KOHU - KQFM LOCAL NEWS

by News Director Jennifer Colton
541.567.6500 or 541.289.NEWS or KOHUnews@gmail.com
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Hazmat cleans up spill on 395
Jan. 20, 2018
Hazmat cleanup redirecting traffic on Highway 395 yesterday afternoon after a crash between a chevy pickup and a semi truck spilled diesel onto the highway.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Boardman, Stanfield, Umatilla councils to meet
Feb. 6, 2018
Coming up tonight, city council meetings for three local cities: Boardman, Stanfield, and Umatilla.
Boardman’s council meet at 7 at Boardman City hall. They’ll have a public hearing on access easemen rededication at the port of morrow as well as a presentation on goose hunting permits and actions accepting grants for police equipment purchases and personnel services. It’s also time, in Boardman, for the city manager review.
In Stanfield, a presentation on the water system master plan by Anderson Perry and associates, as well as transfers of money between funds and an update on the odor issues at 405 N. Hoosier Lane. That meeting begins at 7 in the council chambers at 150 west Coe avenue.
For the city of Umatilla, the meeting begins at 7 at Umatilla City Hall, and the agenda seems to focus on property developments and business improvements. The only resolution on the agenda allows the mayor to sign an agreement to vacate a portion of G Street to allow development of the property by the property owner. The city will keep easements for maintenance approval. The agenda includes fašade grant applications for House of Mowers and Alaniz Auto Details.
All three meetings begin at 7 tonight. You can contact each respective city hall for more information.

Burton named Stanfield superintendent
Feb. 5, 2018
Stanfield High School principal Beth Burton is the next superintendent of the Stanfield School District.
"We interviewed her last week, and she was a unanimous vote for the superintendent position," said School Board president Scott Morris.
The board naming Burton to the position during a special meeting on Friday. Burton is in her second year with the district and will take over Shelley Liscom’s duties tomorrow. Liscom submitted her resignation in December and said she would work through the end of this school year. She will be on paid administrative leave until June 15.
The district now beginning a search for a new principal at Stanfield secondary school. They’re also opening the position for principal at Stanfield elementary school. Liscom served as both the district superintendent and the elementary school principal.

Hermiston Energy installing new meters
Feb. 5, 2018
New electric meters going in across Hermiston this month. Hermiston Energy Services replacing meters with a contract crew, Allegiant meter, begin working last week. Hermiston Energy Services’ Nate Rivera saying they’re seeing rates of about 200 meters a day.
Customers should have received a notice in the electric bill. On the website, there's a link as to where the crew will be working. The power shut off between 1 and 5 minutes.
You can find more information and the map of where they’ll be working on the city’s website under Hermiston energy services. City officials saying the new meters will allow online tracking and information, similar to the city’s new water meters.

UPDATE: Youth group taken to Good Shepherd Health Care System
Feb. 2, 2018
The following is a press release from the Good Shepherd Healthcare System
On Thursday, February 1, 2018, a youth group traveling from Lewiston, Idaho, was in an accident on the I-82 and I-84 interchange outside of Hermiston. Nine of the youth, including the youth leader driving the van, were transported to Good Shepherd Health Care System for treatment.

The youth group along with their two additional accompanying vehicles came to GSHCS. GSHCS quickly assessed the situation and triaged and treated the youth and youth leader that were brought to the ER with varying degrees of injuries. The additional youth along with their leaders were given a private space to debrief, take inventory, and make phone calls. Food and beverages were provided while youth waited for their families to arrive.

GSHCS President & CEO, Dennis Burke, acknowledged, “Our team did a superb job of caring for those suffering from injuries, and the youth and youth leaders who were concerned about their friends. Under the circumstances, we wanted to make sure that the youth, their leaders, and families had a private space to decompress, interact with each other, and where we could provide for their other basic needs of food and beverages – while we awaited family to arrive. Our thoughts are with each of the youth and leaders involved. When situations like this arise, our team is ready.”

The youth and youth leader have since been treated and released.

HPD frustrated by another robbery
Feb. 2, 2018
Another robbery in Hermiston. At 9:45 in the evening on Wednesday, a robbery at the Sinclair Station on Hermiston avenue. The male suspect in dark clothing then fled the area with an unknown about of cash. Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston calling the rash of burglaries frustrating, pointing to the city’s low violent crime rate and the recent robberies, which are crimes of opportunity.
A press release from HPD saying it is not known if the Sinclair robbery is related to other recent robberies. They’re asking anyone with information on any of the cases to call 667-5095, and anyone who sees suspicious activity, particularly around businesses in the evening, to call 911 immediately.

Community health assessment prep begins
Feb. 2, 2018
Health officials preparing for the next round of community needs assessment surveys. This will be the third time officials have worked to capture a health snapshot of the community – about every three years – and Good Shepherd’s Juli Gregory says it helps determine what the needs are and what organizations should work for in the county health improvement plans.
"One of the reasons we need to gather this information is so we can come up with a CHIP that is appropriate and pertinent to out community," she said.
In the past, Umatilla County and Morrow counties used a third-party company out of Ohio to help manage the survey. Gregory says this year, Umatilla County will be taking it on their own. Gregory says because the questions have already been drafted - and they hope not to make many changes in order to compare data from different years - organizers hope to make a smooth transition.
The local counties will continue working with partners, hosting a mail-out survey and in-person interviews. Those surveys will likely be sent in the fall and collected through December so the data can be evaluated and then presented to the community around April.

Construction on festival street begins
Feb. 1, 2018
Today, work begins on the festival street in downtown Hermiston. City Planner Clint Spencer calls the groundbreaking the culmination of 10 years of planning work to create a space to bring people downtown, using public space and downtown businesses.
"They're going to start moving in the construction equipment and get all of the prep work installed," he said. "The plan is to come in and immediately start working on pavement grinding on Monday morning."
For construction, the area of second street in front of Hermiston City Hall – that’s from Gladys to Main – will be closed off. That will be a construction zone through the first week of June next week. Spencer says they expect to have construction completed by Memorial Day, all ‘punch list’ by the 15th Of June.
The project costing more than a million dollars and paid for through the Hermiston Urban Renewal District.  Read more about the HURA and the festival street here.
The city has scheduled a ground breaking ceremony for noon on Monday, Feb. 5 at the festival street, across from city hall.

HSD talks flu, keeping kids home from school
Feb. 1, 2018
As we told you yesterday, flu season still in full swing in Eastern Oregon. Now, the Hermiston School district reminding parents to have students practice good hand hygiene and frequently washing their hands with soap and water to prevent the spread of illness. They’re also underscoring a list of about 15 conditions when a student should be kept home from school. That includes a fever greater than 100.5 degrees, vomiting, and a stiff neck or headache with fever. Find the full list of recommendations during flu season here.

Flu season not over yet
Jan. 31, 2018
It's been a bad flu season this year, and Umatilla County Health says it's not over yet.
"If you dodged a bullet so far, that's terrific, but don't press your luck," Director Jim Setzer said. "Go ahead and get a flu shot - better late than never."
Setzer saying getting a flu shot can reduce symptoms if you do come down with the flu. The Oregon Health Authority reporting last week more than 5 percent of all emergency room visits in he state involved influenza like symptoms.That's higher than it has been in previous years - last year the flu season peaked just under 4 percent and two years ago, it was only 2 1/2. Flu season typically follows a bell curve, and this year, the west side of the state - including the Portland Metro and the Willamette Valley - has already started to peak and trend down. Eastern and Southern Oregon are still on the rise and have not peaked. Setzer says flu cases will last into at least March if not April.

HPD update on thefts, wanted suspect
Jan. 30, 2018
A busy week already for the Hermiston Police Department. HPD reporting thefts from vehicles that occurred overnight Sunday in the northwest part of Hermiston. Some of the property has been recovered and returned to the owners. No arrests have been made, but officers are still investigating. If you're missing something or have information regarding these incidents contact HPD at 541-567-5519. They're also asking for the public's help in locating a suspect. David Daniel Diaz, who has two warrants for violating his probation. Diaz is an Hispanic male, 20 years old, approximately 6 feet tall, and he weighs around 160 pounds. Diaz lives in the Hermiston area but has no permanent address. These three photos show how his appearance has changed over the last two years.
If you see Diaz, do not attempt to detain him yourself. Call the Hermiston Police non-emergency number at 541-567-5519.

Study seeks cancer survivors
Jan. 30, 2018
Umatilla County again selected as part of a study by Oregon State University - this time for cancer survivors.
The OSU study focusing on experiences of breast, prostate, and lunch cancer survivors in rural Oregon and funded by the National Cancer Institute. Interviews are expected to last 1-2 hours, and participants will receive a $25 in cash or a gift card as a way of saying thank you. For more information, you can contact the project coordinator, Kathy Blaustein at 541-737-4705 or Kathy.blaustein@oregonstate.edu.

UEC Moving Forward on Wheatridge Transmission Project
Jan. 30, 2018
Umatilla Electric Cooperative is taking the steps necessary to provide transmission services to the Wheatridge Wind Energy Facility.
The first step is preparing a conditional-use permit application to build, operate and maintain a 230-kilovolt transmission line that would connect the project to a Bonneville PowerAdministration substation at Boardman, said Robert Echenrode, UEC’s CEO and General Manager.
UEC will coordinate with developer NextEra and a multitude of other stakeholders to identify the proposed route, secure landowner easements and prepare engineering design documents, Echenrode said. Those activities must be completed before a permit application can be filed with Morrow County.
On Jan. 18, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission confirmed Umatilla Electric Cooperative as the sole provider of transmission services to the 500-megawatt project. UEC had been working with Wheatridge and other local, state and federal stakeholders for several years to plan the transmission line, but progress paused for a year while legal challenges
worked their way through state and federal regulatory agencies.
The proposed transmission line is a key element of a “green energy corridor” that would connect wind and solar projects in southern Morrow County to the Northwest energy grid at Boardman.
Combining energy projects in one corridor along or near Bombing Range Road would have several advantages, Echenrode said.
“It will maximize the region’s overall energy capacity and minimize disruption caused by future projects,” he said. “It can avoid or greatly minimize additional impacts to current uses by the Navy and irrigated farm land.”
Those interested in more information about UEC’s Wheatridge transmission project are welcome to contact UEC Government Relations Manager Alec Shebiel at alec.shebiel@umatillaelectric.com.

Water meters and software ready for Hermiston
Jan. 26, 2018
The new water meters for the city of Hermiston have been installed, about 5,000 of them. In announcing the project, paid for through water rates, the city saying the replacement would save the city money by re-allocating employees who manually read every meter but would also allow customers access to more data. That software is now up and running.
Hermiston Assistant City manager Mark Morgan Morgan says you use your account number and email address on the website eyeonwater.com to access the information. You can contact the city of Hermiston or visit the website for more information.

Crab feed next week
Jan. 26, 2018
Coming up next week, on February 3, the 9th annual Beach & Beef Crab Feed to benefit the Hermiston Education Foundation.
The fundraising event runs from 5 until 9 and will be at the Hermiston Conference Center. In addition to crab legs and beef kebobs, the event includes a live auction and entertainment with a cruise ship’ ‘sail away’ theme this year. Tickets this year are $35 per person, and they’re available now.
Foundation member Karen Sherman says the crab feed is the primary fundraiser for the group and the money raised goes to classroom scholarships to fund everything from technology improvements for kindergartners to new marching band equipment at the high school. Funds also now go to college scholarships for high school seniors.
Tickets available from the Hermiston School district office, Hermiston Chamber of Commerce, and online through the Hermiston Education Foundation.

ODE releases graduation rates
Jan. 25, 2018
The Oregon Department of Education releasing graduation rates yesterday. Overall, the state of Oregon showing a 76 percent graduation rate. Hermiston landing more than 10 points under that – a little less than 66 percent. It’s the lowest grad rate in Umatilla County. District staff saying part of the reason the graduation rate is so low is because of students receiving GEDs and students from the former alternative school now counted as part of Hermiston High School’s general population.
Interim Superintendent Tricia Mooney says the district supports students receiving GEDs, even when it impacts the graduation rate. She says they had 11 students complete a GED in December alone.
While Hermiston showed a graduation rate of 66 percent, schools in Stanfield and Umatilla celebrating growth.
In Stanfield, the graduation rate at 87 percent. Beth Burton saying the school has steadily increased its number of on-time graduations and showing improvement every year since 2013. Stanfield saying the area needing the most improvement is graduation among students with disabilities.
Umatilla also highlighting and celebrating its growth. Coming in at 82 percent this year. Superintendent Heidi Sipe saying Umatilla High School outperformed the state of Oregon averages in every measurable student group.
Echo Schools showing a graduation rate of 81 percent and Morrow County with 78 percent. Both those school districts reporting a drop out rate of 3.5 percent. In Ione, graduation at 90 percent with a zero percent drop out rate.

Ione teacher arrested, charted with sexual abuse
Jan. 25, 2018
A teacher at Ione Charter School arrested and accused of sexual contact with a student.
24-year-old music teacher Bryan Bates, of Ione, charged with official misconduct, harassment and third-degree sexual abuse, connected to an alleged incident with a 16-year-old female student that occurred on school property. Bates lodged in the Umatilla County jail with bail set at $25,000. Morrow County Sheriff’s Office saying this is an ongoing investigation.
Ione School District staff saying Bates placed on administrative leave on Tuesday morning and arrested yesterday.
Bates in his second year of teaching at the K-12 charter school. Today, the school offering counseling for students, staff, and parents in the high school library.

Fire District marks 2017 with increases
Jan. 24, 2018
In 2017, Umatilla County Fire District # 1 responded to 4,368 dispatch calls – an increase of 4.1 percent. Fire Chief Scott Stanton says the district responded to 196 fires, five explosions, 30 hazardous conditions with no fire, and 3,458 rescue or EMS calls.
"We're just busy, busy," Stanton said. "Calls continue to increase every year."
Here are the figures provided by Umatilla County Fire District #1:
Fires – 196
Over pressures/explosions – 5
Rescue/EMS – 3458
Hazardous Conditions (no fire) – 30
Service Calls – 316
Good Intent Calls – 278
False call/alarms – 75
Special incident – 10
Total incident dispatches – 4,368 (up 4.1%)
Inter-facility transfers – 607 (85% to the Tri-cities area, balance to the Portland area)
Inter-facility transports unable to staff – 19
Delays in response – 3 (had 23 delays the prior year)
Total training hours - 10,326 (new record for hours trained) Up 27%
Business Inspections – 204
Fire Cause Investigations – 27
Other inspections – 35
Plans Reviews – 41
Station tours – 52
Pub Ed events – 26
Fire Code consultations – 108
School Presentations – 79 – (thousands of kids)
Smoke detectors installed – 94
Planning committee hours – 39

During 2017, the district also had a new brush engine and new transport ambulance placed in service, celebrated the opening of the Fire Training drill tower (a partnership with BMCC) and began staffing station 22 on Diagonal 24/7/365 in March for first time in history.


City to own EOTEC
Jan. 23, 2018
The City of Hermiston taking full control of the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center.
During the planning and construction of EOTEC, the city of Hermiston and Umatilla County served as partners, supporting the project for its economic benefit and the as the new home of the Umatilla County Fair and Farm-City Pro-Rodeo. During a joint meeting last night, the Umatilla County Commissioners proposing shifting their part of the ownership to the city. County Commissioner George Murdock, chairman of the board, said it better serves the county to have the fair as a tenant instead of being a partner in the operation.
"Obviously, the major interest of the county was in getting a new fairgrounds, and that has been achieved," he said. "We also realize EOTEC is a 52-week a year operation and our interest is one week."
Murdock said the county understands the commitments that have been made and the county has is morally and ethically compelled to get EOTEC up and running in a positive way. Hermiston City Manager Byron Smith says the county proposed paying $75,000 a year for five years to help pay costs while EOTEC finds its feet and it will increase the lease payment for the fair – potentially up to $100,000 a year. Murdock said the county could use funds from the expansion of the enterprise zone and Lamb Weston expansion to pay its portion of support for EOTEC, unlike the city, which uses transient room tax funds. Smith says it’s a win-win situation.
"EOTEC's been a great success, and the partnership between the city and the county has been a great success, but now as we move from construction into operations, this looks like the logical way to go to progress forward," Smith said.
The proposal gives city and county staff 30 days to finalize the terms and negotiations. Smith says they will still have an advisory board with representatives from the Fair, Farm-City Pro-Rodeo and the community.

Montana man charged with drug distribution
Jan. 23, 2018
A Montana man arrested for allegedly distributing cocaine in Umatilla County.
The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office says 18-year-old Eric Mathias Dunbar, from Helena, Montana, has been charged with unlawful possession of cocaine, unlawful delivery of cocaine, and unlawful delivery of marijuana. Over the weekend, a sheriff’s deputy noticed two vehicles stopped on Powerline Road and contacted the occupants. The Deputy recovered a clear, plastic bag from the passenger side floorboard of a Subaru Impreza with Montana License plates, and the occupants confessed it was cocaine. As the driver, Dunbar, saying he had been paid to drive from Helena, Montana, to Eugene to pick up the drug items. A narcotics search of the vehicle released four safes, 24-hundred dollars in cash, 13 ounces of butane honey oil, 149 grams of cocaine, 7 grams of crack cocaine and about 100 ounces of marijuana. Dunbar was lodged at the Umatilla County jail

Election deadline tonight
Jan. 23, 2018
Today is election day. If you have not yet dropped off your ballot, that needs to be in a ballot drop box before 8 this evening. As of Monday afternoon, voter turnout in Umatilla county stood about 23 percent. Morrow County has about 28 percent of ballots returned – that’s closer to the state return rate as of yesterday afternoon. Measure 101 is the only issue on the ballot.

City Council meets tonight - earlier than usual
Jan. 22, 2018
The Hermiston City Council meeting tonight – an hour earlier than usual and at a different location.
The meeting begins at 6 at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center on Airport Road. The meeting opens with a joint discussion between the city council and the three Umatilla County Commissioners regarding EOTEC and recommendations.The agenda follows with the presentation of the city’s annual audit report, announcement of standing committee vacancies and committee reports. Find the full agenda here.

InterMountain ESD working through LSP process
Jan. 22, 2018
Last Wednesday, the InterMountain ESD Board of Directors voting on this year’s local service plan, a document that lays out goals, core services, and funding breakdowns for the 18 component school districts. Mark Mulvihill says it’s a collaborative process between the ESD and the districts
"The LSP process is actually one that I look forward to and enjoy because it's fun to get in a room together to talk big picture," Mulvihill said. "What are we going to do to improve grad rates, what are we going to do to improve early learning, and how do we leverage high-value activities."
Mulvihill says the local service plan every year includes core programs like technology as well as Medical programs for high-needs children, school psychology and speech pathology. Board member Kelly Bissinger says hiring those positions can be a big benefit for districts.
"Some of our smaller districts like Stanfield and Imbler, they're going to have a real problem hiring a full-time speech pathologist, so the consortium works really well with that group of people to get together and the superintendents says, 'this is how we're going to allocate these resources,'" Bissinger said.
Mulvihill says the local service plan also introduces many of the ESD’s innovating programs, including Eastern Promise and InterMountain Online.
Over the next month, school districts will begin voting on adopting next year’s local service plan. You can find the plan for 2017-8 school year on the website for Intermountain ESD.

Hermiston Schools to introduce calendar
Jan. 22, 2018
The Hermiston School District not one of the ESD’s component school districts, but they do have a meeting and work session this evening. That will be at Sandstone Middle School. Tonight, the board voting on the 2018-19 school calendar. Also on the agenda, a presentation from Sandstone.and a report from the technology department on Google training. That meeting begins at 6:30 at Sandstone Middle School Find the agenda here.

Hermiston man steals, crashes cop car
Jan. 19, 2017
A Hermiston man trading two charges for 22 yesterday by escaping custody, stealing a cop car, and crashing it. 23-year-old Christopher Alvin Phillips lodged at the Umatilla County jail on 22 charges. Phillips’ criminal escapade began just before 9a.m. yesterday when a Umatilla County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle. The caller reported it could be related to a burglary in the neighborhood. The deputy detained and arrested Phillips, handcuffing him an securing him in the patrol car.
When the deputy left the patrol car to speak with a tow truck driver impounding the vehicle Phillips had been in, the man broke the rear window of the patrol car, crawled out of a window i and into the driver’s seat. He drove the vehicle into a ditch on Tabor Road, a short distance away.

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Christopher Alvin Phillips charged with stealing and crashing a UCSO vehicle (Photo provided by UCSO)

At 1:15 in the afternoon, residents on Cowboy Lane reported a man pounding on doors. After a search of the area and a foot chase, Phillips was re-arrested and lodged at the Umatilla County jail. His charges include escape, vehicle theft, eluding police and other pending charges.


Mental health meeting today
Jan. 19, 2017
A stakeholder session today to discuss mental health and crisis intervention services in Umatilla County. Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says the issues have been building for several months about deficiencies within the services they are receiving for mental health.
The Pendleton meeting follows the notice Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc provided Lifeways last Friday. GOBHI notified Lifeways it had until February 20 to make major improvements to the quality of its Umatilla County crisis services or the contract will end. GOHBI saying it expects Lifeways will hire an outside consultant to help with oversight of the program before the end of January. The notice also calling for a meeting between GOBHI officials and Lifeways’ new CEO Tim Hoekstra – who took over operations in Hermiston, Pendleton, Milton-Freewater and Ontario this Monday.

Video shows boat crash that injured officers
Jan. 19, 2017
A video released this week promoting the use of life jackets bringing a boat crash from last summer and the responding law suit back into the news.


This video posted on the Facebook page for Angling Oregon.

Two Hermiston Police Officers, Bryan Maess and Chris McMahon on board a Weldcraft fishing boat just before a large motorboat rammed into it on Aug. 12 in the Columbia River, just east of Fort Stevens State Park. The video released by shows the larger boat speeding toward the fishing vessel, Maes, McMahon and Roni Durham jumping from the boat just before the crash. Earlier this month, Maess filed a $372,000 lawsuit against the driver of the larger boat, 75-year-old Marlin Lee Larson, of Roseburg.
The Oregonian reports Clatsop County Sheriff’s office has charged Larsen with reckless operation of a boat, fourth-degree assault and recklessly endangering the lives of others. Larsen is pleading not guilty.

Arts expand in Hermiston, INWM receive grant
Jan. 18, 2017
Two bits of good news for the arts locally. This week, the Oregon Arts Commission releasing its list of 2018 operating grants. Of the 79 grants, three coming to Eastern Oregon, including Inland Northwest Musicians as well as the Wallowa Valley Music Alliance, in Enterprise, and the Drexel Foundation from Vale. Most of the groups receiving a grant of $1,230, including Inland Northwest Musicians.
Inland Northwest Musicians also partnering with the city of Hermiston to offer violin classes – going on now – through Parks and Recreation. Parks and Rec director Larry Fetter says it’s thanks to the expanded space as the department moves into the Hermiston Community Center.
"I'm happy to say we're opening the doors to the finer arts, and so far, we're encouraged by the response," Fetter said. "It's exciting."
Fetter says the building, formerly the Hermiston Conference Center, will still be used for community events and many of the same programs it has hosted for years, but in addition, Parks and Rec now has the space to add music programs, like violin and guitar, as well as theater.
"We've dabbled with youth theater for a few years now... but this new facility, the community center... opens the door for our own community theater and youth theater," Fetter said.
Parks and recreation is also expanding its office hours, and you can find more information on the group’s website or by stopping by the Hermiston Conference Center. Fetter says they have ordered new signage to have it read Hermiston Community Cente.r That should arrive in the next couple weeks.

SUV crashes into Big Lots
Jan. 18, 2017
The Big Lots! Store in Hermiston currently closed as repair and clean up work after a woman drove through the glass doors and into the counter yesterday. The woman, 78-year-old Christina Kennedy, reporting she was pulling up to park in front of the store when she must have hit her gas pedal instead of her brakes and accelerated more than 50 feet into he store just before noon yesterday.

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photo provided by Hermiston Police

No injuries reported, but the crash caused between $60 and $90-thousand worth of damage to the store, as well as $2,500 to Kennedy’s Subaru Forester SUV. Kennedy was issued a sitation for careless driving.
HPD will be adding extra patrols of the business in the time it takes to replace the window and repair damage.

Woman's death underscores emergency precautions
Jan. 17, 2017
A Springfield woman found dead in Morrow County yesterday after walking away from her vehicle, seeking help. Just before 8:30 yesterday morning, the Morrow County Communications Center receiving a report of a vehicle off the side of a farm road near Condon Highway 206 with an elderly female still inside. The 78-year-old woman saying the vehicle ran off the road and her daughter-in-law had left on foot near midnight seeking assistance. The weather had been in the low 30s with heavy rain and fog. Heppner Ambulance transported the elderly woman to Pioneer Memorial Hospital, and Search and Rescue was deployed. The woman was found deceased just after 12:30 yesterday afternoon. She has been identified as 57-year-old Becky Sue McDuffee from Springfield.
Morrow County Sheriff’s Office issuing a reminder yesterday asking all citizens to carry appropriate and extra clothing during car travels and to stick to main roads in unfamiliar areas. If you do become lost or disabled, remain with the vehicle.


Man arrested for shoplifting
Jan. 16, 2017
Over the weekend, Hermiston police arrested a Umatilla man for allegedly trying to steal over $750 from the Hermiston Walmart. 25-year-old Jentry Wedge arrested after he allegedly loaded a cart with miscellaneous merchandise then tried to exit the store without paying for the items. A community member reported the incident, and HPD saying they value the relationship and teamwork of community members.
If you have any information of criminal activity, you can call 911, the business line at 541-567-5519 or the Dispatch Center at 541-966-3651

Window smashed at HPD
Jan. 11, 2017
A smashed and shattered window at the Hermiston Police Department could cost $2,000 to replace, and the window’s assailant has been arrested.
24-year-old Peyton Hobbs, of Hermiston, arrested and charged with first-degree criminal mischief.
A press release from HPD saying Captain Scott Clark heard a loud crashing sound coming from the department lobby at around 5:45 yesterday evening. In the lobby, he found one of the 4-foot-by-9-foot windows smashed and Hobbs waiting outside. The 24-year-old ordered the police captain to arrest him for what he had done. Clark obliged.
Hermiston Glass boarding the window and saying the glass will likely need to be ordered out of Canada. The total cost estimated between $1,000 and $2,000.
Police Chief Jason Edmiston saying Hobbs is well known to law enforcement for causing disturbances. In a statement, Edmiston saying, “I can say with 100% absolute certainty this crime could have been prevented if we had adequate mental health services in Umatilla County. The phenomena of inadequate mental health services however are not just localized to Umatilla County as it has been shown to be a trend across the nation. The solution often amongst politicians and providers is to ‘train the police better on how to deal with the person’ instead of providing the obvious assistance and resources that are needed.
Law enforcement resources too are very limited and many agencies like ours, try to ensure we are as efficient and effective as possible to maintain order, provide exceptional customer service, and positively impact the livability of our citizens who put tremendous faith and authority in us to do this job.”

UCFD#1 badge ceremony tonight
Jan. 11, 2017
A ceremony at Umatilla County Fire District 1, tonight.
Fire Chief Scott Stanton says they have four employees who either have been promoted or passed probation, including Scott Goff, who takes over as Division Chief Fire Marshal, stepping into to the roll as Tom Bohm retires. That ceremony is at 5:30 tonight at Station 21, that’s the station on South 1st Street.
[badge pinning]
In addition to Goff, also part of the ceremony are Ed Clark, Battalion Chief EMS Coordinator, Chris Wrathall, Fire Lieutenant, and Trevor Phillips, who hasCompleted Firefighter Probation. Stanton says they will likely have another badge ceremony in March as they have other firefighters working through training and probation with the fire district.

Lamb Weston 15-year incentive approved
Jan. 9, 2017
A 15-year tax incentive for the Hermiston Lamb Weston approved by the Hermiston City Council last night. The $220 million project will get a break on its taxes for 15 years, but it’s an abatement rather than a full exemption, which means the company will still make annual payments to the city.. Assistant City manager Mark Morgan says It’s about 45% of what the company would pay in taxes.
"On its face, it looks like, 'Oh, a 15-year exemption, that's so much better than what Pioneer Seed and Shear's Foods got,' but not really because there's still those additional payments that they're making, which the others are not," Morgan said. "
Morgan said the previous incentive agreements were three- or five-year exemptions for a full 100 percent of all property taxes.

Hermiston Schools honor Educators of the Year
Jan. 9, 2017
The Hermiston School District last night honoring its employees of the year, including administrator of the year, Larry Usher
"I was very surprised," Usher said. "I think our administrative team in our school district is fantastic. We have so many administrators that do so many positive things for kids, and I hadn't really grouped myself in with them. Very humbled to be given the opportunity to be recognized.
Follow this link to see the full list of honorees, their positions, and time in the Hermiston School District.

Umatilla releases design plans
Jan. 9, 2017
Plans just released for what the schools improvements in Umatilla will look like. The Umatilla School District releasing the architectural drawings, from Design West, for the bond-funded projects at McNary Heights Elementary, Clara Brownell Middle School, and Umatilla High School.
"We are moving full steam ahead," District superintendent Heidi Sipe said. "Expect to see a lot of construction."
Sipe said the drawings help community members visualize what the schools will look like with the improvements. Through the bond, all three schools receive remodels to entrances for updated safety and security. Clara Brownell Middle School also receiving a new roof and windows as well as new floors, HVAC, plumbing and electrical.
"The idea of having drawings for an HVAC system that is not 70 years old is so exciting for us," she said. "We cannot thank voters enough for this opportunity."
The drawings released do show the design for new entrances to all schools as well as the new gym space at McNary Heights Elementary. The project funded with a $10 million bond approved by voters in 2016 and a $4 million grant from the state of Oregon.

City Council, School Board meetings
Jan. 8, 2017
Tonight, meetings for both the Hermiston City Council and the Hermiston School Board of Education. The School Board meeting begins at 5:30 in the District Office. That meeting an hour earlier than usual to allow for recognition of educators of the year. Find the full agenda here. The City council meeting begins at 7 at Hermiston City Hall. Visit the city's website for the full agenda.

HPD investigating armed robbery
Jan. 8, 2017
Hermiston Police investigating an armed robbery at 11th Street Market. The robbery just before midnight on Friday – that’s 11:56 on Thursday - by a tall, slender, white male wearing a ski mask, sweatshirt, and dark pants. He reportedly brandished a handgun and demanded money before fleeing on foot.
Police Chief Jason Edmiston says they’re hoping someone in the public may recognize the clothing or the individual. You can find photos on the Hermiston Police Department page on Facebook. We’ve also shared that on our own KOHU KQFM Facebook page.
If you have any information, call 667-5095.

Dancing with the Stars, Arts Council looks to future
Jan. 8, 2017
The dancers are in town, and in less than a week, a mirror ball trophy will again be given out in Hermiston as the sixth annual Dancing with the Hermiston Stars takes the stage. It’s a Desert Arts Council production where six local ‘stars’ dance to raise money for charity.
"The dances tend to tell a story, and they get to put a lot of personality and energy into telling the story," DAC Board member Mary Corp said. "That's probably what I'm most looking forward to."
Dancing with the stars is this Saturday at Hermiston High School. It wraps up the Desert Arts council's season, and Corp said it’s also a time for the Desert Arts Council board to look at what events they’ll offer next season.
In the past, Desert Arts council has hosted theatric performances, singers, art classes in the park and even circus acts.
Board members will attend Dancing with the Stars if you’d like to provide feedback at that time. You can also contact Desert Arts Council through Facebook, email, or their website.
For Dancing with the stars,
Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students. You can pick up tickets on the Desert Arts Council website, from the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce, Hermiston Parks and Recreation, or from a member of Hermiston Kiwanis or Hermiston Rotary. Visit the website or facebook page for Desert Arts Council for more information.

Schools delayed
Jan. 5, 2018
Three schools delayed this morning. The Ione School District and Heppner schools testing out the three-hour delay this morning because of freezing rain and icy roads. Other schools in the Morrow County remain on regular schedules. The Pilot Rock School District also on a two-hour delay.

DUII results in from UCSO
Jan. 5, 2018
The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office releasing the results of this year’s DUI and high visibility patrols for the holiday season. Between December 13 and January 1, the sheriff’s office had increased patrols watching for distracted driving and driving under the influence. In those expanded patrols, deputies gave 17 citations and warnings to drivers – and arrested 3 people for DUII, all in Hermiston.
28-year-old Ruben Garza stopped on Dec. 16 and charged with a DUI for alcohol – blood-alcohol at .12 – and then 25-year-old Samantha Wolfer stopped and cited with DUII for a controlled substance and reckless driving, Both those charges between midnight and 1 in the morning. Then on the 21st, about 10 minutes before 11 in the evening, 20-year-old Cory Adams charged for DUII cannabis, speeding and minor in possession of marijuana. The sheriff’s office saying seven other people were arrested for DUII during regular duty hours and deputies gave 116 citations and warnings.
Overall, in 2017, the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office made 102 DUII arrests.
The next grant-funded high visibility event is set for Super Bowl Sunday on February 4.


Usher named Administrator of the Year
Jan. 4, 2018
Yesterday, the Hermiston School District announcing Athletic Director Larry Usher named the administrator of the year for the 2017-8 school year.
Usher hired into the Hermiston School District in 2002 as a high school social studies teacher. In 2010 he was named dean of students’ position at Sandstone Middle School, becoming the assistant principal in 2013 and then principal of Sandstone in 2014. In 2016 he was hired as the athletic director.
In other school district news, Desert View Elementary Principal Laura Jacobs-ma resigning over the winter break. Hermiston Assistant Superintendent Bryn Browning to serve as interim principal for the remainder for the school year.

Chambers prepare for award banquets
Jan. 4, 2018
With the start of 2018, local chambers of commerce are turning their attention to the annual award banquets, which typically take place in January and February. With two banquets scheduled later than usual for 2018, Boardman will launch the awards season on Friday, Feb. 2. Julie Guisi says they’re already receiving award nominations.
"We have people already turning in nominations - it's been fabulous," she said. "People just see the greatness we have in Boardman."
Heppner follows the next week – February 8 – and nominations are due January 12. You can contact the Heppner Chamber of Commerce for nomination forms.
Nominations also opening for the Hermiston Chamber’s Distinguished Citizen Awards Banquet. That one will be Feb. 21, pushed back because of the chamber’s relocation and new focus. You can find out more by contacting the Hermiston Chamber, and you can find the award nomination forms on their website. The awards banquet for the Umatilla Chamber of Commerce also pushed back this year – that one in May. It’s a return for the annual event after taking a year off in 2017. Board member Jeff Wheeler says it will be a new, but still exciting event.
"It is going to be an exciting return, and we're excited to see what that looks like with the board and all of the extra help we've had from other community members," he said. "We've had a lot of buy-in from the community, and that's exciting."
While Umatilla Chamber is in its interim management period, you can contact Umatilla City Hall for chamber-related information.

Chamber, Parks & Rec relocate
Jan. 3, 2018
Yesterday was the first day for the Greater Hermiston Area Chamber of Commerce in its new location in Cornerstone Plaza.
"If you're looking for us, we're just up the street," Chamber Director Debbie Pedro says. "we're ready to go, and we're really excited."
The chamber now at 1055 S Hwy 395 Ste. 111 in Hermiston.
The chamber formerly at the Hermiston Conference Center - soon to be renamed the Hermiston Community Center - but moving to cornerstone over the holiday break. This week also marks the re-opening of Hermiston Parks and Recreation in, well, the former chamber offices at the conference center. Phone numbers for both groups remain the same.

City looks at water impacts
Jan. 3, 2018
At the start of 2018, the city of Hermiston looking toward new job growth and creation but also planning for a funding shortage in one department: water. Over the summer Hermiston foods announced its closure and wrapped up operations a few weeks ago. Assistant City manager Mark Morgan says what happens to that facility will impact the city of Hermiston in 2018 because Hermiston Foods purchased about 10 percent of the city's water. Morgan says because of the way Hermiston Foods was set up, it has a lot of flexibility that could make it easier to find a buyer, which will help with employment and job rates, but probably not much with water.
"Regardless of who goes in there, I don't know that we could ever count on someone using the same amount of water, even if it is a food processor," Morgan said. "It'll be something interesting to watch."
Budget planning beginning now. For the city of Hermiston, the fiscal year begins in July.

Man threatens family with axe
Jan. 3, 2018
A man arrested after threatening his family with an axe.
Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office deputies responding to a domestic disturbance at a home on Baxter Road in Hermiston late Friday night. The suspect, 26-year-old Kacey Pankey, from Umatilla, allegedly became upset during a family dinner event and threatened to injure and kill multiple people with an axe. A family member fought Pan-key and managed to take the axe away from him, but family members worried the man could access other weapons and contacted 911.
Pankey was arrested and charged with six counts each of: Domestic Violence Attempted Assault II, Domestic Violence Menacing, Domestic Violence Coercion and Recklessly Endangering Another.

Morrow County deputy injured in crash
Jan. 2, 2018
A Morrow County deputy injured in a rollover crash on Saturday. Deputy Lance Bose responding to a truck crash on Interstate 84 when he was calling to a report of a fight involving 15 people in Heppner. On the way, he passed through an area of ice and lost control of the vehicle, spinning off the roadway. The patrol car rolled several times, trapping the deputy. Boardman Fire and Morrow County ambulance extricated Deputy Boise, who was then transported to Good Shepherd Medical Center.

Pregnancy Care Services becomes TruCare Pregnancy Resource
Jan. 2, 2018
Hermiston’s Pregnancy Care Services changing its name over the holiday break. Starting Tuesday, the Hermiston nonprofit will officially be “TruCare Pregnancy Resource Center.” Center director Debbie Cissna says after six years, the nonprofit will be an independent, locally governed center.
"It is going to look a little different," Cissna said. "Our name is changing, but what we do and the services we provide are going to be the same."
TruCare Pregnancy Resource Center, located in Granary Square, will be separate from the Pendleton center, which will continue to operate under the name Pregnancy Care Services. You can find out more by calling 541-567-2393 or the website trucareprc.com.

Council considers subdivision
Jan. 2, 2018
The Umatilla City Council meeting tonight. The agenda including two sets of re-zoning ordinances, both to add more homes to the city, both in McNary. One of those is the Big River Subdivision, The council to also vote on moving forward on seeking funding for the West County Trails Project. That project partnering the cities of Umatilla, Echo, Stanfield, and Hermiston. The Umatilla City Council meeting begins at 7 tonight at Umatilla City Hall. Find the full agenda here.

HPD to amp social media presence
Dec. 29, 2017
Starting Tuesday, the Hermiston Police Department will be posting a lot more on Facebook and other social media. Police Chief Jason Edmiston says they’re starting small.
"Our intent is to push out good information, maybe sometimes some humorous information," Edmiston said. "We're going to shoot for one post Monday through Friday each week. We'll start there and see how it goes."
The posts could include crime prevention tips, crime information, advisories or community happenings. Edmiston says they’ve discussed expanding social media for a while to give quick, accurate information.
"There have been numerous times over the past couple years where information on social media has prompted us to counter that information immediately - or verify that with additional information," he said.
Now, the three on-call supervisors: Captains Scott Clark and Travis Eynon (ee-nan) and Lieutenant Randy Studebaker will be posting each week they’re on call.
It’s a big change for Edmiston, who has served as the single public information officer for the department for 12 years.
The social media policy change begins January 2.

Changes for Umatilla Chamber
Dec. 27, 2017
Continuing our look forward to 2018, changes for the Umatilla Chamber of Commerce. Lori Kimbal recently stepped down from her position running that chamber, and the board is deciding what it will do next.
"Currently we are looking at - obviously, with Lori stepping down - just re-evaluating that and what does that mean for us," Board member Jeff Wheeler said. "What do we need to do to best serve the community and the businesses in Umatilla."
Wheeler says the chamber board wants to keep the relationships Kimbal established strong and the momentum going.
The Umatilla visitor’s center remains closed during the interim period, although they are looking for volunteers to help staff that, and Wheeler says they will be hosting a distinguished citizens awards banquet in 2018 and they’re in the process of planning for that. You can contact Umatilla City Hall for more information.


Gravel, road priorities for winter weather
Dec. 26, 2017
Snow on the ground this weekend, and the first tests for winter road maintenance across the region.
In the city of Hermiston, assistant city manager Mark Morgan says the biggest priorities are Highland, Fourth Street, First Street.
"We have limited resources in both manpower and plowing capacity," Morgan said, pointing to the city's tiered response policy. "It's a tiered approach with the top priority being the main roads."
The city’s street management plan does not include Highway 395, Elm and 11th which are are all state roads. Morgan says the state of Oregon has changed which gravel it is using this year, opting for a cheaper, lighter alternative while the city has remained with a heavier rock in its gravel.
"It'll be interesting to see here throughout the winter if we see cracked windshields from people driving on 395 or 11th or Elm, what the difference is between those streets and our streets."
The city’s tier program for ice and snow removal kicks in when snow is predicted to be 2 inches or more. Crews work the main roads first, followed by hill routes and the downtown commercial area, then the residential areas. You can find out more on the city’s website.

Lamb Weston announces $250-million expansion
Dec. 22, 2017
Yesterday, Lamb Weston Holdings announcing a $250-million expansion at the Hermiston plant. County Commissioner Bill Elfering says it’s a great deal for Umatilla County – and another example of an economic development.
"I'm loving it," Elfering said. "We're having a lot of success, and good things are happening."
The Lamb Weston expansion expected to bring 170 jobs to the west end of Umatilla County while expanding Lamb Weston’s French fry line. The Hermiston line expected to produce 300 million pounds of product a year. In the release, Lamb Weston president and CEO Tom Werner said, "The french fry category has been growing at attractive rates around the world, and we believe industry capacity has been challenged in recent years to keep up with continued growth in market demand,”

Fleecing raises $9,000
Dec. 22, 2017

The annual fleecing taking place yesterday for the Hermiston Rotary. The fleecing is a donation drive to benefit Christmas express. Before the fleecing, Police Chief Jason Edmiston saying it’s the biggest source of funding for Christmas Express and the group typically donates $5-7,000. Yesterday, however, Rotary members shattering that average and committing to $9,000 in donations – it’s the most they ever have.

Travel warnings this holiday (and first day of winter)
Dec. 21, 2017
Today expected to be one of the biggest travel days for the holiday season – only behind yesterday - and if you’re traveling through Eastern Oregon, law enforcement want you to be prepared for winter weather.
"The roads here locally are pretty decent, but you can clip along at a pretty steady pace, then you hit some of those passes where there might be ice and snow - or even black ice," Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan said. "It can make for tense situations for families."
Law enforcement recommending leaving early and allowing time to travel safely. High visibility patrols in place in Eastern Oregon, watching for distracted driving, impaired driving, and seat belt use – 3 of the “Fatal 5” driving behaviors Oregon State Police troopers are watching for this holiday season. Through January 1, OSP has extra patrols also watching for speed and lane usage. Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says speed is a critical factor in winter driving.
"Especially this time of year, slow down," Edmiston said.
More than 107 million people expected to take a holiday trip this year. ODOT also reminding drivers not to rely solely on GPS units: if it directs you to a road that doesn’t appear well maintained or well traveled, turn around.

Christmas Express starts rolling
Dec. 19, 2017
Yesterday was the first day of Christmas Express distribution at Agape House, and Dave Hughes says they’re ready for day 2.
"It's been wonderful. We've been able to serve a lot of people," he said. "I'd just like to encourage you, if you have received a phone call from the police department, come in. We're happy to share."

express.jpg (229237 bytes)Seniors from Ione Community School wrap gifts at Agape House on Monday.

Yesterday, seniors from Ione community school wrapped up their field trip by wrapping gifts at Christmas Express. Erin Heideman says its about giving back.
"We do a lot within our community, but sometimes it's good to go above and beyond," she said.
Sonia Medina was one of those students that traveled with Heideman.
"I think it's good to be concerned this time of year because we're in an environment where kids are getting what they want, what they enjoy, and I think it's good to give back to those students who might not have that opportunity," she said.
Christmas Express continues until 6 this evening and from 9 to 6 tomorrow. Participants receiving gifts and food boxes should have been contacted by the Hermiston Police Department. If you’re interested in volunteering, you can contact Dave at Agape House.

Christmas Spirit awards announced
Dec. 18, 2017
On Friday morning, presentation of this year’s Christmas Spirit Awards to Kriss Dammeyer, John and Marge Walchli.
This is the 22nd annual Christmas Spirit Awards, given by the Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation to someone who exemplifies the spirit of Christmas throughout the year.
Dammeyer honored for her work with Made to Thrive, a nonprofit organization she co-founded. John and Marge Walchli honored as integral memembers of the community who give time, talents, space, and donations to worthy causes and special events.
Read the full releases here.

Arrest made in armed robbery
Dec. 15, 2017
An arrest in last week’s armed robbery in Milton-Freewater.
Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office detectives arresting 27-year-old Denis A Krivosheenko, from Walla Walla, on Wednesday and charging him with first-degree robbery. The Sheriff’s Office says Krivosheenko admitted to the Dec. 6th robbery at the First Stop Mart in Milton Freewater. He will likely face additional charges related to the robbery, and he’s also a suspect in separate criminal cases involving forgery and theft, both in Oregon and Washington.
Krivosheenko is lodged at the Walla Walla County Jail pending extradition to Umatilla County.

Christmas Concert almost sold out
Dec. 15, 2017
Coming up this weekend, the holiday concerts for Inland Northwest Musicians. It’s called “The Spirit of the Season,” and features both the Inland Northwest Chorale and Inland Northwest Orchestra. Conductor Lee Friese says the concert will cover both well known and lesser known compositions that enhance the holiday.
Spirit of the Season will be offered three times this weekend: on Friday in Echo, Saturday in echo, and Sunday in Connell, Washington. Unlike most inland northwest musicians concerts, the Echo shows do require reservations because space is limited. Find more info here.

BMCC Instructor elected to national board
Dec. 15, 2017
Blue Mountain Community College agriculture instructor Nick Nelson selected to serve as President of the National Association of Agriculture Educators (NAAE) during the NAAE annualconvention in Nashville Dec. 5-9. He is the first teacher from Oregon to serve as President and the first
person in the country to serve in the role from a post-secondary institution.
Nelson serving on the NAAE Board of Directors for the past four years, three of those years as the
Region 1 Vice President (serving 11 western states), and one as President-Elect for the national board.
Nelson is an animal science instructor at BMCC, where he’s
been a faculty member for the past 11 years. Prior to BMCC, Nelson taught agriculture at the high school level in Hermiston and Clackamas.

Chamber selects temporary location
Dec. 14, 2017
Effective December 20th, the Greater Hermiston Chamber of Commerce and the Hermiston Visitor and Welcome Center will be moving to Cornerstone Plaza, the address is 1055 S Hwy 395, Suite 111.
"That really is different for us," Debbie Pedro says. "We've been managing the conference center for past 22 years as a chamber of commerce, so we're really excited to look to the future."
The City of Hermiston Parks and Recs Department will be moving into the former Chamber offices at the Hermiston Conference Center, soon to be the Community Center.
The Chamber will begin the moving process on December 20th and be closed for the week of Christmas and New Year Holiday. Our office will reopen on January 2, 2018 in the new location.
Chamber staff saying the move is temporary and they are exploring permanent locations.
For more information, contact Chamber at 541-567- 6151.

Sheriff's office begins DUII event
Dec. 14, 2017
The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office (UCSO) launching its holiday duii enforcement campaign today. From Dec. 13 through New Year’s Day, the sheriff’s Office will be participating in Oregon’s DUII / High Visibility Enforcement (HVE) grant program looking for impaired drivers. The Sheriff’s Office will have extra deputies patrolling the roadways looking specifically for intoxicated and distracted drivers.
The holiday season is a time when families and friends get together and celebrate. On average, there are 33 lives lost in traffic collisions every December in the State of Oregon. It is UCSO’s goal to prevent serious injury or fatal crashes on our county’s roadways.
Please, buckle up, drive for the conditions, and never drive impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. Be responsible and arrange for a sober driver.
If you see what you believe to be unsafe operation of a motor vehicle, call 911 with the vehicle’s description, direction of travel,
and license plate number if possible. You may save a life.

Schools donate 12,000 canned foods
Dec. 12, 2017
More than 12 thousand pounds of canned foods donated to Christmas Express from Hermiston schools. The Hermiston Police Department runs Christmas Express each year to provide food boxes and gifts to needy individuals and families in the Hermiston area. Police Chief Jason Edmiston says it wouldn’t exist without the school’s donations.
Armand Larive Middle School donated more than 27-hundred pounds of food on its own. About 66 percent of students at Armand Larive Middle School qualify for free or reduced lunch
"It's always encouraging to see the schools that probably have the demographics that could benefit the most from this program are the ones that donate the most," Edmiston said.

Here is the breakdown:

Desert View—793 items
Highland Hills—1,511 items
Rocky Heights—2,984 items
Sunset—809 items
Armand Larive—2,750 items
Sandstone—1,176 items
Hermiston High School—3,984 and $500 worth of toys

City staff will pack the boxes tonight. If you are interested in helping with Christmas Express distribution, you can contact Agape House to volunteer.

HURA value tops $50 million
Dec. 12, 2017

The Hermiston Urban Renewal Agency is now worth more than $50 million. That’s a 20 percent increase since it was created in 2014.
"If the main goal of an urban renewal agency is to increase value and eliminate barriers to new private development, then I think we can safely say we're hitting it out of the park," Hermiston Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says.
The bulk of the increased value from last year comes from the development of the 93-room Holiday Inn Express, which hit the tax rolls this year. Other developments include the creation of the Festival Street area – that just went out for bid today with construction expected in early 2018 – as well as the Harkenrider Center. The Urban Renewal Agency oversees a taxing district designed to revitalize downtown by offering business incentives – similar to the enterprise zone we talked about last week.
Morgan added that the new 50-space parking lot between Locust Avenue and Orchard Avenue also benefits downtown construction because it can draw in new businesses as it helps businesses meet their parking space requirements. You can find more about the Hermiston Urban Renewal Agency on the city’s website.

Warnings about winter weather from HPD, HSD
December 11, 2017
Icy conditions on Interstate 84 causing multiple semi truck accidents this week, and, as winter weather continues to pick up, Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says they’re already seeing an increase in crashes.
"Some of which can be attributed to distracted driving, some to the weather, especially this time of year as the roads become icy," he says. "We'd just encourage everyone to drive slow."
In preparation for the weather, the Hermiston School District issuing a reminder and recommendations for protecting students against the cold – including a recommendation that students travel to school with hat, gloves, and a warm coat, saying students can remove layers as the temperature improves but need to have appropriate shoes and clothing to prevent frostbite. The district advises families not to let children wait inside a home for the bus – making sure they wait outside so the bus driver can see them and stop – and the police chief says if you’re driving your children, resist the temptation to let a car warm up with the keys in it unattended.
"We know that we have a significant population out there that are opportunistic," he says. "We'd ask people to be very smart warming their vehicles up."
Edmiston says many criminals are looking for a situation where the reward is more than the risk – so if you make it more difficult for them, you’re less likely to be a victim.

Schools talk audit, city council considers airport hangar
December 11, 2017
Speaking of schools, the Hermiston School Board has its regular meeting tonight. That includes the audit report, updates on enrollments and accept grants from the Hermiston Education Foundation. That meeting begins at 6:30. The board does have an executive session at 6 before the regular meeting. Find the full agenda here.
Also tonight, the Hermiston City Council considering approving a 20-year lease for a new hangar at the airport. The airport advisory committee recommending approving the lease because all city-owned hangars are fully occupied – with a waiting list. Developer Dennis Hyatt proposing building the hangar to house his own airplane as well as space for leasing to other plane owners. During the meeting, they’ll also vote on publishing the notice of the 2018 Primary Election – that includes multiple council spots as well as municipal judge – and a change to the fee resolution for making copies and public record documents. That meeting begins at 7. Find the full agenda here.

Final day of 12 Days of Giving - today
Dec. 8, 2017
Today is the final day of Good Shepherd’s 12 Days of Giving. Under the theme for today - Drummers Drumming - they're looking for school supplies, but you can donate items for any of the days today. Drop off donations at Good Shepherd Medical Center or call 541-667-3502 for more information.

Dog dies in Boardman fire
Dec. 8, 2017
A fire yesterday morning in Boardman. The 6-wheel camper trailer burned and a total loss. Boardman fire saying both occupants were out of the home and uninjured, but the family pet – a dog - perished in the fire. That was just before 6 in the morning yesterday. The American Red Cross providing temporary housing and basic needs services at 9 in the morning. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Living Nativity in Hermiston this weekend
Dec. 8, 2017

Coming up this weekend, it’s the annual living nativity at t Hermiston First United Methodist Church on Gladys in downtown Hermiston. Volunteers will present scenes of the Christmas story on a path along the outside of the church. Longtime volunteer Tim Turner says Hermiston First United Methodist has hosted a living nativity 23 of the last 25 years and are planning on presenting it again this weekend, from
6-8 p.m. on Saturday and 4-6 p.m. on Sunday
They will have hot chocolate and live entertainment in the church building, but the nativity is outside, so dress warmly.
For more information, contact Hermiston First United Methodist Church.

County Commissioners look to planning
Dec. 7, 2017
The Umatilla County Commissioners meeting yesterday morning and approving the expansion of the Greater Hermiston Enterprise Zone. They’re also moving forward with the pre-budget process and preparing for ongoing projects. Umatilla County Commissioner Larry Givens says they struggle every year with what road projects to plan for because road funding is limited.
"We look at the county roads that are traveled frequently and those that are less traveled and set priorities based on the traffic on those roads," he said.
Planned improvements do include changes to Ott Road and Airport Road after increased traffic from the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center, especially during the Umatilla County Fair and Farm-City Pro Rodeo. Changes to Airport Road designed to streamline access.
"We probably will have to widen it, we'll have to have some lanes put in for turning and that kind of thing," Givens said. "Then of course, it has to be resurfaced and resealed."
The project still in the design phase. The improvement projects near EOTEC are earmarked for funding through a state transportation grant. The improvement package estimated at $1.3 million.

Agape House offers coats, sale
Dec. 7, 2017
Mornings are getting colder , and even though many area coat drives have wrapped up, you can donate winter clothing to Agape House – or pick one up if you are in need.
"If you know of somebody who needs a winter coat, don't hesitate to come down and see us, and we'll make it all work," said Dave Hughes, executive director of Agape House.
Agape House is also having a name your price yard sale this weekend – the final one of the year. That will be from 8:30 to 11:30 Saturday morning at Agape House, 500 Harper Road, Hermiston.

Christmas Express needs volunteers
Dec. 6, 2017
The holiday season is underway, and Christmas Express
Gifts and food boxes will be distributed through Agape House. The pickup days are the 18, 19th, and 20th and they are looking for volunteers. Each day has three three-hour shifts: 9-12, 12-3 and 3-6.
Agape House director Dave Hughes says volunteers needed to help check people in, to hand out gifts, and to help load food boxes into vehicles. It’s also open to kids to help out with their families.
"It is a great opportunity to help youngsters understand that part of community is giving back," he said.
Hughes says they need 9-10 people on each shift. You can call Agape House at 567-8774 to sign up.

DA turns over officer shooting investigation
Dec. 6, 2017
The Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office will not continue with the investigation into an officer – involved shooting last week in Pendleton. DA Dan Primus saying there is a “conflict” involving his office and the investigation. It has been turned over to the Baker County District Attorney’s Office.
A man shot and wounded by a Pendleton Police Officer at about 8:45 in the evening last Wednesday. The incident began with a conflict at Walmart, then a foot chase and the shots fired near the intersection of Southwest 2 0th Street and Court Avenue. Police have said the man had a handgun and was not obeying verbal commands.

What is an enterprise zone anyway?
Dec. 4, 2017
A week ago today, the Hermiston City Council voted to approve expanding the Hermiston Enterprise Zone. This Wednesday, the Umatilla County Commissioners will vote on the same measure to expand the business incentive area, and, if they approve the change, the Greater Hermiston Enterprise Zone will include the freeway interchange area between Interstate 82 and 84. Hermiston Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says since that vote, he’s heard questions.
"This is just one tool we have," Morgan said. "Frankly, it's our most effective tool for incentivizing business."
The enterprise zone offers incentives for businesses to locate in the area.
Morgan says since 2009, almost 85 million dollars invested in the zone, giving businesses either a 3 or 5 year tax exemption in exchange for locating near Hermiston. After the exemption period ends, the properties are taxes as usual. Morgan says it helps bring businesses to the community – bringing a greater long term value than the incentives offered.
"At this time, approximately 60 million has come on to the property tax rolls, which I can guarantee you would not have happened without the enterprise zone," he said.
Morgan says the enterprise zone expansions directly created more than 300 jobs between 2009 and 2015 – in addition to any secondary jobs created by population growth. Find out more about Hermiston's enterprise zone here.
An Enterprise Zone agreement is on the agenda in Boardman tomorrow. A resolution setting an agreement between the Columbia River Enterprise Zone and VaData. That meeting begins at 7 tomorrow at Boardman City Hall. The council also to recognize the Riverside High School state champion soccer team and vote on establishing a health reimbursement program.
In Stanfield, the Stanfield City Council meeting also at 7 tomorrow. On the agenda, updates from committees and an update on the Odor issues at the 3D Idapro plant and a resolution transferring funds. That meeting will be in the city council chambers at 150 West Coe Avenue.

Journey to Bethlehem this weekend
Dec. 1, 2017
Farm Fair wrapping up at noon today, but tonight, a journey to Bethlehem begins. Now in its 10th year, Journey to Bethlehem is a re-enactment of the Biblical story of the birth of Jesus. Volunteer Larry Hanson says it gives visitors an opportunity to experience the Christmas story.
"We really want people to forget the glitz and glitter of the holidays we celebrate in America and think about the original birth of Christ," he said. "We want you to experience the sights and sounds and smells of what it was like."
About 100 volunteers make the event happen every night. Guided tours for the event run from 5 to 8:30 tonight and continue tomorrow and Sunday. The event is free, and the tour takes about 20 minutes. Journey to Bethlehem is an outdoor event, so dress appropriately.

Festival of Trees celebrates Family Day
Dec. 1, 2017
This weekend is also the Hermiston Festival of Trees at the Hermiston Conference Center. The banquet and auction is sold out, but Family Day is still open – and that’s this Sunday.
The event includes crafts, cookie decorating, and meeting with Santa. The suggested donation is $5 - per family.
Liz Marvin, one of the festival of trees organizers, says the large trees will remain in the conference center during family day to allow visitors to view them. The banquet and auction benefit the Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation and the Hermiston Kiwanis Club. Sunday’s family day will benefit the Hermiston Soroptimists.