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Neita Cecil

Stories by Neita

D21 scores improve

As Penny Grotting was analyzing winter test results from the local elementary schools, she began to notice something.

Drug team looks at fire

After a Wamic man suffered serious burns on April 22, Wasco County sheriff’s deputies learned that the incident may have been connected to an illegal drug lab explosion.

Stine seeks senate seat

Young challenger for Wyden in Senate race

Two preschools unite in Moro

In the final educational merger in Sherman County, two non-profit pre-schools, one in Moro, one in Wasco, have agreed to combine into one entity starting in the fall.

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Sex offender gets 15-year sentence

A 2014 graduate of The Dalles-Wahtonka High School, Michael Cele Stephens, was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing six girls aged 13 to 15.

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Drug dragnet: Busts have big impact

Last year, police in The Dalles started getting calls from other police agencies, asking them, “What’s going on there? Our drug dealers are afraid to go to The Dalles.” What was going on was a regional drug task force went into high gear, cranking out 30-plus search warrants in 2015, up from around five or six the year before, when staffing was lower.

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Full at last

A final burial at Pioneer Cemetery, established in 1860

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A ramp for Uli - and friends who made it

At age 15, progressing muscular dystrophy has robbed Ulises Elizarraras Perez of the use of his legs and largely stilled his arms.

Transient numbers increase

Over the winter, The Dalles not only saw a significant increase in transients using an overnight shelter on very cold nights, but most were people who longtime volunteers had never seen before.

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FannieMae moves to demolish house

The burned house at 10th and Mt. Hood will finally be demolished, a city official reported Monday. The house has been vacant for over a year, since the homeowner died in a fire that he set after facing eviction.

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Tea is served April 16

Event benefits Pink Project program for cancer patients

Boundary lines drawn

The Gorge Commission will finally check something off its to-do list that has been languishing there for nearly 30 years: Defining the boundaries of the 13 urban areas in the scenic area.

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Fix won’t help TD

The gorge commission is finally firming up the boundaries of urban areas in the national scenic area, but the news really doesn’t help The Dalles, the town most anxious to expand its boundaries. “It essentially means nothing,” said Dick Gassman, planning director for The Dalles.

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Tackling Trauma

Compassion in the classroom is focus of ‘Trauma-informed schooling’

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Burned home demo sought

For more than a year now, a burned-out home has stood at 10th and Mt. Hood streets, where a homeowner died in a fire he set upon learning he was being evicted.

Scam alert

Police are cautioning people to be aware of scammers who are targeting citizens in The Dalles and Wasco County and are falsely claiming to be with law enforcement.

Firefighter grant ends

Three grant-funded firefighter positions at Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue terminate on June 30, and the agency filed a new grant in hopes of restoring the positions. A fourth grant-funded position — a four-year term for volunteer recruitment/retention — runs out in January. A grant to continue that position is also being filed.

TD water quality earns top marks

With the water quality crisis in Flint, Mich., making headlines, citizens in The Dalles can rest assured, according to officials, since the city’s water treatment system has earned top marks for years. The Dalles is an “outstanding performer” in Oregon, putting it in the top 10 percent in the state for water quality, and is one of just 300 water systems in the U.S. that is a member of the Partnership for Safe Water, said The Dalles Public Works Director Dave Anderson.

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'Mom Prom' benefits Grayson

Last year’s “Mom Prom,” an elegant evening out for grownups, raised over $10,000 for a little girl in Hood River who was fighting cancer. This year, with twice as much time to plan, event co-organizer Kristen Labenske hopes to raise twice as much money, all for the benefit of Grayson Smallfoot, a little boy in Arlington with a severe form of spina bifida.

Fire bond explored

As the fire district considers a November bond levy to replace aging fire apparatus and do facility maintenance, a focus group encouraged the district to be bold in its request to the public. They were told to ask for all the equipment they need.

Training tower hits snag

The fire district hoped to have a new four-story training tower built by July, but an unexpected problem with soil at the site has delayed plans.

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Emergency responders honored

Part roast, part awards ceremony, the annual VFW Auxiliary recognition dinner in honor of area law enforcement and firefighters Wednesday said farewell to two longtime officials and lauded others. The Dalles Police Chief Jay Waterbury, who retires in July after nearly 42 years in police work, 41 of them in The Dalles, and 20 as police chief, was honored, as was retiring Wasco County Sheriff Rick Eiesland.

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Turnaround artist

Since Anne Shull took the helm of Chenowith Elementary, the school has seen “exponential” improvement, state officials have said. Once at the worst state rating a school could have –a level 1 – the school is now at a 3, and Shull’s goal is to get it all the way to the top overall performance rating, a level 5, in another four years. She thinks it’s “easily” doable. A recent data check showed the “winter benchmark” was almost double what it was from a year ago.

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Taking poverty personally

Anne Shull is principal at Chenowith Elementary, where more students live in poverty than at any school in the district.

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Love for science, teaching combine in inspiring teacher

As an honor-roll freshman at Eastern Oregon University, Eli Holeman, was asked to name an inspirational teacher: He chose Tegner Weiseth, a life science teacher at The Dalles High School.

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A real school drama plays out off stage

Since Monday, a man from Wishram has spent about 90 minutes each afternoon outside The Dalles High School, holding a neon yellow sign protesting a school play he hasn’t seen, but heard is “filthy.”

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D21 to seek facilities survey

The school district will conduct a survey of the community to learn what its appetite is for building — and paying for — new facilities. The North Wasco County School District 21 board voted Thursday to proceed with a survey process, and named board members Kathy Ursprung, Ernie Blatz and Lori McCanna to a subcommittee to help work with a surveying firm to formulate questions for the wide-ranging survey.

Board hears bus complaint

A parent complained to the school board last Thursday saying a scheduled usage of school buses for an April 30 band trip was cancelled so a sports team could use them instead, and the woman said she was told it was district policy to do so. After doing some investigation into the matter, District Superintendent Candy Armstrong said there was a miscommunication and not an “intentional preference of athletics over band.”

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Not your typical dream house

Local musician plans to bringing historic Civil War era house back into service as home, business

Schools eye shared facility

Following a short executive session, the community college board voted Tuesday to have staff discuss a possible collaboration with the school district on shared facilities.

New tool boosts student skills

Teachers at The Dalles High School are excited about encouraging early results from a new program that helps students express themselves better, both in classroom discussion and in writing. Called ELAchieve, the program was designed to help English learners become proficient in “academic” English. But the small group of high school teachers who volunteered to take the training realized many students, including those in poverty, could benefit from the program.

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Erikson named National Merit Scholar

Less than one percent of high school seniors earn the designation of National Merit Scholar and Ema Erikson of The Dalles High School is humble about receiving the honor.

Second arrest in slide fire

A second arrest in the fire that destroyed the spiral slide at Tree Top Play Park was made today when a 15-year-old male was arrested at The Dalles High School at around 1:30 p.m., city police confirmed.

Eighteen-year-old arrested for slide fire

The Dalles Police Department arrested an 18-year-old man Tuesday afternoon in connection with the fire that destroyed a spiral slide just over a week ago at Tree Top Play Park. Aaron Ray Haberman, of 210 W. 10th St., was arrested at his home without incident and is accused of second-degree arson, first-degree criminal mischief and reckless burning, said The Dalles Police Capt. Steve Baska.

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Arrest made in slide fire

Eighteen year old arrested for crime at local park

Aaron Ray Haberman, of 210 W. 10th St., jailed on charges of second-degree arson, first-degree criminal mischief and reckless burning,

District 21 reaches deal with teachers’ unions

The school district recently approved union contracts with its teachers and non-teaching staff, and a new element in both contracts is a monthly labor-management meeting to keep lines of communication open. The District 21 Education Association represents 176 teachers, said Randy Anderson, chief financial officer of North Wasco County School District 21 and its chief union negotiator.

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Vault gets new owner

Sale is part of OLCC deal

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Student recognized for sportsmanship

Wahtonka Community School student Damon Spangle was given an award by a local gaming business recently. And it wasn’t because he’s some huge gamer, it was for how he conducts himself as a person. Oregon Trail Games, which is hosting Wagon Con, a first-ever gaming convention in The Dalles in April, wanted to “highlight a kid in our community who is living the Wagon Con ideals of sportsmanship and positive attitude,” said Aaron Bowman, a convention organizer.

Home search nets guns

A Pine Hollow man was arrested Thursday afternoon on drug charges and 11 counts of being a felon in possession of a weapon.

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Slide burned at Tree Top

Late Monday morning, parks employees removed a plastic slide that was destroyed by fire early Sunday at Tree Top Play Park.

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Momma Jane’s reopens

Momma Jane’s Pancake House reopened Wednesday under “new” – actually previous – ownership after a three-week closure that had bereft customers taking to social media to mourn and wonder why. Jane Sheppard, who owned Momma Jane’s from 1999 to 2010, recently took the business back from the woman she’d been selling it to on contract.

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Local students deliver hot meals

For three years now, students at St. Mary’s Academy have delivered Meals on Wheels once a month to senior and disabled citizens in The Dalles.

TDHS grad rate up

Graduation rates at The Dalles High School are steadily increasing, with just-released data showing a 68.3 percent graduation rate, up from 64 percent the year before, and well above the 59.7 percent posted in 2012.

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Taggers hit the east side

A rash of tagging was reported over the weekend, mostly on the eastside between East 8th and 11th streets, police said.

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City hears concern about homeless

A property owner near downtown told The Dalles City Council Monday that transient problems have spiked in recent years and his land has become “a prime transient homeless camp.”

MCMC draws up plans for new tower

Saying it would add efficiency and improve services, Mid-Columbia Medical Center is hoping to build a 70,000-square-foot patient tower at its hospital campus in The Dalles.

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The Dalles Police Chief to retire

Police Chief Jay Waterbury announced he would retire July 1 at Monday’s The Dalles City Council meeting. He received a standing ovation after making a few remarks about his long career. When he retires, he will have served almost 42 years in law enforcement, almost 41 of them for The Dalles police, 20 of them as its chief. He began work here Aug. 11, 1975, at age 23. He told the council, “I don’t really want to go but it is getting close to being the time to go.”

Grassroots education Committee continues work

A smaller but dedicated group of people are continuing to work on ways to help the school district improve attendance, graduation rates and teacher morale.

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‘Go Red’ focuses their attention on youth

A local grade schooler recently had a triglyceride level of 262 — well above the normal range of six to 100 milligrams per deciliter for this measure of fat in the blood.

Home invasion follows stabbing

A woman and her children barricaded themselves in an upstairs bedroom after a stabbing suspect entered their home yesterday morning, officials said. No one at the home was injured, according to a post by the woman’s husband, Doug Kirchhofer, on Facebook yesterday.

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