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Neita Cecil

Stories by Neita

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‘MacGyver’ move saves millions

Early audio tapes captured Oregon legislative debate

The Dalles native Austin Schulz is known as the “Archives MacGyver” at the Oregon State Archives. The 2000 graduate of Wahtonka High School likes to figure out how things work, and a mystery presented itself shortly after he began working at the state archives in 2008. The solution he eventually found — a resourceful setup worthy of the problem-solving TV character MacGyver — has saved the state an estimated $5.5 million, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s office.

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TDHS senior Disney trip successful

Very early on the morning after high school graduation, 66 members of The Dalles High School Class of 2017 headed to Disneyland for two days in the park, a visit organizers pronounced a solid success. Senior parent Kim Cowan headed the effort, and said the trip was “awesome, it was great. We didn’t have any issues and everybody had a good time.”

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TDHS ‘grad’ video goes viral

The Dalles High School teacher Mary Jo Commerford had to miss graduation because she flew to Florida and read AP exams for a solid week. But she got a big surprise on the last day of school, when a group of students came to her classroom and re-created graduation for her, right down to the pomp and circumstance music and the handing out of diplomas.

Poll: 48% back school bond

A poll of 400 likely voters found not quite enough support to pass a $235 million bond to replace nearly all schools in the district, the school board learned Thursday. The pollster advised hiring a consultant to run an education campaign.

Power outage caused by glitch

The power went out eight times early Sunday evening for 2,500 PUD customers on the west end of The Dalles, owing to faulty programming in substation equipment on West 10th Street. The equipment operated as programmed, but it was learned that a setting characteristic was incorrectly set, said Paul Titus, assistant general manager and director of engineering for Northern Wasco County PUD.

Freeway crash claims TD man

Jason M. Degeus, 25, of The Dalles, died early Sunday when his vehicle crashed and caught fire on Interstate 84 eastbound, at milepost 73.

Fatal crash on 84 claims TD resident

Jason M. Degeus, 25, of The Dalles, died early Sunday when his vehicle crashed and caught fire on Interstate 84 eastbound, at milepost 73. A Hood River police officer driving an arrested person to jail in The Dalles spotted the 1996 Toyota Tacoma fully engulfed in flames and called it in at 1:45 a.m., said Sgt. Kaipo Raiser of the Oregon State Police.

Power shortages caused by programming glitch

The power went out eight times early Sunday evening for 2,500 PUD customers on the west end of The Dalles, owing to faulty programming in substation equipment on West 10th Street. The equipment operated as programmed, but it was learned that a setting characteristic was incorrectly set, said Paul Titus, assistant general manager and director of engineering for Northern Wasco County PUD.

Woman dies at What The Festival

A 27-year-old Corvallis woman died Friday morning at the What the Festival event outside Dufur. The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a death investigation. Cassandra Deleen Hood was reported dead at 9:50 a.m., according to police logs.

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A final patrol with OSP’s Lt. Shortt

On June 13, his last day of work before retiring from the Oregon State Police after 31 years, Lt. Pat Shortt decided to hit the road to patrol one more time. “I started this job working on the road and I wanted to end it on the road,” he said.

Air monitoring planned for TD

The state’s lone long-term air toxics monitor will be set up in The Dalles soon to take a wide variety of air samples for a year, starting in July. Also starting next month will be a shorter, more targeted 30-day air sampling, focusing on the AmeriTies West plant.

Two-day FamFest this weekend

Two days of family fun are planned this weekend at FamFest, a fundraising event held at Lewis and Clark Festival Park in The Dalles. The event is put on by ACTS (Acclaiming Christ through Sports), which did the inaugural FamFest two years ago.

Autism fundraiser tonight at Balch

Dufur native Whitney Hammel is hosting a fundraiser at the Balch Hotel tonight to raise money for a non-profit autism treatment training program she is starting in West Africa.

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Hunt under way for stolen pool

Pam Rutherford got a text on her lunch break on Sunday, June 4 that broke her heart. It was her niece, asking her if she’d moved the new above ground pool – a 4-foot by 16-foot round pool, still in its box. Rutherford hadn’t moved it, and she knew it had been stolen. She appealed to the Chronicle to publicize the theft. “I don’t know what to say. Someone that can steal from little kids — 4-year-olds — is heartbreaking. I’ll never be able to afford another pool like that for years,” Rutherford said.

Health district faces staff cuts

Staff, not clinic walk-in hours, will be reduced

The public health district is getting more money from each of its three member counties in the upcoming budget, but is losing a large, one-time funding source. The ensuing belt-tightening, including the loss of a temporary office worker along with other cuts, will not affect the current hours of the health district’s walk-in clinic, the service it is best known for.

Attempted scam fails in TD

Scammers recently tried but failed to trick several local people into sending them money, using the ruse of being a grandchild in trouble. The Dalles Police Detective Sgt. Jamie Carrico wanted to remind the public about scams targeting the elderly.

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Social hub opens for people recovering from addictions

Ever since his family moved here two years ago, Rob Mendoza has wanted to provide a social outlet for people in recovery from addictions. That goal came to fruition last month with the establishment of Recovery Rising, a twice-weekly drop-in sober community center, providing an opportunity for people to play games like pool, ping pong and foosball.

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Shull named to state board

Chenowith Elementary School Principal Anne Shull was named to a statewide education advisory council for a two-year term beginning in the fall.

Education foundation appeals for funding

In a first, District 21’s education foundation has sent out a fundraising appeal letter to all households in the school district, hoping to drum up not only donations, but a database of district supporters.

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Students open ‘little free library’ at St. Mary’s

In Mary Sallee’s fourth- grade class at St. Mary’s Academy, her goal is to teach students to love to read. So when they put their heads together to choose a public service project, the answer was clear.

Blue Zone Project first to use ‘crowdfunding’

The Dalles was the first of 42 Blue Zones Project communities nationwide to use crowdfunding as a way to help meet the local contribution for the three-year well-being initiative, an official said.

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Serving and remembering

On this Memorial Day weekend, when America honors its war dead, pause to think of one particular duty that befell Gary Cotter as a 17-year-old merchant seaman during World War II.

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Students paint mural in American Samoa

An April trip to American Samoa by eight Wahtonka Community School students saw them paint a huge mural at an open air high school cafeteria in the island territory. When they touched down in Samoa and saw the 38-foot-by-13-foot canvas, they were a bit daunted, they told The Dalles Kiwanis Club members last week.

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Forging a lifetime connection

Lieve Baeke, The Dalles High School Class of ’65, no doubt got the “farthest traveled” award at a mini class reunion last weekend. That’s because she and her husband, Dr. Tony Baeke, came all the way from their native Belgium. They swung by the reunion as part of a longer visit to the United States.

Homeless man charged in child porn case

In an extreme rarity, police say, a local man was arrested Sunday afternoon in a downtown eatery after another patron saw that the man appeared to be accessing child porn on his electronic device.

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Snapshots in time

The other day Steve Gifford was watching an old barn get torn down across the road from him on East 18th Street, and he saw an old, musty photo album on the ground, ready to be scooped up by the backhoe. He rescued the album and passed it off to the Chronicle.

Blue Zones starts work in TD

The initial outreach work of The Dalles Blue Zones Project — a three-year community wellness initiative — begins next week with a series of focus group sessions over three days. The focus groups will seek input on a variety of topics, from creating more trails and sidewalks, to ways to make workplaces more productive and employees happier, to how churches can contribute to the town’s well-being.

Dufur crash under investigation

The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon Liquor Control Commission are investigating a crash that seriously injured a 21-year-old Dufur woman early last Saturday.

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LINK bus service celebrates 20 years

Twenty years ago Friday, on May 19, 1997, the LINK transportation network got its start locally with a single bus. Today, it has a fleet of six buses and two vans, and 100 riders daily. It is celebrating its milestone on Friday with an open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at its new offices at 802 Chenowith Loop Road.

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Mom: Your life well lived models gratitude

When I told my mom the other day I was assigned to write about her for Mother’s Day, she said, “Oh! Well, make it funny,” and then, with perfect comic timing, added, “but not too funny.”

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Planting ‘good fruit’

Visit provides support for mission schools

Wayne von Borstel remembers the first few schools he built for the impoverished. They were in Africa, and they were big and beautiful. But he saw them as monuments to American wealth, plopped incongruously amongst grass huts. Von Borstel, who owns von Borstel & Associates, an investment firm with locations in The Dalles and Portland, decided he would take a different approach.

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Ready for Mother’s Day? Plant sale is Saturday

Stumped for what to get Mom for Mother’s Day? Look no further than the annual spring plant sale set for this Saturday, May 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at City Park.

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Saving a life with CPR

It took awhile to sink in, but Jennifer Willie has realized that when she stopped to help a neighbor on April 26, she saved a life.

School district passes budget

The North Wasco County School District 21 budget committee approved an optimistic budget last week that assumes the Legislature will increase its funding for schools.

Hunger strike ends at NORCOR

Six immigration detainees at the regional jail broke their six-day hunger strike last Thursday, saying the jail had agreed to provide them with requested amenities, including a microwave and access to music players.

MCCOG asks AAA to hold off on study

For years now, the local Area Agency on Aging has been housed under an umbrella agency that it says is requiring it to pay too much for overhead, administration and other costs. Going out on its own could free up as much as $60,000 that it could spend directly on seniors, the agency’s former director estimated recently.

Hunger strike ends

Six immigration detainees at the regional jail broke their six-day hunger strike Thursday, saying the jail had agreed to provide them with requested amenities, including a microwave and radio.

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Pulpit Rock service set

To celebrate the 179th year since the founding of the Methodist Mission in The Dalles, the First United Methodist Church and Zion Lutheran Church are hosting a worship service this Sunday at Pulpit Rock.

Mental evaluations sought in cases

A man accused of killing three people in a December crash on Highway 26 went to the state hospital last week for a mental evaluation to see if he is fit to stand trial, the district attorney said.

Dufur coach arrested on sex charges

UPDATED Wednesday, 1:44 p.m. Dufur track coach Ty Lee Wyman, 27, was arrested Monday and is accused of a number of crimes alleging sexual contact with two students, the Wasco County district attorney said Tuesday.

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Police rescue 11 ducklings

Eleven ducklings were reunited with their worried momma Sunday morning thanks to a Youtube video and some quack-thinking — er, quick-thinking — by The Dalles police officers. A woman called dispatchers Sunday morning just after 9 a.m. to report a frantic duck was wandering in the road chirping, in the area west of the city dock and Rock Fort on Union Street.

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­Protesters at jail backing hunger strike

A group began picketing the regional jail Monday, supporting immigration detainees who are on a hunger strike to protest what they say are poor living conditions. The jail administrator disputed all their claims.

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Bringing clean water to Guatemala

TDHS student trip a success

A group of The Dalles High School students have returned from a week in Guatemala, where they helped bring water filtration kits to the poorest of the poor.

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Man dies in overpass jump

A 27-year-old The Dalles man jumped to his death Thursday afternoon from the Exit 85 overpass onto the eastbound lanes of Interstate 84.

Death threat case upheld

The 2014 conviction of a man for seeking the killings of his father-in-law, brother-in-law, and the Wasco County district attorney was upheld by the Oregon Court of Appeals Wednesday. Dustin Kimbrough was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being found guilty on four counts of attempted aggravated murder, three counts of attempted murder and two counts of witness tampering.

Fake robbery plea deal made

A woman from The Dalles who claimed she was robbed in early April, and was then charged with making a false police report, pleaded guilty Monday and will have the charge dismissed in six months if she completes a diversion program.

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Headed to DC

TDHS junior to attend journalism conference

The Dalles High School junior Roman Sarabia has at least one part of his summer planned out: he’s heading to Washington, D.C., in July for a weeklong journalism conference. He was nominated to attend by a teacher, although he doesn’t know which one, since they asked to remain anonymous.

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Testing wits on ‘Idiotest’

This Thursday, on the Game Show Network, The Dalles native Spike Huntington-Klein will test his wits on the TV show “Idiotest.”

Foibles of the “Willie Dee”

The USS William D. Porter, a naval destroyer, sank on June 10, 1945, with Seaman First Class Ted LaDoux, now a longtime resident of The Dalles, aboard. All 300 sailors made it to safety, but the Willie Dee, as she was known, settled 2,400 feet to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, another victim of World War II’s famous Battle of Okinawa.

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Manning the ‘big guns’ at sea

Ted LaDoux checks the mail every day, sometimes twice. Any day now, he should be receiving long overdue campaign medals he earned over 70 years ago, in the waning days of World War II.

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