Cool Rides car show cruises into Hermiston, see page 13 Wednesday, July 17, 2019 HermistonHerald.com $1.00 INSIDE WATER RATES Conservation tips, water app can help Hermiston residents lower their water bills. PAGE A3 ICE VISIT Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers were in Hermiston this weekend. PAGE A7 BIG FINISH Two Hermiston trap shooters are ranked in the top 100 in the nation. PAGE A8 BY THE WAY West Nile virus detected in Umatilla West Nile virus, a flu-like disease spread by mosquitoes, has been detected in mosquitoes at a testing site in Umatilla County. Oregon Public Health officials say the the mos- quitoes, found in Uma- tilla, are the first to test positive for the disease in Oregon in 2019. The mos- quitoes were collected last week by the West Uma- tilla Mosquito Control District. The Oregon State University Veter- inary Diagnostic Labo- ratory in Corvallis con- firmed the discovery. West Nile virus spreads to humans via the bite of an infected mos- quito. About one in five infected people may show signs of the virus. Peo- ple at risk of serious ill- ness include individuals 50 and older, and people with immune-compromis- ing conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Symptoms include fever above 100 degrees and severe headache, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, shak- ing, paralysis and rash. People should contact their health care provider if experiencing any of these symptoms. See BTW, Page A2 staff photo by Ben lonergan Becky Conant purchases Hermiston watermelons at the Bellinger Farms shop on Highway 395 in Hermiston. Conant is bringing the watermelons to a family reunion in Florence as a remembrance of growing up in Hermiston. First Hermiston watermelons of the season roll off the vine By JADE MCDOWELL NEWS EDITOR ermiston’s most famous crop is shaping up nicely this year. Bellinger Farms started selling their first batch of watermelons last week and Jack Bellinger said he was pleased with the sugar content and weight. “All indications suggest that it’s going to be a good year, qual- ity-wise,” he said. He said he was surprised with how much the early mel- ons weighed this year, making him cautiously optimistic about the season. Heavy snow in February had put the crop behind sched- H staff photo by Ben lonergan Hermiston seedless watermelons sit in cartons outside of the Bellinger Farms store on Highway 395 in Hermiston. ule, Bellinger said, and he had expected to see a gap between when his early fields and late fields were ready. Instead, ideal weather in June helped speed things up and will help keep watermelons rolling into the store. “I would have guessed we wouldn’t start until July 15 or so,” he said. Watermelons are already available for purchase, how- ever, and the farm started ship- ping them out of Hermiston on Friday. Walchli Farms watermelons are not quite ready yet, but Pat- rick Walchli said last week that they are looking good and will be here “shortly.” The large fam- ily-owned farm sells its mel- ons out of a warehouse on Loop Road. See FRUIT, Page A14 STEM Sports Camp provides space for at-risk youth By JESSICA POLLARD STAFF WRITER 8 08805 93294 2 In the middle of summer, Sand- stone Middle School is the last place many kids would want to be. The exception stood for the 48 kids par- ticipating in Skyhawks STEM Sports Camp last week. “In our program, sports is the hook. But there is confidence building and character building, those are compo- nents that we really drive by,” said Tim Sullivan, who owns Skyhawks in the Tri-Cities, a sports academy for children ages 4-12 of all skill levels. Sullivan said the camp incorporates components of science, technology, engineering and math. Kids dissected soccer balls to learn more about how they’re made before shooting goals, and tested basketballs to see how high they bounce on differ- ent surfaces. “No matter what grade they’re in, when they return back to school, if they’re doing anything with STEM, they’re going to have an automatic connection,” Sullivan said. The weeklong camp was open for children ages 6 to 12 who receive ser- vices from Made to Thrive, a nonprofit organization that provides funding, transportation, equipment and mento- ring for at-risk and foster youth to par- ticipate in extracurricular activities. Kriss Dammeyer, who founded Made to Thrive, said she appreciated the STEM components of the camp. “I’d not seen that in action before. These kids were measuring and work- ing together. The teamwork that it required, that was awesome,” Dam- meyer said. staff photo by Jessica Pollard See STEM, Page A14 Skyhawks STEM Sports Camp participants play an icebreaker game with the coaches at Sandstone Middle School.