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2013 a year of challenges: On the lighter side

MARY AND DENNIS Davis were among the costumed greeters who welcomed passengers from the Queen of the West in its first stop in The Dalles of the tour season. The ship will be stopping in The Dalles through the spring and summer, including overnight stays every other Monday, starting this coming Monday, April 22. Wednesday daytime stays started with this one and will also continue every other week.

MARY AND DENNIS Davis were among the costumed greeters who welcomed passengers from the Queen of the West in its first stop in The Dalles of the tour season. The ship will be stopping in The Dalles through the spring and summer, including overnight stays every other Monday, starting this coming Monday, April 22. Wednesday daytime stays started with this one and will also continue every other week. Dan Spatz/contributed photo

Local news wasn’t always stern and serious. Sometimes it was fun or uplifting — or both.

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John Adams works the indoor portion of a top story tag team while Bill Sherbon works outside on Jack Gillis’ house. Kathy Ursprung photos

Jan. 9 – The temperature is well below freezing and snow is fresh on the ground as Jack Gillis and his helpers head over to the Habitat for Humanity house on East 16th Street for a cup of tea and a break from cold construction work. Gillis lives around the corner from the house, but he’s building a big house right next door. He started the four-level dwelling when he was 75. He’s 83 now and the structure is coming together in his time. Over the winter, during lulls on the Habitat house, its volunteers helped Gillis install siding.

Jan. 11 – Sheriff Rick Eiesland with his partner Haley Wayt was the crowd favorite, taking home a mirror ball trophy at the Gorge Dancing with the Stars event put on by the Mid-Columbia Community Concert Association in conjunction with the Utah Ballroom Dance Company.

Jan. 22 – Standing among the 900,000 people on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol to hear President Barack Obama recite the oath of office for his second term was “probably one of the most patriotic moments of my life,” said Bill Noonan, who called Monday from among the crowd. Noonan and his wife, Lori Russell, attended the Jan. 21 inauguration at the invitation of a senior Obama campaign official, for whom Noonan provided executive coaching. They also attended the inaugural ball later that night.

March 22 – On Saturday, March 16, a small group of intrepid volunteers made their way to Riverfront park to plant trees, part of the ongoing restoration strategy for the area east of Riverfront Park that was once entombed in noxious weeds.

March 26 – It has been almost 10 years since the first class of registered nurses graduated from Columbia Gorge Community College and the anniversary will be marked by a new agreement to help further the education of students. Under a new agreement between the local college and Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), graduates with an associate of applied science degree in nursing from the gorge college can transition to OHSU and earn their bachelor’s degree.

April 12 – Bragging rights went to Mike Woodside on Wednesday, April 10, in what has become known among the “infamous” Burgerville morning coffee group as the Great Burgerville Free Throw Shootout between Woodside and John Hutchison.

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MARY AND DENNIS Davis were among the costumed greeters who welcomed passengers from the Queen of the West in its first stop in The Dalles of the tour season. The ship will be stopping in The Dalles through the spring and summer, including overnight stays every other Monday, starting this coming Monday, April 22. Wednesday daytime stays started with this one and will also continue every other week.

April 18 – Costumed greeters welcomed passengers from the Queen of the West in its first stop in The Dalles of the tour season. The ship stopped in The Dalles through the spring and summer.

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ANNUAL SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS for the Distinguished Young Women program took place Saturday evening at The Dalles Wahtonka High School. A total of $14,000 was given out and pictured from left are: Angela DeCeaser, who earned the Spirit of Distinguished Young Women prize of $1,000; Bailey Cordell, a finalist, receiving $1,500; Hannah Hinshaw, the Distinguished Young Woman of Wasco County, capturing $5,000, Riley-Ann Nelson, first alternate, being given $3,000 and Lauren Thalhofer netting $1,500 for being a finalist and $2,000 in scholastic funds.

April 23 – Hannah Hinshaw captured a $5,000 scholarship and the title 2014 Distinguished Young Woman of Wasco County at the scholarship program’s event April 19.

April 26 – Audrey Hinatsu, 13, blazed through the United States Gymnastic Association’s regional final in Seattle, tallying a first-place all-around title as the best in six states.

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The Dalles Wahtonka and Dufur soapbox derby racers wait for the “go” signal from moderator Dave Karlson of Google in the Gorge Gravity Games, held Saturday, May 11, along Court Street.

May 14 – Soapbox derby racers took up parts of three downtown streets this weekend competing in Gorge Gravity Games.

May 15 – One Community Health prepared to celebrate the grand opening of its new health care facility at 1040 Webber St., with a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

May 23 – Wasco Librarian Danee Rankin and her husband Len Rankin were honored as Memorial Day Parade Grand Marshals.

June 4 – Biker groups from the Northwest and beyond will converge on Maupin this weekend for a riding challenge that benefits severely injured combat veterans.

July 2 – The maiden voyage of the Home at Last mobile spay and neuter clinic made its first stop in Rufus June 21.

July 3 – A volunteer group is forming here to plan a Fort Dalles Fourth starting in 2014 that could include a parade, festival area family fun and a fireworks display on the river.

Sept. 5 – Despite the end of the $2.7 million Safe Schools Health Students grant, grant director Trudy Townsend said some of the programs will be sustained through other sources and infrastructure improvements such as new surveillance cameras will remain.

Sept. 13 – Unlike the drawn-out debate that produced “The Dalles Wahtonka High School” name a decade ago, its return to The Dalles High School was a quick and easy decision. After a relatively brief discussion, the North Wasco County School District 21 board voted unanimously to restore the old high school name by the 2016-17 school year.

Sept. 17 – Two elementary schools in The Dalles are coping with 60 more kindergarteners than projected, the school board heard at its Sept. 12 meeting. To understand what a big anomaly this is, the school district got just 18 more students in the other 12 grades combined.

Nov. 24 – The Oregon State University Extension Service’s Wasco County Master Gardeners received a Search of Excellence Award from the Oregon State Master Gardener Association due to their Northern Oregon Regional Corrections youth greenhouse program.

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Volunteers who worked on the Church of the Nazarene lighting display included, from left, Pete Hall, Melanie Hall, Pastor Aaron Mednansky, Kris Langdon, Adam Gietl, Michelle Cochran, Judah Harwood, Ino Olivan, Raymond Kimball, Angel Garcia, Kim Wadsworth, Leaveny Wadsworth and Ramona Harwood. Not pictured are Brittany and John Bernstein, Luke Maney, Russ Erlenbush, Brian Fix, Steven Zack, Adam Pratl, Mychal and Tobin Hall.

Dec. 15 – Volunteers have put together a Christmas decoration display at the Church of the Nazarene the likes of which hasn’t been seen before in The Dalles. The all-out Christmas light show set to music is intended as a fun outreach program for the church.

Dec. 19 – The several months-long debate over how Wasco County School District 21 should attempt to relieve the pressure put on county schools by the state-mandated change to all-day kindergarten next year has finally been decided. In a special meeting Dec. 17, the board passed a motion to buy four modular buildings, each with two classrooms.

Dec. 27 – The Dalles High School mascot committee has winnowed choices to replace the Eagle Indians as mascot to a handful: Rattlers, Rapids, Sasquatch, Megawatts and Riverhawks.

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