NEWS A12 • HERMISTONHERALD.COM WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 2019 Umatilla prison superintendent under investigation comments prompted him to federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. send the complaint. On another occasion, They also could ﬁ le with he superintendent of Bowser said older staff need the state Bureau of Labor Two Rivers Correc- to retire, according to Hill- and Industries, but Boquist tional Institution is mick’s message, and the stated the labor commis- out of the ofﬁ ce pending prison boss told one woman sioner “is likely to bury the a human resources employee who complaint to protect the investigation in the missed work to care establishment.” Smith said his ofﬁ ce wake of scathing for her children, accusations. “When my kids receives a multitude of sim- Jennifer Black, were little, my wife ilar emails, but Hillmick’s report caught the attention communications stayed at home.” director for the Ore- Hillmick further of his legislative director, gon Department asserted Bowser Nicole Crane. Bowser “These types of issues of Corrections, was aware an exec- reported that Troy utive manager sex- you have to take seriously,” Bowser is “duty stationed” ually assaulted a staff mem- Smith stressed. Crane conferred with at home as of June 12. The ber, yet he planned to put investigation began April the manager in charge of Boquist’s staff and con- 15, Black reported, due to the woman. The employee ﬁ rmed Heidi Steward, assis- an employee complaint. became upset, Hillmick tant director of state correc- Three days before, cor- claimed, and Bowser told tions, let lawmakers know rections director Colette her to “deal with it and on April 15 that human resources appointed an Peters received an email move on.” from Robert Hillmick, pres- Beyond Bowser’s words investigator to look into the ident of the non-security and attitude, Hillmick told accusations. According to unionized employees at the Peters the union member- Smith’s ofﬁ ce, the correc- prison in Umatilla, accusing ship was concerned “all of tions department expected Bowser of disparaging vet- these things happened and the work to conclude by the eran employees, making a nothing was ever done about end of June but has yet to provide any update. sexist comment to a woman it and here we are again.” Roger Ware is the employee and ignoring the Hillmick pleaded with sexual assault of another corrections ofﬁ cials to AFSCME staff represen- employee. start a formal investiga- tative for Eastern Oregon Institution, Hillmick sent the mes- tion to protect the prison’s Correctional Pendleton, and Two Riv- sage to fellow members of employees. the American Federation of State Sen. Brian Boquist, ers. Ware said he couldn’t State, County and Munici- R-Dallas, responded ﬁ rst to talk about the active inves- pal Employees, as well as to the email group, encourag- tigation. Other union ofﬁ - other corrections staff and ing veterans to ﬁ le discrim- cials did not return calls for to eight state lawmakers, ination complaints with the comment. including Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, and Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena. “Mr. Bowser stated in a meeting in front of approx- imately 15-20 employees that our Military Veterans are the cause of the prob- lems here at TRCI,” Hill- mick wrote, “and they are also the reason we have so many problems here at TRCI.” Hillmick did not get into what the “problems” are, but he defended mili- tary vets, calling them “an undeniable asset” to the the prison, the department A hundred years from now it will not matter what My bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove... but the and the state. He explained world may be different because I was important in the Life of a Child. staff upset with Bowser’s By PHIL WRIGHT STAFF WRITER T Contributed photo by Umatilla County Fire District Fireﬁ ghters battle a ﬁ re near railroad tracks northeast of Hermiston on Wednesday afternoon. Brush ﬁ re near Hermiston kicks oﬀ ﬁ re season By JADE MCDOWELL NEWS EDITOR ire season is ofﬁ cially here. The ofﬁ cial start to the season was Monday, but Hermiston got a head start with a series of brush ﬁ res on Wednesday. The ﬁ ve ﬁ res, which started at roughly 11 a.m., burned between Walls Road and Highway 730 north- east of Hermiston. Umatilla County Fire District Chief Scott Stanton said the cause of the ﬁ res were under investigation, but looked like they had likely been sparked by a train. Stanton said the ﬁ res were not large — the one he was supervising on Wednes- day looked to be about ﬁ ve acres — but could have spread quickly. “They were in heavy brush and trees, not just grass, so that made it more difﬁ cult,” he said. Umatilla Rural Fire Pro- tection District, Echo Fire Department and Boardman Rural Fire Protection Dis- trict assisted in the effort. Stanton cautioned area residents to be extremely careful during what he pre- dicts will be a dangerous ﬁ re season. “The grasses are cured and ready to burn,” he said. “It’s going to be a windy F day tomorrow, and it’s get- ting hot and dry.” During ﬁ re season, peo- ple can do their part by following rules for con- trolled burns and camp- ﬁ res, keeping their vehicles well-maintained, clear- ing ﬂ ammable brush from around structures and not being careless with ﬁ re haz- ards, such as cigarettes and ﬁ reworks. Fire season is also smoke season. Last week Sena- tors Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden introduced a pack- age of four bills to help communities deal with the heavy wildﬁ re smoke that has clouded Oregon skies in recent summers. The Smoke-Ready Com- munities Act would make grants available for schools, public buildings and vul- nerable households to make upgrades to “smoke-proof” their buildings and better ﬁ lter smoke from indoor air. Other provisions in the bill include requiring farms to provide respiratory pro- tection to farmworkers exposed to hazardous air conditions and authorize the Small Business Admin- istration to provide ﬁ nan- cial relief to businesses that lose revenue due to wildﬁ re smoke. “Last August in the Rogue Valley, I looked up at a sun that was neon pink through the thick haze of smoke from wildﬁ res,” Merkley said in a statement about the need for the bill. “Business owners and orga- nizations told me how the smoke caused lost reserva- tions, canceled shows, and even irreparable damage at a furniture store after the fabrics absorbed the smoke smell. Folks told me about respiratory problems even indoors because HVAC sys- tems weren’t equipped to handle the level of pollution they were experiencing.” SAIF, Oregon’s not-for- proﬁ t workers’ compensa- tion insurance company, recommends that businesses have plans in place for evac- uations during ﬁ res, but also for protecting employees or sending them home when smoke pushes air quality to hazardous levels. The Department of Environmental Qual- ity now has an OregonAir app for mobile phones to easily check its air qual- ity index, which can also be found online at http:// oraqi.deq.state.or.us. When air reaches unhealthy lev- els, homes and businesses should clean HVAC ﬁ lters, set air conditioners to recir- culate air in buildings and vehicles, keep windows and doors closed, and keep people indoors as much as possible. PRIORITIES Thank you to the following businesses for supporting Newspapers in Education Their generous support of the Hermiston Herald NIE program helps provide copies of the newspaper and unlimited access to HermistonHerald.com and the e-Edition to to schools schools throughout throughout the the community. community. 1090 W. Hermiston Ave. Hermiston, OR 541-567-8229 JeremyJLarsonDMD.com 1739 N. First St. Hermiston, OR 541-564-0264 OldWestFCU.org Delgado’s Delgado’s Beauty Beauty Salon Salon & & Medical Medical Massage Massage 1150 W. Hartley Ave. #D Hermiston, OR 97838 541-571-3629 Our patients are the very heart of our practice 541-276-1260 BLUECC.EDU YOUR BUSINESS HERE: 2411 NW Carden Ave. Pendleton, OR 97801 Call Today & Donate! 800-522-0255 Bert's Auto Salvage & Towing Rick’s Car Wash 620 E. Main St. Hermiston, OR 541-567-3908 Umatilla Electric Cooperative 750 W. Elm Ave. Hermiston, OR 97838 541-567-6414 • UmatillaElectric.com DuPont Pioneer Hermiston 541-567-1860 pioneer.com 2212 SE 9th St. Hermiston, OR 07838 BertsAutoSalvage.com 30775 Baggett Ln. Hermiston, OR 97838 541-567-1042 541-567-5050 541-567-5050 QUIZNOS.COM QUIZNOS.COM 1565 1565 N. N. FIRST FIRST ST. ST. #9 #9 HERMISTON, HERMISTON, OR OR 97838 97838 Here in Oregon, thousands of businesses and individuals are saving money with help from Energy Trust of Oregon. With cash incentives for energy improvements, we can help you get more from your energy. Are you ready to get more from your energy? Visit www.energytrust.org or call us at 1.866.368.7878. 79937 79937 S. S. Edwards Edwards Rd. Rd. Hermiston, Hermiston, OR OR 97838 97838 541-567-5842 541-567-5842 Call Today & Donate! 800-522-0255 ALL GETTING MORE FROM THEIR ENERGY. + Starvation Ridge Starvation Ridge Farming Farming YOUR BUSINESS HERE: OREGON MANUFACTURERS. LOCAL BUSINESSES. YOUR NEIGHBORS. 1705 E. Airport Rd. Hermiston, OR 97838 541-289-9800 541-289-9800 eotechermiston.com eotechermiston.com For more information on the NIE Program, visit HermistonHerald.com/hh/nie. To make make a a donation, donation, call call 800-522-0255. 800-522-0255. Serving customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas and Avista.