Hazardous waste and health living: Umatilla County events helps locals clean up and get fit – Local News

Pendleton has household waste collection and Hermiston High houses family wellness fair

A worker sorts hazardous chemicals dropped off by Umatilla County residents during Saturday’s Household Hazard Waste Collection Event the Pendleton Convention Center.

Staff photo by Kathy Aney

A worker sorts hazardous chemicals dropped off by Umatilla County residents during Saturday’s Household Hazard Waste Collection Event the Pendleton Convention Center.


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John Orcutt sorts paint dropped off by Umatilla County residents during Saturday’s Household Hazard Waste Collection Event the Pendleton Convention Center.

Staff photo by Kathy Aney

John Orcutt sorts paint dropped off by Umatilla County residents during Saturday’s Household Hazard Waste Collection Event the Pendleton Convention Center.


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Charles Denson, of Clean Harbors, unloads hazardous chemicals from the back of a pickup truck during Saturday’s Household Hazard Waste Collection Event the Pendleton Convention Center.

Staff photo by Kathy Aney

Charles Denson, of Clean Harbors, unloads hazardous chemicals from the back of a pickup truck during Saturday’s Household Hazard Waste Collection Event the Pendleton Convention Center.


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Kailey, 5, of Hermiston, listens to the diagnosis of her Teddy bear on Saturday at the x-ray table at the Family Health and Fitness Day in Hermiston. Her mother, Jessica Brown, said the Teddy bear clinic was a fun way for children to learn about what happens in hospitals.

Staff photo by Phil Wright

Kailey, 5, of Hermiston, listens to the diagnosis of her Teddy bear on Saturday at the x-ray table at the Family Health and Fitness Day in Hermiston. Her mother, Jessica Brown, said the Teddy bear clinic was a fun way for children to learn about what happens in hospitals.


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Hermiston High School senior Randy Conejo helps fit a bicycle helmet to 11-year-old Isaac of Umatilla on Saturday at the Family Health and Fitness Day in Hermiston. Isaac’s mother, Johanna Shelley, said this was the family’s first time going to the event and they learned plenty.

Staff photo by Phil Wright

Hermiston High School senior Randy Conejo helps fit a bicycle helmet to 11-year-old Isaac of Umatilla on Saturday at the Family Health and Fitness Day in Hermiston. Isaac’s mother, Johanna Shelley, said this was the family’s first time going to the event and they learned plenty.


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Aidee Velazquez of Hermiston helps her children, Aiden, 5, and Andrea, 2, make healthy pizzas in the children’s cooking class Saturday at the Family Health and Fitness Day at Hermiston High School.

Staff photo by Phil Wright

Aidee Velazquez of Hermiston helps her children, Aiden, 5, and Andrea, 2, make healthy pizzas in the children’s cooking class Saturday at the Family Health and Fitness Day at Hermiston High School.


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Heathy and free turkey sandwiches with local produce were the lunch special Saturday at the Family Health and Fitness Day at Hermiston High School.

Staff photo by Phil Wright

Heathy and free turkey sandwiches with local produce were the lunch special Saturday at the Family Health and Fitness Day at Hermiston High School.


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Locals line up at some of the many booths promoting wellness Saturday at the Family Health and Fitness Day at the high school in Hermiston.

Staff photo by Phil Wright

Locals line up at some of the many booths promoting wellness Saturday at the Family Health and Fitness Day at the high school in Hermiston.


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Saturday was all about getting clean and fit in Umatilla County.

The Pendleton Convention Center’s parking lot served as the site to turn over stockpiles of hazardous household wastes for free while the Hermiston High School housed the free Family Health and Fitness Day. Hundreds of locals attended the events, which ran from the morning into the afternoon.

Umatilla County headed up the waste collection. Gina Miller, head of the county’s code enforcement program, won a $65,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to hold the event. The money paid for contractor Clean Harbors to handle what came in.

The collection started a little before 9 a.m., and three hours later nearly 300 vehicles had gone through. Miller said she anticipated the total could crest 700.

Members of the FFA chapters of Pendleton High School and Milton-Freewater’s McLoughlin High School volunteered at the event, while the city of Pendleton provided the city and some staff. Miller said the volunteers were critical to have on hand.

Cheryl Davis said she came to clean out 30 years worth of materials, from paint to pesticides. She said she read about the event and made sure to take advantage of the service because she did not know what else to do with all the materials.

Mitch Pankratz came to drop off old motor oil. He said he didn’t have any paint because Sherwin Williams in Pendleton takes that, but plenty of other material just “sits and sits” for years without these collections in rural Oregon.

“These things are a life saver,” he said. “You don’t want to dump this kind of crap in the landfill.”

The county’s last waste collection in Pendleton was two years ago. Area residents brought in more 12 tons of hazardous materials along with 87 propane cylinders and 140 car batteries.

Miller said the steady stream of vehicles showed the need for the collection and she would again apply for the clean-up grant next year. She also said she would present totals for the day as soon as she could at a public meeting of the board of county commissioners.

On the other side of the county, folks at the Family Health and Fitness Day also were busy collecting — from information on health insurance to cooking tips to medical and dental screenings. The health and wellness fair offered something for all ages.

Jessica Brown of Hermiston said the fair is must for her family.

“My kids love coming to the Teddy Bear Clinic,” she said. “We bring out own stuffed animals.”

The clinic also had a table full of teddies and dolls for children to select, name and give to nurses for examinations, including “X-rays” on an overhead projector. Children helped treat the furry patients and left the clinic with a care plan in hand.

Brown said the clinic was a fun way to show children that going to the hospital didn’t have to be scary.

Johanna Shelley of Umatilla brought her 11-year-old son, Isaac. He was among the many children who received a bicycle helmet. Shelley said this was their first time coming and they appreciated the wealth of information available.

“It’s pretty neat, actually,” she said.

Aidee Velazquez of Hermiston helped her son, Aiden, 5, and daughter, Andrea, 2, make pizzas in the children’s cooking class. They also were first-timers. She said the day was fun and filled with valuable information to help her family.

Angie Treadwell said that was the whole point. She is a founding member of the Healthy Communities Coalition in Hermiston and chair of the Children’s Health Committee, which took on the work of bringing back the health and wellness event three years ago after a hiatus of a coupe of years. She said the real credit making the fair possible was the wealth of community sponsors and volunteers, including Hermiston High School and many of its students.

“To me, this is what you need for your community,” she said.

Sherry and Roy Lentz of Pendleton drove that point home.

“I found my doctor from going to this fair,” Sherry Lentz said. “I’ve been going to her ever since.”

The event also provided a lunch of a turkey sandwich and sides of local produce, on the house, and everyone who attended could walk out with a free loaf of Dave’s Killer Bread to boot.

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Contact Phil Wright at pwright@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0833.


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