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Neita Cecil

Stories by Neita

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70 years of hymns

Phyllis Ronfeld marks 7 decades as Zion Lutheran organist

When she was 14 years old, ­­ Phyllis Ronfeld started playing the organ for Zion Lutheran Church. That was in 1946, just after the end of World War II. Plenty of things have changed since then, but not Ronfeld, who is still playing the organ 70 years later. Zion is celebrating the remarkable milestone this Sunday, Nov. 19.

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Immigration march draws 65

Chanting slogans in support of immigrants and a “clean Dream act,” a student-organized protest with some 65 participants marched from the west business district to the courthouse steps Thursday afternoon.

No rate hike from PUD

Not only has Northern Wasco County People’s Utility District staff proposed no rate increase for 2018, but they also recommend seasonal discounts for low income senior and disabled customers become year-round.

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PUD volunteer day proves successful

Some 50 Northern Wasco County PUD employees and board members recently spent their day out in the community helping with projects at five locations.

Jail feels pressure of mentally ill

Last month, Regional Jail Administrator Bryan Brandenburg described a recent day at the regional jail that stood out for a frustrating reason: at one point, every inmate in the booking area belonged in a mental health facility. Instead, as regularly happens, they were put behind bars. Booking felt like an acute psychiatric unit, Brandenburg told the Northern Oregon Regional Corrections Facility board at its October meeting.

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Council eyes homeless ban

In a bid to address concerns about homeless impacts in town, The Dalles City Council on Monday will discuss creation of exclusion zones, from which people accused of certain crimes can be banned. If they reenter the zone after being excluded, they can be arrested for trespassing. Also proposed is amending the city’s nuisance ordinance to prohibit camping on public property within the city limits.

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Hage resigns from Home at Last position

The woman asked to help turn around the struggling animal shelter in The Dalles as it contended with a ringworm outbreak has quit her volunteer post, citing interference from the shelter board.

ICE hunger strike ends

A hunger strike by immigration detainees was “paused” at the regional jail Saturday after detainees said concessions were promised by jail and immigration officials. They said they may resume the strike if conditions don’t improve. Meanwhile, Northern Oregon Regional Corrections Facility Administrator Bryan Brandenburg said no agreement was made in order to stop the strike, which he said lasted three days, not four as claimed by supporters of the strikers.

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Protecting property values: Codes enforcement

At one location, two couches and a battered barbecue were sitting by the side of the gravel road. At another, ragged outdoor carpet covered a property dotted with junk and tall vegetation. A third had a dilapidated and dangerously leaning outbuilding that was a threat to human safety. Those are the kinds of public eyesores that The Dalles Codes Enforcement Officer Nikki Lesich works to eradicate.

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Police ditch razors for a good cause

The Dalles Police Department is taking a small break from protocol in order to fundraise for a good cause this month: normally clean-shaven officers have paid $25 each to participate in No-Shave November. The department has also encouraged the public to donate to No-Shave November, a cancer charity, in the department’s name.

ICE detainee hunger strike begins again

A second hunger strike by immigration detainees at the regional jail in The Dalles has started, with strikers objecting to largely the same issues that sparked a strike in May.

Local preference sought for move

The Mid-Columbia Council of Governments will ask the state to waive rules that make it unlikely that the new administrators of the Area Agency on Aging will be from the local area. MCCOG, a 40-year-old five-county entity that runs a handful of local and regional services, anticipates dissolving itself by Jan. 31.

Building codes future discussed

The entity that has handled regional building codes services is shutting down, and the question of who will take over those services has, as expected, become complex. The possibility of litigation over how to equitably divide a large cash reserve was raised when the issue was recently discussed.

TDHS ASPIRE seeks mentors

The Dalles High School is looking for mentors willing to help juniors and seniors plan for their next steps after graduation. The ASPIRE program pairs mentors with one or more students to help them line up plans ranging from the military to trade school to college.

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Warming Place seeks volunteers

The Warming Place opens Nov. 19, and volunteers are needed to run the shelter, which opens on the coldest nights to give the homeless a respite from winter weather.

Jail won’t seek a tax measure

Board nixes ballot plan

The regional jail board has decided not to ask voters again to pass a permanent tax rate to help fund the jail. Voters narrowly defeated the issue last spring. The Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility board agreed at its Oct. 19 meeting that the matter was off the table for now.

Lone Pine maintenance challenge

This is the fourth of a four-part series looking at the Lone Pine Native American treaty fishing in-lieu site, which overlooks The Dalles Dam. This final article reviews current maintenance levels at Lone Pine.

MCCOG seeks to divest by Jan. 31

The Mid-Columbia Council of Governments, which decided in August to shutter its doors, anticipates divesting itself of all its programs by Jan. 31, 2018, the MCCOG board heard last Tuesday. One possible wrinkle is the handoff of the Area Agency on Aging (AAA).

Tribal housing efforts looming

This is the third of a four-part series looking at the Lone Pine Native American treaty fishing in-lieu site, which overlooks The Dalles Dam. This story looks at plans to fulfill decades-old promises of housing for tribal members displaced by dams.

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‘­My river’ a source of comfort

This four-part series looks at the Lone Pine Native American treaty fishing in-lieu site, which overlooks The Dalles Dam. The second article, presented here, shares the viewpoints of two women who have lived at Lone Pine for years.

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A fateful ride to Lone Pine

This four-part series looks at the Lone Pine Native American treaty fishing in-lieu site, which overlooks The Dalles Dam. The first article describes homeless advocate Dorothy Rodriguez’s push to help meet needs at the site.

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PUD getting electrical grid ready for winter

The Northern Wasco County PUD has been spending the summer —and then some — getting ready for the winter. It is an ongoing effort that ranges from tree trimming to vehicle preparation.

Turnaround in outbreak

Animal shelter controls ringworm outbreak

The Dalles Mayor Steve Lawrence has made it his priority to ensure the local animal shelter survives, saying the town needs to have dog control. That’s welcome news to Janna Hage, who was recently asked by the Home at Last Humane Society to help it recover from a ringworm outbreak that shut down operations.

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Transients cleared from overpass

Earlier this month, after getting multiple complaints, city police told transients living under the freeway overpass by Dairy Queen to clear out. It was done at nighttime, when they were more likely to be there, said The Dalles Police Capt. Jamie Carrico. Police logs show five people were asked to move along on Oct. 5.

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Tackling Type 1

How a competitive local athlete learned to handle Type 1 diabetes

Connor Shortt, a 2014 grad of The Dalles-Wahtonka High School, always had his eye on some type of work in the medical field. He wasn’t sure just what it would be until May 2016, when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after his sophomore year at Pacific University. Now he wants to be an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in treatment of the disease.

Report card: Chenowith boosts scores

Chenowith Elementary School showed a 20 percent gain in overall academic achievement in the 2016-17 school year, according to the just-released state school report card. In a statement on the state report card, Chenowith Principal Anne Shull said it was “a year of celebration for Chenowith and our students!”

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Nod to DA for new hire

Wasco County District Attorney Eric Nisley can’t say enough about his newest employee. Kurt Cochran, who is helping digitize the office’s huge backlog of paper files, “has a great sense of humor,” Nisley said. “He’s got a great work ethic. He gets to work early and he stays late.” Cochran has a disability, and the attorney’s office was recently named the “Best New Employer” by the Mid-Columbia Employment First team at an awards banquet.

Three dogs die in vehicle

Three dogs who had been dead for 24 to 48 hours were pulled from a man’s vehicle in the 3500 block of West Second Street on Oct. 1. He has been charged with one count of first-degree animal neglect regarding all three animals.

Bomb squad called; device ‘fake’

The Oregon State Police bomb squad was called to an address in the 2500 block of East 12th Street Friday night on a suspected explosive device, which turned out to be fake, police said.

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Infected animal shelter to close for cleaning

Home At Last Humane Society has been open about problems it’s been having since June with a ringworm outbreak. Finally, a board member called a former HAL director for help. That director, Janna Hage, began volunteering with the shelter just last week. “Quite frankly, ringworm isn’t the issue going on with the shelter,” Hage said. “It’s a symptom of what the problem is.”

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TDHS turns out 24 AP Scholars

The Dalles High School produced 24 Advanced Placement (AP) Scholars in the last academic year, up from 21 the year before.

Health District gains accreditation

The North Central Public Health District is among the first 10 such districts in Oregon to earn accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board. The voluntary accreditation means the health district meets nationally recognized, practice-focused and evidence-based standards.

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A welcome ride

Officer lucks upon cold mountain biker in bad weather

Usually, when The Dalles Police Officer Brent Larson patrols the city watershed on the Mt. Hood National Forest, he goes in one way and out another, to cover more ground. But, in a very lucky turn of events for mountain biker Cori Bucherl, on Tuesday, Sept. 19, Larson decided to go out the way he came in. As he was trundling down the 1720 Road right by where it intersects with the 44 Road, he came upon a drenched Bucherl, who had cut short a planned 25-mile bike ride due to unseasonably wet and cold weather.

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TD trooper honored

On Oct. 28, 2015, Senior Trooper Zach Bohince was near Seaside with the fugitive apprehension task force, which was trying to arrest a man with warrants for kidnapping and attempted murder.

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Grass Valley native gets OSP medal

Six troopers recently received the first ever Medal of Valor issued by the Oregon State Police. Two of them, Ryan Sharp and Zach Bohince, have local ties. Both troopers were shot at by fleeing suspects in vehicle pursuits.

Meeting explores decision to end DACA

Some 40 people attended a recent meeting about President Trump’s decision to end DACA, the federal program that defers deportation for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection are often called “Dreamers,” which refers to a legislative act that was never passed by Congress.

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HR ‘Dreamer’ speaks out

Leonidas Montenegro came to the U.S. with family at age 13

Leonidas Montenegro and his family came to the U.S. from Guatemala when he was 13. In 2012, the Obama Administration began its DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which defers deportation for undocumented immigrations who arrived in the U.S. as children. Montenegro, then in his early 20s, jumped on the opportunity to legally remain in the U.S.

Ban on using cell phones while driving starts Oct. 1

The Dalles Police Officer Jeff Kienlen just got back from a traffic conference, where discussion touched on the fact that fatal crashes are on the rise, mostly due to distracted driving. And so the timing is apt for the Oct. 1 start of Oregon’s new distracted driving law, which bans holding a cell phone or other electronic device while driving.

‘The Phat Pack’ kick off community concert series

The Phat Pack, a trio who sing Broadway tunes and were named Best of Las Vegas: Best All-around Performers, perform Monday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. at The Dalles High School auditorium.

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Blue Zones hires local staff in TD

The Blue Zones Project, a three-year well-being initiative begun in The Dalles this past spring, has hired its four locally-based staffers.

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Psychic hones her abilities, returns to TD

Mary Wymer loves old buildings — not only for the architecture, but for the people, long dead, she can connect with in them.

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Pig Bowl helps 3 families

For the first time in its 15-year history, the Pig Bowl, a fundraising flag football game featuring local law enforcement, is donating proceeds from its Sept. 23 game to three families.

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Cancer patient provided bus fare

Homeless advocate Dorothy Rodriguez learned about Christine Young on a Tuesday night and put the word out via social media asking for help. By Wednesday morning, someone had donated bus tickets to get Young and her husband, Randall, on to Ontario, where they have a connection. Young has Large B cell lymphoma and spent 41 days in Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Randall said.

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A helping hand for the homeless

About a year ago, Dorothy Rodriguez Anderson began handing food and clothing out to the homeless people she saw at the laundromat in The Dalles. She operated out the back door, providing a stream of love, support, acceptance, clothes and food.

Smoke closes D21 schools

North Wasco County schools closed Thursday because of poor air quality, which reached hazardous levels Wednesday night before lowering this morning to “unhealthy” levels.

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Arsonist targets Sherman county

A series of human-caused fires have plagued Sherman County’s backroads since July, and there’s a $6,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

NORCOR board mulls new tax levy

The four counties that make up the regional jail are researching the feasibility of returning to voters in May 2018 to ask for a permanent tax rate to provide stable funding for the jail.

New intern pastor at United Methodist

Gigi Siekkenen, the new part-time intern pastor at First United Methodist Church in The Dalles, came to seminary as a second career — an ever more common path to the pulpit.

Sixth grader heads to state spelling bee

Pyeper Walker, 11, an incoming sixth grader at Sherman Elementary, headed to Salem Saturday to take part in the Oregon Statewide Spelling Championship at the Oregon State Fair. “I am very proud to represent my county in the state spelling bee. It will be really exciting to compete against other spellers from Oregon, but I will also be nervous,” Pyeper said earlier this week.

Crosswalk enforcement nets 26

The third of four crosswalk enforcement actions took place Monday in The Dalles, and one of the ticketed motorists had been cited for the same thing in an earlier enforcement action. The action is part of The Dalles Police Department’s efforts to improve pedestrian safety, specifically motorists who do not yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks.

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