KOHU - KQFM LOCAL NEWS

by News Director Jennifer Colton
541.567.6500 or 541.289.NEWS or KOHUnews@gmail.com
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Good Shepherd, county focuses on tobacco
Nov. 17, 2017
Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States – and that statistic makes the foundation of the annual “Great American Smoke Out,” which happened across the country yesterday.
"Stopping tobacco use is the No. 1 thing we can do to improve our health - at any age," Community Health Educator Catie Brenaman says.
Good Shepherd Medical Center and two other Umatilla County locations participated in the “Great American Smoke Out” yesterday, but tobacco use in a year-round concern.
Smoking has been listed as a priority in the community health assessment for Umatilla County. Umatilla County current tobacco user numbers decreased from 18 percent to 15 percent between 2011 and 2015, and Brenaman says they have continued working to decrease that even further, and there are seven trained tobacco cessation counselors in Umatilla County – the highest number in Eastern Oregon. Brenaman says one of the great things about the smoke out is it encourages people to quit for one day.
"If you're a current tobacco smoker, even cutting back for one day or trying not to use tobacco for one day can be very successful in improving your belief in yourself that you're going to be able to complete this," Brenaman said.
In the most recent health assessment, 70 percent of current smokers said they had tried to quit within the past year. For more information on tobacco cessation services and options, you can contact either Good Shepherd Health Education Department – or the county’s public health department.

Fire tower dedication slated
Nov. 15, 2017
Coming up in less than a week, the dedication of the new fire training tower in Hermiston. It’s a combination of work between Umatilla County Fire District No. 1 and Blue Mountain Community College that will support BMCC’s fire science program, as well as regional training opportunities for firefighters.
About half of the funding comes from Fire District 1 and BMCC.
The grand opening takes place from noon to 1 on Monday and will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony, lunch, and a tour of the new tower. Fire Station 23 is 78-7-6-0 Westland Road in Hermiston.
Fire District 1 says they plan to eventually dedicate the whole training center in honor of longtime volunteer Harold Snyder, and in other BMCC news, Hermiston resident Don Rice sworn in as a member of the community college’s board of education. He fills the space left when Eddie De La Cruz resigned from the board last year, and Rice’s appointed term will run through June 30 of 2019. Rice will have the option to run for re-election.

Woman charged in poisoning of daughter
Nov. 15, 2017
An Athena woman arrested and charged with attempting to poison her daughter. 36-year-old Roxy Brook Pridgen arrested and charged with attempted murder for putting a prescription drug into a beverage that she gave to her juvenile daughter, intending to cause her death – because they were arguing. The girl became ill after drinking. Pridgen was lodged at the Umatilla County Jail. The case is still under investigation.

Alice @ Wonderland hits Sandstone
Nov. 14, 2017
This Thursday and Friday, a modern Alice in Wonderland coming to Sandstone Middle School. It’s a student performance open to the community.
"It's exciting. It's not the traditional take on Alice in Wonderland - it's a new take on it," said eighth-grader Halle Thomas. "If you've seen Alice in Wonderland, you're expecting this to be traditional, but it's not."
Thomas plays the white rabbit and says the show combines the story of Alice with modern technology including a smart phone and Starbucks. It’s a show that could be entertaining for the community – and its all been put on and produced by students, on stage and back. Eighth-grader Samuel is the stage manager of six member backstage crew. They’ve painted trees and doors and other prop pieces, and they’re responsible for making sure things run as smoothly as possible.
The students are putting on two performances this week, and Language arts teacher Chelsea Geer, who’s directing the production, says it’s a continuation of a growing program.
"This was completely funded by the proceeds last year, so it's really awesome to see us building this program that all started with one show," she said. "I'm really excited to see where this will go."
Alice @ Wonderland begins at 7 this Thursday and Friday in the commons at Sandstone. Tickets are $3.

Toddler shot by sibling
Nov. 14, 2017
A Hermiston toddler in critical condition after being shot in the head – by a sibling.
The Hermiston Police Department saying a 2-year-old accidentally shot in the head by his 7-year-old sibling. The 7-year-old reportedly accessed a gun belonging to a parent. The 2-year-old taken to Good Shepherd Medical Center, and hospital staff notified police. The boy was transported to Tri-Cities, and remains in critical condition, according to the most recent report from HPD. Names being withheld. Both Child Protective Services and the Umatilla County District Attorney’s office involved in the case to determine if charges will be filed. The Hermiston Police Department saying it was a preventable incident and reminding the public gun locks are available from HPD – for free. Call 567-5519 for more information.

Umatilla water reuse project moves ahead
Nov. 13, 2017
The City of Umatilla receiving a permit and moving forward with its water reuse project. City Manager Russ Pelleburg says they received the permit from DEQ and are adjusting the schedule on the project, which would add 3 miles of pipeline to separate and reuse industrial wastewater to benefit crops through the West Extension Irrigation District.
"We've had this project in the works for some time," Pelleburg says. "We're going go break ground sometime in February or early March, then have it operational in June.
That’s a $3 million project. Umatilla also continuing preparations for the downtown sixth street project as well as applying for grants - this week - for funding sources to add water through the Highway 395 corridor south of Umatilla. The city applying for grants to add water, sewer, and other services to the area

City Council considers $750,000 investment
Nov. 13, 2017
The City of Hermiston also moving ahead on projects. During tonight’s city council meeting, the council to consider awarding a construction contract for almost $750,000 in water system improvements to C&E Construction. The improvements will provide city water to VaData. The company, an Amazon subsidiary, building data centers in the area near the Interstate 84 and Interstate 82 interchange. Council document says the bid is higher than the engineer’s original estimate – that was a half million – because of high vendor prices for equipment, high subcontractor bids due to high demand for contractors, and work in winter conditions.
The council to also consider taking over a portion of W. Highland Avenue from Umatilla County and adjusting the transient room tax. That proposal gives the Hermiston chamber of Commerce 3 percent of tax revenue for operation of a visitor’s center in the chamber’s new location.
The council will have a work session to discuss legislative drug law changes – that begins at 6 – and The council meeting begins at 7. Find the full agenda here.

The Hermiston School Board also meeting tonight. That’ll be at 6:30 tonight at the district offices. The action items include adopting the OSBA bylaws
An executive session also planned, it’s a hearing about a minor student. The full agenda available here.

Three serious wrecks on Thursday
Nov. 10, 2017
Oregon State Police reporting a multi-vehicle, multi-injury crash at 12:06 yesterday afternoon near milepost 156 in Morrow County.
Preliminary investigation showing traffic had slowed or come to a stop due to construction work in the area. The crash involved one commercial motor vehicle, one passenger car, one pickup and one pickup towing a trailer. Six patients were transported to various regional hospitals via ground ambulance and Life Flight with injuries ranging from critical to minor.
The accident remains under investigation by Troopers from the Pendleton Area Command with assistance from the Oregon State Police Crash Reconstruction Unit. Additional information regarding the cause of the crash, the vehicles involved, and occupants will be sent out in a future release.
The Interstate remained closed for approximately 3.5 hours to allow for investigation and removal of crashed vehicles.
The eastbound lanes were closed following the crash and then diverted onto the Westbound Lanes during the response and investigation, which included a sand truck deployed to help clean up fuel and vehicle fluids spilled on the roadway. Ambulances from Boardman, Irrigon and Arlington responding, as well as Umatilla County Fire District 1, Boardman Fire, Morrow county Sheriff and Oregon State Police.
OSP has the lead in the investigation.
Interstate 84, milepost 159
That wreck the second OSP investigation for Morrow County Interstate 84 yesterday.
Oregon State Police asking for help in the first incident that ended in a death. Dispatch just after 3 in the morning yesterday on Interstate 84 eastbound – near milepost 159 in Morrow County. OSP says a minor motor vehicle collision happened in the off ramp between a gold Ford Ranger and a commercial (semi) vehicle. The driver of the pickup left the scene and ran toward the Tower Road overpass. During a search of the area, troopers found the body of driver of the pickup, a 28-year-old man from Portland, on the shoulder of I-84. A release from OSP says evidence suggests the man scaled the fence on the tower road overpass and jumped. He was then struck by an unknown vehicle that did not stop. Troopers says they believe it was a dark, metallic gray vehicle. Anyone with information asked to contact Oregon State Police Dispatch. Trooper Mitch Pace from the Pendleton Area Command is the lead investigator.
The Oregon State Police were assisted at the scene by the Morrow County Sheriff's Office, Boardman Fire, and the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Feedville and Edwards
Later that morning, a t-bone car crash at Edwards and Feedville yesterday morning. Both teenage drivers injured and the crash still under investigation.
The crash yesterday morning around 8. Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office and Umatilla Fire District 1 responding. The crash involved a 19-year-old female driver, the only occupant of a red Oldsmobile Alera, traveling south on S. Edwards Road, and a 16-year-old male, the only occupant of a silver, 1993 Chevy pickup traveling west on Feedville. The female driver was extricated from her vehicle. Both drivers transported to Good Shepherd Medical Center. One driver receiving minor injuries, the other for injuries that were severe. No citations were issued, investigation is ongoing.



Warming Station opens extra training
Nov. 10, 2017
The Hermiston Warming Station has already opened on an emergency
Basic six nights this fall– and the season doesn’t even start until Nov. 20. Coordinator Trish Rosell says the warming station opens when the temperature is below 32 degrees. This year, that means they’ve opened six nights and have been used 26 times.
This year, the Hermiston Warming Station hopes to open every night from Nov. 20 through February, but they’re still struggling to find volunteers. Rosell says they have about half the volunteers they need.
To help fill the shortage, they’re offering training almost every day for a week – starting on Saturday. The training is two hours and is offered this Saturday morning, Sunday afternoon as well as on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday of next week. You can find times and contact information on the facebook page for the Hermiston Warming Station.

Festival of Trees tickets on sale
Nov. 9, 2017
Last week, tickets went on sale for this year’s Hermiston Festival of Trees – and they’re already getting close to sold out. Festival of Trees co-chair Liz Marvin says more than half the tickets were sold in the first three days, in part because it’s becoming a tradition that benefits the community and marks the beginning of December.
"It's a great way to kick off the Christmas season," she said. "It's a lot of fun."
Festival of Trees is the 2nd and 3rd of December. It begins with the auction on Saturday, which benefits both Hermiston Kiwanis and the Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation. Bob Green, executive director of the Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation, says funds will go toward health scholarships and community grants for health related programs. A portion of money raised by Kiwanis this year – through the Raffle tree – will go toward revitalizing Greenwood Park.
Tickets are $40 for the Dec. 2 dinner and auction. Those are only available from the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to the dinner auction, Festival of Trees family day will return again this year on Dec. 3. For a suggested donation of $5 per family, they’ll have crafts, cookie decorating, photos with Santa and more.
Find more information by contacting the Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation or Hermiston Kiwanis. Tickets again available from the Hermiston Chamber

HHS marks college and career week
Nov. 8, 2017
It’s college application week at Hermiston High School and across the state of Oregon. At the high school, that means extra time with counselors and help filling out financial aid and understanding how to apply. It’s also a week guest speakers, skills like learning how to shake hands and conduct yourself in a job interview. Counselor Melody Bustillos says it’s about what students do after high school.
"We want all of our students to be looking beyond high school, 'What are my next steps,' and that's why we think it's important to weave in that college and career component," Bustillos said.
Tomorrow, they’ll have the Bulldog Career Discovery fair. It’s from 3:30 to 7 during parent-teacher conferences. College Bound Coordinator Liz Marvin says they have 38 different career booths covering a wide variety of job fields.
For more information, contact Hermiston High School .

Delays on Highway 730 on Thursday
Nov. 8, 2017
Drivers can also expect 20 minute delays in Umatilla on Thursday as road crews perform pavement patching along Highway 730. That’ll be from 9 until 4 tomorrow between the Port of Umatilla and the junction with Highway 395. Flaggers will be in the area. Construction on Highway 730 was scheduled to be completed before winter but is now delayed until next year. A release from ODOT says the pavement patching will help protect the unfinished work and create a smoother surface during the winter months.

Chamber, Girl Scouts honor veterans
Nov. 8, 2017
Later this week, the Hermiston Chamber of Commcere hosting its annual veteran’s day breakfast this Friday. Chamber director Debbie Pedro says it’ll have presentations, musical performances, and special speakers.
"It's like a USO show from back in that day," Pedro said. "That's something really neat about it. It brings back a lot of memories for our veterans."
The event is free for veterans and their families. You can RSVP by contacting the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce. If you have photos of a veteran to submit for the breakfast slideshow, those photos should be received at the chamber as soon as possible.
While the chamber and local girl scouts are hosting veterans events, The Hermiston Elks Lodge will not be hosting a Veteran's Dinner this year. A releasing saying Due to the rough winter last year, the building is in need of repairs which are currently being scheduled. The Elks continue to support Veterans throughout the year and thank veterans for their service.
The Girl Scouts of Oregon & SW Washington will be holding a dinner on Friday at 5 at New Hope. It’s open to all veterans and one guest of their choice. Space is limited for the girl scouts veterans day dinner. Reservations required at 541-579-0768.

Update on I-84 closure from Nov. 6
Nov. 7, 2017
Interstate 84 closed for most of the day yesterday after a tanker crashed and spilled ammonia solution over the highway near Meacham. Donna Carlson, of Prescott, Arkansas, driving the semi-truck and trailer and losing control on the vehicle on the icy road. The rollover ruptured the trailer. Carlson and her passenger were not injured, but OSP and the Oregon Department of Transportation set up an isolation distance of mile. I-84 was closed from Pendleton to Baker City before opening late yesterday afternoon. Current reports on Meacham, spots of ice and carry chains or traction tires.

OSP Bomb Squad donates robot to Umatilla
Nov. 7, 2017
Yesterday afternoon, a surprise for students at Clara Brownell Middle School in Umatilla. After hearing about the district’s thriving robotics program, Oregon State Police Bomb Squad presenting the district its old explosion robot. Dubbed “Pickles,” the district says the robot will help students learn robotics on a new level.

Umatilla reconsiders OSU Extention
Nov. 7, 2017
In other Umatilla news, the Umatilla City Council has a meeting tonight at 7 at City Hall. The agenda includes a second look at the OSU Extention Service District. Umatilla is the only city in Umatilla County to turn down creating a ballot measure to create a new taxing district. The issue being reheard at the request of Mayor Daren Dufloth. Also on the agenda, a resolution updating the Umatilla Community Accountability Board and a intergovernmental agreement with the City of Hermiston for Building Services.
That meeting begins at 7 at Umatilla City Hall. The Boardman and Stanfield City Councils also meeting at 7 this evening.

Freeway closure
Nov. 6, 2017
I-84 is closed EASTBOUND and WESTBOUND this morning due to crash involving hazardous materials at MP 233 near Meacham. The EASTBOUND freeway is closed at Exit 216 six miles east of Pendleton. The WESTBOUND freeway is closed at Exit 302 in Baker City due to no room left for trucks to park in La Grande. Icy conditions are present along the freeway between La Grande and Pendleton resulting in additional crashes in the area. The Hazardous material spill occurred along the EASTBOUND lanes, but the WESTBOUND lanes are also impacted due to material spill. Haz-mat response crews will advise when freeway can be open. More information will be release as it becomes available

Firefighter killed by tree
Nov. 6, 2017
A Hillsboro man died in the mountains near Heppner on Friday morning. Morrow County Sheriff’s Office reporting the man was hunting when a tree fell. The person who called 911 hiked up to a ridge to get cell service and reporting the man was unresponsive. The man died before emergency responders arrived on scene. Although Morrow County has not released the identity of the man, Hillsboro Fire & Rescue reporting the man is a Hillsboro firefighter and paramedic. A memorial is planned for Saturday.

UCFD#1 responds to 4 fires in 24 hours
Nov. 3, 2017
Umatilla County Fire District 1 responding to four structure fires in 24 hours from a chicken coup to a shop as a total loss. The first fire at Lam Weston Wednesday mid-morning – that was contained to air handling equipment and likely mechanical – the second started by a heating lamp and burning a chicken coup. An apartment fire started when food was left on the stove, setting off smoke alarms but causing no damage. The fourth fire burning a 30 by 30 shop that was a total loss. Umatilla County Fire District 1 saying that fire still under investigation but it may have been started by improper use of extension cords. No injuries reported in the four fires, but the total estimated damages at about $80,000.

City traffic light project back on
Nov. 3, 2017
Good news for the city of Hermiston. After unsuccessfully bidding a construction project in May, the Oregon Department of Transportation is accepting a bid to build two new traffic signals in Hermiston. Mark Morgan, assistant city manager says bidding the project in May meant they had a lot of competition and received no bids, but last week, they re-opened bids for a project to put in traffic lights at the 11th and Elm and 11th and Orchard. Morgan says the low bid came in below the engineer’s estimate at $2.3 million.
"If they can get all the contract docs signed, they'll start construction and you'll see things moving early spring," he said.
The projects should be completed by the end of October next year at the latest. In addition to the traffic signals, the the elm project will also include having turn lanes going into good shepherd medical center and crosswalks connecting the end of the Oxbow trail into the walking trails at Good Shepherd Medical Center.

Morrow County police chase ends in 2 wrecks
Nov. 1, 2017
A police chase ending in rollover accidents in Morrow County.
Morrow County Sheriff’s Office responding just after 1:30 in the afternoon to a report of two dark colored pickup trucks trespassing on a farm. When deputies located the vehicles just north of Heppner on Highway 74, the pickups did not stop, speeding through Heppner’s Main Street and onto Highway 207 before splitting and going in different directions. Vehicle one turned off on a gravel road, continuing at high speeds – including over 100 mph - for about 10 miles before losing control on a curve, driving off a hillside and crashing.
42-year-old Buddy James Buoy, from Portland, arrested and charged with attempt to elude, criminal mischief, trespassing, reckless driving and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
Meanwhile, the second vehicle began a slow-speed pursuit on Highway 207, not allowing deputies to pass, then attempted to drive down a steep canyon hillside, rolling the vehicle and becoming trapped inside. The driver, whose name has not been released, was extricated and had to be transported by Life-Flight.
Both suspects are believed to have been involved in a theft of several vehicles from a car dealership in Pasco, according to a press release from Morrow County Sheriff’s Office.
The investigation is ongoing.

Echo, Stanfield FFA banquet this weekend
Nov. 1, 2017
This Saturday, it’s the Echo and Stanfield FFA Chapters annual fundraising dinner and auction. Stanfield FFA President Lydia Herty says money raised goes toward the chapters to help in covering expenses year round.
"Proceeds benefit both our chapters directly, and this really is our one major fundraiser. It brings in enough for us to compete in everything and do all the projects throughout the whole year," she said.
Doors open at 5 Saturday evening in the Stanfield High School Gymnasium. Dinner begins at 6, and the live auction starts at 7. Tickets $10 per person or $25 per family of four.
You can buy tickets at the door or from any FFA member in the two chapters. Contact either school for more information.

Treats on Main tonight
Oct. 31, 2017
It is Halloween, and in Hermiston, that means the return of "It's our big Halloween event that we put on," Brandon Artz, Recreation supervisor for Hermiston Parks and Recreation said. "It's going to be a great time. We have a lot of volunteers and a lot of businesses taking part in this, and we thank each one of them."
Main Street will be closed off tomorrow for Trick-or-Treating. The “treats” on Main go from 3 to 5 with downtown businesses handing out candy or other times, then the fun moves to the Hermiston Conference Center from 4 to 7 for the “beyond” Main Street celebration, including children’s games, snacks, a haunted house, a maze and more – all for free.
Artz says they don’t have a set way to measure participation but they think about 4,000 people participated in Treats on Main last year. For more information, you can contact Hermiston Parks and Rec or downtown businesses.

Fellowship Dinner seeks volunteers
Oct. 31, 2017
Changes on the way for this year’s Community Fellowship Dinners, and they’re really looking for volunteers. The biggest change is the location. Both Community Fellowship Dinners – that’s Thanksgiving and Christmas – this year will be in the Hermiston High School commons.
They’re preparing for between 750 and 800 people.
"The only way that happens is we have almost 200 volunteers that come in and do everything from welcoming people in at the door to helping at the table and serving as people come in. It's all volunteer," said Community Fellowship Dinner board chairman Gary Humphries.
They are looking for volunteers to help with prep work on Wednesday as well as Thursday morning and helping serve and green guests as well as for drivers. Meals are delivered during the event, and they do offer rides.
Humphries says they’ll take volunteer signups any time from now until Thanksgiving – but the earlier the better.
You can find more information on their facebook page or by calling 541-371-9772


Forest Plan work continues
Oct. 30, 2017
The Umatilla County Commissioners continuing to work on the Blue Mountain Forest Plan. Commissioner Larry Givens says they're making progress, "but it's at a critical point now where we have got to have our voices heard and talk about some of these changes," Givens said.
The Forest Service is reviewing a plan put forth last week by representatives from Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Baker, Harney and Grant counties. Givens says it outlines what the counties need to accept the next revision of the Blue Mountain Forest plan, a document that’s been in negotiations for years. Givens says No. 1 on the list is grazing in the forest lands, as well as forest management practices like logging, and forest access, which includes for recreation and for hunting.
"They are going to come back some time in the first, middle of November and tell us what has to be tweaked in it, what they just can't accept," he said. "We're getting a little farther. It was sometimes tense, but we've made progress."
In addition to waiting for feedback on the forest management plan progress, Givens says they’re watching the Resilient Forest Act, which changes funding and streamlines salvage.

Hansell, Barreto to stop in Echo, Pendleton
Oct. 30, 2017
If you want to talk forest plan or any other state issues, two area representatives have scheduled town hall meetings with local chambers of commerce next weekend. State Sen. Bill Hansell and state Rep. Greg Barreto will be meet with multiple chambers next month in Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa counties.
On Nov. 8, they’ll present to the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce at Hamley’s Cafe in Pendleton, starting at 8 in the morning. That same day, they’ll visit the Milton-Freewater Community Building Rotary Room at noon, and then on November 9, they’ll visit with the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce at the Mercantile in Echo, 201 W. Main Street. That starts at 8 in the morning. That same evening, the duo will head to Enterprise.

Rocky Heights parking changes
Oct. 30, 2017
This morning, changes for parents dropping off and picking up students at Rocky heights Elementary. The district has redesigned the flow of the parking lot that faces Standard Avenue – and it tentatively begins today. New lines painted over the weekend to separate two lanes – one for student pick-up and drop-off and the other allowing vehicles to drive through.
To assist students and parents with the new traffic flow, the first several days there will be extra staff in the parking lot before and after school to assist with a successful transition.

Halloween celebrations begin today
Oct. 27, 2017
Halloween is Tuesday, but Umatilla is kicking off its celebration tonight with “Trick or Treat on Sixth Street.” Families encouraged to go trick-or-treating at Umatilla businesses from 3 to 6 this afternoon, and the Umatilla Chamber’s Lori Kimbal says it’s easy to know which businesses are handing out treats by the large, pumpkin marker.
The event also includes games and activities at Village Square Park, which is across the street from city hall and the library.
Tomorrow, it’s a Trunk-or-Treat event at the Hermiston Walmart from 6-9, and, of course, costumes are encouraged at Stanfield’s Fall Festival and Haunted Library from 6 to 8 tomorrow night as well.
On Halloween, a Trunk-or-Treat at Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church and Treats on Main & Beyond in Hermiston planned for 3-7 on Tuesday, more on that next week,

Drug take-back day
Oct. 27, 2017
As you’re on your way to an from an event this Saturday, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Local Law Enforcement Agencies want you to drop off unused medications. Regularly cleaning out leftover painkillers or other addictive medicines in your home is one of the best ways to prevent theft and drug abuse. This Saturday, DEA and local law enforcement are again teaming up to take unused, unwanted prescription medications off your hands. There are 172 collection sites in the Northwest, including the Hermiston and Milton-Freewater police departments. Collection times from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Man shot on dare
Oct. 26, 2017
A dare ended with a man shot near the Frasier Campground on Tuesday night. At about 9:20 p.m., Umatilla County Sheriff’s Deputies and a Union County Sheriff’s Deputy
responded to a report of a man who was shot at or near the Frasier Campground, about 2 miles west of the Union/Umatilla County border.
A 29 year old man from Reno, Nevada received a gunshot wound
in the leg after another man shot him. The two men were at a camp near Frasier along with a group of about 12 other
campers who were drinking and celebrating. Initial reports are that two men agreed to shoot each other with bean bag rounds from a shotgun on a dare. The first shot injured the victim with a serious wound to his thigh. Fortunately, an EMT was near the scene at the time of the shooting and began treating the victim. A private party transported the injured man to Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande.
UCSO will continue to investigate and then forward reports to the Umatilla County District Attorney for consideration. There does not appear to be any threat to the public regarding this incident.

UmCo Health looks at "Year of Wellness"
Oct. 26, 2017
Umatilla County Public Health is looking at starting a “Year of Wellness” countywide next year. Meghan Field is spearheading the event and says they’d like to have an event every month – an event already going on or something new – that ties with the theme.
Right now, they’re looking for partners and organizations willing to both help plan the Year of Wellness and those who already offer events that could be listed in a common event calendar or website. Jim Setzer, Umatilla County Public Health director. says they hope to encourage groups from across the county to participate.
"We really want to expand from the usual health suspects and get more of the community involved," said Setzer.
For more information, contact Umatilla County Public health.

HEF Fun Run this weekend
Halloween is less a week away, and local cities are preparing for the holiday with events going on Friday through the end of the month. For one weekend event, however, the focus is on the future and funding projects for Hermiston schools. It’s the 11th Hermiston Education Foundation Fun Run.
The fun run has three events this year: a 5K run, a 5K walk, and a one-mile run. The cost is $30 for the 5K and $15 for the mile run. A t-shirt is included with pre-registration, and they will provide shirts as long as they are available for day-of registration but cannot guarantee size availability.
The foundation raises money through two primary fundraisers: The beach and beef crab feed in the winter and the fun run in the fall. The money funds scholarships for Hermiston students and grants for Hermiston educators.
On-site registration on Saturday begins at 7:45 at Sandstone Middle School. The run starts at 9. You can pre-register, find the link and more information through the HEF website.

911 texting coming to Umatilla County
Oct. 24, 2017
By the end of the year, Umatilla County residents could be able to text 911.
Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says they’ve been working on texting capability for the past year. Once Umatilla County is live, Rowan says you’ll be able to hit 911 and type out the message
"If someone can't communicate or if by communicating verbally would agitate the aggressor, this gives them the opportunity to send that text, describe what's going on and then get resources rolling," Rowan said.
The Text-to-911 system is already operating on the west end of the state, including in the city of Portland, where it’s focused on people who may be in an emergency like a home invasion or abusive partner where silence is part of safety and for those who are deaf or have another disability that limits speaking capability.
"It's just another very good tool we have in our toolbox to provide that public safety services to the public that we serve," he said.
The program is currently being tested in Umatilla County and could be live in the county in November.

Pumpkin decorating tonight
Oct. 24, 2017
Tonight, pumpkin decorating at the Hermiston Public Library. Library director Mark Rose says it’s a new event they’re excited about. Through donations from Bellinger Farms, the first 50 families will receive a free pumpkin to decorate.
Families are welcome to bring their own pumpkins as well, and all decorating materials will be supplied free from the library.
Pumpkin decorating is from 4 to 6 at the Hermiston Public Library library on Gladys Avenue. For more information or details, you can call the library at 567-2882.

City Council to talk Ranch & Home
Oct. 23, 2017
At 7 tonight, a meeting of the Hermiston City Council. They’ll be considering amendments to the development agreement with Ranch and Home, the walls and roof of the store now visible at the construction site off South Highway 395. They’ll also consider directing staff to monitor the intersection at 3rd and locust. The action after concerns from an area resident and business operator. They’ll be analyzing traffic including commercial and delivery trucks, public transportation users and the potential impact of the new parking lot for Hermiston High School being constructed on the former Umatilla County Fairgrounds. In addition, the council will recognize Kellie Zepeda for completing her Gold Award, the highest honor a girl scout can receive.
Find the full agenda here.

2 home fires over weekend
Oct. 23, 2017
Two home fires this weekend, one in Stanfield and one in Irrigon.
The Stanfield fire at about 1:30 on Saturday claiming a home on Willow drive and about $170,000 in damages but no injuries reported. The cause is still under investigation.
A fire also reported on Fourth Street in Irrigon. That one affected one adult. Red Cross is providing resources.
Local fire officials saying structure fires – primarily homes – increase this time of year due to home heating. Have furnaces, chimneys, and heaters serviced before using and make sure heaters and vents are clear from all items, debris, curtains and furniture.

Sheriff plans jail changes
Oct. 23, 2017
This is also the time of year planning is going on for next year, including for the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office. sheriff terry rowan says this is also the time he starts meeting with division commanders to do strategic planning and goal setting for the next fiscal year.
One of those big projects involves the Umatilla County Jail.
The jail was designed for 169 inmates but has been modified to hold 252, which leads to what Rowan calls “bottle necks: when someone is arrested, they must be medically cleared, mentally stable and detoxed.
"At times, 10 out of 10 arrestees come in either they're under the influence of some kind of controlled substance or there's some kind of medical issue, and until they're cleared, we can't put them in general population," Rowan says.
As part of the strategic planning, they're looking at options to expand holding and solve that bottleneck. Rowan says that could mean remodeling or retrofitting in the current footprint.
In other sheriff’s office news, we will have information about a pilot program to text 9-1-1 later this week.

Engineering begins on Airport Road
Oct. 20, 2017
Slow but steady work moving ahead to improve Airport and Ott roads. The traffic congestion the top complaint about this year’s Umatilla County Fair and Farm-City Pro Rodeo. County Commissioner Larry Givens says engineering now beginning on that project and it will likely include widening Airport Road, adding turn lanes, and paving work on both streets.
The county has a little over 1 million in state funding earmarked for the project, and Givens says they hope to have it completed late summer of 2018.
In other county news, Umatilla county public works director Tom Fellows selected to serve on the national association of counties, surveyors and engineers.

Echo Oktoberfest Oct. 21
Oct. 20, 2017
From tonight to this weekend. There’s a now annual charity fundraiser happening in Echo. It’s the Echo Kiwanis Oktoberfest, and
Co-founder Phyllis Shovelski says it’ll happen rain, shine or wind.
"We've got tents and heaters and fire pits and 16 varieties of beer," she said. "It's going to be a great time in Echo."
As a charity event, all the money goes back to the community. This year, the funds raised will go toward repair efforts at historic St. Peter's Church and to scholarships. Oktoberfest begins at 4, and live music begins at 6:30.
The Echo Open Air Market and Corn Maze will take place that same afternoon, they'll have polka musicians to set the atmosphere, and Kiwanis president Michael Duffy says a mule-drawn covered wagon from Equine Excellence will provide transportation between For children, an inflatable obstacle course and kids activities. Tickets are $15 and include three tokens for use at the event and local restaurants. If you purchase tickets before Saturday, you get an extra token for use at the event. You can also purchase tokens at the day. Tickets are available at businesses in Echo, Stanfield, Hermiston and Pendleton. You can visit the facebook page for Echo Kiwanis Oktoberfest

School Board work session
Oct. 20, 2017
Monday, the Hermiston School Board has a work session. They’ll be talking facilities planning for their study items. The meeting also includes a school presentation and a look at the coming events calendars. That meeting and work session begins at 6:30 Monday at Highland Hills Elementary.

Linkage Fair tonight
Oct. 19, 2017
A reminder that today is the Great Oregon Shakout – and shakeouts taking place across the country, so be prepared for earthquake and emergency drills today. Also happening at a local school today…it’s the third annual Linkage Fair for the Hermiston School District. The fair helps provide a bridge between agencies with families, from counseling services to basic needs like food and shelter.
Maria Duron with the Hermiston School District says The Linkage Fair will take place from 5 to 7 tonight in the commons at Sunset Elementary School. This is the third annual event, and it’s the first time it’s being held in the fall.
Booths will be set up for families to drop in and pick and choose what organizations to talk with. Childcare will be provided, and food will be available. They’ll also have translation services. The whole event is at no cost to families thanks to donations. It’s open to community members and families from surrounding areas as well.
You can contact the Hermiston School District for more information.

Schools, businesses mark Great Oregon Shake Out
Oct. 18, 2017
Tomorrow is the Great Oregon Shake Out, and local schools are participating. In the Hermiston School district, schools will hold drills and practice the “drop, cover, and hold on” procedure in the case of an earthquake. They’ll also start conversations students can continue at home.
"We would like to encourage families to sit down and talk about what is it they would do in the event of an emergency - not just an earthquake but any kind of event," said Maria Duron, communications officer for the district.
School officials and educators are encouraging families to talk about different scenarios, from how would you react to an earthquake if you were in a vehicle, what do you do at home.
Across the district, they’ll be doing the drills on Thursday, and across the state, about 600,000 people expected to join the Oregon Shake Out.
Althea Rizzo, with Oregon Emergency Management, says just like people dealing with hurricanes, you need to have enough supplies to make it on your own for two weeks if a major earthquake occurs.
"It's simply going to take time to get any kind of response effort up and running," she said.
Rizzo says after a major earthquake, driving will be difficult due to damaged roads and bridges, and communications may be out. Families should have response plans for how to travel, reunite, and communicate.
It’s not too late to register your organization and participate in the Great Oregon Shakeout: visit shakeout.org/Oregon for more information, including recommended earthquake safety and an earthquake guide for people with disabilities.

Fire strike team heads to Santa Cruz
Oct. 18, 2017
The fire strike team from Union and Umatilla counties moving location but still helping fight wildfires. The local team, along with teams from Washington County and Linn/Benton counties, being reassigned to assist with the Bear Fire in Santa Cruz. The team includes firefighters and equipment from Umatilla County Fire District 1 and Pendleton Fire and headed out on Friday with three other strike teams from across the state.
Two of the Oregon strike teams – Mario County and Jackson/Josephine counties – already being demobilized to head back to their home stations. Oregon strike teams in southern California will remain as long as that area is under a red flag warning – officials expect at least through the coming weekend.

Umatilla County fire crews head to California
Oct. 16, 2017
Fire crews from Eastern Oregon headed to California. The strike crew made up of firefighters from Umatilla and Union counties. fight fires burning near Chino in Southern California. The teams leaving around 11 Friday night and including brush fire engines from Hermiston, Pendleton, and Union County. The crews responding to California’s request for five strike teams from Oregon. They join 10 other teams in California, working on 24-hour work cycles to protect home sand other structures.

CDC campaign still seeking participants
Oct. 16, 2017
If you’ve had the CDC come by your house in the past few weeks but haven’t participated in The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey – they’re probably be back.
Study Manager Janis Eklund says they’re still looking for another 100 participants from Umatilla County – only, they can’t take volunteers. A research and data collection service for the CDC, NHANES selected Umatilla County as one o its 15 counties this year. A random, scientific sampling picked out about 460 people in the county as potential participants, and Eklund says their goal is to have 320 participate in the survey because each one of those represents thousands of others of a similar age across the country.
The NHANES survey Mobile Examination Unit is currently at the Umatilla County Fairgrounds here in Hermiston, where it will be for about another month. For more information, you can visit the website cdc.gov/nhanes or contact the Umatilla County Health Department.

Fairgrounds parking lot work
Oct. 16, 2017
Speaking of the former fairgrounds, work continuing on the demolition and parking lot construction for the Hermiston School District.
"We are actually running a little ahead of schedule there," Interim Superintendent Tricia Mooney says. "The timeline has that completed at the end of April, but we're actually running ahead of that."
The project being funded through a “spring correction” in funding from the state. Hoeft Hall and Thompson Hall will remain – one building for storage warehouse and one for the transition program. The combination paved and gravel parking lot will serve Hermiston High School.

School District report cards released
Oct. 13, 2017
Final school district report cards sent home to schools and districts and released to the public yesterday.
Jon Wiens, with the Oregon Department of Education, says the report cards give you a lot of information about local schools, from attendance ratings to score performance. They are not, however, doing a specific score for each school this year - because they're in the process of changing to a new system that will be in place next year.
In Hermiston, good news in English Language Arts, and not quite as good news in mathematics. Overall, 52 percent of students in the Hermiston district met proficiency for their grade level in English, and 42 percent for math. At the high school level – 73 percent of HHS juniors met standards in English, a 10 percent increase from last year, but in math…. Only 28 percent of students scored proficient – and that’s an 11 percent increase since last year. In Umatilla, superintendent Heidi Sipe says We have seen tremendous student growth at the elementary and high schools and are reviewing data to replicate that same success in student growth at the middle school. The Morrow County School District coming in above the state average across the board.
To find report cards for any specific school, follow this link, select the school district from the drop down menu, then download the report card for the specific school.

Heating fires on the rise
Oct. 13, 2017
This is fire prevention week, and with both a chimney fire and a brush fire reported this week, Fire Marshal Tom Bohm says it’s a good time for a reminder.
"This time of year, it seems to pick up," Bohm said. "Structure fires seem to pick up, and it's mainly due to heating."
The fire last night reported in the flue of a chimney that hadn’t been cleaned before use as we get into the colder months. Scott Goff, Eastern Oregon’s deputy fire marshal, says that fire is an important reminder of the risks and prevention efforts.
"It emphasizes the point that folks needs to get out there, inspect their heating sources and get those cleaned out," he said.
Bohm recommends following a home safety checklist to make sure your home is ready for winter heating before turning on the furnace – including making sure your filter is clean and you have at least six inches of space between the baseboard and any furniture – including beds and couches.
The main focus for this year’s National Fire Prevention Week is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” Goff says that means taking a look around the house and have a plan in case an exit is blocked, such as having a door and an operable window.
And, during fire prevention week, Bohm announcing he will retire in February. Goff will take over Bohm’s position. Bohm began his career in the fire service in 1977. He’s served as Hermiston’s fire marshal since 2004.
For now, however, Bohm is continuing as fire marshal and cautioning all local residents to get a burn permit before burning and run through the home safety checklist to prevent fires this season.

HHS hosts FAFSA workshop
Oct. 13, 2017
On Saturday, Hermiston High School is hosting a FAFSA Day on Saturday, October 14, 8:30-2:00. Experienced individuals will be on hand to assist students and their parents with this application. Students from surrounding schools are welcome to come as well.
HHS seniors have received a post card with their appointment on it, items listed on the post card must be in hand to fill out the FAFSA, if HHS students have completed their FAFSA, they may disregard the appointment.

Pedestrian struck by vehicle on 395
Oct. 12, 2017
A man struck by a vehicle yesterday afternoon. Police have not released the name of the man struck just before 2 yesterday afternoon on highway 395 north of Hermiston. The man had been crossing at or near Bensel Road, and the highway was closed during the emergency response, which included Life Flight. The man suffering serious injuries in the low-speed crash, and the driver of the vehicle has been cooperating with police. Oregon State Police is in charge of the investigation.
The accident coming less than a week after Hermiston Police Department announced it was beginning a zero tolerance policy for pedestrians jaywalking across Highway 395.

Flu season begins
Oct. 12, 2017
Umatilla County Public Health and the Oregon Health Authority both speaking out today about the start of flu season – and that this year might be worse than it has been the last few years.
Jim Setzer, Umatilla County Public Health Director, says this year they’re looking at a virulent strain of the influenza virus with severe symptoms, so they’re encouraging people to get the flu vaccine.
At the peak of the flu season, 3 percent of patients in emergency rooms have flu symptoms, and right now that number is at 1 percent.Doctor Ann Thomas, with the Oregon Health Authority, says that means flue season is arriving and you should look at getting a flu shot. It takes two weeks after you get the shot for the vaccine to take effect.
The Oregon Health Authority saying they have already had 22 positive flu tests from hospitals across the state – they begin tracking the flu the first week of October each year.
To help prevent influenza, you can stay home and limit contact with others if you are sick, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and wash hands with soap and water.

CDC, School testing on Odds & Ends
Oct. 11, 2017
Have you been visited by the CDC in the past few weeks? Do you want to know more about the trailers on the old fairgrounds or what NHANES is all about? Want to know more about the most recent standardized tests – Smarter Balanced – in our schools in the region? Jennifer talks with InterMountain ESD Superintedent Mark Mulvihill, Umatilla County Health Director Jim Setzer and NHANES Study Manager Janis Eklund in today’s Odds and Ends program. Listen here.


Warming station needs volunteers
Oct. 11, 2017
It feels like fall outside, the weather is getting colder, and the Hermiston warming station only has six more volunteer training sessions before the emergency shelter opens.
Coordinator Trish Rossell says they’re looking for any adults willing to give time to help those in need.
"If you're an adult and thinking about maybe giving back to the community, donate your time," Rossell says. "That is what we most need: More than socks, more than a check, I need willing, capable, compassionate people."
The warming station provides emergency, overnight shelter for people to sleep during the winter months, and they need seven volunteers per night. The volunteers work in shifts of either two or three people, and for this season, they’ll run every night from Nov. 20 to February 28
"We find that being open every night during those months, the consistency allows our people to become more stable,and find a permanent arrangement," she said.
Rose-ell says the people who use the warming station come from the community and may not fit the typical “homeless” mold.
"These are not necessarily people who are unwilling to work," she said. "We have sometimes served entire families who have just fallen on hard times, so we're happy to help them for a couple of nights until they can get back on their feet."
The volunteer trainings remaining are this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and then Oct. 22, Monday, Oct. 23, and Thursday, Oct. 26. The training is two hours long and volunteers must complete one training session. Morning, afternoon, and evening trainings are available. You can call 541-289-2150 to register.


Fundraiser for Echo student tonight
Oct. 10, 2017
A fundraiser in Echo to help a fifth-grade student diagnosed with a brain tumor. The family has been traveling back and forth to Seattle for treatment.
"Maddy's really been a trooper through all this - she hasn't wanted to miss a single day of school," says Echo Schools Superintendent Raymon Smith. "We want to try and step up as a community to help."
Smith says they’re hosting a spaghetti feed tonight at the school to raise money for the family. It goes along with a double home volleyball match with Helix and Nixyawaii, and both local schools have agreed to partner with the feed so all the money raised will go to the Thomas family for medical and transportation bills. All materials have been donated, and it’ll start at 5:30.
It is also homecoming week in Echo. You can contact the Echo School District for more information.

Burglary and Pursuit in Irrigon
Oct. 10, 2017
Two people arrested in last week’s police chase and burglary. On Thursday afternoon, Morrow County Sheriff’s Officer responding to a possible burglary in Irrigon that resulted in a police pursuit. The Sheriff’s office terminating the chase due to danger to the public – but the Umatilla Police Department was called out on pursuit of the same vehicle seven minutes later. The two suspects eventually arrested by Washington State Patrol and the vehicle reported on fire. 26-year-old Amber Cravens and 34-year-old Brandon Ulrey, both of Yakima, lodged in Benton County jail in Washington. The Morrow County Sheriff’s Office has filed charges of first-degree burglary, second-degree theft, and felony elude on the duo. The case is pending additional charges from the sheriff’s office, Umatilla Police and Washington State Patrol.

HHS marks testing day
Oct. 10, 2017
This is homecoming week at Hermiston High School. They have spirit weeks, a day off on Friday – it’s a statewide in-service day – and on Wednesday, it’s high school testing day: all sophomores will take the PSAT, juniors will take the ASVAB, and the seniors will take the SAT. Freshmen will have a career opportunity day.
Hermiston’s interim superintendent, Tricia Mooney, says testing day is offered at no cost to the students. The district pays for the SAT, the military pays for the ASVAB and the Oregon Department of Education pays for the PSAT. It’s designed to help students pursuing higher education.
Because this week is homecoming week, the high school also tailoring spirit days to make sure it wasn’t a distraction – Wednesday’s dress-up theme is “flannel day.” The district is asking that all high school students have a nutritious breakfast tomorrow morning.


City Council votes on Police Union contact
Oct. 9, 2017
The Hermiston City Council meeting tonight. On the agenda, the police union contract. That is expected for a vote tonight. Although negotiations on the contract started at the end of 2016, they weren’t completed until Sept. 26th of this year. The current union contact expired on June 30.
Changes to the contract include allowing 12-hour shifts, expanding the definition of sick leave and changes to health insurance premiums. It also includes a 2.75% mandated for this year and next year. The union has already approved the agreement, and the council has their chance tonight.
The regular meeting begins at 7 tonight at Hermiston City Hall. The council will also tour the Harkenrider Center tonight in lieu of a work session.

HPD starts jaywalking campaign
Oct. 6, 2017
Distracted Driving changes starting this month, but now, an additional warning from the Hermiston Police Department: Police Chief Jason Edmiston says they’re taking an additional step from the distracted driving campaign and also this month starting a zero tolerance for pedestrians jaywalking on Highway 395.
The chief says the department has received several complaints of pedestrians obstructing traffic on highway 395 – which can be a disorderly conduct violation. Edmiston says the department is dedicating resources to assist with the obvious problem people are reporting.

9-1-1 outage
Oct. 6, 2017
A 911 outage affecting US Cellular customers in Umatilla County, as well as other counties in Eastern Oregon, yesterday. Service out much of the day and all of the afternoon before being restored just after 5 yesterday. The cause of the outage is unknown.

Will-planning seminar
Oct. 6, 2017
70 percent of Americans have not written a plan saying what will happen to their belongings after they die, and, of the 30 percent who do – many have out-dated materials that need to be reviewed.
"Whenever they go back and actually read what the plan says, 70 percent of them don't like the contents," financial expert Chuck Knox says. "Circumstances have changed, life has changed, people have changed... and when they really go back and read it, they want to make some changes."
Knox is leading a “Free Will and Estate Planning” workshop this Sunday at Hermiston Assembly of God. The session begins at 6 and will cover why you should think about estate planning and how you get started. Knox says you don’t have to do a lot of homework before the workshop, and they will have worksheets and workbooks available.
"The program's not designed to be a legal program. It's designed to be motivational, educational, help you understand the options you have and the choices you have," he said.
Knox will also be making appointments for one-on-one counseling on Monday and Tuesday.
Knox is the vice president of Salem-based Church Extension Plan. He travels across the country presenting about will and estate planning. For more times and information, you can contact Hermiston Assembly of God.
That event is this Sunday. A reminder of other events coming up, this afternoon is the women veteran’s event at Holiday Inn Express here in Hermiston, tomorrow in Boardman, the Morrow County Harvest Festival at the SAGE Center, in Lexington, the Red Barn Fun Run – all proceeds go to the Heppner/Ione Cross Country Team - and, in Pendleton, Project Community Connect and the Umatilla and Morrow county Veterans Stand Down

Umatilla County talks housing
Oct. 5, 2017  -- The cities of Hermiston and Pendleton aren't the only local entities talking housing this year.Umatilla County – and the state of Oregon - working to bring people together to figure out some solutions.
"We have a housing problem," Umatilla County Commissioner Bill Elfering said. "We need to get the housing puzzle solved."
Elfering says the Hermiston area runs about 98 percent occupancy, which means only 2 percent of homes are open for sale or rent at a time. Elfering says it’s a good problem to have because it’s based in economic development, but it is still an issue.
Next week – actually one week from today – Umatilla County hosting Kim Travis with Oregon Housing and Community Services to talk about the statewide housing plan.
Umatilla County Planner Bob Walder says they’re looking for input from leaders affiliated with housing to review housing data and look for strategies to improve housing in Oregon. That session will be Oct. 12 at Stafford Hansel Governance center in Hermiston. You can Contact Kim Travis for more info
Kim.travis@oregon.gov

Harvest Festival returns Saturday
Oct. 5, 2017
This Saturday, an annual event bringing games, vendors, activities and more to the SAGE Center in Boardman. It’s the Morrow County Harvest Festival, and SAGE Center Director Heather Cannell says there’s a lot going on from pumpkin painting to mule-drawn carriage rides. They’ll also include a photo booth and beer and wine tasting, and admission to the SAGE Center is free.
For more information, you can call the SAGE Center – that’s 481-7243 – or visit the website or facebook pages for the SAGE Center.

Housing changes coming to Hermiston
Oct. 4, 2017
The City of Hermiston is working to entice developers. Hermiston Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says they’re changing zoning to stimulate housing development.
"People are building houses currently, but we hope that these changes will help developers realize more profit when developing in Hermiston, so, hopefully, we'll attract additional housing developers to come to the area," he said.
Morgan says in the mid-2000s, the city consistently had 100 housing permits or more a year. That fell during the recession, and it hasn’t picked up as much as the city would like – and they’re seeing an increase in average housing costs.
To stimulate housing, the city changing zoning to allow for smaller lot sizes – meaning more houses in a subdivision – and changing what percentage of a lot can be developed, as well as easing some development standards.
Morgan says they’re hoping more houses and lower housing costs will attract commuters from Benton and Franklin counties in Washington to purchase homes in Hermiston. You can see the new standards at the city’s website. The changes take effect on Oct. 25.

Student-built home sells
Oct. 4, 2017
Speaking of new homes, the Hermiston School District announcing yesterday the sale of Fieldstone Crossing #3, the third of eleven student-built homes in the Fieldstone Crossing subdivision. The home going to Taylor and Brittany Smith, and Brittany Smith is an elementary teacher for the Hermiston School District. They’ll turn over the key in a brief ceremony this afternoon. That starts at 4 at Fieldstone Crossing #3, 875 Angus Court in Hermiston, adjacent to Armand Larive Middle School.

Veterans Stand Down, Project Community Connect this weekend
Oct. 4, 2017
From new homes to the homeless.
Coming up this weekend Project Community Connect and the Umatilla and Morrow County Veteran Stand Down. The event running from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Pendleton Convention Center and open to anyone from Umatilla and Morrow counties. It’s a combination of two events, both designed to connect community members with services. Glen Scott, Veterans' Service Officer for Umatilla County, says The Veterans Stand Down is a big benefit for connecting veterans with resources and information.
"Sometimes veterans may not be aware of different benefits that are available or may not have time to make it to a veterans services office during the weak," Scott said. "A weekend event like this might be advantageous to them, find out what is available for them."
The veteran Stand Down focusing on health care, benefits applications, employment services, basin needs items, and mental health counseling, including PTSD and MST. It’s being held at the same time as Project Community Connect. That event reaches out specifically to those in the community homeless or at risk of being homeless. They’re providing employment and education services, haircuts, legal help vision care, pet care, and health screenings and insurance application help. Clothing and hygiene supplies and a free meal also available. You can contact CAPECO for more information about project community connect - That number is 1-800-752-1139 – and for the veterans stand down information, call 541-276-1926. They are also looking for more volunteers

There’s also an open house celebrating women veterans. That’s from 3 to 6 this Friday at the Holiday Inn Express in Hermiston. Snacks, beverages, gifts, and networking, as well as an opportunity to have questions answered by the Oregon Women Veterans Coordinator and see the “I Am Not Invisible” photo exhibit. It’s open to all women who have served in the military, sponsored by the morrow and Umatilla county veterans services offices and the Oregon Department of Veterans affairs. You can contact the veterans services office for Umatilla or Morrow counties for more information.

HHS grad moving to Tri-Cities
Oct. 3, 2017
Hermiston High School graduation heading to the Toyota Center in June.
Last night, the Hermiston School Board of Education voting almost unanimously to host graduation on Thursday, June 7, at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.
Board Chair Karen Sherman saying the voices that carried the most weight were the graduating seniors, their parents, and school staff. In the most recent round of surveys, the district only considered continuing at Hermiston High School and limiting seats or moving to the Toyota Center in Kennewick.
Nate Rivera, the interim manager of the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center, says they’re making plans to have the district re-consider the rodeo arena at EOTEC for 2019.
"The goal is to have Hermiston High School graduation hosted in Hermiston," Rivera said. "We're going to do everything we can to have a realistic operations plan and budget for them to consider for the following year's graduation."
Rivera, who is serving as the interim manager until December, says they would have been able to have the arena ready for graduation this year, but they did not have enough time to put together full cost estimates before the district deadline last month.
The district has said hosting graduation at an outdoor arena would increase costs because they would have to prep the high school gym as a backup - costing thousands in employee work hours.

Umatilla Chamber wins grant
Oct. 3, 2017
Good news for the Umatilla Chamber of Commerce – and development in that city. Chamber director Lori Kimbel says the chamber received at 16-hundred-dollar grant from Travel Oregon.
"We will be able to hire a consultant to create a destination development plan, find out what direction we'd like to go to bring tourists into the Umatilla area," Kimbel said.
Umatilla’s grant is for “creation of a destination development plan” to identity travel markets, map assets and prioritize product development. KImbel says they already have a consultant and could see work happening this month.
Travel Oregon awarded $400-thousand dollars in 29 grants across the state, all for local tourism projects that must be completed before October of 2018. Only two directly impact northeast Oregon: Umatilla’s grant and one to the Eastern Oregon Visitor’s Association.
We’ll have more with Lori Kimbel on Friday’s Odds & Ends program.

In Her Shoes tomorrow
Oct. 2, 2017
October is domestic violence awareness month, and it comes at a time when A woman is battered every 15 seconds in the United States. That’s from the FBI, and Kathryn Chaney, with Domestic Violence Services, says it’s an issue in Umatilla and Morrow counties, and they're raising awareness through “In Her Shoes,” and it’s happening all day tomorrow at Good Shepherd Medical Center. It’s a simulation for what it’s like to be in a domestic violence situation – and what the options are.
Good Shepherd health educator Kathy Thomas says the scenarios are all based on real situations. The scenarios are drop-in and you should give yourself at least 30 minutes, if not an hour, to complete it if you will be going by. They’ll also have classes going on throughout the day on what is domestic violence, why does she state, children and teen dating violence, sexual assault 101 and elder abuse 101. Trained advocates will be available to answer questions, and they will have food available for participants in the scenarios or the classes as well. All are free of charge. In Her shoes runs from 7 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon tomorrow.
You can contact Domestic Violence Services or Good Shepherd Health Education for more information.

3 Councils have meetings Tuesday
Oct. 2, 2017
Also, tomorrow, three council meetings in three area communities.
The Umatilla City Council meeting focuses on a resolution in recognition of Boyd Sharp, an active and educated community leader in the city of Umatilla. Council will also vote on declaring surplus city property – they’re selling an older police vehicle – and on a gambling license application for Russ’s Place. That begins at 7 at Umatilla City Hall.
Tomorrow, a meeting of the Stanfield City Council. That begins at 7 in the evening in the City Council Chambers at 150 West Coe Avenue. On the agenda, an ordinance regulating mobile food units and vendors. They’ll also consider changing the time of Stanfield municipal court and have an update on the Odor issues from hoosier lane,.
The Boardman City Council meeting also begins at 7, that one at Boardman City Hall. On the agenda, the Columbia Avenue Pathways Project.

Help needed to ID Morrow County poachers
Sept. 27, 2017
Oregon State Police meanwhile asking for help identifying two people caught on camera trespassing on private property in Morrow County.

heppner poacher

After the photo was taken, at least three elk were illegally killed between Sept. 16 and Sept. 23 – and much of the meat was left to waste. Troopers saying the two people in the photo are believed to be involved, as well as a third person. The suspects were camped in the area of Martin Prairie in the Heppner district. If anyone has any information, they’re asked to contact Oregon State Police Trooper Michael Mayer at 541-561-7581. You can also notify the TIP hotline at 800-452-7888 or TIP@state.or.us,

NHANES gets ready
Sept. 26, 2017
Trailers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have arrived at the former Umatilla County Fairgrounds – and they’re almost open for business. The trailers make up the Mobile Exam Center, and its where health professionals are conducting the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES.
Janice Eklund, NHANES Study Manager, says the biggest issue they’ve run into is disbelief.
"In this day and age there are scams and those things happen, but we are legitimate," Eklund said.
Umatilla County one of only a handful selected from across the country to participate in NHANES this year. Eklund says will open to participants on Thursday for a variety of surveys.
Participants selected by random scientific sampling. You should have received a post card and a magnet in the mail if your home has been selected. Although they’ll open to selected participants on Thursday, crews are still out interviewing potential participants in the community.
Find out more at www.cdc.gov/NHANES

HPD charges 2 with theft
Sept. 26, 2017
Two thieves arrested by Hermiston Police Department– thanks to an alert resident.
Forty minutes before midnight on Sunday, a Hermiston resident called 911 and reported he was following a vehicle where a suspect had stolen a $17-hundred chain saw from his porch. Hermiston officers responded to Jack in the Box, where the vehicle was in the drive-thru and discovered the suspects driving a vehicle reported stolen out of Umatilla. 33-year-old Jesus Vidales and 35-year-old Edilberto Ramirez, both of Hermiston, arrested and lodged at the Umatilla County Jail on charges of first-degree theft and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Police chief Jason Edmiston says the Hermiston resident who called 911 did the right thing by reporting the crime and allowing officers to engage the suspects.

Man identified in officer-involved shooting
Sept. 25, 2017
Oregon State Police and Morrow County District Attorney’s Office continuing the investigation into an officer-involved shooting on Friday just outside of Boardman.
At about 1:50 Friday morning, the deputy stopped for a disabled vehicle on Interstate 84 westbound near exit 164 – that’s the Boardman exit. The deputy encountered a 26-year-old adult male armed with a firearm, later identified as Efren Hurtado, of Boardman. Shots were fired, although the release does not state the exact series of events.
The deputy was uninjured, and the adult male was transported to the hospital suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. At the request of the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office, the Umatilla/Morrow County Major Crime Team was activated. The deputy is not being identified during the investigation. More information will be released as appropriate.

Additional wolf funding for Umatilla County
Sept. 25, 2017
More than $60,000 in additional grant coming to Umatilla County’s wolf committee this fall – that will go toward non-lethal wolf control, to help out local farmers and ranchers affected by thriving wolf packs. This summer, four livestock kills confirmed by wolves in Umatilla County alone. County Commissioner Larry Givens says the grant is earmarked for non-lethal tactics only and will go to specific producers – the farmers and ranchers impacted by the wolf attacks.
"It will go to the producers...their cost for transportation and fuel and salaries for someone to go up and check on the animals," Givens said. "It's a lot of work to keep those animals safe."
The money can be used as reimbursement for some of those costs or for things like additional fencing and increased patrols. Givens says it will go out around December, once they have reports from the producers on the impacts of the wolves this year.
Producers will submit reports on how many hours they’ve had to put in patrolling areas to keep wolves away and how many losses they’ve experienced.

School Board talks grad venue - again
Sept. 25, 2017
The Hermiston School District is talking graduation venue survey results on Monday during its special meeting and work session. That will be at West Park Elementary School. The meeting also expected to include the establishment of a Farm to School grant fund, a presentation from staff at west park, and a motion to change the October meeting from Oct 9 to Oct 2. The work session begins at 6:30 Monday at West Park Elementary.

City Council considers EOTEC
Sept. 25, 2017
The Hermiston City Council also meeting tonight in a work session and regular meeting. They kick off discussions with a comparison of the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center and the Hermiston Conference Center. Off The city has opted to take over management of the Hermiston Conference Center at the end of this year, and they’ll be discussing how the two event centers can work together. That work session begins at 6 at Hermiston City Hall . The regular meeting begins at 7 and includes a proclamation for first responders appreciation week, committee vacancy announcements, and multiple ordinances and resolutions regarding zoning changes designed to increase housing construction. Find the agenda here.

Hermiston man arrested after vehicle assault
Sept. 22, 2017
A Hermiston man arrested after attempting to run two men over with a vehicle. 57-year-old Michael Alan Park, from Hermiston, assaulted two men at a marijuana growing operations then allegedly tried to run them over with his vehicle. A release from the Umatilla County Sheriff’s office says Parker was asked multiple times to leave but refused. Parker began fighting with the men then tried to run over one of the victims, hit a fence and became stuck. The victims left the property to call police and returned to find several windows broken and marijuana plants damaged. Earlier in the day, police escorted Parker from a marijuana store in Pendleton after he caused a disturbance.
Parker arrested and charged with multiple counts of assault, criminal mischief, and menacing. The case is still under investigation.

Umatilla County promotes planning director
Sept. 22, 2017
Umatilla County has a new planning director – and they’ve opened a new position for a new department.
Umatilla County Commissioner Larry Givens says they’ve promoted Bob Walder as the new Umatilla County Planning Director. He’s the former assistant planning director and now moves into the spot replacing Tamra Mabbott, who left the county to take a new role in the city of Umatilla.
"Bob is well known with the staff, he's well liked with the staff, he's an excellent planner," Givens said. "He's done a great job, and we look forward to having him in that position."
Along with the new planning director, they’re also making some changes: and splitting up planning and economic development. To match the new department, they’re hiring for a new department head: an economic development tourism coordinator.
The county is also hiring for another planner to take Walder’s position. Information on county employment available at the county’s website.

Family Health and Fitness Day: TOMORROW
Sept. 22, 2017
Coming up, tomorrow at Hermiston High School, the annual Family Health & Fitness Day. Sponsored by the Healthy Communities Coalition, Good Shepherd medical center, and numerous community partners, it’s a day of free screenings, free information, and free activities.
"I think we're excited about the variety of things that are going on," said Angie Treadwell, SNAP-Ed coordinator for OSU Extension. "There's something for every age group - if you have young children, teens, if you're in the senior age category - I think we've got something for you."
says they will again have cooking classes and snacks available, alongside free health, dental, and vision screenings, wellness exams and children’s games and activities, including the Teddy Bear clinic. Treadwell and Catie Brennamon, with Good Shepherd Health Education say one of the exhibits – more than 10-foot-tall-and12-foot-wide will be hard to miss: Nolan the Colon.
Family Health and Fitness Day begins at 9 tomorrow morning at Hermiston High School. That runs until 2.

Alvarez takes 8 years settlement
Sept. 21, 2017
A settlement in a Morrow County homicide case.
18-year-old David Alvarez facing homicide charges in the shooting of Evencio Salas Birrueta of Irrigon on Sept. 11, 2016. A settlement conference ending with a charge of second-degree manslaughter and a sentencing of 100 months in department of corrections. Morrow County District Attorney Justin Nelson says the settlement took into account strengths and weaknesses of the case – especially a primary witness changing his story multiple times - as well as feedback from the victim’s family. The press release says the shooting was related to a debt the victim owed Alvarez. Alvarez did flee the state after the shooting only to turn himself in in Longview, Washington, days later. Nelson says while the crime took place in the City of Boardman, it took the effort of the Morrow/Umatilla County Major Crime team and all staff at the morrow county district attorney’s office to prosecute.

Burn ban lifted in Umatilla County
Sept. 21, 2017
Umatilla County today lifting the non-agricultural burn ban in the unincorporated areas of the county. Burn day protocol is still in effect, and does require a permit. You can find daily burn day determinations on the Facebook page f or Umatilla County Smoke Management, and you can contact the Umatilla County Planning Department for more information and permit applications. In Umatilla County Fire District 1, no burning allowed June 1st to Sept 30. The burn season for Fire District 1 is Oct. 1 to 31.

Cason's Place open house Saturday
Sept. 21, 2017
This weekend, the open house and grand opening of Cason’s Place, a nonprofit grief support center. John Nitz, vice president of Cason’s place, says the program serves all of Eastern Oregon and focuses on children and families suffering loss.
"What we're trying to do is bring a system of support that naturalizes or makes the loss of a parent, a child, into a more normal realm," Nitz says. "We're trying to give the support they need to work through this time in their life."
Nitz says the program has been in planning for a number of years but his work with children in the Hermiston School District helped prompt the final push for Casein’s place over the past year as Hermiston students coped with multiple tragedies.
The center will provide group and individual support as well as coordinated trained volunteers to help families handle grief. Nitz, who works for the Hermiston School District, says schools do a great job with immediate crisis response, but some children may need support after the crisis team leaves.
"The thing about grief is it can last weeks to years," Nitz says. "We want to be there in the second half, for the long-term for these kids."
Casein’s Place focuses on children but does have programs for entire families as well as for adults. The new facility, a former hospice building, has rooms with different themes to help children express grief, whether through anger or art or anything in between. The open House is Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the new facility, 1416 SE Court Avenue, in Pendleton. Visit casonsplace.org for more information.


BMCC prepares for ribbon cutting, Ag-Ed banquet ready to go
Sept. 20, 107
Blue Mountain Community College preparing for a grand opening this month, this one next week for the Facility for Agricultural Resource Management – that’s the FARM building. FARM is the third and final of the bond-funded projects, joining the Precision Irrigated Ag facility here in Hermiston and the Workforce Training Center in Boardman. FARM is set for a grand opening from 4:30 to 6:30 on Thursday, Sept. 28. Along with the grand opening, they’re hosting an Art about Ag exhibit in the Betty Feves Memorial Art Gallery, to coincide. That exhibit will run Monday through Thursday and by appointment from Sept. 25 through October 26. They have scheduled an opening reception at the gallery in Pioneer Hall for 4:30 to 6:30 on Sept. 28, so anyone interested in attending both the FARM and the Art about Agriculture events can attend both. You can contact BMCC for more information about either event.
Speaking of the irrigated ag facility, its one of the beneficiaries of a fundraiser this weekend: The Lions Ag-Ed Banquet and Auction. Preston Winn says the event will help fill in the gaps left in the bond funding.
The event also benefits the Hermiston Lions Club, which supports community programs and organizations. Doors open at 6 this Saturday for the Ag-Ed banquet and auction. That will be at the Hermiston Conference Center, including both live and silent auctions and a catered dinner by Sundance Grill. Tickets are $40You can purchase tickets at Good Shepherd, Kuhn Law Offices, the Hermiston Chamber or Commerce, or the BMCC Foundation office.
That same day, they’re also sponsoring the Don Horneck Memorial Fun Run and Walk. That 5K run/walk begins and ends at Hermiston High School. Registration begins at 7;30, and the run kicks off at 9


Semi strikes bus in Kennewick
Sept. 20, 107
Several people injured in Kennewick yesterday when a potato truck smashed into a Ben Franklin transit bus yesterday afternoon. Washington State Police release showing the driver of the potato truck was from Umatilla – that’s Zurisaday Moya-Jimenez, age 33. Reports saying Moya-Jimenez failed to stop at a red light on Washington State Route 395 and struck the bus. His 1994 Freightliner Potato Truck totaled and impounded. At least six people injured and transported to hospitals in the tri-cities. Reports saying the injuries are serious but non life-threatening. Moya-Jimenez has said the brakes failed on the truck, which is why it would not stop. The highway closed during emergency response – and potato clean up. The case is still under investigation.

Men arrested for burglary, warrants
Sept. 19, 2017
Three men arrested in Irrigon yesterday – two were suspects in a burglary; the third had warrants from other counties.
It started with a call of suspicious activity in Irrigon around 5:40 in the morning yesterday, Morrow County deputies and an officer from the Boardman Police Department responded. They picked up Jesus Concepcion Llamas and Brandon Linn Wilson, both 35 and both from Irrigon, on charges of first-degree theft and second-degree burglary. Wilson also facing charges for providing false information to police and warrants out of Lane and Douglas counties. A third man, 53-year-old Larry Bush, also arrested on warrants from Oregon Parole and Probation Board as well as a warrant from Washington for escape/community custody. All three lodged at the Umatilla County Jail.

Depot negotiations move forward
Sept. 19, 2017
Negotiations continuing to move forward on the transfer of the Umatilla Chemical Depot property to the Columbia Development Authority. In addition to national guard training, the depot property is slated for a combination of nature preserve and economic development, both commercial and industrial. Umatilla County Commissioner Bill Elfering, who sits on the CDA, says they’ve had a few “hiccups” and are now looking at cultural preservation, including sites from the Oregon Trail and a prehistoric fire ring.
Elfering says the cultural survey also turned up some materials from arrowhead carving, and additional cultural surveys will be done.
All negotiations must be completed before that date. Elfering says the big one for the Columbia Development Authority was the water issue, which has been set. Now they’re still working on a final cost for the property: the army says $1 million, and the offer from the CDA is – free because it removes the government from maintenance obligations while allowing for economic development on the depot property.

Elephant's Trunk auction looms
Sept. 19, 2017
Coming up this weekend, one of Stanfield’s most well known buildings heads to the auction block. The Watts Building at 105 S. Main Street – better known by its last tenant, The Elephant’s Truck, has been on the market. Now, this Sunday, its slated to be sold at auction. City Manager Blair Larsen says its an important part of the city’s downtown.
"It's a beautiful building," Larsen said. "It does need work, but but as that building goes, I really think the downtown of Stanfield goes. We need to do whatever we can to make sure it gets restored."
The Elephant’s Trunk ran for 15 years in Stanfield before its owner retired and closed it down almost three years ago. The large building remains one of the most visible in Stanfield, right on the corner of Coe and Main Street’s Highway 395. Before Sunday’s auction, From noon to 2, there is a preview for any interested bidders. Larsen says he’ll ask the city council during tonight’s meeting if - depending on how the auction goes – the bidder list could include the city.
The city council could decide not to authorize a price during the meeting tonight. That meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the city’s council chambers on Coe Avenue.
The Elephant’s Trunk auction on Sunday will take place inside the building. Also on the auction list, a vacant lot adjacent to Elephant’s Trunk and the property at 165 Coe. The auction itself begins at 2 p.m. You can contact Stuart Realty Group, 503-263-7253, for more information.

CDC trailers arrive in Hermiston
Sept. 18, 2017
Trailers from the Centers for Disease Control arriving at the former Umatilla County Fairgrounds over the weekend. It’s part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey – or NHANES – that will be taking place over the next few weeks. Umatilla County one of only a handful counties in the country participating in the health surveys. Results will go into tracking national health trends and dictating health policy.
Many selected participants should already have been contacted.

Pendleton police standoff ends in shooting
Sept. 18, 2017
A police standoff in Pendleton that ended in a gunshot on Sunday. A 42-year-old Pendleton man taken by Life Flight after a reported self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He had been engaged in a police standoff for several hours inside his home on the North Hill in Pendleton. It started with a domestic assault call from the man's wife on Sunday morning. She escaped, and police attempted to communicate with the man through the door. They did eventually obtain a search warrant and SWAT members entered the home, finding him with a gunshot wound to the head.

Hermiston narrows graduation venue search
Sept. 15, 2017
The Hermiston School District has narrowed the decision on the venue for graduation in June of 2018: to keeping it at Hermiston High School or move to the Toyota Center in Kennewick. Original surveys included options to host graduation at Kennison Field or at the rodeo arena at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center, but the one opened yesterday only has the two options.
The choice also changes the date for graduation. If the district stays at the high school, graduation will be Saturday, June 9. If they go with the Toyota Center, it will be Thursday June 7.
You can take the four-question survey by clicking here.


Children's rodeo brings cheers
Sept. 15, 2017
Yesterday, almost 50 students from across Eastern Oregon participated in the children’s rodeo, an event designed for special education students and put on by the InterMountain ESD and a whole team of volunteers.
"It's one of the most moving events that we do," ESD Superintendent Mark Mulvihill said. "It's kind of emotional because you see the happiness of these kids, and they're cheered on by everybody."
Mulvihill says participants this year came from all four counties within the ESD’s region. Maria Sanchez, of Boardman, attended with her son for the second year and says more parents and families should participate.
"My son is really proud and happy to come," she said. "It's exciting, and it's different. It's fun."
Three kids from Echo participated in the children’s rodeo, but the stands were full of cheering classmates: Echo took its kindergarten through fifth grade classes.
"It's a really special event that we can rally around all of our students," Second-grade teacher Billie Parker said. "Other schools don't get to do this, so it's fun for us to cheer for everyone."
Parker says its an annual tradition.
The children's rodeo has taken place for three decades.


Schools up across the region
Sept 14, 2017
Area school districts have passed the 10-day mark where enrollment numbers typically stabilize and kids who haven’t showed up – whether from moves or transfers or other issues – are removed from the rosters. After the dust has settled, most local districts – are up.
"There's obviously hot spots where enrollment is booming and there are hot spots where enrollment is static," said Mark Mulvihill, superintendent for the InterMountain ESD. Mulvihill says numbers are good overall for the region. The Morrow County School District is up 22 students from last year, coming in just more than 2,260 students while Umatilla, although a smaller district, also increased 22 students, up to 1,364.
As the largest district in our area, Hermiston has seen the largest increase: 119.
"We're up - that's good to see," said Interim Superintendent Tricia Mooney. "It's exciting to be part of a growing district: It gives us a lot of opportunities, definitely, but it also gives us a lot of growing pains."
Mooney says the growth is across the board. The smallest is the sophomore class at Hermiston High School at 386. That’s the only class less than 400 students. The fourth-grade class has 492 students.
Hermiston reporting 5,770 students as of Monday, just before the 10-day drop off. The Stanfield School District did see a decrease of 19 students this year, from 493 students last year to 474 this year, but its more stable than it has been in the past, and Mulvihill says even Pendleton is showing a large kindergarten class after years of declining enrollment.
"It's a sign of economic vitality in communities," Mulvihill said. "It's not great, and I'd like to see more, but it's a good, solid, good."
The growing enrollment trend continues at Blue Mountain Community College as well, and Mulvihill says it’s a good sign for the region.

Forest use restrictions drop
Sept 14, 2017
Public use restrictions on the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National forests dropping to phase B today. That allows use of campfires in designated recreation sties. Restrictions on chainsaws, internal combustion engines, generators and smoking remain in effect. Firewood cutting not allowed, and travel restrictions still prohibiting motor vehicles traveling off designated roads and trails. You can visit the website for the Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch for more information.

Board next steps in grad venue
Sept. 13, 2017
This morning, members of the Hermiston School Board meeting with district administration to begin the process of discussions – again – on this school year’s Hermiston High School Graduation.
"At this point in time, we're divided in the community as to what would be the best venue," Board member Karen Sherman says, adding she expected the Hermiston School Board to approve the district’s recommendation of hosting this school year’s graduation at the Toyota Center in Kennewick. Instead, the board voted 5-2 to again table t he decision after hearing pushback from the community about moving graduation out of Hermiston. Multiple community members spoke during last night’s meeting, and the majority supported working to keep graduation local.
Interim Superintendent Tricia Mooney says the 7-member board cares greatly about the community and its students.
"This is an emotional decision for our community, and the board members hear that and want to make the best decision for our community, for the district going forward," Mooney said. "No matter what decision is made, we're going to have people that are unhappy, and that's unfortunate."
Sherman says board members will meet with Mooney and other district officials and decide what the next steps will be.
"We need a little bit of think time," Sherman said. "We need to take some deep breaths, and we should be able to move forward with what information we think people need to know."
The board will revisit the issue with the community and are expected to vote again in October.
You can hear the full interview with Sherman and Mooney here.


Two jailed for hospital theft
Sept. 12, 2017
Two area residents are in jail after an attempted theft at Good Shepherd yesterday. 35-year-old Jonathan Price of Hermiston and 34-year-old Maria Martinez of Irrigon arrested and charged with first-degree theft. A release from the Hermiston Police Department says the duo attempted to steal two spools of copper wire – valued at $2,000 – from a storage building at Good Shepherd. A security employee found them, but they fled the scene before officers arrived. They were picked up just before 7 in the evening on Sunday and taken into custody. Price and Martinez are also suspects in a theft from a heating and cooling company north of Hermiston on the same day, and HPD says additional charges may come from the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office in that theft.

Riverside goes on lock out
Sept. 12, 2017
Boardman’s Riverside Junior/Senior High School went into lock-out for about 30 minutes yesterday morning because of an incident with police activity in the area.
Some reports saying the lock out was caused by a parent who threatened to “shoot” the school, but the parent telling police he said “sue” the school. During the lock out, all exterior doors were locked. Students and staff were able to go about business as usual. The lock out lifted just before noon.

School Board to vote on grad venue
Sept. 11, 2017
The Hermiston School District could decide the location of the 2018 graduation tonight, and administration is recommending… moving it to Kennewick. Last month, the board discussed results from a community survey and admin’s cost estimates and tabled the discussion. It’s listed as an action item on tonight’s agenda, and the recommendation district administration is presenting calls for changing the location of graduation to the Toyota Center in Kennewick for one year. It asks the district reassess after June of 2018 for potential option in Hermiston for graduation in 2019.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. instead of the usual 6:30. Find the full agenda here.
City Council increases franchise fees
The Hermiston City Council also meeting tonight. They’ll be considering increasing franchise fees in eight different utility areas –from Cascade Natural Gas to Charter Communications. The increase in franchise fees will help pay for improvements to the street network. That meeting begins at 7 at Hermiston City Hall, and you can click here for the full agenda.

Dedication postponed at Sunset
Sept. 7, 2017
The dedication for the new playground at Sunset Park scheduled for today has been postponed because of smoke and the closure of Interstate 84. A new date has not yet been set, but more information expected from Hermiston Parks and Recreation when that is scheduled.

Fire at Tillicum Inn
Sept. 7, 2017
Firefighters still at the top of the news today, but this time closer to home. Firefighters from multiple regional departments responding to the Tillicum Inn in Umatilla just before noon yesterday after a fire threatened the building on Sixth Street. All residents of the hotel evacuated around 11:40 in the morning, and firefighters battled the fire for about three hours through multiple rooms and attic space. Six rooms were damaged in the fire with smoke and water damage throughout the rest of the building, and two firefighters treated for heat exhaustion. No injuries reported in guests or employees of the hotel. Preliminary investigation suggesting the fire may have started because of maintenance work. Damage estimated at about $300,000.

Arrest made in student assault
Sept. 7, 2017
Last week, a student athlete reported a man accosted her while she was running, and yesterday, Hermiston police arresting 35-year-old Joel Cardenas, of Hermiston, in connection to the incident. He’s charged with first-degree sex abuse. Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says the incident was unfortunate for the victim, witnesses and members of the entire community, but it was through community information they were able to locate Cardenas and his vehicle. A release from the Hermiston Police Department saying the request for information was shared 540 times with more than 32,000 people viewing the information online. Edmiston says even though social media can be distracting with misinformation, it made a difference in this case.

Stanfield talks smell... again
Sept. 6, 2017
The Stanfield City Council last night talking again about a certain… smell lingering over the city this year. Odor issues from the 3D Idapro Solutions plant on Hoosier Lane the subject of many odor complaints since fires took out the scrubbers at the plant in February
Stanfield City Manager Blair Larsen says the company is on track to fix it, but the city isn’t satisfied with the current reductions. They are still gathering information about where the smell is the biggest problem. They’re encouraging residents to contact city hall with constructive criticism.
"if you call and leave a message and say, 'It smells bad, I'm at this address and this is the time,' then that's far more helpful," Larsen said. "We're doing what we can to collect that information and get it to the company."
The council discussing the odor issues last night, and Larson says they’ve also outlined the steps the city and company are taking to reduce the smell. Those are in this month’s newsletter, which you can find at city hall or at the Stanfield Public Library. Among other steps, the plant will not be running during Stanfield events – including home football games.
The city council still moving forward on modifications to the city’s nuisance ordinance. The council tabled the new ordinance last night for legal review, If approved, among other things, it would add teeth to the city’s case if 3D IdaPro does not resolve the odor issue.

HSD statement on DACA
Sept. 6, 2017
The Hermiston School District responding to the news the Trump Administration will dismantle the DACA program – that’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – a program offering protection for children brought into the country illegally.
The district’s statement, from interim superintendent Tricia Mooney, says
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Dreamer students and families that might be affected by today’s federal decision. We will monitor the well-being of our students while they are under our care and will provide support if necessary to make sure that all our students are able to maintain focus on their learning

Umatilla forming mural committee
Sept. 1, 2017
The city of Umatilla could be more colorful in the near future.
Mark Ribich, city councilman and chamber board member, is spearheading a mural initiative for downtown Umatilla. He says the idea came from feedback during Umatilla’s mid-week market.
"Through the summer, our goal was to get people out of their houses and downtown, and one of the things we heard complaints about over and over was that it's drab, there's no color," Ribich said. "People want to see something new, and they've commented on it all year."
Owners of two buildings in Umatilla’s downtown are already onboard with the idea, and Ribich says he’s working with the city to create a “mural society organization” to help the initiative.
The group will then work on finding funding sources, selecting topics and working with artists. You can contact Mark Ribich at 253-204-5979 for more information.