The Year in Review
Last updated 1/27/2019 at 5:35pm
Odessa agriculture science teacher HaLee Walter and school superintendent Dan Read applied for and have received a grant for $15,000 from the Washington FFA Foundation. The Foundation provides financial support for programs that recognize excellence in agricultural education and FFA leadership. It had $1.75 million to administer and fund the equipment and technology associated with its Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE).
At its commencement on Saturday, June 9, the 11 students in the Odessa High School graduating class of 2018 received scholarships and awards totaling $240,734.
The Odessa High School reunion of 2018 drew a large crowd to Odessa in June. The 50-year class of 1968 was especially well represented, with only six of the alumni not being able to attend, in addition to the eight (out of the original 38) who had passed away over the years.
The Odessa Athletics Hall of Fame committee, represented by Jon Heimbigner (class of 1966), announced the individuals and teams being inducted, assisted by fellow committee members Terri Weishaar and Myrna (Heimbigner) Wolsborn (both class of 1968). Individual athletes inducted were Keith Cronrath, Marie (Cronrath) Grasso, Dalles Deife, Ellen (Homberg) Holman, Jason Iltz, Jeff Scrupps,Wade Walter, Kurt Wolsborn and TJ Wolsborn. The four teams inducted were the 1989/90 State Tennis Class A/B Boys Team Champions Landon Lobe, Matt Bischoff, Jason Iltz, TJ Wolsborn and Kurt Wolsborn; the 1992/93 State Tennis Class A/B Boys Doubles Team Champions Jeff Scrupps and Kurt Wolsborn; the 1989/90 State Football Class B-8 Champions, which set or tied 16 records in the title game and also won the state academic award and the 1993/94 State Football Class B-8 Champions, which finished the season with a 10-2 record.
Vacation Bible School, offered by the local churches that make up the Odessa Ministerial Association, drew youngsters from all over town and the countryside for a full week of activities, crafts, music and lessons related to the Bible. Approximately 90 children were involved in the preschool through fifth-grade group.
On the Fourth of July, the Odessa Volunteer Fire Department again provided a community picnic lunch at Reiman Park. The firefighters served pulled-pork sandwiches, potato salad, baked beans, watermelon, chips and beverages for $8 for an individual or $15 a couple. All dishes were prepared by the firefighters and their families.
The Odessa Town Council learned that the largely FEMA-funded street repair project in Odessa was said to be moving along nicely and was scheduled to be wrapped up by the end of the week. CenturyWest Engineering applied on the town’s behalf for a grant/loan option to develop a sewer system plan, a requirement for applying for financial assistance from government agencies to complete needed repairs and upgrades.
Some Odessa residents appeared to have been unduly inconvenienced by the street work being performed. Some have railed at construction workers or called the town clerk’s office to vent their anger. Mayor Bill Crossley reminded citizens that everyone has been equally inconvenienced by the road work, but that the town is also benefiting from it in numerous ways. Repairs to the streets were absolutely necessary, he said, adding that the town was able to take advantage of government programs to have the vast majority of the cost covered. Taking frustration out on people who are simply doing their jobs is unfair and not appreciated, he said.
For the second consecutive council meeting, there was lengthy discussion of a “nuisance ordinance” being developed for the town using a Moses Lake ordinance as a guide. Council members have met in committee to work out language that applies to the smaller municipality of Odessa, yet covers the many different issues that bring complaints to the desks of the mayor and council members.
Fire chief Don Strebeck lamented that yards identified earlier as needing cleanup were dealt with either by the homeowner or by the town but were now back on the cleanup list after rains helped vegetation to grow again. Police chief Tom Clark suggested citing violators after due notification to see if that might bring better compliance. The discussion was tabled.
Odessa High School’s Future Business Leaders of America chapter sent 25 members to the 2018 National Leadership Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Over 12,000 students attended, competed in approximately 100 events. Odessa competed in 10 events, made the finals in three and placed in two. With a first-place award and competing against over 100 schools was the Community Service Project team of Kassidy Crossley, Brady Walter, Caitlyn Schuh, Jakob Starkel, Colton Messer and Kaya Curo. They presented the chapter’s “Operation LEAN On Us” project which focused on improving the lives of Odessa senior citizens. The group cooked and delivered 553 freezer meals to Odessa seniors, helped organize and reactivate the Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL) classes for 20 weeks, provided assistance with household chores, hosted Senior Night Out events and provided $9,000 to help repair the roof of the Old Town Hall, the venue for senior meals and events.
The town council on July 9 heard a presentation by Victor Holton on a potential solar farm installation on town property. Holton told the council he puts together projects for groups of investors in which 50-acre plots of land on which solar farms are installed are either purchased or leased. Power from the panels would be sold to Avista Utilities. Holton was granted permission to access the property to take measurements and investigate its suitability prior to a follow-up meeting.
Grant County reported several large fires that have kept fire crews and other emergency responders busy over the past month. Grant County resident Doris Jasman visited The Record this week to buy an ad thanking firefighters after a combine fire ignited several acres of standing wheat at the Marlin-area farm of Doris and her husband Ed Jasman. During the same time period, things were quieter in Lincoln County, although more and more reports had begun to come in.
With Fest less than two months away, civic groups were planning and preparing their menus. Biergarten chair Lindsy Starkel and vice-chair Trevor Smith gathered a crew to begin repairing tables and benches in the community center. The Oom Pas and Mas announced they would begin practicing for their Fest performances on July 29 on the Biergarten stage.
Laura Estes and Kelly Korpinen of the Chamber’s commercial kitchen committee, assisted by volunteers Amy Reeves and Kathy Ashe, performed a deep cleaning of the community commercial kitchen in the community center. Estes reported the kitchen ceiling has been repaired and no longer leaks. The Chamber then could feel comfortable about promoting use of the kitchen by other entities in order to generate revenue.
Detectives with the Grant County Sheriff’s Office are investigating two assaults at Saturday’s Phish concert at the Gorge Amphitheater near the town of George. Deputies were notified of two assault victims who were brought to the medical tent at the venue, a 46-year-old man from Washington state and a 38-year-old man from Colorado. Each man suffered head injuries, and each was transported to a different regional hospital. One victim remained hospitalized in stable condition, while the other was treated and released. The victims were assaulted at around the same time but at locations far apart from one another. One man was down near the stage, the other high up on the hill above. Both were struck with rocks. Neither could identify his assailant. The victims did not know one other. Detectives asked first-hand witnesses to either of the assaults to contact their office.
Odessa’s two nurse practitioners, Rich Ervin and Debbie Fogg, gave notice of their intention to leave their positions at Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center. Hospital administrator Mo Sheldon said, “We are sorry to say good-bye to Rich and Debbie. It’s unfortunate that their resignations are coming so close together, but it’s a hard reality that turnover in health care is often unavoidable.” Clinic manager Barb Schlimmer was already working to line up temporary practitioners, while the search went on for long-term providers to fill the two positions.
Lincoln County launched a project to update its Hazard Mitigation Plan and to include integration of the existing Lincoln County Community Wildfire Protection Plan. Local agencies and organizations in Lincoln County created a committee to complete the required five-year update of the document as part of FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation program. The project is funded through a FEMA grant. The public was encouraged to participate to express concerns or possible solutions for flood, landslide, earthquake, severe weather, wildland fire and other disasters.
Fires raged all around eastern Washington over the summer, with major blazes near Kennewick and around the areas of Coulee Dam, Grand Coulee and Electric City. Officials determined that lightning was the cause. Odessa firefighters responded to a field fire on Rimrock Road, located about half way between Odessa and Wilbur. It contributed additional air pollution to the pall that had hung over the town since the previous weekend. Monday morning Odessa woke up to a heavy haze of smoke that officials reported was hazardous to anyone out in it. Citizens were advised to stay indoors if possible and not to engage in any strenuous activity outdoors.
Republican state Rep. Matt Manweller, running for re-election to his fourth term as a District 13 state representative, was fired from his position as a tenured professor of political science at Central Washington University after a lengthy investigation into his conduct with female students. A statement released by the university provided no details regarding the findings of the investigation, which was conducted by Trish Murphy of Northwest Workplace Law, whose report was to be publicly released in late August. Manweller had been investigated by the university in 2012 and 2013 after allegations of sexual harassment and of propositioning female students. The accusations were never substantiated, but Manweller was nevertheless reprimanded for using poor judgment. He challenged the reprimand, and the university ultimately paid his attorney fees and promoted him to a full professor. In December 2107, Manweller was placed on leave while the university investigated again after receiving calls and emails from former students following a series of news stories about past allegations against him. Manweller has the right to appeal his termination and told reporters he plans to file a lawsuit against Central Washington University and the investigator.