In honor of Thanksgiving, some leftover tidbits from the reporter’s notebook. … 

Tops on the list is a nod of appreciation to Laurie Ball-Kiser, who spearheads the Community Fellowship Dinners for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The dinners not only serve meals to hundreds of folks, they provide a wonderful atmosphere that makes everyone feel at “home.”

Thursday’s event was a rousing success. Lots of folks enjoying each others’ company and a raft of volunteers making it possible.

It’s just one more example of the community spirit that makes Hermiston a special place.

City Manager Ed Brookshier tells us the  city is moving closer to hiring a new Parks and Recreation director.  Brookshier said last week that the finalist interview process is scheduled for the first week of December, and he’s aiming to name a new director by mid-month.

I had hoped to see rec supervisor Brian Brogan’s name on the list of finalists, but that’s apparently not going to be the case. Too bad. From what I can tell, Brogan is well-liked and well-respected, and has a good bead on what customers wanted from their rec department. He also would have brought some continuity and institutional knowledge to the job, and my guess is he wouldn’t have simply used Hermiston as a stepping stone to bigger and more lucrative positions.

But there’s no doubt the opening attracted some very qualified candidates. Here’s hoping the hiring committee gets someone who will be committed to the city for the long term.

Speaking of openings, it was noted at the recent Public Safety Committee meeting that the city’s official website still lists Dan Coulombe as the police chief.

Technically, Coulombe is on administrative leave, which I guess means he’s technically still the chief. But Coulombe did publicly announce that he’s retiring, and Jason Edmiston has been serving as the acting chief now for more than three months.

I’d have to agree with the folks at the meeting who said maybe it’s time to update the website.

Since we’re on the topic of the police department, my guess is people in town will be glad to see the department reaching out to get a little input and advice from neighboring agencies on some important issues.

Edmiston recently sent officer Will Jons to the Tri-Cities to talk to officials there about gang troubles. It’s a proactive step in the direction of addressing a problem, and Tri-Cities officials were reportedly elated to have an Oregon agency get involved.

Hermiston’s leaders — from Brookshier to the mayor to the city council — have for the most part refused to acknowledge that Hermiston could have any kind of gang problem. Their heads-in-the-sand approach hasn’t been a help.

But two recent homicides in the immediate area that both involved people with gang ties, plus some rather significant drug busts over the summer, are signals that it’s an issue.

Simply saying it’s not a problem and concocting misleading statistics to back up those claims aren’t helping anyone. But a strong, proactive program would be a great step forward in addressing the problem head-on.

Here’s a bet that I’m not the only one who is curious to see what kind of reaction the first public meeting of the Hermiston Government Reform Committee will get.

The HGRC is the group that’s considering pursuing a recall of all eight members of the Hermiston City Council and the mayor. While I’ve heard from a considerable number of folks who say they support the cause, it will be interesting to see how many people actually show up to make their support public.

The meeting has been changed to Thursday,  Dec. 8. It is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Stafford Hansell Government Center.

While the East Oregon Trade and Events Center is still officially only a “proposed” project, it’s becoming more and more clear that officials are ready to move ahead.

In a memo to Hermiston Chamber of Commerce executive director Debbie Pedro last week, Brookshier said he looked forward to working with her on the marketing aspect of the facility.

Meanwhile, we hear that EOTEC steering committee folks are already meeting with construction project managers to discuss details of building the facility.

That sounds like it’s a lot more than just a “proposed” facility at this point.

Don’t forget the Farm Fair and Ag Trade Show,  set for Wednesday through Friday at the Community Center. Three days of seminars will be presented, along with a variety of vendors.

My favorite quote from recent weeks? City Councilman Frank Harkenrider, as the council discussed purchasing a parcel of land on Hermiston Butte: “That Butte is a part of Hermiston history. That Butte has been here for 100 years.”

Favorite quote, runner-up:?From City Manager Brookshier: “No, Frank, you’ve been here for 100 years. The Butte’s been around a lot longer.”

And finally, a reminder that the open enrollment period to choose and sign up for a Medicare plan ends on Dec. 7.

No, I’m not yet of the age that I qualify. But because I help my mom with such things, I’m learning a whole lot about the process. The government website — www. medicare.gov — is a great place to start if you still have questions.

Know of something we need to be reporting? A piece of news you’d like to see in the Herald? Drop me a note at nwoelk@hermistonherald.com or call me at 541-564-4533.

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