East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, February 04, 2017, WEEKEND EDITION, Page Page 3A, Image 3

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Saturday, February 4, 2017
East Oregonian
Page 3A
SMART volunteers help young readers
on the decline
East Oregonian
It only takes one book to get hooked:
That’s what SMART coaches are hoping
to teach kids about reading at an early
Joshua Nokes, a volunteer in Becky
Sanchez’ Head Start class of three- to
five-year-olds at Hermiston’s Victory
Square center, sits down with a student
and starts reading her a book about
colors. She listens as he reads, enjoying
his expressive rendition of the story.
SMART, which stands for “Start
Making a Reader Today,” is a statewide
program that organizes volunteers to come
into classrooms and read one-on-one with
students. The goal is to encourage kids to
enjoy reading and strengthen their literacy
skills at an early age. Throughout the
state, students between pre-kindergarten
and third grade participate in SMART.
Locally, SMART is run through the
Head Start programs. There are three
locations — two in Hermiston and one in
Julie Sanders, director of the Umatil-
la-Morrow Head Start program in
Hermiston, said the program is essential
to encouraging literacy at an early age —
which is often a predictor of academic
achievement in later years.
“A good foundation in literacy is
essential to success everywhere else,” she
Sanchez, who has taught with Umatil-
la-Morrow Head Start for nine years, said
she notices the difference in her young
readers from the time they start reading
with volunteers to the end of the year.
“A lot of people worry that they
don’t read well,” Sanchez said of people
hesitant to volunteer. She insisted it’s
more important to demonstrate a love of
“They just need to see that literacy is
very important in their life,” she said.
Currently, Sanchez has about four
One child died of
flu-related illness
in Umatilla County
East Oregonian
Staff photo by Jayati Ramakrishnan
SMART volunteer Joshua Nokes reads with a Head Start student at Herm-
iston’s Victory Square on Thursday.
volunteers that come to the class weekly
and spend about 15 minutes reading
one-on-one with each student. Twice a
month, children also get to choose a free
book to take home with them.
“When we give the kids books, we put
their name on a sticker on the book, and
tell them, ‘Nobody can read it without
asking you because it’s your book,’”
said Jorge Colon, a coordinator for the
SMART program at Victory Square.
“A lot of kids don’t have books, so it’s
special to them.”
Colon said he’d love to see the
program extend to elementary schools in
“From a selfish parent standpoint, my
children have so many more books now,”
he said with a laugh.
The program has also been beneficial
for volunteers.
“We had a volunteer last year who
was dyslexic,” Colon said. “I noticed
his confidence and strength as a reader
The statewide SMART program
recently received the Walt Morey Young
Readers Literacy Legacy, an award
presented to a person or group that has
contributed to literacy efforts for Oregon
The program is in need of volunteers,
Sanchez said, and would benefit from
both English and Spanish-speakers.
“It’s really easy to get cleared, but it’s
difficult to get people to be here,” Colon
said, looking around at the four regular
volunteers reading with students. “This is
our really dedicated group.”
Colon said anyone can sign up to
volunteer for the SMART program at
Contact Jayati Ramakrishnan at
541-564-4534 or jramakrishnan@
Flu hit Oregon hard and
fast this year, but the virus
appears to have peaked.
The numbers seem to
be down,” said Tracy Wart,
infection control preven-
tion nurse at St. Anthony
Hospital. “It started to
decrease a little bit last
week at St. Anthony.”
One Umatilla County
child died at the end of
December after respiratory
failure and a flu-like infec-
tion, said Umatilla County
Public Health director
Jim Setzer. He said the
virus is now waning in
the area, but still could do
additional damage.
downside, but it’s still
happening,” Setzer said.
He said the county still
has plenty of vaccine left
for those who wish to
lower their risk.
Pam Schulz, infection
control prevention nurse
at Good Shepherd Medical
Center, said she hasn’t
noticed a huge change yet.
“We seem to be kind of
hanging in there,” Schulz
said. “We’re maybe down
a nubbin.”
Flu Bites, Oregon’s
public health flu tracker,
shows a gentle downturn
statewide. For the week
ending Jan. 28, emergency
department visits for
is 3.1 percent, down from
4.1 two weeks earlier.
The number of outbreaks
of three or more people
dropped from 24 to 15 in
the past two weeks.
So far this season, 8,511
people have tested positive
in Oregon for influenza.
The vast majority of the
specimens (88.6 percent)
were determined to be
influenza A, though some
influenza B was found as
well. About 1,200 indi-
viduals were hospitalized
in the Portland metro
area (Flu Bites tracks
hospitalizations only in
Multnomah, Washington
and Clackamas counties).
In contrast, 443 people
were hospitalized with flu
the previous year.
Control and Prevention
reports flu activity in
every state. The flu seems
to have peaked earlier in
Oregon than for many
other states. Hospitaliza-
tions and the percentage
of clinic visits for flu-like
illness continue to rise
nationally. Flu has kill 15
children so far this season.
Contact Kathy Aney
at kaney@eastoregonian.
com or call 541-966-0810.
a $370,609 combo truck,
amending uses in the central
mixed use zone and declaring
the 19 lots the city owns at
Sunridge Estates surplus, a
procedural move that allows
the city sell them.
Council to consider
assisting in vet
memorial projects
a meeting Tuesday, the
Pendleton City Council will
discuss dueling visions for a
veterans memorial.
In November, Korean
War vet Ken Garrett wrote
to the city council to propose
dedicating a bridge at
Southeast Court Place to
veterans and victims of war.
City manager Robb
Corbett ran the idea past
Veterans of Foreign Wars
“Let ‘er Buck” Post 922,
which came up with a
different tribute.
VFW Post 922
commander Gary Ward wrote
in a response to Corbett that
Garrett’s idea was presented
to members and drew no
Instead, the VFW would
like to rename the section of
Court Place that runs in front
of the VFW hall to Veterans
Way and erect a statue
honoring veterans at the
fountain near the intersection
of Highway 11 and Southeast
Court Avenue.
In a report to the
city council, Corbett
recommended that the council
consider directing the arts
committee to work with the
VFW to create the memorial.
Corbett said the street
renaming and Garrett’s idea
will remain on the table.
The council has a
packed agenda with several
noteworthy items, including
discussion on purchasing
PSD considers
calendar changes to
make up days
The Pendleton School
Board will consider
permanent changes to the
2016-2017 school calendar in
the wake of missing a week’s
worth of instructional hours
due to snow days.
Pendleton School District
superintendent Andy Kovach
has recommended the school
board extend the school year
by five days for grades K-11
and three days for seniors, but
the district also solicited input
from the public through an
online survey, which included
other options like applying
for a waiver from the Oregon
Department of Education
and eliminating teachers’
professional development
time through the end of the
school year.
The school board will
meet at the Pendleton Early
Learning Center, 455 S.W.
13th St., on Tuesday at 3:30
Frontier CASA program,
serving children from
both counties, and the
organization is searching
for a permanent executive
CASA pairs children in
foster care with volunteers
who can advocate for those
Interim director
Tracey Blood said the
two organizations, which
previously operated under
each county’s juvenile
department, decided to
combine and operate as a
non-profit. Doing so will
allow them to receive
grants and donations for the
CASA has 22 programs
around Oregon, and almost
1,000 throughout the
United States. Prospective
volunteers are required
to undergo background
checks, as well as 40 hours
of training prior to working
with children.
There are currently 15
children in Gilliam and
Wheeler counties in foster
care that need a court-
appointed special advocate.
To volunteer, contact Blood
at 541-575-5574.
IMESD hosts
student tech expo
InterMountain Education
Service District is offering
students across Eastern
Oregon another chance to
do some hands-on learning
about technology.
The IMESD will host
the Technology Expo at
Eastern Oregon University
in La Grande March 9 for
students in eighth through
12th grade who attend one
of the IMESD’s 18 member
According to a press
release, activities will
include 3-D animation,
3-D printing, taking apart
and diagnosing computer
component issues, website
development, computer
programming and app
The expo will also
offer meetings with career
advisors and representatives
from regional companies
with jobs in technology.
Transportation from each
district to the EOU campus
will be provided by the
IMESD and the expo will
run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Students can register
for the expo at http://step.
BMCC board
appoints Van Kirk
Van Kirk is the newest
member of the Blue
Mountain Community
College Board of Education.
At its monthly meeting
on Wednesday in Hermiston,
the board appointed Van
Kirk to take over the Zone 3
position left vacant when Ed
Taber resigned in December.
The Pendleton attorney will
serve in the position through
June 30 when she would
need to file for regular/
permanent term in the May
2017 election.
Van Kirk practices in
Umatilla and Morrow
counties and has been a
small business owner for
the past 15 years. She also
served as the director of the
Guardian Care Center in
Pendleton, which assists the
community and surrounding
areas in responding to child
Zone 3 covers precincts
South/East Pendleton, Pilot
Rock, Ukiah and Echo in
Umatilla County.
CASA opens new
The Court-Appointed
Special Advocates
programs from Gilliam
and Wheeler counties
have combined to form the
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Great work environment.
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Medical Aesthetic Appointments
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Send resume and letter of
interest to
EO Media Group
PO Box 2048
Salem, OR 97308-2048
by fax to 503-371-2935 or
e-mail hr@eomediagroup.com
East Oregonian has an
opening for multi-media sales.
No multi-media experience?
That’s fine, as long as you
understand the importance
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Base wage plus commissions,
benefits and mileage
reimbursement. Benefits
include Paid Time Off (PTO),
insurances and a 401(k)/Roth
401(k) retirement plan.
This Monday and every fi rst Monday you
can enjoy a free cup of hot coffee and
a one-on-one discussion with Pendleton’s
city manager Robb and a few of his key
staff in a conversational setting.
Drop in any time between 8 and 10 am. Feb. 6