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Neita Cecil

Stories by Neita

Dufur holds firm on Pastime license

City will still recommend denial

Cliff Wirtz, owner of the Dufur Pastime, asked the Dufur City Council Tuesday to reconsider its decision to recommend that his annual state liquor license not be renewed.

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TDHS has 21 AP scholars

In a first, a valedictorian of the class of 2016 at The Dalles High School, Katie Burns, has earned the prestigious “National Scholar” designation, the highest level of AP Scholar.

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Fire district seeks bond

With a 20-year building bond retiring soon, Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue is asking voters to approve a new $3.85 million bond to replace aging fire apparatus and ambulances and do property maintenance. Property taxes would not increase if the Nov. 8 bond passes, said Fire Chief Bob Palmer.

Google will buy acreage

Google purchased 42 acres of industrial land in June and has made a prospective purchase agreement to buy another 96 acres — the old Northwest Aluminum smelter site.

Smith runs as write-in

When Sherman County Commissioner Mike Smith narrowly lost the Republican primary last May to challenger Joe Dabulskis, plenty of people asked him to run a write-in campaign. He wasn’t interested at the time, but has decided to throw his hat in the ring after all.

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Cougar killed on Browns Creek

On Sunday evening, Tammy Reed stepped out of her house on Browns Creek Road and saw a full grown mountain lion just three feet away from her. It was “just sitting there next to my garbage can, next to my water dishes for my cat. And it didn’t even flinch and it just stared at me and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, am I hallucinating?’”

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'American Pickers’ headed to Oregon

“American Pickers,” the History channel show that follows two antique collectors as they travel back roads in search of a great find, is looking for collections to “pick” in Oregon this month.

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Shelter struggles to place pit bulls

When people come looking for a dog to adopt, the first thing they say is “no pit bulls,” said Beata Liebetruth, shelter manager at Home at Last Humane Society.

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Fire destroys historic house

Saturday morning, Chelsea Scarborough was awakened by the sound of a window breaking by her head and opened her eyes to see flames shooting at her through the broken glass.

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Serving under a Romanian sky

Local unit trains in Europe with a multi-national force

TD football players apologize to Lions decision’

Members of The Dalles High School football team apologized to the Lion’s Club Tuesday for leaving early after they agreed to do a four-hour shift helping with the Dallesport drag races Aug. 14.

Police watch for seatbelts

Seatbelt use has climbed nationwide over the years, and Oregon has the country’s third highest usage rate, but locally, the stats have slipped a bit. A seatbelt “blitz” over the next two weeks hopes to rectify that. The blitz, which the Oregon State Police will conduct Aug. 22 to Sept. 4, is paid for by a federal grant that pays overtime for law enforcement officers to focus solely on seatbelt use.

Moro citizens nab suspect

The Sherman County Sheriff’s Office got some help from the public last Thursday in chasing down a suspect, who ended up pinned beneath a cyclone fence after getting tackled by two citizens.

DUII rolls through TD

After nearly being hit head-on Wednesday afternoon, an off-duty firefighter followed a driver for about 12 blocks around downtown, watching her hit one parked vehicle before boxing her in and taking her keys from her.

D21 studies ‘long term’ bond option

With five aging schools to contend with, the school board is considering the idea of asking voters to approve a single, large, long-term “bond authority” that would give the district enough cash to eventually replace them all.

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New colors for local NG unit

The Oregon National Guard unit based at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center formally switched its unit designation in a ceremony Sunday at the readiness center.

$20M suit filed against AmeriTies

In a bid to compel the company to improve emissions control, two women have filed a $20 million lawsuit against AmeriTies West in The Dalles, alleging nuisance, trespass, and negligence.

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Francis retiring as MCMC CEO

Duane Francis, longtime president and CEO of Mid-Columbia Medical Center, has announced his retirement, effective Oct. 31.

Crash claims one in Mosier

A Troutdale woman was killed Sunday night near Mosier in what the Wasco County sheriff said was the worst crash he’s ever seen. Passenger Tanisha Crowel, 26, was dead at the scene and the driver, her husband, Cameron Crowel, 27, was lifeflighted to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland.

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A ‘fair’-y tale

A classic story of life and love — and the Wasco County Fair

Robbery suspect yet to enter plea

A Hood River man accused of robbing at gunpoint Jack’s Mini Market had a court appearance Tuesday in Wasco County but did not enter a plea as expected. A plea entry is anticipated by or before Sept. 20.

PUD upgrades top $12M Mmillion

With Google expanding into a new industrial park, and an expectation of more power customers moving there as well, North Wasco County PUD plans to build a new substation there.

PUD upgrades top $12M

With Google expanding into a new industrial park, and an expectation of more power customers moving there as well, North Wasco County PUD plans to build a new substation there.

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Odors high from tie plant

Initial air quality testing of naphthalene levels from the AmeritTies plant were far from posing immediate health risks, but are concerning for long-term health, officials say.

Co-op seeks ‘pop-up’ store

The group trying to build a local food co-op is still plugging away at gaining members, but is also looking at starting a “pop- up store” in the meantime to generate income and provide an outlet for sales of locally made food. The mobile store the Community Harvest Cooperative Grocery board is mulling would be periodically set up wherever a location can be found, said Kathy Ursprung, president of the co-op board.

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Hotel approved in TD

A Prineville family that owns five hotels in eastern Oregon has received city approval to build a sixth: an 80-room, four-story hotel at Sixth and Snipes in The Dalles. Rich Priday, a retired Les Schwab Tire Center executive, filed to build the motel through an entity called The Dalles LLC. He could not be reached for comment. The motel will face Sixth Street, and the city is requiring a 25-foot right of way be dedicated to the city so Sixth Street can be widened at that point to add a center turn lane, said The Dalles Planning Director Dick Gassman.

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Plane crash kills HR pilot

In what is believed to be the first fatality at the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport in Dallesport, longtime Hood River pilot Richard Sperling died Monday morning after his plane crashed on landing. The FAA responded to the crash from Hillsboro, and was on scene until about 9 p.m. Monday, said Rolf Anderson, an airport manager. Sperling was flying a Lancair 360, a type of home-built plane.

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Aftermath: Mopping up the mess

Barbara Nearing’s house and everything in it burned to the ground July 13. But it is a testament to both a giving community and her deep faith that she asked a reporter writing about the fire to please “keep it positive.” As she told a harrowing story of losing everything, the word “blessed” kept coming up. There was Joyce Powell-Morin at Mid-Columbia Medical Center, where Nearing works, who took on the task of getting her a replacement birth certificate, which she needs to replace her driver’s license.

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Guard adopts cemetery

The Pioneer Cemetery got some TLC from the National Guard during a drill weekend in mid-July, and the local unit plans to “adopt” the historic site and care for it.

Chronicle award list

The Dalles Chronicle netted seven awards in the 2016 Oregon Better Newspaper Contest for articles, editorials and graphics that were published last year. Reporter Neita Cecil received second place in the Best Enterprise Reporting category for a series of five stories in October and November written about the plight of a homeless mother and her five children. The articles unfolded as events occurred, including the removal of the children from motel room after the mother was arrested for a warrant involving methamphetamine use. The children, who were unable to attend school because of their situation, were sent to live with their father in Yakima.

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Champion dancer fires up viewers

A recent exchange of students from American Samoa visiting The Dalles was such a success that the local students – from Wahtonka Community School – hope to visit Samoa next year. The visiting group of students are part of a peer leader program that draws students from various local schools, said Moelilia Seui, executive director of the program, Intersections, Inc.

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Making the transition

In a wide-ranging interview that touched on everything from bras to bathrooms, a transgender woman who hopes to meet her grandchildren living in The Dalles quipped that she’s transparent about being transgender. Growing up in conservative Roseburg, Kim Mason was then 9-year-old Tim Mason when she realized she was different. She began playing dress-up, and once fashioned an old yellow rain jacket into a skirt. She’d steal her mother’s lipstick and paint her toenails.

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A life filled with secrets

Kim Mason has spent a lifetime living with secrets. First was the dawning realization during her childhood in Roseburg — she was a boy named Tim Mason then — that she was trapped in the wrong body.

Woman harasses dispatch center

In a rarity, the Wasco County 911 Center called police to report its own dilemma: a woman who incessantly called the dispatch center, perhaps 50 times over two days, last week.

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Two die in Dufur area crash

Two Dufur residents died in a single-vehicle rollover crash Sunday evening on Boyd Loop Road just outside Dufur, according to the Oregon State Police. Both the driver, Tamara Janine Kucher, 40, and Hunter William Reese Spears, 21, who was riding in the bed of the 1994 Chevrolet 1500 extended cab pickup, were ejected when the vehicle lost control on a turn and rolled down an embankment, said Sgt. Kaipo Raiser. Both died at the scene.

Two die in Dufur crash

Two Dufur residents died in a single-vehicle rollover crash Sunday evening on Boyd Loop Road just outside Dufur, according to the Oregon State Police. Both the driver, Tamara Janine Kucher, 40, and Hunter William Reese Spears, 21, who was riding in the bed of the 1994 Chevrolet 1500 extended cab pickup, were ejected when the vehicle lost control on a turn and rolled down an embankment, said Sgt. Kaipo Raiser. Both died at the scene.

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The Dalles group close to France attack

Five women from The Dalles on a month-long tour of Europe left a fireworks show in Nice, France, just 10 minutes before an attacker drove a truck into the crowd, killing over 80. After the Bastille Day fireworks show finished Thursday night, Paula Fairclo and her friends first headed to a café to get gelato, but decided against it because the crowds on the mile-long seaside promenade were too massive.

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Pokémon invades The Dalles

Anyone over a certain – rather youngish ─ age is probably baffled with the sudden international phenomenon that is the virtual reality game “Pokémon GO.” But not CheyAnne Lynn. A lifelong Pokémon fan, the 21-year-old The Dalles resident said, “I got it literally three minutes after it launched in the United States. That’s how long it took it to download.” That was clear back on July 6. In the mere week since, as Pokémon has taken over the airwaves and social media feeds, she’s been playing the game practically every waking minute. “I just got a Pokémon while walking in here,” she told a reporter as she came for an interview at the Chronicle.

TD police honor 5 fallen officers

Four officers from The Dalles Police Department have gone to Dallas to pay respects to the five police officers slain there last week by a sniper.

Schools test low for lead levels

While high lead levels were found in drinking water in some Portland schools, tests done on schools here produced results significantly below actionable levels. Testing was done in mid-June, with 74 samples taken at Chenowith, Dry Hollow and Colonel Wright elementaries, Wahtonka Community School, The Dalles High School and Mosier Community School. The EPA recommends that school water supplies showing lead levels above 20 parts per billion (ppb) be taken out of service.

Officers react to Dallas shootings

Wasco County Sheriff Lane Magill said he was in a daze this morning, trying to process what happened in Dallas, where five police were killed and seven wounded by sniper fire at a protest Thursday night against recent killings by police. “It’s tragic that people would target law enforcement, who are sworn to protect and serve the citizens,” he said. “I just don’t get it. I just don’t understand it in my mind; it’s too raw, it’s too new.”

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Armed robbery details emerge

The robber who stole an undisclosed amount of cash from Jack’s Mini Mart Wednesday was in the store for just 40 seconds, said a store manager who came upon the scene just as the man was running away.

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Quilt a ‘work of love’

A new quilt hanging in Doris Smith’s bedroom at The Springs at Mill Creek has some old material in it: handkerchiefs she received during her student nursing days in World War II. In 1943, at age 18, Smith joined the Army Nurse Corps, signing the required pledge to stick with the corps for the duration of the war, plus six months afterward.

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Armed robber hits food mart

A man armed with a shotgun made off with an undisclosed amount of money Wednesday night after holding up Jack’s Mini Mart by The Dalles Bridge. Police are looking for a vehicle that was stolen from Hood River at around the same time, which may be connected to the robbery. It is a dark colored 1993 Ford Explorer with Oregon plate UNW 254, said The Dalles Police Sgt. Jamie Carrico.

A growing concern

Starting off a homeless summit last week was Kevin Moynahan, who lives by the Community Meal site on Pentland Street that is seen as “ground zero” for the homeless problem. He wrote a sharp letter to the city a year ago, expressing frustration about hearing, day and night, screaming and fights going on by their house on Second Place. They also had litter and human waste left behind by people of all ages, from babies to toddlers to teenagers to older people.

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Homeless ideas aired at summit

Group eyes volunteer-run clearinghouse that would direct people to services

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Slide fire case ends

The older of two teens who admitted setting fire to the slide at Sorosis Park earlier this year was sentenced Monday to two years of supervised probation.

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Hill, former chief, sheriff, dies

Darrell Hill, former longtime The Dalles police chief and former Wasco County sheriff, died Wednesday night at his home after long outliving a medical prognosis for a rare form of dementia. He was 77.

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Full slate for Fourth of July

Parade, fireworks and fountain dedication planned for holiday

On Waterbury

Several people were asked share their thoughts on The Dalles Police Chief Jay Waterbury, who retires Thursday, June 30 after 41 years with the department. Here are their comments:


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