Phil Wright

Senior Reporter
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Wright, Phil

Sheriff Rowan seeks state funds for Umatilla County Jail mental health revamp

- Plan would create room for inmates suffering mental health crises

Umatilla County selects charter review committee


The Umatilla County Board of Commissioners selected nine people to serve on the county charter review committee.

The county’s home rule charter requires a committee of at least five residents to review the f...

PGE seeks permit to increase pollution at Carty plant in Boardman

- Public hearing on Thursday at Port of Morrow

After first burglary sentencing, Morrow County co-defendants change plea

- Daniel Faustino Arce gets almost 13 years after crime spree near Heppner

Pilot Rock hires new recorder, must improve accounting


Pilot Rock has hired a new Teri for the city recorder position.

Teri Porter has worked in the role since 2011 and is retiring at the end of April. The city council recently approved hiring Teri Bacus to take the jo...

Two Morrow County car theft defendants arrested in Georgia


Two of three defendants facing charges in Morrow County for vehicle theft and more in October are in a jail in Georgia.

Buddy James Buoy, 42, and Julia Rachell Kraus, 37, both of Portland, ended up in the Houston C...

Umatilla County pushes state for watermaster post


The Oregon Water Resources Department is working to hire a watermaster to work in Milton-Freewater. Umatilla County Commissioner Larry Givens called that welcome progress.

The position stems from a deal the county ...

Athena mayor announces run for Umatilla County commissioner

- John Shafer to face off against incumbent Commissioner Larry Givens

Umatilla County, Hermiston negotiate agreement for EOTEC split

- Umatilla County will have invested more than $6 million by 2022

Evan Freel murder case tracking for settlement conference


Child murder defendant Evan Freel of Milton-Freewater could be heading to a conference to settle his case.

Freel, 18, had a courtroom appearance Wednesday morning in Pendleton before Circuit Judge Christopher Braue...

Violent crime rises, property crimes fall in Pendleton


Violent crime in Pendleton rose 48 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to the city police department’s latest crime report.

Pendleton police collects the crime data the FBI uses in its National Incident Bas...

Disaster teams, locals pitch in on flooded farm

- Nonprofit joins local responders to help Milton-Freewater family

School board accepts PHS principal’s resignation

- Pendleton school super gets third year on contract

Trials underway for Morrow County armed robbery defendants


The Morrow County trial for armed robbery defendant Daniel Faustino Arce of Portland stretches into its fourth day Tuesday. And the trial for co-defendant Desirea Devin of Heppner begins Wednesday.

District Attorne...

Fair price: What will $100,000 get you?

- A side-by-side (but not apples-to-apples) comparison of large venues for rent

Umatilla County adds funding to improve mental health, addiction services for jail inmates

- Drug court resurrection also in works, will operate between conviction and sentencing

Pendleton’s new fire station remains on target


Pendleton firefighters at their future station will be able to warn passers-by they are hitting the road with the push of a button.

A big, red, mushroom-shaped button on the wall.

The new station on the east ...

Locals get primer on immigration rights


Do Dreamers have to worry about deportation from the United States? Do undocumented immigrants have constitutional rights?

Members of the Walla Walla Immigration Rights Coalition answered those and other tricky que...

PGG selling more surplus sites

- Property for sale in Umatilla and Union counties

Milton-Freewater man gets 212 years for sexual abuse of girl


Jeffrey Allen Pierce blinked twice into the camera when he heard Circuit Judge Christopher Brauer sentence him to prison for more than 200 years.

Pierce, 40, a former Milton-Freewater gun shop owner, chose to appea...

State wants more than 200 years for Milton-Freewater sex abuser

- Jeffrey Allen Pierce goes to sentencing Friday on 36 counts of sex crimes

Umatilla County budget holds steady for next fiscal year

- Commissioners talk of staying ‘right size,’ not adding or cutting

Local legislators talk about what they’re pitching in 35-day session

- Short session provides tight fit for big proposals

Despite permit, no problem turkeys killed


The federal wildlife service stands ready to take out wild turkeys roaming Pilot Rock should the need arise.

So far, it hasn’t.

Citizen complaints about the turkeys causing property damage and creati...

Umatilla County embarks on overdue charter review


Umatilla County is past due for a review of its home rule charter, the document that establishes the form and functions of county government. The county is working to remedy that.

The charter requires a committee o...

Teen trashes Pendleton Convention Center

- Trashed building, including two new 80-inch televisions

Spray paint vandal strikes in Pendleton


Pendleton police are on the track of someone who vandalized properties and vehicles Saturday night on a North Hill neighborhood.

“We have some investigative leads were are following on now to try and lock th...

Our New Neighbors: Grants Pass transplants about to start their family in Pendleton


Ben Carleton and Erin Biencourt miss the trees of Grants Pass, yet the couple said Eastern Oregon has its own beauty.

They have been together for three-and-a-half years. Erin, 32, arrived in Pendleton in May to ove...

Pendleton marijuana farm gets approval


Pendleton’s third marijuana grow operation received the green light Tuesday night from the city planning commission.

This was the third hearing to consider a conditional use permit for Burnswell Family Farms...

Pendleton’s policy on snow-covered roads: Let it stay

- Downtown businesses open, with mixed feelings about no-plow policy

Hamley’s co-owner files second suit against business partner


Hamley’s co-owner Blair Woodfield is calling in his chips against business partner Parley Pearce.

Woodfield is again suing Pearce, this time for almost $873,000. Woodfield’s attorney, Steven Joseph of...

Local felon in jail for burglary at undersheriff’s home


Local offender Dylan Lieght Russell is back behind bars after the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office arrested him Dec. 17 for burglary and theft. The victim was Undersheriff Jim Littlefield and his family.