Sherman County School District July Staff, Student & Community Recognition
Presentation: The Omeg Century Farm, July 22
College graduation focuses on “Moving Forward”
Rep. Greg Walden: Opioid Addiction
Editorial. Public Records Appeal to District Attorneys
1. Sherman County School District July Staff, Student & Community Recognition
July 10, 2017
We are extremely fortunate to have gracious staff and community members who support our school and students. While it is possible that we may periodically miss an opportunity to thank someone, we sincerely appreciate the commitment of all of our supporters. We would like to recognize the following people for their devotion to our schools, students, staff and community.
- Thank you to the County and OYCC for their work supporting our custodial staff.
- Gerald Casper for his continued technology support during the summer.
- Thank you to the Athletic Foundation for supporting the Sherman Summer Invitation Basketball Tournament.
- Bill Blevins, Chris Kaseberg, Bill Martin and Brian Stevens for donating their time to officiate basketball games at the Sherman Summer Invitational.
- Thank you to the many parent volunteers who helped at the Sherman Summer Invitational: Jill Martin, Tamar Fritts, Deanna Christiansen, Bill Martin, Jill Jones, Todd Coles, Espana Coles, Sandi Martin, Doug Martin, Trent Harrison, Jill Harrison, Chris Kaseberg.
- Thank you to our student volunteers: Lindsay Jones, Nancy Ambriz, Bri McKinney, Lexi Grenvik, Jacob Justesen, Treve Martin, Makoa Whitaker, Kyle Hensley, Jared Fritts, Reese Blake, Jed Harrison, Nic Riggs, Bryan Macnab, Luke Martin, Tyler Jones
- All coaches and volunteers who assisted with the Sherman County Champions Camp: Kalie Rolfe, Gary Lewis, Kyle Blagg, Steve Bird, Amy Huffman, Ron McDermid, Ethan Moore, and our student volunteers: Makoa Whitaker, Bri McKinney, Owen Christiansen, Kyle Hensley, Luke Martin, Jared Fritts, Caleb Fritts, and Nic Riggs.
- Thank you to the entire boys’ basketball team for the volunteer efforts at the Sherman County Children’s Fair.
- Special thanks to our Champion Camp sponsor, Sherman County Medical Clinic for their financial support.
- Thank you to Jeanie Pehlke for her tremendous work with putting together the Spring Sports Program.
- To Craig Wood, Jack McAllister, Josef Oakley, and Synoma and Bruce Olsen for their dedicated service in the custodial/maintenance/grounds keeping department.
- Special thanks to Superintendent Wes Owens for the incredible time, effort, diligence and sacrifice he has personally put into this school district.
We truly appreciate the amazing support we receive from so many thoughtful people. Thank you to everyone in our great community and school district for your continued support! When you have time please visit our Sherman County School District Web Page for the monthly appreciation comments.
2. Presentation: The Omeg Century Farm, July 22
Wasco County Historical Society invites the public to their next Summer Program. “The Omeg Century Farm – Homesteaded in 1905.” The program is Saturday July 22, at 11 a.m. with Mel Omeg as presenter. This is an opportunity to learn not only about the Omeg family but also to learn what it takes to keep a farm in the family for over one hundred years. All programs at the Moody/Rorick House located at 300 W. 13th St. The Dalles are free to the public.
3. College graduation focuses on “Moving Forward”
By Jessica Griffin Conner
Columbia Gorge Community College held its 2017 commencement June 16. A capacity crowd in the Fort Dalles Readiness Center celebrated students’ achievements with a theme of “Moving Forward,” as inspired by writer C.S. Lewis: “There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
Student marshals Gilbert Cooksey and Summer Bogard led the processional. In addition to the 159 students receiving the Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer, Associate of Science, and Associate of General Studies degrees, students earned degrees and certificates in accounting and business, medical assisting, nursing, renewable energy, and early childhood education. In all, students from the Class of 2017 received 272 collegiate degrees and certificates, and 50 GED diplomas.
Tristan Neal became the first student to earn CGCC’s two new Computer Science degrees, established in 2015 under the guidance of Dr. Robert Surton. Neal, who is also the outgoing CGCC Student Body President, said that he became involved in the Computer Science program through his interest in technology, albeit with no specific direction.
“I wanted to learn general tech skills,” Neal said, adding that he became inspired “after starting a few of the computer science classes, talking to Dr. Surton and hearing his testimony on how cool it was.” Neal has applied to the University of Washington’s Computer Science program as a transfer student. “I want to apply those skills in the wider world,” he said.
Commencement awards recognized students, staff and faculty. Chantelle Hickman (First Year) and Shari Martz (Second Year) received the nursing department’s Florence Nightingale Award. Jessamyn Duckwall won the Leonardo da Vinci Distinguished Transfer Student Award. Co-Outstanding Graduates Rosey Two Starrs Begay and Semone SaraRae Anderson both gave inspiring speeches incorporating the “Moving Forward” theme. These student awards come with a monetary gift to aid students in the next step of their journey. Student Life Adviser Michelle Gietl received the Staff Excellence Award and Business instructor Pam Ritzenthaler received the Reine Thomas Faculty Excellence Award.
Keynote speaker Abel Cruz Flores talked about his journey from CGCC to Georgetown University, where he is finishing a Ph.D. in Spanish linguistics. Cruz Flores’ words touched on many of the issues faced by students, including race, culture, language and immigration. He urged students to focus on a wider, more global view of life. “Instead of making America great again,” said Cruz Flores, “let’s make the whole world great for everyone.”
Abel Cruz Flores, guest speaker
As with generations of immigrants before him, Abel Cruz Flores arrived in the United States with a dream, and little else. But that dream, combined with hard work, persistence and the generosity of local benefactors, is now firmly within reach as this graduate of Columbia Gorge Community College pursues his doctorate in linguistics from one of the nation’s leading research institutions.
Cruz Flores came to the Hood River Valley from a rural village in the State of Jalisco, Mexico, at age 17; his family still lives in Mexico. He arrived in pursuit of an education, knowing this to be the key to a better life. But he also knew it wouldn’t come easily, as he explained in his June 16 commencement address to Columbia Gorge Community College’s graduating Class of 2017, where he was guest speaker.
Cruz Flores told graduates to nurture their curiosity, and ask hard questions. Curiosity, for him, included curiosity about his native language and how its usage has been adapted by native Spanish speakers in different parts of the world. That curiosity led him to study linguistics after graduating CGCC in 2010, first at Portland State University, then the University of Arizona, and now, in his third year of a five-year doctoral program, at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
It’s a long way from field work in the Hood River Valley, where Cruz Flores secured one of his first jobs upon arrival in the United States. “I was working in the fields, and wanted to go back to school. I attended HRVHS but was not academically ready for a four-year university,” he explained.
Columbia Gorge Community College provided the transition he needed between high school and university, with financial assistance through the generosity of a local family. Cruz Flores worked the fields in the mornings, then attended classes in the afternoons. His field work not only helped him pay for college, but made him even more aware of the challenges confronting today’s immigrants; those conversations and experiences led him to establish the Multi-Cultural Club at CGCC, assisted by former Pre-College Department chair David Mason.
After graduating from CGCC, Cruz Flores attended Portland State University to obtain his bachelor’s degree in linguistics; with finances still constrained, he slept on a friend’s couch for his first year in Portland. It was at PSU that he learned of Georgetown University’s reputation as a center of international studies and research. He applied to Georgetown but was rejected, so decided to pursue his master’s degree at the University of Arizona.
Master’s in hand, he again applied to Georgetown, and this time was accepted. Today, Cruz Flores is working toward his Ph.D. in Spanish linguistics at Georgetown, where he’s the vice president of the Graduate Association of Mexican Students; the organization lists among its goals improved collaboration across Georgetown’s Mexican community and promotion of Mexican culture across the university and the greater Washington, DC, area.
Cruz Flores’s academic specialty delves into the science of language cognition and its relation to neuroscience; for instance, medical scans of the brain reveal biological responses to grammatical structure, which in turn can influence how language is interpreted in such fields as artificial intelligence. He is fascinated by the works of Noam Chomsky, one of the most influential scholars of the 20th Century. Chomsky, considered the father of modern linguistics, studied the “why” and “how” we speak from a biological perspective. Chomsky was especially intrigued by the speed at which young children pick up new languages, and his research has greatly influenced how we teach languages today.
What advice does Cruz Flores have for aspiring students of any culture? He quotes advice he heard directly from Chomsky, whom he had the opportunity to meet at the University of Arizona: “’Do what you have to do, as long as you follow your goals,’” Cruz Flores recalls Chomsky telling his students. “For me, my goal was to go to school. If I had to work in the fields, that’s what I had to do,” he said, even though that meant leaving his family in Mexico to live and work in the United States, as generations of immigrants have done for centuries. “Education can change your life, but you have to choose your path.”
In his commencement address to CGCC’s graduates, Cruz Flores listed four personal values and invited the Class of 2017 to take these to heart: “Knowledge, curiosity, character and passion.” He encouraged students to read as widely as possible, and to “make a difference,” especially by exercising their right to vote, he said. “If you’re not happy, make a difference. Go vote. Do what it takes to make a difference. “Educated people need to question the good, the bad, and the unknown. Curiosity is a core principle of our generation. It is your responsibility to ask questions. This will define your future, and the future of the world.” ~Profile by Dan Spatz
4. Rep. Greg Walden: Opioid Addiction
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Continuing his efforts in the battle against opioid addiction in Oregon, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River), today called for urgency in the fight against the epidemic across the country. As Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Walden led a hearing to examine effective strategies for combatting the crisis in local communities. The hearing entitled, “Combatting the Opioid Crisis: Battles in the States,” focused on current challenges in putting an end to opioid abuse, ways the federal government can assist, and efforts on the ground that have begun to make a difference. A full transcript of Walden’s remarks is included below:
“Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer. It is a crisis that does not pick people based on their age, race, or socioeconomic status. And it most certainly does not pick based on political parties.
“From my roundtables throughout the Second District of Oregon, it didn’t matter if I was in a rural community or a more populated city; the tragic stories were similar. We all know someone who has been impacted by this epidemic. In Oregon, more people now die from drug-related overdoses than from automobile accidents — and sadly, that is not unique to my home state.
“According to a preliminary data analysis, drug overdose deaths in 2016 most likely exceeded 59,000 — the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States. What’s worse? Some of the preliminary numbers from the states indicate that their numbers within the first six months of this year are already surpassing last year’s total numbers. And over the past seven years, opioid addiction diagnoses are up nearly 500 percent, according to a recent report.
“Despite a report released by the Centers for Disease Control last week, which indicates that the number of opioid prescriptions has decreased over the past five years, the rates are still three times as high as they were in 1999, and the amount of opioids prescribed in 2015 was enough for every American to be medicated around the clock for three weeks.
“That report also found that counties in Oregon have some of the highest levels of opioid prescriptions in the country. Of the top 10 counties in Oregon for opioid prescriptions, five of them are in my rural district. Moreover, Oregonians aged 65 and older are being hospitalized for opioid abuse, overdoses, and other complications at a far higher rate than any other state in our union.
“Sadly, overdose deaths continue to escalate. This epidemic is getting more severe. Challenges clearly remain.
“First, we need to improve data collection, and a few states are already requiring more specific information related to overdose deaths. Quite simply, we can’t solve what we don’t know.
“We need to be able to have more timely and reliable data so we can better understand and address the full scope of the problem. There also needs to be an increase in overdose prevention efforts, improvement with respect to the utilization and interoperability of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, and we need to increase access to evidence-based treatment, including Medication-Assisted Treatment.
“Combatting this epidemic requires an all-hands-on-deck effort from federal, state, and local officials — spanning from health care experts to our law enforcement community. That is precisely why we are having this hearing today.
“Last year Congress took action to combat this crisis by passing legislation, including the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act, and states have pursued programs to strengthen our fight against this epidemic, but much more needs to be done. We need to work together to ensure that the tools and funding Congress has created are reaching our state and localities, and that they are being used effectively. We hope to hear from the state officials before us today to see how they are utilizing these funds and what programs have proven to be successful.
“We greatly appreciate the witnesses who have agreed to appear before us today. We hope to have a constructive dialogue about what the states are doing; how we can improve data collection; what initiatives are working, what isn’t working; and how the federal government can be a partner in this collective fight. I look forward to your testimony, and working with all of you to help our communities and solve this horrific crisis.”
Walden is continuing to shed light on the opioid crisis in Oregon. Recently, he spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives and led a panel discussion with The Washington Post on “Addiction in America”. At roundtables throughout his district, Walden has heard firsthand accounts of the impact of the opioid epidemic on Oregonians.
The Second Congressional District of Oregon, which Walden’s represents, has experienced particularly high levels of opioid prescriptions, per person, compared to the rest of the country. According to a recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), counties in Oregon have some of the highest levels of opioid prescriptions in the nation — and five of the top ten counties for opioid prescriptions in the state reside in Walden’s district. This comes as Oregon leads the country in seniors aged 65 and older who are hospitalized for opioid abuse, addiction, and other complications, according to a recent report.
As Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Walden is at the forefront of the battle against the opioid epidemic in Oregon and across the country. For the full “Combatting the Opioid Crisis: Battles in the States”, please visit https://energycommerce.house.gov/hearings-and-votes/hearings/combating-opioid-crisis-battles-states
5. Editorial. Public Records Appeal to District Attorneys
Eight months ago we asked the Frontier TeleNet board members and staff, legal counsel, and county commissioners in the three partner counties for specific public records.
No acknowledgement of our request was made per Oregon Revised Statute 192.440: “as soon as practicable and without unreasonable delay.” We received one document in March, two in April, 12 in June, comprising two records of interest; the rest were not requested or duplicates.
We were not advised of an exemption from disclosure of such records. We conclude that there are no legally advertised Requests for Qualifications or Requests for Proposals with matching responses, or agreements or contracts, regarding Sherman County or Frontier TeleNet with Windwave Communication, Windwave Technologies, Inc., Inland Development or Rural Technology Group.
In April we followed steps outlined in Oregon’s Citizen’s Guide to Public Records and Meetings with letters of appeal to Wheeler County DA Gretchen Ladd, Gilliam County DA Marion Weatherford and Sherman County DA Wade McLeod who acknowledged them on April 10, May 1 and April 10, respectively.
According to statute, if an elected official made the decision not to acknowledge a request or to deny records, we cannot appeal it to a district attorney. There is no official record of the board’s decision to provide the records or to deny the records or to ignore the request.
Email correspondence, however, exists in which a member of the staff apologized with assurance that records would be forthcoming. Is that a decision?
Are eight months of stall tactics a denial of records? Does that constitute a decision?
We’re back to October concerns about legal process and ethical transparency. The answers to these questions are not to be found in Frontier TeleNet meeting minutes or with the district attorneys. Should we be surprised that there is no decision to challenge?