100 years ago — 1922

The state highway commission has received an offer from the Umatilla County court to grade the Dead Man’s Pass-Kamela section of the Old Oregon Trail if the state will lend the county $80,000 to do the work. The section covers 12 miles and is one of the most difficult parts of the state for road building, said Commissioner Barratt. The county would pay the money back out of the general road fund as collected. No action will be taken by the commission until Chairman Booth, who is ill in Eugene, sits with the commission. A tentative promise of money for financing the road work has been made by the state highway commission but the commission has not officially acted on the matter. For some time it has been regarded as assured the work will be done during the coming spring.

50 years ago — 1972

“I thought about pushing him over the steep, high cliff, but I didn’t want to kill him,” said Everett McKenzie. Friday night was terrifying for the 18-year-old recent Umatilla High School graduate who was kidnapped at gunpoint by Johnny Dean Chadwick, 18, La Grande. The experience started on a bus near the Woelpern exit west of Arlington about 7:30 p.m. and ended about four hours later after McKenzie eluded his kidnapper in the hills near Interstate 80 North and ran into Arlington where he found a police officer. McKenzie was sitting alone at the back of the bus when Chadwick approached him and drew a revolver. The hjacker demanded the bus driver stop the bus and then took McKenzie with him at gunpoint. In climbing the hill south of the freeway, McKenzie said he realized Chadwick had a mental problem. Once he fired the revolver and “it missed my head by about a foot,” McKenzie said. He was able to escape by shoving his kidnapper who fell and started rolling down a hill. Chadwick was later seen on the highway and taken into custody.

25 years ago — 1997

Hermiston High School juniors Stephanie Smelser and Tori Fordice are accustomed to being in front of a crowd. As varsity cheerleaders, they regularly perform before schoolmates and fans at games and pep assemblies. But when the two packed their Bulldog spirit and headed to Orlando, Fla., to perform in the Citrus Bowl’s half-time show with 1,200 other cheerleaders, the experience of being in front of more than 16,000 people was electrifying. The two-minute Dr. Seuss-inspired routine, which required the mega-squad to wear red sweat suits while dancing in 100 degree heat, was the culmination of six months’ preparation. Eight HHS varsity and junior varsity cheerleaders were nominated to try out for All-American status. After Smelser and Fordice earned a place on the national squad in July, they began soliciting sponsors to cover the $1,400 cost of the trip. While in Orlando from Dec. 28 to Jan. 2, they practiced and visited attractions. Cheerleading coach Susan Dick said the HHS squad is one of the strongest she’s seen in a long time. “These girls are very talented,” she said of Fordice, Smelser and their co-cheerleaders.

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