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A month-by-month recap of 2016

By Rylan Boggs

Blue Mountain Eagle

Published on December 27, 2016 7:03PM

Staff photo by E.J. Harris
Rancher Bruce Strange, left, from Kimberly listens as Gordon Larson speaks out against the refuge occupation at a public meeting at the senior center Jan. 26 in John Day.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris Rancher Bruce Strange, left, from Kimberly listens as Gordon Larson speaks out against the refuge occupation at a public meeting at the senior center Jan. 26 in John Day.

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• Ronald Roy Horsman, 68, of Long Creek died in a fire that destroyed his residence.

• Rod Carpenter killed a trophy buffalo on a hunt in the Henry Mountains of Utah. The Boone and Crocket trophy club rated Carpenter’s buffalo in the top 10 for Utah, scoring 124.

• Professional rodeo photographer and John Day resident Lindsey Wyllie was awarded “The Competitor News” magazine’s 2015 Photographer of the Year, for the fifth consecutive year.

• Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer met in John Day with members of two groups tied to the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

• A helicopter pilot and his passenger were injured in a crash near Ritter Butte when their helicopter, which was being used to hunt coyotes, ran out of fuel. Both men survived, but the helicopter was deemed a total loss.

• Ammon and Ryan Bundy and three other refuge occupiers were arrested by the FBI and Oregon State Police on Highway 395 north of Burns and a sixth member of the group was shot and killed during the encounter. The men were headed to a meeting at the John Day Senior Center.


• After being convicted of kidnapping and abusing a woman, Matthew Eric Sagaser, 31, Mt. Vernon, was sentenced to a total of 271 days in jail and 36 months of supervised probation with no contact with the victim. He was ordered to pay a $600 fine and $6,728 in restitution to Blue Mountain Hospital.

  • • Brian Johns of Prairie City was injured after a 55-gallon drum he was welding exploded outside his Bridge Street home.

  • • The Grant Union Prospector wrestlers placed second with 158.5 points at the 1A/2A Special District 4 Wrestling Tournament. Clay Johnson (132 pounds) and Antonio Dancer (138) were district champions, and Andrew Copenhaver (152) qualified for state with a second-place finish.

  • • At least eight people filed formal complaints against Sheriff Glenn Palmer with the state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. The department sent the complaints to the Oregon Department of Justice, recommending an investigation.

  • • Peggy Gray, who served as John Day city manager since 2001, announced plans to retire July 1. She said her time with the city had been “great ... and a real education.”

  • • Two people from Prairie City were seriously injured in a fatal crash near Pilot Rock. Alexxyss L. Therwhanger, 20, Kennewick, was pronounced dead at the scene of a head-on wreck on Highway 395 south of Pilot Rock.


  • • The Grant County Court opted not to fund an investigation into the Canyon Creek Complex fire at the behest of the Public Forest Commission and some community members.

  • • Brennon Witty, 26, formerly of John Day, pleaded guilty to a Class A violation of Taking a Threatened/Endangered Species for shooting a radio-collared wolf in October 2015. He was fined $1,000, ordered to pay restitution of $1,000 to ODFW, and the firearm used in the incident, a Savage Arms .223 rifle with scope, was forfeited to the state.

  • • The Grant County Court passed a resolution condemning the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

  • • An overwhelming majority of voters, about 90 percent, in Malheur County rejected the idea of a national monument in a corner of southeast Oregon known as the Owyhee Canyonlands.

  • • Monument High School junior Cauy Pool won first place at the Challenge of Champions junior bull riding competition in Prineville.

  • • The Oregon Department of Justice opened an investigation into a complaint against Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer.

  • • Blue Mountain Hospital CEO Randall Mee parted ways with the hospital’s contracted management provider.

  • • Scott Willingham, who was linked to the refuge occupation, was arrested in Mt. Vernon after reportedly threatening to shoot federal law enforcement agents if he was not taken to jail.

  • • An elk joined the fun at Dayville’s Bunny Hop 5K. He completed the course on South Fork Road, keeping pace with the other participants, all the way into Dayville City Park but stopped just short of crossing the finish line.

  • • Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer deputized Roy Peterson, who was set to begin trial in Grant County Circuit Court on felony theft charges stemming from the acquisition of equipment for a fire district.


  • • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shot and killed four Imnaha Pack wolves in northeast Oregon involved in five confirmed livestock attacks.

  • • Sheriff Glenn Palmer gave notice he intends to sue the city of John Day and its employees for a list of allegations stemming from actions related to the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

  • • Dayville resident Julie Carr collected signatures in an effort to recall Grant County Commissioner Boyd Britton.

  • • Blue Mountain Hospital employees IRS Form W-2 information was compromised in an email phishing scam, but no patient data was affected.

  • • The Grant County Court chose not to immediately support a proposal to change the sheriff’s office dispatch center from the current service provider, the city of John Day, to a company in Wheeler County.

  • • Thirteen natural features in Grant County were re-named, replacing “squaw” titles for new monikers proposed by the Grant County Court and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.


  • • Jacob DeRosier, 29, John Day was accused of shooting two men in a John Day trailer park.

  • • Hannah Brandsma and Rayne Houser, both 2014 graduates of Grant Union Junior-Senior High School, and seniors Taylor McCluskey from Grant Union and Jamie Waltenburg from Dayville each received $5,000 in Oregon Trail Electric Co-op scholarships.

  • • The Lady Prospector softball team beat the Umatilla Vikings 25-0 and 27-1 at the Seventh Street Complex.

  • • The FBI arrested Michael Ray Emry, 54, of Idaho in John Day for possessing an unregistered machine gun with the serial number removed.

  • • Grant County officials threatened to sue over a federal board’s decision to rename geographic features that contained the word “squaw.”

  • • The cast of the reality TV show “Gold Rush” were special guests at a Grant County Chamber of Commerce meeting.

  • • Prairie City Mayor Jim Hamsher was elected to serve as a Grant County Commissioner starting in 2017.

  • • Haley Walker was hired as the new manager of the Grant County Regional Airport in John Day.

  • • A ransomware attack on Grant County Education Service District shut down county and school email and internet operations.

  • • The same day Sheriff Glenn Palmer’s attorneys responded to an allegation he deleted a public record, a lawsuit was filed asking a judge to force him to release other records.

  • • Grant County became the second in Oregon to be designated a “Purple Heart County.”

  • • The Grant Union girls track team won the 2A OSAA Track and Field State Championship.


  • • John Day City Council members unanimously agreed to appoint Nick Green as city manager.

  • • Grant Union Junior-Senior High School Choir Director Mary Ann Vidourek announced her plans to retire after 25 years of teaching.

  • • William Allen Goodwin III was indicted on two sex crimes involving a minor.

  • • A Seneca man and his son on an Alaska fishing trip died when their boat overturned in Glacier Bay National Park.

  • • Fourteen stock and guard dogs were poisoned with strychnine in southwestern Idaho, and 12 died.

  • • Authorities recovered the body of Cody Lane Watson, 16, of Monmouth who drowned in the John Day River near Spray.


  • • David Kodesh, 21, of Mt. Vernon was arrested and charged with unlawful use of a weapon, first-degree assault, menacing and second-degree disorderly conduct, following a shooting in John Day.

  • • County Clerk Brenda Percy said she certified 505 signatures to place the recall of County Commissioner Boyd Britton on the ballot during a special election.

  • • A Forest Service decision authorized salvage treatments for the Canyon Creek Complex fire.

  • • The John Day Swim Team placed fourth overall at the Lakeview Swim Meet.

  • • The Grant County Court voted unanimously to allow the placement of medical marijuana dispensaries in the county, outside of cities.

  • • Gov. Kate Brown unveiled a multi-pronged plan called “Oregonians United to End Gun Violence,” aimed decreasing gun violence in the state.

  • • The legal expense trust fund for Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer, who is being investigated by the Oregon Department of Justice, received more than $20,000 in donations between April and June, including one from a fictional character with a false address.

  • • Seven-year-old Dylan Beede was found after spending the night alone in the Malheur National Forest after becoming separated from family and friends camped at the Elk Creek Campground.

  • • The Blue Mountain Eagle won 10 awards at the annual Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association’s 2016 Better Newspaper Contest.

  • • Ryan Payne, a military veteran accused of taking leadership roles in two armed standoffs involving federal authorities, pleaded guilty in Oregon to a conspiracy charge.


  • • David Kodesh pleaded guilty to two charges stemming from a shooting in John Day and was sentenced to eight months in county jail with 24 months of post-prison supervision 18 months of supervised probation and 60 hours of community service for the misdemeanor.

  • • A judge granted a temporary restraining order against Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer, preventing him from deleting emails, after The Oregonian newspaper sued him to release records.

  • • Grant County voters chose to keep County Commissioner Boyd Britton in office, voting almost two to one against the recall attempt against him.

  • • Country legend Sammy Kershaw played to a packed arena at the Grant County Fair.

  • • At a public forum nearly a year after the 110,000-acre Canyon Creek Complex fire in 2015 that destroyed 43 homes, Forest Service officials said, in hindsight, they would have done some things differently but that weather conditions fueled the catastrophic fire, which could not be safely quelled due to a lack of available firefighters in the region.

  • • A 12-person jury convicted former Monument fire chief Roy Richard Peterson on three felony counts related to theft from the fire district.

  • • Dayville resident Cindy Bolman received four stitches after jumping in to rescue a dog being attacked by another dog in John Day.

  • • John Day City Manager Nick Green proposed an innovative solution to upgrading the city’s out-of-date wastewater treatment plant by replacing it with a hydroponic treatment plant that would use reclaimed wastewater to help grow cash crops to offset the cost of the facility.


  • • Eva Dougharity was sworn in as mayor of Mt. Vernon.

  • • The Grant Union Prospector football team started its season with a shutout win over the Weston-McEwen TigerScots.

  • • Sixteen-year-old Justin Baker’s body was found in the Malheur National Forest a day after he disappeared.

  • • Scott Raymond Beard, 46, a former Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office captain and resident of Deschutes County, was sentenced to five years in prison by U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane for stealing over $200,000 in public funds he was entrusted to manage.

  • • John Day residents told the city council they walk armed in fear of dog attacks.

  • • Chad Finley of Mt. Vernon placed first in calf roping with a time of 8.20 at the Grant County Rodeo, one of the last NPRA rodeos of the regular season.

  • • Norma Rynearson was honored for years of service to the Prairie City American Legion Unit 106 Auxiliary, which she joined shortly after World War II.

  • • Grant County Circuit Court Judge William D. Cramer Jr. nullified the citizen initiative that created the Public Forest Commission, stating it conflicted with paramount state and federal law.

  • • Canyon City resident Judy Kerr, who is also a special sheriff’s deputy, shot a dog that attacked her while she was walking her dog in Canyon City. Grant County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident, and District Attorney Jim Carpenter said she acted in self-defense. No charges were filed.

  • • The Prairie City/Burnt River Panther/Bulls made a powerful showing in their first league game of the season with a 56-6 win over the Monument/Dayville Tigers.


  • • The Grant County Court passed an ordinance allowing patients to purchase medical marijuana at dispensaries in Grant County.

  • • It’s a Dirty Shame Saloon closed its doors, and Ali Lenz, a former bartender at the Grubsteak, bought the bar when it went up for sale. She renamed it The Ugly Truth Bar and Grill.

  • • The Canyon City Community Hall was packed for a presentation covering the ongoing “patriot” movement in Oregon given by Jessica Campbell, organizing director for the Rural Organizing Project.

  • • John Day resident Jim Spell returned from South Carolina, where he managed and worked in Red Cross relief shelters, providing aid to those affected by Hurricane Matthew.

  • • The cities of John Day and Canyon City feuded over sewer payments.

  • • Grant County Justice of the Peace Kathy Stinnett was elected president of the Oregon Justice of the Peace Association.

  • • Bobbee Hueckman and Kori Martin opened the BLVD Salon and Spa in John Day.

  • • Blue Mountain Hospital hired Derek Daly as chief executive officer.


  • • The Grant Union Prospector football team, undefeated in league, claimed the Wapiti League championship title after a 48-18 victory over the Union Bobcats.

  • • The people of Grant County re-elected Sheriff Glenn Palmer.

  • • Sharon Livingston of Long Creek was named Agriculturalist of the Year by Oregon Ag Link.

  • • A judge dismissed the public records lawsuit filed by The Oregonian newspaper against Grant County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Glenn Palmer but stated The Oregonian could still seek attorney fees.

  • • Joan Bowling of Canyon City received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for 21 years of service as coordinator of the local American Red Cross blood drives.

  • • Following months of disagreement, Canyon City and John Day reached a wastewater agreement.

  • • A dog being walked off-leash at the Seventh Street Complex in John Day by Claws and Paws owner Chris Labhart attacked and killed another dog off its leash.


  • • The Oregonian submitted a request for $78,000 in attorney fees from Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer after the public records lawsuit.

  • • The 23rd annual Carrie Young Memorial drew a crowd of close to 350 people and raised nearly $24,000 for local seniors.

  • • Grant County Sheriff’s Office corrections deputy Joseph A. Hutchison, 25, was arrested by Oregon State Police detectives on gun and domestic violence charges,following an incident at his home in John Day.

  • • William Allen Goodwin III was sentenced to 68 months in prison after pleading guilty to a sex crime involving a person younger than 12.


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