by News Director Jennifer Colton
541.567.6500 or 541.289.NEWS or KOHUnews@gmail.com
Hermiston City Council, School Board meeting April 24, 2017
Hermiston City Council talking festival street during its work session at 6 this evening.
The city could approve the final design of the street at its regular meeting follows at 7
with a public hearing on the creation and application of a Neighborhood Commercial Overlay
Zone, that would be on the north side of Highland Avenue and SW 11th St. Votes expected to
create the zone as well as to approve a bid from General Pacific to supply new water
The meeting also including a presentation on Cindo de Mayo and National Law Enforcement
Appreciation Week. Both of those in May, and, as usual, public comment will be taken. Read
the full agenda
The Hermiston School District also meeting tonight. That work session begins at 6:30, and
it will be at Armand Larive Middle School. You can find
the full agenda packet here.
Rotary installs Peace Pole at BMCC April 21, 2017
Colorful flowers, a Hermiston wind and spring sunshine surround the newly installed Peace
Pole at the Eastern Oregon Higher Education Center this week. Representatives of Rotary
International of Hermiston and BMCC students gathered for the installation Thursday
BMCC students and Hermiston Rotarians plant flowers around the base of the
Peace Pole on Thursday afternoon
The pole has four sides, each proclaiming, May Peace Prevail on Earth in four
languages: English, Spanish, Russian and Japanese.
"This is to start a conversation and continue a conversation because there is so much
unrest in the world," said guest speaker Mike Caruso.
Caruso, of the Newberg Rotary club and co-chair of the region's Peacebuilder Committee
spoke about the purpose of the pole and its history.
The first peace pole installed in Japan in 1976.
"Today there's more than 250,000 peace poles around the world, including even in
Antarctica, Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for so many years," he
The pole at BMCC is the third Rotary Peace Pole to go up in Hermiston, joining poles on
the Oxbow Trail and at Hermiston High School. A fourth peace pole, in McKenzie Park, was
installed by Girl Scouts.
The Peace Pole capped the college's Arts and Culture Series, which brought a dozen
speakers and presenters to the campus.
Holocaust survivor and author Manny Taiblum speaks with students and visitors
after his presentation.
The Arts and Culture series is an annual event for BMCC.
Good Shepherd focuses on sleep April 21, 2017
Good Shepherd Medical Center is focusing on sleep and issues with sleep for its employees
and the community. Health Educator Kathy Thomas says the issue began with an employee
survey where 80 percent of hospital employees say they only get 4 or 5 hours of sleep a
This week, Dawn Germain and Donna Carlson presented information on A Good
Nights Rest highlighting some information on why sleep is important.
"Drowsy Driving is the second leading cause of fatal car accidents," Carlson
said, adding 27 percent of people say they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
Sleep amount and quality also affects weight, aging, and overall health. When looking at
children, toddlers should receive 11 to 14 hours of sleep a night, school children 9 to 11
, and adults, a minimum of seven hours of sleep. To help you get a good night sleep, they
have a few tips:
Get exposure to bright sunlight, limit exposure to blue light three hours before bedtime
and supplement strategically.The team says you should also sleep in a cool environment,
practice mindfulness at least 20 minutes a day and exercise 30 minutes a day. Also,
dont eat within 3 hours of bedtime.
Robotics hit Houston April 20, 2017
Today, two Umatilla county teams put their skills to the test from the FIRST Robotics
Competition World Championships in Houston, Texas. Theyre Umatilla's Team 4125
Confidential and 6442 The Modern Americans, from Pendleton. The teams are on the ground in
Houston, and Umatilla's team headed to the competition this morning.
"They have had such an amazing season. We're really proud of them," Umatilla
superintendent Heidi Sipe said. "For the high school team, this is the fourth time in
their six year history to qualify for the World Championships, which is phenomenal."
The team visited NASA yesterday and will take on the competition today with both the
teams robot and for the chairmans award, which focuses on the impact a team
makes in its community.
"Competing for Chairman's at the World Finals is pretty incredible because if they
win Chairman's, they then have a standing invitation to be at World's every year moving
forward," Sipe said.
You can follow the robotics team today with live
streaming or on the Umatilla Robotics Facebook page.
Study highlights vaccines April 20, 2017
Despite high immunization rates in Oregon, Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, still spreads
into new communities in outbreaks. State Epidemiologist Steve Robison says his recent
study of Oregon's 2012 Pertussis outbreak found unvaccinated children got sick earlier.
"If you have something in common with other parents - same neighborhood, same
schools, same social networks - then that actually opens a route for the disease to
spread," Robison said.
Robison says the unvaccinated get sick first and are not helping build community
protection from the disease.
Umatilla County Public Health Director Jim Setzer says the study highlights a known issue.
"It just serves, again, to underline the need to vaccinate your children. That
immunizations and vaccinations are the cheapest, most effective way to prevent illnesses
like Pertussis," he said.
Setzer says there are valid medical reasons for exceptions and evidence, including
Robisons study, shows illnesses travel more quickly through non-vaccinated
"Parents shouldn't depend on herd immunity and the willingness of other children to
protect their own children," he said.
Vaccinations and immunizations are available at Umatilla County public health offices.
Immunization rates across Oregon are now at 90 percent but may need to be closer to 97 or
98 percent to have community protection across the state.
City takes over Conference Center April 19, 2017
In a 6-0 vote with one abstention, the Hermiston City Council last night voted to turn
over management of the Hermiston Conference and Community Center to Parks and Recreation
and not renew the lease with the Greater Hermiston Area Chamber of Commerce.
The council chambers at Hermiston City Hall full and overflowing for the meeting as more
than a dozen members of the community spoke out. Some comments focused on potential uses
for the conference and community center or for the old Carnegie library, which the city
has offered the lower level of to the chamber, but most focused on the value of the
chamber of commerce. Phil Hamm, former chamber president spoke about the history of the
community center and relationships with the city and with the Eastern Oregon Trade
and event center. Hamm said he appreciated the city offering the chamber a space but maybe
the Carnegie basement wasn't the best option.
"I understand the city doesn't have a responsibility there, and I appreciate the
city's willingness to provide that kind of space," he said. "I still think that
hasn't been worked out quite well enough, and I'm still concerned about the general
community's use of the conference center - not just a Boys and Girls Club or Parks and
Other local residents agreed the city should have taken more feedback and had more open
"Am I sad to think of it being repurposed and not continuing like that in community?
Yes, but mostly? I'm disappointed," said Bryan Wolfe.
Much of the public comment centered on rumors, from the idea the city would tear down the
conference center or move all city offices inside it. The city shooting down many of those
and saying the intention is to continue to host community events as well as expand parks
and recreation programs. City staff also reiterating they have no obligation to host the
chamber of commerce. Many speakers said should focus on regional events with local events
still taking place at the conference center.
Every member of the Hermiston City Council speaking after public comment. John Kirwan says
the issue is complicated by emotion, and Mayor Dave Drotzmann says the action just begins
The Chamber will continue to manage the Conference Center through the end of this year.
Hermiston Parks and Recreation to take over management in 2018. Drotzmann says the city is
interested in hearing other options about locations for the chamber offices.
Fire in Umatilla tri-plex April 19, 2017
A fire Tuesday morning in Umatilla. Members of the Umatilla Rural Fire Protection
district responded within 10 minutes to the 600 block of E street to find the tri-plex
building fully enflamed. 10 Firefighters responded, and six adults displaced. The Red
Cross is provided emergency service
BMCC focuses on arts and culture April 18, 2 017
This week, Blue Mountain Community College celebrates its Arts and Culture Festival.
Events going on today on the Pendleton campus, but for Hermiston, the festival takes place
tomorrow and Thursday with presentations, guest speakers, and events lasting all day.
Hermiston Center director Jacelyn Keys says they didnt plan to have a theme this
year but ended up with one that came out of the speakers. From refugees to social
isolation, dogs to serve veterans to the first-hand account of a Holocaust survivor, the
program centers on conflict, peace and learning from history.
"We chose not to have a theme this year, but one presented itself," Keys said.
"We really get an opportunity to look at history and what these people are saying
about history, about their lives, and how are we a part of the solution as
The programs begin tomorrow at 10 in the morning with a presentation on Sex Trafficking in
Thailand and end with Helday de la Cruz speaking on art and activism at 5. On Thursday,
Hermiston events begin at 9 and end with a presentation on Rotary Internationalas
Peace Pole Project and the installation of a peace pole at BMCC Hermiston.
BMCC is bringing its Arts and Culture festival to Hermiston on Wednesday and Thursday. See
the complete schedule for Hermiston and Pendleton here.
Driver charged in Westland crash April 18, 2017
Charges for a driver in Saturday evenings collision on Westland Road near Agnew.
23-year-old Efrain Narcizo Mateos allegedly driving westbound on Westland when he drifted
into the eastbound lane, hitting another vehicle, which tried to swerve out of the way but
was hit on the passenger side. The driver and two passengers in the other car injured. One
passenger transported by air ambulance to Kadlec, the other two taken by ground ambulance
to Good Shepherd Medical Center.
Mateos charged with three counts of second-degree assault, driving under the influence,
hit and run, reckless endangering and reckless driving.
Arts and Culture Schedule April 17, 2017
BMCC is bringing its Arts and Culture festival to Hermiston on Wednesday and Thursday. See
the complete schedule for Hermiston and Pendleton here.
Two shot in Stanfield April 17, 2017
In Stanfield, two men shot at a party early Saturday morning. Officers responding to a
report of a loud party on South Main Street found two adults had been shot, both with
non-life threatening injuries. Both men treated at Good Shepherd Medical Center and later
released. The Major Crime Team has been activated to assist in the investigation.
Commissioner talks Drug Court April 17, 2017
Umatilla County Drug Court faced the chopping block in the countys budget for the
next fiscal year, but County Commissioner Bill Elfering says it isnt going away
"It's not gone away, but it's going to be morphed. We just can't continue the program
we had without having the funding for it," he said. "The treatment will still be
there, the reporting will still be there. They'll still be being treated, and they'll
still have accountability."
Drug Court allows individuals convicted of drug or alcohol offenses to have treatment and
counseling instead of going to prison.
Elfering sits on the Local Public Steering Committee, the group charged with distributing
state funding for community justice. Its also the group that decided the county
could not continue funding the drug court program as it has existed because state funding
continued to decrease.
"It's now reached the point where that program has a $500,000 deficit," Elfering
says. "The governor's budget cut it way back this year, and we're short trying to run
drug court the way we've been doing it."
Elfering says the reformation will save about $300,000. That does include cuts to
personnel and downsizing the program, which has run as many as 100 participants
Youth take Way of the Cross April 17, 2017
On Friday, a crowd filled the parking lot at Our lady of Angels and then at Butte Park to
re-enact part of the story of Easter through The Way of the Cross, a
presentation of the Living Stations of the Cross.
While the crowd participated with prayers, song and reverence, what the crowd might not
have realized is that many of the volunteer actors are still in their teens. 18-year-old
Edgar Guerrero says this marks the third year hes taken a part in the Way of the
Cross, and growing up, he knew he wanted to get involved.
"I feel if the younger generation sees us doing this now, they'll want to do it when
they grow older and will want to get into the church more," he said.
That same motivation brought Matthew Pihl to the Way of the Cross. At 14, he took the role
of Jesus, blood, cross, and all.
"The younger generation is the future of our church," he said. "This is my
first-I've always helped out-but this year I took the role of Jesus...I'm pretty nervous,
but I'm also excited."
Vincent Trevino is a co-coordinator of the event. He says Field and other young
participants volunteer every year.
"There are a lot of youth in Hermiston that want to do good and show what Jesus
actually did for us," he said. "This is one way for the youth here in our Parish
to participate and show other youth that there is a good path also."
Kissler arrested for rape April 16, 2017
Just before 5 in the morning on Saturday, the Morrow County Sheriffs Office received
a report of a rape in the Irrigon area. 35-year-old Jason Kane Kissler arrested on rape
and other related charges. He remains in Umatilla County Jail with a bail of $500,000.
Another principal search for Hermiston April 16, 2017
Hermiston searching for another principal. Desert View Elementary School principal Michael
Roberts announcing he is heading to Scottsdale, Arizona to be the director of elementary
Roberts has been at the helm of Desert View for four years, and he says his family will
miss Hermiston and the school district staff. The Hermiston School district also looking
to fill Devin Griggs position as that principal is also heading to Arizona.
The district hosting a meet and greet for the four principal finalists at
Sunset Elementary this Thursday from 2:45 to 4:15 in the afternoon.
Harkenrider groundbreaking set April 13, 2017
Coming up next week, a ground-breaking for the Harkenrider Center. That ceremony set for
5:30 on April 18th.
It begins the process of constructing the new community and senior center. Larry Fetter
says they are giving the contractor twelve months to complete the project, but they
dont think it will take that long theyll know more once construction
begins. It will also impact driving in the construction zone, and, once the building is
complete, they'll work to renovate and redesign the parking area.
Fetter calls the current parking area a bit of a disaster The new parking plan
will have landscaping and will serve the library, the building department and the
Harkenrider Center. Fetter says they contemplated making the parking lot one level, but
opted for improvements to the two-level system.
The city is also working closely with the Hermiston school District on the project. The
district owns the property of the current fairgrounds as well as the property the
Harkenrider Center will sit on. Assistant Superintendent Bryn Browning says its been a
partnership since the beginning and they have worked through some options to help ease the
transition, including offering holidays meals at Hermiston High School.
The Hermiston Senior Center will have a temporary kitchen at Our Lady of Angels Catholic
Follow the link to see the floor
plan for the Harkenrider Center.
Sports scams return to Hermiston April 12, 2017
The Hermiston Chamber of Commerce and the Hermiston School District releasing statements
this week about a company fraudulently contacting business owners.
In the scam, the salesman claims to represent Hermiston High School and is selling - or
needs to fill an invoice for - sports poster ads.
Larry Usher, Director of Athletics and Activities for the Hermiston School District, had
contacted the company several weeks ago. At that time, the company said they would stay
out of Hermiston, but reports again this week. There is a complaint on file with the
Oregon Department of Justice under file number FF5392-16. You may add to the case file if
you are contacted by the fraudulent vendor.
Usher says any advertising or sponsorship requests for the Athletic Department would come
directly from him or Lindy Thompson, the athletics secretary.
And, as a reminder, all calendar ads for Hermiston High sports have been sold for this
year. Businesses wont be contacted for sponsorship until he beginning of the 2017-8
Good Shepherd launches virtual clinic April 12, 2017
Good Shepherd Healthcare System is launching its Virtual Care Clinic this week: The
ability to meet with a healthcare provider over your computer, phone, tablet, etc. from
you home or wherever you are. Good Shepherd Spokesman Nick Bejarano says they are
partnering with Carena Health on the Virtual Care Clinic because of access to care.
"We realize that there's definite need in our community for emergency care services,
and this extends beyond that because they're able to treat a plethora of illness and
injuries that you don't have to go to the emergency department for," he says.
Bejarano says it will also, then, freeup staff in the emergency department to handle
emergencies and accidents with less cases of colds, sore throats and ear aches.
Robert Bernstein, medical director of the Good Shepherd Virtual Health Clinic, says if an
issue is something to be concerned about, provide some treatment and, in some situations,
even prescribe medication.
"Basically it's a consultation," he says. "It's a way for somebody to talk
to a family medicine doctor or nurse practitioner from the convenience of their couch at
home or their office space, and they can do that 24/7."
Using the virtual care clinic costs a flat rate of $35. You can find out more here.
Hermiston City Council to vote on Chamber move School District looks at high school plan April 10, 2017
The Hermiston City Council expected to vote on Conference Center Management tonight during
the regular meeting. The proposal brings the conference center under the umbrella of the
Parks & Recreation Department and offers space in the renovated Carnegie Library to
the Chamber of Commerce for $1 for five years. According to meeting documents, the council
has two options: accept the proposed action or re-affirm the existing contract with the
chamber of commerce to operate the conference center through Dec. 31 of 2018. City
administration is recommending the first option. The packet also includes a letter from
former City Manager Ed Brookshier saying the time has come to re-task the conference
center property to best meet the needs of the community.
The agenda also includes a request to apply for grant funding from the Federal Aviation
Administration to complete an update to the Hermiston Airports long-range plan.
Public comment will be taken during the meeting as well.
That meeting begins at 7 tonight at Hermiston City Hall. You can read the whole agenda here.
The Hermiston School Board also meeting tonight. That meeting at 6:30 at the Hermiston
School District Office on SW 11th. The meeting study items include an update on the
Hermiston High School Demolition and Site Expansion Plan that involves demolition
on the former Umatilla County Fairgrounds as well as an impact study on athletics. Click
here for a full agenda.
Umatilla Robots heading to Worlds March 9, 2017
Umatillas Team 4125 Confidential is heading to Houston.
The team competing in the Pacific Northwest District Championship in Cheney, Washington
this weekend, and, although they didnt qualify based on the robots performance
they did again take home the Chairmans Award, which means, theyre
heading to the World Championships in Houston.
Here's a look at the award-winning video:
Hermiston Recycling Event tomorrow April 7, 2017
The Hermiston Recycling Event runs from 9-3 tomorrow in the gravel parking lot at Umatilla
Electric Cooperative on Elm Avenue, and Hermiston Parks and Recreation Director Larry
Fetter says theyll take in almost anything. You can find a list of items on the event page of
the city's website.
Items do need to be separated before arriving. Bins will be provided, and volunteers will
be on hand to help unload items, especially large ones. Fetter says tires have been one of
the most popular items in past years, and this year, they will take tires on or off the
Around Hermiston, crews of volunteers from I Love My City also hosting a
spring clean up this weekend. Theres no registration required if youd like to
You can come out on Saturday and watch for the groups of bright red, I love my
city shirts.You can find out more at Ilovehermiston.com.
TRCI inmate dies April 7, 2017
An inmate death this morning at Two Rivers Correctional Institution.
52-year-old Michael Shaw found unresponsive in his bed at 5:45 this morning. He was
pronounced dead at 6:32. Shaw jailed since July of 2022 on one count of first-degree sex
abuse out of Marion County. His earliest release date was Sept. 28, 2025.
ALMS awarded $3,500 grant April 7, 2017
Armand Larive Middle School awarded a $3,555 Fuel Up to Play 60 grant.
The grant funds have purchased a computer, accessories and software for ALTV. The lack of
computer equipment limited ALTV students when and what projects they could do. The new
computer equipment will enable ALTV students to make more Food Hero time lapse recipe
videos to help educate students on healthy recipes.
Armand Larive Middle School teamed up with and Angie Treadwell, Family and Community
Health Umatilla-Morrow SNAP-Ed Program Coordinator for Oregon State University Extension
Center to apply for the grant.
The Fuel Up to Play 60 Grant is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program
launched by the National Dairy Council and NFL, in collaboration with the USDA, to help
encourage todays youth to lead healthier lives. You can learn more at www.fueluptoplay60.com.
ODOT reminds drivers of deer migration April 7, 2017
It is the time of year to watch for deer on Oregon roadways. The Oregon Department of
Transportation (ODOT) advising motorists to be on the lookout for migrating mule deer,
especially on US97 and other Oregon highways
The bulk of the deer migration starts in early April and extends until mid-May this season
in Central Oregon primarily with some stretches of Eastern Oregon affected. ODOT expects
the deer to be moving in large numbers through the hotspot corridors along US97, US20 and
OR31. Most of the animals will be traveling during the dawn and dusk hours, but motorists
can expect to see them at any time.
Find more information on ODOT's wildlife
City taking over Conference Center April 6, 2017
The city of Hermiston is taking over the Hermiston Conference Center in 2018.
The Conference Center has been the home of the Greater Hermiston Chamber of Commerce for
two decades and is contracted with the city until the end of the year. Hermiston Assistant
City Manager Mark Morgan says the City has offered the chamber use of the lower level of
the old Carnegie Library on Gladys. That building currently houses the citys
building department on its upper floor.
The City of Hermiston has offered the chamber use of the lower level of the
"The city is in the process of investing $125,000 to renovate the lower level of
the building," Morgan says. "That would be approximately 1,000 sq feet of high
quality office space. That space will be available to the chamber in January of 2018 if
they choose to use it."
Morgan says the plan is to have the citys Parks and Recreation Department move into
the office space and manage the conference center.
"Long-term is still a little in flux, but make no mistake: for 2018 and likely
several years after, it'll still be operating as a conference center," he said.
Chamber Executive Director Debbie Pedro says the chamber will likely move in late December
but they havent decided where. Pedro was notified of the change this past Tuesday.
Pedro says the community associates the conference center with the chamber and
theyll now begin looking at what the next steps will be.
"Our board will be coming together in May for a planning session, and we're really
excited to see what it's like to just be a chamber," she said.
The city has paid the chamber a management fee for running the conference center, and
Pedro says the chamber was profitable and theyve put in more than $100,000 worth of
investments into the building, including purchasing the new reader board, new carpeting in
the meeting rooms and offices and helped fund the new sound system.
Pedro says their concern about the citys proposed location is being visible in the
community. Morgan says if the chamber chooses not to use the conference center, the city
will use it for space for other departments.
Third-graders topple Battle of the Books April 6, 2017
A team from Hermiston heads to a state competition this Saturday. Theyve beat out
other students at their school, their city, and their region to claim a spot in the state
match for Oregon Battle of the Books - And theyre all 8 and 9 years old.
Theyre called the Book Bombers. The third grade team is Cate Doherty, Ellie Larsen,
Glyn Lystrup and Caden Lloyd, After winning their school competition, the students moved
on to regionals in La Grande where they beat teams of 10-year-olds, 11-year-olds and even
12-year-olds. Cate says they did it by learning from other teams.
"It was a lot of fun seeing other people and how they were stronger in some points
than us," Cate says. "I think that really helped us. We weren't strong in a lot
of points, so once we started watching, we got those bonds together, and I think we're a
lot stronger now."
To compete in the elementary Battle of the Books challenges, students in third through
fifth grade had to read 16 assigned titles. On the Rocky Heights team, Three of the
students read all 16 books for the competition with Harry Potter and the Sorcerers
Stone and Matilda taking the top of the favorite lists. Glyn says the reading is the easy
"Why did we do Battle of the Books? For most of us, the thing was that we want to
read," he says.
The students have given up their recesses and lunch periods to study and practice, and
its paid off they conquered a 16-team elimination bracket to take the top
spot in the Region 6 Competition and it might be the first time a third-grade team has won
at the Eastern Oregon Regionals.
"We're trying to go back and see when a third-grade team has won," she says.
"We're really proud of them. I think they've done a great job, and it's a great
testament to the program."
Team coach and teacher Melissa Doherty says the team has worked with study guides by
librarian Kristi Smalley and theyre getting ready for the big battle this Saturday
at Chemeketa Community College. All four students say they hope to keep their team moving
next year regardless of how state goes.
Court updates: Pleas in cattle, meth cases April 5, 2017
On Monday, Michael Hockensmith accepting a deal in Umatilla County Circuit Court in the
ongoing animal neglect case involving a mismanaged herd near Hermiston. Last week, the
county sold the bulk of the cattle at the auction at Northwest Livestock.
Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says the deal ends a time-consuming process for the
sheriffs office that lasted for much of the winter and through the calving season.
Hockensmith convicted of five counts of first-degree animal neglect in order to have the
remaining charges dismissed. The 180 days of jail was suspended, but He has been given
five years of bench probation as part of the sentencing, meaning he cannot own animals for
five years. An exception was granted for a horse he already owned that was determined to
be in good condition despite the neglect of the cattle.He changed his plea to guilty
Monday and paid $600 in fees and fines.
Rowan says the final cattle likely to be sold today and the sheriffs office now
looks forward to the next challenge.
In other court news, Pendleton business owner Jason Lybrand pleading guilty yesterday to
the felony possession of methamphetamine.
The charges came from phone calls Lybrand made in September of 2016 while incarcerated. He
asked his mother to meet with a man who was supposed to purchase five pounds of marijuana.
She declined, and detectives applied for a search warrant of Lybrands truck. In
addition to the five pounds of marijuana, they also found 11 grams of methamphetamine and
Lybrand sentenced to 3 years of formal supervision, and seized case of 7,500 dollars
plus a fine of $3,000 to go to BENT.
Hermiston Cyclist killed by semi April 4, 2017
A Hermiston man killed last night after being struck by a semi at the intersection of
Highway 395 and Elm.
Hermiston Police saying a semi-truck turning off Highway 395 onto Elm Avenue struck the
55-year-old cyclist just after 8:15 last night. The semi continued to travel eastbound on
Highway 730 until it was stopped at the Washington border. The semi has been processed for
evidence, and Oregon State Police conducting a crash reconstruction.
The cyclist pronounced deceased at the scene, and HPD chaplains offered counseling the
At this point it is too early in the investigation to speculate all factors involved
for what transpired. Because of the dangers at this intersection we do have it under video
surveillance and this incident was partially captured. We will use that evidence and other
information gleaned during the investigation to present to the district attorneys
office," Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says. Other factors considered
in matters such as this will be speed, visibility of the bicyclist, any potential
impairment from all parties involved, witness statements, etc.
Tickets for Umatilla Boosters April 4, 2017
The 10th annual Umatilla Boosters Steak Dinner and Auction this Saturday at the Hermiston
Conference Center. The
Booster member Melissa Webb says theyre hoping for a crowd of 200.
"Tickets are actually limited this year," she says. "We're concerned we're
going to sell out, which is a great thing."
The event starts at 5:30 this Saturday. It will include both live and silent auction items
as well as raffle items, as well as the ticket.
Tickets are available from any Boosters member at $25.
"There's a handful of tickets left. At the door they will be $30, so if you're
interested in going, definitely talk to one of us. We'd love to sell out," she says.
Webb says that does include hometown mortgage. If the the event does not sell out, tickets
will be available at the door. You can find out more at the Umatilla Booster
Clubs facebook page.
Dairy passes permit hurdle April 3, 2017
The Oregon Department of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Quality granting what
they call the most protective permit of surface water and groundwater to date. Its
for the proposed confined animal feeding operation, or CAFO, in Morrow County that could
have up to 30,000 animals. A release from ODA suggests Lost Valley Farm will have 16,500
cattle in the first year before ramping up over a three-year period. ODA saying the
permitting for Lost Valley Farm has been a two-year process receiving more than 4,000
public comments. The organizations saying the farm is near Threemile Canyon Farms, already
one of the largest dairies in the state, and will be a similar size prompting the strict
water regulations. The dairy has an agreement to purchase drinking and process water from
the Port of Morrow if needed. The release says the dairy to bring in 125 to 150 jobs to
Morrow County and will likely be inspected three to four times a year.
Fire retirement, promotion April 3, 2017
Umatilla County Fire District 1 celebrated the retirement of Battalion Chief Jeff Adkins
on Thursday. Adkins has served with the Hermiston Fire Department, now Umatilla County
Fire District 1, since 1991. and Friday, naming Capital JW Roberts as the newest Battalion
Chief for the organization. Roberts will be the shift commander for B-shift starting
tomorrow. He will continue as the EMS coordinator until the district hires that position
this fall or winter.
UCSO sells cattle April 1, 2017
The Umatilla County Sheriffs Office selling the once-neglected herd theyve
been managing since January. The sale bringing in just over $140,000, which will allow the
county to pay off what its spent on the herd and replenish the sheriffs office
account before the remaining money goes to the cattles owner, Michael Hockensmith.
Hockensmith facing more than 200 charges of animal abuse for the condition of the herd,
which the sheriffs office says was mismanaged and malnourished.
Umatilla Airman dies in Syria March 31, 2017
25-year-old Air Force Staff Sgt. Austin Bieren named as the security forces airman who
died in Syria this week. From Umatilla, he was assigned to the 21st Space Wing at Peterson
Air Force Base in Colorado. Officials did not immediately release any additional
information about what happened to Bieren, but an initial news release said the death
appeared to be the result of natural causes.
Umatilla Robotics host fundraisers March 31, 2017
Umatilla High School's Robotics team will hosting fundraisers over the next week to raise
money for upcoming competitions in Cheney, Wash., and potentially in and
April 1st, Team Confidential will have a Can/Bottle drive starting at 8:00 a.m. across the
street from Harvest Foods in Umatilla. On April 4, they will be hosting a Potato Feed and
Auction at Umatilla High School, 6-8:00 p.m. Tickets for the Potato Feed and Auction are
$10 each or $30 for 4. You can email the team at email@example.com if you are
interested in buying tickets for the feed or helping the FRC team by donating.
The team competing in the Pacific Northwest Regionals in Cheney April 6-8, and if they
qualify, theyll head to the world finals in Houston.
Hermiston supports housing March 29, 2017
The City of Hermiston wants to add housing, and theyre taking a step to help it
Hermiston Assistant City Manager Morgan points to the decision of Auto Zone to go with
Pasco instead of Hermiston as an example of the need for housing. The retailer was looking
to hire 250 people but chose the Washington location because Hermiston didn't have a large
enough available work force.
While AutoZone chose to locate in the Tri-Cities because of the population size, Morgan
says the number of commuters coming into Umatilla County from Benton and Franklin counties
had increased by 1,000 people a day in four years. Although Hermiston has had growth and
new construction, Morgan says it isnt enough.
"We haven't been adding enough houses to keep up with the demand," Morgan says.
To promote development, the city is working with the owners of about 40 acres of property
off Diagonal Road. The property has been zoned industrial since the 1960s but hasnt
developed while homes spring up around it. The citys now going to pay half the costs
of rezoning that property to residential and commercial. Its not an immediate plan,
but its a start.
"This is probably four or five years down the road before you see any dirt being
turned on any housing development," he says. "What we need to do is make sure
we're setting the stage so if a developer is interested, it would be financially
Morgan says the property could hold up to 100 units, whether thats single-family
homes or multi-family structures.
Boardman Workforce Center readies March 29, 2017
In less than a week, the Boardman Workforce Training Center opens. Its a campus for
Blue Mountain Community College, and staff spending this spring break week moving from the
former location to the new facility next to the SAGE center. The first day of the new
center is the first day of spring term and thats Monday.
Morrow County School District Superintendent Dirk Dirkson says the opening is a great
partnership for the community.
"We're really looking forward to coordinating with Blue Mountain, the Port of Morrow
and all of the businesses that are interested in this development - and all of the
students from our three high schools, Heppner, Irrigon, and Boardman," Dirkson says.
The facility is the first of the colleges major bond construction projects to be
completed. Itll house BMCCs industrial systems technologies, data center tech
and early childhood education programs.
Starting Monday, the center will be open from 10 in the morning until 9 in the evening
Monday through Thursday and 10 to 5 on Fridays.
Driver dies near Adams March 28, 2017
One driver dead after a three-vehicle wreck on Highway 11 near Adams Tuesday, March 28.
Officials saying the woman was the driver of an SUV involved in the wreck with two semis.
The highway closed for several hours during the investigation and HazMat cleanup of
diesel. Umatilla County The occupants of the semis were not injured. The womans
identity has not been released.
HPD amps up road enforcement March 27, 2017
Be careful with your morning coffee and when you drop kids off at school next week: The
Hermiston Police Department starts upping enforcement today, March 27, of a problem
Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston has been going on for months.
"The issue at hand that we've been dealing with for months - educating the public -
is that it's not OK to stop in the roadway while waiting to get into a drive-thru,"
Edmiston says. "Effective today, our education campaign is over, and I've directed
the officers that they're to use enforcement when warranted."
Edmiston says the issue boils down to common sense and respect, and the department has had
an education period for the past few weeks, letting people know they are violating the law
and that changes today. The enforcement applies to all of Hermiston, including at
schools and businesses. Edmiston says the campaign did start because of traffic at the
Hermiston Dutch Bros.
"The last thing the police department wants to do is adversely affect any
business," Edmiston says, adding he has met face-to-face with the owner. "He's
extremely receptive. He understands there's a problem."
Edmiston says the property owner has already submitted preliminary plans to the city to
expand the space in the drive through. Well have more with Edmiston on todays
Odds and Ends Program.
Hermiston Council talks budget March 27, 2017
A meeting tonight of the Hermiston City Council, and the budget a topic during this
meeting as well. The council to have a public hearing on the proposed supplemental budget
before voting on it. Also on the agenda: an update on EOTEC and an intergovernmental
agreement between the city and the urban renewal agency about the festival street.
The council also to proclaim April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month
That meeting begins at 7 at Hermiston City Hall, and you can find the full agenda here.
Gospel Homecoming set for Sunday March 23, 2017
On Sunday night, a gospel homecoming at 6:30 at the Hermiston Conference Center.
Organizer Steve Walker says it comes from a desire to bring people together over music,
regardless of Christian denomination.
"We get together for this, most of it's music, and a chance to get together, rub
shoulders, and maybe meet some new friends," Walker says.
The event began in 2007 but took a few years off. It's coming back this year. The evening
will include musicians, a magician, performers, and sing-a-longs with classic gospel music
lead by Doug Fernbacker.
"As a Christian, you don't know people in other churches, you don't know other
groups," Fernbacker said. "This is kind of a common thing - the music - between
all of the denominations.
The event is free and nondenominational. It will include some refreshments during the
intermission. For more information, call Walker at 541-571-1090
Harkenrider Center gets a contractor March 22, 2017
On Monday, the Hermiston City Council approved a contract with G2 Construction for the
building the Harkenrider Center, the new senior center planned for downtown Hermiston.
Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says the bid came in about 80,000 lower than expected.
"The bids mean that we're going to be able to get more work done than we would have
otherwise," he says. "We're going to be able to include an elevator into the
Morgan says the planning has included an unfinished basement, but having the elevator
already included in initial construction will save the center money down the road.
"The basement will not be occupied for three to five years, but that $80,000 bid item
for the elevator means we'll be able to pay for that now instead of trying to raise
$80,000 when we want to develop that in the future," he says.
The total bid approved by the council just under 2.3 million dollars. Much of funding
comes from a federal Community Development Block Grant. A pre-construction meeting
scheduled for April 11 to review the construction schedule on the project.
Savings Match program meeting tonight March 22, 2017
Tonight (March 22) a parent meeting for the Match College Savings program at Hermiston
High School. College Bound Coordinator Liz Marvin says its for "The great thing about
this program is that for ever $1 a student saves, they receive $5 in match," she
The program will match up to $1,600 of a students savings, which would give the student a
total of $9,600 toward higher education.
Its a financial need based program, and Marvin says preference given to freshmen and
sophomores and spots are limited. Marvin says they only have six slots open this
term, and the applications have to be submitted within the next couple weeks.
To learn more about the program and see if your student qualifies, that meeting at 6 in
the Hermiston High School Library. The presentation available in both English and Spanish.
Contact Liz Marvin at 667-6412 for more information.
Council considers EOTEC, leases March 20, 2017
Tonight, the Hermiston City Council meeting at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center.
The evening begins with a work session to discuss EOTEC with the Umatilla County
Commissions at 6, followed by the regular council meeting at 7. Both meetings at the EOTEC
On the council agenda, ordinances to clean up wording in the Hermiston Code of Ordinances,
amend the transient room tax, and consider approval of long-term leases between the
Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center and the Umatilla County Fair and Farm-City Pro
Rodeo. Theyll also consider awarding G2 construction the contract for the
Harkenrider Senior Center.
Umatilla robotics heading to PNW Finals March 20, 2017
This weekend, 57 students and four chaperones from Umatilla headed out to Ellensburg,
Washington, for a regional event with the FIRST Robotics Competition. Saturday, Team 4125
Confidential ended with a second-place overall finish and the Chairmans Award in
Umatilla Superintendent Heidi Sipe says the Chairmans Award is the highest honor a
team can receive during a regional competition. Now that the team has qualified for the
Pacific Northwest Finals, theyll look toward placing well enough to make it to the
world finals, which will be in Houston this year.
The success of the team has lead to some impressive growth in its six years: from nine
members in the first year to 57 this year.
Here's a look at the reveal of the robot for this year's competition:
You can follow the progress of Umatilla's FIRST Robotics Team and their robot - Dewey - on
their website or Facebook page.
Store closures announced: Del's and JCP March 17, 2017
Dels Feed and Farm Supply to close. Tractor Supply Company announcing yesterday the
Dels location in Hermiston will close this fall.
On behalf of the entire Dels team, we are extremely grateful to our Hermiston
customers for their many years of patronage, said Jeremy Miller, district manager of
the Hermiston store.
In addition to the Hermiston store, all seven remaining Pacific Northwest locations will
close later this year. The company will honor all product warranties at Tractor Supply
In other store closures, both JCPenney locations in Eastern Oregon on the list of recent
cuts announced today (March 17).
JCPenney closing 138 stores in June, and that does include five of the 14 locations in
Oregon. The department store closing locations in Pendleton, La Grande, the Dalles, Grants
Pass and Astoria.
The Pendleton store has been in its location on Main Street since 1911, and is the oldest
surviving store in the company. The La Grande Store has operated at its site, also on Main
Street, since 1914.
Kate Coultas, a senior manager in JCPenney's corporate communications division, says
approximately 5,000 positions nationwide are impacted by the closures: The Pendleton store
has 21 employees; the la Grande store has 13.
Coultas says she does not yet know what will happen to the store buildings after the
closures in June.
The store in Kennewick location not included in the closures.
Search and Rescue seeking members March 17, 2017
For the Umatilla County Search and Rescue Unit, the sunshine and warmer temperatures
signal the start of a busy season as people head into the forests and mountains and
"It's important (to have Search and Rescue) because of the numbers of areas we have,
particularly forested areas, where people go up and end up getting lost or
misguided," Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says. "This gives us an
opportunity to go up there and bring them safely back home."
The SAR teams have also helped out with searches within towns as well as with some major
crimes. And, right now, theyre looking for more members, from radio operators to
The unit is in its training mode right now, preparing for spring. Twenty members of the
county search and rescue team spent a morning last week hiking at Grecian Heights Park in
Pendleton, carrying a back that includes 20 pounds of survival and first aid gear.
Search and Rescue volunteers must be able to pass nine core competencies including land
navigation, physical fitness, and first aid.
"We're always looking for more volunteers. It's a great group of people, very
dedicated," Rowan said.
Umatilla County SAR is a non-profit organization. If youre interested in joining
Umatilla County Search and Rescue, you can contact Rowan or Sgt. Dwight Johnson at
Made to Thrive spring cleaning March 16, 2017
This weekend, an event to support Made to Thrive and help kick start your spring
Made to Thrive was created to keep at risk and foster youth involved in activities,
including sports, music, and dance. Theyre funded through grants and private
donations, as well as fundraisers. One of those is this weekend.
Its the fourth annual Garage Sale Fundraiser, and its in two stages: drop off
and sale. The drop-off is this Friday (March 17) at the Hermiston Conference Center. Made
to Thrive founder Kris Dammeyer says if you need any furniture picked up, you can contact
Made to Thrive to schedule a pickup, although they do prefer items be dropped off if
The sale takes place the next day, Saturday, also at the conference center, from 8 to 2,
and Dammeyer says its a big boost for both Made to Thrive and for the shoppers.
"It's all donation based," she says. "We don't put prices on anything
except some of the really big items."
You can contact Made to Thrive for more information by stopping at the office on Second
Street, online, or by calling 541-289-2343.
Heppner goes green this weekend March 15, 2017
This weekend, Wee Bit OIreland festival returns to Heppner. From March 16 through
March 19, its the 35th annual event, and it starts tomorrow night. The Wee Bit o'
Ireland opens with Vendors Square tomorrow, thats the neighborhood Center on Main
Street across from the City Park, and A Rose in Bloom play performance. The vendor square
stays open through Friday, where an Irish Dinner and 3 on 3 basketball tournament
highlight the schedule, but the main day is Saturday.
"Saturday starts early with the sheepdog trials. If you've never been to sheepdog
trial before, it's really very interesting. There's a lot of skill with the dogs and the
trainers," says Sheryll Bates, executive director of the Heppner Chamber. "Then,
of course, we have food, children's activities."
Bates says the favorite events will return this year, including the welly toss and the
leprechaun run as well as the revival of the OPlanky team relay race competition.
"And of course we always have our Great Green Parade as kind of a send-off for all
the Irish, and you'll see lots of green there," she says.
Bates added if you don't have green to wear, you can always purchase some in Heppner and
Events continue through Sunday where the festival ends with Road Bowling at 1:37 in the
Find the full schedule of events at the chamber website.
Hutchinson-Talaski takes plea deal March 14, 2017
Karen Hutchinson-Talaski sentenced in Umatilla Circuit Court yesterday afternoon.
Hutchinson-Talaski taking a plea deal, pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree
theft, one of second-degree theft, in a deal that keeps the former director of the
Umatilla Chamber of Commerce out of jail.
The deal allows Hutchinson-Talaski to avoid jail time by having the 180 days suspended as
long as she completes three years of probation, writes an apology letter to Umatilla and
its chamber and completes 80 hours of community service. She also has to pay restitution
to the chamber to the tune of $8,057.
Hutchinson-Talaski accused of withdrawing funds from chamber accounts.
Representatives of the Umatilla Chamber Board provided a statement during the sentencing:
The fact that she only receives three years probation, restitution, and community
service thats not enough. The board does not feel thats enough to, for
lack of a better term, teach her a lesson.
As part of the deal, Hutchinson-Talaski will also have to take theft counseling. As part
of the deal, the remaining charges were dropped.
Free lunch on immunity and nutrition this week March 14, 2017
This Thursday is the Lunch and Learn for National Nutrition Month. The lunch is free and
open to anyone; it begins at noon in Conference Rooms 1 and 2 at Good Shepherd Medical
Katrina Larson, with Diabetes and Nutrition at Good Shepherd Medical Center, will lead the
"We're going to be focusing on what you can do to boost your immune system,"
Larson says. "It's been a particularly rough year for a lot of people as far as
sickness is concerned, so we wanted to talk to people about how you can support your best
immunity and try to defend your body against some of those germs and bugs that are making
people so sick.
Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
One meeting on, one postponed March 13, 2017
The Hermiston School District meeting at 6:30 p.m. today in the district boardroom. The
district will recognize its classified employees of the year, continue its discussion of
budget parameters and meet in an executive, closed-door session to talk about union
negotiations. Find the full agenda here.
There is, however, no Hermiston City Council meeting tonight. That meeting has been
rescheduled for next Monday, and itll take place at the Eastern Oregon Trade and
Event Center instead of Hermiston City Hall. A work session begins at 6 p.m., followed by
the regular city council meeting at 7.
Residents sound off on bond March 13, 2017
The Hermiston School District will have a $104 million bond proposal on the ballot for
Hermiston voters this May. Friday, local residents took the opportunity to sound off about
"We're going to end up paying more in property taxes than we do in principle and
interest on our houses," said Geri Weigum. "That was supposed to be guaranteed
10 years on that last bond, and those projections? There's no way you're going to go that
whole time without wanting more money."
Weigum asked the district to consider other, creative options, like year-round school
before asking for a tax increase. She - and others at the noon presentation on Friday, one
of three the district offered - says she supports students but doesn't think the community
can afford it.
"You guys are taxing us to death," Weigum added.
Other residents supported the bond or had questions answered. One of the most common was
the issue of expansion at Hermiston High School - and how long that would resolve the
issue. In one case, Board member Karen Sherman answered the question.
"Realistically, as we look at these projections, we have to be thinking about a new
high school," Jim Stearns said.
An expanded wing to Hermiston High School is one of the largest ticket items on the bond
proposal. Others include building a new elementary school on Theater Lane and replacing
both Rocky Heights and Highland Hills Elementary.
Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann spoke out in favor of the bond.
"It's either larger class sizes, in modulars, or we as a community decide we can
afford an extra $13 a month and we have facilities which are appropriate to teach our kids
in," he said.
Drotzmann is a former school board member whose children went through Hermiston Schools
but have since graduated.
If it passes, the bond expected to increase property taxes by a about a dollar per
one-thousand of property value.
Firefighters battle stairs to raise funds March 10, 2017
This weekend, firefighters with Umatilla County will tackle 69 flights of stairs, 1311
steps and 788 feet elevation in full turnout gear.
"When you're in the stairwell with all those other firefighters, it gets really hot.
It's just putting one foot in front of the other for each step," he said.
"That's the hardest part.
Umatilla County Fire District 1 team captain Corey Gorham has participated for seven years
in the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb. A team of 10 local firefighters will take the
challenge on Sunday in Seattle to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Gorham says he first became involved after his daughter was diagnosed with leukemia in
"I've seen what that organization does for patients and patients' families,"
Gorham said. "I appreciate what that organization does, and I want to continue to
The Stairclimb is a challenge for the firefighters, but it is primarily a fundraiser. The
team has met its $10,000 fundraising goal, but there is no donation cap. Donations will be
accepted through the end of the month.
"It's a fundraiser for a organization that I believe in. All the money that's raised
by individuals and teams goes to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
You can find out more at the event website,and donate on the team
page for Umatilla County Fire District 1.
Sandstone Middle School has backpack food drive March 9, 2017
Tomorrow (March 10) is also the last day of the Sandstone Middle School Backpack Canned
Food Drive. The drive started Feb. 27 and runs through Friday. Students at Sandstone
Middle School came up with the drive after finding out more about the Agape House backpack
program, which sends food home with local students who might not have food at home on the
weekends. The team has even created a video to promote the drive.
collected will go directly to Hermiston families in need.
The school is collecting:
Canned spaghetti or Ravioli (any brand) 15 oz.
Chicken noodle soup (any brand) 10oz.
Boxed macaroni and cheese (any brand) 7.25 oz.
Canned tuna fish packed in water (any brand) 5 oz.
100 % juice boxes or pouch (any flavor) 5 oz.
Instant oat meal packages
Applesauce packets or cups (any brand) 3-6 oz.
Ritz crackers (these must be tubes of crackers)
Sandwich cracker packs (peanut butter and cheese flavors)
Top Ramen noodles (packs preferred, not cups, no spicy flavors please)
Peanut butter in a plastic jar (any brand) 15-18 oz.
Small bags of chips 1-3 oz.
Small boxes of raisins 1.4 oz.
Chewy granola bars (any flavor, any brand)
American Dream comes to life tomorrow March 9, 2017
Hermiston students are learning the American Dream, and theyre ready to put it on
display. Its part of a musical put on by the third grade classes at Rocky Heights
Elementary. The students take on different roles in the nations history and will be
performing the musical tomorrow in the auditorium at Armand Larive Middle School.
Third-graders prepare for "The American Dream Musical" during a dress
rehearsal on Tuesday.
"There is nothing so moving as watching over 90 third-graders sing their hearts out,
say words like "Emancipation Proclamation," and every student, whether they're
shy, come to life. It will move you," says teacher Jessica Campbell.
Campbell says it's a lot of work, but it's worth it. children memorize 10 songs, the
preamble to the Constitution as well as speaking lines.
"We do this because it's something they really remember," she says. "It's
more than just reading a book or talking about it or seeing pictures. It really helps them
connect to these characters and the time period."
Rocky Heights Principal Jared Farley says the musical is a tradition at Rocky, and
its also a way to intertwine subjects.
"The kids get an opportunity to engage in something they might not otherwise be able
to, to grow performance-wise, but also still learn about what they should be learning:
social studies and American history," Farley says. "The opportunity to bring
these things together is fantastic, and that's why we keep doing it."
The performances are open to the public tomorrow. Theyll be at 9 in the morning and
at 6:30 tomorrow night.
They will have a live feed for the evening performance, if you cant attend but would
still like to experience the musical. Thats streaming from the districts
District forums on proposed bond March 9, 2017
Hermiston School District will hold a community forums to share
district accomplishments, information on student growth challenges, safety and security
concerns, an overview of aging infrastructure and facts about the proposed 2017 bond.
Three sessions are scheduled for Friday, March 10, in the Hermiston School
District Boardroom: 7 a.m., 12 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Translation services will be available.
All who are interested in learning about the different aspects of the bond, or who have
questions, comments or concerns are encouraged to attend.
Groups seek teen input March 8, 2017
From Umatillas Teen Advisory Council to Agape House, local groups are reaching out
to young people. Last night, the Umatilla City Council made the Youth Advisory Council a
standing advisory board to the city council, and meanwhile, the Eastern Oregon Mission,
which covers Agape House and Marthas House is looking for young people.
Board Member Larry Hansen says board decided a year ago to open the board to high school
juniors and seniors. The teen members have all the same roles as the rest of the board.
"They are fully voting members," he said. "We're excited about the ideas
they bring. They think of things we don't always consider."
If you are interested, you can contact agape house at 541-567-8774 or by stopping by the
facility at 500 Harper Road.
Stanfield School Board meets tonight March 8, 2017
Tonight, a meeting of the Stanfield School Board. That meeting begins at 6 in the district
On the agenda, a public input period, administrative reports, a presentation from the
school resource officer as well as approval of the district calendar and budget calendar.
Also on the agenda, a personnel evaluation for the district superintendent. Thats an
executive session, which is not open to the public. The rest of the meeting is.
Read the full agenda here.
Umatilla bond sells higher than expected March 8, 2017
Another bit of good news for Umatilla, the Umatilla School District bond sales came in
better than expected, making the district an additional $600,000 without changing the cost
Voters in Umatilla last year approving the $10.5 million bond to fund projects at all
three Umatilla schools, including roof replacements, security remodels and replacing aging
equipment like the boiler and windows at Clara Brownell Middle School.
District Superintendent Heidi Sipe says the bond funds will be used within those original
projects, but some upgrades will now be possible.
Thanks to a $4 million grant from the state, the entire project will now have a budget of
Hermiston sets kinder registration March 7, 2017
Hermiston School District announcing its dates for kindergarten registration for the
2017-18 school year. Registration will be at each elementary school main office, and the
registration period is April 3 through 14th. Parents must register the student at the
school the child will attend, and there is a boundary map on the districts website
if anyone isnt sure which school boundary that means. To be eligible for enrollment
into kindergarten this fall, students must be 5 years old by Sept. 1, 2017. Parents and
guardians are encouraged to bring the students birth record (birth certificate,
baptismal certificate or passport); social security number; proof of residence; and
health/immunization records to complete the enrollment process.
New fires, fire updates March 7, 2017
A fire reported just before midnight last night on Orchard Avenue in Hermiston. The
preliminary findings lean toward an issue with the homes gas furnace, but the
investigation will continue later today. Umatilla County Fire District 1 reporting no
injuries and the family of six was able to escape the home safely.
The American Red Cross providing emergency support for the family.
The Red Cross also responding after a fire last night on Mission Gulch Road in Pendleton.
That fire affecting two adults.
More details also coming out about the fire at a residence on Hat Rock Road on Sunday.
Umatilla Rural Fire Protection District dispatched just after 6:30 Sunday night to that
home. Umatilla Fire Chief Steven Potts says the home likely a total loss. Family members
saying a lithium battery exploded, causing the fire. The official cause still under
investigation, but Potts says the living room was fully engulfed when fire crews arrived.
The two residents both transported to Good Shepherd medical Center, and one kept overnight
for observation after smoke inhalation.
Two pets died in the fire, and three made it out.
Umatilla Rural Fire Protection District and Umatilla County Fire District 1 responding. A
gofundme page has been set up for the family.
Moda Assist update March 7 March 6, 2017
Sunset Park currently at 10,836 votes in the Blazer's Moda Assist contest. In second
place, Portland's Jason Lee Elementary has 8,706.
If you'd like to vote for Hermiston to receive the playground equipment or find out more
about the program, visit www.nba.com/blazers/assist.
Winter driving in mountain passes March 6, 2017
The Oregon Department of Transportation issuing a warning of winter driving conditions
today. The National Weather Service is advising of a Winter Storm Watch, with snow
accumulations of 9 to 13 inches above 4500 feet. Impacted areas include Meacham, Tollgate,
Ski Bluewood (WA) and other sites. Snow is already on some route and more will continue
through the day. Snow is expected to taper off Wednesday morning. Travelers can expect
snow covered and slick roadways, plus possible blowing and drifting snow in some areas.
Expect winter conditions along sections of Interstate 84, OR 204 (Tollgate Hwy.), and
other routes. Drive with caution, plan extra travel time, slow down and stay safe. Check
TripCheck.com or call 511 / 800-977-6368 for update highway conditions.
Firefighters take on blaze off 395
A fire burning off Highway 395 between Hermiston and Stanfield.
The dispatch call came in at 11:20 Tuesday night, and firefighters from Umatilla County
Fire District 1 were still on scene at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
The fire burning in bales of cardboard in a site off the northbound side of the highway.
Highway 395 northbound was closed during part of the firefighting operation. That is now
open, but crews are still on scene, and some of the cardboard is still burning.
Umatilla Rural and Echo Rural fire protection districts also responding.
Schools call for diversity, safety after immigration concerns
This week, Hermiston Schools Superintendent Fred Maiocco released a letter titled,
Freedom from harassment, bullying, discrimination. In it, he reaffirmed the
district commitment to providing students safe learning environments regardless of
"I want all of our families and students to know that they're safe in school,"
Maiocco said Tuesday. "We support diversity. We're here to make sure students have a
great learning environment and that they're free from any bullying or harassment in our
Maiocco said students need as much stability as possible in order to learn, but politics
and fear have a direct impact on the classroom. The superintendent added they have set up
crisis counseling for some students too upset to learn.
"Part of it is that kids are coming to school, perhaps with parents in that status,
and worried about whether or not their parents are going to be home when they get
there," he said.
Maiocco said there are laws and policies in place on how situations are handled at schools
and that in general, schools cannot discriminate based on citizenship status and
cant be involved in immigration enforcement.
The district has released the statement on its website and social media. You can read the
full letter here.
Expect delays on Hwy. 730
Work started Monday on an upgrade project on a section of U.S. Highway 730 in Umatilla.
Its expected to continue for the next several weeks. The project is for signal
upgrades, sidewalk improvements and a pavement overlay this year. Signal and sidewalk ADA
ramp work starting yesterday. The eastbound traffic signal at Brownell Blvd and Interstate
82 being upgraded with new controllers and video detection to make it more efficient and
reliable, and about a dozen sidewalk ramps will receive ADA upgrades between River Road
Following the signal and ramp work, Paving expected to begin in late-April and will run
from Southshore Drive to McNary - The paving operation will skip downtown Umatilla.
Travelers can expect lane closures and minor delays for the signal and sidewalk upgrades
with more significant delays during the paving work. The $2.5 million project should be
completed around mid-June, and traffic fines are double in the work zones.
Hermiston School Board talks budget
The Hermiston School Board has a work session and meeting that begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday,
Feb. 27, at Sunset Elementary.
Sunset will have an opportunity to present about whats going on in the school, and
with the time of year, the district superintendent also expected to approve a proclamation
making March 6 to March 10 "classified Employee Appreciation Week."
Its also the time of year the board starts planning its budget. The board begins by
setting budget planning parameters and directing district staff to formulate a budget
within those restrictions. The parameters involve an ending fund balance, so how much
money is left in the district accounts to carry over each year, as well as an estimate of
student enrollment. Theyll then estimate how much money the district will receive
from the state school fund and will decide how much to set aside in the PERS reserve for
the projected 2017-18 increases. During the work session, the board to review the
parameters from last year and discuss setting those for the upcoming budget.
The district does have an executive session on the agenda, this one about union
negotiations. The meeting and work session are open to the public the executive
session is not.
You can find the full agenda here.
Holiday Inn slates grand opening
One of the tallest buildings in Hermiston has its grand opening this week.
Coming up Friday, Feb. 24, the opening celebration for the new Holiday Inn Express and
Suites on Highway 395. Manager Steve Arasmith says all 93 rooms are ready to go.
Arasmith says the chain looked at multiple sites but chose Hermiston because they
considered it a good place to grow.
"The growth rate of Hermiston over the last 10 years has just been tremendous, and we
got excited when we saw that," Arasmith says. "When we saw things like EOTEC
coming in, the hospital over here with its expansion, those things show a really strong
economic growth, and we wanted to be a part of that."
The hotel has 42 employees. They are looking to hire a sales position and other positions
as they continue to grow. The hotel did have a soft opening.
That grand opening this Friday noon to 2 and theyre welcoming everyone to attend.
Arasmith says the hotel meeting and breakfast areas will be open as well as rooms and the
indoor pool and the fitness center. Refreshments available during the event.
Firefighters battle blaze in Stanfield
A fire Tuesday morning at an industrial site in Stanfield.
Umatilla County Fire District 1 responding just after six yesterday morning at Oregon
Dehydration off Hoosier Lane.
Photo by Umatilla County Fire District 1
The fire started in an industrial drier and moved into the filtration system. About 20
firefighters taking about three hours to battle the blaze, much of it focused on keeping
other buildings safe. Firefighters did have some trouble responding to the fire because of
mud up to a foot deep. No injuries reported, and staff was evacuated. Fire Marshal Tom
Bohm is investigating. No word yet on a cause or the total damages.
On Feb. 28, an action planning meeting with the City of Hermiston to
talk about how to improve downtown.
The first hour of the meeting slating informational presentations, including results of
downtown stakeholder interviews that found five primary needs downtown: more retail and
restaurants, more downtown events, a perceived lack of parking, building upgrades, and
Emma Porricolo completed the study and will present on her report during the meeting. In
the second half, small group meetings. Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says he hopes it
will be action oriented.
"We've done planning downtown ad nauseum. There's really a lot of momentum right
now," he says. "When you stop and get everything down on paper, there really is
some momentum going... We hope to continue that."
The organizers say anyone is welcome to come to the first half without making a commitment
to any of the action plans. They are asking those who sign up for an action committee to
agree to have follow-up meetings to get things done.
The event from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center on airport road.
BMCC grants target high school students
Blue Mountain Community College receiving two grants totaling $50,000 to support college
readiness programs. The grants are from GEAR UP, thats Gaining Early Awareness and
Readiness for Undergraduate Programs
The two $25,000 grants will each fund a different program this summer. The first, an
academic enrichment program, June 26 through 30 at the Hermiston Campus to introduce 9th
and 10th graders to college, leadership and community. Its free for participants and
includes travel and classroom experiences.
The second summer program is BMCCs first-ever GEAR UP Summer Bridge Program, which
will take place July 10-Aug. 4. The program allows 12th grade students to earn college
credit and experience college while receiving and motivational support during the first
year of college. While more information regarding the Summer Bridge program at BMCC is
coming soon, qualified 9th and 10th graders can register now for the June Academic
Enrichment Program by visiting www.bluecc.edu/enrollment-services/gear-up.
Hundreds speak out on state budget
Oregon has a budget shortfall, and about 400 East Oregonians came out to give their voice
on how that money should be spent.
The crowd filed the commons at Hermiston High School on Friday evening in a hearing with
the state's joint ways and means committee. They came from La Grande and Pendleton.
Boardman and Baker City to testify on how the state should spend its money.
Members of the Joint Ways and Means Committee watch a video about Hermiston
during a hearing at Hermiston High School.
Nancy Nathenson, a state representative out of Eugene opened the event.
"We're asking everyone to stay within the guidelines," she said. "This is
your meeting, and we want to hear from you."
Each speaker had 2 minutes, and so many turned out in Eastern Oregon, they easily
overfilled the 2-hour space. Their issues were as varied as the communities and industries
they represented from economic development and historic preservation through a
transportation package to repair eastern Oregon roads and against closing the pendleton
"Most - many - of our crime scenes are outdoors. If it was hours and hours or the
next day for that crime investigation team to get there, we would lose vital
evidence," Baker County District Attorney Matt Shirtclif said, pointing to a recent
case where the crime team from Pendleton was there in two hours and provided evidence that
secured the conviction.
Shirtcliff joined a panel with Umatilla County DA Dan Primus and Union County DA Kelsie
McDaniel to talk about the need to keep the Pendleton Crime Lab open. That lab, the only
one in Eastern Oregon, is on the chopping block in the governor's budget.
Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann speaks to the state's Joint Ways and Means
Committee, Feb. 17 at Hermiston High School.
Many of the speakers chose to talk about education and funding. They held signs in the
audience and asked for adequate funding for K-12 and higher education. Ginger Ogle, a
longtime teacher, was one of those.
"We need to make the hard choice to have enough funding to take care of every citizen
in this state," she said. "That is your job, and I am begging you to do it, even
if it means raising corporate taxes."
If you weren't able to attend the hearing on Friday, you can still have your voice heard.
The email for the committee and written comment is firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Day Without Immigrants impacts Hermiston
Nationwide, A Day Without Immigrants marked on Feb. 16. All immigrants,
including citizens, legal immigrants and undocumented residents, encouraged to not attend
work or classes. The movement designed to show how much immigrants contribute to the
countrys economy in light of recent legislation.
In Hermiston, the movement closed the doors to Fiesta Foods, which posted its doors and on
social media the store would be closed Thursday in support of the community.
At Blue Mountain Community College, students notified instructors on Tuesday and Wednesday
that they would miss classes on Thursday.
Local schools reporting higher than usual absenteeism.
In addition to the not attending work or school, some immigrants opting not to go shopping
or eat out to highlight the economic impact.
Some critics saying the movement glorifies illegal immigrants, primarily from Mexico;
supporters saying those statements show the need for awareness and political statements as
most of those protesting A Day Without Immigrants, are in the country legally
and not all immigrants are Hispanic.
Morrow County sets snow days
Now that February has hit its halfway point, the Morrow County School district releasing
its plan to make up snow days. Schools in Boardman and Irrigon have closed seven days this
winter; schools in Heppner closed five. To make up for lost instructional time, the
district has added four days into its calendar April 7, 14, 28, and May 12. The
Morrow County School district does not typically have classes on Fridays, but studetns
need at least 900 hours of instructional time to meet state minimum requirements.
Pendleton schools face lockdown
Pendleton schools on lockdown or lockout for less than an hour on Thursday.
District Superintendent Andy Kovach saying someone in Pendleton High School inadvertintly
triggered the lockdown around 9:40 Thursday morning by misdialing a phone number.
The district and law enforcement treated it like a real threat until they could determine
students and staff were safe.
Kovach says the system worked correctly, and police were able to respond and determine no
threat to students or staff.
Kovach said it is district policy that when one school goes into a lockdown, all other
schools go into a "lockout" where classes continue as normal but all entrances
and exits to the school are closed.
All schools returned to regular operations at 10:30.
Smoke, fog cause accidents
Six people injured after multiple accidents on Interstate 84 last night near Boardman. The
accidents on both sides of the freeway from 8:30 until 9 p.m. Monday after fog and smoke
from the Boardman Tree Farm sent visibility to almost zero on I-84.
Boardman Fire Department reporting six people transported to area hospitals, all by
ambulance, as well as six vehicles involved three passenger cars and three semis.
Umatilla County Fire District 1 did provide mutual aid and transported two patients. No
information on the extend of the injuries currently available.
Interstate 84 was closed in both directions for more than three hours.
New firefighters begin academy at UCFD1
Six new employees put boots to the ground in Umatilla County Fire District 1 on Monday.
The two-week academy will help introduce the new employees to procedures in the local Fire
District 1. Fire Chief Scott Stanton says the six men, are all firefighter/paramedics but
need to learn how systems operate in this local district.
"That's really what this two weeks is about: So that when March 1 rolls around and
they start shift work, they have a good understanding, they've had a lot of practice
putting on our packs and working with our medical equipment so they're really ready to go
to work," Stanton said.
The new positions were funded through the consolidation and reformation that created the
Umatilla County Fire District 1 last May. Its part of the effort to staff the
station on Diagonal.
"We're so thankful to the public for supporting us last may with the
reformation," Stanton said. "March 1, our station 22 is going to be open for the
first time 24/7/365. It's been there 31 years, so we're excited about that."
Stanton says theyre planning an open house at the station on diagonal sometime in
April when the station is up and running. For the new employees, the two-week academy will
last through February 24.
While fire celebrates new employees, next door in the Shannon Safety Center, the Hermiston
Police Department is recruiting for volunteer reserve officers.
Reserve officers have much of the same training and duties of full-time police officers
but in a part-time, volunteer capacity. Reserve officers must be willing to volunteer a
minimum of 36 hours every three months.
Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says the reserve officers can lead into full-time
positions. One-third of the departments current officers are former reserve.
For more information, you can download an application on the citys website or pick
up one from HPD directly at 330 S. First Street in Hermiston. The closing date is April 3
at 5 in the afternoon.
Two meetings tonight (Feb. 13) in Hermiston
Tonight, the Hermiston School Board and the Hermiston City Council each meeting. School Board Meeting: 6:30 at the District Office.
The biggest study/discussion item is the results of an economic impact study from the bond
proposal. The district expected to ask voters for a bond proposal worth more than $100
million during the May election to fund new construction, including a new elementary
school, expansion on Hermiston High School, and replacement of each Rocky Heights and
Other items include a review of Graduation Rates, an update on the Lil Pups preschool
program and approval of some budget appropriations.
A closed-door, executive session is planned to evaluate administrative performance
Also on the agenda, the approval of the 2017-8 school calendar. The school year runs from
Aug. 28 until June 7. It does include five snow make-up days. Graduation set for June 9,
You can see the full agenda here.
City Council Work Session: 6 p.m.; Meeting: 7 p.m. at Hermiston City Hall.
Representatives from the Hermiston School District will have a work session with the
Hermiston City Council at 6 at Hermiston City Hall. The work session is a presentation
about the proposed bond.
Also on the city council agenda tonight, a combo debut resolution. That will authorize the
sale of bond for three projects: EOTEC-related construction, Festival Street construction
and parking improvements and the remote read water meters. The council recently voted to
increase rates to pay for the installation. You can find the full agenda here.
The work session begins at 6, and the city council meeting begins at 7.
Hermiston Armory closes for lead testing
The Oregon Army National Guard Armory in Hermiston is closed to the public. A warning
sign on the door says, Lead Dust Hazard. Closed to the Public Until Further
Notice with the contact information for the Oregon National Guard Public Affairs
Office, but officials say the closure seems much more scary than it actually is.
Chris Ingersoll, deputy public affairs officer for the Oregon National Guard, says the
closure is a precaution because the most recent lead testing in Hermiston showed lead
amounts over the limit.
"The National Guard Bureau has set a nationwide policy that if any samples were found
during lead testing to be above 40 micrograms per square foot, then the armory had to
closed to the public until it could be cleaned, retested, and verified," Ingersoll
According to the lead test report, all areas the public has access to were cleared,
including the walls, floors and ceilings in the entry area and central meeting room where
public events typically take place. The floor in one gear storage area, however, tested
above the limit, and that has prompted closure to the public as of this week. For now,
they dont have a date when it will reopen, but officials say it will as soon as they
"We're trying our best," Ingersoll said. "We understand the armories are an
important part of the community and that people like having use of the armory for events.
We're trying to get them cleaned and retested as soon as possible so they can open for
Ingersoll says how long it will be closed depends on when they can get the cleaning crew
out to Hermiston. Once the armory is cleaned, they will retest and then reopen.
The 47th annual Hermiston Distinguished Citizens Awards Banquet last night recognizing
community members and organizations.
Pat Hart accepts the Man of the Year award.
Man of the Year went to Pat Hart, retired fire chief and longtime Hermiston resident.
"As has already been said from this stage tonight, I am very humbly honored to
receive this award," he said. "There are so many in this community that do so
many wonderful, worthwhile things that deserve this award just as much or more than
Hart thanked his wife and the community, as well as the audience for coming out to support
the award winners.
Woman of the Year went to Liz Marvin, Project College Bound coordinator for Hermiston High
School and active volunteer. In true educator fashion, she presented her thank-yous in a
"Three points: I thank our wonderful community. I am humbled to be part of the
sorority of the women of the year... I thank God. I pray that my ears and heart stay open,
and I thank my family very much," she said.
Liz Marvin was named the 2017 Hermiston Woman of the Year.
When introducing the woman of the year, she was described as dedicated and dependable
as well as having a big heart for the community. That same theme carried over for the
business of the year, Good Shepherd Healthcare System, as well as for the Award of Merit,
which went to Charlie Clupny. Clupny honored for his work with Court Appointed Special
Advocates, Meadowood Springs Speech and Learning Camp and as a volunteer firefighter. He
said he will continue volunteering and fighting for those area that earned him the award.
"I will continue to honor everyone that I have a chance to meet," he said.
"Thank you very much for this honor."
Charlie Clupny accepting the Merit Award during the 2017 banquet.
Jeanne Jewett received the chamber of commerces Spirit of Excellence award, and
Terry Cummings, chaplain for Umatilla County Fire District 1 and the Hermiston Police
Department, received the Fire Service Award.
The Hermiston School District recognized its educators of the year for each building and
named its overall educator of the year chosen from the 10 building-level nominees. That
honor went to Garth Lind, a fifth-grade teacher at Desert View Elementary.
The two Altrusa Outstanding Young citizen awards going to Vanessa Ambriz-Mendoze and Elias
Obesity listed as concern in health report
In 2016, 19 percent of children in Umatilla and Morrow Counties were classified as obese.
Another 14 percent are overweight. Nine percent are underweight.
Those are some of the conclusions pulled from the Childrens Health Assessment
Report. The report surveyed parents of children age 11 and younger across Umatilla, Morrow
and Union Counties. Jim Setzer, Umatilla County Public Health Director, says they mirror
the adult health priorities.
"The one that jumps out to me is obesity and that whole eating, activity
lifestyle," Setzer said. "The good news about that is it's best addressed by the
community and the family."
The Children's Health Assessment Report released to the public recently. Other finding
including that 76 percent of parents had taken their child to the dentist in the past
year, meaning 24 percent had not. Eight percent of parents reported their child had been
diagnosed with asthma, 5 percent that a child had been diagnosed with ADD.
Setzer said few of the children's health issues are unavoidable and most can be helped by
"We see that there are behaviors of adults that affect kids - car seat use, exposure
to second hand smoke - there are some issues found in that report that we need to work on
as a community - not just because they affect our health, but because they affect our
children," he said.
Also included in the report, only 2 percent of parents reported their child did not have
health insurance, and 29 percent reported they had taken their child to the emergency room
in the past year.
Fatal collision near Paterson takes two local lives
A fatal car accident across the border near Paterson, Washington Washington taking the
life of two Umatilla County men yesterday. Washington State Police saying 29-year-old
Ramiro Valdez-Galvez, from Umatilla, and 37-year-old Pedro Santiago-Menchu, of Hermiston,
each pronounced dead at the scene.
The collision yesterday morning on Washington State Route 14 in Benton County, about six
miles east of Paterson. A 2000 Chrysler Minivan driven by Alfredo Perez, age 48, also from
Umatilla, traveling westbound when it attempted to pass another westbound vehicle and
collided with a semi driven by Abel Garcia, from Toppenish. Garcia was not injured. Perez
was taken to Kadlec with serious injuries. Both vehicles were totaled. The crash is still
The Benton County crash one day after a snowplow and semi on I-84 east of Pendleton. The
commercial truck attempted to pass the snowplow on the right and struck the snowplow on
the passenger side, causing it to enter the center media and roll on its side.
Both vehicles were damaged and had to be towed from the scene. The driver of the semi,
Bryon Kilmer, hes 38 and from Sweet Home, Oregon, was cited for Unsafe Passing. It
is illegal to pass snowplows on the right while they are in the act of plowing.
Hundreds of dead birds in Stanfield, Milton-Freewater
An 18-year old Irrigon man has been arrested and charged with rape, allegedly of a female
younger than 14 years old.
Kenny Cole Blurton arrested Thursday by the Morrow County Sheriffs Office after the
county grand jury indicted him on four counts of second-degree rape, two counts of
first-degree sexual abuse, three counts of unlawful sexual penetration and one count of
second-degree sodomy. The incidents are alleged to have happened between July and December
of 2015. Blurtons bail is set at 250,000. He was lodged at the Umatilla County Jail.
Hundreds of dead birds in Stanfield, Milton-Freewater
Hundreds of dead ducks reported on private properties near Stanfield and
MIlton-Freewater. Oregon Fish and Wildlife testing the birds as a potential outbreak of
avian cholera. ODFW is concerned because a flock of ducks died from the same thing in
Burbank, Wash., near Pasco.
Michelle Dennehy, with ODFW, asking people to notify the agency if they find dead ducks.
ODFW agents are collecting the carcasses and disposing of them to reduce the amount of
bacteria in the environment. Avian Cholera is one of the most common diseases among ducks
and geese; it can kill within six to 12 hours of infection.
Symptoms of avian cholera are lethargy, convulsions, swimming in circles, and erratic
flight plus mucous discharge. ODFW strongly encouraging the public to not handle sick or
dead birds and to keep pets away. The public is asked to report sick or dead birds to ODFW
by calling 1-866-968-2600 or by email at email@example.com.
Fire Service Day today, Jan. 27
Today is a good day to thank a firefighter.
Today is Fire Service Day, and Ric Sherman, of the Umatilla County Fire District 1 Board,
says its a day designed to say thank you.
It started in 2004, and Sherman was right there at the beginning, including testifying to
the state legislature.
While Sherman recommends delivering cookies, cakes, or other goods to the firefighters,
Fire chief Scott Stanton says it doesnt take much to make a firefighter feel
appreciated: even a simple thank you makes a huge difference.
Fire Service Day is statewide. Sherman says Umatilla County Fire District 1 has staff out
at three of their stations on a daily basis. They also recommend thanking volunteer
firefighters at any Oregon department for keeping their communities safe.
Transient with "gun" arrested at BMCC
A homeless man arrested yesterday after taking a gun into the Eastern Oregon Higher
Education Center and fighting with police.
The center serves as the Hermiston campus for Blue Mountain Community College, and the
campus was almost full when 62-year-old Richard J. Mills, a transient, entered the
building with what appeared to be a handgun in his hand.
No students were harmed, and BMCC vice president of admin services, Tammie Parker, says
the situation was well handled as staff and police responded to the threat.
An employee of the Umatilla County District Attorneys Hermiston office at the
Stafford Hansell building noticed Mills and the gun walking toward the college building
just after 12:30 yesterday afternoon and reported it to Hermiston Police Department.
Officers were responding when Mills entered the building. As the police spoke to him,
Mills began to yell and cause a disturbance, at which point he was taken into custody and
charged with disorderly conduct. He was taken to the Umatilla County jail in Pendleton. He
did have two air soft handguns in his possession. Both guns were seized as evidence.
Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says the department is familiar with mills who has
show aggressiveness to offers during multiple incidents.
The incident has prompted discussions and updates in policies at the BMCC Hermiston
campus. Parker says safety is taken seriously.
BMCC did offer support services for staff and students who witnessed the incident with
Police standoff ends in suicide
A seven-standoff in Pendleton ended in a Wednesday night.
At 12:09 Wednesday, Umatilla County law enforcement asked to watch for a suspect in a
double-murder in Shelton, Washington. 33-year-old Jason Abernathy was believed to be
armed. A Pendleton Police Officer located Abernathys vehicle at the Motel 6 in
Pendleton just before 1 in the afternoon.
Shortly thereafter, US Marshals arrived in Pendleton to provide investigative/apprehension
assistance to the Pendleton Police Department. A perimeter was quickly established as
additional resources were requested from the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office, Oregon
State Police and Hermiston Police Department.
Trained negotiators were able to speak with Abernathy around 3 in the afternoon. Pendleton
Police Chief Stuart Roberts says other motel guests were moved and roads closed down while
they negotiated with Abernathy before the suspect took his own life.
Several attempts to re-establish communication with Abernathy went unanswered before
Oregon State Police SWAT breached the door to Abernathy's motel room in an attempt to
render aid and/or take Abernathy into custody; however, Abernathy was found to be
Detectives from the Pendleton Police Department and Oregon State Police in cooperation
with the Oregon Medical Examiner's Office and Mason County Sheriff's Office processed the
motel room. The Mason County Sheriffs Office is still investigating. Questions
specific to the Mason County criminal investigation should be referred to the Mason
County Sheriff's Office.
Crime down in Hermiston, aggravated assault up
The overall crime report for Hermiston is out and crime
is . Down.
The Hermiston Police Department has released the annual Crime Statistics report, which
compiles violent and property crimes for state reporting. The 2016 report shows 513 total
crimes reported last year a 2 percent decline over 2015 and a 32 percent drop below
the previous 10 year average.
Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says the 10-year trend is very encouraging.
"Over the course of 10 years, the population has increased 15 percent, but we're
roughly down half of what (crimes) we had in 2007," Edmiston said.
Earlier this month, we reported on the two categories Edmiston knew would be high: rape
and aggravated assault. Edmiston says now that the final statistics are in, they have more
information: 57 percent of the aggravated assaults were domestic violence related; 43
percent of the incidents had a controlled substance involved primarily alcohol.
Only one of the events was gang related.
Violent crimes overall are 12 percent below the 10-year average, according to the report,
and property crimes hit a new low.
Despite the trend, Edmiston says they continue to ask people to work to lesson the
likelihood of becoming a victim.
"We know that there are opportunists out on the street looking to take advantage of
people," he said. "Fortifying your house or taking measures to lessen the
likelihood of you being a victim is all we ask. If you see something that looks
suspicious, call us.
The full 2016 crime report is available on the citys website.
Tom Spoo named Administrator of the Year
When the Hermiston School district announced its 2017 Administrator of the Year Monday
evening, the only person shocked at the announcement was the recipient, Tom Spoo,
principal at Hermiston High School.
"I'm extremely humbled and honored to receive this award. It was something I didn't
truly expect to get because I don't look at myself as the most deserving, accomplished
administrator in the district," Spoo said. "I think there are others that are
more deserving, but regardless, I'm extremely humbled and honored to receive the
Spoo has been principal at Hermiston High for two years and has worked for the district
for 23 years. He began his career as a high school ag teacher, moved on assistant
principal at the high school then served as Armand Larive middle school principal for four
years before taking the high schools top spot.
District staff says Spoo was recognized for being a team player and a people person, the
way he supports the growth of others, his dedication to excellence and goes above and
beyond without being asked.
Rest area stabber sentenced
In Morrow County, the man who stabbed a woman at a rest area near Boardman will serve 65
months in prison thats about five and a half years.
18-year-old Talon Davis, from Idaho, sentenced recently. Morrow County District Attorney
Justin Nelson says the sentence took into account showing justice for the crime, making
the victim comfortable and making sure Davis has the treatment he needs to prevent future
Davis was under the influence of both methamphetamine and marijuana when he stabbed a
Wasco County woman in the womens restroom. He did not know the victim and did not
attempt to flee the scene. Davis was 17 at the time of the crime in May.
He will be required to have supervised treatment for mental illness and drug addiction
after his release.
Pain management, drug abuse forum in Hermiston
A community forum scheduled in Hermiston to talk about a known problem.
"We all know people who have problems with alcohol, and, now, over a period of time,
we've gotten to know a lot of our family members and friends are hooked on prescription
drugs," said Dr. Chuck Hofmann, the clinical director for the Eastern Oregon
Coordinated Care Organization, or EOCCO.
Hofmann says the group is hosting sessions about chronic pain management and
prescription drug abuse. The Hermiston event is from 6:30 to 9 on Thursday, January 26, at
Good Shepherd Medical Center.
Hofmann says the event is for people who have been on painkillers and might be looking for
another option, family and friends of those who might have a prescription drug problem or
anyone who is interested in combating the issue.
Hofmann says nothing like this has been done in Eastern Oregon. He says they are working
to make sure its an interactive forum not a lecture.
Registration is requested to guarantee they have enough food. Its
eocco.com/community/ for the registration for the community forum. There will be a forum
for healthcare providers on Jan. 27. The group is also scheduling events in Pendleton,
Ontario, and La Grande. For more information, visit www.eocco.com or listen to the Odds
and Ends program at 8 in the morning on Jan. 20 on AM 1360 KOHU.
Hermiston remembers Martin Luther King Jr. - and looks forward
Despite the cold and ice, almost 100 people took to the streets of
Hermiston yesterday for the 17th annual Community Peace Walk in recognition of Martin
Luther King Day.
The march ended back at First United Methodist Church where a performance by the Children
of Polynesia allowed walkers to warm up before the guest speakers and open mic period.
Jesus Rome opened the discussion before the open mic and guest speaker.
"As I see this whole room full of different colors and races and cultures and
languages, it always excites me. This is what Martin Luther King's dream was: For all of
our colors and cultures and races to come together as one."
After the open mic period, the event wrapped up with a social and refreshments. This was
the 17th annual peace walk in Hermiston. Its sponsored by the local Black
International Awareness Club.
City approves plan for Ranch and Home
Plans moving ahead for the Ranch and Home shopping complex.
Last night, the Hermiston City Council unanimously approving a development agreement for
the property off South Highway 395. Hermiston Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says the
proposed retail store will be an anchor tenant on South 395 to guide
development in that region.
""The major benefit to the community is that there will now be another major
shopping center on the south side of town," Morgan said. "We're quickly running
out of good, viable commercial real estate along Highway 395 through town."
In order to bring the project, the city has offered an incentive package.
"In exchange for constructing a 108,000 square foot Ranch and Home retail store, then
we will reimburse their permit fees as well as their system development charges,"
The total incentive package is about $100,000. Morgan says the company will pay the fees
into the general fund, then once the project has its certificate of occupancy, that money
will be refunded to the company.
During the meeting, The council also expected to ask the county to change the name of
Airport Road. The road that the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center is called East
Airport Road but doesnt connect to the airport.
Morgan says having two roads named in such a similar way Airport Way which travels
to the local airport and Airport Road also poses a risk for emergency responders.
Because Airport Road is a county street and not within the city limits, the city council
does not have the authority to change the name. Theyll be asking the county to make
a change without giving a recommended replacement.
During the meeting, the oath of office also given to Municipal Judge Thomas Creasing,
Mayor Dave Drotzmann and councilmen Manuel Gutierrez, Doug Primmer, John Kirwan, and Rod
SAIF reschedules seminars - For safety
SAIF has postponed its free ag safety seminar due to safety.
Kevin Pfau with SAIF says the Hermiston ag seminars, which serve Umatilla and Morrow
counties, were scheduled for this weekend but were postponed due to roads not being safe
SAIF is Oregons nonprofit workers compensation insurance company. The new
seminars are March 6 in English and March 7 in Spanish. They will be at the Hermiston
Conference Center. The rescheduled seminar will be open to additional attendees.
Pfau says SAIF holds seminars in 16 difference Oregon cities, many of them in Eastern
Oregon. The Hermiston seminar serves Umatilla and Morrow counties, the seminars this
weekend had 130 people signed up for the seminar in English and another 70 signed
up in Spanish. Pfau says it's a testament to their seminars, which are a combination of
entertainment and information.
All registered attendees will be notified of the cancellation and the new dates.
For more information, including registration for the march seminars, you can visit www.SAIF.com/agseminar.