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

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.

Pendleton Police in officer-involved shooting
Nov. 30, 2017
An officer-involved shooting in Pendleton last night.
Pendleton Police saying an officer shot and injured a man near the Wal-mart parking lot at 8:40 last night. The man reportedly running toward the intersection of Court and 20th when he was hot by the officer. He was taken by ambulance to St. Anthony’s Hospital.
Oregon State Police leading the investigation, and the officer placed on leave pending the investigation.

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Hermiston man arrested for stealing from Kennewick PD
Nov. 29, 2017
A Hermiston man arrested on felony charges stemming from a theft from the Kennewick Police Department.
36-year-old Naythan Allen Olney, of Hermiston, charged with theft by receiving, criminal conspiracy, three counts of possession of a stolen vehicle and first-degree theft. The Umatilla County Sheriff's Office saying they have been investigating Olney since late January for his suspected involvement in the theft of a cargo trailer and two snowmobiles from the Kennewick PD.

The Sheriff’s Office recovered the stolen cargo trailer in a field off Colonel Jordan Road in Hermiston on January 21 and the snowmobiles shortly after. Then, on Monday of this week, the sheriff’s office received another theft report involving Olney. This time the unemployed diesel mechanic was hired to repair a vehicle, but the Box Truck then went missing. The sheriff’s office says a felony charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle will be added as a result of that case.

Farm Fair kicks off
Nov. 29, 2017
Today is the first day of the 44th annual Hermiston Farm Fair and Ag Trade Show. It starts at 8 this morning at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center. Larry Hanson says the free, three-day event is open to anyone, even if you don’t work in agriculture.
The event is open to the community but does provide training and updates in agricultural sciences. The trade show will bring vendors from across the area showing new technology in agriculture, and the education sessions will touch on everything from pollinators to irrigation.
Food vendors will be available on site, and snacks of French fires, hash browns and Tillamook cheese will also be available.
Admission to Farm Fair is free. You can find the full schedule of seminars by contacting OSU’s Hermiston Extension Center – that’s HAREC – or by stopping by EOTEC.
Sessions last from 8 until 5 p.m Nov. 29 and Nov 30 and 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1.

Council to expand enterprise district
Nov. 27, 2017
The Hermiston City Council will consider expanding the Hermiston Enterprise Zone – and changing the name to the greater Hermiston enterprise zone. The expansion would cover all industrially zoned land in the freeway interchange area for interstates 82 and 84. Staff says the action has no fiscal impact on the city. Council will also considering a construction contract for de-watering equipment at the recycled water treatment plant.
That meeting begins at 7 at Hermiston City Hall. You can read the full agenda here.
A special meeting of the Hermiston School Board also taking place tonight. On the agenda: the EL assessment report and a presentation from Rocky Heights staff. That meeting begins at 6:30 tonight at Rocky Heights Elementary, and you can download the agenda here.

CFD serves 661 meals
Nov. 27, 2017
Thanksgiving has passed, and volunteers served more than 650 people a thanksgiving meal in the Community Fellowship Dinner. Cook Heather Smart says they prepared 24, 25-pound turkeys, six cases of stuffing and six 30-pound cases of carrots. They also served 102 pies, donated by Shari’s.
The group is now preparing for its second dinner of the year – that one will be on Christmas Day, also at Hermiston High. They are looking for volunteers for the Christmas meal. Find out more on the organization's Facebook page.

Fellowship dinner work begins
Nov. 22, 2017
Thanksgiving is tomorrow, but prep work for the Community Fellowship Dinner taking place today. Volunteers gathering at Hermiston High School today preparing food for the free meal that will be served tomorrow.
Gary Humphreys says they’re preparing for more than 700 meals in the Community Fellowship Dinner is tomorrow from 11 to 2 at Hermiston High School. About 700 people expected to attend. That is free and open to anyone – they are also always looking for more volunteers. You can hear a little more about that during today’s odds and ends program.

Travel, safety for Thanksgiving
Nov. 22, 2017
Travel for Thanksgiving continuing today, and a reminder from law enforcement if you’re traveling, make sure you take care of your own property before you leave.
Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan saying theft rates can increase over holiday weekends and echoing the message this week from Oregon Emergency Management – if you see something suspicious, report it. The Sheriff also reminding drivers they will have deputies out – as will all law enforcement – looking for impaired drivers.
Nearly 7.5 million people in the west expected to travel 50 miles or more from home this weekend. If you are traveling on I-84 this long weekend, ODOT warning you to expect delays if you're heading toward Portland. At milepost 52, the freeway is reduced to one lane because crews are continuing cleanup from the Eagle Creek Fire. Drivers should expect delays, especially on Sunday afternoon, through that one-mile stretch of I-84.

12 Days of Giving start next week
Nov. 22, 2017
When life resumes after the Thanksgiving break, it’s just a few short weeks until Christmas, and Monday is the first day of Good Shepherd Healthcare’s 12 Days of Giving.
Last year was the first year for the 12 Days of Giving, and health educator Catie Brenaman says it came out of discussions for giving back to the community.
This year they’re bringing it back – along with the hashtag #GSGivesBack – and again asking for donations every day for 12 days, starting Monday. Devin Goldman says each day has a theme matched to a specific local nonprofit.
"We ask for anything from gloves and mittens to diapers to pet food supplies - really anything that could be distributed to the local organizations in our community to help those in need," she said.
The 12 Days running from Nov. 27 until Dec. 8 this year, starting with nonperishable food donations for Partridge in a Pear Tree. Bins will be set up at Good Shepherd, and you can donate items any time during the 12 days – it doesn’t have to match the theme for that day. You can find more information and the full list here.

Fire tower opening
Nov. 21, 2017
Yesterday, the grand opening of the fire training tower on Westland, a four-story joint project of Umatilla County Fire District 1 and Blue Mountain Community College.
"This is going to provide our studnets and our career firefighters regionally to become better firefighters," Chief Scott Stanton said. "It will become more efficient and better firefighters, and also more safe firefighters."

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Visitors tour the top of the four-story training tower during the grand opening event on Monday.

The building will be used for training through Umatilla Fire District 1 as well as the community college’s fire sciences program. it’s four stories of specialized equipment for a number of training scenarios, from rescue to repelling. It includes simulated burn rooms, a generated smoke machine and other tools to help firefighters train in a number of different scenarios.
BMCC president Cam Preus (Proise) says the BMCC fire science program began three years ago, and this tower will help take it to the next level.
"This fire tower is really intregal to ensure that our studnets get the applied learning, the handson learning that they need," she said. "Even though the building is in Hermiston, it's going to serve all of Eastern Oregon.

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BMCC President Cam Preus speaks while Fire Chief Scott Stanton looks on during the opening ceremony of the fire training tower and facility.

About 40 people came out for the ribbon cutting ceremony and tower tours. The project was funded half through BMCC bond dollars and half through the fire district. It will be named after longtime volunteer Snyder during a future dedication.

Growth in Umatilla, Morrow counties
Nov. 20, 2017
Umatilla County growing by more than 600 residents last year, according to researchers at Portland State University. Preliminary population results showing Umatilla County grew from 79,880 in 2016 to 80,500, an increase of 620 – it’s 0.6 percent growth. That’s a lower growth rate than the county saw the year before – 725 and 0.9, but Morrow County saw an increase. They grew 1 percent last year but 1.2 percent this year, welcoming 145 new residents, and 75 of those moved to Irrigon. In Umatilla County, it’s no surprise the largest growth was in Hermiston, which grew about 250 people, from 17,730 to 17985. That follows the trend the Hermiston School district is seeing as well. Interim Superintendent Tricia Mooney says the student enrollment in the district is up 95 students from last November – and it’s across the board.
"It speaks volumes to our communities when we have families that move here and grow our district and grow our community and give us opportunities for students," she said.
While Hermiston saw the biggest growth numbers, all cities in the west end of the county either grew or stayed constant, including 25 new residents in Umatilla and 15 in Stanfield. Even Pendleton showed modest growth this year, moving from 16880 people to 16890.
The highest growth by percent in the state was Deschutes county at 3.6
These are preliminary figures released by Portland State University. Find more here.

Travel high for Thanksgiving
Nov. 20, 2017
It’s a short work week for most local residents this week, and it’s also a busy week for travel – and one of the most deadly times of the year. The National Safety Council estimates 433 people will be killed and another 52,300 will be seriously injured in crashes during this four-day period.
Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says law enforcement will be out this weekend, trying to prevent those figures.
"We'll be ready to be out there, watching for drunk drivers and careless operation of vehicles and take action as needed," Rowan said.
AAA says a stronger economy and high consumer confidence are making this the busiest Thanksgiving travel period in a dozen years. Nearly 647,000 Oregonians are expected to travel, and the majority - 90 percent - are expected to travel by car. Peak travel times predicted to be Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.
ODOT recommends reading the winter travel safety tips and visiting TripCheck.com before heading out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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