays
Feb. 11, 2019
Most area schools on a delay today, either two- or three-hour delays.
That does not include the Hermiston School District, which has announced it will begin the school day on time.
Blue Mountain Community College closed today on both the Hermiston and Pendleton campuses.. The Workforce Training Center in Boardman and the Milton-Freewater Center will delay opening until 9:30 a.m. The Baker County Center will remain on schedule.
The BMCC President candidate we were supposed to have on campus today for interviews/forums is rescheduled for this Wednesday.
In terms of local schools, Umatilla, Stanfield, and Morrow County Schools all on a three-hour delay this morning.
Echo School District also not announcing delays or closures.

City Council considers airport lease
Feb. 11, 2019
Unless the snow cancels or postpones it, there is a Hermiston City Council meeting scheduled for tonight, and on the agenda, the council voting on a five-year lease agreement with Gorge Aviation Services for a city-owned hangar at the airport.
Gorge Aviation Services approached the city in early 2018 about relocating to the Hermiston Airport from the Dalles. . The company has been sub-leasing a hangar at the airport since spring of 2018, and during that time, they took over the contract of management at the airport. The city saying for the first seven months of fiscal year 19, fuel sales at the airport are up 33 percent – and that’s mainly because they of Gorge Aviation locating on the site.
The city considering a proposal to allow Gorge Aviation to renovate the Blue Hangar in exchange for a reduced lease on the property and continued operations – the city saying the net loss in revenue for the first year expected to be $10,000 but hat can be offset by the increase in fuel sale revenue by having GAS on the airfield – that increased $62,000 last year.
Also on the agenda tonight, a franchise agreement for the regional water system with the city of Umatilla – this will provide water for the VaData data centers. A report on EOTEC, and a liquor license application, and a presentation from he Hermiston School District.
Click here for the full agenda.

School District to approve calendar
Feb. 11, 2019
The Hermiston School district meeting at 6:30 Monday at the Hermiston School District offices. The action item is the 2019-2020 school calendar. That calendar begins on Aug. 26 and the last day of school would be June 8.
The board will also have an enrollment report , a financial report and will meet in a closed-door executive session to discuss labor negotiations. Find the full agenda here.

Forest warns of winter driving
Feb. 7, 2019
The following is a press release from the Umatilla National Forest:
Despite an overall mild winter with lower snowfall, many areas on the Umatilla National Forest are still covered in snow or may have obstructions on the road. Forest officials caution the public that Forest roads are not maintained for winter travel. Visitors traveling to the Forest are doing so at their own risk and should plan ahead before starting their trip.
The Umatilla National Forest does not plow roads or clear them for downed trees or boulders in the winter. Many Forest roads close during the winter to protect wildlife during the months when they are most vulnerable (see the Umatilla National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) for specific seasonal road closure information). The conditions of roads that remain open during the winter can change dramatically and without warning. Winter storms often bring wind, snow and rain that can substantially affect road and trail conditions, causing hazards and obstructions in roadways.
Find the full release and recommendations here.

Hermiston teen killed in Washington wreck
Feb. 4, 2019
A 16-year-old from Hermiston killed in a car crash near Olympia, Washington, on Saturday, according to Washington State Patrol. The Olympian reporting two Oregon vehicles were traveling on I-5 when one had a flat tire. Both vehicles pulled over on the shoulder of the freeway , and at about 1:45 p.m., a Ford Focus crashed into the back of the victim’s vehicle, a Nissan Altima.

The 16-year-old girl in the rear left passenger seat was the only person killed, although a 42-year-old woman in the Altima and an eight-year-old girl in the Focus were injured. The other occupants of the Altima were a 48-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy. The driver of the Focus was a 40-year-old man from Washington, and Washington State Patrol saying impaired driving is believed to be a possible cause. The Olympian reporting the driver of the focus is facing possible charges of vehicular homicide and reckless endangering.

HPD arrests 2 for theft, burglary
Feb. 4, 2019
Hermiston Police also making arrests in burglary and theft cases on Friday. A release from HPD saying both suspects, 23-year-old Chalen Ottmar and 25-year-old Meliza Flores, both of Hermiston, had property reported stolen in their possession at the time of arrest. They have each been charged with multiple theft and burglary related offenses as well as possession of methamphetamine.
The items recovered are related to a commercial burglary from December. Hermiston Police saying that burglary may be related to multiple package thefts from December as well.
The investigation is ongoing.

UCSO interrupts theft
Feb. 1, 2019
A theft interrupted and a subject arrested Friday morning by the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office.
A deputy responding at 3:40 in the morning to report of a suspicious person trespassing at Hendon Construction in Umatilla. Arriving on scene, the deputy locating a man hiding under a pickup parked near a perimeter fence. The investigation releaving a large hole had been cut in the fence and possible stolen property within the vhicle. The man, 24-year-old James Cooper, of Cheney, Wash., was arrested. He has been charged with Possession of a Firearm, Possession of Controlled Substance – Meth, Possession of Burglary Tools, Theft II, Criminal Trespass II and Criminal Mischief III.
The Investigation is on-going.

Wizard of Oz premiers this weekend
Jan. 31, 2019
Coming up this weekend, the Hermiston High School is off to see the wizard.
The annual musical premiers this weekend, and this year it’s “The Wizard of Oz” Tickets are available at Hermiston High School. You can call and ask for the bookkeeper. Some tickets will also be available at the door.
Tickets for adults are $10. Those for seniors over age 65 and are 8, and for children 3 to 18 are $5, and children under age 3 are free. Drama Director Beth Anderson says it’s an all-age production with sets, costumes, and special effects.
"I don't think you will be bored," Anderson says. "We have snow coming down on the stage, we have a live Toto, we have fabulous singing and dancing."
The Wizard of Oz premiers this weekend with showtimes at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday as well as a Sunday matinee. Next weekend, shows run Friday and Saturday, also at 7. Contact Hermiston High School for more information.

5K includes cupcakes
Jan. 31, 2019
Looking ahead, there’s a 5K Fun Run and Walk next weekend that features cupcakes. It’s the second annual Sprinkles are for Winners 5K, hosted by Higher Power Fitness and One More and it will raise funds for a spring youth mission trip to Mexico., The entry fee is only $5 or $25 if you want a T-shirt. They will take day-of registrations at Riverfront Park that Saturday, but if you want a t-shirt, you have to register today.
For questions, call 541314-2092 or 541-289-5483

Fire alarm causes evacuation
Jan. 30, 2019
On the topic of the high school,
Students and staff evacuated from Hermiston High School this morning and emergency responders were on site. The Hermiston School District saying a sensor tripped a fire alarm in the gym, and once the building was cleared, students and staff were allowed back inside. The entire incident took less than 45 minutes.

Trails, walking challenge moving forward
Jan. 29, 2019
Work moving ahead on the west end Prescription Trails program. That program will allow for mapping, difficulty designation, directions, and health information about trails in the community. Jamie Crowell, with Good Shepherd, says they recently received a grant from the Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation to add distance signage along the trails in the system.
"We would like to put up distance markers so when people are on the trails, they can see when they've walked a half mile, a mile," she said. "It also helps reduce the barriers for people who may be afraid of going on the trail and then getting lost. It does provide some direction."
They’re also getting ready to design a website and are hoping to launch that program in the spring.
Good Shepherd also moving ahead with the “Hermiston Walks” challenge – part of the American Public Health Associations’ 1 Billion Steps Challenge. The challenge started at the beginning of 2019, and participants an join up until April 7. The Hermiston team hopes to walk 1 million steps during the challenge period. They’ve created a team through movespring. To join:
1. Sign up for a movespring account at this link.
2. Enter the organization code: APHA2019
3. Scroll down and click on join team
4. Search for our team name: Hermiston Walks
5. Join theteam and sync your device or manually enter your steps

Bridge closes, city talks public works
Jan. 28, 2019
A closure of the bridge on South First between Crestline and Desert Sky Drive begins next Monday. Detour signs and traffic control will go out on Friday, and the full closure begins Feb. 4. City of Hermiston saying the contractor has 45 days to complete all work on the replacement The city says the existing canal crossing is being replaced with a much wider box culvert in order to accommodate continued growth.
That project one in the capital improvement plan for the city, and the planning does continue in tonight’s Hermiston City Council meeting. The city expected to adopt the Public Works Capital Improvement Plan during tonight’s meeting. Also on the agenda, a motion to award a construction contract to Sineco Construction to remove and replace an undersized segment of sewer line on SE 7th Street and a agreement with the Umatilla County Special Library District to renew the library services contract. That meeting begins at 7 p.m. at city hall. Find the full agenda here.

School district meets tonight
Jan. 28, 2019
The Hermiston school District also meeting tonight in a work session at Rocky Heights Elementary School. In addition to a presentation from school staff, they’re expected to have a bond and tax report. Click here for the agenda.

Grad rates improve - mostly
Jan. 24, 2019
The Oregon Department of Education today releasing high school graduation rates. The numbers reflect students who graduated last May and June.
The state's overall four-year high school graduation rate increased 2-percent
last year to 78-point-7 percent. Over the last four years, the rate has increased nearly 7-percent.
The Hermiston School District found both good news and, well, not as bad news, in this year's results. Hermiston's graduation rate is only 74.2 percent, still below the state average of 78 but still an 8.2 percent increase over what the district rate showed in 2017.
The district also saw c in the four-year improvement rate with a rate of 87.47, which is higher than the state average of 82.53.
In the Umatilla School District, superintendent Heidi Sipe says Umatilla High School students exceed the state average in 20 of 22 categories – trailing only in girls by 2 percent and English language learners by 1.2 percent. The overall district graduation rate was just over 84 percent.
Stanfield School District fell just below the state average, with a 76.92 percent graduation rate, a drop of almost 10 percent from its four-year rate in 2016-17 school year. Almost the opposite affect for Morrow County, which had an overall graduation rate of 82.86 percent, up more than 5 points from last year’s 77.84.
Echo School graduated 87.5 percent of its students, in a class of 34 students
Read more on the ODE website.

Lawsuit against rural Oregon schools
Jan. 23, 2019
A lawsuit against local school districts over providing resources for students with behavior-related disabilities. The suit filed this week by Disability Rights Oregon claims school districts, especially in rural areas, cut school days short for children and do not provide a full day of education. The suit alleging children with disabilities are removed from general classrooms or sent home because of disruptive behaviors. Among the complaints, parents being required to pick up their children shortly after the school day begins. A spokesman for the Oregon Department of Education told the Seattle Times he could not comment on pending litigation, but the department is “committed to equity and excellence for every learner.

Bus system expands
Jan. 23, 2019
The Hermiston HART bus service is expanding hours by almost 50% next month. The new routes designed for people who work 8 to 5 or 9 to 6 jobs and begin Feb. 4. The bus will now run from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

City looks for skatepark feedback
Jan. 23, 2019
There’s a city meeting tomorrow night where officials hope teenagers attend. The Hermiston Parks and Recreation Department is seeking public input for the design of the city’s new skatepark. The meeting begins at 3:45 tomorrow at Hermiston High School, and Parks and Recreation director Larry Fetter says the event is at Hermiston High School because most skate park users will be high school students.
Fetter says they are hoping to get strong feedback and finalize designs which can help make the project move forward. The skate park is planned for space across the street from the Bob Shannon Public Safety building.
Fetter says the property will likely include a half basketball court and a dirt bike area in addition to the covered skate park as a sort of an outside "rec room" for teenagers.
Fetter says the property is perfect for the use because there are no immediate neighbors but it has high visibility. He says anyone interested in hearing more is invited to attend the session. Representatives from California Skateparks, the consultants hired by the city for the project, will be available. You can hear more on today's Odds and Ends program. .

PIT count needs volunteers
Jan. 21, 2019
Once a year, a survey and count of all the homeless in an area takes place to set funding and special programs for a community. The annual Point-in-Time Count is in 10 days, and CAPECO’s Glenda McDaniel says they’re still looking for volunteers to help get the most accurate count.
"With accurate numbers, we can get the appropriate funding we need, the services that we need for our community. and we just do a better job overall as a community in fighting that homeless situation," McDaniel said.
McDaniel says the PIT count takes place on Jan. 30. They will also be collecting information from schools and other organizations on the 31st and on Feb. 1.
McDaniel says they are especially looking for volunteers from the West End of Umatilla County although volunteers are needed across all of Eastern Oregon. Volunteers may help doing counts at specific places, such as warming stations or soup kitchens, or talking with homeless in their own area: people who may be couch surfing or living in storage sheds, garages, or fifth-wheel trailers without access to restrooms.
McDaniel says there is a one-hour training volunteers would go through to understand the scope of the survey and safety regulations. If you want more information or are interested in volunteering, call CAPECO at 541-276-1926 and ask for Sean Ruud.
There is also a coat drive going on to hand out coats during the PIT count – that’s being coordinated by the education department at good shepherd

Search and Rescue training open
Jan. 21, 2019
On the topic of volunteers, Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says they’re actively looking for volunteers to join Search and Rescue. Rowan called it a vibrant and team-oriented program that is looking for members with or interested in developing outdoor skills.
Training is provided. Anyone interested in joining search and rescue as a volunteer can call the sheriff’s office at 541-966-3601 and ask for Sgt. Dwight Johnson. There is a background check and interview to make sure people are a good fit for the search and rescue program.

School delays for weather, closed for observance
Jan. 17, 2019
Heppner and Ione Schools are on a 3-HOUR DELAY on Thursday, January 17, due to freezing rain. All other Morrow County School District schools are currently on regular schedule.
A scheduling note for students and parents coming up. A note that there is no school tomorrow or Monday in the Hermiston School district. Friday an in-service day for Hermiston teachers.
Local school districts are then closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr Day holiday. Classes resume Tuesday the 22nd. . If you have questions, visit your local school website or contact the school’s front office.

BENT sting spreads like wildfire
Jan. 17, 2019
The Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team acting on a seven-month investigation yesterday as part of “Operation Wildfire,” a multi-county attempt to disrupt drug trafficking organizations in Umatilla, Morrow, Union, and Gilliam County. Sixty-three people indicted as part of the operation, which involved 85 members of law enforcement, corrections, parole and probation, and child protective services, including nine officers from Hermiston Police Department, as well as assistance from patrol officers working their normal shifts. Sixteen of the people indicted as part of Operation Wildfire were already in the custody. The effort capturing more than 3 pounds – that’s almost 1500 grams – of meth, 40 grams of heroin, 6 grams of cocaine, two firearms and almost two dozen fentanyl pills.
Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says Operation Wildfire was well organized and the communication between agencies was impressive. He says several areas in the HPD service area were targeted and it’s always nice to disrupt illegal activity.

Kelso named Administrator of the Year
Jan. 14, 2019
Jeff Kelso is the Hermiston School District administrator of the year. The technology manager is in his third year at the Hermiston School District. Superintendent Tricia Mooney saying Kelso is an asset to the district, both for his experience and the atmosphere he brings.
Mooney making that announcement this week. Before coming to Hermiston, Kelso managed the technology department in Lake Oswego School District, where he worked for 15 years.
Kelso and the district’s educators of the year will be recognized during the Hermiston Distinguished Citizen Awards Banquet next month.

Fatal rollover on Feedville
Jan. 14, 2019
A fatal rollover accident on Feedville yesterday morning.
The Hermiston Police Department saying in a press release HPD and Umatilla County Fire District No. 1 were dispatched to a single-vehicle rollover crash at 9:48 a.m.yesterday morning. The driver and lone occupant of the vehicle found unresponsive with head trauma when they arrived. He was identified as 47-year-old Michael Patrick Gallegos, of Pendleton. There are no known witnesses to the crash and the Initial investigation suggests speed may have been a relating factor, however there were no obvious signs of impairment. The investigation is ongoing.

United Way to close, merge
Jan. 15, 2019
United Way of Umatilla and Morrow Counties will merge with United Way of Walla Walla this summer.
Local United Way Executive Director Kricket Nicholson is retiring after 12 years, and a press release from the two nonprofits says the time is right for the merger, which will streamline operations. The new regional nonprofit will be United Way of the Blue Mountains.
Christy Lieuallen, executive director of United Way of Walla Walla and Columbia Counties, will oversee the regional nonprofit, which will maintain offices in both Walla Walla and Pendleton.
We will have more on the merger during the Odds & Ends Program next week.

School bonds move ahead, wrap up
Jan. 14, 2019
Preparations for one school bond underway even as another bond wraps up.
In the Umatilla School District, crews completing major projects, including the gym at McNary Heights Elementary, over the winter break. Superintendent Heidi Sipe says they only have one major project left – refinishing the gym floor at the high school that will take place over the summer – but all the other major construction in their $14 million project is complete.
Umatilla’s bond projects were expected to be done before the 2019-2020 school year began in August. Sipe says finishing six months ahead of schedule helped keep the entire project under budget.
As Umatilla wraps up, the Stanfield School District is preparing to put a bond on the ballot. Superintendent Beth Burton says planning has been going on for a long time, including community, staff, and student surveys, but it is just starting to seem real.
"The board will be adopting a resolution to put a bond measure on the ballot during our January board meeting, and I think at that point, then it will start to feel a lot more real for everyone," Burton said. "I would expect this spring for folks to see more materials around the community as far as information (about the bond). "
The Stanfield School Board is meeting this Wednesday at the district office.

City, School Board meet tonight
Jan. 14, 2019
Speaking of schools and construction, the Hermiston City Council expected to begin the process annex 71 acres of property into the city limits tonight – and that includes a chunk of property owned by the Hermiston School District. The school district plans to eventually construct an elementary school on the property, another property owner requesting annexation with multi-family residential zoning.
The council also expected to approve the final plat a subdivision expansion
The council also talking EOTEC and the proposed RV park on the EOTEC grounds.
During the meeting, the council to also discuss the goal setting report, council committee appointments, and have four council members take the oath of office, including Lori Davis, Roy Barron, Jackie Myers and Doug Smith. That meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Hermiston City Hall.
Find the full agenda here.
The Hermiston School Board also meeting tonight. On the agenda, recognition of the educators of the year and of the school board members during school board appreciation month. They’ll vote on the Quality Education Model resolution, personnel changes, and the budget calendar. They’ll also have an enrollment report and financial reports.
Find the full agenda here.

Work begins on 2020 Census
Jan. 11, 2019
The year 2019 just began, but earlier this week, on Wednesday, local officials had a Complete Count meeting, with representatives to begin work on the 2020 Census. Umatilla County Commissioner George Murdock says $675 billion is tied to that Census Count nationally – and $10 billion in Oregon.
"For every individual that's counted in Umatilla County, that means $2,500," Murdock said. "That's a lot of money."
The officials working on ways to make sure all residents are counted – and they’re also looking for locals to become Census trackers. Murdock says it could bring 300 new, temporary jobs to Umatilla County.
You can find more information about the Census on the Census.Gov website . They are not currently hiring because of the government shutdown but will begin early this year. The Census Date is April 1 of 2020.

Detours on South First Street next month
Jan. 11, 2019
Detours expected for drivers who use South First Street south of Hermiston. The City will replace a deteriorating bridge over the canal near SE Crestline Drive. That work is expected to take place from early February through the end of March, and it will affect drivers who use South First Street to access areas like Gettman and Feedville.
Bids for the project were received by the City January 10th, and additional detail about exact closure dates will be published as they are finalized with the contractor. Replacement of the South First canal crossing is one of several Capital Improvement Plan priority projects approved by the City Council in 2017.
Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says because of the canal and railroad crossings in this area, there simply aren’t any easy detours, so as the city continues to grow to the south, they will need to work hard to develop additional street routes through this area

Umatilla County could have a city manager
Jan. 8, 2019
Tomorrow, Umatilla County is hosting a swearing-in ceremony for County Commissioner George Murdock, who was re-elected in November. Incoming County Commissioner John Shafer was sworn in last Wednesday. As the three-member commission looks at 2019, Commissioner Bill Elfering, says there is a chance that there could be a Umatilla County Manager in the future.
"The charter review committee has looked at if there is a need for a county manager, for someone who is permanent," Elfering said. "The commissioners come and go. By nature, we run for election every four years, and every four years, there could b ea new commissioner."
Elfering says the charter review committee has considered a county manager, which would handle the daily duties and operations of the county, including personnel and the budget.
The county commissioner saying the charter committee has interviewed a county that operates with a county manager and three full time commissioners. The report from the charter review committee is due July 1. Elfering says the county commissioners will review the report to make sure any suggestions are “viable,” and then if the recommendation involves a change in county government, it will go to the voters.

Stanfield PD investigating explosion
Jan. 8, 2019
The Stanfield Police Department responded to a RV trailer explosion on Saturday afternoon at 1:05pm. A caller reported seeing flames coming from an RV trailer following the sound of an explosion at the Stanfield RV Park located at 355 S Main St in Stanfield, Oregon.
Two adults were inside the trailer when it caught on fire. They were able to escape by breaking out a trailer window. The two victims were identified as Michael Gregorio Bermejo, age 25, and Elai Borstad, age 25. Both subjects suffered critical burns and injuries. One victim was Life-Flighted to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, in Portland and the second victim was flown by plane. At the time of this release, both victims are in serious but stable condition and remain in the hospital.
A search warrant was conducted at the trailer later that evening. Evidence collected from inside the trailer will be forwarded to the Oregon State Crime lab for testing. While conducting the search warrant, officers located two small puppies that appear to be unharmed inside the trailer. (Puppies were returned to their owner)
The investigation into the incident is continuing. The Stanfield Police Department is being assisted by the Hermiston Police Department, Umatilla County Fire District One, and the Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office.

Small City Councils swear in officials tomorrow
Jan. 5, 2018
Nine local residents expected to take an oath of office and be sworn in tomorrow night across three city council meetings.
The City Councils in Umatilla, Boardman, and Stanfield typically met the first Tuesday of each month, but after the New Year's Day holiday, each have the first city council meetings of 2019 tomorrow night. The councils are expected to swear-in newly elected city council members, some new, and some re-elected. In Umatilla, that includes a new mayor and two council members.
"Half of our group is new, and we're all looking forward to working with them," said Tamra Mabbot.
Also on the Umatilla agenda tomorrow, an organizational chart update and discussion on creating city goals as well as multiple committee appointments and the appointment of a council president.
In Boardman, agreements with VaData and Crez II, approval of a league of Oregon cities legal grant, and the first reading of a franchise agreement with Umatilla Electric Cooperative.
Those meetings each begin at 7 tomorrow. Meetings are typically on the first Tuesday but were changed for the New Year’s Day holiday.

Earthquake hits Umatilla
Jan. 4, 2018
An earthquake yesterday afternoon three miles from Umatilla. The 1.8 magnitude earthquake recorded at 2:40 yesterday afternoon. The quake first reported at a magnitude of 2.7 before being revised to 1.8 after review by a seismologist, according to the pacific northwest seismic network. The earthquake began at a depth of .31 miles
Yesterday’s earthquake is the first recorded in the region by the The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network since 2008. The largest earthquakes a 3.9 magnitude earthquake recorded in August of 1992 between Boardman and Irrigon.

Pedro moves to CDA
Jan. 3, 2019
Starting today, Debbie Pedro, former chamber of commerce director, begins her new position with the Columbia Development Authority. The Columbia Development Authority, previously known as the Umatilla Army Depot Reuse Authority, is the group designated to oversee planning of the Umatilla Chemical Depot property once the US Army turns over ownership. Representative Greg Smith is the project manager and executive director for the CDA, and Pedro begins today as the economic director of coordination for the CDA. She says she is “excited to begin working with the Columbia Development Authority under Greg Smith’s direction” and “to serve our region in this position is a tremendous opportunity .”
Pedro’s last day with the chamber was Dec. 21. The chamber board is currently looking for her replacement.

City looks for NYE watermelon suggestions
Jan. 3, 2019
Speaking of a replacement, the City of Hermiston is looking for suggestions and ideas for how to make its New Year’s Eve bash even better next year – and how to make sure the watermelon drop actually takes place. Parks and Recreation Director Larry Fetter says the issue was in the cold temperatures, which impacted the balloons and pressurized air inside the watermelon, causing the air to release inside the watermelon early and making it not explode at midnight.
"We'll come up with some good ideas, and we're inviting people in the community to give us their ideas too," Fetter said. "We're going to have a really interesting event next year."
The City is looking for feedback and suggestions for next year’s event. Find more on the facebook page for Hermiston Parks and Recreation.

Name released in rail death
Jan. 3, 2019
A name released in the death of a man hit by a Union Pacific Railroad train in Pendleton Tuesday. Pendleton Police have identified the man as 24-year-old Angel Murillo, of Pendleton.
The death happened at 1:41 a.m. on New Year’s Day. A press release says Murillo was wearing dark colored clothingat the time of the crash and was lying between the rails at an area that is not a railroad crossing. The engineer and conductor placed the 136-car train into emergency stop mode but the train could not be stopped in time.
All crossing arms in the area were operating properly.
The release says in June, Murillo was removed from railroad tracks by police as a train approached sounding its horn. Alcohol was a contributing factor to the incident in June, but the release says it is unknown if alcohol was a contributing factor to the fatal incident.
Any person(s) having information about this case are encouraged to call the Pendleton Police Department at (541) 276-4411 or the Umatilla County Dispatch Center at (541) 966-3651.

BMCC launches food pantry with Keystone donation
Dec. 21, 2018
Keystone RV in Pendleton will deliver more than 1,000 pounds of non-perishable food to Blue Mountain Community College today to assist with the opening of “The Den,” its new food pantry for food insecure students.
While Keystone typically donates its food drive collections
to multiple organizations, the RV company this year decided to instead donate everything to BMCC’s food pantry.
Last year, BMCC conducted a study to identify the level of food insecurity among its students throughout
the district. The study identified that more than 45% of responding students cut the size of their meals or skipped meals in the past year because they didn’t have enough money for food, and that this occurred almost every month for nearly 20% of them. Forty-three percent said that in the past year, they went hungry because there wasn’t enough money for food.
These results led BMCC to pursue a food pantry for students in Morrow Hall. A $2,000 donation from the BMCC Foundation, $1,000 from Altrusa of Pendleton, $700 from the Vista Program, and $450 from
BMCC’s Innovation Fund helped jumpstart the program. In addition to “The Den” at the Pendleton campus, there will be smaller food pantry options at BMCC’s locations in Hermiston, Boardman, and Milton-Freewater.

Extra patrols this weekend
Dec. 21, 2018
Coming up this weekend, a reminder that law enforcement will have extra patrols out watching for distracted and under the influence drivers. Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says you should put all distractions away, that includes everything from your cell phone to paper maps.
"It's unbelievable, as a law enforcement professional, what you see out there, people doing while they're driving," Rowan said.
Pull over if you need to interact with something else while driving and remember to also slow down and watch for distracted drivers and pedestrians – and if indulge in anything that could impair your driving – get a ride home.

Pedro leaving chamber, building update
Dec. 21, 2018
Today is the last day for Hermiston Chamber Director Debbie Pedro, who is leaving her position after almost 18 years.
"Over the years, I've made a lot of friends and had the honor to see a lot of changes come to the community," she said.
She says she has a passion for her job and local businesses and feels blessed that she was able to serve the community through her position at the chamber. No word yet on where Pedro is going next, but she did give some extra insight into the chamber’s planned building: She says the chamber is in the process of purchasing a piece of property.
"It's going to be in a location where the chamber will be very visible as well as an area where as people come through town and see the chamber, it will be a real welcome," she said.
The chamber was granted $1 million from the state in march for a new building for the Greater Hermiston Area Chamber of Commerce and has not yet announced details of its plans or new location. The chamber is currently in the cornerstone plaza.

EOTEC feedback needed
Dec. 20, 2018
Finally, the city of Hermiston is looking for feedback on the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center strategic plan.
The plan includes shared community goals regarding improvements for the facility, operations, marketing, and events. The Committee is currently reviewing the plan and discussing priorities. If you have questions or comments regarding this draft, please email them to bsmith@hermiston.or.us by January 4, 2019.

Vaping on the rise in Umatilla County
Dec. 20, 2018
If you’re doing last-minute shopping and you have a teenager on your list, Umatilla County Public Health wants to make sure you know the risks of e-cigarettes, vape pens, and other vaping products. Although the vape pens with flavored smoke, tricks, and collectable skins are popular – they can also be dangerous as students don’t realize most vaping products do contain nicotine.
"With youth, because it has nicotine in it, whatever their reasons are for starting - lots of flavors or tricks or things like that - once they're addicted to the nicotine, they will search out other nicotine products," said Mariah Hinds, tobacco prevention coordinator for Umatilla County Public Health. Once students start using the products – they become addicted and then they move on to cigarette.. And addiction happens faster than you think
"It takes time to smoke a cigarette - like five minutes to smoke a whole cigarrete," said Jamie Crowell, health educator with good shepherd. "You get the equivalent of one cigarette in a hit that takes two seconds. These kids are getting high level nicotine addictions really quickly."
Umatilla County has the third-highest percentage of tobacco use, including electronic cigarettes, in the state. Hinds says youth use has increased 78 percent in the last year.
The Oregon health authority says it supports the US Surgeon General's advisory on e-cigarettes, declaring the increase in use by youth as an epidemic. The number of youth using e-cigarettes in Oregon increased from 5-percent in 2013 to 13 percent last year. They say e-cigarettes are sweet, cheap and easy to get...and they introduce a new generation of youth to nicotine addiction.

Back to school after gas leak
Dec. 14, 2018
Classes in Umatilla resuming today after a gas leak yesterday at Clara Brownell Middle School prompting the evacuation of both that school and Umatilla High School.
Superintendent Heidi Sipe says students and staff were evacuated and bussed to McNary Heights Elementary while the district enacted its reunification plan. When it was determined the repair would take into the afternoon, secondary classes were dismissed for the day.
"It wasn't a major issue, however, they will check the entire system to confirm that everything else is fine too," Sipe said. "We will always err on the side of caution."
The cause of the leak was a cracked fitting on the regulator due to a pipe being moved during roofing projects. Sipe saying students, parents, staff, and community members reacted according to the reunification plan. She says it was a day of stress but also a day of thankfulness.

Debbie Pedro leaving Chamber
Dec. 12, 2018
Longtime Hermiston Chamber Director Debbie Pedro has resigned.
Pedro has been at the helm of the chamber since 2001, and a press release from the chamber saying she is accepting another position in the area – a release from Pedro to chamber businesses saying there are other opportunities professional and personally that she will be pursuing.
Pedro’s resignation is effective Dec. 21. Chamber Board Chairman Paul Keeler and Communication Manager Kelly Schwirse will oversee operations until a new CEO is appointed.

Students bring in 18,000 items
Dec. 11, 2018
More than 18,000 non perishable food items donated through local schools for Christmas Express this year. Yesterday was collection day across the Hermiston School District. Although Sandstone and Sunset are still finalizing their item totals, it appears Armand Larive Middle School will take the title this year, as students brought in 5,907 food items – Rocky Heights bringing in the second-most items at 5,018. The food items will be added to food baskets distributed next week during Christmas Express. Those are put together by city employees as part of their holiday party.
Although it is technically too late for requests for food boxes, if you know a family or individual in need, you can call Hermiston Police Department Chaplain Terry Cummings to make requests.
Anyone interested in volunteering and helping with distribution can contact Agape House to sign up for a time spot.

UPDATE: With the totals from all schools, the final figure is 21,025 items!

Altrusa organizing Warming Station drive
Dec. 11, 2018
If you missed your chance to donate food for Christmas Express, there’s another drive going on right now through January. Altrusa International of Hermiston coordinating a supply drive for the Hermiston Warming Station.
The requested items are:
Laundry supplies
Toilet paper
Vinyl medical type gloves (staff)
Warm gloves (guests)
Disinfectant cleaning wipes
Lysol spray
Swiffer type wet pads
Cleaning supplies (pinesol, bowl cleaners, paper towels, ect)
13 gallon garbage bags
Hot hands hand warmers
Coffee regular and decaf ( non keurig style, single serve if possible)
Hot chocolate
Chamomile tea
Apple cider
Foot powder
Ear plugs
Mens crew socks
Dishwasher soap
Hand sanitizer
Collection Boxes at Shipping Solutions, Dance Unlimited, Old West Federal Credit Union, Banner Bank downtown and the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce office.
The Warming Station is also open for donations, and you may also call 541.289.2150 to arrange an appointment.

Audits, rate increases on agendas
Dec. 10, 2018
The Hermiston City Council tonight again considering rate increases and policy updates for Hermiston Energy Services. It’s a proposed $2 per month increase to cover increasing costs for wholesale power the city purchases. Tonight, the council expecting to hear more information about financial operations at Hermiston Energy Services. That resolution tabled last month but expected to go for a vote tonight. They'll have the work session about HES at 6 p.m., then the vote during the regular meeting at 7 p.m.
During the regular meeting, the council will also hear the Fiscal Year 2018 Audit, certify the November election results, consider purchasing or leasing a street sweeper and hear a strategic planning update for the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center. That meeting begins at 7 tonight at Hermiston City Hall. Find the agenda here.
The annual audit report and financial updates also on the agenda tonight for the Hermiston School board of Education.
On the agenda, a change to correct a “Deficiency” in the recent audit report. That deficiency that report that a supplemental budget was adopted without proper publishing – a corrective action plan expected to be approved tonight.
That meeting begins at 6;30 tonight at the District Offices. The agenda also includes an enrollment report, recognition of the NSPA Middle School Scholastic Journalism Award winners, and a declaration of surplus property.
Click here for the full agenda.

Absenteeism an issue in schools
Dec. 6, 2018
As we approach the winter break for schools and holiday travel, a warning from local educators to think carefully about taking your children out of school early as that may contributes to chronic absenteeism.
"What's changed over the years is it's not the traditional, 'My kid has the flu' or 'My kid doesn't feel good,'" Mark Mulvihill, superintendent of the InterMountain ESD said. "It's more, 'It's OK to miss school on Friday because we're going on this trip.' 'It's OK because we ski.' 'It's OK because we elk hunt.' It's OK because it's the only time I could get a haircut in Tri-Cities.' It's more and more it's OK to miss school. It's not a big deal. That becomes a habit for kids."
Mulvihill, says that habit makes school not a priority, which follows the student through school and into the work force. Chronic absenteeism means missing 10 percent of school days – and that’s about two days a month, which could be from illness, travel, even doctor appointments.
Mulvihill says Eastern Oregon has a lower chronic absenteeism than the rest of the state, but many local districts still have a chronic absenteeism rate close to 20 percent – and that’s a big deal when chronic absenteeism also directly correlates to graduation rates.
"What we're trying to do is emphasize the importance of the statistics," he said. "We're not going to move the dial on our grad rates until we move the dial on our chronic absenteeism."
Local schools focusing on education of parents and families about the importance of staying in school through programs like Every Day Matters. Educators asking parents to be aware of the impact of missing a day or two of school a month and to try to work around the school schedule.

Wildhorse announces cutbacks to project
Dec. 5, 2018
The price of steel causing cutbacks in the fifth expansion at Wildhorse Resort and Casino.
The $85-million expansion announced in July, and now Wildhorse has announced new details of a smaller project than originally envisioned, citing changes in the economy and trade, especially “drastic” increases in the price of steel.
A press release from the company says a second hotel tower with 214 rooms will open by the end of 2020. The project expands convention space and the family entertainment center while adding a 24-lane bowling alley, a new restaurant, and a new poker room that can seat up to 90 players.
The project will require the demolition of the original hotel on the property, built in 1996. The last day for guests to check out of the courtyard hotel is March 31 of 2019. The Hot Rock Café will close at the same time.
Although Wildhorse announced those plans yesterday, CEO Gary George says the project still needs final approval from the Board of Trustees and the General Council of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. That is expected to happen in the “next month or two.”

Trails, water pipelines, tree lighting on the agendas
Dec. 4, 2018
No cars and no domestic farm animals are allowed on trails in the City of Stanfield. Those are changes the city council is considering to an ordinance tonight. Breaking those rules is now a class A violation.
That meeting begins at 7 tonight in the city council chambers on Coe avenue.
Also meeting at 7 is the Umatilla City Council – their 97-page agenda packet includes 11 different action items tonight. Many of those focus on the Sixth Street waterline project. They’ll also be accepting $800 donated by the Umatilla High School Key Club toward improvements to Kiwanis Falls and $6,000 from the Hermiston Kwanis Club for lights at the basketball courts at Kiwanis Park in McNary.  That meeting begins at 7 tonight at Umatilla City Hall. Find the Umatilla agenda here.
The Boardman city council is also meeting tonight. On that agenda, a presentation of a sign project and resolutions about electric franchise agreements and stop signs. That Boardman meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. The time change tonight to allow council and community members to attend the Boardman Tree Lighting. That begins at 6 tonight at the SAGE Center.

Post Office closed tomorrow
Dec. 4, 2018
The U.S. Postal Service closing all locations and stopping regular mail delivery tomorrow to honor former President George H.W. Bush. Package delivery will be limited. Read more here.

Prevent fires this December
Dec. 3, 2018
'Tis the season for holiday celebration and decorating, but it's also the season for home fires. Scott Goff, fire marshal with Umatilla County Fire District #1, says be careful with extension cords - never coil a cord that can overheat and don't use it with large appliances like refrigerators. Only plug space heaters into a wall outlet - never an extension cord or power strip.
If you use a space heater to keep part of your house warm, keep the space around the heater clear.
"Making sure that you keep everything that can burn at least three feet away from the front of the space heater - and actually the back of the space heater as well," says Claire McGrew, with the Oregon Fire Marshal's Office.
As you buy your Christmas trees, Goff says make sure you buy a tree with a lot of moisture - make sure no needles are already falling off - and then be careful where you set it up in the house.
"We want to be cognizant of where we're placing that in the house, away from heat vents, away from wood stoves, fireplaces, anything that like," he said. "Those will make the tree start to dry out rapidly."
He says make sure all lighting is in good shape before you place it on the tree. Any damaged wires should be discarded. If you are using open flame candles, be sure you keep an eye on them.
Goff says overloading electrical systems, heating sources being too close to materials that can burn and unattended cooking are the most common fire sources this year

Space limited for concert, pancakes
Dec. 3, 2018
It is now December, and the holiday season is in full swing. Coming up this week, the Inland Northwest Musicians have their annual holiday concerts. They’ll be in Echo on Saturday and in Connell Washington on Sunday. If you want to go Echo – there’s a large selection of holiday music to get you into t he season – you need to reserve your seats – now.
R. Lee Freise, conductor, says they only have seating for 200 people at the Echo concert, and more than half of them already gone. The concert is free. If you want to reserve seats, call inland northwest musicians.
Tickets also close to selling out for the Hermiston Pancakes with Santa. The event isn’t until Dec. 22, but they only have a handful of tickets left.
"Those tickets are selling really fast," said Kasia Robbins. "If you are at all interested, get those tickets now because we have such a limited amount of space."
That event is at the Hermiston Community Center and includes the meal, pictures with Santa and crafts. The cost is $30 per family of four.

Suspect arrested in homicide
Nov. 28, 2018
A suspect arrested in a homicide yesterday in Umapine.
The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office identifying 52-year-old Decidero Vargas-Ortiz as the suspect in the shooting that happened yesterday morning at the Umapine Creamery. Vargas-Ortiz arrested yesterday in Kennewick by Kennewick Police. The search for Vargas-Ortiz, who has multiple aliases, involved the FBI and the Tri-City Regional SWAT Team. The Sheriff’s Office saying he will be extradited to Umatilla County to face felony murder charges.

Hermiston increases taxi prices
Nov. 28, 2018
Changes are coming in January for the city of Hermiston’s taxi voucher program. The program allows those who are elderly or disabled to purchase subsidized taxi vouchers. Those vouchers currently cost $2, but January 1, each one will cost an additional 50 cents.
[taxi challenge]
Hermiston Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says each ride will still be subsidized $4.25 through city funds. Because of increases in costs, the Hermiston City Council on Monday night voting to increase the price of each voucher to the user to $2.50. The prices were last increased in 2009.
In other city news, the motion to increase the base electric rates for Hermiston Energy Services customers

Farm Fair begins today
Nov. 28, 2018
Today, going on at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center, it’s the 45th annual Farm Fair Ag Seminar and Trade Show.
Farm Fair is today, tomorrow, and Friday at EOTEC and it brings together dozens of vendors and seminars on everything ag related from from cereal to pollinators. One of those – going on today – is a presentation by Blue Mountain Community College’s new Precision Irrigated Agriculture program instructor Drew Leggett. He’ll present on the Precision Irrigated Agriculture (PIA) program at BMCC starting at 3:30 this afternoon. He’ll also be on-tap as a speaker tomorrow during the Cereal Session on Optimizing Liming Rates for Low pH Soils in Northern Idaho, speaking out his research while working on his master’s degree at the University of Idaho.
Farm Fair is free and open to the public – Debbie Pedro with the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce says their vendor spots are full.
That begins at 8 this morning.

Shooting in Umapine
Nov. 27, 2018
A shooting yesterday morning at the Umapine Creamery northwest of Milton-Freewater. Thirty-five year old Renee Luiz-Antonio, of Milton-Freewater killed yesterday while operating a tractor. Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan saying the suspect is another employee who works at the dairy but saying the sheriff’s office is not at liberty to identify the other employee at this time.
Umatilla County detectives, along with Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus, the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office,Walla Walla Police Department, Milton-Freewater Police Department, the Oregon State Police Crime Lab, Hermiston Police Department, and the College Place Police Department spent most of the day investigating and searching for evidence that may lead to a suspect and an arrest in the case.
“We have leads on the case, and are following up with our investigation. This appears to be the result of a lengthy dispute between Mr. Luiz and another employee who was working at the dairy”, said Sheriff Terry Rowan.
Luiz-Antonio’s family has been notified. An autopsy has been scheduled with the
Oregon State Medical Examiner for today.

Cyber Monday safety
Nov. 26, 2018
Today is Cyber Monday, and if you’re doing a lot of online shopping, law enforcement agencies want you to keep track of those packages whenever you can. The sooner you can bring that package inside, the less time a potential criminal has to swipe it.
Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says if you are having something delivered, try and track what time it will be dropped off – including if you get to know the route or the schedule for mail delivery – so you can bring that package inside.
Hermiston police also recommending:
- Require a signature upon delivery.
- Have it delivered someplace where it can be handed to a person, like your office or a trusted neighbor.
- Get a video surveillance system for your home.
If you are shopping in stores instead of or alongside your online shopping, be mindful of your surroundings, keep your vehicle locked and put packages in the trunk.

City Council to consider rate increase
Nov. 26, 2018
Utility rates, especially electricity, in Hermiston the subject of a work session and meeting tonight. The Hermiston City Council has a work session at 6 tonight to discuss the Hermiston Energy Service Cost of Service Analysis, a study to look at services and operating costs. The regular meeting begins at 7, and on the agenda, is a resolution that could increase residential electric bills $2 per month. The primary rational for the increase is the increase in wholesale electricity prices. The council also has a resolution involving changes to the senior/disabled taxi program as well as multiple committee appointments and an executive session to discuss labor negotiations. Find the full agenda here.
Tonight, the Hermiston School Board has a meeting and work session that begins at 6:30 at West Park Elementary School. It’s a light agenda including a presentation from staff at West Park and teaching and learning department updates. The full agenda is available here.

Freezing fog causes slick roads
Nov. 20, 2018
Multiple car accidents reported this week because of ice and slick roadways. Most have been non-injury or minor injury, but emergency responders reminding drivers to slow down and watch for potential hazards. Do not use cruise control, be alert and drive cautiously, adjusting your speed for road conditions. Leave extra space between your vehicle and others, and if your vehicle suddenly feels like it’s floating , gradually slow down – tap your brakes gently; don’t slam on them.
You can follow TripCheck.com for road conditions, and there are ice and freezing fog warnings reported on both Interstate 84 and 82 as well as other area highways.

Council meetings tonight
Nov. 20, 2018
The Stanfield City Council will support the Stanfield School District’s proposed continuance bond. That resolution – in support of the school construction – is on the agenda tonight for the Stanfield City Council meeting that begins at 7.
The council will also consider an ordinance involving trail use in the city and hear reports from city departments.
That meeting will be in the council chambers of Coe Avenue. The meeting again begins at 7 p.m..
A contractor’s employee error is giving the city of Umatilla more than $1,600 in a rebate and a write-off of $10,000 worth of work hours to correct it. It’s for the city’s sixth street project, and the Umatilla City Council will discuss the reimbursement from JUB Engineers tonight during a council workshop. That begins at 6 p.m. at Umatilla City Hall.
There’s a special council meeting tonight in Boardman. That begins at 6 p.m., and it’s a work session about broadband consulting.
Contact the city halls in Stanfield, Umatilla, and Boardman for more information on their respective meetings.

Dinner still needs volunteers
Nov. 19, 2018
Coming up on Thursday, it’s the Community Fellowship Dinner that will be served at Hermiston High School. Prep work begins tomorrow in the kitchens with the meal being served from 11 to 2 on Thursday. The group has a little over 50 percent of their volunteer spots are filled.
Prep work in the kitchen going on tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.. They’re cooking 40 turkeys, as well as side dishes. Volunteers also still needed to help cook, serve, and delivery meals on Thursday. The Community Fellowship Dinner has one phone number - 541-371-9772 – you can call to sign up to volunteer, to schedule a ride to the meal or to request a meal to be delivered for anyone unable to leave their home. You can also email cfdhermiston@gmail.com.

Fall risks and holiday preparation
Nov. 16, 2018
If you have family members coming into town this weekend or next week for the Thanksgiving holiday – or if you’re heading to visit family – health professionals want you to take a look at the floor and remove fall risks.
"A lot of people assume that falling is a natural part of aging," said Registered Nurse Sharon Waldern, the interim manager of Good Shepherd’s Education Program. "We're trying to banish that belief because it really is not true. There are a lot of reasons for falls, but there's a lot you can do to prevent it."
Waldern says, statistically, 30 percent of falls result in moderate to severe injuries and simple prevention methods like removing lose rugs from the floor or keeping hydrated can make a difference. You can call Good Shepherd Education Department for some tips, and they also are registering people for the next fall risk seminar, a two-hour class open to anyone of any age, including family members.
They already have 5 people signed up for the next fall risk seminar – that’s on Dec. 8. They’ll also be starting an eight-week series called “Matter of Balance” in January. It’s a two-hour seminar with education and exercise. You can contact good shepherd health education for 541-667-3409 information on any of the upcoming classes.

Tree permits available
Nov. 16, 2018
Christmas tree permits are now available for the Umatilla National Forest – if you plan on cutting a tree this weekend and decorating it after Thanksgiving, of course – The permits are $5 and are limited to one per household. Fourth-graders are eligible for a free permit – the student needs to print a paper voucher from Every Kid in a Park and take it to the forest office for the free permit.
Tree permits and forest maps are available during regular office hours, Monday through Friday at the four Umatilla Ranger District offices in Ukiah and Heppner, Oregon; and Walla Walla and Pomeroy, Washington; and at the Supervisor's Office in Pendleton, Oregon.
In addition to the forest offices, Christmas tree permits are available at:
Ace Hardware, Hermiston
Bi Mart, Pendleton
Heppner Mobil, Heppner
Southgate Mini-Market, Pendleton
Columbia Grain and Feed, Pasco
Farmer’s Exchange; Sportsman’s Warehouse, Kennewick
For more information, please contact the Forest Service office in Pendleton at (541) 278-3716.

Warming station shortage could delay opening
Nov. 12, 2018
The Hermiston Warming Station might not open this fall unless they can recruit more volunteers. Teesie Hill, chairman of the board , says Ideally, they would have 100 volunteers, but so far, they only have 53 this year.
"If we get the volunteers, we're going to try and open on Nov. 19. If we cannot get the amount of volunteers we need, we will not be able to open until Dec. 3 - and that's if we get the volunteers by then," she said.
The warming station provides a warm place for people in need – whether homeless or in a temporary situation – to sleep overnight during cold weather. At this time, Hill says they don’t have enough volunteers to operate.
They do have trainings coming up – including one tomorrow from 6 to 9 p.m. You do not have to register in advance for the trainings, you just show up. They’ll also have training Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday afternoons and a graveyard shift training – Saturday from midnight to 3 a.m.
"It is not a typo - and everyone thinks it is," she said, adding those who work graveyard shifts may not be able to make evening trainings.
In order to volunteer with the warming station, you have to be 18 or older, pass a background check and complete a three-hour training. Volunteers sign up for shifts online – and instead of a minimum, there’s actually a maximum on volunteer hours – they like volunteers to only do two shifts a week so they do not burn out.
Hill says there are 700 homeless people in Umatilla County and nationwide, 700 people a year die from hypothermia.
Call the warming station 541-289-2150 for more information.

Boardman approves Ordnance expansion
Nov. 12, 2018
Last week, the Boardman City Council approving a new liquor license for Ordnance Cider. Owner Craig Coleman currently holds a liquor license in Boardman for Ordnance Brewing and is planning to expand to brewing cider. The Boardman city council approved the license unanimously.
The council also changing the time of their December meeting from 7 to 7:30 to allow council members to attend the community tree lighting at the SAGE Center. The next Boardman City Council meeting will be a workshop at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at Boardman City Hall.

Study looks at mental health, addiction in jails
Nov. 9, 2018
A new effort being launched in Oregon to find solutions to keep people with addictions and mental illness out of jails and to get them the help they need.
It’s a problem Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan is well aware of and part of the inspiration for the requested renovation of the Umatilla County Jail to better serve those who are under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or mental illness.
"Ideally what you would like to see here in Umatilla County is a center that focuses on all three of those areas but still provides a level of security for those that go there," Rowan said. "Jail is not the place."
Patrick Allen, head of the Oregon Health Authority, says a large group of people from around the state are examining the problem.
"It tries to pull together the judicial system, law enforcement, and healthcare to try how to better meet the needs of those with serious, persistent mental illness."
Allen says people are going to jails where they don't get the help they need, so they end up in jail.
Over the next three months, the group will analyze data from around the state to determine the scope of the problem and potential solutions. Those ideas will be forwarded to the legislature to determine what changes will solve the problems.

Tickets on sale for Festival of Trees
Nov. 9, 2018
Most of us are still looking at Thanksgiving - as we should be - but if you want tickets for the annual Hermiston Festival of Trees, you need to take just a moment of holiday planning to pick those up. The annual event is a fundraiser for the Good Shepherd Community health Foundation and Hermiston Kiwanis. that features numerous decorated trees for live auction, dinner, wine tasting - and more. Bob Green, executive director of the Good Shepherd Foundation says if you want tickets, sooner is better.
"The tickets go very, very quickly," he said. "If you want tickets, get them as soon as possible because it does tend to sell out."
Tickets for the gala are $40, and you can purchase those at the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to the gala dinner and auction fundraiser, the Festival of Trees does also include family day. That will be Sunday, Dec. 3???? this year.

Election results
Nov. 7, 2018
A late night and early morning for staff at Umatilla County elections as the final unofficial results not coming in until after 2:30 in the morning in the local midterm elections.
Statewide voter turnout at 63%, according to the secretary of state’s website. Umatilla County has a turnout rate of about 55 %, and in Morrow County, it was a bit higher – 59%.
Umatilla and Morrow County overall went red primarily favoring Republican candidates Knute Buehler, who lost the governor’s race statewide to Kate Brown, and Greg Walden, who will retain his seat in the US House of Representatives.
In the contested race for County Commissioner position 1 George Murdock narrowly defeating Rick Pullen to retain his second and final term as county commissioner. Murdock receiving 10,645 votes and Pullen pulled in 10,153. That’s 51 to 48 percent. In County Commissioner Position 2, 14,000 ballots cast for John Shafer, the only name on the ballot and a total of 773 write-in ballots.
On the Hermiston City Council, Lori Davis will keep her seat against challenger Mark Gomolski: 2,186 votes over Gomolski’s 1,572.
The City of Umatilla had multiple contested races, and it looks like Mary Dedrick will be the new mayor, beating current mayor Daren Dufloth 52 to 46 percent.
For the City of Boardman, the top three council recipients for the at-large spaces were Brandon Hammond, Brenda Profitt, and Roy Drago, Jr. Jim Kindle received 66 percent of the vote for mayor of Heppner, and Rod Taylor receive 100 percent of the 138 vote – there were no write-ins against him – for mayor of Ione. Write-ins only for the mayors of Lexington in Morrow County and Adams in Umatilla County.
Find the full election results here. You can click on Umatilla or Morrow county to see some local results.

Pitney named to school board
Nov. 6, 2018
Brent Pitney is the newest member of the Hermiston School Board – he works for Kner construction and says he is excited about joining the board and is ready to be part of the school system.
"I've been in Hermiston for 41 years, and I've got kids in the school system," he said. "I'm invested in the community through work, and I want to give back."
Pitney saying he sees infrastructure as a big issue facing the school district, including school maintenance and passing a construction bond. Pitney takes over the position left by Jason Middleton, and he was sworn in during a meeting of the Hermiston School Board last night at the district offices.

Three council meetings tonight
Nov. 6, 2018
Three small city councils meeting tonight.
In Umatilla, the city council is considering development – from housing to Old Town. One of the action items is a collaboration between Echo, Stanfield, Umatilla, and the State of Oregon to determine housing needs and how to increase the supply and affordability of housing.
"Those are the things we're continuing to work on to look at our housing needs as we partner with the state and the cities," City Manager Dave Stockdale said. "We'll get a good study together and that will make a nice foundation as we move forward."
That project would be finished by the end of June of 2019.
Another resolution involves a grant and a vegetation management plan at the old town site. It’s expected to cost $36,000 – of which #10,000 is being donated from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and $26,000 already budgeted for the project. The council also voting on an agreement with the city of Hermiston to provide subsidized public transportation for seniors. That would begin immediately and run through June of 2019.
That meeting begins at 7 tonight at Umatilla City hall.
The Stanfield City Council also has a meeting at 7 p.m. – and that one at Stanfield City Hall, not at the Stanfield Council Chambers. On that agenda, discussion of local improvement districts and their potential use in Stanfield, as well as training on city charter and mayor, council, and manager roles.
Boardman rounding out the city council meetings tonight. They’ll have reports from city departments and meet in an executive session to talk personnel and to carry on negotiations. That meeting also begins at 7 tonight, and it’s at Boardman city hall.

Meetings tonight
Nov. 5, 2018
Today is the first Monday of the month, but it is a meeting night in Hermiston because of the veteran’s day holiday – both the Hermiston School Board and the Hermiston City Council moving their meetings up a week.
The school board meeting begins at 6:30 at the school district offices and will include election of a board member to fill vacant space 4, left by the departure of Jason Middleton from the board. That meeting will include enrollment and financial reports and a recognition of the from the FFA Veterinary team
The board to also meet in an executive session to discuss union negotiations. Find the full agenda here.  

Dinner, auction benefits Guardian Care
Nov. 5, 2018
A fundraiser coming up this weekend to benefit Guardian Care Center, an organization that supports children and families that have been victims of child abuse, both physical, and sexual. Detective Randy Studebaker, with Hermiston Police Department, says the center also provides recordings of forensic interviews that can be used in court cases, preventing children from having to testify multiple times about traumatic events.
"The whole center is geared toward not re-traumatizing victims while they're to tell their story or have their injuries examined," Studebaker says. "It is child centered and child focused while still giving investigators what they need."
Studebaker says the Pendleton center is the only child abuse facility in Umatilla and Morrow counties. The Guardian Care Center is funded through grants and private donations. They do host a golf tournament in April to help run the center, and they are now hosting a dinner and auction this Saturday at Oregon Grain Growers Distillery in Pendleton. Tickets are $25 – that does include the meal – it’s a pizza buffet and a drink token – as well as access to the auction and raffle. Tickets are available at the Guardian Care Center, the Umatilla School District Office. Tickets can be purchased at the door. You can call Guardian Care Center at 276-6774 for more information.

HHS juniors win app challenge
Nov. 5, 2018
Two Hermiston High School students winning the 2018 Congressional App Challenge for Oregon’s District 2. Rogelio Lemus and Ethan Orozco created the app B.A.N.A.N.A (Basic App to Notify Authorities of Non-Authorized Abduction). The app uses facial recognition technology to help
find missing people. The app allows individuals to upload a photo of a missing person for comparison against a national database, to help find loved ones. You can see a video about the application on YouTube

Sheriff warns of winter weather
Nov. 2, 2018
Warnings for chains and traction tires on Eastern Oregon roads this week. Snowfall in some areas of the Cascades this week, and it’s time to think about winter driving – and getting ready. Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says Search and Rescue teams typically have a busy season starting in the fall. Rowan says they’ve already seen an increase in call-outs for search and rescue as winter weather and hunting seasons coming to eastern Oregon.
"We may not see anything or just have a light powder (of snow) in the local area, but you get up there, and there may be several feet," he said.
Rowan says some of the most common issues search and rescue deploys is for are hunters who become disoriented or do not make it back to camp at the time they’re expected – even though many do make it back to camp – and people traveling on forest roads in vehicles unequipped for the terrain.
"It's all about being prepared. If you are traveling, prepare your vehicle: Have some safety equipment, snacks, warm blankets," he said. "Just make it a habit of hauling that stuff around this time of year because you never know when you'll need it."
Rowan saying he keeps emergency equipment not only in case he needs it – but in case he needs to help someone else.

Donate costumes for foster children
Nov. 1, 2018
After yesterday’s holiday, there’s a good chance you have a Halloween costume that your kids may never wear again. Umatilla and Morrow County Child Welfare is taking donations of Halloween costumes that will be given to foster children for next Halloween. Through the donations, foster parents in the area will be able to choose costumes next year for children in their care. Costumes can be dropped off at the DHS/Child Welfare offices in Boardman, Hermiston, Pendleton, and Milton-Freewater. For more information, call 564-4496.

Nonprofit seminar, FFA banquet this weekend
Nov. 1, 2018
Operating a nonprofit can be stressful, and finding funding sources can be overwhelming. The Agape House wants to help. This Saturday, they’re presenting a seminar called “How to write a nonprofit grant proposal.” Dave Hughes says it will cover researching grants, gathering material and developing applications.
The seminar is from 8:30 to 1 on Saturday and costs $35, and that does include the workbook, material, and a light breakfast. You can RSVP to Dave at Agape House by calling 567-8774.
Also Coming up this Saturday (Nov. 3), the Stanfield and Echo FFA Dinner and auction. Echo Schools Superintendent Raymon Smith says the funds help students have more opportunities through agriculture programs
Funds go to student programs and travel expenses. The banquet is $10 per person or $20 for a family of four. They aren’t purchased in advance, but only sold at the door. Doors open and the silent auction begins at 5, and the program and dinner starts at 6. The live auction begins at 7 on Saturday in the new gym in Echo. You can find out more on the event page on Facebook .

Treats on Main tomorrow
Oct. 30, 2018
Tomorrow is Halloween, and that means the return of Treats on Main and Beyond. Parks and Recreation Director Larry Fetter says this year it will include Festival Street in the celebrations.
"What's nice is there's no cars to contend with and we can shut down Main Street in seconds and kids can go from business to business and not be worried about traffic," Fetter said. "It's obviously a little inconvenient, but it's super fun."
Times for Treats on Main this year are 3-5 p.m. on Festival Street and Main Street – those streets to be closed off completely during the event – and then the “beyond” section takes place at the Hermiston Community Center from 4 to 7.

Officials work to clear up confusion on tax bills
Oct. 29, 2018
City and county officials working to clear up confusion on tax bills this week. Hermiston Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan saying this is the first time the Hermiston Urban Renewal District has appeared on property tax statements and it’s a change in accounting at the County Assessor’s Office – not a change in how much property owners owe in taxes. “The internal accounting of how revenues are collected and distributed has changed, but the total property tax bill that people owe is unchanged,” said Mark Morgan, Assistant City Manager. “I think the intention is for transparency, but frankly it muddies the waters.”
Before the change, the tax would have shown up divided between the different taxing districts. It does not change the amount of money the urban renewal district receives or the amount of money taxpayers pay.

Update contact info before winter weather
Oct. 29, 2018
Rain this morning, rain over the weekend, and it's a good reminder that eventually, that rain will be snow.
"We are getting to that time of year where we have to start thinking about winter weather," said Dirk Dirkson, the superintendent of Morrow County Schools. "Make sure all your phone numbers are updated with the school - if we do have any school closure or delay, we use those for communication."
Dirkson says Morrow County will be continuing its three-hour delays for winter weather. Both Morrow County and Umatilla school districts testing that three-hour delay instead of a two-year delay last year. Contact your local school or school district to verify contact information and confirm their winter weather policy.

Commissioners approve transit projects
Oct. 26, 2018
Umatilla County Commissioners yesterday moving forward with the first projects with the Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund. That money relates to the 1/10th of 1 percent payroll tax recently approved by the state.
Umatilla County receiving about 400,000 in 2019, the first year of funding, and it has to go toward enhancing public transportation.
The plans approved yesterday calling for creation of a transit coordinator position for the county, increasing subsidized taxi rides for employees in the county and adding weekday fixed-route bus lines connecting Hermiston, Umatilla, Irrigon, and Boardman, as well as other projects.
Find more here.

Mega Dairy set for sale, closure
Oct. 26, 2018
Boardman mega-dairy Lost Valley Farm could be put up for sale next year. The Statesman Journal reporting the dairy’s trustee, Randy Sugarman, saying on Wednesday that the dairy will be shut down and put up for sale by the end of March 2019 and that it will need to find a new owner, one capable of obtaining any future permits and funding critical capital improvements. Sugarman asking the court to allow cattle to be sold at public auction and saying the sale of cows and property should allow debts, which include to Morrow County and local businesses, to be paid. The dairy cited for hundreds of environmental violations, and Sugarman saying it could cost $40 million to meet permit requirements. Greg te Velde opened Lost Valley Farm in April of 2017 and declared bankruptcy in April of 2018. Te Velde has also faced multiple criminal and legal issues locally, including an arrest by Hermiston police last month for possession of methamphetamine.

Fundraiser tomorrow
Oct. 26, 2018
Tomorrow, a fundraiser to benefit Jasmine Ellwood, a Hermiston teen battling Ewing sarcoma.
The event includes a convoy of Walmart Heart Drivers from the Walmart DC, a police escort, and a cookout at the Hermiston Walmart. The convoy begins at 9:30 on Saturday, and the fundraiser is from 10 until noon. All funds will go toward the Ellwood family to help with expenses related to Jasmine’s treatment.
Also going on this weekend, the Hermiston Ed Foundations’ Fun Run, Inland Northwest Chorale opens its 2018-19 season – this is the second concert of inland northwest musicians 20th season, drug take-back day.

City searches for food truck Pod operator
Oct. 25, 2018
The City of Hermiston is looking for someone to operate the planned “Food Pod” pilot program. The program could see a number of food trucks located in one area, and and the city is now taking proposals and applications for someone to run that pilot for 12 to 24 months.
The Pilot Program would operate on two city-owned parking lots at the intersection of W. Orchard Ave. and SW 3rd Street. The city would offer use of the parking lots for free to the food pod operator, who would then recruit and retain five mobile food vendors to operate the post. The operator would keep any profits they made off space rentals.
Proposals are due Dec. 3, and information on the proposals is available on the city’s website or from city hall.

Grant valued at $150,000 for county trails
Oct. 25, 2018
Umatilla County receiving help from the National Parks Service on its West End trail project. The county receiving a grant for technical assistance, valued at about $150,000. The work will help develop the regional trails plan for the West County Trails project. When completed, that is expected to connect about 25 miles of existing and proposed bicycle, pedestrian, and equestrian trails. The technical assistance over the cost of the initial concept planning, including identifying possible trail routes and connections to trail systems with the three county region of Morrow-Umatilla-and Walla Walla counties.

UCo warns of whooping cough
Oct. 25, 2018
A reminder that this afternoon is the first senior meal at the new Harkenrider Senior Center in downtown Hermiston. Larry Fetter, with the city of Hermiston, says today’s meal is only the first step in expanded programming.
The Harkenrider Senior Center is on 2nd Street, near the old union high school arch. You can follow programs and updates on its facebook page – Hermiston Senior Center.

UCo warns of whooping cough
Oct. 25, 2018
Umatilla County public health warning of reports of pertussis – that’s whooping cough – on the rise, especially in the Milton-Freewater area. They’re urging vaccination against the disease. Consult a health care provider if you are having fits of coughing, even if you have had the vaccine, and pregnant women and infants under the age of 1 should see a health care provider if they have been exposed to anyone with the disease. UCo Health will be offering pertussis containing vaccines during a clinic at Gib Olinger Elementary School on Thursday November 8th from 2-6 p.m.

Senior meals ready to move
Oct. 23, 2018
Today is the final day of the Hermiston senior meal at the Catholic Parish hall. It’s an Italian meal. The senior meal will move to the Harkenrider Senior activity Center, 255 NE 2nd Street, starting on Thursday.
When the seniors make the move, they’ll have new kitchen equipment thanks to fundraisers the seniors organized.
The Harkenrider Center has been hosting some classes and events, but the meals had to wait to complete inspections. That is up and running now, and they’re expected to serve their first meal out of the center on Thursday.
Today’s lunch is still at the Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church Parish Hall, that’s 565 W. Hermiston Avenue.

Good Shepherd hosts community meeting
Oct. 23, 2018
Tomorrow night, Good Shepherd Health Care system has a community meeting and health fair. The event includes raffle prizes, food, and a guest speaker, Joe Piscatella, an author, speaker, and president of the institute for health and fitness.
Piscatella saying he will speak about a number of topics, especially how to become and stay healthy.
"The biggest thing is to create a positive mindset that says you're going to make a commitment to a healthy lifestyle - and you're going to do it with small steps," he said. "I'm a big believer in the power of small steps."
Nick Bejarano, with Good Shepherd, says they hope to make the community meeting an annual event, and it’s free and open to all.
Doors open at 5 p.m. at the Hermiston Community Center. For more information and to RSVP, call 667-3509.

Council, school board meet tonight
Oct. 22, 2018
Updates, planning, and presentations on the agendas tonight as the Hermiston City Council and Hermiston School board each meet.
The Hermiston City Council begins the evening with a work session at 6 tonight at Hermiston City Hall. They’ll have a legislative update from Rep. Greg Smith. The regular meeting follows at 7, which includes an agreement allowing property for the city’s planned water tower at the corner of 10th and East Punkin Center. They’ll also consider changing how wide a drive way can be.
On the school board side, the meeting begins at 6:30 tonight at Hermiston High School. That meeting to include a school presentation – from high school staff – board applicant interviews and a support services update.
Find the full agendas here: city council and school board.

Farm to School grows in schools
Oct. 22, 2018
This week is farm-to-school week, a time to focus on connecting communities with fresh, healthy food, and local producers by given students access to local foods and educational opportunities like schools gardens and cooking lessons. Through the Farm to School program, the Hermiston School District received a grant two years ago to bring in more fresh fruits and vegetables from local producers, and Food Services Director David Busch says they’ve been taking advantage of it, bringing in everything from fresh melon to pluots.
In honor of Farm to School Week, Chartwells Food Services is collaborating with OSU Extension Service to introduce blueberries (purchased from a local vendor), to Rocky Heights students this week. Students will taste blueberry recipes and provide feedback.
The grant funds also helped purchase apple slicers for local schools. Even with fresh, local apples, not all elementary children were able to eat them whole. Having the apples pre-sliced makes the apples easier for children with braces and missing – or loose – teeth to eat.
Farm 2 School week is all week, and October is Farm to School month. Find out more about family options at farmtoschool.org

Armand student video finalist
Oct. 19, 2018
ALTV student Ashley Treadwell is a finalist for the Individual Award from the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) for her video titled "Cooking Class." Winners will be announced and finalists will be recognized at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention in Chicago, Nov. 1-4.
You can watch the video here.

Wyden in Hermiston next week
Oct. 19, 2018
Sen. Ron Wyden will be in Umatilla County next week as part of a tour hosting town hall sessions in five counties.
His Umatilla County stop is at 9:20 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Hermiston High School.
He will also stop in the Dalles and Arlington, both on Monday, at La Grande High School, on Tuesday afternoon, and in Baker City on Wednesday.
Find details on his website, wyden.senate.gov.

Boardman hosts community clean-up
Oct. 19, 2018
The City of Boardman will sponsor a community-wide clean-up the month of November. 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 November at Finley Butte Landfill and the North Morrow Transfer Station. The garbage voucher program encourages citizens to clean up their residences by disposing of yard debris. City residents may pick up their vouchers at Boardman City Hall at 200 City Center Circle beginning October 31st. For more information on this program, call Boardman City Hall at 481-9252.

Sheriff hosts livestock training
Oct. 18, 2018
Tonight, the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center hosting a open house and fall festival, but during the day, it’s the final session of a sheriff Livestock Investigation Class, a partnership with the Umatilla County Sheriff and the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association.
Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says it’s to give sheriff’s and deputies – from across the state – more information about what to look for.
"It's been eye-opening," Rowan said.
The training covering processes, recovery options, even branding, sales, and networking with feed lots and other locations that may take in stolen animals.
Although cattle is most common, the class applies to all livestock, from alpacas to sheep. Rowan says it relates not only to theft but to the process of “borrowing” livestock as well as disputes over calves.
Sheriffs and deputies traveling to Hermiston from as far as Clatsop and Malheur counties. Rowan says they hope to make the training an annual event.

Echo Oktoberfest is Saturday
Oct. 18, 2018
This Saturday, Echo celebrates its third annual Oktoberfest from 4 to 10 in downtown Echo. Event Chairman Mike Duffy says the event will feature a variety of foods, from traditional beer and brats to daily specials.
The funds this year go to the Kiwanis Scholarships – they give out about $7,000 in scholarships each year – as well as to the Echo Historical Society, which was funded out of a desire to restore St. Peter’s Church.
Tickets are $20 and for sale at the H&P Café in Echo, at the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce and from any echo Kiwanis member
Tickets purchased in advance - by noon on Friday - include a bonus token.

Stanfield wins $4 million matching grant
Oct. 16, 2018
The Stanfield School District is $4 million richer – as long as they approve a bond in May. The Stanfield School district is planning a $14 million bond to improve safety and security in school entrances and replace its middle school, and officials applied for funds through the the Oregon School Capital Improvement Grant program.
"We were not high enough on the priority list to be funded, but we were drawn in the lottery," Superintendent Beth Burton said. "If we are successful in our bond, we will receive another $4 million from the state of Oregon."
Burton says if the bond fails in May, the district will forfeit the money, and it is difficult to prioritize projects within the district if the bond is not passed. Find out more about the proposal on the website for the Stanfield School District or by attending the facilities planning meeting – that’s Monday at 6 in the evening at the secondary school.

Election deadline today, pamphlet online
Oct. 16, 2018
You may be sick of hearing about it already, but today is the final day to register to vote if you want a ballot for the Nov. 6 election. The election includes multiple statewide ballot measures - to repeal Oregon's sanctuary status, prohibit taxes on groceries and a tighter limit on the legislature's ability to increase taxes and fees – as well as the race for governor, county commissioner, and multiple local city council races.
If you need to register to vote, you can do that at the Umatilla County Elections office, the DMV, and online at with the Oregon Secretary of State. You can also find the entire voter pamphlet for Umatilla County online – especially if you are one of the county residents who received a misprinted pamphlet that does not include the Umatilla County candidates.
Find a link to register to vote and to find the voter's pamphlet on the county's website.

ShakeOut coming to Eastern Oregon on Thursday
Oct. 15, 2018
Thursday, students, families, and businesses across the state – and worldwide – will practice dropping, covering and holding on until an earthquake stops in the Great Oregon Shake Out. It’s part of the ShakeOut International Day of Action.
Althea Rizzo, in the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, says the goal is to make sure you and your family are prepared before an earthquake happens.
To prepare, you need enough supplies to make it two weeks on your own. The website Shakeout.org has the information you need to prepare - you can also sign up to participate in the event so organizers know how many people are taking part this year.
Registration this year includes almost 9,000 participants in Umatilla County and more than 200 in Morrow County – many of them students. Schools in Hermiston, Irrigon, Milton-Freewater, and Athena. Families, individuals, and medical staff, and state offices also signed up to participate. It is not too late to register – you can find out more at shakeout.org/Oregon.
The drill is scheduled for 10:18 a.m. on Thursday.

Umatilla, Morrow counties talk transit
Oct. 12, 2018
Seven percent of households in Umatilla County don’t have access to a vehicle – and another 10 percent of households are automobile insufficient, meaning the household does not have access to a vehicle for each person working. In Morrow county, five percent of households don’t have access to a vehicle. Add that to the large number of people who commute between counties, and that’s a problem local county commissioners want to tackle. County Commissioners from both Umatilla and Morrow counties having a joint meeting this week, and the main topic was improving transportation, including discussion of the draft Morrow/Umatilla County Transit Development Strategy Plan.
Umatilla County Commissioner Larry Givens says the study tackles a number of needs and strategies
"We didn't take action on at the meeting, but it was a report on that strategy plan," Givens said. "There are some really great ideas in it."
Portland-based Kittleson and Associates because the transportation study in 2016, and this is the draft document moving forward. The report breaks down demographics, poverty, and the need for transit options, pointing out 63 percent of Morrow County’s workforce lives outside of the county – with the bulk living in Umatilla County. On the Umatilla County side, more than 1/3rd of workers live outside the county in both Oregon and Washington.
The 55 page-report then provides suggestions to tackle transit issues – including new bus or shuttle options, park-n-ride locations, and modifications to current bus and shutting systems.
Find the full draft report at this link.
During the joint meeting, the commissioners also discussing sewer inspections and the Eastern Oregon counties association. Umatilla county has opted to pull out of that lobbying group. Givens says the county will do its own lobbying efforts.

Boardman, Umatilla launch new websites
Oct. 11, 2018
New websites recently for two local cities - Boardman and Umatilla. Both websites feature redesigns with a focus on features important to residents.
In Boardman, city officials encouraging residents to use the
website for information such as water outages, job openings, impounded dogs, public hearing notices, clean up months, and more.
Users may also subscribe to the Boardman Bulletin Newsletter and/or the
Amber Alert Notices.
In Umatilla, mayor Daren Dufloth says the website went live last month and includes meeting agendas, an event calendar, and code information
"Check out our new website - it's awesome," Dufloth said. "There's a lot of great infomration on the website."
You can find the updated websites at Umatilla-city.org and cityofboardman.com

Candidate forum is tonight
Oct. 10, 2018
Tonight, a candidate forum at BMCC Hermiston. That’ll be in room 134 at the Eastern Oregon Higher Education Center, 975 SE Columbia Drive.
The forum, moderated by our own Angela Pursel, will feature County Commissioner Candidates George Murdock and Rick Pullen as well as Hermiston City Council candidates Lori Davis and Mark Gomolski. That event begins at 5:30 tonight, and it is open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
A reminder that there is also a candidate forum scheduled in Umatilla. That one will be Oct. 18 from 6 to 7:30 and will feature candidates for positions on the Umatilla City Council as well as the two candidates for Mayor.

Testing, lunch prices
Oct. 10, 2018
Today, students at Hermiston high School are also engaged in testing – it’s the SAT for seniors, the ASVAB for juniors, and the PSAT for sophomores.
Today is also the day families could begin seeing lunch bills for their students. Families receiving free or reduced lunch must apply every year. There is a grace period that ended… yesterday. Families who qualified for free or reduced lunch last year but did not submit a new application for the 2018-19 school year will begin being charged today.
Applications for free or reduced lunch can be submitted at any time of year. You can contact your local school or school district office for more information.

Rain causes floods, reduces fire danger
Oct. 10, 2018
Rain yesterday causing a flash flood warning in some areas of Umatilla and Morrow counties yesterday, and the American Red Cross responding to one home disaster flood in Heppner. That flood at about 4:30 yesterday afternoon and affected four adults and one child. The Red Cross providing services to address immediate needs.
The good news about that rain, however, is public use restrictions have been lifted in the Umatilla National Forest, effective yesterday. Restrictions related to chainsaw use, smoking, and off-road travel being lifted. Seasonal campfire restrictions remain until Oct. 31, 2018. Seasonal campfire restrictions require visitors to build their campfire in a fire pit surrounded by dirt, rock, or commercial rings, in areas cleared of all flammable material. Campfires must be attended at all times and a shovel and one gallon of water are required to be in your possession while building and tending campfires.

Hermiston to change water, sewer rates
Oct. 8, 2018
Utility rates could be changing for the City of Hermiston. The City Council tonight to vote on major adjustments to water and sewer rates. The vote tonight could change the way rates are calculated from a declining rate schedule, which charges less per unit the more water is used, to an inclining rate schedule, which charges less for an initial, base, water amount and more per additional units. City staff says the change is designed to encourage water users to conserve water while also providing funding for a "backlog" of deferred maintenance.
The proposed rates could generate $2 million per year in additional revenue to cover the long list of deferred maintenance projects. If approved, the new rates will take effect March 1, 2019. The regular city council meeting scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
The Hermiston City Council also has a work session scheduled tonight. That begins at 6 p.m., and on the agenda: the library strategic plan and a housing report.
Follow the full agenda here.

Umatilla plans candidate forum
Oct. 8, 2018
Last week, a run down of candidates for many local races, and a reminder today there is a candidate forum in Hermiston on Wednesday.
There is also a public forum scheduled for candidates for Umatilla City Council. That will be 6-7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Umatilla Visitor Center on Cline Avenue.
A release from the Umatilla Chamber says the November 6th General Election could potentially bring sweeping changes to the Council make up. Residents are invited to come and meet the
candidates, and participate in an open discussion about the future of the City Council and City leadership.
Incumbent Mayor Daren Dufloth is running for re-election, and he's been challenge by a former city council member, Mary Dedrick. Both are expected to be on hand for the candidates forum, as are candidates for the council spot.
Candidates for the City Council are:
Mark Keith, incumbent, and Corrine Funderburk, each running for Position 1;
Leslie Smith, running for Position 3; and Josy Chavez, running for Position 5.

School Board to choose new member
Oct. 8, 2018
The Hermiston School Board also considering new faces tonight. The board will interview and review finalist candidates that applied to fill the position board member Jason Middleton is leaving on the board. The selected individual will be appointed on October 22 and sworn into the office November 5.
The board will also review financial and enrollment reports. That meeting begins at 6:30 tonight at the Hermiston School District office. Click here for the full agenda.

Echo looks to replace Diane Berry
Oct. 8, 2018
Diane Berry, the city administrator-recorder for Echo, will soon be retiring after 39 years working for the city. As city administrator and recorder, Berry also serves as library director, chief gardener, bookkeeper, payroll director/clerk and grant writer. The Echo City Council is looking at how to structure the position and set priorities for the city for the next few years. The council is looking for feedback on if services should be contracted out, consolidated, or if multiple individuals should be hired to try and replace Berry when she retires.
Let the council know what you think by calling, sending a note or email: ecpl@centurytel.net.