Sheriff faces harassment accusation

Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler could face a harassment charge for his alleged treatment of a local teenager during the Oct. 24 Homecoming Parade.

Late last week Hood River City Prosecutor Johnson Dunn was notified that the Oregon State Police had finalized its investigation into a formal complaint filed about the alleged incident. That report is being forwarded to Dunn and after reviewing it he will decide if further investigation is needed.

“Certainly it’s an unfortunate situation for everyone involved. The important thing is that everyone in the community knows that the people in responsible positions are taking this seriously and taking the right steps to ensure it’s followed up on,” Dunn said.

If Dunn proceeds with charges against Wampler, the city prosecutor will then have to decide whether to pursue the case himself or turn it over to an independent counsel. Dunn has been given the green light by the Oregon State Bar to handle the matter even though he is employed by the Wyers-Haskell law firm which conducts legal business for the county.

However, Dunn believes it might be more appropriate to turn the litigation over to an official from the Oregon Department of Justice, “if for no other reason than to avoid any appearance of impropriety.”

“In determining whether or not to prosecute Sheriff Wampler and in resolving this case he will be treated like anyone else and I’ve made the victim’s family aware of this,” said Dunn. “I have been acquainted with the sheriff for years and I don’t think he would expect any less of the other officials in this area than that they do whatever they are supposed to do.”

Wampler said the allegation made against him was “untrue.” He declined to comment further until he had been provided with an opportunity to review the OSP report.

“I’m very disappointed in this whole thing, I don’t mind that a complaint is being investigated but nobody’s ever gotten back to me to let me know what’s going on,” he said.

Dunn said he was first contacted about the potential problem from a lead city law enforcement official who witnessed the interaction between Wampler and the 16-year-old Hood River Valley High School student.

During a meeting with that witness, Dunn reassured him that it had been a correct move to file a complaint. That decision was also reinforced when several citizens also came forward to provide witness statements.

According to an undisclosed source, Wampler allegedly pushed the high school student up against a chain link fence with his hands around his neck near May Street. That altercation reportedly took place after the teen refused to heed Wampler and Police Chief Tony Dirks’ directives to stop riding his skateboard against the flow of traffic on a one-way street.

In talking to the victim’s family, Dunn said it was alleged that the boy was not injured.

If that information is correct, he said Wampler could be charged with harassment instead of assault.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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