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Neita Cecil

Stories by Neita

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..

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..

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..

Civil rights probe worries officials

A state civil rights investigation of The Dalles High School, triggered by a gender imbalance in students enrolled in career classes, has the superintendent worried about costs to fix problems found. The two-day on-site investigation, which also included Wahtonka Community School, was comprehensive, including looking at handicapped accessibility issues, which are extensive at the aging high school.

March 27, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

High school concepts unveiled

Citizens came up with three concepts for locating a new high school on the Wahtonka property last week, two placing it on the site of the current Wahtonka school and one going on the hillside across the street.

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

A literary outing for students

The Dalles High School junior Natalie Varland read the bi-lingual Spanish book she wrote to some second graders at Colonel Wright Elementary, then asked: “Did I pronounce everything right?” She had. For eight years now, TDHS Spanish teacher Brian Greeley has had his students create their own 10-12 page illustrated bi-lingual children’s stories, which they then read to younger students at Colonel Wright.

March 22, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Four arrested in beating of teen

Three juveniles and one adult were all charged with second-degree assault and first-degree robbery for the beating of a teen Monday afternoon that left the youth unconscious. The caller reported a “student” was beat up with a “large stick,” according to the log.

March 21, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Cougar found at downtown TD motel

A cougar was euthanized Tuesday morning at the Oregon Motor Motel after it was deemed a public safety risk. The cougar was spotted at the same motel early Sunday morning.

March 20, 2018 4:38 p.m. read more..

HR County may ditch juvenile jail

Facing a potential $2 million budget shortfall, Hood River County has informally asked the regional jail what the fiscal impact would be if the juvenile detention facility was closed. The possibility was discussed at a budget hearing of the four-county Northern Oregon Regional Correctional facility last Wednesday.

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

Burn to learn

The key message to the fire crews was this: When it hits 1,000 degrees in there, it’s time to get out. “There” was the new four-story fire training tower at Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue’s main station at Eighth and Webber.

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

Blue Zones walking groups begin

A smattering of blue umbrellas moved along the Riverfront Trail Tuesday as a group of hardy walkers, undeterred by a light rain, participated in the Blue Zones Project’s first walking group.

March 15, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Students create ‘Ruination’

As school projects go, it’s perhaps on the unusual side, but “Ruination,” a new strategy game created by Wahtonka Community School students, has kept nine students busy for four months now. Freshman Brandon Pentz, 14, said he’s been so absorbed by the project that he’s even working on it after school, something he normally doesn’t do.

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

Cochenours feted at party

Les Cochenour has a long and illustrious record of community — particularly military — support, of which his stint as The Dalles mayor in the 1990s is just one highlight. He and wife, Jody, are moving to Bend and a going-away party for them is set for 4 p.m. Saturday, March 17, at the Portage Grill in Shilo Inn.

March 13, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Committee meets to consider new high school plan

A new high school could have the same square footage as the current one, but with more efficient usage of space, would accommodate 25 percent more students, a consultant said last Thursday. At the first of four meetings of the high school master planning committee, architect and consultant Richard Higgins with BLRB Architects said better use of space would mean a new high school could accommodate 1,035 students, up from the 800 housed at the current high school.

March 13, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Celebrating 35 years

Running strong as it marks its 35th anniversary, Community Meal has served hundreds of thousands of meals over the decades, all through volunteer efforts. Community Meal will celebrate the milestone at its annual meeting on Tuesday, March 13.

March 10, 2018 noon read more..

Blue Zones activities ramp up

Marielle Kowaleski is newish to the Gorge, having moved here two years ago, and she dropped in on the Blue Zones Project’s inaugural “Friends at Five” event to socialize. The get-together at the Blue Zones office on Klindt Drive, which is open to anyone who wishes to attend, drew just a handful of people, but Kowaleski was glad she came.

March 8, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Future Chef challenge at TDMS March 17

For the second year, young chefs will compete at The Dalles Middle School on Saturday, March 17, to win the title of Future Chef. This year, six students in grades one through five will be preparing their favorite healthy Asian fusion recipe.

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

Audit looks at juvenile detention

This week an outside expert begins a policy and practice review of the juvenile detention facility, which came under intense criticism in December, causing other entities to stop sending kids here.

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

D21 seeks committee members

The D21 school board will recruit members for a bond oversight committee, a group that would, upon passage of a planned $235 million bond in November to replace most of the district’s schools, oversee expenditure of the funds.

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

Sherman deputy charged with hit and run

Former Sherman County Sheriff’s Deputy Geremy Shull was charged with two counts of hit and run and one count of reckless driving last week stemming from a Feb. 1 incident in The Dalles.

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

TD a top finalist for STEM grant

The Dalles is a top-15 finalist nationwide for a grant that could potentially hire two full-time employees to help bring hands-on STEM mentoring and projects to local students. The finalists were selected based on their potential for impact, approach to partnership building, creative engagement strategies and sustainability planning, according to US2020.

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

BB gun incident sparks anger

Two parents told the D21 school board last week they were upset with how the district handled the discovery of a BB gun at the middle school and a student threat at the high school. A BB gun was found on a student at the middle school on Jan. 17. No notice was sent to parents because the district determined the student did not have intent to use it.

February 27, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Fire rating improves for district

A long-awaited improvement in a fire rating for those living in the Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue district will mean lower insurance costs, said Fire Chief Bob Palmer.

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

Dog park explored

A well-attended drop-in session earlier this month helped the parks and recreation district get a sense of what the public is looking for in terms of dog-friendly local parks.

February 22, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

TD finds BB gun ‘no threat’

A BB gun was found in a student’s backpack at The Dalles Middle School a month ago, but school officials issued no notices to parents because it was determined not to be a threat, the superintendent said.

February 20, 2018 3 p.m. read more..

Man sentenced in TD home invasion

The homeless man who broke into a woman’s home early last Thanksgiving by kicking in her front door was sentenced to 40 months in prison for first-degree burglary.

February 15, 2018 1:14 p.m. read more..

New recruiter joins fire leadership team

A nationwide, longstanding drop in volunteerism across all interests has so impacted the fire service that federal grants have been awarded to boost volunteer firefighter rosters. Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue has begun its second four-year grant-funded position aimed at increasing volunteerism.

February 14, 2018 1:39 p.m. read more..

Principal gets music award

The Dalles Middle School Principal Sandy Harris never misses a music performance by students at the school, and is always ready with a compliment for their work. For her ongoing support, she was awarded the Oregon Music Education Association Outstanding Administrator Award last month.

February 13, 2018 1:37 p.m. read more..

‘Purpose workshop’ draws 40

What is your purpose in life? Some 40 people attended a “purpose workshop” this week which explored that heavy topic and offered ways to find the answer.

February 9, 2018 1:27 p.m. read more..

Teacher contract settled

The teachers union for District 21 and the school board have agreed on a new two-year contract that provides a 2.2 percent cost of living increase this year. “We are very excited and feel like things went really well,” Superintendent Candy Armstrong told the Northern Wasco County School District 21 board last week.

February 8, 2018 1:18 p.m. read more..

Man sentenced in dog deaths

Kenneth Ray Smith, the owner of three dogs who died in his car in October, was sentenced to three years of bench probation, with a suspended 15-day jail term, on a charge of second-degree animal neglect. The adult dogs, two pitbulls and a terrier, had been dead 24-48 hours when they were pulled from Smith’s vehicle in the 3500 block of West Second Street Oct. 1.

February 7, 2018 12:36 p.m. read more..

Wahtonka school seeks charter

Wahtonka Community School is venturing into the uncharted waters of becoming a charter school. Principal Brian Goodwin is unabashed about why: He wants to give the alternative school the budget protection offered by charter school status.

February 6, 2018 1:17 p.m. read more..

Man hit by train in TD

A local transient was hit and killed by a train Sunday morning around 7:45 a.m., just west of Exit 82 of Interstate 84, according to the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office.

February 6, 2018 1:15 p.m. read more..

Ex-teacher accused of sex abuse

Robert Weems, 42, a former substitute teacher in School District 21 and a former track and wrestling coach at the middle school, was arrested Friday and is accused of having sex with a student. A grand jury indictment dated Friday, Feb. 2, lists charges against Weems of third-degree sexual abuse, first-degree official misconduct and two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, all relating to the same victim. He was arrested in the 2400 block of East 11th Street.

February 6, 2018 1:09 p.m. read more..


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