Blue Mountain Eagle | http://www.bluemountaineagle.com Blue Mountain Eagle Tue, 21 Feb 2017 05:39:06 -0500 en http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/staticimage/images/rss-logo.jpg Blue Mountain Eagle | http://www.bluemountaineagle.com Grant Union girls advance to Round One in state action http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170220/grant-union-girls-advance-to-round-one-in-state-action http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170220/grant-union-girls-advance-to-round-one-in-state-action#Comments Mon, 20 Feb 2017 22:08:19 -0500 Angel Carpenter http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229997 The Grant Union Lady Prospectors advance to the state basketball playoffs after placing second at Saturday’s Wapiti District Tournament.

Grant Union will travel to Pilot Rock to take on the Pilot Rock Rockets at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, for Round One of the state playoffs.

Cost of admission is $6 for adults, $4 students.

Grant Union, the Wapiti League champions, earned a bye in last weekend’s tournament held at Eastern Oregon University’s Quinn Coliseum in La Grande.

The Prospectors came out strong in the second half of the championship game against the Imbler Panthers, but lost the squeaker 29-28.

In the team’s previous meetings this season, Grant Union won by two points at home, and Imbler won by two on their court.

In Saturday’s contest, the Prospectors were making a comeback after being down 19-11 at the half.

“We started slow in first half and just could not get any rhythm offensively,” said Grant Union head coach Mark Mosley.

Grant Union turned things around with a strong third quarter, scoring 14 points.

With 1:30 left in the game, the Prospectors were up by one, but couldn’t hold on for the win.

“I was proud of how we battled and gave ourselves a chance to win,” Mosley said.

Hailie Wright led Grant Union with six points, followed by Madi McKrola and Kaylee Wright with five each.

Prospectors Jozie Rude and Trinity Hutchison each scored four and Mariah Moulton had three.

Grant Union is seeded 11th as they gear up to face Pilot Rock.

The Prospectors defeated the Rockets 37-33 early on in nonleague action at the Dec. 9 Columbia River Clash in Umatilla.

Grant Union’s season record was 7-2 league and 14-6 overall.

Pilot Rock was 6-2 in the Old Oregon League, 18-4 overall. They won the Old Oregon District Tournament, beating Weston-McEwen 65-39 Saturday in the championship game.

If Grant Union wins on Saturday, they’ll advance to the March 2-4 State Championships at the Pendleton Convention Center in Pendleton.

Grant Union All-League selections:

First Team: Hailie and Kaylee Wright

Second Team: Mariah Moulton

Honorable Mention: Madi McKrola and Trinity Hutchinson

Mosley, is in his fifth year as head coach of the team, was selected as the Wapiti League Coach of the Year.

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In theory, new biz taxes could cover shortfall http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170220/in-theory-new-biz-taxes-could-cover-shortfall http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170220/in-theory-new-biz-taxes-could-cover-shortfall#Comments Mon, 20 Feb 2017 19:27:56 -0500 Claire Withycombe http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229998 Capital Bureau

SALEM — Certain types of state business taxes could raise enough additional revenue that match the state’s projected budget shortfall of nearly $1.8 billion, according to an analysis from Oregon’s nonpartisan Legislative Revenue Office.

But those estimates come with serious caveats. They don’t take into account behavioral responses in the broader economy. They also don’t account for other adjustments to taxes that legislators could make in exchange for instituting a new or higher tax on business.

Those catches encapsulate the challenge of crafting the state’s tax policy, a political battle that’s taking shape this session.

The shortfall is the gap between expected revenue for the upcoming two-year budget cycle and what is needed to fund state services at current levels, according to the Democratic chairs of the state legislative budget-writing committee.

Prior to the start of the session Republicans said that they’d be willing to consider revenue reform in exchange for cutting the costs of state government. One target of their ire is the state’s public pension system.

Legislators on the House Revenue Committee — the chamber where revenue-raising measures have to start — spent last week and Monday reviewing different types of taxes that could, if passed, replace or alter the current business tax structure.

Some of those taxes were included in a Legislative Revenue Office analysis of estimated revenue from various types of taxes last week, which officials were quick to say was not a policy proposal.

Revenue officers estimated that if the Legislature increased the corporate income tax rate to 20 percent, they could raise more than $2.8 billion in the 2017-19 budget cycle.

The state’s tax rate on corporate income is currently whichever is greater: a minimum tax on relative sales or 6.6 percent tax on taxable income, for companies making up to $1 million, or 7.6 percent tax for companies making more than that, according to Business Oregon.

In the upcoming biennium, the corporate income tax, at its current rates, is projected to bring in about $1.03 billion.

But, as Legislative Revenue Officer Paul Warner told legislators last week — in something of an understatement — a 20 percent corporate income tax would probably result in “some feedback” from the business community.

The state’s general fund is largely dependent on the income tax, which generally swings up and down with the economy. Some proponents of revenue reform claim the amount businesses contribute to the state’s revenue pool is too little and has shrunk in recent decades.

Corporate income taxes are one subset of business taxes.

There’s a “menu” of options available when it comes to business taxes, says Warner, and states from New Hampshire to Ohio have a different array.

Each type of tax comes with varying consequences in terms of the state’s revenue volatility, administrative complexity and prices on goods and services.

The revenue office last week also presented figures last week to lawmakers on a business privilege tax and a value-added tax.

A business privilege tax is considered an excise tax and levied on the “privilege of doing business” in the state.

Under the Legislative Revenue Office’s analysis, estimates of revenue that such a tax could bring in range from $744 million to $2.8 billion in the upcoming biennium, depending on the threshold for inclusion.

Again, those estimates don’t acknowledge what consequences the institution of such a tax might have on the economy or other changes that legislators could make in combination with those changes, such as eliminating the corporate income tax.

A value-added tax is charged whenever value is added to a product. It can be calculated in different ways, but by one calculation method, it is based on gross sales receipts minus the cost of a business’ purchases from other businesses. The Legislative Revenue Office said, with a $1 million sales threshold, a rate of 1 percent could bring in $1.33 billion or, at 1.5 percent, nearly $2 billion.

With a gross receipts tax, some legislators have expressed concerns about “pyramiding,” or the phenomenon where the cost of goods grows with every step in the supply chain, and eventually trickles down to the consumer.

The amount of pyramiding depends on the good that is being sold, though, according to Warner. Some products, such as agricultural commodities, require more processing. In Nevada, businesses purveying those types of goods are taxed at a lower rate than those selling services such as entertainment.

While a value-added tax has a broad base by incrementalizing charges and minimizes pyramiding, it is uncommon and can put exporters at a competitive disadvantage, according to the Legislative Revenue Office.

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Bill would expand Oregon Health Plan to undocumented children http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170220/bill-would-expand-oregon-health-plan-to-undocumented-children http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170220/bill-would-expand-oregon-health-plan-to-undocumented-children#Comments Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:49:21 -0500 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229999 SALEM — When 12-year-old Raul Perez was diagnosed with a heart problem last fall, his family’s immediate question was how could they afford to pay for medical treatment.

Because Raul came to the United States undocumented at age 3 and lacks a Social Security card, he is ineligible for coverage under the Oregon Health Plan. His mother, a housekeeper, said she and his father, a landscaper, cannot afford the surgery he will eventually need to repair the hole between the top two chambers of his heart.

“Right now, he does not have health insurance, so I cannot sleep at all,” she said. “For me, it is really hard to see how much it’s going to be, how much it’s going to cost for us.”

When Raul speaks, there is no hint of his Mexican origin in his voice. His accent sounds Oregonian as he spouts perfect standard English and helps his mother articulate her thoughts in her adopted language.

Meanwhile, Raul’s 5-year-old sister qualifies for the state Medicaid program because she was born in this country.

Gov. Kate Brown, a bipartisan group of lawmakers and advocates argue that Perez should receive the same benefits as his sister.

The lawmakers have sponsored legislation that would allow the Oregon Health Authority to give health coverage to the more than 17,000 undocumented children in the state, effective July 1. Children in households that earn 300 percent of federal poverty level are eligible for the state health program.

The bill was first proposed by former Rep. Vic Gilliam, R-Silverton, who resigned earlier this month due to his battle with ALS. Gilliam sought to pass the same legislation in 2015, but it died in the Senate.

Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, D-Portland, read testimony by Gilliam in support of this year’s bill during a hearing in the House Committee on Health Care.

“The bill offers care and compassion to a vulnerable Oregon population, and it offers savings and illness prevention for all Oregonians,” Gilliam wrote. “Our communities are stronger when all of our children are healthy.”

Gov. Brown has included the $55 million biennial cost to add the coverage in her proposed budget, released in December. The cost can only be paid for with state general fund dollars.

“Oregon children should have the opportunity to be healthy and ready to learn, and Oregon families should feel confident that a medical event will not dramatically change the trajectory of their lives,” the governor testified Monday.

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Prairie City boys host Round 1 state game Tuesday http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170218/prairie-city-boys-host-round-1-state-game-tuesday http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170218/prairie-city-boys-host-round-1-state-game-tuesday#Comments Sat, 18 Feb 2017 22:21:10 -0500 Angel Carpenter http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219943 The 1A-8 High Desert District Basketball Tournament delivered excitement to the fans as six teams competed Thursday through Saturday at the Grant Union Junior-Senior High School gym in John Day.

In Saturday evening’s boys championship game, the Jordan Valley Mustangs won the championship 71-59 over the Prairie City Panthers.

Prairie City won second in the tournament and will host a Round One state playoff game at the Panther gym, hosting the Echo Cougars. The game starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, with doors opening at 6 p.m.

Cost of admission is $6 for adults and $4 students.

Echo, of the Old Oregon League, has a 7-7 league record, 10-16 overall, and is ranked No. 36.

Prairie City has a 12-2 league record, 15-7 overall, and is ranked No. 18.

On Saturday, playing for third place to advance to state, the Adrian Antelope boys defeated the Monument/Dayville Tigers 43-34.

In girls action on Saturday, Crane beat Adrian 56-51 in the district championship game.

The Jordan Valley girls beat the Prairie City Lady Panthers 54-47 for third place.

Prairie City boys vs. Jordan Valley

Although Jordan Valley claimed the win, Prairie City battled hard to the end.

In the first quarter the teams tied the scored several times, and Jordan Valley pulled ahead to lead the first 17-12.

At the half, the Mustangs led 37-28.

Prairie City came within four points of the Mustangs in the third quarter, but scoring was even, 12-12, and Jordan Valley held onto their lead.

In the final eight minutes, Prairie City continued strong.

Panther players Levi Burke and Dorran Wilson each scored eight points in the fourth, each with a score off a steal, and Devin Packard added four.

Wilson was high-point scorer for the Panthers with 29, followed by Burke with 17.

For the Mustangs, Zeke Quintero had a game high 31 points.

Prairie City head coach Jonathan Gill had a positive outlook after the game.

“I want to say congratulations to the Jordan Valley coach and program, they won and they won with class,” he said. “If you’ve got to lose, that’s a heck of a program to lose to.”

He said he was proud of his team.

“They did everything I asked them to, and they’ve improved all year,” he said. “They played as a team and lost as a team, and they fought to the very end - they fought for four quarters, so nothing to hang their head about.”

He said he had some words for this team, after the game.

“You don’t always win in life,” he said. “You lose sometimes, but what defines a character as a man is what you do when you go through those adverse moments. I think that’s a great group of men, and I know they respond well.”

Prairie City stats vs. Jordan Valley:

Dorran Wilson: 29 points (one three-pointer)

Levi Burke: 17 (three three-pointers)

Wyatt Williams: 5 (one three-pointer)

Devin Packard: 4

Danner Davis: 2

Syd Holman: 2 (2-2 free-throws)

There will be more on the tournament in next week’s Blue Mountain Eagle.

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Prairie City boys advance to district championship game after defeating Monument/Dayville http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170218/prairie-city-advance-to-district-championship-game-defeating-monumentdayville http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170218/prairie-city-advance-to-district-championship-game-defeating-monumentdayville#Comments Sat, 18 Feb 2017 17:20:24 -0500 Angel Carpenter http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219944 The Prairie City Panther boys are advancing the in the 1A-8 High Desert District Basketball Tournament, after claiming a 54-46 victory on Friday over the Monument/Dayville Tigers.

No. 2 Prairie City (12-2, 15-6) will face No. 1 Jordan Valley (15-0, 20-2) at 5:45 p.m. Saturday at Grant Union Junior-Senior High School in John Day.

Prairie City and Monument/Dayville, cross-county teams, faced each other twice in the regular season with Prairie City gaining both wins.

As with previous matches, both teams came out prepared to clash on the court.

A battle beyond the arc in the fourth between the teams brought fans to their feet.

Prairie City drove the game at the start, taking a 19-7 lead in the first quarter.

In the second, Monument/Dayville started chipping away at the Panther’s lead, and the Tigers pulled ahead by one point going into the half, 23-22.

Prairie City head coach Jonathon Gill said his team seemed to have an identity crisis in the first half, and he encouraged them during the break.

“At the half, and even before the game, we talked about the pressure of the moment,” he said. “Those guys, they know each other intimately — all those guys, being 30 miles down the road. So I think the pressure of the moment kind of got to them.”

I told them you can’t get this far in the season and lose who you are,” he said. “I felt that they’ve worked so hard together, and so my message to them at the half was, guys, you have to do this together. You won’t be able to do it with one player. It’s got to be a team.”

Tiger player Hayden Schafer landed a three-point shot to start off the third, and Walczyk also added a three-pointer to give Monument/Dayville a seven-point lead.

Then Prairie City began to close in on the Tigers.

With about two minutes left in the third, Panther Brogan McKrola sank a three-point basket to even the score 33-33.

Prairie City pulled ahead when Lucas McKinley and Dorran Wilson both scored beyond the arc, giving Prairie City a 39-34 lead, going into the fourth.

In a two-minute time span, the opponents went at it with a three-point scoring frenzy.

Prairie City’s Levi Burke got a shot off from the corner for three, and Tanner Walczyk answered back with a three for the Tigers.

Burke again hit a three, and Walczyk followed suit.

After each team fouled, Burke hit two in a row from beyond the arc, bringing Prairie’s lead to 51-40.

Tiger player Schafer sank a three-pointer, but the clock was running down.

Tiger Hayden Schafer went 1-1 at the free-throw line and McKrola also added a point from the line.

“They fought hard,” said Monument/Dayville head coach Jeff Schafer. “Prairie City is a deep team and well coached. We’re just still young, but they did a great job. All the kids did a great job and played hard.”

Schafer added, “We always have faith in this team. When they work as a team they always do a great job — we can beat anybody, but Prairie City just kept fighting.”

Gill said his team came out and played in the second half like the team he knows they are.

“I tip my hat off to coach Schafer and the Monument/Dayville program,” Gill said. “They are so tough, and they are so well coached. They got the best out of this team. We just appreciate the great game for the fans and the community — it was a fun game.”

He added, “There was some stress there, but like I always tell the guys, we trust the preparation, we trust the process, and we trust the peers. That’s what we did tonight.”

Panther player Burke said it was a fun game to play with his teammates.

“Being down at the half was kind of scary, but we went in the locker room, cooled each other off, got composed,” he said. “We got it all together in there, and we came back in the third and fourth quarter and got some good shots from the whole team. We were crashing the boards. I felt like I needed to pick it up, so I tried and it worked out.”

Gill said Jordan Valley is a tough, well-coached team.

“The one thing about them, they’re not going to give you the game, so if we want to win we’re going to have to take it,” Gill said. “At this point in the season, when you get to the championship game, it’s not about x’s and o’s, it’s not about the coaches, it’s about the boys and their brotherhood and their family that they’ve built — they can stand on that, and they’ll be just fine.”

Prairie City stats:

Levi Burke: 25 points (four three-pointers, 2-2 free throws)

Brogan McKrola: 9 (two three-pointers)

Lucas McKinley: 6 (two three-pointers)

Dorran Wilson: 5 (one three-pointer)

Devin Packard: 4

Wyatt Williams: 3 (one three-pointer)

Syd Holman: 2

Monument/Dayville stats:

Hayden Schafer: 14 (three three-pointers)

Tanner Walczyk: 10 (three-three-pointers)

Cody Kluser: 9 (3-6 free throws)

John Ramirez: 5 (one three-pointer)

Drew Wilburn: 4

GW Clark: 3 (3-6 free throws)

Gabe Walker: 1

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City manager proposes economic development plan http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170217/city-manager-proposes-economic-development-plan http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170217/city-manager-proposes-economic-development-plan#Comments Fri, 17 Feb 2017 13:51:05 -0500 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219945 Internet task force working to improve broadband access

By Rylan Boggs

Blue Mountain Eagle

John Day City Manager Nick Green is ready to take on John Day’s failing infrastructure, population decline and unemployment rate.

To address these problems, Green is proposing a three-pronged approach. He wants to make John Day a more desirable place to live, adjust city spending to support improvement projects and find investors and partners to help the city grow.

“If we can regain the population we’ve lost over the last 30 years by differentiating our city to achieve a more competitive position, our businesses will become more profitable, new jobs will be created and public services will become more efficient,” Green said. “More importantly, making investments in our economy will improve the quality of life for all John Day residents.”

Grant County has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 7.2 percent, according to the Oregon Employment Department, and the second-lowest median household income in Oregon at $32,614 per household, according to Green.

He wants to attract young working families, active retirees and digital commuters to create a more diverse and resilient local economy, which will promote growth in institutions like schools and hospitals.

Young working families will help bring fresh ideas into the community, boost school enrollment and contribute to the local economy, he said, and attracting active retirees with disposable income would boost the local economy.

Digital commuters often have a choice where they live, he said, and John Day’s outdoor opportunities could be an excellent incentive to attract them. However, the city needs better broadband connectivity first.

Green said the city has the second-poorest connectivity in Oregon with average download speeds less than 10 megabits per second and upload speeds of less than one megabit per second.

John Day Mayor Ron Lundbom said he supported Green’s development plan and thought improving internet access is key to attracting new residents.

“I think that’s the way he wants to grow our tax base, by giving amenities and services that we don’t already have, by trying to attract people who are going to bring their expertise and entrepreneurship,” Lundbom said.

An internet task force has been set up to address the problem. Consisting of six members, including Green and Grant County Judge Scott Myers, the task force is working towards establishing fast and reliable internet for residents and local businesses.

The task force recently had its first meeting and is working to help John Day join the rest of the world in terms of broadband access, Myers said.

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden addressed concerns from the community about the quality and cost of internet in the county holding back local communities during a town hall meeting on Feb. 9. He said he recently met with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Varadaraj Pai, who wants to expand broadband access in unserved and under-served areas.

“We need to get service to every corner of America, especially our rural areas,” Walden said.

Green also wants to raise awareness of what the area has to offer new residents through a digital marketing and branding campaign, and he wants to move forward on recreation projects like a proposed Seventh Street Park Complex bike track.

If these methods attract people to the city, a wider range of housing options across a broad price range will be needed. Fifty percent of homes built in the city were built prior to 1960, and less than 1 percent rentals are vacant, Green said.

One resource the city may be able to use to attract development is its water supply. Water sales are the largest revenue source for John Day, bringing in roughly $600,000 a year, Green said, and the city has the infrastructure in place to provide more than 10 times the average daily demand.

Although state law requires water revenues to be deposited into a dedicated water fund that can only be spent on the water system, Green said the city may have options to promote economic development with the resource. He said, if the city waived water fees for certain sectors, such as government agencies, and instead charged them an economic development fee, those funds could be used for projects not related to the water system.

Green said the city could also provide water rate incentives to attract “thirsty” industries or amenities, such as a botanical garden and recreational resort similar to the 80-acre Oregon Garden in Silverton.

“Beyond the cost of operations and maintenance, the highest and best use of the city’s residual water revenue would be to increase the population of the service area in order to maximize taxpayers return on investment,” Green wrote in memo to the city council.

Green has also proposed a creative plan for a new wastewater treatment plant incorporating a hydroponic garden. The plant would use reclaimed water to grow cash crops to offset the cost of building and operating the plant.

A feasibility study is planned for 2017 to determine if the hydroponic plant is the best option for the city.

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Strong 2nd half gives Lady Panthers edge over Lady Tigers http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170216/strong-2nd-half-gives-lady-panthers-edge-over-lady-tigers http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170216/strong-2nd-half-gives-lady-panthers-edge-over-lady-tigers#Comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 21:16:00 -0500 Angel Carpenter http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219946 The Prairie City Panther girls battled for a 44-30 Game One win over the Monument/Dayville Tigers on Thursday at the 1A-8 High Desert District Tournament.

The teams kept the scoring close in first half of the contest, which was played at John Day’s Grant Union Junior-Senior High School.

They were tied 10-10 in the first quarter, and the Panthers were ahead by 26-21 going into halftime.

Monument/Dayville came within three points of Prairie City when Tiger Ravyn Walker scored a two-pointer early in the third, but the Panthers outscored the Tigers six to four.

The Tigers had some shots that wouldn’t fall early on in the final eight minutes.

Prairie City’s Brianna Zweygardt, high-point scorer of the game with 14, scored two and later her teammates Sarah Ennis and Cassie Hire each sank a three-pointer, Sarah Ennis adding another two points.

Tiger Kyla Emerson, back in the game after being down four weeks with an injury, was aggressive, forcing a few jump balls in the game.

She scored 2-2 at the free-throw line with five minutes to go, and in the final minute Tiger Ravyn Walker hit a three-pointer, but Monument/Dayville couldn’t close the gap.

Panther Emily Ennis closed out the game 1-2 at the free-throw line with 30 seconds left on the clock.

“We had a good first half,” said Tiger head coach Taylor Schmadeka. “In the second half, we didn’t have a lot of our shots go down.”

“Overall, I’m happy with our season,” he added. “The girls never stopped playing.”

Prairie City head coach Bo Workman said he was pleased with the way his team played, offensively and defensively.

“We played with fairly good control and shot the ball well,” he said, adding his team didn’t give up when the scoring was close in the third.

“We were able to keep control,” he said. “Monument/Dayville plays scrappy, and we knew it was going to be a tough game.”

He highlighted two of his freshmen players Hailee Wall and Emily Ennis.

“They came in and stepped up on defense,” he said.

“Hopefully, the confidence carries over to the game with Adrian,” he said, adding his team has improved over the season since they first faced Adrian.

“They keep getting better each game,” Workman said.

The Panthers advance to Game Five Friday at 6 p.m. against the No. 1 Adrian Antelopes.

Monument/Dayville will face Harper at 8 a.m. Friday in the consolation game.

Prairie City stats:

Brianna Zweygardt: 14 points (one three-pointer)

Sarah Ennis: 12 (two three-pointers)

Cassie Hire: 11 (one three-pointer and 6-9 free-throws)

Emily Ennis: 3

Hailee Wall: 2

Megan Camarena: 2

Monument/Dayville stats:

Ravyn Walker: 8 points (two three-pointers)

Kendall Hettinga: 6 (two three-pointers)

Faythe Schafer: 6

Danielle Rhoda: 6

Kyla Emerson: 4

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Women’s prison focus of state summit, legislative session http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170216/womens-prison-focus-of-state-summit-legislative-session http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170216/womens-prison-focus-of-state-summit-legislative-session#Comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 20:33:49 -0500 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219947 SALEM – The women’s prison population has tripled in the past two decades because of sentencing reforms and a criminal justice system that is biased against women, according to a criminal justice reform researcher.

The increase is “not the result of women becoming more violent or becoming more problematic, but the fact that our sentencing laws have changed and our policies around the war on drugs has also been a war on women, particularly on women of color,” said Emily Salisbury, a criminal justice associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Salisbury’s provocative statement during a keynote address at Oregon’s third-annual Justice Reinvestment Summit Thursday is salient to crucial decisions lawmakers will make this legislative session.

Lawmakers will have to decide whether to spend $17.5 million into opening a second women’s prison at the old Oregon State Penitentiary Minimum Security facility in Salem.

The state’s only existing women’s prison, Coffee Creek Correctional Institution in Wilsonville, has been chronically over capacity for more than a year. The population on Thursday stood at 1,290, about 10 over the limit, according to DOC.

Meanwhile, the state faces a nearly $1.8 billion revenue shortfall, and the state’s justice reinvestment funding is at risk of reduction or elimination this budget cycle, said state budget writer Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin.

Yet lawmakers from both parties are rallying behind efforts to avoid opening another prison and to maintain funding for the criminal justice reform initiative, known as “justice reinvestment.”

“I am very excited about the fact that both Democrats and Republicans, men and women, are saying to me: Let’s figure out how we can avoid opening a second women’s prison, and I am like, hallelujah,” said Gov. Kate Brown in a phone interview with the Pamplin Media Group/EO Media Group Capital Bureau.

“I would just say the opening of that facility is at a time when the state resources are already limited and is contrary to Oregon’s approach of justice reinvestment and focus on reducing recidivism and supporting self-sufficiency.”

After seeing the turnout of 1,000 registrants at Thursday’s summit, Brown said she is “confident the Legislature will continue to fund Justice Reinvestment.”

The governor’s proposed budget includes about $32 million for justice reinvestment grants for counties in the next two years. Brown said that if the state can avoid opening the second women’s prison, she would propose adding the savings from that to the $32 million.

The justice reinvestment initiative came out of a 2013 law that expanded early release programs, lowered penalties for certain property and drug possession crimes and authorized about $55 million in grants since 2013 to pay for counties to set up and enhance support services for offenders on probation and parole.

So far, the program has saved the state an estimated $52.7 million from reducing the male and female prison population, said Rep. Duane Stark, R-Grants Pass, co-chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Safety.

“It’s a proven investment that is reducing public safety costs and improving communities,” said House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland. “It’d be pennywise and pound foolish to cut funding for the program.”

Salisbury, a former faculty member of Portland State University, has trained employees at the Oregon Department of Corrections in “gender-responsive strategies.” Similar strategies are becoming international policy in the treatment and supervision of female offenders, Salisbury said.

“Women are far less likely to engage in violence, less likely to use a gun, or a weapon in commission of an offense, far less likely to be the kingpin or ringmaster in criminal enterprises,” Salisbury said. “This, of course, doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t be punished or held accountable. … But it should be recognized that they are far less dangerous, pose less of a risk to public safety and that the social and fiscal costs of their incarceration have wider implications and effects on families and their children.”

The summit at the Salem Convention Center was scheduled to continue through Friday.

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Eastern Oregon job growth expected to trail behind state http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170216/eastern-oregon-job-growth-expected-to-trail-behind-state http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170216/eastern-oregon-job-growth-expected-to-trail-behind-state#Comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 18:41:06 -0500 Claire Withycombe http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219948 Capital Bureau

SALEM — Job growth in Oregon’s rural areas — particularly southeastern Oregon — is projected to trail behind the rest of the fast-growing state until 2024, according to the Oregon Employment Department.

Oregon’s jobs are expected to grow 14 percent between 2014 and 2024, more than double the national expected rate for that period.

But in Harney and Malheur counties, the number of jobs is expected to increase merely 3 percent until 2024. That’s compared to 6 and 7 percent in neighboring counties to the north and west, which is a rate on par with expected job growth nationally.

Counties near the central Columbia River Gorge, meanwhile, are expected to see 11 percent job growth until 2024.

The outlook comes in the broader context of the slow post-recession jobs recovery in rural areas of the state.

While Oregon as a whole has made up the jobs it lost during the Great Recession, that’s not the case for many of the state’s rural areas — such as Gilliam and Wheeler counties. But the future may be brighter for them: Both are projected to exceed the country’s jobs growth rate until 2024.

Construction, health care and professional and business services jobs are expected to grow the fastest, according to a presentation employment department officials made to lawmakers on the state’s workforce committee Thursday.

The high-tech sector is also expected to continue growing — a recent dip in jobs can be attributed to layoffs in the semiconductor industry, but the overall trend is upward, said Nick Beleiciks, a state employment economist with the Oregon Employment Department.

Filling those new jobs may be a challenge in rural Oregon, too, though.

Some employers in rural areas say they struggle to attract and retain young talent, Melisa Drugge, a business development officer for Business Oregon’s Eastern region, told lawmakers.

There are a number of factors at work. For example, many millennials gravitate toward urban centers with cultural amenities.

And finding adequate housing for workers in communities such as Joseph in Wallowa County — where many homes are vacation properties — is a challenge, Drugge said.

State Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River, said some employers in the Columbia River Gorge are busing in workers from the Portland and Vancouver areas because they can’t find or afford local housing.

“It really defeats the purpose of trying to create communities,” Johnson said.

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Former Grant County resident charged with 11 sex crimes http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170216/former-grant-county-resident-charged-with-11-sex-crimes http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170216/former-grant-county-resident-charged-with-11-sex-crimes#Comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 17:56:22 -0500 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219949 Blue Mountain Eagle

A former Grant County resident was arraigned on 11 sex crimes in Grant County Circuit Court Thursday.

Chancee Mitchell Ferguson, 28, was indicted by a grand jury Jan. 20 on two counts of first-degree sodomy, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, three counts of second-degree sodomy, two counts of third-degree sodomy and two counts of third-degree sexual abuse. The indictment states the incidents occurred between 2004 and 2011 with a single victim, who was younger than 12 in 2004.

Grant County Circuit Court Judge William D. Cramer Jr. set security at $50,000 and ordered Ferguson not to leave the state and to have no contact with the alleged victim. A plea hearing is set for May 18.

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Man who killed John Day cop will be freed http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170216/man-who-killed-john-day-cop-will-be-freed http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170216/man-who-killed-john-day-cop-will-be-freed#Comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 17:17:21 -0500 Sean Hart http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219950 The man who pleaded guilty to killing a John Day police officer in 1992 will soon be freed.

Today, the Oregon Supreme Court denied a request to review an appeals court decision that reinstated Sidney Dean Porter’s 2013 prison release date due to legal errors that year by the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision.

Grant County District Attorney Jim Carpenter said the board will now begin putting together a release plan for Porter, who killed Officer Frank Ward April 8, 1992.

“After all the hard work that my staff and I put in to ensure that Porter would remain incarcerated, the decision of the Supreme Court is disappointing, but not unexpected,” Carpenter said.

Porter had pleaded guilty to aggravated murder. According to the appeals court opinion, Porter attacked Ward, who had responded to a report of domestic violence at Porter’s residence. Porter “bludgeoned Ward with his fists and a 10-pound piece of firewood,” according to the opinion, and the autopsy revealed a skull fracture and contusions in Ward’s brain.

After Carpenter’s testimony before the parole board in 2015, the board ruled Porter was a danger to the community and ordered him to remain in custody until at least 2020. In September 2016, however, the Oregon Court of Appeals overturned the parole board’s decision to postpone Porter’s 2013 prison release date, stating the board lacked authority to rescind a release date “absent a timely hearing,” according to the court opinion.

“A defining principle of our legal system is that both sides have the opportunity to be heard before decisions are made which affect them,” Carpenter said. “The Court of Appeals found that Porter was not given such an opportunity, and the Supreme Court apparently agrees.”

The appeals court ruled the parole board should not have postponed the 2013 release date without a timely hearing. Carpenter, who was elected in 2014, said a June 2013 release date was issued after a former district attorney failed to present evidence at an exit interview earlier that year.

Although more evidence was provided after that interview, the parole board did not hold a hearing with Porter until September 2013, after postponing the June release date. The appeals court ruled evidence presented after the postponement of the release date could not be used to justify the postponement that already occurred.

In his appeal, Porter argued the parole board erred in rescinding the planned release date, in postponing the release date and in reconvening an exit interview after the planned released date had passed.

In its opinion, the Court of Appeals agreed the board committed legal errors and reversed the board’s determination, stating that Porter was entitled to a timely hearing on rescinding the release date, that the board did not provide a statutorily valid reason for postponing the planned released date and that the board could not rely on information received later to justify a prior postponement of the release date.

The appeals court opinion states Oregon law at the time required the imposition of a life sentence with a 30-year minimum period of incarceration. The law also required the board to hold a hearing after 20 years “to determine if the prisoner is likely to be rehabilitated within a reasonable period of time” if the prisoner requested it, which he did.

The parole board held the hearing in July 2012 and determined Porter was likely to be rehabilitated and ordered the sentence converted to life with the possibility of parole.

In a November 2012 prison-term hearing, the board set a projected parole release date of June 7, 2013, and required Porter to complete a psychological evaluation and participate in an exit interview.

In February 2013, the board held the exit interview and reviewed Porter’s psychological diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder and alcohol dependence in remission before affirming the 2013 release date with an order stating, “Based on the doctor’s report and diagnosis ... the inmate does have an emotional disturbance; however the emotional disturbance is not presently so severe as to constitute a danger to the health and safety of the community.”

On June 4, 2013, the board issued a new order rescinding the planned release date, reopening the February 2013 decision and reconvening the exit interview.

In September 2013, the board conducted a new exit interview affirming the decision to rescind the release date, reaching the different conclusion that the emotional disturbance was a danger, and extended the release date 24 months. When Porter requested an administrative review of the board’s decisions, the board explained it relied in part on information submitted after the February interview, including “the DA submission of documents showing a history of assault” on Porter’s ex-wife, according to the opinion.

Supporting its ruling to reverse the parole board’s decision, the appeals court said in its opinion, once a release date has been set, it can only be postponed if the prisoner has engaged in serious misconduct during confinement, if the prisoner is diagnosed with a severe emotional disturbance that would make him a danger to the community or if the prisoner’s release plan is deemed to be inadequate. The appeals court ruled rescinding the release date had the practical consequence of postponing it, and the board did so without making one of the three required determinations.

The appeals court also cited case law demonstrating a valid reason to postpone the release was required before the release was postponed.

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Oregonians could see bottle deposit windfall under bill http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170215/oregonians-could-see-bottle-deposit-windfall-under-bill http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170215/oregonians-could-see-bottle-deposit-windfall-under-bill#Comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 17:37:22 -0500 Claire Withycombe http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219951 Capital Bureau

SALEM — Under a bill proposed in the House, Oregonians who redeem bottle and cans could get an unexpected windfall when the deposit jumps from 5 cents to a dime April 1.

The House Committee on Energy and Environment voted unanimously Wednesday to advance a bill that would, starting April 1, refund 10 cents on all containers covered by Oregon’s bottle bill — even if purchasers paid only the 5-cent deposit.

Oregon has had a 5-cent deposit on certain beverage containers since 1972, first introduced to deal with the state’s litter problem.

Retailers pay distributors the deposit when they purchase beverages; that deposit is passed to customers at the cash register. Customers in turn then can return bottles and cans for a full deposit refund.

In 2011, the Legislature passed a law requiring the deposit increase to 10 cents should the rate of return dip below 80 percent for two consecutive years. Unredeemed deposits are kept by distributors.

In both 2014 and 2015, the return rate was below 80 percent, and so the deposit will double April 1.

Under the proposed law, containers that don’t have the correct deposit amount on the label will be allowed in stores until Sept. 1, 2018.

It’s not clear how the bill will pencil out, though.

“Can you kind of describe how this will work and why this seems to work OK?” Rep. Phil Barnhart, D-Eugene, said during the committee hearing Wednesday. “I don’t think we have a bunch of opponents coming in here because they have to come up with a nickel they didn’t collect.”

Paul Romain, an attorney and lobbyist for the Oregon Beer and Wine Distributors Association, acknowledged that money could be lost.

He said Barnhart’s inquiry was the “big 64,000-dollar question, except it’s more than $64,000.”

“Whenever you start a system, you have a transition period,” Romain said. “It’s a risk, frankly, that the industry has to take to make the transition.”

Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario said the bill was “necessary to allow the transition, even though the program has big holes in it.”

Romain said the group he represents also initially resisted the deposit increase.

Michigan, the only other state with a 10-cent deposit, had a 94.2 percent return rate in 2014, according to the Michigan State Treasury.

A lobbyist for the Brewers Guild also testified in support of the bill.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is responsible for administering the bottle deposit program.

Although the agency didn’t take an official stance on the legislation, its administrative policy and process director, Jesse Sweet said the bill would create a “grace period” in the transition to the 10-cent deposit and provide “necessary flexibility” for retailers.

Starting Jan. 1., 2018, the state is also going to require deposits on additional types of beverage containers — such as kombucha.

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New timeline for revised Blue Mountains Forest Plan http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170215/new-timeline-for-revised-blue-mountains-forest-plan http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170215/new-timeline-for-revised-blue-mountains-forest-plan#Comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 16:55:03 -0500 George PlavenEO Media Group http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219952 It may be 12 years overdue, but the U.S. Forest Service is inching closer to revising the outdated Blue Mountains Forest Plan.

A final environmental impact statement, or EIS, may be ready by the end of June, according to Victoria Anne, revision team leader. The final EIS was expected before the end of 2016, though staff turnover has further delayed what has already been a lengthy process.

In addition, the Forest Service has crafted two new plan alternatives based on a year’s worth of feedback from local communities and stakeholders. When completed, the Blue Mountains Forest Plan will form the backbone for land management on the Umatilla, Wallowa-Whitman and Malheur national forests.

But there is still plenty of work left to do, even after the agency’s environmental analysis is finished.

Tom Montoya, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest supervisor, said there will be a 90-day objection period after the final EIS is issued, and it could take six months or more to work through objections.

Certainly, the plan has proven a lightning rod for controversy since a draft environmental analysis was released in 2014. While not a decision-making document in and of itself, it does set desired conditions for everything in the woods from fire protection and logging to wilderness and road access.

The proposal drew so much fire that the Forest Service decided to take a step back in 2015 and re-engage through a series of public meetings. Through that process, Montoya said officials heard from locals who wanted to see them pick up the pace and scale of restoration to make the forests more healthy, while also protecting old growth trees.

That’s what the two new alternatives will seek to address in different ways, Montoya said.

“We continue to have that dialogue,” he said.

The Forest Service was on track to have the final EIS out last fall, but the timeline has since been stretched out to later this year. Part of the delay, Montoya said, was the departure of former team leader Sabrina Stadler, who left in August.

Stadler died on Sept. 7, 2016, due to complications with pancreatitis. Michael Hampton, a retired Forest Service employee, filled the role of team leader on an interim basis until Anne arrived on the job in mid-December.

The team also recently brought on a new fisheries biologist to lead consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on complying with the federal Endangered Species Act — primarily for Snake River salmon, steelhead and bull trout.

“We’ve been trying our best to temporarily fill some of those gaps,” Montoya said.

Though the Blue Mountains Forest Plan is being studied under one umbrella, each of the three forests will have its own individual plan. The final decision will come down to Regional Forester Jim Peña in the Forest Service’s Portland headquarters.

Montoya said the two new alternatives could more than double the pace of restoration being done on the forests. The question is how and where that restoration will be addressed.

“We’re trying to make sure we’re being responsive as much as possible, meeting with folks who want to help us with this,” Montoya said.

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Oregon water regulators propose third transaction fee hike http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170215/oregon-water-regulators-propose-third-transaction-fee-hike http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170215/oregon-water-regulators-propose-third-transaction-fee-hike#Comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 16:31:55 -0500 Mateusz PerkowskiCapital Bureau http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219953 Oregon water regulators want to raise fees for water rights transactions by nearly 16 percent over four years to avoid processing slowdowns for irrigators.

The Oregon Water Resource Department’s request to state lawmakers, House Bill 2295, would mark the third such increase since 2009.

Some groups representing irrigators are uneasy about the proposal, particularly in light of another bill that would impose a new $100 management fee on every water right in Oregon.

Under H.B. 2295, a transaction fee increase of 15.88 percent would be phased in over four years and a sunset on previous hikes — set to expire this year — would be eliminated.

If the fee schedule reverted back to 2009 levels, OWRD would have to cut 5.5 full-time positions, effectively extending the time that irrigators must wait to develop or transfer water rights, said Tom Byler, the agency’s director.

The increase is also necessary to maintain OWRD’s dam inspection program, which oversees roughly 900 large structures, he said. “These are all very important functions for the agency.”

Fees must be raised just to keep these services at current levels due to climbing expenses for salaries, benefits and retirement plans for state employees, Byler said at a Feb. 13 hearing of the House Committee on Energy and the Environment.

The Oregon Water Resources Congress, an irrigator group, wishes that fee increases wouldn’t occur so frequently but nonetheless supports HB 2295, said April Snell, its executive director.

The Oregon Association of Nurseries also testified in favor of the bill.

“Water transfers are a big part of how we do business,” said Jeff Stone, executive director of OAN. Nurseries typically rely on water rights transfers when they expand production onto newly bought or leased property.

Water for Life, an irrigator group, is concerned about the rate at which costs are growing, said Richard Kosesan, its lobbyst. “Water for Life is not enamored with the fee increases.”

The Oregon Farm Bureau is neutral regarding HB 2295 and won’t oppose the hike as long as another piece of legislation — House Bill 2706, which imposes the $100 management fee on water rights — isn’t passed, said Mary Anne Nash, public policy counsel for the group.

The cost of processing water rights transactions is currently split evenly between water users and OWRD. The Farm Bureau wants the agency to continue shouldering half the expense instead of shifting more of the burden on irrigators, Nash said.

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Oregon wolf count, management plan update delayed http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170215/oregon-wolf-count-management-plan-update-delayed http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170215/oregon-wolf-count-management-plan-update-delayed#Comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 16:19:18 -0500 Eric MortensonCapital Bureau http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219954 SALEM — Oregon’s heavy snow in January caused problems for wildlife staff who track the state’s wolf population.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said extreme weather in northeast Oregon, where most of the state’s wolves live, interrupted airplane, helicopter and ground surveys of wolfpacks. As a result, the annual wolf report has been delayed a month and won’t be delivered to the ODFW Commission until its April 21 meeting in Klamath Falls.

The report usually is released in March and typically includes an updated wolf population count and information on the number of breeding pairs in the state. The count provides an information baseline as the commission considers updates to the state’s Wolf Management and Conservation plan. The plan is reviewed every five years, and the commission will most likely adopt an updated version later in 2017.

Although heavy snow and an extended cold snap delayed ODFW’s field work, department spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said it probably didn’t harm Oregon’s wolves.

“Wolves typically do quite well during the winter,” she said by email. “Winters that are hard on deer and elk may actually be easier on wolves. There is winter (prey) loss to scavenge and it is harder for ungulates (deer and elk) to escape in the deep snow.”

Oregon had a minimum of 110 wolves at the end of 2015, according to figures released by ODFW in February 2016. At least seven wolves died in 2016. Four members of Wallowa County’s Imnaha pack, including venerable alpha male OR-4, were shot by ODFW in March 2016 after repeatedly attacking, killing and eating livestock. Wildlife biologists speculated at the time that the group began attacking livestock due to OR-4’s advanced age and the fact that his longtime mate limped from an injured leg. They had two yearlings with them, and the four appeared to have separated from or been forced out of the main Imnaha pack.

In addition, a female wolf designated OR-28 was found dead in October 2016 in south-central Oregon. Officials have not said how the wolf died, and Oregon State Police are investigating. A $20,000 reward for information is available.

State police also are investigating a wolf found dead in Northeast Oregon in March 2016.

In May 2016, a sheep herder shot a wolf from the Walla Walla pack that was attacking sheep. State police judged the shooting was lawful under the “caught in act” provision that allows producers to kill wolves that are wounding, biting, killing or chasing livestock, according to ODFW.

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Republican spearheaded naturalization ceremony on House floor http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170215/republican-spearheaded-naturalization-ceremony-on-house-floor http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170215/republican-spearheaded-naturalization-ceremony-on-house-floor#Comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 16:14:42 -0500 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219955 SALEM — While many Oregon politicians hail former Republican Gov. Tom McCall as their role model, Republican Rep. Julie Parrish idolizes former Gov. Victor Atiyeh, the nation’s first Arab-American governor.

“Oregon had rich history … of welcoming immigrants,” Parrish said.

The oft-rogue Republican from West Linn wanted to remind legislators and Oregonians of that important history when she suggested hosting a naturalization ceremony on the floor of the House of Representatives.

The ceremony was held in conjunction with Oregon’s birthday and Valentine’s Day Tuesday on the House floor.

Parrish was an infant when her Lebanese father was naturalized as a U.S. citizen. In 2011, she became the first known Arab-American woman to be elected to the state Legislature.

“I had never been to a naturalization ceremony before,” she said. (Parrish was three months old when her father took the oath of allegiance to the United States.)

In January, she attended a naturalization ceremony at a U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services office in Portland, where Republican Dennis Richardson spoke as part of his first official event as newly-elected secretary of state. Parrish ran Richardson’s campaign against Democrat Brad Avakian, who was seen as the likely victor.

“It’s pretty impressive, pretty powerful,” Parrish said of the naturalization ceremony. “At a time when the conversation around immigration is not very positive, this was an important opportunity to remind folks that we are a nation of immigrants.

“I thought legislators should see that and experience that.”

Naturalization ceremonies had been hosted at the state Capitol in the past but were booked in the basement, far from the public eye. Parrish and one of Richardson’s staff members approached House Speaker Tina Kotek to get permission to hold the ceremony on the House floor. Kotek, D-Portland, agreed to host the ceremony to mark Oregon’s 158th birthday, which coincides with Valentine’s Day.

“That’s the first time we have done one on the House floor,” Kotek said. “We think it’s a really important symbolic way of saying that everyone is welcome here in the state of Oregon.”

Fifteen people were naturalized as U.S. citizens during the ceremony. They come from four countries: Mexico, China, the Philippines and Denmark, said Lindsey O’Brien, Kotek’s spokeswoman.

Michael Hickman, Portland field office director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, conducted the oath of allegiance during the ceremony.

“I feel like it was a neat thing to have it on the state’s birthday,” Parrish said. “They were able to say not only am I an American citizen, I’m an Oregon citizen,” Parrish said.

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Grant Union beats Enterprise by 1 in tiebreaker http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170215/grant-union-beats-enterprise-by-1-in-tiebreaker http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170215/grant-union-beats-enterprise-by-1-in-tiebreaker#Comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 13:07:17 -0500 Angel Carpenter http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219958 In a dramatic finish, the Grant Union Prospector boys beat the Enterprise Outlaws 35-34 in a tiebreaker game Tuesday night to decide the third seed in the 2A Wapiti League District Tournament.

Grant Union and Enterprise had been tied 4-4 in league — for third and fourth place — with Imbler (7-1) in first place and Union (5-3) in second.

The Prospectors will now face Union in Game One of the Wapiti District Tournament at 2:45 p.m. Friday at Eastern Oregon University’s Quinn Coliseum in La Grande.

The winner of Game One will face No. 1 Imbler on Saturday at 7:45 p.m. for the district championship title.

Grant Union stayed ahead of Enterprise by six points at the close of the first quarter on Tuesday.

The Prospectors were ahead by seven at the half, 21-14, and ahead by eight in the third.

“We knew they were going to throw multiple defenses at us, and we were ready for that,” said head coach Kelsy Wright. “We actually cued everything correctly in the first half.”

He said the team lost focus in the second half and had some miscommunication and missed shots.

Enterprise came within three points of the Prospectors in the fourth quarter after Outlaw Rylie Hayward hit a three-point shot and Brycen Locke made a two-point bucket.

With four minutes remaining in the game, Prospector Cauy Weaver grabbed a steal and Prospector Duane Stokes was fouled.

Stokes went 2-2 at the free-throw line, and after Weaver picked up an offensive rebound, Prospector Cole Deiter scored two.

After a technical foul from Grant Union, Outlaw Jimmy Wells hit 2-2 at the free-throw line.

When Weaver hit a two-point shot, the score was 35-29, Grant Union holding their lead.

Outlaw Wade Isley scored two, and after Hayward sank another three-point shot, coach Wright called a timeout with less than a minute left.

A couple shots at the line didn’t fall for Grant Union, and with 14.4 seconds to go, Enterprise had possession, and a full timeout was called.

“We got a big rebound,” Wright said. “We had a final timeout and drew up a play. They (Enterprise) got a hand on it, but Cauy grabbed it and held it for 1.6 seconds.”

Wright said, while it wasn’t a great scoring night for his team, they did a good job defensively, keeping Brett Greenshields to 10 points and Hayward to six.

Wright said he was pleased with his team pulling out the win.

“Everybody stood out at different times,” he said. “The first half we moved the ball around well, were patient and made good shots.”

Grant Union vs. Enterprise

Duane Stokes: 10

Zack Deiter: 9

Cole Deiter: 8

Ty McDaniel: 4

Kellen Shelley: 2

Cauy Weaver: 2

Eastern Oregon University, Quinn Coliseum

Full schedule

Friday, February 17

1:00 p.m. – Girls Game One – Imbler vs. Enterprise

2:45 p.m. – Boys Game One – Union vs. Grant Union

6:00 p.m. – Girls Game Two – Union vs. Elgin

7:45 p.m. – Boys Game Two – Enterprise vs. Elgin

Saturday, February 18

1:00 p.m. – Girls Game Three – winner of Game Two vs. loser of Game One

2:45 p.m. - Boys Game Three – winner of Game Two vs. loser of Game One

6:00 p.m. – Girls Game Four – Grant Union vs. winner of Game One

7:45 p.m. - Boys Game Four – Imbler vs. winner of Game One

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County Road 20 reopened http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170215/county-road-20-reopened http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170215/county-road-20-reopened#Comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 14:16:19 -0500 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219956 County Road 20 has been reopened.

Grant County Roadmaster Alan Hickerson the road on the Middle Fork had been closed to all but local traffic after five crashes happened during severe weather.

He said, when the freeway was closed, GPS units would direct traffic onto County Road 20, so the road was closed to prevent further accidents.

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Green: Broadband help promising, 911 funding an “uphill battle” http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170215/green-broadband-help-promising-911-funding-an-uphill-battle http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170215/green-broadband-help-promising-911-funding-an-uphill-battle#Comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 14:02:39 -0500 Rylan Boggs http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219957 John Day City Manager Nick Green traveled to Salem last week with hundreds of other representatives for cities across the state for City Day at the Capitol and met with Gov. Kate Brown, Rep. Cliff Bentz and Sen. Ted Ferrioli.

He told the John Day City Council at its Feb. 14 meeting they talked in Salem about the 911 tax and improving broadband access for rural communities. Future broadband access for cities like John Day is looking bright with public sector money likely becoming available for improvement projects, Green said.

However, funding for rural 911 centers looked less promising. Green described it as an “uphill battle.” Green said Bentz pledged to present solutions to the state House of Representatives if Green was willing to put in the work to find solutions.

The state budget deficit and transportation package were also big concerns, and Green said another trip to Salem was likely.

The city council also:

• adopted a resolution that restored recreational immunity for public employees and private landowners. The resolution protects landowners against litigation for liability from those allowed onto private lands.

• finalized the sale of the old John Day Fire Hall to Larry and Bonnie Maplesden.

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Grant County Court: Airport runway lights to be repaired http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170215/grant-county-court-airport-runway-lights-to-be-repaired http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170215/grant-county-court-airport-runway-lights-to-be-repaired#Comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 12:37:26 -0500 Rylan Boggs http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219959 Runway lights at the Grant County Regional Airport are not functioning, limiting nighttime landings for planes.

Grant County Airport Manager Haley Walker appealed to the Grant County Court for permission to purchase a new regulator for the runway lights at the Feb. 15 meeting. The court approved her request to use a portion of the airport’s budget to pursue a new regulator. Walker received quotes between $12,000-15,000 for the regulator.

Walker also received approval from the court to guarantee part-time employees at least 19.5 hours a week in order to help retain employees and avoid costs associated with acquiring new workers.

The court also:

• awarded an insurance contract to Bisnett Insurance.

• awarded the annual audit to Oster Professional Group.

• approved Grant County senior programs manager Veanne Weddle’s request for a new computer.

• reviewed and signed an amendment to an Oregon Health Authority agreement regarding the treatment of tuberculosis.

• approved funds spent by Victim Assistance Director Andrea Officer for community awareness campaigns.

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Grant County Court minutes: Feb. 8, 2017 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/County_Minutes/20170215/grant-county-court-minutes-feb-8-2017 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/County_Minutes/20170215/grant-county-court-minutes-feb-8-2017#Comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 11:56:22 -0500 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219960 Grant County Court minutes from Feb. 8, 2017:

Pursuant to notice made to the newspaper of general circulation throughout Grant County, the radio station, county website, and e-mail distribution list, a regular meeting of the County Court was held at the County Courthouse in Canyon City, OR.

9:00 am -- Call to Order. Present were Judge Scott W. Myers, Commissioners Jim Hamsher and Boyd Britton, Administrative Assistant Laurie Wright, Katy Nelson, Jim Spell, Beth Spell, Frances Preston, Susan Church, Frances Kocis, Elaine Smith, Judy Schuette, Jim Spell, Judy Kerr, Sally Bartlett, Ron Ballard, Vickie Thompson, Adele Cerny, Ron Rue, Sandy Rue, State Fire Marshall Dave Fields, Reporter Rylan Boggs, Dave Traylor, Eva Harris, Reporter Logan Bagett, Gail Beverlin and Pastor Levi Manitsas. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Manitsas.

CLAIMS. The court had reviewed and approved claims and extension district warrants # 267-277. Commissioner Britton declared a conflict of interest for two claims payable to Boyd Britton Welding.

AGENDA. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to accept the agenda as presented.

ANNOUNCEMENTS. Commissioner Britton spoke with Congressman Walden’s staff this last week and encouraged people to attend the meeting the Congressman will be holding in Mt. Vernon at 4 pm tomorrow.

Judge Myers attended an Internet Task Force meeting last Friday at the John Day Fire Hall. Today Myers will try to attend an eclipse meeting at the Canyon City Community Hall. Myers signed a permit last Friday for a beer and wine tasting event at the airport put on by 1188 Brewing Company that will be held this Friday.

Commissioner Hamsher attended the Senior’s luncheon last Wednesday. Hamsher spoke with Congressman Walden’s office about SRS funding. After speaking with the Road Master Hamsher said a large piece of equipment was moved to the area near the Inland Bridge. Hamsher went to a Grant County Fair & Rodeo meeting last night where he was elected President and hosting an NPRA Rodeo was discussed. Hamsher intends to attend Congressman Walden’s meeting tomorrow in Mt. Vernon.

MINUTES. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to approve the February 1st minutes as amended.

9:13 am David Thunell entered.

SILVIES VALLEY RANCH. Colby Marshall, Tygh Campbell, and Courtney Pattock, from Silvies Valley Ranch presented an update to the court regarding the ranch. A sign-up sheet was passed around for those interested in receiving a newsletter and additional information from the ranch. Campbell and Marshall gave summaries of their background to those in attendance. Campbell said the ranch is a very large property and his family is using it as an investment property along with a testing ground for new ideas such as raising Boer goats. The hope is to bring new money into the area utilizing the ranch as a tourism destination. Marshall said this project has been supported by numerous members of the community in Harney and Grant County. Campbell stated the ranch will be a small boutique resort and not a dude ranch. Amenities will include a main lodge, conference facilities, bunk houses and a spa that will open next year. In the future three shooting ranges will be put in place along with two 18 hole golf courses, a 9 hole par 3 and a 7 hole challenge course. They will have 34 rooms available and do not plan to expand that. This year will be a limited open season preview year so things can be put in place such as staffing and advertising.

9:25 am Shannon Springer entered.

Marshall explained the future goals and time frame for the resort. Campbell said the target age for the destination tourist is expected to be 60 to 70 years and they will be people on vacation who will be expecting to spend around $1000 per day. He explained how this could financially benefit the Grant and Harney County areas. Campbell stated the ranch will provide numerous well paying job opportunities. Myers asked if the resort would be open to the general public as well. Campbell said it will and they plan to offer a reduced rate to local members of golf clubs. A question and answer session followed.

10:00 am Julie Ellison entered.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. Economic Development Coordinator Sally Bartlett presented a request to the court for permission to present a proposal to the budget committee to hire a regular part-time Economic Development Specialist for her office. Bartlett explained she has used temporary relief help in the past, but she needs someone to assist her with research and communicating with small businesses. Bartlett believes this will make her office much more efficient, especially with the large grants and projects such as the Silvies Valley Ranch. Bartlett would like to hire someone in July and estimates the cost will be around $40,000 per year for a 30 hour per week position with benefits. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to allow Bartlett’s proposal and job description to move forward to the budget committee.

10:20 am Steve Beverlin entered. 10:30 am Kimberly Lindsay entered.

COMMUNITY COUNSELING SOLUTIONS. Kimberly Lindsay of Community Counseling Solutions provided an update to the court. Grant County had been approved last year to be a Mental Health Behavioral site and due to additional funding CCS plans on hiring additional staff and is already advertising for positions. Lindsay explained future goals and services. CCS sees anyone who comes to them regardless of ability to pay. Lindsay advised they are in need of additional office space for mental health and the health department and said one option they have looked at is utilizing some space in the L-Building and this has been discussed with Judge Myers and Commissioner Britton. She said they are looking at other options as well. Lindsay hasn’t seen the space in the L-Building but plans on doing so today. Britton asked how CCS is doing financially. Lindsay reported she doesn’t know yet if she will have changes to her budget this year or if the figures will remain the same. She said she knows she needs to get those figures to the Treasurer as soon as possible. Lindsay told the court she believes the previous issue raised by the public defender regarding holding a bed at Juniper Ridge for a local in crisis has been resolved.

11:03 am Kathy Stinnett and Jamie McKay entered. 11:09 am Jim Carpenter entered.

LEGAL ASSISTANT TRAINING. District Attorney Jim Carpenter had sent a written request to the court to approve training for Legal Assistant Michele McManama. This training will take place in St. Louis, Missouri, and is for the Karpel computer system. Carpenter explained this is a new paperless computer system his office implemented a few months ago. The estimated cost of the travel and training is around $1500 and will be paid from the DA’s dues & travel budget line. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to approve the training for McManama to be paid from the DA’s dues and travel budget line.

11:12 am the court took a short break. 11:19 am Roger McKinley entered. 11:20 am the court returned to session.

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE. Justice of the Peace Kathy Stinnett asked the court for permission to present the following to the budget committee: to change her ¾ time Court Clerk position to full time. Stinnett explained having a Clerk for 32 hours per week is insufficient for the work load in her office and has been since she started as JP 4 years ago. Stinnett estimated an annual increase in her budget of approximately $4,330 to fund this change. Stinnett explained what a typical week in her office is like and the difficulties faced to try to keep up with the work load. MSP: Hamsher/Britton -- to allow Judge Stinnett to move forward to present her proposal to the budget committee.

SHERIFF. Radio Tower: Sheriff Glenn Palmer presented photographs to the court members of the Long Creek Radio Tower. Palmer said he hiked in to the tower last week. The building is an old wood building that is beginning to fall apart and has a pack rat infestation. Palmer advised the building contains approximately 40-50 thousand dollars worth of equipment. Palmer would like to take the money budgeted last year ($25,000) for a radio tower and use it to conduct a feasibility study to maybe move the radio tower to a different site or to rebuild the current building. Palmer would prefer researching Ritter Butte as a location for a new tower. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve and allow the use of the Sheriff’s budget capital outlay fund for this project.

11:39 am Steve Parsons entered.

New Patrol Vehicle: The current Sheriff’s budget has $35,000 in capital outlay for a new vehicle. Palmer contacted Gresham Ford, a state purchasing dealer, and advised there has been a $5000 increase in the cost of the vehicle. The cost Palmer presented included all of the necessary law enforcement items (lights, etc.). The new vehicle will cost $8,000 to $10,000 more than what was budgeted. Myers believes funding sources can be found within the Sheriff’s current budget and will work with the Treasurer to find them. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve the purchase of the new vehicle for the Sheriff’s Department and locate possible funding sources in the Sheriff’s budget.

Title III Reimbursement: Myers told Palmer he appreciated the detail provided in the reimbursement request. MSP: Myers/Hamsher – to approve the Title III reimbursement request. Palmer advised the court he noticed in December the line item in his budget for search and rescue was set at $100 when he requested $9,500. When he attended the budget hearings last year he was never advised that only $100 would be in this line item. Palmer pointed out if Title III wasn’t able to reimburse for search and rescue he would be forced to take the money from some other portion of his budget.

11:55 am Chris Labhart entered.

REGIONAL COMMUNITY ADVISORY COUNCIL. It was brought to the court’s attention that former commissioner Chris Labhart would like to continue to serve on the Regional Community Advisory Council. Labhart has served on this committee since its inception. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve Chris Labhart’s continued service on the RCAC.

MAGONE PROJECT. Steve Parsons wanted to discuss potential road closures in the Magone Project with the court. Parson’s commended the Forest Service on the project and stated it seems to be a good project and he appreciated Forest Service employees meeting with him about the project, but is concerned with potential road closures.

12:01 am Sasha Fertig and Dave Halemeier entered.

Parsons expressed concern about two roads that have barriers placed across them. Parsons verbally presented a summary to those in attendance of what he believes are issues with the road closures in the project. Discussion followed about court decisions on public access, how a citizen obtains standing to object to a project and how the Forest Service plans on moving forward with a travel management plan. Parsons understands the road closures will be closed to the public, but accessible to the Forest Service. Beverlin said the closed roads are routinely accessed by search & rescue, emergency & fire personnel and grazing permit holders.

12:22 am Zach Williams entered.

Parsons reiterated his concern that this project is closing roads historically used by citizens and said as our population is getting older it is more difficult for older citizens to access public lands. He pointed out discrepancies he sees in the documentation of the project. Sasha Fertig explained the initial documents offered alternatives and would not necessarily be included in the final draft. Parsons urged the court to object to the road closures in the plan whether they have “standing” or not. Further discussion followed regarding road closures in the area and when they were actually closed. Beverlin explained the Travel Management Plan that will begin in the spring of 2018 will allow for some road closures to be revisited. Dave Halemeier commented on the pressure the Forest Service gets from both sides of an issue during projects. Labhart said the Sheriff has never been at a meeting regarding road closures and would like to know why. He also pointed out the Forest Service presented this project to the court and the court has coordinated with the Forest Service and he would like to know what people think the court isn’t doing. Preston stated in the past citizens have asked the court to comment on Forest Service plans, but the court does not follow through. Beverlin wanted it on the record that the court has been extremely supportive and thanked the members.

UPSTAIRS FIRE EXIT. Judge Myers advised there is one fire exit for the entire third floor of the courthouse. He recommended a panic bar be installed upstairs on the door leading to the south stairs near the sally port. The current door requires a separate key for the inside and outside and would not be safe in a panic situation. Myers believes the Circuit Court safety budget will assist with the cost of installation. State Fire Marshall Dave Fields suggested a panic bar with a short time delay for security purposes. The court agreed by consensus to install a panic bar on the door.

ASSESSOR COMPUTER REQUEST. Assessor David Thunell provided a written request to the court for approval of three computer purchases. Thunell would like to purchase two computers for Clerk Brenda Percy’s office and one computer for the Assessor’s office to replace Steve Fischer’s. Thunell was informed by Donna Becker at ESD that Percy’s computers are beginning to fail and Fischer’s computer could crash at any time. Thunell has the funding in his budget to assist the Clerk. The cost for the Clerk’s computers would be $1390 and the cost for the replacement computer in the Assessor’s Office would be $500. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to approve the purchase of the three computers to be paid from the Assessor Capital Outlay budget line.

NATURAL RESOURCE CONSULTANT. Myers said last spring in the budget process $50,000 was set aside to present a Request for Proposals to hire a Natural Resource Consultant. Britton proposed this during the last budget cycle. Britton said with everything happening with natural resources in our area it is his opinion that the county needs an expert to assist with natural resources. Britton believes the biggest issue is with regulatory agencies and a consultant could assist the court with decisions as well as the Wildlife Advisory Board. Britton would like to continue working towards this and would like to prepare an RFP for the court to review. He further stated that contrary to rumors in the community he does not have anyone specific in mind for this position. Myers believes the place to start on this would be to compile information from other counties and Britton said that is what he has been doing. Hamsher expressed concern the court may not have the expertise to write a Natural Resource Plan. Beverlin advised having an expert would assist the Forest Service. Roger McKinley offered his opinion that the court had a commission who provided this information to the court free of charge before it was dissolved. Myers pointed out the decision to dissolve the Public Forest Commission was not a county court decision. Beverlin stated his belief that the Public Forest Commission did not have the expertise to provide consultation services. Preston believed the commission had very capable people on it. By consensus the court agreed to move forward with developing an RFP for a Natural Resource Consultant.

PUBLIC COMMENT. Elaine Smith expressed her opinion that the court supported the dissolution of the Public Forest Commission and said the court should listen to the voters. Smith believes certain members of the public have accused others of being militia members and she is offended and demanded an apology from the court. Myers said if he thought an apology was warranted he would offer one, but he does not. Jim Sproul advised yesterday another initiative was filed with the Clerk to hold another election for a revised Public Forest Commission and if approved a special election would be held in May. Sproul said they are holding public meetings and will be taking public comments on if the citizens wish to have a Public Forest Commission. Gail Beverlin said she believes the court is extremely tolerant of the side comments in the audience and she wishes they wouldn’t be so tolerant of the disrespect. Frances Preston asked for clarification on what good a new initiative would do since the other one was challenged and the court supported the dissolution. Preston asked the court if they would support the new initiative. Myers said according to Judge Cramer the previous measure should not have been on the ballot, but if the new initiative is found to be legal and constitutional, is allowed on the ballot, and voted in by the public he would support the voter’s wishes. Labhart asked if a court member would be attending the AOC meeting next week and Jim Hamsher said he plans on attending telephonically.

1:37 pm – Adjourned.

Respectfully Submitted,

Laurie Wright

Administrative Assistant

**** Please note the court minutes are a summary of the court proceedings. An audio recording of each court session is available, after approval of the minutes, by contacting Laurie Wright at 541-575-0059 or wrightl@grantcounty-or.gov ****

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Commercial, sport fishermen discuss gillnet rules http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170214/commercial-sport-fishermen-discuss-gillnet-rules http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170214/commercial-sport-fishermen-discuss-gillnet-rules#Comments Tue, 14 Feb 2017 19:57:04 -0500 Claire Withycombe http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219961 Capital Bureau

SALEM — An informal group of commercial and sport fishermen convened Tuesday at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to discuss gillnetting rules in the lower Columbia River.

The meeting comes after Gov. Kate Brown told the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission last week to reverse an earlier decision to continue to allow gillnetting in the main channel of the lower Columbia.

The group will provide its recommendations on revised rules, and the fiscal impact of possible rules, and how to minimize impacts on small businesses.

There is a longstanding conflict between recreational and commercial anglers over who gets to nab how much seasonal salmon in the area, and whether commercial fishermen can use gillnets, devices that trap fish by the gills and can yield large hauls.

The state’s sporting anglers generally oppose the practice, as have environmental groups

Washington’s fish and wildlife commission voted in January to phase out the practice in two years, and Oregon was expected to do the same under a deal worked out by the Kitzhaber administration.

But Oregon’s fish and wildlife commission narrowly decided last month to continue to allow gillnetting.

Brown called those rules “not acceptable,” and gave the commission until April 3 to make revisions.

Participants in Tuesday’s committee meeting included several commercial fishermen and representatives of the state’s recreational fishing community, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

They included:

  • Tom Wolf, executive director of the Oregon Council of Trout Unlimited; Jim Wells, president of Salmon for All and a commercial fisherman; Cary Johnson, a commercial fisherman; Bruce Polley, vice president of the Coastal Conservation Association of Oregon, an advocacy group for salmon and steelhead; Bob Rees, executive director of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders; and Steve Fick, a commercial fisherman, who is also on the board of Salmon for All.

ODFW Director Curt Melcher said last week he would reopen the rulemaking process in response to the governor’s directive.

The fish and wildlife commission is scheduled to meet March 17.

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Legislative Briefcase: An update on the session at the Capitol http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170214/legislative-briefcase http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170214/legislative-briefcase#Comments Tue, 14 Feb 2017 17:58:22 -0500 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219963 Lawmakers consider extending fish screen tax credit

Lawmakers are considering whether to extend a tax credit for Oregon farmers who install fish screens on their irrigation intakes, which expires next year.

Under Senate Bill 172, the tax credit — which covers 50 percent of installation costs up to $5,000 — would expire in 2024 instead of 2018.

Screens are intended to prevent fish from getting sucked into irrigation systems and killed.

Bill seeks reversal of Oregon GMO preemption

Biotech critics are calling on Oregon lawmakers to overturn a prohibition against local government restrictions on genetically engineered crops because statewide regulations haven’t been enacted.

In 2013, the Oregon Legislature passed a law that preempted cities and counties from setting their own rules over seeds, which blocked most local ordinances banning genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Groups that opposed the preemption bill say state inaction since then has justified the passage of House Bill 2469, which would carve out an exemption allowing local GMO regulations.

Lawmakers consider consolidating marijuana regulation

State legislators are moving toward consolidating the state’s medical and recreational marijuana industries into one regulatory system.

The co-chairwomen of the Joint Committee on Marijuana Regulation have dropped several bills that would move regulation of medical marijuana from the Oregon Health Authority to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the regulatory agency for recreational sales of the drug. Another proposal would establish a separate agency specifically for cannabis regulation.

OHA has regulated the medical marijuana program since it was created through Ballot Measure 67 in 1998. When voters legalized recreational cannabis use with Measure 91 in 2014, regulation of the new program was assigned to the liquor commission, while the health authority retained its oversight of the medical program.

Public employees blast proposed PERS reforms

In a demonstration of the fraught political territory lawmakers enter when they scrutinize the state’s public pension system, firefighters, nurses, and teachers Monday testified against two Oregon Senate bills aimed at reducing the costs of that system.

The bills, both sponsored by Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, are the latest round in the Legislature’s seemingly perennial battle with the costs of PERS, the unfunded liability of which has been estimated to be at least $21.8 billion.

Senate Bill 559 would require that retirement benefits be calculated using the average salary from the final five years of employment, instead of the current three years.

Senate Bill 560 would take the 6 percent of salary employees contribute, or have contributed on their behalf, to a defined contribution plan called the Individual Account Program and redirect it to their retirement benefits. The bill also caps the amount of salary used in benefits calculations at $100,000.

Legislators seek to control prescription drug price hikes

Backers say state legislation proposed this month would go further than any other state to control the price of prescription drugs to patients and insurers.

A bill by Rep. Rob Nosse, D-Portland, would cap patients’ out-of-pocket copayment for prescriptions, require pharmaceutical companies to explain steep increases in the cost of a medication and mandate rebates when prices exceed a certain threshold.

Three other bills by Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward would take similar steps but also require pharmaceutical companies to include the average wholesale price of a drug in any type of direct consumer advertising.

Bill would prohibit state union, contractor campaign contributions

Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, has proposed a law to prohibit state contractors and public unions from contributing to political campaigns.

The legislation has a companion bill that would require bidders on state contracts to disclose their five greatest campaign contributions in the state.

Buehler was scheduled to drop the legislation Monday, the same day an opinion piece in Forbes Magazine by Illinois-based conservative activist Adam Andrzejewski claimed that Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum have received more than $800,000 combined in campaign contributions from more than 200 state contractors.

Buehler, who is a rumored candidate for the 2018 gubernatorial race, tweeted out a link to the opinion piece Monday when he announced he had introduced the legislation.

Bill would prevent employers from recovering attorney fees in wage disputes

Oregon employers would be stripped of the ability to recoup attorney fees if they win a wage and hour lawsuit under a proposed bill before state lawmakers, while another would allow claimants to file liens on their employer’s property before winning a judgment.

Only employees who file and win such cases would be entitled to attorney fees under House Bill 2169, which is being considered by the House Committee on Business and Labor. Currently, either workers or employers can recover such costs if they win legal disputes over wage and hour claims.

Under House Bill 2180, workers who file a complaint over unpaid wages can file a lien against their employer’s property.

Similarly, under House Bill 2181, if a worker is fired within 90 days of filing a wage claim, the employer faces the “rebuttable presumption” that the termination was intended as retaliation.

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Hanging up his wings http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170214/hanging-up-his-wings http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170214/hanging-up-his-wings#Comments Tue, 14 Feb 2017 18:00:04 -0500 Rylan Boggs http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219962 Dave Feiger was just beginning to fly over the Ochoco Mountain Range when he heard a bang.

The propeller on his homemade plane stopped, leaving him 7,500 feet in the air, moving at 135 mph.

Thankfully, his instructor had been a World War II fighter pilot. Feiger kept his wits about him and was able to glide six miles to a nearby airstrip on a ranch.

The malfunction that crippled the plane also left his windshield covered in oil, meaning he had to roll the plane onto its side to see the airstrip out of the side window. He successfully landed the plane and lived to fly another day. That was in 2015.

Feiger rebuilt the plane’s engine last winter and took it out for a test flight in the spring. However, he could tell something was wrong. He decided he was done pushing his luck, and retired the plane.

“It’s time to get out of the saddle and hang it up,” he said.

JD Rents owner Robert Watt quite literally hung up Feiger’s wings for him.

Feiger had gone into JD Rents for a new chain for his chainsaw and remarked to Watt he planned on using it to cut up his plane after he finished with the firewood. Watt thought it would be a shame to see a perfectly good plane cut to pieces and proposed hanging it in his store.

Watt removed the engine, leaving the plane at about 500 pounds, and used scissor lifts and fork lifts to raise and rotate the plane before hanging it from the ceiling with cables.

“I just enjoy everything aviation, and to have something that somebody put so many hours in that looks so immaculate, it would be sad to destroy that kind of project.” Watt, a former airplane mechanic, said.

The plane has a 22-foot wingspan and is mostly wood, Feiger said.

Unable to afford a new or used aircraft, he built the plane from a kit in his garage for about $7,000. When a Federal Aviation Administration inspector looked at the plane, he said the workmanship was in the top 10 percent of aircraft he had reviewed, Feiger said.

“This isn’t a project you take lightly,” Watt said. “Every joint he laminated and glued and fastened had to be right.”

The small plane has a cozy cockpit, from which Feiger remembers flying all over the region. Before the days of GPS he would fly using landmarks and a stopwatch to navigate.

He moved to the area in 1976 to work for the Forest Service as Prairie City’s first silviculturalist. Feiger began work on his plane in 1981 and finished in 1984. Before starting on the project, he had only flown model radio control planes. Halfway through, he began taking flying lessons from Bill Krayer, a former Navy pilot.

“Good training from one helluva good pilot,” Feiger said.

After 30 years of flying and 1,500 hours in his plane, Feiger said he’s ready to call it quits. However, a trip down memory lane is never far away.

“Whenever I get the urge in my old age to have another look at it, all I have to do is drive down to JD Rents,” he said.

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Cops & Courts http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170214/cops-courts http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170214/cops-courts#Comments Tue, 14 Feb 2017 17:57:31 -0500 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170219964 Arrests and citations in the Blue Mountain Eagle are taken from the logs of law enforcement agencies. Every effort is made to report the court disposition of arrest cases.

CANYON CITY — The Grant County Circuit Court reported the following fines and judgments:

• Jamie Alan Zimmerlee was found convicted of felon in possession of a firearm and sentenced to 18 months probation and five days in jail, and fined $350.

• Nicky Joe Ballou was convicted of felon in possession of a restricted weapon and sentenced to 18 months probation and 30 days in jail, and fined $200.

• David Edwin Hall was convicted of driving uninsured and fined $260.

• Jeremiah Obadaai Gwalthney was convicted of driving uninsured and driving under the influence of intoxicants and sentenced to one year driver’s license suspension, 18 months probation and 48 hours in jail, and fined $1,515.

• Attoway Davis was convicted of driving under the influence of intoxicants and sentenced to one year suspended driver’s license and 18 months probation, and fined $1,255.

• Ernest Andrew Chavira was convicted of refusal to test for intoxicants and fined $500.

CANYON CITY — The Grant County Sheriff’s Office reported the following for the week of Feb. 2-8:

• Concealed handgun licenses: 2

• Average inmates: 3

• Bookings: 12

• Releases: 5

• Citations: 1

• Fingerprints: 3

• Civil papers: 8

• Warrants processed: 4

• Asst./welfare check: 3

• Karen Broemeling, 60, cited for dog as a nuisance.

CANYON CITY — The Grant County Justice Court reported the following fines and judgments:

• Exceeding speed limit: Stevie Lynn Porter, 33, Prairie City, 74/65 zone, Jan. 25, fined $160.

• Careless driving accident: Tyler Duane Dehiya, 23, Terrebonne, Jan. 3, fined $370.

• Driving uninsured: Tyler Duane Dehiya, 23, Terrebonne, Jan. 3, fined $260.

• Driving while suspended: Robin Renae Elliott, 54, Mt. Vernon, Jan. 17, fined $370.

• Semi trailer exceeding 53 feet: Kevin Ray Bailey, Stanfield, Jan. 25, fined $95.

• Violation of the basic rule: Colby Trent Bradford, 26, Unity, 74/55 zone, Jan. 24, fined $135.

• No operator’s license: Jim Edward Koitzsch, 58, John Day, Jan. 19, fined $260.

• Take possession of a buck deer: Richard E. Valade, Dayville, 12 months probation, 20 hours community service, hunting privileges suspended for three years and fined $1,125.

John Day dispatch worked 138 calls during the week of Feb. 6-12. Along with the various traffic warnings, trespassing, injured animals, noise complaints and juvenile complaints, these calls included:

Feb. 8: Received a report from a caller that her phone had been stolen at Chester’s Thriftway.

Feb. 9: Dispatched to a report of kids playing in the creek. Arrested a 26-year-old on a probation violation.

Feb. 10: Arrested a 28-year-old John Day resident on a Grant County warrant.

Feb. 12: Seized marijuana and narcotics at Grant Union High School.

Feb. 6: Responded with Oregon State Police to a strong chemical smell on Ingle Street in Mt. Vernon.

Feb. 8: Responded to a report of a restraining order violation. Received a report of a possible burglary at a Canyon City residence.

Feb. 9: Advised along with OSP, emergency manager and Oregon Department of Transportation of water on Highway 395 at milepost 5. Emergency manager dispatched to a report of a house flooding; the county road department assisted with sandbags.

• John Day ambulance

Feb. 8: Responded to an 80-year-old with extreme pain.

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