Local graduates with guide dog

Suzanne Brewster of Gresham graduated training Saturday, Aug. 26, from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc., in Boring with her yellow Labrador/Golden Retriever mix, Otis.

Brewster is a dietician at Legacy Emmanuel Hospital.

During training, skilled guide dogs and their new partners learn to negotiate stairways, elevators, overhead obstacles, crowded sidewalks and busy streets. Dogs are trained to avoid distractions and disobey commands to cross a street if traffic is approaching.

Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc. was established in 1942 and is a nonprofit organization supported by private donations.

Mt. Hood Theatre receives grant

Portland General Electric Foundation awarded $227,900 to 24 Oregon nonprofit programs in the second quarter of 2006.

Of those programs, $2,500 was awarded to Mt. Hood Repertory Theatre in Gresham.

The foundation has distributed more than $10 million to benefit nonprofit organizations across the state.

Smith praises highway work

State Rep. Patti Smith (R-Corbett) said the Oregon Department of Transportation is making a big step in the right direction by making a number of safety improvements to Highway 26.

House District 52, represented by Smith, covers a large section of Highway 26, which is a major commuter route from the Portland area to Central Oregon.

Smith said she is concerned about a series of traffic accidents in recent months on Highway 26 east between Mt. Hood and the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

Recent figures show this section has a 27-percent higher crash rate than the state average.

Earlier this summer, Smith asked the transportation department to evaluate the safety hazards on that stretch of roadway, make necessary upgrades and consider extending the safety corridor.

It recently sent a letter to Rep. Smith to outline actions that will bring better driver attention to this area and improve safety.

They include:

• Adding 55 miles per hour speed signs for East and Westbound traffic.

• Install a chevron, or arrows, sign at a sharp curve near Frog Lake.

• Re-striping and adjusting passing zones in areas not suited for safe passage.

• Adding more signage in the future.

Initial work is due to be complete by the end of September. The agency is willing to revisit Smith's suggestion to lengthen the safety corridor designation.

'I am glad ODOT is taking such quick action and remains open minded about taking further measures if needed,' Smith said.

Gresham girl wins coed pageant

Whitiney Persson-Ikata, daughter of Amber and Mike Ikata of Gresham, won the American Coed Pageant title of Miss Oregon in the National Miss American Pre-teen division.

She will attend the national pageant for her age group at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., during the Thanksgiving holiday where she will compete with girls from across the country for thousands in scholarship funds and prizes.

In addition to the Miss American Coed National Pageant competition, optional competitions will be held in each of the six age divisions. Some of these competitions include talent, speech, academic achievement, volunteer service, cheerleading, photogenic, acting and modeling.

Whitiney has been spending time helping the elderly and participating in clean-up projects with environmental organizations.

Pottery shown at art festival

Ceramic artist Beverly Curtis of Gresham was featured at the seventh annual Village of Willamette Arts Festival Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 16-17, in the historic district of Willamette Falls Drive in West Linn.

Her piece, 'Koi Pond,' was featured in the Gresham Art Advisory Committee's Ninth Annual Juried Exhibit, where it won the people's choice award.

Curtis employs many different firing techniques in her work, including wood fire, soda, reduction and oxidation firing.

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