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Neita Cecil

Stories by Neita



TD finds BB gun ‘no threat’

A BB gun was found in a student’s backpack at The Dalles Middle School a month ago, but school officials issued no notices to parents because it was determined not to be a threat, the superintendent said.

February 20, 2018 3 p.m. read more..


Man sentenced in TD home invasion

The homeless man who broke into a woman’s home early last Thanksgiving by kicking in her front door was sentenced to 40 months in prison for first-degree burglary.

February 15, 2018 1:14 p.m. read more..


New recruiter joins fire leadership team

A nationwide, longstanding drop in volunteerism across all interests has so impacted the fire service that federal grants have been awarded to boost volunteer firefighter rosters. Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue has begun its second four-year grant-funded position aimed at increasing volunteerism.

February 14, 2018 1:39 p.m. read more..


Principal gets music award

The Dalles Middle School Principal Sandy Harris never misses a music performance by students at the school, and is always ready with a compliment for their work. For her ongoing support, she was awarded the Oregon Music Education Association Outstanding Administrator Award last month.

February 13, 2018 1:37 p.m. read more..


‘Purpose workshop’ draws 40

What is your purpose in life? Some 40 people attended a “purpose workshop” this week which explored that heavy topic and offered ways to find the answer.

February 9, 2018 1:27 p.m. read more..


Teacher contract settled

The teachers union for District 21 and the school board have agreed on a new two-year contract that provides a 2.2 percent cost of living increase this year. “We are very excited and feel like things went really well,” Superintendent Candy Armstrong told the Northern Wasco County School District 21 board last week.

February 8, 2018 1:18 p.m. read more..


Man sentenced in dog deaths

Kenneth Ray Smith, the owner of three dogs who died in his car in October, was sentenced to three years of bench probation, with a suspended 15-day jail term, on a charge of second-degree animal neglect. The adult dogs, two pitbulls and a terrier, had been dead 24-48 hours when they were pulled from Smith’s vehicle in the 3500 block of West Second Street Oct. 1.

February 7, 2018 12:36 p.m. read more..


Wahtonka school seeks charter

Wahtonka Community School is venturing into the uncharted waters of becoming a charter school. Principal Brian Goodwin is unabashed about why: He wants to give the alternative school the budget protection offered by charter school status.

February 6, 2018 1:17 p.m. read more..


Man hit by train in TD

A local transient was hit and killed by a train Sunday morning around 7:45 a.m., just west of Exit 82 of Interstate 84, according to the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office.

February 6, 2018 1:15 p.m. read more..


Ex-teacher accused of sex abuse

Robert Weems, 42, a former substitute teacher in School District 21 and a former track and wrestling coach at the middle school, was arrested Friday and is accused of having sex with a student. A grand jury indictment dated Friday, Feb. 2, lists charges against Weems of third-degree sexual abuse, first-degree official misconduct and two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, all relating to the same victim. He was arrested in the 2400 block of East 11th Street.

February 6, 2018 1:09 p.m. read more..


Man killed by train

A local transient was hit and killed by a train Saturday morning around 7:45 a.m. just west of Exit 82 on Interstate 84, according to the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office.

February 5, 2018 12:36 p.m. read more..


Creating a safe refuge for kids

A new after-school program on Wednesdays — an early release day in the school district — at Wahtonka Community School is the brainchild of two sisters who are students there. Sisters Anyssa and Nevaeh Campos spent five years in foster care, three of them apart, in homes all over the state and even in Colorado. They don’t know if any of the kids in their program are also foster kids, but at any rate, they just wanted to create a place where kids could come and have some snacks, read some books and play some games.

February 2, 2018 1:18 p.m. read more..


Better seating planned

The school district will loan portable bleachers to the chamber of commerce for its increasingly popular Cherry Idol event during Cherry Festival, the school board agreed on Tuesday. How many the chamber will need — and how many will fit in the space — will be decided soon.

February 2, 2018 1:13 p.m. read more..


New mini storage open in The Dalles

Two years ago, Richard Hynd tried to rent a storage unit in The Dalles. “Ain’t happening, not in The Dalles,” he recounted. So he and his partner, Lorne Richman, built their own self storage facility. Located at 105 Webber St., Oregon Trail Mini Storage opened in November.

February 1, 2018 1:11 p.m. read more..


Dog park open house Feb. 5

Residents are invited to a “pop-in, pop-out” open house Monday, Feb. 5 to let the parks and recreation district know their thoughts on off-leash dog parks in The Dalles.

February 1, 2018 1:09 p.m. read more..
 

TDHS ’17 grad rate hits 87.1 percent

Continuing its extraordinary improvement trajectory, The Dalles High School’s 2017 graduation rate was 87.1 percent, more than 10 points above the state average and nearly four points above the year prior.

January 30, 2018 1:14 p.m. read more..


Lyle district achievements

Dallesport Elementary was awarded the Washington School of Distinction for being in the top five percent of schools in the state in terms of academic growth, the district superintendent said Tuesday.

January 26, 2018 1:30 p.m. read more..


Man ejected from Lyle school meeting

Joshua Farris, who was ejected from a city council meeting in The Dalles in November, was removed from a Lyle school board meeting Tuesday after alleging misconduct by the superintendent.

January 26, 2018 1:20 p.m. read more..


Private college professor now seated on local school board

The newest D21 board member brings a wealth of professional knowledge about education and boards, but her main motivation in seeking the position is that she’s a mom with kids in local schools. Bethani Studebaker, Ph.D., was named by the North Wasco County School District 21 board to fill the vacancy created by the resignation in October of longtime board member Carol Roderick.

January 25, 2018 1:22 p.m. read more..


New push to address gonorrhea

A state grant aimed at helping modernize public health services will install video conferencing capabilities in 14 eastern Oregon counties, and hire three staffers to address significantly increasing gonorrhea rates.

January 24, 2018 1:45 p.m. read more..


Blue Zones project kicks off in TD

Over 350 adults attended last Friday’s kickoff of the Blue Zones Project in The Dalles, where attendees pledged to make small changes to live healthier, longer lives, and signed up to join walking groups called “moais.”

January 23, 2018 1:26 p.m. read more..


Women’s march draws 400

Exceeding expectations, over 400 people joined the women’s march Saturday through downtown The Dalles, making a 1.1-mile loop that began and ended at City Park on Union Street. Pink hats and political signs abounded, as the crowd listened to speakers before heading for the protest march that was kept to the sidewalks because no permits were obtained for it, an organizer said.

January 23, 2018 1:21 p.m. read more..


TD Women March Sat.

A year ago, a women’s march in The Dalles arranged in just 48 hours drew some 135 participants. This year, organizers expect 300 at the march, set for Saturday, Jan. 20, at City Park.

January 19, 2018 1:24 p.m. read more..


The Dalles police ready to Rumble(r)

Police lights and sirens sometimes have trouble gaining the attention of today’s distracted drivers. Enter the ultimate un-distractor: the Rumbler. Two new Ford Explorers bought by The Dalles Police Department have the Rumbler, and by late summer, it is anticipated the rest of the police fleet will have Rumblers too, said Police Capt. Jamie Carrico.

January 18, 2018 1:20 p.m. read more..


Blue Zones kickoff Friday

The free kickoff celebration of the Blue Zones Project wellness initiative, set for this Friday, Jan. 19, will feature Zumba and yoga demonstrations, free massages and healthy cooking demonstrations.

January 17, 2018 2:01 p.m. read more..


Self-serve a no-show in TD

The typical reaction in The Dalles in the wake of news that gas stations in smaller Oregon counties can now allow people to pump their own gas has been: Do we have to? The answer at local gas stations — at least so far — is no.

January 10, 2018 1:29 p.m. read more..
 

TD man accused of strangling cat

An 18-year-old was jailed Wednesday on a charge of first-degree animal abuse (a misdemeanor) and is accused of strangling a cat, according to police. James Claude McIntosh was arrested in the 2500 block of West 10th Street Wednesday and was released Thursday.

January 5, 2018 1:34 p.m. read more..


Shull resigns as principal

Chenowith Elementary School Principal Anne Shull resigned effective Dec. 31 in a settlement with the school district following bullying complaints filed against her last June by three current and former teachers. In the settlement, she will receive six months of pay, plus the district will pay her an amount equivalent to the district’s current monthly insurance contribution through June 2018.

January 5, 2018 1:32 p.m. read more..


Internship program launches in Gorge

Gorge employers were regularly saying they had trouble filling well-paying, good-benefit jobs, even though they didn’t even require a college education. Enter Gorge Works, a new program through the Port of The Dalles that offers paid summer internships and apprenticeship opportunities. It began taking applications for internships in mid-December, and the application period closes Jan. 31.

January 4, 2018 1:30 p.m. read more..


Citations issued in horse starvation case

The owners of two horses who were found starving in November have been cited for second degree animal neglect. Edna and Joe Whitesell, 6240 Hwy 30, Rowena, were issued the citations on Dec. 15. The horses were voluntarily surrendered by the Whitesells to Sound Equine Options, a Troutdale-based horse rescue.

December 26, 2017 1:02 p.m. read more..


Air quality topic of public hearing

A vocal opponent of AmeriTies West and the creosote compounds it is permitted to release said of a proposed new air quality rule, “If Cleaner Air Oregon was made for anything, it was made for the city of The Dalles.” Kristina Cronkright spoke at the Dec. 14 hearing in The Dalles on the proposed reform to air quality laws called Cleaner Air Oregon.

December 21, 2017 12:57 p.m. read more..


Wasco County using juvenile detention

Wasco County is again sending its youth to the juvenile facility at the regional jail, after briefly opting to send youth elsewhere on the heels of a report that was highly critical of the facility. Two of the three commissioners met in a work session last Thursday and by consensus gave authority for staff to resume sending youth there.

December 20, 2017 1:21 p.m. read more..


Jail responds to Disability Rights report

The regional jail board formally responded to the critical report of the juvenile detention facility last week, saying the report’s characterization of the facility as inhumane “is totally irresponsible.” The letter mirrored much of a response provided Nov. 27 by Juvenile Detention Manager Jeff Justesen, who was allowed to comment on the draft report before it was issued Dec. 5 by Disability Rights Oregon.

December 19, 2017 2:11 p.m. read more..


Chenowith principal on leave since fall

Chenowith Elementary School Principal Anne Shull has been on paid administrative leave since Sept. 26 pending an investigation of bullying complaints filed by three former employees. Shull spoke to the Chronicle about the complaint, and also provided a copy of the complaint against her, which was filed June 14.

December 19, 2017 2:05 p.m. read more..


Volunteers gear up for bike build

Volunteers from the Wasco County landfill and The Dalles Disposal are doing their second annual bike build Dec. 19, where they will assemble new bikes to be delivered to needy children at Christmas.

December 15, 2017 1:12 p.m. read more..


Report author explains response to input provided by jail

Before a scathing report was issued by a disability rights organization on the juvenile detention facility here, it gave local jail officials a chance to respond to a draft of the report. But juvenile detention officials said Disability Rights Oregon didn’t incorporate those responses into its final report, with one exception.

December 14, 2017 1:39 p.m. read more..


Changes seen at juvenile jail facility

On a recent late morning, a handful of youth were in a day room at the juvenile detention facility in The Dalles, visiting and working on art projects. Juvenile Detention Manager Jeff Justesen said the facility has made a conscious effort to have youth out of their cells more often, following a series of visits by Disability Rights Oregon (DRO), and its subsequent scathing report on practices at the facility.

December 14, 2017 1:30 p.m. read more..


Cochenour receives medal

Les Cochenour, former The Dalles mayor, retired Oregon National Guard officer and longtime volunteer for military organizations, received a significant medal Dec. 2 at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center.

December 13, 2017 1:09 p.m. read more..


Lone Pine donation drive underway

A flood of contributions, dwarfing last year’s effort, has come to the Discovery Center for its second annual donation drive to benefit the Lone Pine Native American fishing village. The collection is still underway through Christmas — items can be taken to the museum, at 5000 Discovery Drive — but the needed items aren’t the typical holiday requests.

December 12, 2017 1:12 p.m. read more..


Wasco County backs juvenile facility

Wasco County will likely reverse its Wednesday decision to stop sending youth to the local juvenile detention facility in reaction to a scathing report on the facility, with a county official saying Friday he was comfortable with sending local youth there.

December 9, 2017 11:43 a.m. read more..


Guatemala trip planned

For the second year, a group of students studying Spanish at The Dalles High School is heading to Guatemala on a service trip to bring water purifiers to desperately poor Mayan residents on Lake Atitlan. This year’s group is twice the size, with 10 students. On their nine-day trip next spring, they will work with Worthy Village, a non-profit, to distribute the simple water purifiers to families.

December 8, 2017 12:07 p.m. read more..


Scathing report faults jail

A sharply critical report on the juvenile detention facility at the regional jail claimed youth weren’t allowed to “look around” or ask what time it was, and they spent hours a day isolated in their cells. The report by Disability Rights Oregon (DRO) cited “harsh and purposeless rules” and harmful, outdated and counterproductive practices, including solitary confinement.

December 7, 2017 11:45 a.m. read more..


‘A frightful sound’

For two days after a man kicked in her door in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning, a local woman said she didn’t sleep more than an hour at a time. A good night’s sleep is still elusive. The woman agreed to talk about her ordeal and the aftermath, but asked that her name not be used.

December 1, 2017 2:39 p.m. read more..


Suit filed in TD sex crime case

An $8.5 million lawsuit was filed against Mid-Columbia Head Start and its volunteer William Frank Osborne, alleging the pre-school program did not adequately supervise Osborne, who has been accused of sexually assaulting several children in his care. The suit, filed Nov. 9 in Wasco County Circuit Court, named Mid-Columbia Children’s Council Inc., the non-profit organization that runs the Head Start program. The program serves 3- to 5-year-olds.

November 30, 2017 2:30 p.m. read more..


Workaround sought for school traffic

Dry Hollow Elementary has the school district’s most congested drop-off/pick-up situation, and a proposal was made to the school board last week that could help lighten the load in several ways.

November 29, 2017 3 p.m. read more..


Home invasion reported Thanksgiving day

A homeless man who had been arrested five times in 2017 was caught in a woman’s house in the 300 block of East Seventh Street early Thanksgiving morning after he kicked in her front door.

November 28, 2017 1:15 p.m. read more..


Thieves steal county plaque

Thieves stole the plaque on the antelope statue outside the Wasco County Courthouse sometime last week, officials said. The statue was donated to the county in 1986 by the community of Antelope. The plaque stated the statue was “Dedicated to all who steadfastly and unwaveringly opposed the attempts of the Rajneesh followers to take political control of Wasco County. 1981-1985.”

November 28, 2017 1:06 p.m. read more..


TDHS graduate awarded Bronze Star

As a daredevil kid who didn’t suffer too many scrapes growing up, Garron Dahle was cool and confident, with an uncanny ability to measure risk, his dad said. It’s a skillset that has served him well in his military career as a special operations combat controller — someone who orchestrates multiple airborne assets in combat situations — and recently earned him a Bronze Star Medal.

November 25, 2017 11:09 a.m. read more..

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