The Dalles chronicle. (The Dalles, OR) 1998-2020, February 08, 2020, Image 1

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    Guess the
new History
Mystery | A5
TD girls
lose battle
for first place
| A9 ▶
February 8-9, 2020
The Dalles, Oregon
Vol. 229, Issue 12
Bill seeks end to ICE contracts
Rep. Bonham
among those
the bill
Dirk VanderHart
■ By Oregon
Public Broadcasting
For nearly three years, human
rights protesters have regular-
ly picketed the regional jail in
The Dalles over contracts to
hold immigrant detainees for
U.S. Immigration and Customs
Now a bipartisan duo of lawmak-
ers is putting forward a plan to end
those contracts—if they can make
the case that Oregon taxpayers
should pay for the change.
Under House Bill 4121, the
Northern Oregon Regional
Corrections Facility—known as
NORCOR—would be prohibited
from pursuing new contracts with
federal immigration officials if
state lawmakers agree to replace
revenue from those contracts with
state money. That amounts to at
least $820,000 a year for the facility,
which acts as an adult jail for four
counties and accepts juvenile in-
mates from an even wider area.
The jail serves the Oregon coun-
ties of Wasco, Hood River, Sherman
and Gilliam.
“In the community I live in, the
jail gets picketed by folks,” said
Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles,
one of the lawmakers spearhead-
ing the bill. “At the same time, the
jail requires a minimal amount of
funding to provide the services it
provides … At the end of the day, we
tried to come up with a way to let
everybody win.”
Bonham is sponsoring HB
See CONTRACTS, page A3
dies in
No sign of foul
play; autopsy
and investigation
■ By Hood Emily
River News
NORCOR is a cinder block regional jail surrounded by a high chain-link fence and
razor wire located at 201 Webber St., The Dalles. The jail incorporates two sepa-
rate facilities, one for adults and juveniles. Immigrants are housed at the facility
through federal contracts, which help fund operational costs. A bill brought be-
fore the Oregon legislature seeks to stop federal detention of immigrants at the
facility by providing additional state funding.
Mark B. Gibson photo
An adult woman died while in
custody at the NORCOR jail facility
on Feb. 4.
Just after 3:30 p.m., emer-
gency medical personnel from
Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue
responded to the medical clinic
See CUSTODY, page A3
Choosing their future course
Proposal would
allow churches to
leave if they disagree
with denomination’s
■ By The Walker
Dalles Chronicle
raised in the United
Methodist Church. Over the
years, she moved around as she
raised three kids with her husband
Jim, but connection to her local
United Methodist congregation was
a constant wherever she went.
Siekkinen became interested in
getting more officially involved in
the church as her kids grew to be
more independent. She found a
mostly-online seminary program
which made formally pursuing
ministry possible.
“A series of events kind of came
into play that just started planting
this seed of pursuing a more official
call to ministry,” Siekkinen said.
“Things just really fell into place
several years ago.”
Siekkinen worked out a pasto-
ral internship at The Dalles First
United Methodist with supervision
from the Rev. David King, whose
Hood River congregation she was a
member of.
Now, two-and-a-half years later,
she serves as pastor and has given
her congregants opportunities to
talk about discussions centered
around LGBTQ inclusion at the
church’s representative body—the
general conference—which led to a
2019 special session and a series of
proposals attempting to reconcile
differences between traditional
and progressive groups within the
Siekkinen said this conversation
has been going on in the United
Methodist Church, worldwide,
for decades. In 2016, she said, the
discussion hit a tipping point which
prompted leaders to look for anoth-
er way forward.
Siekkinen said a recent proposal
to allow local churches to split from
the United Methodist Church if
they disagreed with the church’s
direction was a “reasonable way
forward,” although not an ideal
“That being said, I think it’s really
important to understand that it’s
a proposal just like there are other
proposals out there that didn’t
make the headlines like this one
did,” Siekkinen said. “Like those
Pastor Gigi Siekinnen is pictured in her office at The Dalles First United Methodist Church. She has been following high-level developments in the churches hierarchy,
and helping guide local discussions on how the church should stand on issues regarding sexuality, inclusion and spirituality.
Walker Sacon photo
“It’s part of a bigger conversation of what it means to follow
the way of Christ...If you have a close relative or a dear friend
who is LGBTQ, you’re following this more closely and you
really are paying attention.”
Gigi Siekinnen
Pastor, First United Methodist Church, The Dalles
other proposals, it will go before
general conference in May and
that’s where it will either become
our new reality or not.”
The headline-garnering proposal
Siekkinen referenced is one of nine
proposals listed on the Greater
Northwest Episcopal Area United
Methodist website.
Greater Northwest bishop Elaine
J.W. Stanovsky took a similar stance
to Siekkinen’s in a press release
about the proposal.
Stanovsky’s release said she be-
lieves the proposal may be the best
next step for United Methodists,
though she hopes for a resolution
which maintains the church’s unity.
“I trust this proposal is designed
to unbind us from our ‘irrecon-
cilable differences’ and free us to
focus on the future,” Stanovsky said
in the release. “It does not guar-
antee a particular outcome, but it
appears to offer United Methodists
in the United States the opportunity
to choose a future that is fully inclu-
sive of LGBTQ persons.”
For her part, Siekkinen has not
shied away from speaking with con-
gregants about the developments
at the church’s higher levels or the
issues they relate to.
She held town hall meetings
for congregants who wanted to
talk about 2019’s special session
and said there will probably be
another series around May 2020’s
general conference. She said her
congregants have varying amounts
of interest in the church’s highest
organizational levels.
“If you have a close relative or a
dear friend who is LGBTQ, you’re
following this more closely and
you really are paying attention,”
Siekkinen said. “We have some peo-
ple who are of a generation where
you didn’t talk about sexuality at all
so to even have these conversations
is a growth area.”
Siekkinen said United
Methodism embraces people
who think differently. She said the
price for this diversity of thought
is occasional conflict. She said her
congregation has continued to
find ways to talk about these issues
which she said are all part of a
Community calendar
larger discussion.
“It’s part of a bigger conversation
of what it means to follow the way
of Christ,” Siekkinen said. “It’s how
we love others, how we include
others—how we grow into a bigger
understanding of community is the
big conversation and LGBTQ inclu-
sion is part of that conversation.”
Siekkinen acknowledged that not
everyone in her congregation is of
one mind but reiterated that congre-
gants have continued trying to grow.
“We’re a work in progress and
in the meantime we still are doing
wonderful things,” Siekkinen said,
highlighting a group that was
meeting at the church to work on
the community backpack program.
“That type of ministry keeps going
even as these other, bigger conver-
sations are taking place,” Siekkinen
“We’ve got preschool kids meet-
ing downstairs. That keeps going as
the denomination is having these
larger conversations.”