A rendering shows a draft of what the Funland playground will look like, although parks and recreation director Larry Fetter said designers are still making adjustments.

Some projects in Hermiston have been put on hold thanks to COVID-19, but Larry Fetter, director of Hermiston’s parks and recreation department, says the new Funland playground at Butte Park is still expected to finish this fall.

Playgrounds will remain closed under Phase One of the state’s reopening plan, so the parks department is keeping their fingers crossed that Umatilla County’s COVID-19 numbers are good enough to move on to higher phases this fall, since, as Fetter said, it would be sad for the city to finish a brand new playground, and then have to tell children they’re not allowed to play on it yet.

The rendering attached to this column shows a general idea of what the new playground will look like, although tweaks are still being made to the design and colors. Playcraft Systems of Grants Pass is doing most of the work on the playground, with some specialty pieces, such as the giant watermelon slice being manufactured by a company in Colorado.

The city got about $700,000 from its insurance company after the former Funland playground burned down, and Fetter said local companies and individuals have contributed another $700,000 so far. Engraved fence pickets are still for sale, at $100 for an individual or family’s name and $250 for a business name, online at

Look for more information about who donated and more details about the playground’s final design in a future edition of the Hermiston Herald.

Hermiston is also getting a new Vietnamese restaurant, although it is unclear when it will open. A sign went up on the former Walker’s Farm Kitchen building at 920 SE Fourth St. near Rite Aid this spring announcing Pho Quan Vietnamese cuisine coming soon.

Michael Dang and Vandal Dang registered the business with the Secretary of State in January. I’ve reached out to them about their plans, but haven’t heard back yet.

I’m also waiting to hear from the new owners of the former Mike’s Market building on 905 W Hermiston Ave. Renovations are currently underway to transform it into Pepe’s Market.

The business was recently registered with the Secretary of State by Rafael Muniz.

Maxwell Market, Hermiston’s farmers market, is currently in talks with Umatilla County officials about what will be allowed when the market opens. Stay tuned for more information next week about plans for this year’s season, which organizers plan to go ahead with in some form.

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