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Neita Cecil

Stories by Neita

‘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.

D21 hires PR firm for facilities effort

District 21 has hired Wright Public Affairs, which has managed winning campaigns for school bonds and levies in the Portland Metro area, to guide its facilities bond campaign. The hiring was announced at the North Wasco County School District 21 meeting last Thursday.

MCCOG to hand off services

After a nearly 40-year existence, the Mid-Columbia Council of Governments has voted to find new homes for its four programs and will cease to function as a direct service provider. The four programs are: transportation, which includes the LINK dial-a-ride as well as a non-emergency medical transport service; the Area Agency on Aging, which helps with meals and other services for seniors; workforce development programs; and regional building codes services.

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Community Meal seeks volunteers

Community Meal, which has been providing a free meal to all comers every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for over 30 years, is looking for a few new groups to help prepare meals a few times a year.

Youth arrested following pellet gun shooting

A 14-year-old male was taken into custody on two counts of second-degree assault Monday morning and is accused of shooting a woman and her son with a pellet gun.

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Worth the price: ‘Sundown in Shaniko’

A sleepless night in the family van was the completely-worth-it price my kids and I paid for the thrill and privilege of seeing the total solar eclipse Monday in the wide-open spaces of Shaniko.

Hospital turns corner financially

Mid-Columbia Medical Center has “turned a corner as a whole,” said its new chief executive officer, Dennis Knox. He said rumors that the hospital would be closing its doors due to financial issues were unfounded.

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MCMC may sell visiting health services

Mid-Columbia Medical Center is considering options for its unprofitable visiting health service that include keeping it but reducing losses, or selling it to another company. MCMC officials hope for the former.

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Senior Center elevator opens

In a short ceremony Wednesday afternoon, the Mid-Columbia Senior Center officially opened its long-awaited elevator. Winning the honor of taking the first ride was Gary Bradley and Sandy Haechrel.

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Antiques Roadshow draws a crowd

The huge lines of people waiting to get into the Antiques Roadshow is reminiscent of a line at the airport, only all the people have really cool luggage. The show, now in its 22nd season, was taping in Portland last Saturday at the Oregon Convention Center.

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Local vigil held against racism

Some 70 people attended a vigil Sunday evening on the Wasco County Courthouse steps in reaction to violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that left a woman dead. Event organizer Dr. Mimi McDonell was overwhelmed by the response to the event, which she publicized earlier that day through social media.

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Enforcing the Law

When the police chief heard that the Chronicle would be interviewing retiring The Dalles Police Capt. Steve Baska, the chief’s immediate — and correct — response was, “Oh no!” Baska is famously, delightfully, unfiltered. His 31 years with the city police enabled him to wryly observe, and comment upon, the foibles of humanity.

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Wahtonka students tackle calculus

While calculus might be viewed as a daunting level of high school math, a group of students at Wahtonka Community School are approaching it in the form of an exercise challenge.

Host family sought for Korean student

The Rotary Club is looking for local families to take in a South Korean exchange student who will be arriving in The Dalles the week of Aug. 24-31.

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Greenhouse project wins award

Wasco County Master Gardeners received a prestigious Search for Excellence award at the International Master Gardener conference for its regional jail greenhouse and spring plant sale.

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Shaniko prepares for ‘seige’

Shaniko, population 26, is preparing for a siege of sorts when the solar eclipse happens Aug. 21.

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Nañez wins state DYW honors

Jessika Nañez, an incoming The Dalles High School senior, was named Oregon’s Distinguished Young Woman Saturday in Salem, winning a $3,000 scholarship and the option of full-ride scholarships at various colleges nationwide.

Fire training tower work underway

Foundation work has begun on a four-story fire training tower at Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue. The tower should be finished in mid-October.

Visa snafu lands Spaniard in jail

A 22-year-old Spanish woman heading for a six-week stay in Corvallis was denied entry to the U.S. at the Portland airport July 5 and spent 38 hours at the regional jail in The Dalles before being returned to Spain.

Well-being surveys set out

A wellness survey landed in several thousand mailboxes in The Dalles to establish a baseline for the Blue Zones Project as it begins a three-year effort to improve community wellness.

TD boy dies in crash

A 4-year-old boy from The Dalles, Parker Lee Perkins, died in an off-road-vehicle accident Sunday afternoon near Goldendale. The vehicle involved in the accident is called a UTV, or a utility task vehicle, and is also known as a side by side, since UTVs can seat two to four people.

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Garbage burns at county landfill

A fire at the Wasco County Landfill on Steele Road was reported early Saturday morning, and 30 planeloads of water and foam were dropped on it to quell it as quickly as possible, an official said. Reported around 1 a.m. Saturday, it was fully out by Sunday around 6 p.m., said Kevin Green, district manager for Waste Connections, which runs the landfill.

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Fatima statue coming to TD

Hundreds are expected at a once-in-a-lifetime event, when a world-famous religious statue of Our Lady of Fatima will be on display at St. Peter Catholic Church in The Dalles Aug. 3-4 as part of a national tour of peace.

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Cop Block films courthouse staff

A scary encounter in the county assessor’s office, where a man silently filmed employees, ended with the film crew — known for filming police — praising Wasco County Sheriff Lane Magill for his professionalism.

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Jail sued over holding immigration detainees

A lawsuit was filed Friday, July 21, in Wasco County Circuit Court claiming the regional jail is violating state law by holding immigration detainees. A 1987 state law prohibits the use of state or local resources to “detect or apprehend” people whose only offense is being in the country illegally.

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Efforts being made to save mural at old Tum-a-Lum building

The owners of the old Tum-a-Lum building, soon to be the new offices of The Dalles Chronicle, hope a deteriorating mural on the building can be saved.

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Jail explores long-term funding streams

Some jail board members don’t want another four-county vote on a permanent tax rate to help fund the jail, and other members questioned whether housing immigration detainees was worth it given the controversy it has drawn.

Family fears play out in crime

In 2013, Kelly Green spoke to The Chronicle under a pseudonym, describing her struggles with her schizophrenic son, Garrett Brennan. In the article, she said her then 21-year-old son was too dangerous to live with her family, which included three younger children living at home who were terrified of him. Four years after the article ran, on March 16, 2017, Brennan was arrested, accused of stabbing his grandmother, Charlene Caldwell, 71, to death when she went to his apartment in The Dalles to check on him.

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DIY drones a hit at Insitu

A pile of eight gutted Ironman toys sat on the gym floor last week at Insitu’s RoboFlight Academy, held at Henkle Middle School in White Salmon. The remote-controlled flying toys had been stripped of their circuit boards and motors, which were put to better use in a variety of made-from-scratch drones by the 25 mostly Gorge area teens enrolled in the weeklong program, which just finished its sixth year.

Superintendent lauded as contract negotiated

After a former school board member criticized Superintendent Wes Owens at a Sherman County school board meeting July 6, a crowd came to the next meeting, on July 10, to laud Owens. Owens was not at the July 10 meeting, where some two dozen people, including a student, parents, teachers, support staff and board members, voiced their support of him.

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Carrico named captain of TD Police Department

Detective Sgt. Jamie Carrico, a 22-year veteran of The Dalles Police Department, was named the department’s captain this month. He will replace Capt. Steve Baska, who is retiring in August.

Bar files formal complaint on DA

The Oregon State Bar filed a formal complaint last month alleging Wasco County District Attorney Eric Nisley made false statements to the bar. Nisley denied the allegation in a July 10 response and asked that the complaint, filed in the Oregon Supreme Court, be dismissed.

Medical outreach helps domestic abuse victims

Domestic violence victims who had an intervention from a health care provider saw a 71 percent reduction in coerced pregnancies versus a control group, a study found. The local domestic violence prevention organization, HAVEN, hopes to get more local care providers to participate in a low-key intervention that reaches out to patients about how their lives are going.

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Concert, fireworks declared a success

Thousands of people poured into the Lewis and Clark Festival Park for an evening concert and fireworks show on Saturday, said festival director Nolan Hare.

Jail to rent beds to Benton County

The regional jail has begun to accept inmates from Benton County, which has agreed to rent a minimum of 22 jail beds, with a possibility of using up to 40 beds, the jail board heard June 15.

D21 Foundation nets $5K in donations

The first-ever appeal letter sent out by the D21 Education Foundation has so far yielded nearly $5,000 in donations from 39 people. The funds will help in a variety of areas, and similar donations previously have done things like buy specialized ovens to dry chemical samples in high school chemistry classes, or pay for computer-based programs that boost reading skills.

Jail adding tablets for inmates, detainees

The regional jail board recently heard about efforts to comply with demands of immigration detainees held at the jail.

MCCOG debates its future viability

The Mid-Columbia Council of Governments board got a harsh analysis Tuesday, hearing that it lacked leadership and had image problems, as it considers whether to remain as a stand-alone entity. The candid review was undertaken by interim MCCOG Director David Meriwether. “I could say this universally: I didn’t find a lot of love out there and I talked to a lot of people,” he said.

TDHS takes new direction for science

In the fall, The Dalles High School will have a new science curriculum that focuses not on memorizing facts, but “how to do science,” a teacher said. “Science is a process, and it’s always been taught as a bunch of facts, and that’s the problem,” said The Dalles High School science teacher Tegner Weiseth.

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