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Alfred Diaz

Stories by Alfred

Questions abound after phone, 911 service failure

Emergency preparedness officials are now questioning how one backhoe could knock out 911 service for thousand of residents across five counties, disable service for approximately 19,000 cellphones and 4,300 Internet phones, and cripple thousands of businesses for most of Friday afternoon.

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Will fourth Walla Walla pool run charm voters?

Election officials mailed three local ballot measures last week to approximately 19,310 residents in Walla Walla and Columbia counties.

Dayton to vote on sales tax for roadworks

Residents will vote on sales tax increase to fund street improvements, a measure Dayton’s newly formed Transportation Benefit District put on the Feb. 10 ballot.

Burbank schools shoot for levies

Columbia School District is asking Burbank voters to pass two levies that, if approved, will provide a total $7,559,070 over the course of three years and fund everything from text books to smaller class sizes to new electronic white boards.

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Makeover of Heritage Park could begin soon

Plans are moving forward to remake Heritage Square Park into a public plaza that could one day draw in downtown Walla Walla employees, shoppers, tourists and people who just need a place to hang out.

Man arrested in Walla Walla luring case

A 44-year-old man has been arrested on luring and criminal impersonation charges, according to Walla Walla police officials.

Walla Walla musicians get into the free-form groove

A half-century-ago, composer Terry Riley created a composition for orchestra, symphony, marching band, jam session, drum circle or any combination of musicians.

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Update: FedEx truck takes a swim in hotel pool house

The Holiday Inn Express pool shut down early on Friday when a FedEx truck dipped its two front wheels in the indoor pool, after having crashed through the front wall of the pool house.

Walla Walla aviary control causes flap

There was more squawk about Pioneer Park Aviary control than over pay raises at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

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A freshened ‘Snow Queen’ drifts back to Walla Walla stage

“The Snow Queen” is returning to Walla Walla.

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Walla Walla charter school plan gathers suggestions

A proposal to establish a charter school in Walla Walla drew about 40 people who offered suggestions at a public meeting Tuesday at the Walla Walla Housing Authority.

City Council to vote on raises for more city employees

Salary increases ranging from 2 to 2.5 percent will be up for a vote when the Walla Walla City Council meets on Wednesday.

Aviary group hands over donations to city

The City Council on Wednesday will review plans to renovate Pioneer Park Aviary and possibly give approval to send out bids for the $375,000 new-enclosure project.

Walla Walla group explores charter school

A Walla Walla group’s plan to open the first charter school in the city, county and possibly all of Southeastern Washington will be discussed at a community meeting Tuesday.

City, local legislators huddle on agenda

With the Legislature a week away from reconvening, the Valley’s three local lawmakers and Walla Walla city leaders dealt with the realities of the upcoming state budget at a public meeting at City Hall on Monday.

Ninth-Plaza Way roundabout on 2015 legislative agenda for Council

City officials are pushing for 2015 legislation that supports a statewide gas-tax increase, a roundabout at Ninth Avenue and Plaza Way and receiving a portion of the state’s future marijuana excise tax.

Pool, schools and roads on ballots in region Feb. 10

WALLA WALLA — A community pool, a sales-tax increase and a school levies are the measures voters in Walla Walla and Columbia counties will decide Feb. 10.

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Scouts plan annual Christmas tree collection

WALLA WALLA — Local Boy Scouts will collect and repurpose discarded Christmas trees the weekend of Jan. 10 and 11.

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Bluewood opens amongst snowfall

Ski Bluewood was expecting a windfall of snow this opening weekend.

Whitman researchers discover new deep-sea species

A small team of Whitman College ocean researchers is basking in the light of a new discovery from the dark sea floor.

Flu widespread in Walla Walla County, state

The flu is hitting hardest on the east side of the nation, but Walla Walla County residents are doing their share of flu bug exchanging this Christmas season.

Prosecutor decides against charging teacher

Wa-Hi industrial arts teacher Robert Maib was placed on administrative in October by the Walla Walla School District while the Sheriff’s Office investigated him on allegations made by three students who said they were inappropriately touched by Maib. Prosecutors concluded there was insufficient evidence to take the case to trial.

Bright's Candies' treats sweeten Christmas Season

The candy flies off the shelves as fast as they can be stocked.

Council puts pool complex on Feb. 10 ballot

A full City Council unanimously approved putting a $5.8 million pool bond measure to the public in a Feb. 10 special election.

Pay hikes on the table for City today

Approximately 276 city employees — including department heads and union and nonunion members — are expected to receive 2 or 3 percent salary increases in 2015.

Walla Walla city planners OK second pot retailer

After granting local approval for the city’s second pot store, city officials confirmed they will oppose a Washington State Liquor Control Board plan to add even more stores in city limits.

Council to vote on pool bond Wednesday

The City Council will vote Wednesday on whether to present voters with a $5.8 million bond to rebuild Memorial Pool.

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'Nutcracker' packs the house at Cordiner Hall

The Eugene Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” returned to Whitman College’s Cordiner Hall on Saturday.

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Music in the morning pumps Sharpstein students

WALLA WALLA — It was an earlier- and shorter-than-normal gig for bIG fONT, which was one reason washboard player Louis Valiante was a few minutes late to school.

Police say Friday's fatal shooting not random

Friday’s fatal shoot of a 25-year-old man, who was shot after answering the door, was most likely not an indiscriminate act of violence.

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Whitman students brave cold to raise funds for cancer research

Seasoned cross-country runners long since hardened by courses and weather formed a relay all through the night.

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Irish trio Affiniti crosses over for Walla Walla stop

A classical, contemporary and Celtic crossover trio with an affinity for the letter “i” will perform at Gesa Power House Theatre next week.

City Council adopts budget with small increase in cost for local homeowners

The City Council approved a 2015 and 2106 biennial budget that includes a decrease in property taxes offset by an increase in utilities that will leave the average homeowner $63.64 poorer in 2015.

Council puts fire inspection plan on hold

City officials this week could wrap up a proposed two-year budget a full three weeks before Christmas, but crossed off the wish list for next year is a controversial new fire inspection fee and the hiring of a second inspector.

Dayton’s annual Kickoff scores big

Local merchants got an early Christmas present of a packed Main Street for the annual Christmas Kickoff.

Snowfall brings out tree shoppers

Just the right amount of snow at the right time of the season will bring them outdoors to pick a tree at Bachtold’s Christmas Trees.

Old Odd Fellows building eyed as hotel

A group of developers wants to turn the old Odd Fellows building at 28 S. Spokane St. into an upscale hotel with 70 rooms, penthouse suites, bar and terraced restaurant along Mill Creek.

Columbia County hospital bond squeaks by

DAYTON — After counting 28 remaining ballots, a $5.5 million Columbia County Hospital District capital improvement bond narrowly passed with a margin of eight-hundredths of a percent.

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Local blues scene red hot at 2014 awards

WALLA WALLA — A sweep was followed by a bash and a jam as local musicians and one venue owner celebrated winning big at this year’s Inland Empire Blues Society Awards.

City Council supports 2-pool plan

After reviewing a community survey, the City Council is backing a $5.7 million construction bond that would a bring back public swimming in Walla Walla — should voters OK a spending measure that could be on a ballot as early as February.

City OK’s mix of tax and fee increases

WALLA WALLA — City Council unanimously approved increasing a current 10.25 percent utility-excise tax to 13 percent in order to raise approximately $700,000 more for roads fixes next year.

Lax fire inspections tied to Walla Walla budget proposal

WALLA WALLA — A push to comply with state fire codes and the threat of higher insurance rates are why city officials want to hire a second inspector and impose new fees on an estimated 1,680 businesses and rental properties of three units or more.

City proposes $29.3M expense budget for 2015

WALLA WALLA — Despite flat revenues and increasing costs, city officials have proposed a balanced budget for the next two years with a healthy 15 percent ending fund balance and more money for streets.

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Orchestra competition classic case of nerves

WALLA WALLA — Student performances frequently resound through the music halls of Whitman College, with the only tension being those of tightly wound strings.

Substitutes hard to find for local schools

School districts across the nation are facing substitute teacher shortages, including local schools where district officials report subnormal applicant numbers.

Whitman’s new president visits campus

WALLA WALLA — Whitman College President George Bridges announced his successor to a standing-room-only crowd of about 400 students, faculty and staff.

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Whitman College names new president

WALLA WALLA — Whitman College officials announced today the successor to current President George Bridges, who had announced he will leave the position in June after the current school year ends.

Mechanical problem, weather lead to trash pickup delay

WALLA WALLA — Thanks to mechanical problems coupled with a back-up of garbage after Veterans Day, city crews are running one to two days late on emptying garbage and green waste bins.

Across-America horseman resigns from Milton-Freewater Council

MILTON-FREEWATER — City officials next week will decide how to fill a vacancy created by Council member Sam Hopkins-Hubbard’s recent resignation.

Final vote tally confirms Turner win, leaves hospital bond just short

Local election results saw no change after Friday’s tally of uncounted ballots, including the results for the Walla Walla County sheriff’s race and a cliffhanger vote over a $5.5 million capital improvement bond for Columbia County Hospital District.