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Neita Cecil

Stories by Neita

School district scholarship fund grows

Several non-profit fundraising affiliates of the school district are seeing high-dollar donations and a raised profile, taken by school board members as signs of increasing community support for education.

Jail works with immigration agency

Wasco County Sheriff Lane Magill explained at a meeting Saturday that a 1987 state law prohibits city, county and state police from acting in any capacity to help with immigration efforts. However, if a person is arrested, state law allows — and federal law requires — the local jail to provide that information to immigration officials.

ID rules explained

“Driving while Hispanic.” That’s the crude joke that highlights the fears of the Hispanic community that they are targeted by police for their skin color. Given ramped up immigration efforts under President Donald Trump, that fear has reached a fever pitch. But a series of meetings between local police and Hispanics has sought to address and assuage those concerns.

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Crosswalk action nets 29

In just over three hours Monday, 29 people were ticketed in the first of four enforcement actions in The Dalles targeting drivers who don’t stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. The number of tickets would’ve been higher, but sometimes the three officers assigned to write tickets were already busy on a stop so they couldn’t ticket other violators, said Jeff Kienlen, the city’s traffic enforcement officer.

Air quality meeting set Tuesday

A meeting is set for Tuesday, March 21 to discuss the final results of air quality testing that found naphthalene remains below levels that might produce immediate health concerns, but exceeds levels for lifetime exposure.

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Working with Wood

Woodcraft and art mix to create magic in Danny Minor’s workshop

Danny Minor’s woodworking specialty is everything, basically. If you can describe it, Minor can make it.

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Woman dies in stabbing

Charlene Caldwell was killed Thursday afternoon at 1021 E. Ninth St. Her grandson, Garrett Jack Brennan, 25, was arrested and charged with murder and unlawful use of a weapon. An autopsy on Caldwell, who was 71, is set for today, but “it is believed the cause of death is a stab wound,” according to a press release from The Dalles Police Chief Patrick Ashmore.

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New high school tops facility list

Replacing the high school is by far the top priority of a facilities committee studying replacing nearly all the schools in the district. Its second priority is replacing Chenowith Elementary.

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Kid chefs cook Saturday

Six grade school student finalists will be vying for a generous grand prize at Saturday’s “Sodexo Future Chefs Challenge” at The Dalles Middle School. The challenge, sponsored by Sodexo, the food service provider for the school district, asks students to come up with original, healthy, tasty, kid-friendly recipes.

Pastime liquor license renewed

The liquor license renewal of the Dufur Pastime was put on hold during an investigation following a fatal crash involving patrons of the Pastime, but the state found no violations by the Pastime and its license was renewed last month.

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Purple Heart returned

Following a brief ceremony Thursday, a Purple Heart medal found by a local man 27 years ago in an attic started its journey back to its owner, a 67-year-old Vietnam veteran in Georgia.

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Police focus on crossing safety

Coming soon to a crosswalk near you: a well-publicized, clearly marked enforcement action to urge drivers to yield to pedestrians entering crosswalks.

Case surprises county

Wasco County Commissioners said they learned last week that the county had been involved in an Oregon Court of Appeals case since 2013 that they knew nothing about. The case, ruled on March 1, was brought by Ken Thomas, who owns forest land next to the property that hosts the annual “What the Festival” music event near Dufur.

What The Fest decision made

A neighboring landowner has seen a favorable decision from the Oregon Court of Appeals in his longtime fight against the “What the Festival” music event near Dufur.

Charges brought in death of horse

Shirley Wallace, 39, of 4943 Pleasant Ridge Road, was arraigned Monday morning in Wasco County Circuit Court on two counts of animal neglect stemming from the death of one horse and near starvation of another.

Shots fired from vehicle

A 19-year-old The Dalles man was jailed early Friday and is accused of firing a weapon multiple times from a car as he drove around on the west side of town late Thursday night.

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Chess players head to state

Seven individuals and a team are advancing to the state chess tournament in Portland next weekend after strong finishes at a regional competition held Feb. 25 at The Dalles Middle School.

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Record-breaking winter

The old record of continuous days of snow on the ground, 29 days, set in 1979, was easily smashed this winter. By just how much, however, is hard to pinpoint. The record stretch of snow on the ground this winter had a definite beginning date — Dec. 8, 2016 — but figuring out when it officially ended is a bit trickier.

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Alumni webpage has story portal

The Dalles High School Alumni Association has something to crow about: it’s got a revamped webpage with a new portal for sharing stories and lots of new information about the history of both The Dalles and Wahtonka high schools.

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DNC chair has TD ties

The new leader of the national Democratic Party has ties to The Dalles: Bill Lennox, a former Wasco County commissioner, is a step-cousin of Tom Perez, elected to the party’s top post last Saturday.

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Local youth nabs state award

Manuela Garcia Flores, a 2015 graduate of The Dalles High School, has not one, but two jobs, and hopes to have her own car and home someday. As a graduate with disabilities, her ambition and accomplishments are singular, and she was recently recognized for that by being named the Outstanding Student of the Year at the Oregon Statewide Transition Conference, held Feb. 16-17 in Portland.

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A medal goes home

In a surreal sequence of events, The Dalles resident Richard Hicks’ insomnia led to the return, after nearly 50 years, of a Purple Heart medal to a Vietnam veteran who lives in Georgia.

May nixed for TD bond vote

While ideas varied on how best to go about replacing or updating the school district’s buildings at a Tuesday meeting, there was unanimity on one point: a bond vote should not be held in May.

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Immigration rules explained

Over 100 people attended an immigration workshop Wednesday night, getting tips from an immigration lawyer on their rights and how to respond to contacts from immigration officers. The workshop came just days after sweeping new deportation rules were announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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Starved horse euthanized

A horse so weakened from starvation it couldn’t stand was euthanized Sunday and another horse on the same Pleasant Ridge property was surrendered to a horse rescue operation. Both horses were at least several hundred pounds underweight, said Kim Mosiman, executive director of Troutdale-based horse rescue Sound Equine Options (SEO).

MINT arrests 9

Nine people were arrested on drug related charges in January and February by the Mid-Columbia Interagency Narcotics Task Force, according to a press release from MINT.

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Editorial: Hard work pays off spectacularly

Hearty congratulations are in order for the stunning turnaround of the graduation rate at The Dalles High School.

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For the Love of Music

Every Tuesday after the final bell rings, Chenowith Elementary music teacher Corin Parker hosts 47 students from grades three through five at her after-school choir. Practice lasts for 45 minutes, and it’s just one of the efforts that recently earned her the Excellence in Elementary Music Education award from the Oregon Music Education Association.

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Restaurant stance draws ire, backing

The Baldwin Saloon joined other restaurants across the U.S. in being closed Thursday in support of the national “Day Without Immigrants” protest, drawing both ire and applause on social media. Juanita’s Market closed at 3 p.m. Thursday, leaving messages in Spanish and English on its doors saying it would close in support of a Day Without Immigrants.

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First closed night for shelter

For the first time in 73 days, the warming shelter at St. Vincent de Paul was closed Wednesday night, though weather forecasts indicate it will be reopening soon. The criteria for opening the shelter are if it’s 30 degrees or below, including windchill, or 35 degrees or below if there’s precipitation, said Ed Elliott, chair of the Warming Place committee. Though it was raining, it was supposed to reach a high of 37 last night.

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Schools to make up days lost to weather

Last week, District 21 Superintendent Candy Armstrong updated the Chronicle about calendar changes to make up for snow days. The next day, Thursday, Feb. 9, schools were closed due to bad weather.

TDHS grad rate jumps

Sharp increase in graduating students shows disrict on track

The Dalles High School has seen a huge improvement in its graduation rate, which jumped from 68.3 percent in 2014-15 to a whopping 83.2 percent in 2015-16. The figure is a measurement of the percentage of students who graduated “on time,” or within four years. “I’m very pleased,” said Candy Armstrong, superintendent of School District 21. “That’s a huge jump.”

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Cold keeps them busy

The long, grueling winter has meant a sharp uptick in work for certain local businesses. Insurance agents, auto body shops and heating companies are among the businesses slammed as the gorge endures a relentlessly cold, snowy winter.

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Blue Zones decision awaited

Hopefully by next month The Dalles will learn if it has been accepted as a Blue Zones Project, having raised the needed $200,000 first-year local contribution to qualify for the three-year health and well-being initiative.

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Tired of the snow? TD breaks record

The Dalles has more than doubled the old, 38-year-old record for continuous days of snow on the ground.

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Keeping winter’s cold at bay

Chilled to the bone as you’re sitting by your drafty window at home? Pondering your bare roof when neighboring houses are still covered in snow? Have you recently become aware of the term “ice dam?” The bitterly long and cold winter has provided a sharp lesson for some homeowners about the need to better weatherize their home to keep the winter chill — and eventually the summer heat — at bay and to save on power bills.

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Cold brings higher power bills

In the midst of this extended cold snap, some PUD customers have gotten hot under the collar after opening their power bills. A few have taken to Facebook to vent, and the Northern Wasco County PUD also got on Facebook to explain what’s behind the spike in price.

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42nd Super Auction Feb. 4

The 42nd annual St. Mary’s Academy Super Auction, with its theme of “Take me out to the Ballgame” giving an encouraging reminder that spring must surely arrive, is set for Saturday, Feb. 4, at the school.

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Warming shelter still open downtown

As the snow slowly melts and the temperature warms a bit, the warming shelter in The Dalles is soldiering on, continuing its record-setting stretch of continuous days of operation.

Schools in poor shape

In the next five years, $22.4 million needs to be spent just to keep systems at the six District 21 buildings in their current poor condition, according to an assessment of the buildings.

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Master gardener signup ends Wed.

The annual master gardeners class offered by the Oregon State University extension office has extended its enrollment period for its upcoming courses until Wednesday, Feb. 1 because of the snowy weather.

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St. Mary's Academy to host "family carnival"

The annual St. Mary’s Academy family carnival is set for this Friday, Jan. 27, at 5:30 p.m. at the school, located at 10th and Cherry Heights.

Fires have sad commonality: No renter’s insurance

Recent fires in The Dalles have had one common feature: the tenants invariably do not have renters insurance. Local insurance agents and property managers lament the lack of a simple coverage that is cheap to begin with — $12 to $16 a month — but can be free if bundled with auto insurance.

Snow causes ‘major leak’

Weather brings some flooding to TD High School band room

The newest school in District 21 suffered the worst leak due to snow, the school board heard last Thursday. The Dalles Middle School, built in 2004, suffered a “major” leak in the band room which caused some “semi-flooding” that affected the drywall and carpeting, said Don Carter, director of facilities for North Wasco County School District 21.

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Google donates $140K for TDMS devices

Google is donating $140,000 to D21 so it can buy devices for every student at The Dalles Middle School, starting with sixth graders. The D21 board learned about the gift at a surprise announcement at its board meeting last Thursday.

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Bridge repair starts Tuesday morning

Crews expect to begin work Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. on emergency repairs to an extensive amount of potholes on The Dalles bridge. There will be one-lane closures during daytime, an official said, and motorists can expect 10-15 minute delays.

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Winter weather hurts business

On the heels of what was a lackluster Christmas for downtown businesses thanks to bad weather, frigid, snowy conditions in January have kept sales well below normal.

Stranded trio rescued Sunday

Rescuers on snowmobiles retrieved three people Sunday who got stranded as they tried to walk out of their wooded cabin home off Fivemile Road after running out of propane and fuel.

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Electrical fire displaces 21 residents

An electrical fire Sunday at American Village apartments in the 2400 block of West 10th Street displaced 10 adults and 11 children from six units. No one was injured.

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Snow day makeup planned

As it happens, with the school district looking at seven snow days and five late-start days to make up, the state this year imposed strict new rules removing any wiggle room for making up those days.

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