Back to profile

Laura Gjovaag

Stories by Laura

Police commander in Sunnyside accepts top cop job in Othello

Sunnyside Police Commander Phil Schenck will be leaving the city to take a position as the police chief of Othello.

Tease photo

Mabton Council discusses mayor’s request for pay hike

MABTON – Mayor Mario Martinez’s bid for a substantial raise in pay has a city resident concerned it might be a power grab.

Tease photo

Taco feed this Friday will help pay off medical bills of fifth grader who beat cancer

A taco feed fundraiser for Logan Bodrero, who spent most of his fifth-grade year fighting for his life against cancer, will be held this Friday, July 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church gymnasium in Sunnyside.

Former city of Sunnyside prosecuting attorney charged with violating state’s code of judicial conduct

The Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct announced last Friday that former Sunnyside prosecutor and Granger Municipal Court Judge Kathleen Hitchcock has been charged with violating the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct.

Tease photo

Berry good crop

Before the heat of the day has reached the gardens near Sunnyside Christian Reformed Church, a group of young people are out quietly picking the strawberries that are practically bursting from the rows of plants.

Tease photo

Democrats seek to bring new political blood to region

Seeking to change the way voters look at Central Washington politics are four candidates as vastly different as their ages.

Congratulations are in order, today

My niece got married last Friday.

Tease photo

Sunnyside Council OK’s fire sale on jail bed prices

The Sunnyside City Council unanimously authorized City Manager Don Day to reduce rates at the Sunnyside jail from the current rate of about $54 a day per prisoner to a minimum of $40 a day in order to fill empty cells.

Sunnyside’s six-year transportation plan approved

A public hearing on Sunnyside’s six-year transportation improvement program yielded no comments from the public and very little discussion at last night’s city council meeting.

Yakima County candidates stump for votes in Sunnyside

Four candidates for public office were present at this morning’s Sunnyside Republican Club meeting, along with the wife of another candidate who could not make the meeting due to obligations in his current position.

Tease photo

Grammy-winning Sunnyside native returns home for concert

Two-time Grammy Award winner and Sunnyside High School alumnus Joel Guzman will be performing in Sunnyside on Saturday, July 19, at the Sunnyside Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge.

Business groups call for immigration reform...NOW

Although both parties in Congress have declared immigration reform a dead issue this year, a large group of pro-business organizations called for a national day of action yesterday (Wednesday) and declared the immigration crisis to be something that Congress needs to deal with immediately.

Tease photo

City wants to hear from public on allowing chickens to be raised here

The Sunnyside Planning Commission will hold a public hearing at its next meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 12, to discuss an ordinance change that would allow people to raise chickens within city limits.

Tease photo

Zoning change sought for housing development

A proposal to change city zoning on a lot on South Street to allow a private road and eight new houses met with general approval from the Sunnyside Planning Commission Tuesday night.

Tease photo

City bleeding money due to empty jail cells

The city of Sunnyside stands to lose approximately $120,000 in jail revenues if it cannot fill the empty beds in the facility, according to Police Commander Phil Schenck.

Tease photo

Crime free rental program working in Sunnyside

Sunnyside’s crime free rental housing program is working, according to police officials who presented an overview and update on the program to the city’s subcommittee on public safety yesterday afternoon.

Tease photo

21st Century camp underway in Sunnyside

Campers at the 21st Century summer camp, held at Sunnyside’s Sierra Vista Middle School this year, are learning a little bit of everything.

Tease photo

Granger native has hand in bringing Scottish legend to the big screen

At Balgonie Castle in Scotland this past month, Granger native Marco Palmer was on the set of “The Fairy Flag,” filming a cameo in the movie he co-wrote.

Tease photo

Pool manager comes home to serve Grandview

GRANDVIEW – Amanda McLean’s mother no longer lives in Grandview, where McLean grew up, but she still returns to the area every summer to work at the Grandview pool.

Tease photo

Evergreen Boys State ‘amazing’ experience for Lower Valley high school junior class students

“It was amazing,” said Brendon Lynch of his experience at Evergreen Boys State.

Tease photo

A year later, mill keeps alpaca farmers busy

Silbury Hill Alpacas kicked off its fourth summer season and first anniversary of the installation of its mill this past weekend with a day of tours at the farm north of Sunnyside.

Tease photo

Focus of fair to educate people on kidney health

While kidneys were the focus of the “Healthy Habits, Happy Kidneys” health and wellness fair at DaVita Mt. Adams Kidney Center in Sunnyside this past Saturday, attendees were able to learn about a lot of different options for health care in the Lower Valley.

School levy for athletic facilities likely to be put before local voters

The Sunnyside School District may be putting a levy on the November ballot to pay for an upgrade to the district’s athletic facilities.

Tease photo

$40,975 parent engagement program OK’d

A project that will teach English to parents of Sunnyside Middle School students was approved by the school board Thursday night.

Tease photo

Bridges, roads need a lot of work to become safe again

The recent closure of the Mabton Bridge to traffic over three tons should have locals waking up to a major problem.

Tease photo

Completion of new homes celebrated

GRANGER – “This is not a small thing, no es cosa pequeña,” said Mario Villanueva

Tease photo

2014-15 Washington state dairy ambassador receives crown

EVERETT – Janis DeJager from Everson, representing Whatcom County, is the 2014-15 Washington State Dairy Ambassador.

Attorney says city needs to take action on water rights plans

The city of Sunnyside should take several actions as soon as possible to protect its water rights, according to water rights lawyer Thomas Pors, who presented an overview of the city’s water situation to the council last night.

Frequency of subcommittee meetings reviewed

“I don’t like having meetings just for the sake of having meetings,” said City Manager Don Day near the conclusion of a discussion on the city’s subcommittee meetings.

Tease photo

Horsemen visit Sunnyside to raise money to fight cancer

Riders from all over the Yakima Valley turned out for the fourth annual Sort 4 the Cause fundraiser held at Sunnyside’s Specks Arena this past weekend.

Tease photo

Scope of sampling takes center stageat groundwater confab

Detecting nitrates focus of free samplings

GRANGER – A review of the Groundwater Advisory Committee’s work at last night’s meeting turned into questions on whether or not the sampling size and scope will be big enough to properly assess the situation.

Tease photo

Lodging tax committee gearing up for next year’s requests

Sunnyside’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee had only three members present at last night’s meeting, but it was enough to make short work of the agenda.

Construction will be worth it in the end

It will be nice when the construction is done.

Local Rainier crop sustains some damage

Some cherry growers in the area were hit hard by rains over the weekend that resulted in bruised fruit and damaged trees.

Tease photo

Salesman balances work with education

Education is important to Eric Garza.

Carbon tax could help boost economy

A new national study commissioned by the Citizens Climate Lobby concludes that a carefully implemented carbon tax would boost the economy.

Tease photo

City paving the way for residents to raise chickens

The Sunnyside Planning Commission will be drafting an ordinance to allow chickens to be raised within the city limits of Sunnyside.

Tease photo

Grandview salutes senior class of 2014

GRANDVIEW – Rich Leenhouts Stadium was packed with proud family members, including one woman brought in on a stretcher, as the class of 2014 marched onto the field, 128 strong.

Tease photo

Councilman reveals name of former city employee under investigation for fraud

At last night’s Sunnyside City Council meeting, Councilman Jason Raines – to the consternation of some in attendance – revealed the name of a city employee under investigation for allegedly making personal purchases on a city account and questioned why the employee had been paid by the city.

City of Sunnyside will be buying a fourth ambulance

The Sunnyside City Council approved the purchase of a fourth ambulance by the fire department as part of an ongoing effort by the department to update its aging fleet.

S’side author celebrates book release this month

Although her book, “My Story Power To Rule,” was already published online through’s CreateSpace, Bridget Lain, aka B.J. Joke, was delighted to get help from Tate Publishing.

Tease photo

Wall of Fame inductees honored

Along with a new graduating class, the Sunnyside School District inducted four new members into the Sunnyside High School Wall of Fame last Friday and celebrated a previous inductee who was not able to attend last year.

Tease photo

If at first you don’t succeed...try, try again

Sunnyside High dropped from Washington state’s bottom 5%

Sunnyside High School has been dropped from the state’s priority list made up of the bottom 5 percent of schools in Washington state.

Lower Valley growers encouraged to have soil tested for free

Growers in the Lower Valley area can have their fields tested for high nitrates over the next couple of years for free by contacting the South Yakima Conservation District.

Tease photo

‘Crowdfunding’ the future with solar roads?

Are we to the point now that normal people can fund projects that will change the future?

Tease photo

New financial analyst a ‘valuable asset’ to city

Sunnyside’s new financial analyst, Elizabeth Alba, was introduced this past Tuesday night to the city council’s subcommittee on finance and administrative services.

Tease photo

School board addresses myriad of issues

Down one director with the absence of Dylan Gardner, the Sunnyside School Board took its time last night (Thursday) working through a lengthy agenda.

Tease photo

Major road projects underway starting today on Sunnyside’s section of Yakima Valley Highway

Travel on Yakima Valley Highway is about to slow down as summer construction projects get underway along the roadway, including a repaving project that will close off the highway in front of the Mid Valley Mall entirely for two days in the next two weeks.

Council happy with Day

The Sunnyside City Council is pretty happy with the performance of City Manager Don Day.