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Neita Cecil

Stories by Neita

Plant treats up to 1M ties annually

A three-part series this week first looks at the AmeriTies West plant operations and then at what is being done to address odor complaints concerning naphthalene. Finally, it recaps an investigative series by the Cascadia Times that says residents in The Dalles are breathing toxic air.

June 12, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Chef Club scores 3rd

The newly formed The Dalles High School Chef Club brought home a third place trophy from a cooking competition in Bend in mid-May.

June 12, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Embracing the ‘Blue Zones’

Summit Bohannon, a 20-something who lives in The Dalles, has fully embraced the social aspect of the Blue Zones Project and has set up four different weekly get-togethers around various activities, from music to just hanging out and picking up trash.

June 11, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Fake ‘parent’ call alarms officials

UPDATE: No attempted abduction, say authorities Investigation has revealed that what was thought to be an attempted abduction of a student was in fact an error, according to a press release Thursday afternoon from the City of The Dalles police and the North Wasco County School District. Investigation of the suspected attempted abduction has revealed that there was no attempted abduction, the release stated. Instead, parents of two different students called the school within minutes of each other and the message intended for one student was accidentally sent to another student, authorities said. The message directed the wrong student to walk to the location of Great and Small Day Care where the student was to remain until the parent could pick that child up. “It is a relief that this event is a simple mistake and not a more ominous event,” the release said. The City and district also expressed their appreciation for the publics assistance and that of the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon State Police.

June 6, 2018 4:31 p.m. read more..

Parents praise charter school plan for WCS

Shirley Harris could never get through to her academically struggling granddaughter, but the teachers at Wahtonka Community School could, she said in emotional testimony to the D21 school board last week. Now, her granddaughter is at the top of her class, and “she’s thinking about going to college.”

June 6, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

A life in law enforcement

Back in high school, Dan Nelson will tell you, he certainly wouldn’t have been voted most likely to become a police officer. Steve Baska, who later become his captain at The Dalles Police Department, remembered spotting young Nelson one day, sporting an 11½ inch green Mohawk on top of his lanky 6-foot-5-inch frame, and thinking, “Who is that freak?” But after five years in the military, Nelson joined the department and became the kind of officer people requested by name.

June 1, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

TDHS wins welding event

For the second year running, a student from The Dalles High School has won a regional welding competition. Senior Luke Petroff took first and junior Jaeden Biehn repeated her third place finish from the year before at the second annual Central Oregon Welding Contest held at Central Oregon Community College in Bend on March 23.

May 31, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Students sing for hospitalized kids

Gillian Wolf, who lives in The Dalles and is a junior at Hood River Valley High School, recently donned a Disney princess costume, and, with two fellow students also in costume, sang for kids at hospitals in Portland. The effort was part of Wolf’s extended application project, a requirement for each junior at Hood River Valley.

May 30, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

New TDHS program shows early success

A new program at The Dalles High School aimed at helping struggling ninth graders has shown early promise, with improved grades and attendance among a small starting group of students.

May 29, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

STEM hub wins $50K

The local Columbia Gorge STEM Hub won a $50,000 grant after being named a top-eight finalist in a nationwide competition aimed at improving technology access for students. It was the only candidate from Oregon to be named a finalist.

May 28, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Couple stiffed with fake $100

Clayton Carter and his wife made a few hundred bucks at a garage sale the other day, but they then learned that a $100 bill a woman used to buy a $5 item was a fake.

May 24, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Fire guts home on E. 16th Court

A home in a cul de sac at East 16th Court and Nevada Street was a total loss to fire Wednesday evening, and the lone occupant escaped to safety. A neighboring house, which was vacant, suffered damage as well and firefighters had to cut a hole in the roof and ceiling to vent it, said Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue Division Chief Rob Torrey.

May 24, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

A community of lifesavers

In what one called a community effort, three civilians and three police officers lifted a car off a man April 27, pulled him to safety and gave him CPR that turned his bluish-purplish face back to pink. Mike Heverly, 53, was airlifted to Portland and spent six days at Oregon Health & Science University.

May 23, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

TD man arrested on bomb charges

A 43-year-old The Dalles man was arrested late Wednesday morning on charges of making pipe bombs. Darren Edward Olson was arrested after a landlord cleaning out a rental Olson vacated found multiple explosive devices and called police.

May 17, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Evans named TDHS principal

With the retirement of The Dalles High School Principal Nick Nelson, current Vice Principal Kurt Evans will move into the top slot on July 1. Evans, a native of Mosier who was a high school and college track athlete, began his teaching career in Portland and worked his way east, teaching in Cascade Locks for a few years before coming to the then-newly formed North Wasco County School District 21.

May 17, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Schwartz defeats Runyon

By decisive margins, Wasco County Commissioner Rod Runyon was defeated by challenger Kathy Schwartz, and Commissioner Scott Hege held his seat against challenger Roy Justesen.

May 16, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Final high school design proposal unveiled

A compactly designed proposed high school, centered around a courtyard allowing natural light into classrooms, was unveiled to the final meeting of a master planning committee May 3. Architects were also able to fit all the requested sports fields on the 29-acre property at West 10th and Chenowith Loop.

May 14, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Citizens urge NORCOR to seek tax levy

A group of citizens pressuring the regional jail to end its contract to hold immigration detainees are now encouraging the jail board to ask voters again to pass a permanent tax rate. In a letter presented to the jail board at its April 26 meeting, the newly formed NORCOR Community Resources Coalition recommended putting the tax levy back on the ballot, on the condition that it would mean termination of the federal contract to hold immigration detainees.

May 10, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Youth center event May 12

This Saturday, May 12, at a land dedication event at the site of the proposed Gorge Youth Center, new architect’s renderings will be unveiled, including what’s billed as a “cool new feature.”

May 9, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Jail budget passes through committee

With the relief of knowing Hood River County won’t seek to curtail its jail subsidy payment, the regional jail budget committee approved a proposed budget with no staff changes on April 26.

May 9, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

More help for grade schoolers

The school district is proposing adding six aides, two per elementary school, to contend with a notable increase in kindergarteners and first graders who are disruptive and unable to settle. Now, those kids are sent to the principal’s office, which is seen as punitive. The goal is to create a separate room in each elementary, staffed with an aide, where kids can go to calm down.

May 7, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

When the policeman is passenger...

There probably isn’t a news reporter in America who hasn’t gone on a police ride-along at some point. But what about a reverse ride-along, where the officer is the passenger and you’re the driver?

May 4, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Study: No health risk in odor

A health consultation by a federal agency concluded pollutants from AmeriTies did not pose chronic public health risks to people in the area, but strong odors could still trigger physical symptoms. The Oregon Health Authority on May 1 released the report, which was authored by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

May 3, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Fire district wants new funding formula

The fire district is reaching out to other taxing districts for support in changing what it calls an unfair distribution of funds from payments made by Google in lieu of taxes. A resolution from Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue, signed in mid-March, was read to the District 21 school board last Thursday. The school board agreed to discuss it further at its next meeting.

May 2, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Rally marks NORCOR protest anniversary

May 1 marks a full year of daily protests by a local group opposed to the housing of ICE detainees at the regional jail. Organizers estimated over 300 people attended a Saturday rally commemorating the anniversary.

May 1, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Google investment in TD $1.8B

Google has invested $1.8 billion in its three buildings in The Dalles and, since 2008, has given more than $2 million to Wasco County schools and local non-profits and over $450,000 for the wi-fi network in The Dalles. That information came from a report Google recently released on its economic impact and community benefits in the six towns where it has facilities.

April 30, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

School bond pitched at town hall meeting

If the school district built four new schools with separate bonds, the tax rate would reach $4.50 per $1,000 assessed property tax valuation for a period, a school official said. Instead, the district is proposing funding the schools with a single, long-term bond authority that would not exceed $2.99 per $1,000, and would "very likely" be less than that, Kathy Ursprung, chair of the North Wasco County School District 21 board, said at a town hall Tuesday at Mid-Columbia Senior Center.

April 26, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

TDHS students travel abroad

Students from The Dalles High School spread out over the globe during spring break, some heading to Guatemala to help the poor and others getting firsthand glimpses of Roman ruins.

April 25, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

New subdivision planned

A local developer is planning a 25-lot expansion of his subdivision at West 14th and 15th streets between Meeks and Elberta streets. He’s already developed much of the first half of the subdivision and has applied with the city of The Dalles for permission to subdivide four large lots into 25 smaller lots, each measuring an average of 75 by 100 feet.

April 24, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Charter school app nixed and changes made

A resubmitted application to turn Wahtonka Community School into a charter school was declined a second time last Wednesday, but the changes needed were so minor they were done the next day.

April 23, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

A Servant Retires

Sister Patricia Pfenning doesn’t look 78, and she certainly doesn’t act it. A 20-year fixture in Dufur who is leaving soon, she quietly goes about finding help for those in need. But she is outspoken in every other regard.

April 23, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

AmeriTies emissions reduced

The state Department of Environmental Quality has released 2017 air quality monitoring data showing naphthalene levels emitted by AmeriTies West are almost half of what they’ve been previously, a spokesperson said. As part of a voluntary odor-reducing effort, AmeriTies changed its creosote formula in December 2016 to cut the amount of naphthalene in half.

April 19, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Car prowlers caught, items unclaimed

Additional charges of mail theft were added to charges against a The Dalles man recently accused of burglary and multiple car prowls. Aaron Ray Haberman, 20, was initially booked into the regional jail April 6 with 13 counts, including theft, car prowling, burglary and probation violation. Also charged was a male juvenile, who was released to his parents.

April 18, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Wahtonka potential high school site

A citizen committee has unanimously selected a location for a potential new high school: the corner of West 10th and Chenowith Loop, where Wahtonka Community School now stands. Discarded was the idea of building a new high school on the hillside above Wahtonka, with an architect saying it would be much more expensive to build there.

April 16, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Center for Living expands its hours

The Mid-Columbia Center for Living, the community provider for mental health and other services, has added evening and Saturday hours and expanded its medical services. It has also made five new staffing assignments in recent months, according to a press release.

April 16, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Fresh audit lauds juvenile jail facility

An independent audit found a scathing report last year on the juvenile detention facility in The Dalles misinterpreted some information, but it did call attention to issues that needed to be addressed. The juvenile facility will be better because of the December report by Disability Rights Oregon (DRO), an audit by Texas-based Mel Brown and Associates (MBA) concluded.

April 12, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

New audit lauds juvenile facility

An independent audit found a scathing report last year on the juvenile detention facility in The Dalles misinterpreted some information, but did call attention to issues that needed to be addressed.

April 11, 2018 3:10 p.m. read more..

Insitu summer internships open to area students

Insitu – it’s not just for engineers. That’s the message the Bingen-based tech company, which makes unmanned aerial vehicles, is sending with this year’s round of high school summer internships. For the first time, students from The Dalles High School are invited to apply through their high school counselors, for the internship.

April 11, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Jail’s mental health unit ‘a blessing’

Robert was four years old when he got his first mental health diagnosis, for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Others would follow: Tourette’s, anxiety, high functioning autism, bi-polar disorder and PTSD. Since last August, he’s been in the new mental health unit of the regional jail in The Dalles, which he called “a blessing.”

April 5, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Recidivism rate lowered

Recidivism has dropped at the regional jail because of programming implemented to address the problems that send people to jail in the first place, the jail administrator said. Bryan Brandenburg, administrator of the Northern Oregon Regional Corrections Facility, said recidivism – where people reoffend and end up back in jail – has dropped from 76 percent in 2014, the year before he took over, to just 61 percent today.

April 5, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Insitu locating in The Dalles

Part of Insitu’s research and development work is now taking place in The Dalles. The Bingen-based tech company, which makes unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for commercial and military use, began leasing a warehouse next to the regional jail early last year.

April 4, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

OR court rules against Wasco

The Oregon Supreme Court has let stand a ruling that found Wasco County Circuit Court wrongly declined to make the county enforce land use rules for the “What the Festival” event.

April 3, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Walking group gathers trash at Kramer Field

Eight people spent 90 minutes on a recent sunny Sunday afternoon scouring the Kramer Field area for garbage, combining exercise, community beautification and some socializing. The brainchild of Summit Bohannon, an upbeat 20-something from The Dalles, the wellness walks combine taking a stroll with picking up litter.

April 2, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Student safety steps outlined by board

Over years of effort, officials have developed fine-tuned plans for responding to an emergency at any school in Wasco County. Emergency planning has been a longstanding endeavor in the county, but it took on a particular urgency and more of a school focus after a pair of tragedies in December 2012, Superintendent Candy Armstrong told the North Wasco County School District 21 board last week.

March 28, 2018 3 p.m. read more..


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