IRS Reminds Taxpayers of April 18 Tax-Filing Deadline

The IRS is reminding taxpayers that Tuesday, April 18 is the tax-filing deadline. Taxpayers have until midnight (local time) to file their 2016 federal tax return.

“For those who can’t file on time, they can easily get a six-month extension either online or by downloading and mailing in Form 4868 by the deadline. But they should know that an extension to file is not an extension to pay,” said IRS spokesman David Tucker II.

Attorney General Ferguson’s military pro bono legislation passes Legislature

Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s proposal to establish a clearinghouse to connect current and former service members in Washington state to pro bono legal service providers passed the Senate today in an overwhelming, bipartisan 95-0 vote. House Bill 1055is sponsored by Rep. Christine Kilduff, D–University Place. Sen. Steve O’Ban, R–Pierce County, is the prime sponsor of its companion, Senate Bill 5021.

“The men and women who serve in our military sometimes face unique legal challenges, and need specialized help in resolving them,” Ferguson said. “This legislation creates a framework to connect service members with the qualified legal assistance they need and deserve.”

The legislation creates an Office of Military and Veteran Legal Assistance in the Attorney General’s Office, serving as a one-stop shop for legal assistance and pro bono services provided by community organizations and private attorneys.

Ferguson’s proposal is patterned after a successful model in Nevada that helped address more than 200 legal matters in its first year.

The legislation allows the Attorney General to actively recruit and train volunteer attorneys to participate in pro bono programs that offer targeted services to military service members and veterans.

Both sponsors represent the 28th District, which includes Joint Base Lewis-McChord and surrounding communities.

“From deployment to retirement, military families can face a range of legal challenges,” Kilduff said. “A soldier deploying to another continent can’t easily fight a legal battle on the home front from halfway around the world nor can a limited-income retiree applying for VA benefits. By connecting military families with free legal services we help fill an existing gap in our civil legal needs system and honor the extraordinary sacrifices they make for our country every day.”

“Our military families don’t make a lot of money but serve to protect us all,” O’Ban said. “These free legal services for them can be a huge benefit for families and a big reduction in stress.”

The legislation had broad support from the Department of Defense and the Washington Veteran Bar Association.

“The Department of Defense appreciates the actions taken by the Washington State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, and members of the state legislature, most especially Representative Christine Kilduff and Senator Steve O’Ban, in improving service member and family access to pro bono legal assistance,” said Mark San Souci, Northwest Regional State Liaison for the U.S. Department of Defense.

“We are really thrilled with the passage of this legislation,” said John Tymczyszyn, Legislative Director of the Washington State Veterans Bar Association. “The attorneys, judges and law students of the Washington State Veterans Bar Association stand with the Attorney General and are ready to volunteer our time and expertise to make this legislation a reality.”

Standing up for Washington’s veterans and military families is a priority for Ferguson. Since taking office in 2013, he has released a legal resource guide to help educate veterans and military service members about their rights, requested legislation to improve their legal protections, and cracked down on unfair and deceptive schemes targeting veterans and military families.

Wildfire season underway

Even with this wet, rainy spring, wildfire season officially beginsSaturday, April 15, as specified by state law.

“All this snow and rain may delay our fire season, but our forests always face the threat of wildfire,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “We’re going to do everything we can to be ready for fire season, and I encourage all our neighbors to do the same.

Property owners can reduce fire risk to their homes and lands by keeping dead vegetation off roofs and away from buildings. The Firewise program explains how to use these techniques and offers incentives to communities who follow Firewise principles.

Prediction for this summer’s weather is available from the National Weather Service. While mountain basins currently have an above average snowpack, the risk of wildfires can change rapidly during spring’s warmer, dryer weather.Among other things, that means people working in the woods or clearing land need to have fire prevention equipment on hand.

Last year, more than 16,400 acres of DNR-protected lands were consumed by 807 wildfires. Out of 807 wildfires, 90% were human-caused.

Washington’s summer fire rules

Washington’s “summer fire rules” are in effect April 15 through October 15. These rules apply to the 13 million acres of private and state forestlands protected from wildfire by DNR.

These regulations affect loggers, firewood cutters, land clearers, road builders, heavy equipment operators, off-road motorcyclists, and others. During fire season, people using motorized equipment in the woods must have approved spark arresters and follow fire safety precautions. In addition, those working in the woods must have fire prevention and extinguishing equipment in good working order at the job site and workers trained in proper use.

The rules are intended to prevent forest fires and to extinguish small fires before they spread to the forested lands. Those same rules restrict cigarette smoking in forested areas on roads, gravels pits, or other clearings. They also prohibit lighting fireworks on forestland.

 Stay connected during wildfire season

Industrial restrictions available by phone and Internet

Industrial Fire Precaution Levels (IFPL) may change daily and classify varying levels of potential fire hazard in different parts of the state. People who work in the woods must observe the IFPL. More information is available from the following sources:

  • DNR’s website at Click to review regional precaution levels, a map of current shutdown zones, and a copy of DNR’s Industrial Fire Precaution Level Bulletin.
  • DNR’s toll-free business line at 1-800-527-3305 plays a message identifying daily industrial fire precaution levels, which are listed by geographical region. The hearing impaired can phone Telephone Device for the Deaf at 1-800-833-6388.
  • Email DNR at Ask questions or request a copy of DNR’s Industrial Fire Precaution Level Bulletin or additional information on safe outdoor burning of forest debris and safe recreational campfire tips.

 DNR’s wildfire mission

Administered by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, DNR is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 13 million acres of private, state and tribal-owned forestlands. DNR is the state’s largest on-call fire department, with more than 1,300 employees trained and available to be dispatched to fires as needed. During fire season, this includes more than 800 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and more than 500 seasonal employees hired for firefighting duties. Additionally, adult offenders from the Department of Corrections and juvenile offenders from the Department of Social and Health Services-Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration support firefighting efforts through DNR’s Correctional Camps Program. DNR also participates in Washington’s coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.

Nick Nelson 2017 Oregon High School Principal of the Year

Nick Nelson had a big surprise waiting for him at the April 13 meeting of the North Wasco County School Board.

The first clue that something was up was seeing a large crowd of family members gathered together in the audience. The large number of community leaders in the room also should have been a tip-off.

Nick has been named the 2017 Oregon High School Principal of the Year by the Oregon Association of Secondary School Administrators. He is now in the running for the national High School Principal of the Year honor.

Kris Olsen, the COSA (Confederation of Oregon School Administrators) Co-Director of Professional Learning, gave him the commemorative plaque. Kris was the 2015 recipient of this award when he was principal of McMinnville High School.

Under Nick’s  guidance and leadership, The Dalles High School has become a vastly different school today.   The key to this success has been his  leadership style, which is based on collaboration with the community, students, parents and staff.  Nick is a catalyst who has brought improvement in all aspects of the school, especially in the areas of graduation and dropout rates.  The Dalles High School graduation rate has grown from 62% in 2012-2013, to 83% in 2015-2016 under Nick’s leadership, and the current sophomore class is on target for an 86% graduation rate.

“I have known Nick Nelson since elementary school,” says Superintendent Candy Armstrong.  “We both grew up in The Dalles and, in fact, graduated the same year from The Dalles High School.  As an educator Nick is top of the line.  His passion and dedication to providing high quality education opportunities for every student is evident in all that he does.  I have the utmost respect for Nick. He is highly ethical, loyal to his staff and his community, and very deserving of this recognition.”

Nelson’s most notable accomplishment may well be in transformation of the school’s culture.  Nelson has made connections with students and makes it a priority to know each and every student’s name.  “Mr. Nelson has encouraged ASB to know the students and include their opinions on school improvement (climate) and plan activities to bring everyone closer,” says ASB President, Abby Pitt.

State Police investigating La Grande explosion and fire












The following is a press release from the Oregon State Police:

On April 13, 2017 at approximately 11:23 a.m., multiple agencies responded to 2203 Watson Street in La Grande for the report of a structure fire/explosion.

Upon arrival of emergency crews, they discovered the Ed Staub and Sons Petroleum shop fully engulfed in fire. It was determined that the building was not occupied at the time of the explosion and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The multi-agency response consisted of the La Grande Police Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office, Union County Parole and Probation, Oregon State Police, La Grande Fire Department, La Grande Rural Fire Department, and Oregon Department of Transportation.

A temporary evacuation of the La Grande Rendezvous RV Resort and closure of adjacent roadways was in place while the fire was active.

This is a preliminary release, more information will be released when it becomes available.