By the way: New meters allow smarter energy use

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY ERNIE KERN Members of Hermiston Elks Lodge No. 1845 helped assemble and deliver 28 Christmas baskets to Hermiston area families.

Hermiston drivers will be seeing more Umatilla Electric Cooperative trucks around as workers complete projects downtown and along Northeast Fourth Street.

Starting Thursday the city will begin changing out the light poles in the downtown area, replacing the standard utility poles with decorative black versions featuring hanging flower baskets and LED lights. Crews will start east and work west toward Highway 395 and there will be times that parking spaces in front of businesses will be blocked by equipment.

UEC crews have also been performing “re-conductoring” work on Northeast Fourth Street, which involves replacing wires. The work is related to the new Hermiston East substation that was recently completed, and is in some cases blocking a lane of traffic during the day.

Starting in the next week or two and continuing until May 1, Hermiston Energy Services customers will also see their meters replaced, allowing them to use an app to track their electricity usage by the day, the hour or even in 15 minute intervals. Information about the replacement schedule will be sent to customers with their next bill.

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The Eastern Oregon Women’s Coalition, based in Echo, received a $20,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation. It will use the money to partner with watersheds and farmers on innovative projects that increase economic opportunity and improve environmental conditions and the quality of life for five Eastern Oregon counties.

Established in 2006, the coalition received nonprofit corporation designation in 2015. Its mission is to educate Oregonians about Eastern Oregon, specifically its businesses and rural way of life.

Receiving more than 400 applications, the foundation disbursed $335,800 in grants to 17 Eastern Oregon nonprofit organizations, which also included $10,000 to Community Action Program of East Central Oregon. Based in Pendleton and providing services in Umatilla, Morrow, Gilliam and Wheeler counties, CAPECO will use its grant to add a refrigerated van and increase staffing for its food rescue program that assists low-income and working-class families in the communities it serves.

Cheryl Puddy, associate program officer/regional coordinator for OCF, said nonprofit entities in Eastern Oregon know the benefit of working together to improve quality of life and build community resiliency.

“Our nonprofit partners demonstrate this by providing creative solutions to much needed services in their remote regions,” she said.

For the full grant list and more about the OCF, visit

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Members of Hermiston Elks Lodge No. 1845 were busy during the holiday season. More than a dozen of Santa’s “Elks” helped in assembling food baskets for delivery to 28 Hermiston area families just in time for Christmas.

Elks member Ernie Kern said the group partners with more than a dozen local organizations to help ensure that those in need will have a good Christmas meal. Special thanks, Kern said, goes to Fiesta Foods, Safeway and Agape House.

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The annual Christmas Charity Pool Tournament, held Dec. 16 at Midway Bar & Grill, raised $3,000 for the Hermiston Senior Center.

The annual event included a spaghetti feed, raffle, 50/50 pot and silent auction. Tournament organizers expressed thanks to sponsors, those who donated raffle prizes and participants for another successful year.


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