15 new citizens take oath in The Dalles

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Citizens 2They came from all over the world: The People’s Republic of China, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, The Philippines, Somalia and The Ukraine. Some 15 new citizens were sworn in during a special ceremony Thursday at the Discovery Center in The Dalles.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Portland Field Office Director Michael Hickman administered the Oath of Allegiance, and Carmelo Gamez, a former immigrant, now a successful cherry orchardist in The Dalles, gave a short but heartfelt keynote speech.

The event was one of a hundred such ceremonies held around the country in honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park System, celebrated yesterday, many of them in national parks. Oregon’s only National Park is at Crater Lake. A publicist said that sites such as the Discovery Center were chosen to provide a scenic backdrop for the ceremony.

Afterwards there were tears and laughter with the new citizens and their families. One former citizen of Somalia. resplendent in a pinstripe suit for the occaision, put it this way:

“I am happy as I take the citizen today. I am very, very happy to enjoy this country and to take the citizen … and I will be great.”

Seeing his wide smile, we don’t doubt it for a bit.

 

Wilkerson pleads guilty to killing husband on their 40th wedding anniversary

The following is a press release from Wasco County District Attorney Eric Nisley:

08 25 16 Esther Wilkerson mug clipOn Wednesday, August 24, 2016, Esther Wilkerson plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter in Wasco County Circuit Court.

Wilkerson was initially arrested on the charge of murder for the death of her husband, 67-year-old James Wilkerson, in October 2015.  Wilkerson admitted to intentionally causing her husband’s death but her attorneys claimed she was acting under an extreme emotional disturbance.

Wilkerson killed her husband of 40 years on their 40th wedding anniversary.  She admitted to the killing and claimed it was part of a “murder-suicide plan” to end her life and her husband’s life at the same time.

The defense team asserted she should have been convicted of Manslaughter in the Second Degree because of the assisted suicide defense under Oregon law.  District Attorney Eric Nisley stated that he “did not accept this explanation because Mr. Wilkerson was not terminally ill and had never to anyone’s knowledge expressed a desire to die.”

Nisley acknowledged the frailty and age of the defendant, her lack of any prior criminal history, and the unlikely chance she would ever try to harm anyone else in her lifetime.

Nisley noted that the actual motive for the murder remains unclear.  The defendant told police it was about money but in reality she stood to gain little by killing her husband who was the source of most of any money she could use to support herself.

Nisley stated, “We will probably never really know why Ms. Wilkerson killed her husband on their 40th Wedding Anniversary.  It is clear she planned the murder, and carried it out as planned.  It is also very clear that Mr. Wilkerson never expressed a desire to die to anyone that knew him and she had not spoken to him for months prior to the date of the murder. There is no evidence she did this out of mercy—he was not terminally ill—and ironically it is also very clear that she loved her husband very much. “

Nisley noted that this case was the result of an amazing show of collaboration between The Dalles City Police, Wasco County Sheriff’s Office personnel, and the Oregon State Police.  The list of folks who assisted in this case is too long to print in the newspaper.  Some of the law enforcement officers involved include Mark Jubitz of the Oregon State Police, Jay Waterbury, Troy Becnel, Jeff Kienlen, Eric MacNab, Doug Kramer, Steve Rue, and Jeff Halter of the City of The Dalles Police, and Scott Williams and Jeff Hall of the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office.  The staff at The Dalles Veterans’ Home also provided a great deal of assistance to law enforcement.

Time running out on Oregon taxpayers with expired refund checks

SALEM, Oregon–Thousands of taxpayers across Oregon have tax refund money awaiting them, but it’ll soon be harder to get. After state checks expire, two years from their issuance date, there’s a limited window of time to get them reissued before additional requirements apply.

“We still have more than 5,000 taxpayers with almost $1 million in expired checks,” said Steve Bergmann, Oregon Department of Revenue accounting manager. “We want these taxpayers to get their money before they have to take additional steps.”

Revenue sent letters to nearly 7,000 taxpayers in July, warning them that their checks are expired and they need to request a new check before the amount is transferred to the Department of State Lands (DSL). Some have already asked for a reissued check, claiming their portion of almost $1.5 million in expired refunds that Revenue identified in July. If you got a notification letter from Revenue, Bergmann said you should sign the notification letter and return it as soon as possible to have your check reissued.

Each October, Revenue has to send any expired check amounts to the Unclaimed Property Program at DSL. To claim property from DSL, taxpayers need a notarized claim and copies of identity-verifying documents.

Bergmann said the most common reasons for not cashing a refund check are misplacement of the check and having an incorrect mailing address on file with Revenue. He said taxpayers should notify Revenue of any address changes to ensure receipt of all tax-related correspondence.

Visit www.oregon.gov/dor to get tax forms, check the status of your refund, or make tax payments; call 1 (800) 356-4222 toll-free (English or Spanish) or (503) 378-4988; or email, questions.dor@oregon.gov. For TTY (hearing or speech impaired), call 1 (800) 886-7204.
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North Wasco County School Board is seeking qualified applicants to fill a vacancy on the Board for the Zone 5 position

To qualify for this position applicants must live in Wasco County within the boundary description for this zone. Zone descriptions may be found on the NWCSD Website (www.nwasco.k12.or.us) under School Board & Zone Descriptions and Maps.

Interested persons should submit a completed application to the Superintendent’s Office at 3632 West 10th Street, The Dalles, Oregon or email back to Cindy Miller at millerc@nwasco.k12.or.us. For more information contact Ms. Miller at 506-3420 ext. 1002.

WCC Yakima recruiting for outdoor work

If you love to work outside and are ages 18 to 25, or a Gulf War II era military veteran, reservist or dependent – this may be the job for you! The Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) is recruiting for its Yakima crew to work throughout Central Washington.

Crews work year-round to protect and enhance natural resources and deploy where needed across the country to provide assistance during natural disasters.

Crews in Central Washington will focus on salmon habitat recovery and native plant restoration. They will work a “spike” schedule, which means members should expect frequent overnight stays close to service sites, Monday through Thursday. During winter months, lodging is in hotels or bunkhouses; in the summer, tent camping is common.

In addition to hands-on environmental career experience, member benefits include the AmeriCorps Education Award of $5,775 (scholarship) upon completing one year or 1,700 hours of service. Full-time members are eligible for educational loan forbearance, health insurance, and Washington state minimum wage throughout the year.

Interested candidates should apply online at www.ecy.wa.gov/wcc. For more information, call 509-406-4985. Make applications by Sept. 16 for an Oct. 3, 2016, start date.

DNR Burn Ban in effect

With the arrival this week of the most dangerous fire weather of the year, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark is expanding the statewide burn ban effective noon yesterday, Aug. 17 to prohibit all campfires on DNR-protected lands through Sept. 30, 2016.

Goldmark sees special wildfire risk over the coming days throughout the state, as high-pressure weather patterns will keep away the marine moisture that normally limits the spread of wildfire. The ability of Washington’s forests and grasslands to resist wildfire remains weakened after last year’s record drought.

The statewide burn ban applies to state forests, state parks and forestlands protected by DNR firefighters. It prohibits all outdoor burning, including campfires in fire pits and the use of charcoal briquettes. Liquid or propane camp stoves that do not use solid briquettes and have on/off controls are permitted.

The statewide ban does not include federally-owned lands such as national forests, national parks, national wildlife refuges or other areas administered by federal agencies.