KOHU - KQFM LOCAL NEWS

by News Director Jennifer Colton
541.567.6500 or 541.289.NEWS or KOHUnews@gmail.com
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HSD picks Jacobsma to lead Desert View
May 24, 2017
The Hermiston School district has picked a new principal for Desert View Elementary. Laura Jacobsma chosen for that role. She’s currently an instructional coach at Oakridge Elementary in Oakridge. District Superintendent Fred Maiocco will recommend the school board approve Jacobsma on Monday, June 12. If selected, she’ll begin July 1.

Mosquito spray Thursday
May 24, 2017
The West Umatilla Mosquito Control District doing targeted aerial spraying after sunset tomorrow. That’s weather permitting. 10,000 acres targeted including the areas North and East of the Hermiston city limits, highway 730 between Umatilla and the Morrow County Line and portions of East Loop Road. Ground trucks to be used in city limits. The mosquito district saying this spring they’ve already surpassed the number of service requests than it received all of last year.

Dirk Dirkson on Odds & Ends
On Tuesday's Odds & Ends Program, Jennifer talks with Dirk Dirkson, Superintendent of the Morrow County School District. Listen here.

Main Street closure Wednesday
May 24, 2017
Hermiston's Main Street will be closed today for a downtown cleanup event. It could last until 3 p.m. The closure will affect Main Street between Highway 395 and Third Street. Businesses will still be open and parking available in back parking lots and all side streets.

Miss Monday's Odds & Ends Show?
Jennifer talks with Marika Sitz, coordinator of the Oregon Water Coalition, and JR Cook, director of the Northeast Water Association about water issues in the Columbia basin and the upcoming annual meeting in Hermiston. Listen here.


Students present research tonight
May 23, 2017
Tonight, a “Research Night” presented by Hermiston High School students or Oregon Teacher Pathway. It starts at 6 p.m. in the HHS Library, and students will be presenting original research through a gallery walk. Juan Rodriguez says it’s a chance for the students in the teaching class to present the research they’ve been working on all year.
"It's a good opportunity for community members to come out and see what our students' thoughts are on the different issues that are in our school system and how they think they would solve them," Rodriguez said.
The presentations include topics how does music affect academic performance and how GPA requirements affect student athletes. Six students are presenting, and Rodriguez says the students have crafted posters similar to you would see at a college symposium.
The Research Night in the library at Hermiston high school. You can contact HHS for more information.

Fatal fire near Milton-Freewater
May 22, 2017
A fire-related death in Milton-Freewater early Monday morning. The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office saying Marcos Jesus Gutierrez-Rodriguez identified as the victim of an early morning outdoor fire under the Eastside Bridge along the banks of the Walla Walla River. He was 29. Law enforcement from Milton-Freewater responding to the area about 1:35 a.m. for a fire; after putting out the fire, they discovered the body among the debris. The Sheriff’s Office saying the location appeared to be a campsite with canned food, cooking and eating utensils and bedding materials. Evidence at the scene suggesting a camp or cooking fire spread through the area while he was sleeping, and there’s no evidence of foul play.


Wind contest sending RHS students to Anaheim
May 19, 2017
Next week, four students from Boardman’s Riverside High School plan to fly to Anaheim and compete in the KidWind Challenge, a wind turbine design challenge for students. The Boardman team – they’re called Team charge – took first at a local competition their school hosted and are now fundraising to make it to Anaheim for the national event May 24 and 25th.
In the competition, students design a wind turbine and put it against other designs to try and produce the most power.
Martin Chavez says Team charge studied existing windmills and spoke with technicians in creating their design, and teammate Andrew Barker says he first realized they had a shot at winning with their design – at the local competition.
"When I realized we were going to be able to do something with this competition was at the competition," Barker says. "We had a fairly highly scoring on how much power we produced."
In addition to Chavez and Barker, the team also includes Melissa Smith and Sterling Bither.
The students have washed cars every weekend and are more than halfway toward their goal of $4000. They say they're excited about the opportunity and none have been to Anaheim before.
For more information contact Riverside High School or visit the team's gofundme page.


2nd annual Fiesta de Salud this Sunday
May 19, 2017
Sunday, the second annual Fiesta de Salud at Mirasol Family Health Center.
"We will have live band, we will have a mariachi, lots of prizes, and fiesta foods is also hosting $1 tacos," says Justine Taylor. "We're really excited about it because last year we had over 800 people come and attend, and this year, we're hoping we'll have more."
Immunizations, sports physicals, and well-child checks available – whether you are or are not a patient at Mirasol. They’ll have zumba classes, yoga classes, kids games, and car seat clinics. Local community partners, from the fire department through to the county health department, will also be there offering information and family activities.
Fiesta de Salud runs from 12 to 4 this Sunday at Mirasol Health Clinic in Hermiston.

Miss today's Odds & Ends Show?
Jennifer talks with Echo Middle School students Elliot Glenn, Ashley Mack, Caiden Harris and Echo Superintendent Raymon Smith about the Little Mermaid Musical as well as BMCC Hermiston Director J Keys. Listen here.

Hermiston schools consider enrollment
May 17, 2017
The Hermiston School District’s proposed bond fell short on this week’s election day, but district staff saying they’ll still need to find solutions for the district’s growing enrollment. Assistant Superintendent Tricia Mooney says enrollment continues to follow the growth trends.
"As of May 1, we were at 5,609 students K-12," she said. "That is down slightly from what we had last month by about six students - but above what we had this month last year by 160 students."
For the enrollment dip at the end of the school year, Mooney says those six students may be those who have completed programs and graduated.
Hermiston Board members and district staff have said they'll work together to seek solutions to how to address enrollment and growth challenges.
Statewide, voters approved 10 school bonds while five failed to pass. The largest, for Portland Public Schools, came in at $790 million. The bonds that did not pass were in Hermiston, Ontario, South Umpqua, Yoncalla and Coos Bay. In Coos Bay, the bond failed by 22 votes.

EOU, BMCC sign partnership
May 17, 2017
In other education news, yesterday afternoon, Eastern Oregon University and Blue Mountain Community College inking a deal with co-enrollment and co-admission at each institution, which means students will complete a new joint application and receive academic advising, tutoring, and library access from each BMCC and EOU. Tuition and fees will be assessed based on courses taken at each school. BMCC President Cam Preus says EOU is BMCC’s highest transfer partner and this eases the process for student while strengthening the relationship between the two eastern Oregon institutions.

Kay moving to Walla Walla
May 17, 2017
A release yesterday from Walla Walla Public Schools. Mike Kay has been hired as director of facilities and operations for the Washington School District. The announcement follows news that Kay will leave the Hermiston School District this summer. He has worked in Hermiston since 2004 and is currently the executive director of operations


Note: Our apologies for the gap in news posted on this page during a technology switch.


UPDATE May 10: Hanford reports tunnel cave-in
May 10, 2017
Work began last night to repair a cave-in at a tunnel in the Hanford Site in Richland.
The U.S. Department of Energy activating emergency operations protocol in Hanford Site yesterday after a cave-in hit a tunnel used to store contaminated materials near a former chemical processing facility.
"Crews are still on scene assessing the situation - too early to know what caused the roof to cave in. We may not know that for some time," Spokesman Destry Henderson says.

In a statement, Henderson say work began about 8 last night to stabilize and fill the opening over the tunnel. They’ll continue filling soil through the day. They’ve also had some work cancellations for employees in the affected area.
Workers near at Hanford were advised to shelter in-place as a precaution yesterday while the facility testing for airborne radiation. Access to the east area of the site restricted. Staff at the Hanford Site saying there are no reports of injuries, no evidence of contamination outside of the tunnel and no action required for residents of Benton and Franklin counties – or anywhere outside that area. The affected tunnel leads to the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility and is typically covered by about eight feet of soil. Workers this morning noticed a depression – between two and four feet deep – over the tunnel during routine surveillance, prompting the emergency response. The tunnels hold railcars of highly contaminated materials, backed into the tunnels as a disposal method with reports saying decontaminating the rail cars would cause extreme safety hazards for workers


Emergency drill in Hermiston
May 10, 2017
On May 11, an emergency drill and emergency notification system test. It will start around 6 in the evening and will include emergency vehicles, police vehicles and ambulances. As well, some Hermiston residents may receive a text message or phone call notifying them that the emergency drill is taking place – no response needed. Umatilla County Emergency Management asking residents not to call 911 unless they need assistance from emergency services. If a real emergency were to happen, residents would receive information and emergency instructions.

Umatilla taking council applications
May 10, 2017
In the city of Umatilla, they’re still looking for applicants to fill two open positions on the Umatilla City Council. City Manager Russ Pelleburg says those spots could be open to anyone who has lived in Umatilla for more than an year."We'd encourage anyone who's interested in serving on city council to come by City Hall and pick up the appropriate paperwork," he said. "I think (a good candidate) it's just someone that truly wants to be engaged."
At the meeting in June, the council will interview those who have applied and pick two members to serve. You can get more information and apply at Umatilla City Hall.

Parking lot closure at Good Shepherd
May 8, 2017
Starting today, May 8, parking lot closures expected at Good Shepherd Medical Center. The first half of the main parking lot closing as part of the construction project, making parking in front of the hospital scarce. Red zones are designed for patients, family and visitors. It’s part of the Good Shepherd Medical Plaza North Wing Expansion and Campus Renewal project – that doesn include 4,100 tons of asphalt to create new parking lots and repave the existing, as well as changing the flow of traffic. 

School Board, City Council meet
May 8, 2017
Tonight, meetings for both the Hermiston School District and Hermiston City Council.
The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Hermiston City Hall. The agenda includes amending the contract between the city and the chamber of commerce through the end of the calendar year, approving the council goal setting report and considering re-striping parking places from parallel to diagonal on Second Street between Main Street and Hurlburt Avenue. The council and city manager will also have a work session on the city’s reorganization plan at 6 before the regular meeting.
Find the agenda for the meeting here.
The school district meeting begins at 6:30 in the boardroom at the District Offices on 11th Street. During the meeting, the district to declare  Teacher Appreciation Week, discuss flex and hybrid learning, and approve a contract with the district’s teachers – that’s the licensed employees. They’ll also consider raising the prices of school lunches by a dime across the board and approving the 2017-18 district calendar.
Follow this link for the School Board agenda.

Odds & Ends Program
May 3, 2017
On this Wednesday edition of the Odds & Ends Program, our guests were Cindy Middleton, Rian Middleton, and Sydnay Seavert talking about the iCanBike program and Cecili Longhorn, librarian at the Stanfield Public Library, talking about events going on in the Stanfield community - and with the library. Listen here.

U-P rail work ramps up in Hermiston
May 4, 2017
Crews are out and about on the rail lines through Hermiston today, and Union-Pacific says it’s part of a track maintenance program that’s replacing 10,000 railroad ties in Umatilla County.
"The specific project that folks are likely seeing right now in the Hermiston area is a railroad tie replacement project where we have a crew out there replacing roughly 10,000 railroad ties and upgrading that line," says U-P representative Justin Jacobs.
Jacobs says work in this region began on April 24 and could continue through mid-May, although not all of that work will be within the city of Hermiston.
The total project is running from Oakridge to Portland to re lace more than 102,000 railroad ties. Flaggers stationed at affected intersections, holding traffic during transportation of materials and equipment.
"Please take extra precaution when you're on those locations," Jacobs says. "At the end of the day, this is really to make the railroad more safe and efficient to transport the goods and services folks need there in Oregon."
It’s a $14.3 million dollar project, and one of the main recommendations from Union Pacific: Pay attention and keep safe.

Hermiston man charged with sex with 12-year-old
May 4, 2017
Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office arresting a man for alleged sexual assault.
24-year-old Elias Nava Flores, from Hermiston, arrested on charges of first-degree rape, sodomy, and unlawful possession of methamphetamine. Flores allegedly had sexual contact with a child younger than 12, according to a press release. He’s lodged at the Umatilla County jail.

GSCHSF looking for members
May 3, 2017
The Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation has a name in the community, but a new group is just getting its feet: The Good Shepherd Community Health Student Foundation.
"Because this is our first year of the foundation, we're just looking to grow and expand with more recruitment," Student foundation member Canden Gutierrez said. "We're in a recruitment process right now to build our foundation with new members."
The student foundation supplements and supports the foundation as well as providing leadership opportunities for high school and college students. That also lends itself to hands-on projects.
They are actively recruiting members right now, looking for about 20 members in its first year. Interested members must be a sophomore in high school through to any full-time college student. The group meets monthly at Good Shepherd Medical Center.
The student foundation does have information up on the website for the adult foundation. You can also email GSCHSF16@gmail.com
For more information, you can contact Liz Marvin, College Bound Coordinator for Hermiston High School, or Jacelyn Keys at BMCC for more information.

Dufloth new Umatilla mayor
May 3, 2017
Daren Dufloth the new mayor of Umatilla. The Umatilla City Council appointing Dufloth last night to fill the rest of the term Dave Trott was elected to. Trott resigned in March.
Dufloth has lived in Umatilla for 19 years. He is a business owner, former city councilman and a volunteer with local schools and Babe Ruth baseball. He had previously run for mayor once before, losing to Karen Steen, who served three months of her term.
We’ll have more with Dufloth later this week.
During the meeting last night, the council also declaring two vacancies: one for David Lougee and one for Mary Dedrick, who stepped down after the meeting.

Alleged shooter arrested
May 2, 2017
Law enforcement filling North First Place yesterday afternoon in a high-risk arrest of 26-year-old Cesar Jimenez. Police from two counties bringing charges against the Pendleton man, who has been arrested.

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Cesar Jimenez

Morrow County Sheriff’s Office receiving a report of a man treated for gunshot wounds later Saturday evening at Good Shepehrd Medical Center. The victim, a 33-year-old man from Boardman, had received two non-life threatening gunshot wounds while at a home on Frontage Road – and the suspect was Cesar Jimenez. According to a press release from the Morrow County Sheriff’s office, the Morrow County incident began Jimenez’ active Saturday, which also included incidents in Umatilla and in Hermiston where shots were fired.
Police saying Jimenez brandishing a rifle at a home in Hermiston on Saturday afternoon and began a fight with a former girlfriend before firing several rounds into the tires of a Honda Accord – with an adult and three children inside. There were no injuries at that time.
Police coordinated to close off Old River Road in Hermisotn yesterday afternoon to detain Jimenez. The firearm used in the shooting incidents was found in his possession.
Jimenez in the Umatilla County Jail on charges of:
1 count of - MENACING (SIMPLE ASSAULT) [Misdemeanor] Bail: $5000
1 count of - UNLAWFUL USE OF A WEAPON (POSSESS ILLEGALLY) Bail: $10000
1 count of - FELON IN POSSESSION WEAPON Bail: $10000
1 count of - CARRYING OF CONCEALED WEAPONS [Misdemeanor] Bail: $2500
1 count of - ROBBERY I (OTHER) [Felony] Bail: $50000
1 count of - ATTEMPTED MURDER [Felony] Bail: $250000
1 count of - ASSAULT I [Felony] Bail: $250000
1 count of - UNLAWFUL POSSESS FIREARM Bail: $5000
1 count of - UNLAWFUL USE OF A WEAPON (SHOOT IN PROHIBITED AREA) Bail: $10000
1 count of - MENACING (SIMPLE ASSAULT) Bail: $5000
1 count of - UNLAWFUL USE OF A WEAPON (POSSESS ILLEGALLY) Bail: $10000
1 count of - RECKLESS ENDANGERING Bail: $5000
1 count of - CRIMINAL MISCHIEF II (NOT VANDALISM) Bail: $5000
1 count of - FELON IN POSSESSION WEAPON Bail: $10000
1 count of - POST PRISON SUPV SANCTION [Felony] Bail: $0
1 count of - FAIL TO APPEAR - MISDEMEANOR [Misdemeanor] Bail: $20000

Total Bail: $647500

County, HSD prepare to close fairgrounds
May 1, 2017
Today is May 1, and that means, the event list is growing short for the Umatilla County Fairgrounds.
"We've got our fair board diligently working to get the last remnants of materials and equipment and other items off the old fairgrounds and getting the steps and the process set up to start fair 2017," said Umatilla county commissioner Larry Givens
Sold by the county years ago, the fairgrounds property being prepared for the turnover to the Hermiston School District. Demolition was held off and an extension granted for use of the Hermiston Senior Center and the Farm-City Pro Rodeo arena. That extension covering events, including the college rodeo that took place this weekend.
The rodeo is also one of the last for the old fairgrounds. Hermiston School District staff saying the final event scheduled on the site right now is the Coastal Farm and Ranch Challenge of Champions Tour. That bull riding event is May 13.
Mike Kay, HSD director of operations, says they’re planning demolition for the Monday after graduation, and their goal is to have the new parking lot in place before the start of the next school year.
The 2017 Umatilla County Fair and Farm-City Pro Rodeo to take place at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center.

Harkenrider Center breaks ground
April 27, 2017
The rain didn’t dampen the spirit at the groundbreaking of the Harkenrider Center Wednesday afternoon. The city covered the site with a large, red tarp and invited seniors, public officials, and community members to reflect on an event what Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann called historic.


Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann speaks to a crowd at the ground-breaking of the new Harkenrider Senior Center on Wednesday.

Drotzmann provided an introduction to the groundbreaking saying the project represents more than 10 years of planning and dedication.
"We had a problem: No place for our seniors to go," he said. "Now we have a facility, $3 million dollars was raised to build this facility, and we're going to build it."
The new center named after Frank Harkenrider, who was present at the event. A long-time mayor and Hermiston City Council member, Harkenrider gave 64 years of public service to Hermiston local government.


Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann stands with former mayor Frank Harkenrider at the ground-breaking of the new Harkenrider Senior Center on Wednesday.
Hermiston City Manager Byron Smith Says G2 Construction will begin work on the building next week. Once the Harkenrider Center is constructed, the Hermiston Seniors will have five years of exclusive use of the facility.


La Grande opts for Mendoza
April 27, 2017
The La Grande Observer reporting the La Grande School District selecting George Mendoza, the assistant superintendent of the Morrow County School District as its next superintendent. The board was down to two finalists: Mendoza and Hermiston Director of Operations Mike Kay. The school board night voted to begin negotiations with Mendoza. He’s been with the Morrow County School District since 2005.

Huxoll crowned Professional Assistant
April 26, 2017
Today is National Professional Assistants Day, and Hermiston has a new title holder.
Lauri Huxoll of Harley Swain/Swain Motors crowed the Professional Assistant of the Year by the Greater Hermiston Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

Huxoll
Lauri Huxoll receives flowers before being named the Professional Assistant of the Year for 2017.

Professional Assistants Day originated in 1952 as a way of honoring the office professionals who make their offices work. Out of five nominees, Huxoll has worked for Swain Motors for more than 30 years.She says winning the award is overwhelming, unexpected, and wonderful.

Hermiston approves Festival Street design
April 26, 2017
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The Hermiston City Council has approved plans for the downtown festival street. The process began last fall, and this week, the council approved the initial design and concept for what that will look like.
"There's going to be substantially different features: Concrete rather than asphalt, it will be raised up, no curbing, low seat walls... features like that make it feel more like a plaza rather than a street," said. Hermiston Assistant City Manager mark Morgan.
Although trees and decorative pavers will be installed and change the look "There will no longer be any sidewalks," Morgan said. "We'll be raising the elevation of the street to match the existing sidewalks.
Vehicles will be welcome on the street but it will be raised and have a different atmosphere. The first phase is second street between Main Street and Gladys. Future phases could include developing the entire parking lot across from City Hall and extending the street down second.
Morgan says the city has opted to slow down the design and construction process and will send the project for bids this fall with construction expected early next spring.

In Her Shoes set on Saturday
April 24, 2017
The fourth annual Walk a Mile in her shoes event is this weekend, and victim’s advocate Sharon Neuvirth says the event puts participants in real situations victims of domestic violence go through.
"One of the main questions we get is, 'Why does she stay?' There's a lot of barriers to that. It's not that simple," Neuvirth said. "This walk shows you the difficulties that some of these women have."
The event is Saturday, and it’s a fundraiser for Domestic Violence Services, and Neuvirth says it aligns with Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
"One in four people will experience domestic violence or sexual assault in their lifetime. We do review that, and a lot of people are shocked," she said.
“In Her Shoes” is this Saturday at Riverfront Park in Hermiston. Registration begins at 9, and the event starts at 9:30.
Registration is $15 per person, and refreshments will be provided. You can contact Domestic Violence Services for more information. The Hermiston number is 541-567-0424, or you can visit the organization's website.

Hermiston City Council, School Board meeting
April 24, 2017
Hermiston City Council talking festival street during its work session at 6 this evening. The city could approve the final design of the street at its regular meeting follows at 7 with a public hearing on the creation and application of a Neighborhood Commercial Overlay Zone, that would be on the north side of Highland Avenue and SW 11th St. Votes expected to create the zone as well as to approve a bid from General Pacific to supply new water meters.
The meeting also including a presentation on Cinco de Mayo and National Law Enforcement Appreciation Week. Both of those in May, and, as usual, public comment will be taken. Read the full agenda here.
The Hermiston School District also meeting tonight. That work session begins at 6:30, and it will be at Armand Larive Middle School. You can find the full agenda packet here.


Rotary installs Peace Pole at BMCC
April 21, 2017
Colorful flowers, a Hermiston wind and spring sunshine surround the newly installed Peace Pole at the Eastern Oregon Higher Education Center this week. Representatives of Rotary International of Hermiston and BMCC students gathered for the installation Thursday afternoon.

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BMCC students and Hermiston Rotarians plant flowers around the base of the Peace Pole on Thursday afternoon

The pole has four sides, each proclaiming, “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in four languages: English, Spanish, Russian and Japanese.
"This is to start a conversation and continue a conversation because there is so much unrest in the world," said guest speaker Mike Caruso.
Caruso, of the Newberg Rotary club and co-chair of the region's Peacebuilder Committee spoke about the purpose of the pole and its history.
The first peace pole installed in Japan in 1976.
"Today there's more than 250,000 peace poles around the world, including even in Antarctica, Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for so many years," he said.
The pole at BMCC is the third Rotary Peace Pole to go up in Hermiston, joining poles on the Oxbow Trail and at Hermiston High School. A fourth peace pole, in McKenzie Park, was installed by Girl Scouts.
The Peace Pole capped the college's Arts and Culture Series, which brought a dozen speakers and presenters to the campus.


Holocaust survivor and author Manny Taiblum speaks with students and visitors after his presentation.

The Arts and Culture series is an annual event for BMCC.

Good Shepherd focuses on sleep
April 21, 2017
Good Shepherd Medical Center is focusing on sleep and issues with sleep for its employees and the community. Health Educator Kathy Thomas says the issue began with an employee survey where 80 percent of hospital employees say they only get 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night.
This week, Dawn Germain and Donna Carlson presented information on “A Good Night’s Rest” highlighting some information on why sleep is important.
"Drowsy Driving is the second leading cause of fatal car accidents," Carlson said, adding 27 percent of people say they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Sleep amount and quality also affects weight, aging, and overall health. When looking at children, toddlers should receive 11 to 14 hours of sleep a night, school children 9 to 11 , and adults, a minimum of seven hours of sleep. To help you get a good night sleep, they have a few tips:
Get exposure to bright sunlight, limit exposure to blue light three hours before bedtime and supplement strategically.The team says you should also sleep in a cool environment, practice mindfulness at least 20 minutes a day and exercise 30 minutes a day. Also, don’t eat within 3 hours of bedtime.

Robotics hit Houston
April 20, 2017
Today, two Umatilla county teams put their skills to the test from the FIRST Robotics Competition World Championships in Houston, Texas. They’re Umatilla's Team 4125 Confidential and 6442 The Modern Americans, from Pendleton. The teams are on the ground in Houston, and Umatilla's team headed to the competition this morning.
"They have had such an amazing season. We're really proud of them," Umatilla superintendent Heidi Sipe said. "For the high school team, this is the fourth time in their six year history to qualify for the World Championships, which is phenomenal."
The team visited NASA yesterday and will take on the competition today with both the team’s robot and for the chairman’s award, which focuses on the impact a team makes in its community.
"Competing for Chairman's at the World Finals is pretty incredible because if they win Chairman's, they then have a standing invitation to be at World's every year moving forward," Sipe said.
You can follow the robotics team today with live streaming or on the Umatilla Robotics Facebook page.

Study highlights vaccines
April 20, 2017
Despite high immunization rates in Oregon, Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, still spreads into new communities in outbreaks. State Epidemiologist Steve Robison says his recent study of Oregon's 2012 Pertussis outbreak found unvaccinated children got sick earlier.
"If you have something in common with other parents - same neighborhood, same schools, same social networks - then that actually opens a route for the disease to spread," Robison said.
Robison says the unvaccinated get sick first and are not helping build community protection from the disease.
Umatilla County Public Health Director Jim Setzer says the study highlights a known issue.
"It just serves, again, to underline the need to vaccinate your children. That immunizations and vaccinations are the cheapest, most effective way to prevent illnesses like Pertussis," he said.
Setzer says there are valid medical reasons for exceptions and evidence, including Robison’s study, shows illnesses travel more quickly through non-vaccinated communities.
"Parents shouldn't depend on herd immunity and the willingness of other children to protect their own children," he said.
Vaccinations and immunizations are available at Umatilla County public health offices. Immunization rates across Oregon are now at 90 percent but may need to be closer to 97 or 98 percent to have community protection across the state.

City takes over Conference Center
April 19, 2017
In a 6-0 vote with one abstention, the Hermiston City Council last night voted to turn over management of the Hermiston Conference and Community Center to Parks and Recreation and not renew the lease with the Greater Hermiston Area Chamber of Commerce.



The council chambers at Hermiston City Hall full and overflowing for the meeting as more than a dozen members of the community spoke out. Some comments focused on potential uses for the conference and community center or for the old Carnegie library, which the city has offered the lower level of to the chamber, but most focused on the value of the chamber of commerce. Phil Hamm, former chamber president spoke about the history of the community center and relationships with the city – and with the Eastern Oregon Trade and event center. Hamm said he appreciated the city offering the chamber a space but maybe the Carnegie basement wasn't the best option.
"I understand the city doesn't have a responsibility there, and I appreciate the city's willingness to provide that kind of space," he said. "I still think that hasn't been worked out quite well enough, and I'm still concerned about the general community's use of the conference center - not just a Boys and Girls Club or Parks and Rec."
Other local residents agreed the city should have taken more feedback and had more open discussions.
"Am I sad to think of it being repurposed and not continuing like that in community? Yes, but mostly? I'm disappointed," said Bryan Wolfe.
Much of the public comment centered on rumors, from the idea the city would tear down the conference center or move all city offices inside it. The city shooting down many of those and saying the intention is to continue to host community events as well as expand parks and recreation programs. City staff also reiterating they have no obligation to host the chamber of commerce. Many speakers said should focus on regional events with local events still taking place at the conference center.
Every member of the Hermiston City Council speaking after public comment. John Kirwan says the issue is complicated by emotion, and Mayor Dave Drotzmann says the action just begins the discussion.
The Chamber will continue to manage the Conference Center through the end of this year. Hermiston Parks and Recreation to take over management in 2018. Drotzmann says the city is interested in hearing other options about locations for the chamber offices.

Fire in Umatilla tri-plex
April 19, 2017
A fire Tuesday  morning in Umatilla. Members of the Umatilla Rural Fire Protection district responded within 10 minutes to the 600 block of E street to find the tri-plex building fully enflamed. 10 Firefighters responded, and six adults displaced. The Red Cross is provided emergency service

BMCC focuses on arts and culture
April 18, 2 017
This week, Blue Mountain Community College celebrates its Arts and Culture Festival. Events going on today on the Pendleton campus, but for Hermiston, the festival takes place tomorrow and Thursday with presentations, guest speakers, and events lasting all day.
Hermiston Center director Jacelyn Keys says they didn’t plan to have a theme this year but ended up with one that came out of the speakers. From refugees to social isolation, dogs to serve veterans to the first-hand account of a Holocaust survivor, the program centers on conflict, peace and learning from history.
"We chose not to have a theme this year, but one presented itself," Keys said. "We really get an opportunity to look at history and what these people are saying about history, about their lives, and how are we a part of the solution as individuals?"
The programs begin tomorrow at 10 in the morning with a presentation on Sex Trafficking in Thailand and end with Helday de la Cruz speaking on art and activism at 5. On Thursday, Hermiston events begin at 9 and end with a presentation on Rotary International’as Peace Pole Project and the installation of a peace pole at BMCC Hermiston.
BMCC is bringing its Arts and Culture festival to Hermiston on Wednesday and Thursday. See the complete schedule for Hermiston and Pendleton here.


Driver charged in Westland crash
April 18, 2017
Charges for a driver in Saturday evening’s collision on Westland Road near Agnew.
23-year-old Efrain Narcizo Mateos allegedly driving westbound on Westland when he drifted into the eastbound lane, hitting another vehicle, which tried to swerve out of the way but was hit on the passenger side. The driver and two passengers in the other car injured. One passenger transported by air ambulance to Kadlec, the other two taken by ground ambulance to Good Shepherd Medical Center.
Mateos charged with three counts of second-degree assault, driving under the influence, hit and run, reckless endangering and reckless driving.

Arts and Culture Schedule
April 17, 2017
BMCC is bringing its Arts and Culture festival to Hermiston on Wednesday and Thursday. See the complete schedule for Hermiston and Pendleton here.

Two shot in Stanfield
April 17, 2017
In Stanfield, two men shot at a party early Saturday morning. Officers responding to a report of a loud party on South Main Street found two adults had been shot, both with non-life threatening injuries. Both men treated at Good Shepherd Medical Center and later released. The Major Crime Team has been activated to assist in the investigation.

Commissioner talks Drug Court
April 17, 2017
Umatilla County Drug Court faced the chopping block in the county’s budget for the next fiscal year, but County Commissioner Bill Elfering says it isn’t going away completely.
"It's not gone away, but it's going to be morphed. We just can't continue the program we had without having the funding for it," he said. "The treatment will still be there, the reporting will still be there. They'll still be being treated, and they'll still have accountability."
Drug Court allows individuals convicted of drug or alcohol offenses to have treatment and counseling instead of going to prison.
Elfering sits on the Local Public Steering Committee, the group charged with distributing state funding for community justice. It’s also the group that decided the county could not continue funding the drug court program as it has existed because state funding continued to decrease.
"It's now reached the point where that program has a $500,000 deficit," Elfering says. "The governor's budget cut it way back this year, and we're short trying to run drug court the way we've been doing it."
Elfering says the reformation will save about $300,000. That does include cuts to personnel and downsizing the program, which has run as many as 100 participants

Cross
Youth take Way of the Cross
April 17, 2017
On Friday, a crowd filled the parking lot at Our lady of Angels and then at Butte Park to re-enact part of the story of Easter through “The Way of the Cross,” a presentation of the Living Stations of the Cross.
While the crowd participated with prayers, song and reverence, what the crowd might not have realized is that many of the volunteer actors are still in their teens. 18-year-old Edgar Guerrero says this marks the third year he’s taken a part in the Way of the Cross, and growing up, he knew he wanted to get involved.
"I feel if the younger generation sees us doing this now, they'll want to do it when they grow older and will want to get into the church more," he said.
That same motivation brought Matthew Pihl to the Way of the Cross. At 14, he took the role of Jesus, blood, cross, and all.
"The younger generation is the future of our church," he said. "This is my first-I've always helped out-but this year I took the role of Jesus...I'm pretty nervous, but I'm also excited."
Vincent Trevino is a co-coordinator of the event. He says Field and other young participants volunteer every year.
"There are a lot of youth in Hermiston that want to do good and show what Jesus actually did for us," he said. "This is one way for the youth here in our Parish to participate and show other youth that there is a good path also."


Kissler arrested for rape
April 16, 2017
Just before 5 in the morning on Saturday, the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a rape in the Irrigon area. 35-year-old Jason Kane Kissler arrested on rape and other related charges. He remains in Umatilla County Jail with a bail of $500,000.

Another principal search for Hermiston
April 16, 2017
Hermiston searching for another principal. Desert View Elementary School principal Michael Roberts announcing he is heading to Scottsdale, Arizona to be the director of elementary programming.
Roberts has been at the helm of Desert View for four years, and he says his family will miss Hermiston and the school district staff. The Hermiston School district also looking to fill Devin Grigg’s position as that principal is also heading to Arizona.
The district hosting a “meet and greet” for the four principal finalists at Sunset Elementary this Thursday from 2:45 to 4:15 in the afternoon.

Harkenrider groundbreaking set
April 13, 2017
Coming up next week, a ground-breaking for the Harkenrider Center. That ceremony set for 5:30 on April 18th.
It begins the process of constructing the new community and senior center. Larry Fetter says they are giving the contractor twelve months to complete the project, but they don’t think it will take that long – they’ll know more once construction begins. It will also impact driving in the construction zone, and, once the building is complete, they'll work to renovate and redesign the parking area.
Fetter calls the current parking area “a bit of a disaster” The new parking plan will have landscaping and will serve the library, the building department and the Harkenrider Center. Fetter says they contemplated making the parking lot one level, but opted for improvements to the two-level system.
The city is also working closely with the Hermiston school District on the project. The district owns the property of the current fairgrounds as well as the property the Harkenrider Center will sit on. Assistant Superintendent Bryn Browning says its been a partnership since the beginning and they have worked through some options to help ease the transition, including offering holidays meals at Hermiston High School.
The Hermiston Senior Center will have a temporary kitchen at Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church.
Follow the link to see the floor plan for the Harkenrider Center.


Sports scams return to Hermiston
April 12, 2017
The Hermiston Chamber of Commerce and the Hermiston School District releasing statements this week about a company fraudulently contacting business owners.
In the scam, the salesman claims to represent Hermiston High School and is selling - or needs to fill an invoice for - sports poster ads.
Larry Usher, Director of Athletics and Activities for the Hermiston School District, had contacted the company several weeks ago. At that time, the company said they would stay out of Hermiston, but reports again this week. There is a complaint on file with the Oregon Department of Justice under file number FF5392-16. You may add to the case file if you are contacted by the fraudulent vendor.
Usher says any advertising or sponsorship requests for the Athletic Department would come directly from him or Lindy Thompson, the athletics secretary.
And, as a reminder, all calendar ads for Hermiston High sports have been sold for this year. Businesses won’t be contacted for sponsorship until he beginning of the 2017-8 school year.

Good Shepherd launches virtual clinic
April 12, 2017
Good Shepherd Healthcare System is launching its Virtual Care Clinic this week: The ability to meet with a healthcare provider over your computer, phone, tablet, etc. from you home or wherever you are. Good Shepherd Spokesman Nick Bejarano says they are partnering with Carena Health on the Virtual Care Clinic because of access to care.
"We realize that there's definite need in our community for emergency care services, and this extends beyond that because they're able to treat a plethora of illness and injuries that you don't have to go to the emergency department for," he says.
Bejarano says it will also, then, freeup staff in the emergency department to handle emergencies and accidents with less cases of colds, sore throats and ear aches.
Robert Bernstein, medical director of the Good Shepherd Virtual Health Clinic, says if an issue is something to be concerned about, provide some treatment and, in some situations, even prescribe medication.
"Basically it's a consultation," he says. "It's a way for somebody to talk to a family medicine doctor or nurse practitioner from the convenience of their couch at home or their office space, and they can do that 24/7."
Using the virtual care clinic costs a flat rate of $35. You can find out more here.

Hermiston City Council to vote on Chamber move
School District looks at high school plan
April 10, 2017
The Hermiston City Council expected to vote on Conference Center Management tonight during the regular meeting. The proposal brings the conference center under the umbrella of the Parks & Recreation Department and offers space in the renovated Carnegie Library to the Chamber of Commerce for $1 for five years. According to meeting documents, the council has two options: accept the proposed action or re-affirm the existing contract with the chamber of commerce to operate the conference center through Dec. 31 of 2018. City administration is recommending the first option. The packet also includes a letter from former City Manager Ed Brookshier saying the time has come to re-task the conference center property to best meet the needs of the community.
The agenda also includes a request to apply for grant funding from the Federal Aviation Administration to complete an update to the Hermiston Airport’s long-range plan. Public comment will be taken during the meeting as well.
That meeting begins at 7 tonight at Hermiston City Hall. You can read the whole agenda here.
The Hermiston School Board also meeting tonight. That meeting at 6:30 at the Hermiston School District Office on SW 11th. The meeting study items include an update on the Hermiston High School Demolition and Site Expansion Plan – that involves demolition on the former Umatilla County Fairgrounds – as well as an impact study on athletics. Click here for a full agenda.

Umatilla Robots heading to Worlds
March 9, 2017
Umatilla’s Team 4125 Confidential is heading to Houston.
The team competing in the Pacific Northwest District Championship in Cheney, Washington this weekend, and, although they didn’t qualify based on the robot’s performance – they did again take home the Chairman’s Award, which means, they’re heading to the World Championships in Houston.
Here's a look at the award-winning video:

Hermiston Recycling Event tomorrow
April 7, 2017
The Hermiston Recycling Event runs from 9-3 tomorrow in the gravel parking lot at Umatilla Electric Cooperative on Elm Avenue, and Hermiston Parks and Recreation Director Larry Fetter says they’ll take in almost anything. You can find a list of items on the event page of the city's website.
Items do need to be separated before arriving. Bins will be provided, and volunteers will be on hand to help unload items, especially large ones. Fetter says tires have been one of the most popular items in past years, and this year, they will take tires on or off the rims.
Around Hermiston, crews of volunteers from “I Love My City” also hosting a spring clean up this weekend. There’s no registration required if you’d like to join.
You can come out on Saturday and watch for the groups of bright red, “I love my city” shirts.You can find out more at Ilovehermiston.com.


TRCI inmate dies
April 7, 2017
An inmate death this morning at Two Rivers Correctional Institution.
52-year-old Michael Shaw found unresponsive in his bed at 5:45 this morning. He was pronounced dead at 6:32. Shaw jailed since July of 2022 on one count of first-degree sex abuse out of Marion County. His earliest release date was Sept. 28, 2025.

ALMS awarded $3,500 grant
April 7, 2017
Armand Larive Middle School awarded a $3,555 Fuel Up to Play 60 grant.
The grant funds have purchased a computer, accessories and software for ALTV. The lack of computer equipment limited ALTV students when and what projects they could do. The new computer equipment will enable ALTV students to make more Food Hero time lapse recipe videos to help educate students on healthy recipes.
Armand Larive Middle School teamed up with and Angie Treadwell, Family and Community Health Umatilla-Morrow SNAP-Ed Program Coordinator for Oregon State University Extension Center to apply for the grant.
The Fuel Up to Play 60 Grant is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by the National Dairy Council and NFL, in collaboration with the USDA, to help encourage today’s youth to lead healthier lives. You can learn more at www.fueluptoplay60.com.

ODOT reminds drivers of deer migration
April 7, 2017
It is the time of year to watch for deer on Oregon roadways. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) advising motorists to be on the lookout for migrating mule deer, especially on US97 and other Oregon highways
The bulk of the deer migration starts in early April and extends until mid-May this season in Central Oregon primarily with some stretches of Eastern Oregon affected. ODOT expects the deer to be moving in large numbers through the hotspot corridors along US97, US20 and OR31. Most of the animals will be traveling during the dawn and dusk hours, but motorists can expect to see them at any time.
Find more information on ODOT's wildlife Crossings page.

City taking over Conference Center
April 6, 2017
The city of Hermiston is taking over the Hermiston Conference Center in 2018.
The Conference Center has been the home of the Greater Hermiston Chamber of Commerce for two decades and is contracted with the city until the end of the year. Hermiston Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says the City has offered the chamber use of the lower level of the old Carnegie Library on Gladys. That building currently houses the city’s building department on its upper floor.


The City of Hermiston has offered the chamber use of the lower level of the former library.

"The city is in the process of investing $125,000 to renovate the lower level of the building," Morgan says. "That would be approximately 1,000 sq feet of high quality office space. That space will be available to the chamber in January of 2018 if they choose to use it."
Morgan says the plan is to have the city’s Parks and Recreation Department move into the office space and manage the conference center.
"Long-term is still a little in flux, but make no mistake: for 2018 and likely several years after, it'll still be operating as a conference center," he said.
Chamber Executive Director Debbie Pedro says the chamber will likely move in late December but they haven’t decided where. Pedro was notified of the change this past Tuesday. Pedro says the community associates the conference center with the chamber and they’ll now begin looking at what the next steps will be.
"Our board will be coming together in May for a planning session, and we're really excited to see what it's like to just be a chamber," she said.

The city has paid the chamber a management fee for running the conference center, and Pedro says the chamber was profitable and they’ve put in more than $100,000 worth of investments into the building, including purchasing the new reader board, new carpeting in the meeting rooms and offices and helped fund the new sound system.
Pedro says their concern about the city’s proposed location is being visible in the community. Morgan says if the chamber chooses not to use the conference center, the city will use it for space for other departments.


Third-graders topple Battle of the Books
April 6, 2017
A team from Hermiston heads to a state competition this Saturday. They’ve beat out other students at their school, their city, and their region to claim a spot in the state match for Oregon Battle of the Books - And they’re all 8 and 9 years old.



They’re called the Book Bombers. The third grade team is Cate Doherty, Ellie Larsen, Glyn Lystrup and Caden Lloyd, After winning their school competition, the students moved on to regionals in La Grande where they beat teams of 10-year-olds, 11-year-olds and even 12-year-olds. Cate says they did it by learning from other teams.
"It was a lot of fun seeing other people and how they were stronger in some points than us," Cate says. "I think that really helped us. We weren't strong in a lot of points, so once we started watching, we got those bonds together, and I think we're a lot stronger now."
To compete in the elementary Battle of the Books challenges, students in third through fifth grade had to read 16 assigned titles. On the Rocky Heights team, Three of the students read all 16 books for the competition with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Matilda taking the top of the favorite lists. Glyn says the reading is the easy part.
"Why did we do Battle of the Books? For most of us, the thing was that we want to read," he says.
The students have given up their recesses and lunch periods to study and practice, and it’s paid off – they conquered a 16-team elimination bracket to take the top spot in the Region 6 Competition and it might be the first time a third-grade team has won at the Eastern Oregon Regionals.
"We're trying to go back and see when a third-grade team has won," she says. "We're really proud of them. I think they've done a great job, and it's a great testament to the program."
Team coach and teacher Melissa Doherty says the team has worked with study guides by librarian Kristi Smalley and they’re getting ready for the big battle this Saturday at Chemeketa Community College. All four students say they hope to keep their team moving next year regardless of how state goes.

Court updates: Pleas in cattle, meth cases
April 5, 2017
On Monday, Michael Hockensmith accepting a deal in Umatilla County Circuit Court in the ongoing animal neglect case involving a mismanaged herd near Hermiston. Last week, the county sold the bulk of the cattle at the auction at Northwest Livestock.
Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says the deal ends a time-consuming process for the sheriff’s office that lasted for much of the winter and through the calving season. On Monday,
Hockensmith convicted of five counts of first-degree animal neglect in order to have the remaining charges dismissed. The 180 days of jail was suspended, but He has been given five years of bench probation as part of the sentencing, meaning he cannot own animals for five years. An exception was granted for a horse he already owned that was determined to be in good condition despite the neglect of the cattle.He changed his plea to guilty Monday and paid $600 in fees and fines.
Rowan says the final cattle likely to be sold today and the sheriff’s office now looks forward to the next challenge.
In other court news, Pendleton business owner Jason Lybrand pleading guilty yesterday to the felony possession of methamphetamine.
The charges came from phone calls Lybrand made in September of 2016 while incarcerated. He asked his mother to meet with a man who was supposed to purchase five pounds of marijuana. She declined, and detectives applied for a search warrant of Lybrand’s truck. In addition to the five pounds of marijuana, they also found 11 grams of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
Lybrand sentenced to 3 years of formal supervision, and seized case of 7,500 dollars – plus a fine of $3,000 – to go to BENT.


Hermiston Cyclist killed by semi
April 4, 2017
A Hermiston man killed last night after being struck by a semi at the intersection of Highway 395 and Elm.

Fatal cyclist.JPG (23376 bytes)

Hermiston Police saying a semi-truck turning off Highway 395 onto Elm Avenue struck the 55-year-old cyclist just after 8:15 last night. The semi continued to travel eastbound on Highway 730 until it was stopped at the Washington border. The semi has been processed for evidence, and Oregon State Police conducting a crash reconstruction.
The cyclist pronounced deceased at the scene, and HPD chaplains offered counseling the family.
“At this point it is too early in the investigation to speculate all factors involved for what transpired. Because of the dangers at this intersection we do have it under video surveillance and this incident was partially captured. We will use that evidence and other information gleaned during the investigation to present to the district attorney’s office," Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston says. “Other factors considered in matters such as this will be speed, visibility of the bicyclist, any potential impairment from all parties involved, witness statements, etc.”

Tickets for Umatilla Boosters
April 4, 2017
The 10th annual Umatilla Boosters Steak Dinner and Auction this Saturday at the Hermiston Conference Center. The
Booster member Melissa Webb says they’re hoping for a crowd of 200.
"Tickets are actually limited this year," she says. "We're concerned we're going to sell out, which is a great thing."
The event starts at 5:30 this Saturday. It will include both live and silent auction items as well as raffle items, as well as the ticket.
Tickets are available from any Boosters member at $25.
"There's a handful of tickets left. At the door they will be $30, so if you're interested in going, definitely talk to one of us. We'd love to sell out," she says.
Webb says that does include hometown mortgage. If the the event does not sell out, tickets will be available at the door. You can find out more at the Umatilla Booster Club’s facebook page.

Dairy passes permit hurdle
April 3, 2017
The Oregon Department of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Quality granting what they call the most protective permit of surface water and groundwater to date. It’s for the proposed confined animal feeding operation, or CAFO, in Morrow County that could have up to 30,000 animals. A release from ODA suggests Lost Valley Farm will have 16,500 cattle in the first year before ramping up over a three-year period. ODA saying the permitting for Lost Valley Farm has been a two-year process receiving more than 4,000 public comments. The organizations saying the farm is near Threemile Canyon Farms, already one of the largest dairies in the state, and will be a similar size prompting the strict water regulations. The dairy has an agreement to purchase drinking and process water from the Port of Morrow if needed. The release says the dairy to bring in 125 to 150 jobs to Morrow County and will likely be inspected three to four times a year.

Fire retirement, promotion
April 3, 2017
Umatilla County Fire District 1 celebrated the retirement of Battalion Chief Jeff Adkins on Thursday. Adkins has served with the Hermiston Fire Department, now Umatilla County Fire District 1, since 1991. and Friday, naming Capital JW Roberts as the newest Battalion Chief for the organization. Roberts will be the shift commander for B-shift starting tomorrow. He will continue as the EMS coordinator until the district hires that position this fall or winter.

UCSO sells cattle
April 1, 2017
The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office selling the once-neglected herd they’ve been managing since January. The sale bringing in just over $140,000, which will allow the county to pay off what it’s spent on the herd and replenish the sheriff’s office account before the remaining money goes to the cattle’s owner, Michael Hockensmith. Hockensmith facing more than 200 charges of animal abuse for the condition of the herd, which the sheriff’s office says was mismanaged and malnourished.


Umatilla Airman dies in Syria
March 31, 2017
25-year-old Air Force Staff Sgt. Austin Bieren named as the security forces airman who died in Syria this week. From Umatilla, he was assigned to the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. Officials did not immediately release any additional information about what happened to Bieren, but an initial news release said the death appeared to be the result of natural causes.


Umatilla Robotics host fundraisers
March 31, 2017
Umatilla High School's Robotics team will hosting fundraisers over the next week to raise money for upcoming competitions in Cheney, Wash., and – potentially – in and Houston, Texas.
April 1st, Team Confidential will have a Can/Bottle drive starting at 8:00 a.m. across the street from Harvest Foods in Umatilla. On April 4, they will be hosting a Potato Feed and Auction at Umatilla High School, 6-8:00 p.m. Tickets for the Potato Feed and Auction are $10 each or $30 for 4. You can email the team at umatillarobo@gmail.com if you are interested in buying tickets for the feed or helping the FRC team by donating.
The team competing in the Pacific Northwest Regionals in Cheney April 6-8, and if they qualify, they’ll head to the world finals in Houston.

Hermiston supports housing
March 29, 2017
The City of Hermiston wants to add housing, and they’re taking a step to help it along.
Hermiston Assistant City Manager Morgan points to the decision of Auto Zone to go with Pasco instead of Hermiston as an example of the need for housing. The retailer was looking to hire 250 people but chose the Washington location because Hermiston didn't have a large enough available work force.
While AutoZone chose to locate in the Tri-Cities because of the population size, Morgan says the number of commuters coming into Umatilla County from Benton and Franklin counties had increased by 1,000 people a day in four years. Although Hermiston has had growth and new construction, Morgan says it isn’t enough.
"We haven't been adding enough houses to keep up with the demand," Morgan says.
To promote development, the city is working with the owners of about 40 acres of property off Diagonal Road. The property has been zoned industrial since the 1960s but hasn’t developed while homes spring up around it. The city’s now going to pay half the costs of rezoning that property to residential and commercial. It’s not an immediate plan, but it’s a start.
"This is probably four or five years down the road before you see any dirt being turned on any housing development," he says. "What we need to do is make sure we're setting the stage so if a developer is interested, it would be financially viable."
Morgan says the property could hold up to 100 units, whether that’s single-family homes or multi-family structures.


Boardman Workforce Center readies
March 29, 2017
In less than a week, the Boardman Workforce Training Center opens. It’s a campus for Blue Mountain Community College, and staff spending this spring break week moving from the former location to the new facility next to the SAGE center. The first day of the new center is the first day of spring term – and that’s Monday.
Morrow County School District Superintendent Dirk Dirkson says the opening is a great partnership for the community.
"We're really looking forward to coordinating with Blue Mountain, the Port of Morrow and all of the businesses that are interested in this development - and all of the students from our three high schools, Heppner, Irrigon, and Boardman," Dirkson says.
The facility is the first of the college’s major bond construction projects to be completed. It’ll house BMCC’s industrial systems technologies, data center tech and early childhood education programs.
Starting Monday, the center will be open from 10 in the morning until 9 in the evening Monday through Thursday and 10 to 5 on Fridays.


Driver dies near Adams
March 28, 2017
One driver dead after a three-vehicle wreck on Highway 11 near Adams Tuesday, March 28. Officials saying the woman was the driver of an SUV involved in the wreck with two semis. The highway closed for several hours during the investigation and HazMat cleanup of diesel. Umatilla County The occupants of the semis were not injured. The woman’s identity has not been released.

HPD amps up road enforcement
March 27, 2017
Be careful with your morning coffee and when you drop kids off at school next week: The Hermiston Police Department starts upping enforcement today, March 27, of a problem Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston has been going on for months.
"The issue at hand that we've been dealing with for months - educating the public - is that it's not OK to stop in the roadway while waiting to get into a drive-thru," Edmiston says. "Effective today, our education campaign is over, and I've directed the officers that they're to use enforcement when warranted."
Edmiston says the issue boils down to common sense and respect, and the department has had an education period for the past few weeks, letting people know they are violating the law – and that changes today. The enforcement applies to all of Hermiston, including at schools and businesses. Edmiston says the campaign did start because of traffic at the Hermiston Dutch Bros.
"The last thing the police department wants to do is adversely affect any business," Edmiston says, adding he has met face-to-face with the owner. "He's extremely receptive. He understands there's a problem."
Edmiston says the property owner has already submitted preliminary plans to the city to expand the space in the drive through. We’ll have more with Edmiston on today’s Odds and Ends Program.


Hermiston Council talks budget
March 27, 2017
A meeting tonight of the Hermiston City Council, and the budget a topic during this meeting as well. The council to have a public hearing on the proposed supplemental budget before voting on it. Also on the agenda: an update on EOTEC and an intergovernmental agreement between the city and the urban renewal agency about the festival street.
The council also to proclaim April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month
That meeting begins at 7 at Hermiston City Hall, and you can find the full agenda here.

Gospel Homecoming set for Sunday
March 23, 2017
On Sunday night, a gospel homecoming at 6:30 at the Hermiston Conference Center.
Organizer Steve Walker says it comes from a desire to bring people together over music, regardless of Christian denomination.
"We get together for this, most of it's music, and a chance to get together, rub shoulders, and maybe meet some new friends," Walker says.
The event began in 2007 but took a few years off. It's coming back this year. The evening will include musicians, a magician, performers, and sing-a-longs with classic gospel music lead by Doug Fernbacker.
"As a Christian, you don't know people in other churches, you don't know other groups," Fernbacker said. "This is kind of a common thing - the music - between all of the denominations.
The event is free and nondenominational. It will include some refreshments during the intermission. For more information, call Walker at 541-571-1090

Harkenrider Center gets a contractor
March 22, 2017
On Monday, the Hermiston City Council approved a contract with G2 Construction for the building the Harkenrider Center, the new senior center planned for downtown Hermiston. Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan says the bid came in about 80,000 lower than expected.
"The bids mean that we're going to be able to get more work done than we would have otherwise," he says. "We're going to be able to include an elevator into the basement now."
Morgan says the planning has included an unfinished basement, but having the elevator already included in initial construction will save the center money down the road.
"The basement will not be occupied for three to five years, but that $80,000 bid item for the elevator means we'll be able to pay for that now instead of trying to raise $80,000 when we want to develop that in the future," he says.
The total bid approved by the council just under 2.3 million dollars. Much of funding comes from a federal Community Development Block Grant. A pre-construction meeting scheduled for April 11 to review the construction schedule on the project.

Savings Match program meeting tonight
March 22, 2017
Tonight (March 22) a parent meeting for the Match College Savings program at Hermiston High School. College Bound Coordinator Liz Marvin says its for "The great thing about this program is that for ever $1 a student saves, they receive $5 in match," she said.
The program will match up to $1,600 of a students savings, which would give the student a total of $9,600 toward higher education.
It’s a financial need based program, and Marvin says preference given to freshmen and sophomores – and spots are limited. Marvin says they only have six slots open this term, and the applications have to be submitted within the next couple weeks.
To learn more about the program and see if your student qualifies, that meeting at 6 in the Hermiston High School Library. The presentation available in both English and Spanish. Contact Liz Marvin at 667-6412 for more information.

Council considers EOTEC, leases
March 20, 2017
Tonight, the Hermiston City Council meeting at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center. The evening begins with a work session to discuss EOTEC with the Umatilla County Commissions at 6, followed by the regular council meeting at 7. Both meetings at the EOTEC event center.
On the council agenda, ordinances to clean up wording in the Hermiston Code of Ordinances, amend the transient room tax, and consider approval of long-term leases between the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center and the Umatilla County Fair and Farm-City Pro Rodeo. They’ll also consider awarding G2 construction the contract for the Harkenrider Senior Center.

Read the full agenda here.

Umatilla robotics heading to PNW Finals
March 20, 2017
This weekend, 57 students and four chaperones from Umatilla headed out to Ellensburg, Washington, for a regional event with the FIRST Robotics Competition. Saturday, Team 4125 Confidential ended with a second-place overall finish and the Chairman’s Award in hand.
Umatilla Superintendent Heidi Sipe says the Chairman’s Award is the highest honor a team can receive during a regional competition. Now that the team has qualified for the Pacific Northwest Finals, they’ll look toward placing well enough to make it to the world finals, which will be in Houston this year.
The success of the team has lead to some impressive growth in its six years: from nine members in the first year to 57 this year.
Here's a look at the reveal of the robot for this year's competition:


You can follow the progress of Umatilla's FIRST Robotics Team and their robot - Dewey - on their website or Facebook page.

Store closures announced: Del's and JCP
March 17, 2017
Del’s Feed and Farm Supply to close. Tractor Supply Company announcing yesterday the Del’s location in Hermiston will close this fall.
“On behalf of the entire Del’s team, we are extremely grateful to our Hermiston customers for their many years of patronage,” said Jeremy Miller, district manager of the Hermiston store.
In addition to the Hermiston store, all seven remaining Pacific Northwest locations will close later this year. The company will honor all product warranties at Tractor Supply locations.
In other store closures, both JCPenney locations in Eastern Oregon on the list of recent cuts announced today (March 17).
JCPenney closing 138 stores in June, and that does include five of the 14 locations in Oregon. The department store closing locations in Pendleton, La Grande, the Dalles, Grants Pass and Astoria.
The Pendleton store has been in its location on Main Street since 1911, and is the oldest surviving store in the company. The La Grande Store has operated at its site, also on Main Street, since 1914.
Kate Coultas, a senior manager in JCPenney's corporate communications division, says approximately 5,000 positions nationwide are impacted by the closures: The Pendleton store has 21 employees; the la Grande store has 13.
Coultas says she does not yet know what will happen to the store buildings after the closures in June.
The store in Kennewick location not included in the closures.

Search and Rescue seeking members
March 17, 2017
For the Umatilla County Search and Rescue Unit, the sunshine and warmer temperatures signal the start of a busy season as people head into the forests and mountains –and potential risk.
"It's important (to have Search and Rescue) because of the numbers of areas we have, particularly forested areas, where people go up and end up getting lost or misguided," Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan says. "This gives us an opportunity to go up there and bring them safely back home."
The SAR teams have also helped out with searches within towns as well as with some major crimes. And, right now, they’re looking for more members, from radio operators to water rescue.

The unit is in its training mode right now, preparing for spring. Twenty members of the county search and rescue team spent a morning last week hiking at Grecian Heights Park in Pendleton, carrying a back that includes 20 pounds of survival and first aid gear.
Search and Rescue volunteers must be able to pass nine core competencies including land navigation, physical fitness, and first aid.
"We're always looking for more volunteers. It's a great group of people, very dedicated," Rowan said.
Umatilla County SAR is a non-profit organization. If you’re interested in joining Umatilla County Search and Rescue, you can contact Rowan or Sgt. Dwight Johnson at 541-966-3611.

Made to Thrive spring cleaning
March 16, 2017
This weekend, an event to support Made to Thrive – and help kick start your spring cleaning.
Made to Thrive was created to keep at risk and foster youth involved in activities, including sports, music, and dance. They’re funded through grants and private donations, as well as fundraisers. One of those is this weekend.
It’s the fourth annual Garage Sale Fundraiser, and it’s in two stages: drop off and sale. The drop-off is this Friday (March 17) at the Hermiston Conference Center. Made to Thrive founder Kris Dammeyer says if you need any furniture picked up, you can contact Made to Thrive to schedule a pickup, although they do prefer items be dropped off if possible.
The sale takes place the next day, Saturday, also at the conference center, from 8 to 2, and Dammeyer says it’s a big boost for both Made to Thrive and for the shoppers.
"It's all donation based," she says. "We don't put prices on anything except some of the really big items."
You can contact Made to Thrive for more information by stopping at the office on Second Street, online, or by calling 541-289-2343.