by News Director Jennifer Colton
541.567.6500 or 541.289.NEWS or KOHUnews@gmail.com

Council, board meet tonight
Jan. 24, 2022
Hermiston City Council
After months of proposals, hearings, and feedback, the Hermiston City Council will likely adopt on the Hermiston 2040 vision report tonight. A presentation on the findings of the Community Vision and Action Plan is expected before the council adopts that report. Council also expected to award a contract for a backup power generator at Well 6 to Gordon's Electric of Pendleton. That generator installation to cost $336-thousand.
In other business, Subdivisions, subdivisions, and property annexations
Tonight, the Hermiston City Council will approve the final plat on new phases of two subdivisions - Diamond Run Phase 1 and Cimmaron Terrace Phase 3 - and have a public hearing on another plan amendment to annex and rezone 13 acres of property between Elm a nd Jennie.
That meeting begins at 7 tonight at Hermiston Community Center. Limited seating will be available in person; the meeting will also be livestreamed on YouTube and available by Zoom or phone call.
Find the full agenda and remote attendance information here.
Hermiston School Board
A long agenda for the Hermiston School Board tonight after canceling the meeting earlier this month.
If you missed last week's news about graduation rates, the school board will hear an update and grad rate presentation from Hermiston High School Principal Tom Spoo. Also on the agenda, bond projects update, financial reports, and the enrollment update. In that enrollment report, enrollment is down 176 from this month last year. The smallest classes in the district are kindergarten - 364 - and first-grade - 370.
The board will also meet in an executive session about the superintendent's evaluation.
That meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the District Office. Click here for the agenda.

Class of 2021 graduation rates
Jan. 20, 2022
Depending on who you talk to, the graduation rate for the class of 2021 was either good news or bad news.
The class of 2021 the most impacted class by the COVID-19 pandemic with distance learning and in-person classes throughout the year.
In Umatilla, superintendent Heidi Sipe says the class of 2021 had three “first days” of school – one for online classes, one hybrid, and one fully in-person. Despite the challenges, 81 percent of Umatilla High School students graduated in four years – 9 percent in five – both above the state average.
In Umatilla, the class of 2021 also completed four full AAOT degrees and more than 15-hundred college credits
Intermountain ESD superintendent Mark Mulvihill says there’s a clear line in the graduation rates based on where students were most of the year
“I’m about to make a really shocking statement: Schools that were in-person longer had better results,” he said.
In the Morrow County School District, which offered in-person almost all year, the district graduate rate were 16 percent above the state average at 96 percent – even higher than the 91 percent graduation rate for the class of 2020.
In Morrow County, two schools – Heppner and Riverside – had 100 percent graduation. Irrigon High School had a 98 percent and the Morrow Education Center was at 87,
Both Hermiston and Pendleton struggling to reopen schools at the high school level because of county case metrics. In Pendleton, the graduate rate for the entire district was 75.5, down from 80 percent for the class of 2020. Hermiston fared better with a graduation rate higher than the state at almost 88 percent.
The Stanfield School District’s graduation rate for the Class of 2021 was 92 percent, down five percent from the class of 2020, and the Echo School District posted a rate of 94 percent, which was up 9 from 2020.
Elsewhere in Umatilla County, Athena Weston had a rate of 83, Pilot Rock had 82, and Milton-Freewater came in at 88. The Ukiah School District, which was the first Umatilla County district to return to in-person instruction had a graduation rate of 100 percent with 2 students both graduating.
At the state level, high school graduation numbers also a mixed bag.
The class of 2021 has the second highest statewide grad rate in Oregon's history at 80.6 percent. It was also a 2 percent drop from the year before - the first time Oregon has had a drop in its four-year graduation rate since it began calculating it. The drop is across all student groups in the state.
Students participating in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) course of study significantly exceeded the statewide average, graduating at a rate of 92.9 percent
Find more at www.oregon.gov/ode.

Council commissioners vote on bills, bridge
Jan. 19, 2022
This morning, the Umatilla County Commissioners meeting at 9 a.m. in the Umatilla County Courthouse. Much of the meeting focused on employment from adding interim positions to reclassifying others. The commissioners will be meeting in an executive session about personnel at the end of the meeting.
Also on the agenda tomorrow, paying $22,000 in bills from the 2021 Umatilla County Fair including bleacher rental and parking maintenance. During the meeting, commissioners also expected to awarding a $600-thousand dollar contact to Harry Johnson Plumbing and Excavation to install a new bridge crossing the Walla Walla River on South Fork Walla Walla River Road. Harry Johnson was the low bidder.
That meeting is also available to watch live on Google Meets or to join by phone.
Click here for the agenda and remote information.

Stanfield adds funding to project
Jan. 18, 2022
The city of Stanfield adding an extra $100,000 to its portion of the Highway 395 project through downtown.
Tonight, city council is amending the resolution about the project by lifting the limit for how much the city can finance from half a million to $600,000. The city is piggypacking on ODOT's repaving and changed in downtown Stanfield by updating pedestrian street lights, new sidewalks and greenery. The city budgeted to pay for the improvements through outside funding.
City Council tonight to also hear department reports and the city manager update. That meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on West Coe Avenue.
As a note the city of Umatilla has canceled its City Council workshop scheduled for today and will next meet Feb. 1.

City Council meets tonight, school board canceled
Jan. 10, 2022
Water and sewer utility rates going up in Hermiston. On the agenda for tonight's council meeting, council members to vote on an  amendment to the Master Fee Schedule a 3.75 percent increase to water and sewer rates. It's part of a policy to adjust rates annually the city adopted in September of 2018. City staff says the increase is because of increases in construction costs and infrastructure. Council is expected to annex a property on Tracey Lane for Horizon Project and to meet in an executive session about property negotiations. The Hermiston City Council tonight meeting at 7 p.m. at the Hermiston Community Center.
Find the City Council agenda here.
Tonight the Hermiston School District's Board of Education regular business meeting is postponed and will take the place of the January special meeting, scheduled for January 24.
Agenda items will be combined, and individuals will have an opportunity to address the board with public comment at that meeting. The district had been expected to discuss the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services plan;  graduation requirements and essential skills and hear reports on finances and enrollment. The board   also had a closed-door, executive session to discuss personnel on the agenda that is expected to move to the next meeting.
Click here for that agenda.

Daily, zip code reports for COVID-19
Jan. 7, 2022
After two days of record-setting COVID-19 numbers, today's total down to 167 new cases in Umatilla County. The county also reporting the 188th COVID-19 related death.
Morrow County today reporting 27 cases for a total of 2,161.
Because of travel and the holidays, I last reported the cases by zip code three Fridays ago, which means we are looking at cases from the last three weeks. During that time, the bulk of Umatilla County’s cases were again from the Hermiston zip code: 426. The Pendleton zip code reporting 160 new cases up to a total of 4158.
Here are the local numbers by zip code, total cumulative cases and change:
97801 4158 +160
Boardman 1105 + 43
Echo 161 +7
Heppner 186 +12
Hermiston 5962 +426
Irrigon 692 +34
Stanfield 645 +29
Umatilla 2289 +73

Umatilla votes on grants, logo
Dec. 7, 2021
Umatilla City Council meeting at 7 tonight, and one of the items on Umatilla’s agenda tonight is also a vote on a logo for the city’s parks and rec committee. Esmerelda Perches says, if approved, it will be the first time, they’ve had a parks logo.
"I'm excited," Perches said. "We're trying to brand the parks and recreation department because we have more activities, we're getting busier."
Also on the agenda, a public hearing on an amendment to the ODOT quarry plan, canceling the Dec. 21 workshop meeting and awarding almost $125,000 in local business grants
That meeting begins at 7 tonight at Umatilla City Hall. Click here for the agenda

Boardman council meets via Zoom
Dec. 7, 2021
Boardman City Council also meeting at 7 tonight via Zoom, but they’ll be starting the meeting with an executive session on employment. The meeting will be called to order after that executive session. On the agenda, discussion of a four-way stop sigh at Faler Road and SW Mt Hood Avenue as well as discussion of Special Canada Good Taking on Tax Lots 401 and 407. Find the agenda, including the Zoom link, here.

County Commissioners to vote on jail
Dec. 1, 2021
Umatilla County Commissioners could award a bid for renovations to the Umatilla County Jail today. County Commissioner George Murdock saying the bid came in higher than expected
"I'm reasonably confident we will award the bid, but we've had to do some pencil sharpening, meeting with the CFO and all that kind of thing to make sure we can find the money to go ahead," he said.
On the agenda for today’s County commissioner meeting is to award the contact for jail renovations to 2KG Contractors for $2.8 million. The county recently receiving $1.8 million from the state for the project to update equipment and restructure the intake areas in the jail to allow for more containment areas for people who are sick, under the influence, or in crisis.
Commissioners to also vote on a revolving loan fund for the city of Pendleton for economic development; reclassifying the Veterans Service Coordinator; and appointing Kelly Burke to fill Bob Wolfe’s position on the Umatilla County fair board and Robert Curry as board elect to fill the other vacancy in 2023.
That meeting begins at 9 this morning at the Umatilla County Courthouse. Committee members can also join the meeting by phone or Google meet.
Click here for connection information and the full agenda.

Annexation, bond on tonight's agendas
Nov. 22, 2021
For the Hermiston City Council, annexation and a proposed subdivision taking a chunk of tonight's meeting agenda. The proposed 35 lot subdivision at the southeast corner of East View Drive and SE Ninth. It’s about 7 acres. During the meeting, the council will also review the financial report and a liquor license application for Grocery Outlet.
The council will have an introduction from new BMCC President, Mark Browning, and council members are also expected to cancel the Dec. 27th meeting.
Tonight’s meeting begins at 7 at the Hermiston Community Center. It will also be streamed online. Find the full agenda here.
For the Hermiston School District, a bond project update on the agenda as well as a school update on Highland Hills Elementary, and a discussion on the instructional coaching model. That meeting begins at 6:30 at the Hermiston School District office.
Click here for that agenda.

City Council considers High School appeal
Nov. 8, 2021
An appeal to a decision about a planned Hermiston High School expansion on the agenda for tonight’s Hermiston City Council meeting.
On Sept. 8, the Hermiston Planning Commission approved the expansion of the high school with nine conditions. The school district is appealing two of the nine: one on a condition to add 74 additional parking spaces for the new softball fields; the other is to agree to help fund future transportation improvements, such as a traffic signal at first and highland.
The school district argues the softball field parking is unnecessary because the annex plan and existing high school parking lots will already include more than 600 parking spaces. The district is also arguing that having an undefined “agree to help pay” for transportation costs is too open ended.
The city council has several options for appeals. The city council may affirm the planning commission conditions, amend the conditions, reverse the conditions, or remand the decision to the planning commission for additional findings or conditions
City staff is recommending a modification to include a specific funding contribution for future transportation needs and repealing the condition on the extra parking spaces.
The meeting also includes an update on Public Works Standards, the Solid Waste Franchise, and two amendments to the city code.
The Mayor will also present a proclamation on Small Business Saturday.
That meeting begins at 7 tonight at the Hermiston Community Center.
Click here for the full agenda.
The Hermiston School Board is also meeting at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the district office.
Board members expected to vote on the Board-Community Operating Agreement and hear reports on enrollment, finances, and special programs and students services.
Find the full agenda here.

COVID-19 cases by zip code
Oct. 29, 2020
After a month of the Pendleton zip code reporting the most cases in a given week following the Pendleton Round-Up, the Hermiston zip code is… back with the most cases over the past week.Hermiston's 97838 reporting 75 new cases compared to 67 cases in the 97801. There were a dozen new cases in Umatilla, 10 in Boardman, and a half dozen each in Stanfield and Irrigon. Echo added five cases over the week.
Here are the numbers for the week:
97801 3828 (+62)
Boardman 1018 (+10)
Echo 149 (+5)
Heppner 142 (+2)
Hermiston 5289 (+75)
Irrigon 625 (+6)
Stanfield 596 (+6)
Umatilla 2163 (+12)

Council votes on street project
Oct. 25, 2021
Tonight, the Hermiston City Council likely accepting an almost $600,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation to develop Penney Avenue in the South Hermiston Industrial Park.
The project would connect Penney Avenue to highway 395 and to SE Kelli Blvd. The city would use ARPA – American Rescue Plan - funding for the 50 percent match. The council also ha s a discussion on using ARPA funds on the agenda as well as votes – both on amending parts of the city code.
That regular meeting begins at 7 at the Hermisotn Community Center, but the council also meeting in a work session at 6 p.m. to discuss broadband.
Click here for the full agenda.

Umatilla, Stanfield consider garbage franchise
Oct. 19, 2021
Two City Councils meeting tonight – both will be discussing new franchise agreements for trash collection. Both Stanfield and Umatilla receiving notice that Sanitary Disposal, which provides garbage services across the region, plans to sell to Waste Connections. Council members will have to decide whether to approve or deny requests to transfer franchise agreements to the new owner.
The transfer of ownership is on the agenda for Stanfield City Council tonight. The council will also discuss the preliminary civic block report form seder architecture and have the second reading of adjustments to the livestock and poultry ordinance. The meeting begins at 6 tonight in the council chambers on Coe Avenue.
Umatilla City Council’s special city council meeting starts at 7 tonight at Umatilla City Hall. In addition to Sanitary Disposal, they’ll be discussing what to do with $800,000 in ARPA funds the city has received this year. Staff is seeking direction from council on which projects to fund. The council will also vote on the city applying for a grant to replace the existing playground and shelter at Nugent Park, and there is an executive session on current or potential litigation on the agenda at the end of the meeting.
Click here for the full Umatilla agenda.

Weekly spread drops in Umatilla County
Oct. 19, 2021
For the fourth week in a row, cases of COVID-19 declining in Umatilla County. Last week, Umatilla County reporting 302 cases of COVID-19 – that’s compared to 392 in last week’s report, 487 the week before that, and 506 a month ago.
Last week’s case to population rate is 370.6 cases per hundred thousand population. That’s still almost double Oregon’s rate statewide, of 198.
From Oct. 10 to the 16th, Morrow County reported 36 cases – a rate of 280 per hundred thousand.
The lowest case rate in Oregon is Clatsop County at a rate of 73;
Harney has the highest last week at 879, followed by Crook County at 853. Multiple schools in Harney County, including Burns High School, have switched to distance learning for at least this week. School officials say they’’ll re-assess at the end of the week.

Property development on tap for Umatilla
October 5, 2021
Tonight, Umatilla City Council is talking property development and annexation in multiple parts of the city of Umatilla tonight. In addition to a public hearing and open votes, the council will also discuss four potential real estate transactions during an executive session. In other development, the council will also vote tonight on accepting 1.8 million grant from the State of Oregon to build the city of Umatilla’s Business Center. A resolution on tonight’s agenda accepts those funds and the related agreement. The City has been working for many years toward repurposing the old Post Of ice with an all-new Business Center.
That meeting begins at 7 p.m. tonight.
Click here for the full agenda.

City council, school board meet tonight
Sept. 27, 2021
Financial reports, a new hangar at the Hermiston airport, and updates to the city code related to system development charges all on the agenda tonight for the Hermiston City Council.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. tonight at the Hermiston Community Center, and it will be broadcast on the city's YouTube channel.
Tonight the council will also recognize the Soroptimist International of the Greater Hermiston area on a double anniversary. It's the 100th anniversary of Sorptimist international and the 20th anniversary of the Hermiston chapter.
Click here for the city council agenda.
The Hermiston School Board tonight studying the board-superintendent operation agreement, board email communications, and hearing updates on both Bond Projects and from Sandstone Middle School
The school board will be meeting in a closed-door executive session to meet with legal counsel
That meeting begins at 5:30 tonight.
Find that agenda here.

Stanfield marks first day of 2021 school year
Aug. 23, 2021
Today is the first day of the 2021-22 school year for the Stanfield School District. Superintendent Beth Burton says she isn’t a fan of the mask mandate but the district will be enforcing it.
"I will still say that masks are better than distance learning and I will wear a mask all day, every day if that means that we can have kids actually coming into the school building," she said. "For a lot of kids, the school building is an equalizer."
Burton says one of the biggest concerns for the mask mandate is young children learning how to read and not being able to see someone’s mouth while sounding out words. She’s also asking parents and families to follow rules on keeping kids home if they’re sick.

Planning on tap for Hermiston council, school board
Aug. 23, 2021
The Hermiston School Board meeting tonight, the final meeting before the new school year. They’ll have a bond projects update, the English Learners Annual Report and the board goals and strategic plan. The board also has a study item on a board advocacy letter and opportunities for public input. That meeting begins at 6:30 tonight.
Click here for the full agenda.
Tonight, the Hermiston City Council will consider funding a study to build a bridge, but that isn’t the only thing on the council agenda.
The council will also talk about financial and department reports before meeting in a closed-door executive session to talk about the city manager’s contract. They’ll be considering extending the Byron Smith’s contract through 2023.
The council meeting begins at 7 tonight at the Hermiston Community Center.
Find the full agenda here.

Port announces SAGE expansion
Aug. 22, 2021
The Port of Morrow announcing a 12,500 foot expansion at the SAGE Center. The Cultural Alliance and Training Center at SAGE will allow for space for job fairs, training,a nd conferences. The Port of Morrow receiving $4.3 million from the Oregon Legislature for the project.

City council, school board meet tonight
Aug. 9, 2021
Speaking of the city, tonight the council and city manager will be touring the Columbia Basin Extracting LLC plant before the regular council meeting. That work session is at 5:30; the regular meeting is at 7 at the Hermiston Community Center. On the agenda, a presentation from community counseling solutions, an amendment to the city code about commercial business at the municipal airport, and a closed-door, executive session about property transactions.
Click here for the full agenda.
The Hermiston School Board also meeting tonight. That starts at 6:30 . The board will be talking board goals, finances, and planning for the upcoming school year. They’ll also discuss the board-superintendent operation agreement and 2021-22 school planning.
Find the full agenda here.

Helix passes vaccination goal
Aug. 3, 2021
An announcement from UCo Health yesterday that Helix is the highest vaccinated zip code in the county. The first zip code to cross the 60 percent vaccination rate, two organizations will split $10,000 from the community rewards program. Launched earlier this summer, the community rewards program offering incentives to nonprofits and agencies that help local zip codes reach 60 percent vaccination. There are currently 15 local organizations signed up for the program across the county’s 13 zip codes. In Helix, that’s Helix Community Church and Helix Parks and Recreation, and because both helped the Helix zip code reach the vaccine threshold, they get to split the Helix portion of the county’s community rewards program funding. Both Hermiston and Pendleton are sitting at 56 percent vaccination as of last week. The lowest rate in the county is Milton-Freewater at 30 percent, followed by Adams at 31 percent and Stanfield at 34 percent. Click here for more about vaccine rates and information from UCo Health.
Yesterday, Umatilla County reporting 96 cases of COVID-19 for a total of almost 9,800. In Morrow County, five new cases reported for a new total of 1,243.

Fire fights continue
July 26, 2021
Efforts continuing on the Umatilla National Forest’s largest wildfires.
In Oregon, the Elbow Creek Fire burning in Wallowa County. Operations Section Chief Eric Perkins reporting limited growth on that fire over the weekend
"We'll keeping mopping this thing in, getting it more secure and getting a tighter grip on it... so we can all go home one of these days," he said.
That fire 22,600 acres and 32 percent contained as of yesterday night. Evacuation levels remain the same in Wallowa County, and there’s another informational meeting tonight.
The Lick Creek Fire in the Washington side of Umatilla National Forest is 90 percent contained. The 80,000 acre fire started by lightning on July 7th. Patrolling and monitoring the fire perimeter is ongoing and smoke will continue to be visible as unburned pockets of vegetation inside the fire area burn. The Green Ridge Fire near Walla Walla is still 15 percent contained and now 5,800 acres.
The largest fire in the state, the Bootleg Fire in Klamath and Lake Counties, up to 410-thousand acres as of this morning. That fire’s now 53 percent contained.

Council talks emergency
July 26, 2021
The Hermiston City Council tonight considering declaring an emergency – sort of. An ordinance on tonight’s agenda would give the city authority to declare an emergency. Agenda documents say as City staff was preparing the emergency plan, it was discovered that there is no authority in ordinance or in the City charter to declare an emergency.The proposed ordinance would allow the City Manager to declare an emergency with that being confirmed by the city council at the next meeting following the declaration.
The council will also vote on the city’s emergency plan tonight, and will consider traffic changes on Diagonal Boulevard, including lowering the speed limit from 35 to 25 between Ridgeway and 10th and turning the intersection of diagonal and 10th street from a two-way to a four-way stop.
Also on the agenda, a declaration of national night out.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. tonight at the Hermiston Community Center.
Click here for that agenda.
Tonight, a special meeting of the Hermiston School Board. It’s primarily the board retreat to focus on board roles and the district strategic plan. They will also be considering personnel appointments and resignation. That starts at 5:30 tonight.

Streets, fees on agenda
June 28, 2021
Hermiston is naming a new street tonight.
On the Hermiston City Council agenda, a proposal to name the new street in the South Hermiston Industrial Park East Cook Avenue. The city says the name is intended to honor Ivan Cook and Vernon Cook. The Cooks are the owners of the majority of the land in Hermiston's industrial inventory and have worked with the city in economic development.
The council will also have a public hearing on system development charge adjustments and vote on renewing the cascade natural gas franchise, changes to the city ordinance on streets and sidewalks and awarding a contract to reconstruct the apron at the municipal airport to Swaggart Brothers, the low bidder on the project at 1.4 million.
That meeting begins at 7 tonight at the Hermiston Community Center. Find a link to the full agenda here.

Construction, road projects
June 10, 2021
Summer season means road work and construction. Projects underway in Hermiston and Stanfield and
Road work - chip sealing - starting next week on Highway 207. ODOT crews will apply the chip seal resurface treatment, then repaint the highway lines and markings afterwards. The process includes spreading rock chips onto emulsified oil, then pressing the rocks in with rollers. The route will be restriped afterwards. that's scheduled to begin Monday and be completed by the end of June.
Travelers on 207 can Expect up to 20-minute delays, reduced speeds, loose rock on the roadway, flaggers, and pilot cars directing single lane traffic through work zones. There will be two short-term closures of the Exit 182
east bound off ramp sometime during the project. Minor delays during nighttime/early morning hours for road sweeping.
Use alternate routes or delay travel if possible to avoid work zones.
Still on the topic of ODOT but looking ahead... in 2022 ODO T will be repairing and upgrading hundreds of sidewalk curb ramps in Umatilla, Morrow, Wallowa and baker Counties. There's an online open house going on right now to review information about the project and submit questions and feedback. That’s open until the 18th.
Click here for that open house and feedback opportunities.

BMCC scheduled presidential candidate forums
June 7, 2021
Blue Mountain Community College has scheduled three community forums with finalist candidates for BMCC president. The candidate to replace Dennis Bailey-Fougnier, the former president who abruptly resigned in February , and interim President Connie Green.
Tonight’s forum features Mark Browning,t he vice president of college relations at the College of Western Idaho. The forum begins at 5:20, and you can click here for that forum.
Tomorrow, June 8, the forum features Western Nebraska Community College president Carmen Simone. Find that forum here.
The final forum on Wednesday with Christopher Villa, the former president of Portland Community College’s Rock Creek campus. Here is the link for that forum.

Award, budget, bridge on agenda
June 1, 2021
The City of Umatilla accepting an award during tonight’s City Council meeting. The Government Finance Officer’s Association presenting the city Tonight's agenda also includes a new employment agreement between the city and city manager David Stockdale, and multiple budget related resolutions. It is a full agenda with votes expected on an agreement with the school district for summer work program, the transient room tax, a grant for remodeling the former Old Nicks Tavern at 610 Sixth Street and accepting a grant and loan for the replacement of the Umatilla River Pedestrian Bridge.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. tonight at Umatilla City Hall. Click here for the full agenda.

COVID-19 cases from Memorial Day weekend
June 1, 2021
Over the weekend, Umatilla County topping 8,400 cases of COVID-19. Oregon Health Authority reporting 13 Umatilla County cases on Saturday for a total of 8,401. Higher numbers expected today or tomorrow to reflect the weekend counts as UCo Health gathers those. OHA reporting a total of five cases in Morrow County over the weekend, including three on Sunday and two yesterday. The total now 1,135 in Morrow County.
At the state level, just over 850 COVID-19 cases reported across the state Over the three-day weekend.
Those numbers by day are: Saturday, 376; Sunday, 257, Yesterday, 220.

School board, council meet tonight
May 24, 2021
Speaking of the district… Board goals, and bond project updates on the schedule for the Hermiston School Board tonight. The Hermiston School Board meeting begins at 6:30 tonight.  Click here for the agenda.
Tonight at the Hermiston Community Center, the Hermiston Wayfinding Program goes for a vote with the Hermiston City Council. The program will include new signs to direct visitors downtown.The meeting will also include a presentation on “I love my city” as well as votes on the Cascade Natural Gas Franchise, amending the streets and sidewalks code and awarding a $1.6 million contract for the south Hermiston industrial park to Tapani Inc.
That meeting begins at 7 p.m. It will be livestreamed on the city’s youtube channel. Find the agenda and stream information here.

Bonds, board members win votes
May 19, 2021
Two local bonds both passed in yesterday’s local elections in preliminary election results. Umatilla County Fire District No. 1 will be able to purchase new equipment and replace station roofing as voters passed Measure 30-148 1,701 to 1,295. The Ione School District also passes its 18.5 million construction bond on a 167 to 101 vote.
Much of the election results focusing on local school board races.
On the Hermiston School Board, Bryan Medelez and Karen Sherman will retain seats while they'll be joined by two newcomers: Challenger Sally Anderson Hansell beating incumbent Brent Pitney to claim School Board position 4 while Dain Gardner took 61 percent of the votes to narrowly beat Lil Gomez for Position 3. In the Morrow County School District, Jacob Cain beating Marcie Rodelo 54 to 45 percent for Position 2; and Kalie Davis topping Tia McNamee 60 to 40 percent for Position 7. Position 6 went 98 percent for Barney Lindsay - who was running unopposed.
In uncontested races, Nate James, Heather Madison, Jennifer Cox and Amy Hendrix elected to the Echo School Board while
Scott Morris, Janice Sue Mills and Nikki Mcann round out the Stanfield School District. Travis Eynon and Lesly Claustro and Jorge Meza each elected to the Umatilla School Board will more tahn 300 votes a piece while Josiah Barron takes Position 5, beating out incumbent Susie Sotello despite a write-in campaign when her name did not appear on the ballot. Across the county, Beth Harrison, Preston Eagleheart, Patrick Gregg each won contested races for the Pendleton School Board. For Blue Mountain Community College, two of the three races were contested. In Zone 3, Kent Madison beat out Carrie Sampson-Samuels, and in Zone 4, Kim Puzey retained his seat over Kipp Barron. Zone 6 went ot Abe Currin, who was unopposed.
In the contested Port of Morrow Commissioner races, Rick Stokoe takes Position 1 with just under 47 percent of the vote and Jerry Healy garners 62 percent for Position 3. Running unopposed, Joe Taylor elected forPposition 2.
Morrow County voter turnout was 30.5 percent.
Statewide Voter Turnout was 24.6 percent. Umatilla County's turnout as of last night was 17.89 percent.
Find the Umatilla County results here and Morrow County here.

Zip code chart show growth in East End
May 14, 2021
For the first time in a long time, Hermiston's 97838 zip code did not report the most new cases of COVID-19 in the county last month. The zip code still has the largest total case count at 3,184, but the 13 cases last week fall far behind the 37 cases reported in the 97801 zip code, which includes Pendleton and the Umatilla Indian Reservation. A spike in cases for the tribes could mean that zip code will report high numbers next week as well. Its total as of Sunday is at 1,804.
Also in Umatilla County, there were six new cases in Umatilla's 97882 zip code for a new total of 1,572; three cases reported in Echo for a cumulative total of 60, and one case in Stanfield brings that zip code total up to 325.
In Morrow County, Irrigon reporting four cases last week, moving from 326 up to 330, One case in Boardman last week brought the total up to 693, and one case in Heppner pushes that to 52.

Vaccination numbers tricky in Umatilla County
May 12, 2021
Umatilla County is showing one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state, but UCo Health Director Joe Fiumara said the state numbers are misleading. Those numbers for Umatilla County don’t include all vaccinations given in Washington, vaccinations from the the Veterans Administration Clinic in Walla Walla, as well as the mass vaccination clinics at Wildhorse.
"All of that information - because of how that vaccine arrived and how that process was put into place - was all reported directly to the CDC, which means it bypassed the state system and we just don't have that (county-level) information," he said.
Fiumara saying clinics at Yellowhawk Tribal Health are included in county numbers, but the large clinics are not. As of yesterday, the state's vaccine dashboard showing a total of 35,104 vaccine doses administered in Umatilla County, but only 3,000 of those are Pfizer. The Confederated tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have given more than 5,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine, many to Umatilla County residents.
Yesterday, Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen did acknowledge that some of those discrepancies can make really impact counties, using the VA as an example.
"In some places it can make a big difference as a major source of vaccinations in a particular community," Allen said. "We're looking at ways for how to adjust for that because, despite everyone's best efforts, we just can't get that out of the federal government in a way that's reliable."
Governor Kate Brown yesterday saying most restrictions in the state will be lifted when 70 percent of the state is at least partially vaccinated. Counties can move to “lower risk” status when 65 percent of eligible residents are vaccinated.

Governor says state can reopen at 70 percent vaccination
May 11, 2021
Governor Kate Brown today announcing changes to COVID-19 restrictions and reopening plans for the state of Oregon. The governor says once 70 percent of the state’s eligible population – that’s those 16 and older – is vaccinated, risk levels, metrics, and restrictions will no longer be needed.
Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen said  the 70 percent threshold is to reduce deaths and hospitalizations.
"That's really what we're shooting for with this 70 percent statewide goal: To get enough people vaccinated that while we are still short of herd immunity, we've significantly driven down the worst outcomes of COVID-19," Allen said.
State officials putting the 70 percent mark at early to mid June. The governor saying there may be guidelines on masks after that date, but it would allow businesses to reopen and events to happen, including the Pendleton Round-Up.
"I would fully expect that we would be able to 'let 'er' buck' so to speak in September," she said.
In addition to lifting statewide restrictions at the 70 percent threshold, counties can move to lower risk status with 65 percent vaccination rates – regardless of case counts.
Two counties - Benton and Hood River - are already at 65 percent vaccination and will be eligible for low risk status on May 21st. Morrow County's vaccination percentage is 37.8; Umatilla County at 31.9.

City Council, School Board meet tonight
May 10, 2021
A proclamation for National Police Week and recognition of Hermiston STEM Scholarship Awards from Anderson Perry will open the Hermiston City Council meeting tonight. The council will also have an agenda item about the Restaurant Assistance Pilot Program – the council Consider a partnership with the Greater Hermiston Chamber of Commerce to fund a restaurant assistance program through a mass gift-card purchase model.
Also on the agenda, a public hearing on the supplemental budget and then vote on a resolution about that. That meeting begins at 7 p.m. tonight.
Click here for the full agenda.
Tonight, the Hermiston School Board talking board goals, establishing a grant fund, and considering membership in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. They’ll also meet in a closed-door, executive session about union negotiations. That meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

COVID-19 Zip Code cases from last week
May 7, 2021
Looking at last week, The Hermiston Zip Code reporting 19 new cases last week up to 3,171. The 97801 zip code, which includes Pendleton, is up 14 cases up to 1,767, and in Umatilla, six new cases make the total 1,566. Stanfield is at 324 cases, and Echo is at 57. In Morrow County, Irrigon at 326; the Boardman Zip code is up two cases to 692, and Heppner is at 51.

Boardman, Umatilla councils meet tonight
May 4, 2021
Audits, scholarships, and planning on the agenda for tonight's’ Boardman City Council meeting while police will be the focus for Umatilla.
The Umatilla City Council agenda includes a proclamation for National Police Week and Peace Officers’ Memorial Day is on the agenda, and a resolution authorizing a new contract between the police union and the city. The police department’s quarterly report is on the agenda as well.
The council also expected to meet in executive session to discuss potential real estate transactions and potential litigation.
Both meetings begin at 7 p.m. tonight. Click here for the agenda and Zoom attendance information for Boardman City Council and here for Umatilla City Council.

Oregon woman dies from blood clot after vaccine
April 23, 2021
An Oregon woman died after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
"The event was a rare but serious blood clot the woman developed within two weeks following vaccination, seen in combination with very low platelets, which are a type of clotting cell, said Dr. Shimi Sharief, OHS Senior Health Advisor, COVID-19 Response.
The woman in her 50s was given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine early this month, before the pause began. Sharief said they are unable to say what county or region the woman was from because of patient privacy but she was hospitalized with symptoms consistent with the other six cases of blood clots after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, including severe headache and pain at the location of the blood clot.
The CDC’s vaccine advisory team will be meeting today to decide on next steps for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and Sharief says the Oregon case is one the committee is evaluating.

In Her Shoes tomorrow
April 23, 2021
The seventh annual In Her Shoes kicks off tomorrow. A fundraiser for Domestic Violence Services, the event gives participants a change to experience the choices a domestic violence victim has and must make.
Registration is $15 and includes a T-shirt, and a mystery goody bag for the first 20 to sign up.
Click here for tickets and more information.

Umatilla honors officer, approves budget
April 20, 2020
The city of Umatilla recognizing a police officer for displaying valor and professional actions. Officer Cotter Butler to be recognized during a special City Council and budget committee meeting tonight for his response to a house fire just before 5 a.m. on April 3. Arriving when the garage was already engulfed in flames and the house filled with smoke, Butler kicked in the front door and was able to rescue an elderly resident then began notifying neighboring houses to evacuate.
Fire Chief Steve Potts saying Butler’s actions made an “immense difference” in the fire response for the area residents and by allowing the fire department to focus on the fire rather than engage in a rescue operation.
Also on the agenda tonight, approval of the city budget and affirmation of taxes. That meeting begins at 6 p.m. tonight at Umatilla City Hall. Find the agenda here.
Tonight, Stanfield City Council also meeting and talking contracts and planning with multiple projects on the agenda including a contract for planning services and updates on projects with Seder Architecture. The council also looking at budget committee discussions, council agenda structure, and a resolution revising water rates. That meeting begins at 6 p.m.in the council chambers on Coe Avenue.

Daily covid numbers stable; weekly up
April 19, 2021
With UCo Health offices being closed on Sunday, the post-weekend report for local counties almost identical to what the Oregon Health Authority posted over the weekend. The total figures are the same – 7,968 for Umatilla County and 1,079 for Morrow County.
The numbers are up in the county risk level metrics, however.
Locally, Morrow County reporting 15 cases from April 4 to April 17, a rate of 118.3, but under the small county guidelines, that should keep morrow county in lower risk. Umatilla County could qualify to back to High risk with a rate of more than 100 - 104.7 - after 85 cases reported in the past two weeks, but because the county just moved down to moderate in the last period, Umatilla County should qualify for the grace period. That period will keep Umatilla County at moderate for the next two weeks to give a chance to bring the numbers back down.

Ways and Means virtual hearing this weekend
April 16, 2021
This weekend, Eastern Oregon planning to present to the state’s Ways and Means Committee to make the case for where state funding should go. The virtual hearing for Eastern Oregon is this Saturday from 1 to 3. State Senator Bill Hansell encouraging local testimony on state and local issues.
"I can't emphasize enough how important it is for folks to come before and testify," he said."If you have something that's uniquely to your jurisdiction like, for example, the Umatilla County Jail, and you don't bring it up here, no one else is going to bring it up.
Because the session covers all of Congressional Region 2 and will only last two hours, Submission of written testimony is encouraged, even if you plan to testify during the event. There is a good chance all who sign up to testify will not be able to within the time limit.
Find more information on testifying or watching the session on the Oregon legislature’s website.

Local COVID-19 cases by Zip Code
April 15, 2021
Looking at COVID cases by zip code over last week, there were 14 new cases in Hermiston for a total of 3101 and also 14 in the 97801 zip code, which includes Pendleton, for a new total of 1,710. Umatilla's zip code showing four new cases, up to 1,554, and there were seven cases in Stanfield's zip code making the total now 319. Boardman is up one case to 682, and Irrigon reporting three new cases up to 320.

Hermiston breaks ground
April 14, 2021
Yesterday the first day back in school full-time for Hermiston students and also the first day of ceremonial groundbreaking for the district’s two new elementary schools.

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Hermiston School Board members pose with golden shovels at the groundbreaking of the new Rocky Heights Elementary

Groundbreaking events happened yesterday for both the district's bond-funded school projects: a replacement Rocky Heights Elementary and the new Loma Vista Elementary. Both schools are expected to open for students in August of 2022.

Council votes on senior living contract
April 12, 2021
A new senior living community on the agenda for tonight’s Hermiston City Council meeting. The council is being asked to issue a letter of intent to basically lease seven acres of city property to Paradigm Compass for the purpose of building a 65-unit senior living community.
The property is part of 20 acres the city bought in 2005to address temperature discharges to the Umatilla River, but after tests of the concept didn’t work, the solution was abandoned. Last summer, the city council opted to advertise 8 acres of the property for not costs for senior housing. You can read more about that decision here.
Also on tonight’s agenda, an update on the 7th street sewer main replacement, approval of the 20-year EOTEC Site Master Plan, and the third quarter investment report. That meeting begins at 7 tonight at the Hermiston Community Center. Click here for the full agenda.

School Board prepares for in-person transition tomorrow
April 12, 2021
Tonight, Hermiston School Board is looking at employment, enrollment, and the first week of full-day, in-person school in more than a year. Superintendent Tricia Mooney will have a return to in-person learning update tonight. Mooney has said bringing students back and getting them involved in clubs and activities has been a priority for the district.
"Until we've figured out how we can get our kids back in school where they need to be, fully, five days a week, only then will we as a community and we as a state start to heal from this," she said.
A reminder that this is a no-school day for students in the Hermiston School District to prepare for full-time classes for all students to begin tomorrow.
The school board will also hear reports about enrollment and approve various hirings, resignation, and extra duty contracts for the district staff. The board will also vote on establishing a grant
That meeting begins at 6:30 tonight in the district offices.
Find the full agenda here.

Weekly reports show outbreaks, zip code cases
April 8, 2021
Only one of the 10 largest outbreaks in the state is in Umatilla or Morrow County.
Two Rivers Correctional Institute is still the state's largest active workplace outbreak this week with 766 total cases, but the Umatilla prison reporting no new cases last week.
With three local outbreaks moving to resolved status last week, the list only showing two other active workplace outbreaks from the local area: one each in Umatilla and Morrow County. The Umatilla County Jail outbreak holds steady with 18 total cases, and Lamb Weston Packing in Boardman reporting 13 cases.
By zip code, Hermiston reporting six new cases of COVID-19 last week up to a new total of three-thousand-87. Pendleton's zip code adds 7 cases to 16-hundred-96. In Umatilla, two new cases bring the total to 15-hundred-50. Four new cases in Boardman and a new total of six-hundred-81.Irrigon is up one case to 317, and the Stanfield zip code up five cases to three-hundred-12. No new cases in Echo or Heppner reported last week.

Umatilla talks housing; Boardman finances tonight
April 6, 2021
The housing boom continuing in Umatilla. City Manager Dave Stockdale saying planning for housing will be a big part of discussion at tonight’s city council meeting.
"We're building about a hundred homes a year now," Stockdale said. "We expect to do at least that many in 21, and we're expecting to do about 150 in 2022. It's going to be a lot of homes."
Tonight, Umatilla City Council discussing strategies and potential opportunities to provide housing at lower and higher economic levels. The city’s Housing Needs Analysis showing need for homes at all economic levels while the majority of planned housing developments include homes 145-325-thousand.
Also on tonight’s agenda:
- A $1.8 million construction contract to James Dean Construction to extend Wanapa Road
- Discussion of a West County Legislative Lobbyist Intergovernmental Agreement
- Discussion on changing the August 3 council meeting to allow for National Night Out events.
- Council will also discuss an elected officials stipend. Meeting documents pointing to a “significant” increase in workload for the mayor and city council members within the past three years.
That meeting begins at 7 p.m. tonight. Click here for the full agenda.
Also happening tonight, the Boardman City Council talking audits and receiving grants both from the Columbia River Enterprise Zone and the State of Oregon CARES Act. There’s a presentation scheduled about a dog park and time for public comment. That meeting also begins at 7 p.m. tonight.
You can find the full agenda here.

Umatilla, Morrow counties have low vaccine rates
April 5, 2021
Umatilla and Morrow two of the seven counties called out by the Oregon Health Authority Friday for having fewer than 50 percent of Oregon seniors vaccinated against COVID-19. OHA Director Pat Allen saying it isn’t because "It's because demand for vaccines is softening among some seniors who have chosen to wait for a vaccine - especially in less populated counties," he said.
Allen saying they will continue to focus outreach on those age 65 and older who are at the highest risk for the virus.
Morrow County will be offering multiple vaccine clinics this week and next week. This week’s clinics will be at the SAGE Center. Contact Morrow County Public Health for information on appointments. Find more about vaccine opportunities in Umatilla County on the website for Umatilla County Public Health or through your local pharmacy.

Umatilla bridge project inches forward
April 5, 2021
It’s been two years since the pedestrian bridge over the Umatilla River collapsed, but Umatilla City Manager Dave Stockdale says the bridge replacement project continues to move forward – with good news coming last week.
"The good news is we have the approval from FEMA. We just got notification yesterday from Business Oregon on a grant from them," he said Friday. "We got notification from the Community Development Block Grant program from a grant there, so all the funding is lined up."
Stockdale says they are waiting on final federal approval and construction is likely to start at the end of the year.

Chamber purchases new property
April 5, 2021
The Greater Hermiston chamber of Commerce is moving – again.
The Chamber has purchased the former Pioneer Title building at 630 S. Highway 395 and will move there once remodeling is completed
A press release from the Chamber says the long-term plan remains the same – to use proceeds from the state grant and future fundraising dollars to create a permanent home for the Chamber at South Highway 395 and Evelyn Avenue..Since receiving the grant, the Chamber has purchased the Evelyn Avenue property, drafted site, and building plans, and subdivided the property to create two more commercial lots that can add significant funding toward the building project once they are sold.
The Chamber has leased space in Cornerstone Plaza since January 2018.

Closure begins on River Road
March 31, 2021
Drivers on Umatilla River Road surprised yesterday by extended detours as
Safety improvements on Umatilla River Road – that’s County Road No. 1275 – starting yesterday.
Umatilla County Public Works Director Tom Fellows saying the project is funded through federal grants to improve safety and visibility in the area.
The Umatilla County project includes reconstructing about 15-hundred feet of roadway, flattening the crest of the vertical curve and adding a turn-late into the city of Hermiston recycled water treatment facility.
Although the physical work on the road will only be between Cooney Lane and the intersection with 11th Street , it is causing drivers to detour at either Cooney Lane or Geer Road to avoid the construction.
Fellows saying some grinding work begins today and they’re expected to have all utilities relocated by next Friday to begin the road improvements. Dependent on weather and utilities, they’re expecting to have the final part of the project pouring new asphalt and striping – happening in late April. The detour and road closure will be in place for the entirety of the project.
Anderson Perry and Silver Creek Construction both contracted on the project.

OHA updates county metrics
March 30, 2021
The Oregon Health Authority releasing its weekly county metrics yesterday, which are used for county risk levels. From March 14th through March 27th, Umatilla County reporting 102 cases of COVID-19, and that's down six from the new cases 108 reported in the previous two-week period. It's a rate of 125.7 per 100,000. To move to the next lowest risk level, the county needs to have a rate of less than 100 per 100,000 population.
Over the same two-week period, Morrow County reporting 7 cases for a rate of 55.2.

Spring break ends, schools re-open
March 29, 2021
School resumes today after spring break, and more students will be in classrooms and for longer times than have been in more than a year.
"we're just continuing to try and offer more as we can do that as safely as possible," Morrow County School District Superitnendent Dirk Dirkson. said.
In Morrow County, elementary students returning for full days today and secondary students seeing expanded offerings and movement. Other school districts announcing plans to bring students back for more time in mid or late April. Echo Schools superintendent Raymon Smith saying the change is because the state relaxing physical distancing rules from 6 feet to 3 feet.
"That's a a game changer for all of us, and I think people have seen that from the announcements coming out from all the school districts around us," Smith said. "That just chagnes everything."
Masks and physical distancing are still required under the Safe Schools, Ready Learners guidelines. In Hermiston, all students will return to full days April 13