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Articles written by Melissa Gemmell


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  • One of three state-wide Rural Clean Energy study meeting held here

    Melissa Gemmell|May 23, 2024

    By Melissa Gemmell Dayton Chronicle Reporter DAYTON-The first of three public meetings to glean community feedback for the study on Rural Clean Energy sponsored by the Department of Commerce, was held in Dayton on May 14. This study is in response to an amendment to policy for HB1216 requiring public input on the impact of clean energy to rural communities. The meeting was hosted by the consultant firm Ross Strategic who is conducting the study for the Department of Commerce. Susan Hayman from...

  • Health System receives a $1.13 million grant

    Melissa Gemmell|May 2, 2024

    DAYTON-The Columbia County Hospital District Board were advised of a grant; updates on River’s Walk Assisted Living; RoseMary’s Place Childcare; presented with the results from a quality improvement survey; and heard other business during the April 24 meeting. The hospital district was given a $1.13 million grant for distressed hospitals, according to CEO Shane McGuire. March revenues for both in-patient and out-patient services were under budget though the acute care/swing bed census was str...

  • Library cards provide another layer of protection

    Melissa Gemmell|Aug 31, 2023

    DAYTON-The Columbia County Rural Library Board of Trustees (CCRLD) were briefed on the process for parental notes on library cards; acknowledged the Library Dissolution proposition is now on the ballot; heard discussion on setting a time to review the policy of collection development; discussion on employee weapon policy; suspending book buying during the August 21 meeting. Enlightening discussion and suggestions were made by local residents through the public comment period. CCRLD Board...

  • Port favorable for City's use of railroad easement for sewer line

    Melissa Gemmell|Jul 27, 2023

    DAYTON-The Port Commissioners favored the City’s use of the railroad right of way to run the main sewer line to the new wastewater treatment plant; Port Executive Director Jennie Dickinson reported on staff changes and the progress of finding an economic development coordinator; apprised the board on leases, assets, and projects; reviewed the Port sponsored Foodstock event to be held July 15; and the Visit Walla Walla Project which includes Columbia County. Dayton Mayor Zac Weatherford told t...

  • Petition for library district dissolution certified sufficient

    Melissa Gemmell|Jul 27, 2023

    DAYTON–The petition to dissolve the Columbia County Rural Library District sponsor Jessica Ruffcorn received word July 24 all signatures had been certified by the Auditor's Office as sufficient and had been sent to the Library Board of Trustees. This was the second attempt to file the petition. The first was declared insufficient on June 28 of the required 10% of registered voters (107) of unincorporated Columbia County by only six signatures. Those in support of the petition rallied to have t...

  • Interim Director moves specific books to different areas

    Melissa Gemmell|Jul 27, 2023

    DAYTON-The new Columbia County Rural Library District Interim Director Ellen Brigham has announced her intention to move specific books to different areas of library; and library dissolution petition sponsor updates the board on its status. In Director Brigham's first weekly newsletter, ahead of the monthly July 17 Board of Trustees meeting, announced she is moving Young Adult non-fiction books upstairs among other adult non-fiction books. She explained, "This will make it so adults, young or ol...

  • School registration opens August 1

    Melissa Gemmell|Jul 27, 2023

    DAYTON-The School Board was informed school registration will open August 1, on-site August 17; the approval of Middle School Head Football Coach; and approved all but one action items. Superintendent Rich Stewart announced the district will be offering online school registration for the first time through the Skyward Portal beginning on August 1. They will also offer on-site registration on August 17. He also reported the administrative team has been meeting with ESD 123 for training on...

  • City appoints Smith to position No. 7

    Melissa Gemmell|Jul 27, 2023

    DAYTON-The City Council chose Michael Smith from among three candidates for the vacancy of Board Position No.7 left by Tiger Deui, during the meeting July 1. Council heard three interviews from interested candidates to fill the vacancy of Position No. 7. There were three questions that were posed where each candidate took a turn going first. The first question was: What do you hope to accomplish being a City of Dayton Councilmember? The second was: What is your approach to handling...

  • Library Director resigns; first dissolution petition short, second petition submitted to Auditor

    Melissa Gemmell|Jul 6, 2023

    DAYTON–Library Director Todd Vandenbark has submitted his letter of resignation, Board Chair Jay Ball informed library trustees meeting June 26, and Ball later learned on June 28 that an initial petition to dissolve the rural library district did not have enough valid signatures. During the board's June 26 meeting, trustees were unaware that the petition was short valid signatures. A letter addressed to Ball was received from Auditor Will Hutchens on June 28. This was two days before the d...

  • Film production at Dayton Depot

    Melissa Gemmell|Jul 6, 2023

    DAYTON-Something unusual took place in Dayton on June 22-23. A film production came to town to make the short film, "Color of Threads" written by Walla Walla University alum Josie Henderson. The inspiration for the story came from the mother of one of her close friends who lost her entire immediately during the Holocaust. Something she said she learned from her experience made a lasting impression – to love and not hate. This is the foundational message in Color of Threads, though its plot is i...

  • Improvements planned for Lyons Ferry Marina KOA, Port commissioners hear

    Melissa Gemmell|Jun 29, 2023

    DAYTON–The Port of Columbia reviewed the Comprehensive Plan with consultants from Maul, Foster and Alongi which focused on the Lyons Ferry Marina property, a Port asset; heard a report from Concessionaires Joanne and Wally Knouf; reviewed the other assets and the broadband projects at the June 14 meeting. Also discussed was progress in hiring an Economic Development Coordinator and the possible purchase and rehabilitation of a privately owned downtown property. Lyons Ferry Marina KOA Concessiona...

  • Korinda Wallace resigns from Dayton School Board

    Melissa Gemmell|Jun 29, 2023

    DAYTON–School Board accepted the resignation of director Korinda Wallace; heard a briefing on this year's sixth grade Camp Wooten trip by coordinator Jamie Trump; 2023-24 superintendent and secondary principal employment contracts were approved; and other regular department and budget reports during the June 21 meeting. Wallace has stepped down from the board and the remaining directors approved her resignation and will be advertising for those living in the boundaries for Position No. 1 to s... Full story

  • Tiger Dieu steps down from City Council

    Melissa Gemmell|Jun 22, 2023

    DAYTON–The City Council was advised Tiger Dieu has stepped down from his position No. 7; advised the board of a meeting in regards the need for flood mitigation in the North Touchet; approved three key action items; a franchise agreement with Charter Communications, a professional agreement with a firm solely for the Wastewater Treatment Project (WWTP); heard a report from County Commissioner Marty Hall about two upcoming public hearings for special purpose districts; and of upcoming street c...

  • Library director resigns amid library dissolution controversy

    Melissa Gemmell|Jun 22, 2023

    DAYTON–Columbia County Rural Library District (CCRL) Director Todd Vandenbark gave his resignation to the Board of Trustees effective July 14, and the State Attorney General's (AG) office delivered a response to the petition of the library dissolution. Vandenbark took the position of the CCRL Director in February, 2021. Beginning in August of last year (2022), the library has been facing a series of book challenges which has drawn regular public input both for and against books mostly c...

  • Bulldog Room and disciplinary approaches trending positive

    Melissa Gemmell|Jun 15, 2023

    DAYTON–Innovative approaches to behavior and discipline appear to be paying dividends, the Dayton School Board heard at a recent meeting. Dean of Students Hannelee Farrell provided a discipline report focusing on the Bulldog Room, as well as general information about discipline during the work session, indicating that during the recently concluded school year, positive trends have been documented. In her role as Dean of Students, Farrell is a resource for students and staff when there are b...

  • Library Board approves two policies for review

    Melissa Gemmell|May 25, 2023

    DAYTON-The Columbia County Rural Library Board approved to send two revised policies to the CCRL attorney for review; gave direction and deadline for Library District Dissolution petition; heard library updates on programs, books and expenditures during the meeting on May 15. The Board approved two policies to be reviewed by their lawyer - one for Employee Substance Use and another for Laptop and Tablet Computer Lending. Once reviewed, it will be revised as needed and adopted. Library Director...

  • Finalizing end of school year, laying plans for next

    Melissa Gemmell|May 25, 2023

    DAYTON-Five student presentations were given to the Dayton School Board to start their regular monthly meeting on May 17. Reports were provided by ASB President Hudson Reser and Athletic Director Sam Korslund before moving into administrative reports from Elementary Principal Amy Cox and Secondary Principal Guin Joyce. A report was given by Superintendent Rich Stewart, as well as from Head Custodian John Delp. Topics for student presentations included Title I from fifth grader Sam Woodend with...

  • Pool-only resolution heard by Dayton City Council

    Melissa Gemmell, Dayton Chronicle Reporter|May 18, 2023

    DAYTON-Dayton City Council approved Resolution 1509 during the May 9 meeting for the incorporation of the City of Dayton to be included into a proposed Columbia County Parks and Recreation District. Other resolutions approved were for a contract with Humbert Asphalt, Inc. for various street improvements and with Anderson Perry for engineering services for the Third Street Projects. Councilman Jim Sueuga reported for the Public Works Committee that the Touchet River Levy Group of various agency...

  • Port of Columbia

    Melissa Gemmell, Dayton Chronicle Reporter|May 18, 2023

    DAYTON- The Port of Columbia Commissioners heard public comment before moving into business items during their May 10 meeting including updates on assets and on the broadband projects. The Dayton portion of the Broadband Project is progressing. They are beginning to receive signed leases with the internet providers who will be leasing the fiber network from the Port. For the Touchet Valley Broadband Project Dickinson said the design is 90% complete and they will have to coordinate placement of...

  • Celebrating a young hero

    Melissa Gemmell, Special to the East Washingtonian|Mar 12, 2020

    DAYTON–A special ceremony was held in the Columbia County Courtroom on February 28, in honor of Karl Burnstad, a seven-year-old, who was presented with a Lifesaving award for saving his mother Tracy's life during a medical emergency last November. First-grader Karl Burnstad, his mother, father and three siblings live 19 miles out of Dayton on the Tucannon, bordering Garfield County. His mother Tracy suffers from a chronic medical condition and on November 12, 2019, Karl, her oldest of four c...

  • Growing predator problem and limited control has people concerned

    Melissa Gemmell, Special to the East Washingtonian|Feb 20, 2020

    DAYTON–Over fifty Columbia County residents gathered to share concern over the growing problem of area predators, namely wolves and cougars during a meeting called by ex-Columbia County Commissioner Don Jackson and former member of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Commission (2013-2019) Jay Holzmiller. Coyotes and bears were also discussed. The core issue is current protections for these animals have increased their numbers and therefore their predation of elk, deer and other a...

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