Blue Mountain Eagle | Blue Mountain Eagle Fri, 24 Mar 2017 22:44:15 -0400 en Blue Mountain Eagle | ‘Happy Birthday to you’ — John Day resident turns 100 years ‘young’ Fri, 24 Mar 2017 20:49:44 -0400 Angel Carpenter John Day Mayor Ron Lundbom declared March 28, 2017, Bernice McPheeters Burdick Day.

That’s the day the John Day resident will turn 100 years “young.”

Lundbom said in an official proclamation, “... in celebration of Bernice’s 100th birthday the citizens and city council of John Day wish to extend their heartfelt congratulations on such a long and wonderful life.”

A celebration, with five generations of family present, and plenty of friends, will be held Saturday at the John Day Senior Center, with folks traveling from as far away as California, Nevada and Washington.

“It’s hard to believe — believe me,” Burdick said when asked what she thinks about her birthday.

Reaching 100 years of age has not kept her from a favorite hobby.

Although her eyesight has dimmed some, she still keeps up her talent of China painting.

Considered an expert in the art, six ladies join her each Tuesday evening for lessons.

She said the art involves painting on porcelain, such as plates and vases, with five to six firings between the layers of paint.

“It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing,” she said.

She was born in Canada and moved with her parents to Portland when she was 10 years old.

After graduating from Jefferson High School, she became an assistant nurse at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Portland.

This is where she met her first husband August “Red” McPheeters, who was a patient there with a significant arm injury.

They married on April 2, 1938, when she was 19 years old.

She has fond memories of living at the Double O Ranch south of Burns, when she and her husband were first married.

They lived with her sister in law while her husband’s arm continued to heal.

She remembers haying and walking all day with the sheep and cattle with her sister in law.

“I was a city girl, not a country girl, and I learned a lot from my sister in law, including cooking,” she said.

“I think that was the happiest time of my life because my husband and I would get up and go horseback riding,” she said. “I really enjoyed it out there.”

Their son Errol was born the following year, and he was later joined by sisters Kathleen and Maureen.

August, also known as “Red” passed away in 1970, and Bernice remarried Alden Burdick, who died in 1990.

Bernice later enjoyed traveling to destinations such as England, France, Germany and Holland.

For the past 10 years, she has lived with her daughter and son in law, Maureen and Gerald Mesecher, in the John Day countryside.

Bernice said she enjoys the weather and hearing the coyotes at night, also seeing deer in the yard and birds building nests.

She said she attributes her longevity to “living a clean life.”

She enjoys visits with friends and family and loves playing games such as Skip-Bo and Canasta.

“She’ll beat you, too,” her daughter Maureen said.

Bernice also continues to paint.

A creative outlet she’s been working at for over 50 years, she now has a lighted magnifying glass to help her with the fine details.

“I still can’t give up painting,” she said.

Draft plan released to reform ODOT in wake of $1 million evaluation Fri, 24 Mar 2017 17:25:19 -0400 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau SALEM — The state’s administrative agency has laid out a draft plan for reforming weaknesses at the Oregon Department of Transportation, but deadlines for the reforms lag behind legislators’ schedule for approving a transportation package.

The draft recommendations by the Department of Administrative Services are based on the findings of an independent consultant’s management review of the agency, finalized Feb. 1.

The state paid New York-based McKinsey & Co. $1 million to evaluate the performance of ODOT before lawmakers consider approving hundreds of millions of dollars in new transportation funding later this session. The revenue to pay for projects would likely come largely from a hike in the state’s gas tax and registration fees.

Gov. Kate Brown ordered the review to help allay some lawmakers’ concerns the agency wasn’t prepared to handle the new projects efficiently and effectively.

The consultants concluded there is an unclear governance structure for ODOT and the Oregon Transportation Commission, which sets policy for the agency. The agency also lacks a strategic vision for the future and accountability measures, the consultants found.

In its draft, DAS recommended that the governor and Legislature convene a work group to clarify the governance structure and report back Nov. 1.

ODOT should seek the expertise of a management consulting company to develop a management plan for the agency that would define structure, roles and measurements for success.

The agency also should seek out a consulting company to address waste in its fleet and facilities programs and convene procurement experts from other state agencies to review potential improvements for contracting.

Other recommendations ask for a communications plan, align legislative standards with the realities of the agency’s operations and ask the secretary of state to conduct an audit specifically on ODOT’s management of funds in the highway program.

Finally, DAS recommends conducting another management review to identify the progress of any changes.

The draft recommendations by DAS were released to the Pamplin Media Group/EO Media Group Friday, March 24, in response to a public records request.

The finalized recommendations are scheduled to be released next week, March 27-31, said DAS spokesman Matt Shelby. The records were submitted to the OTC and ODOT earlier this month. The commission and agency have been asked to give feedback on the recommendations by Monday, March 27, Shelby said.

The first of several work products recommended in the draft plan wouldn’t be due until Nov. 1, months after the state Legislature is scheduled to adjourn.

Lawmakers on a legislative committee crafting the transportation package say they plan to move forward with their own ODOT reforms. The co-chairs of the Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization formed an accountability subgroup to look at such issues.

“When we decided to go with the accountability group, we kind of put aside what the executive department was doing and said, we are going to do what we think needs to be done from a legislative perspective for accountability and transparency,” said committee Co-Chairman Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield.

Rep. Alan Olson, R-Albany, who heads the accountability subgroup, said he would consider the draft plan in a separate set of recommendations he plans to present to the full, 14-member transportation package committee April 3.

His recommendations are likely going to include suggestions for changing or clarifying ODOT’s governance structure and other accountability measures.

Olson said he is particularly interested in an idea to provide a website to the public where they can track the progress of transportation packages and whether the projects are on schedule and on budget.

Voting on Obamacare replacement postponed Fri, 24 Mar 2017 14:40:02 -0400 Rylan Boggs The United States House of Representatives on Friday postponed voting on the American Health Care Act, which would replace Obamacare.

During a press conference, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said it was a disappointing day and this was a setback for the act, not the end. The bill, supported by U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, would phase out Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which could have significant impacts in rural Oregon.

As many as 375,000 Oregonians covered by the Oregon Health Plan under the Medicaid expansion could lose health care coverage unless the state pays a greater percentage of the cost, according to recent Oregon Center for Public Policy report.

“Oregon’s Medicaid program would take a bigger hit than nearly all other states, should the GOP proposal be enacted,” the report, authored by Janet Bauer, said. “This is because the federal Medicaid expansion dollars support a larger share of our Medicaid program budget than in nearly every other state.”

The Republican replacement would phase out additional federal matching dollars for Medicaid beginning in 2020. Until then, people could still sign on to the Oregon Health Plan and receive Medicaid. After 2020, those enrolled would continue be covered but only for as long as they remained enrolled without interruption, according to the OCPP.

Almost 20 percent of people in Grant County are served by a community care organization as part of OHP, according to a state report. In 2014, 12 percent of people under 65 did not have health insurance in Grant County, the DHS reported.

If the AHCA is enacted, the Oregon Health Plan would lose 41.8 percent of federal funding, according to the OCPP. To continue funding those on Medicaid, the state would have to nearly quadruple its contributions.

Republican proponents say the plan will take control of health care away from the federal government and give it to the states, which will give citizens more flexibility on how they spend their money on healthcare.

The AHCA would eliminate individual and employer mandate penalties, establish a Patient and State Stability Fund to provide states with $100 billion to design programs that meet the unique needs of their patient populations and help low-income Americans afford health care by providing a tax credit between $2,000-14,000 a year for low- and middle-income individuals and families.

Women would not be able to use tax credits to purchase a plan that will cover elective abortions.

Like Obamacare, the GOP replacement would still prohibit insurers from denying coverage or charging more money to patients based on pre-existing conditions and allow dependents to stay on a parent’s plan until the age of 26.

Obamacare taxes, including taxes on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, health insurance premiums and medical devices would be removed, according to the GOP.

“Under our plan, we preserve important provisions like protecting patients with pre-existing conditions while implementing important reforms to provide states with greater flexibility, lower cost for families, and greater choice for patients,” Walden, the chairman of the Committee on Energy & Commerce, said. “We’re one step closer to helping American families across the country obtain and maintain affordable health care.”

In Walden’s district in rural Oregon, Medicaid enrollment through the Oregon Health Plan surpassed 30 percent in eight of the counties. About 129,200 people in the district are covered by the Medicaid expansion. The district’s uninsured rate dropped from 17 percent to 8 percent under Obamacare.

Walden’s district expanded Medicaid more than any other Republican district in the country, according to a report by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce,.

Over half of all children in Walden’s district rely on Medicaid, and 30 percent of Oregonians in rural counties rely on the OHP, compared to 24 percent of residents in urban counties. Walden’s district has the most residents, 29 percent, who rely on the OHP, according to the OCPP.

“Our analysis found that for every step of progress that Oregon made, the American Health Care Act will take Oregon three steps back,” Gov. Kate Brown said. “Since 2014, we have made tremendous progress to ensure that nearly every Oregonian has access to health insurance coverage. The ripple effect of pulling healthcare out from under Oregonians is widespread, from families, to doctors, to hospitals. I look forward to sharing their voices with Oregon and Congress.”

Under Obamacare, Oregon extended Oregon Health Plan coverage to approximately 400,000 Oregonians who lacked health insurance, and today OHP covers more than one in four Oregonians, including almost 40 percent of residents in some rural parts of the state, according to a report released by the state.

More than 95 percent of Oregonians, and 98 percent of children, now have health care coverage. The uninsured rate could triple if Obamacare’s health insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion are repealed, according to the state.

Obamacare also created a marketplace for people to find health insurance and subsidies. Over 155,000 Oregonians have signed up for health insurance through the marketplace since the end of January, according to the state.

The nonprofit Economic Policy Institute estimates Oregon would also lose a total of 42,000 jobs if Obamacare was repealed.

EO Media Group senior reporter Kathy Aney contributed to this report.

County officials to attend child abuse summit in April Fri, 24 Mar 2017 12:40:03 -0400 Rylan Boggs Between six and seven county partners will be traveling to the Child Abuse Family Violence Summit in April.

The summit, April 11-14, will educate attendees on aspects of child abuse including prosecution of offenders, community awareness of issues and child sex trafficking, according to Victim Assistance Director Andrea Officer. Court Appointed Special Advocates, Community Counseling Solutions and local law enforcement will also have representatives in attendance along with the District Attorney’s Office.

The Grant County Court approved Officer’s request to send the group during a March 22 county court meeting.

The court also:

• approved county Surveyor Mike Springer’s request to purchase a flat file cabinet from Benchmark Surveying for $300.

• changed the capital outlay purchasing amount limit for departments from $100 to $500.

• reviewed and approved an intergovernmental agreement between Grant and Wheeler counties to house Wheeler County inmates.

• approved a request from the District Attorney’s Office to send Deputy District Attorney Mara Houck to training.

• reviewed and approved an intergovernmental agreement between Grant County and the state to use rock from McGirr Quarry to maintain roads in the winter.

Oregon lawmakers consider banning livestock discrimination Thu, 23 Mar 2017 15:33:34 -0400 Mateusz PerkowskiCapital Bureau SALEM — An incident of prejudice against pigs near the state capital has Oregon lawmakers contemplating a broader prohibition against livestock discrimination.

A landowner in West Salem is facing a prohibition against raising pigs on properties smaller than 10 acres due to a species-specific regulation by Polk County’s government.

The dispute has caught the attention of Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth, and Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, who have proposed a bill that would ban county ordinances that generally allow livestock but forbid certain animals.

“It’s weird to exclude one particular species,” Evans said during a March 23 hearing on House Bill 3016.

Evans drew a parallel to George Orwell’s classic book, “Animal Farm,” in which all animals are equal but then some become more equal than others.

Species-specific livestock restrictions seem to run counter to the philosophy of Oregon’s “right to farm” law, which disallows local restrictions against common farming practices, he said.

Such prohibitions are also at odds with the growing movement toward local foods, which requires that farms be located close to urban areas, Evans said.

“It was curious to me that swine were called out,” he said.

In the case that spurred the proposal, though, the situation is complicated because the property is located within the “urban growth boundary” for Salem, but isn’t actually within the city limits, Evans said.

The “right to farm” law only applies to land zoned for farming and forestry uses, said Mary Anne Nash, public policy counsel for the Oregon Farm Bureau, which has no position HB 3016.

The West Salem property in question is within a suburban residential zone, though the county may rezone the property to resolve the conflict, said Mark Nystrom, policy manager of the Association of Oregon Counties.

The Association of Oregon Counties opposes HB 3016 due to its “all or nothing” approach to local livestock regulations, he said.

It’s possible that some county governments will simply decide to ban all livestock in certain zones if they’re not allowed to have species-specific ordinances, he said.

Nystrom also pointed out that in “Animal Farm,” it was the pigs that ended up taking over the property and becoming the oppressors.

The exchange elicited a comment from Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scapoose, who was waiting to testify on other legislation related to shellfish, but said she was grateful the committee was considering the swine-related bill.

“I’ve spent countless nights worried about porcine presence in populated areas,” she said.

Advocates, legislators seek more money for veteran services Thu, 23 Mar 2017 19:12:38 -0400 Claire Withycombe Capital Bureau

SALEM — Oregon veterans’ groups have been up in arms since the governor’s budget reduced allocations to the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs from the state’s general fund and backfilled it with most of the lottery fund dollars set aside for veterans’ services by a voter-approved ballot measure.

Now they’ve brought their concerns to a Legislature busy trying to fill a $1.6 billion shortfall.

Ballot Measure 96 amended the state’s constitution to allocate 1.5 percent of state lottery net proceeds to direct services for veterans.

Advocates have been vocal about what they say is a need for more support — such as for veterans’ services officers, who help returned veterans sign up for federal benefits.

Byron Whipple, a veterans’ services officer in Union County, told legislators last month that in his area of northeastern Oregon, veterans face problems accessing travel to get medical care.

In February, community members housed a 75-year-old veteran with dementia for five days because local agencies could not arrange services for him sooner, Whipple wrote in testimony to the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development.

“We do not have local missions and shelters that certain cities and counties have,” Whipple wrote. “We do not have the extra tax dollars to fund these emergencies. Last November, we did have hope.”

In December, Gov. Kate Brown released a budget that decreased the amount of general fund dollars for veterans’ services from $10 million to $2 million, provoking the ire of veterans’ advocates, who said that the ballot measure was intended to supplement, not supplant, current state funding for veterans.

The Governor’s Office said in a statement this week that at $19.8 million, the governor’s budget reflected the intent of Measure 96 by increasing the overall budget for the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Although $19.8 million would be a near doubling of funding for veterans’ services in the next budget cycle, veterans groups’ say it’s not enough, and that the governor’s plan may meet the letter, but not the spirit, of Measure 96.

The co-chairs of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, the legislative budget-writing committee, proposed $23.5 million in combined lottery and general funds for veterans’ services as part of their preliminary spending framework in January.

Some legislators have called for boosting the amount higher still.

State Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth, is one of them.

Evans acknowledged in a statement Thursday that state legislators were facing an “extraordinarily difficult budget environment.”

“Now we have to find a way to increase funding to a level where we can do some real good for the men and women we’ve sent into harm’s way, while also strengthening our schools, providing quality health care and investing in other critical services,” Evans said.

Freshman Rep. Ron Noble, R-McMinnville, wants to bump the amount of money the veterans’ services program gets by amending the agency’s funding bill, bringing the total to about $30 million for veterans’ services.

Noble says he wants to obey the will of the voters. According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, 83 percent of Oregon voters voted in favor of Measure 96.

However, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Office, the measure did not require that the amount of money allocated to veterans’ services in the general fund be maintained.

“There’s nothing in the bill that says you cannot supplant the dollars,” Noble said. “But I think that’s, I’m going to be blunt, I think that’s just a chicken way out.”

Noble did not have specific proposals Thursday as to where he’d cut back elsewhere in the state’s general fund to increase veterans’ services.

He said the state could be more efficient, and that he is preparing to provide more details at future meetings of the Ways and Means Subcommittee reviewing the ODVA budget, of which he is a member.

Supporters of more funding, such as Noble and State Rep. Julie Parrish, R-Tualatin/West Linn, argue that an up-front investment in direct services will bring more revenue to the state down the line by increasing the amount of federal benefits Oregon’s veterans receive. They claim it will also lessen the burden on other areas of the state budget, such as health care and housing.

Parrish was behind the legislative proposal that was referred to voters, and said in a phone interview Thursday that it was not her intention to backfill a lower general fund budget with the lottery funds.

Furthermore, she believes the state has the resources to pay for the veterans’ services that advocates want.

She said she was working on a bill to curtail the costs of healthcare for public employees. “We have the money,” Parrish said, “We’re just not holding state agencies accountable for how we’re spending it.”

Businesses: Paid family leave adds to fatigue of Legislature-imposed mandates Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:31:43 -0400 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau SALEM — A bill to require 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave would bring Oregon up to the living standards of most other developed nations but represents another financial setback to the state’s business community, said speakers at a hearing Thursday, March 23, at the Capitol.

The hearing in front of the House Committee on Early Childhood and Family Supports drew a standing room-only crowd with attendees watching from an overflow room and in the hallway.

“It is beyond time for Oregon and the U.S. to join the rest of the civilized world,” said Diane Solomon, a psychiatric nurse practitioner with the Oregon Nurses Association.

While many businesses support and offer family and medical leave, the bill is overreaching,” said Betsy Earls of Associated Oregon Industries.

The legislation “creates conditions that would make it costly and difficult for businesses — especially small ones — to plan and manage their operations,” Earls said.

The bill, sponsored by four House Democrats, would require a mandatory ½ percent deduction from employees’ pay. Employers would be required to contribute an equal amount. The money would go to a paid leave insurance program administered by the Oregon Department of Business and Consumer Services.

Employees who have been on the job for at least 90 days would be eligible to use a portion of the benefit; after 12 months, they would be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid leave for illness or a family member’s illness. Employees could take up to 18 months of parental leave for a new baby, adoption or foster care child placement and receive at least 90 percent of their regular wages or salary.

Four states — California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York — have developed some type of paid family leave program. Paid leave for new parents is available for 16 weeks in France, 15 weeks in Canada, a full year in Germany and 15 weeks in Japan, Solomon noted.

About 14 percent of workers across the nation have access to paid family and medical leave at work, according to the Time for Oregon Coalition, which supports the bill.

Federal and Oregon law provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for some workers — however, these laws don’t apply to everyone and don’t provide lost income.

Some family members are excluded by workplace and economic policies that fail to recognize the nearly 80 percent of American families that don’t fit the nuclear family model of a married mother and father and their biologically related children, said Rose King, a coalition spokeswoman.

Proponents cite research that shows women who are forced to go back to work too soon after having a baby are predisposed to postpartum depression. Meanwhile, babies benefit from receiving care from their parents during the first 12 weeks of life, said Dr. Evan Shereck, a pediatrician at Portland’s Oregon Health Science University.

“This is a time when children are at their most vulnerable and it is critical to have a caregiver with them 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, not everyone has the option to stay home and care for their new baby,” Shereck said.

Opponents said the requirement would add to a mounting burden of new laws squeezing money out of businesses, including mandatory paid sick leave and increases in the minimum wage.

The requirements would constitute an “unfunded mandate” for cities, counties and special districts, said Mark Landauer of the Special Districts Association of Oregon.

One farmer said the requirement would be another “nail in the coffin” of the agricultural community.

Lisa Stone, whose family owns a Christmas tree farm in Marion County, said farmers are having a hard time absorbing all of the additional costs imposed by the Legislature. She estimated the requirement would cost the family farm about $7,000.

Portland Reps. Jennifer Williamson, Alyssa Keny-Guyer and Diego Hernandez and Woodburn’s Rep. Alonso Leon of Woodburn, Diego Hernandez of Portland and Keny-Guyer sponsored the legislation.

“Paid family and medical leave is a basic protection guaranteed to working families in countries around the world,” Williamson said. “As a country and a state, we are lagging severely behind. It’s time for Oregon to prioritize this issue and ensure that a new baby or a health crisis no longer means potential financial disaster for working families.”

Senate passes bill to raise smoking age to 21 Thu, 23 Mar 2017 13:04:21 -0400 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau SALEM — The Oregon Senate Thursday passed a bill to raise the smoking age to 21. If the House concurs, Oregon would become the third state in the nation to prohibit the sale of tobacco to people younger than 21.

“The is pure and simple a public health bill,” said the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Beaverton.

The bill passed 18-to-9, with all Democrats and two Republicans, Sens. Jackie Winters of Salem, and Sen. Bill Hansell of Athena, voting in favor. Winters and Democrat swing vote Sen. Betsy Johnson of Scappoose changed their votes. A Republican, Rep. Rich Vial of Scholls, co-sponsored with Steiner-Hayward. Both lawmakers have said they lost loved ones to tobacco-related diseases.

Sen. Alan Olson, R-Canby, argued the bill looked like the work of a “nanny state.”

“I appall smoking,” Olson said. But the senator said he felt people have the right to make that choice for themselves.

Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, said people who are old enough to serve in the military ought to be able to decide whether they want to smoke. He said the law change would create a new illicit market for people between the ages of 19 and 21.

Steiner Hayward, who is a family physician, retorted that states have prohibited people younger than 21 from drinking alcohol and that alcohol is less addictive than tobacco.

Recent research, including some from the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office, shows that brains under age 26 are more susceptible to addiction.

The legislation would impose first-time civil penalties of $50 for clerks and $500 for managers who sell to minors.

“We made a conscious decision not have criminal penalties because we know that tobacco companies tend to target low-income communities who can least afford it,” Steiner Hayward said.

Taking 18- to 20-year-olds out of the legal market would result in an estimated loss in tobacco tax revenue of $1.6 million every two years, according to a projection by the Legislative Revenue Office.

An increase in the tobacco tax proposed by Gov. Kate Brown could offset some that loss.

In 2015, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to raise the smoking age to 21. California followed suit last year. An additional 210 cities and counties, including New York City and Boston, have similar laws.

Grant County Court minutes: Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:42:31 -0400 Grant County Court minutes from March 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, Ron Ballard, Dave Traylor, Jim Spell, Beth Spell, Judy Kerr, Stephen Cross, Katy Nelson, Reporter Rylan Boggs, Gail Beverlin, Reporter Logan Bagett and Pastor David Hoeffner. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Hoeffner.

CLAIMS. The court had reviewed and approved claims and extension district warrants #279-286. Commissioner Hamsher declared a conflict on a claim payable to T&H Automotive.

Judge Myers publically thanked Dave Traylor and Ron Ballard for presenting and hanging the plaque for the Courtroom. Traylor said Linnea Coleman did the lettering on the sign. Traylor added Grant County was named for General Grant, Commander of the Union Forces during the Civil War. Traylor further explained the history surrounding Grant County and how it was named.

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


Judge Myers met with Treasurer Julie Ellison and the representative of the peace officer’s union (Wade Waddel) on Monday to begin union negotiations. They will meet again prior to the end of March. Yesterday Myers traveled with Andy Day of Andy’s Plumbing to check the feasibility of plumbing in Suites 1 and 2 of the L-Building and discovered water and sewer lines could be installed. Myers will meet with a contractor today to discuss the remodel of the suites. Tomorrow will be the first budget meeting at 10 am. Myers will attend a Heritage Board Foundation meeting Friday evening at the Outpost. Myers announced that beginning in April the County Court will begin meeting on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Myers explained this will allow the court members to be more proactive with things such as testifying before the legislature. If an emergency need arises a meeting can be called with 24 hours’ notice. Next week CIS will be conducting three management trainings at the Airport on Thursday and department heads and managers have been encouraged to attend. Myers will go to what he hopes is the final Bates Pond meeting on the 13th.

Commissioner Britton spent a lot of time last week with grazing permittees discussing possible issues. Britton will attend the budget meeting tomorrow and on March 27th will be the joint chair of a SEACT meeting in Baker City. Britton will also attend the Bates Pond meeting on the 13th.

Commissioner Hamsher attended a fundraiser Saturday night for Hope for Paws which helps with spay and neuter clinics and pet adoptions. Hamsher met with Kimberly Lindsay on Monday where she updated him on the CCS budget. Hamsher spoke with Mindy Winegar about being the court liason to the Fair. The court members by consensus agreed to Hamsher being the liason.

9:15 am Kathy Stinnett entered.

MINUTES. MSP: Britton/Hamsher -- to approve the March 1st minutes as presented.

GIS CADASTRAL DATA LICENSE AGREEMENT. Assessor David Thunell had requested court review and approval of the GIS Cadastral Data License Agreement between Grant County and the State of Oregon Department of Revenue. The program is utilized to store data regarding items such as tax lots and property ownerships. This program shares information between the counties and Department of Revenue. Britton said he was advised we are the only county in Oregon who has not signed this agreement. The Assessor and Watermaster both believe the contract should be signed.

MSP: Britton/Myers -- to approve the GIS Cadastral Data License Agreement and authorize Judge Myers to sign.

IGA MANUFACTURED HOME OWNERSHIP SYSTEM. Thunell also requested court review and approval of an Intergovernmental Agreement between Grant County and the State of Oregon Building Codes Division. The IGA provides for a software system to document ownership of manufactured homes. The IGA presented to the court is a draft; the Assessor is waiting for a final copy from the State. Thunell would like the court to approve the IGA and authorize Judge Myers to sign the original when it arrives from the State. Until this agreement is signed the Assessor’s Office cannot change ownership on manufactured homes. Thunell would like the court to sign the agreement. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to approve the IGA and authorize Judge Myers to sign the original when it arrives.

9:20 am Mike Springer entered.

OSTER PROFESSIONAL GROUP CONTRACT. Oster Professional Group had been selected as auditor of record for Grant County on February 15th and sent an engagement letter and audit contract to the court for signature. MSP: Hamsher/Myers -- to approve the audit contract and authorize Judge Myers to sign the contract and engagement letter.

SILVIES VALLEY RANCH OLCC APPLICATION. Silvies Valley Ranch had sent two Oregon Liquor Control Commission applications to the county court for approval. Myers advised the court must sign the applications for any establishment who wished to serve alcohol outside of the cities jurisdiction. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to approve the two OLCC applications and authorize Judge Myers to sign.

PROPOSED CANYON CITY COMMUNITY GARDEN. Citizen Stephen Cross presented a request to the court to possibly allow a community garden on land in Canyon City owned by Grant County. Cross said there is an open lot at the base of Adams Drive in Canyon City and he would like to propose a community garden on the lot like what is being done in John Day. Cross would like to first receive approval from the court to begin working towards this project. Cross stated he would donate orchard fencing for the lot and a memorandum of understanding would need to be created with the county. Cross added this would be an aesthetically pleasing site and provided some of his ideas for the property. Cross would create a business plan and site proposal which would spell out how the community garden would be operated. He believes this would be a beneficial addition to the community. Myers explained the location of the property and Hamsher asked if developing this property would be detrimental to selling the old county shop across the street. Myers doesn’t believe the lot would necessarily need to be sold with the shop. Myers said water rights might be an issue. Myers expressed his opinion that the idea is a good one, but he is concerned with the logistics of it. Cross stated the first step would be to get a business plan together and all he is asking for today is for permission to move forward with looking into the project. Myers advised Cross to speak with the Town of Canyon City about potential zoning issues. Hamsher suggested looking into the property the county is trying to purchase next to the Inland Bridge since this property will be required to be maintained as an open space. Britton would like Cross to speak with adjacent landowners to get input to provide to the court. Cross will perform additional research to provide to the court. Myers offered to take Cross to the property the county is trying to purchase. Dave Traylor suggested researching the history of liberty gardens and said it was a good idea. Hamsher suggested working with the school district as they might possibly have a piece of property and work with a community garden.

PUBLIC COMMENT. Judy Kerr said as a resident of Canyon City she believes a tasteful and well developed Liberty garden would be wonderful for the community. Dave Traylor stated there is a tremendous amount of yard debris that could be used as compost locally and not be taken to the landfill. Traylor suggested high school students could also get involved and it would be a great learning opportunity.

***NACo DUES*** The NACo dues approved last week will be paid from the General Fund and not the County Court Dues and Travels line as previously reported in the minutes of March 1st.

9:52 am -- 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 ****

James Richard Lound Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:27:20 -0400 James Richard Lound, 86, passed away Nov. 22, 2016, at Cherry Heights Retirement Center in The Dalles.

Lound was born Oct. 21, 1930, in Pocatello, Idaho, to Frank E. Lound and Jean Dusten Lound. He graduated from Washington High School in Portland in 1949 and served in the U.S. Navy from 1950 to 1954, as a dental assistant.

Lound had found memories as a child, staying with his father in the Edward Hines Lumber Company employee bunk house in Hines and visiting his grandfather’s ranch on the Middle Fork of the John Day River between Bates and Susanville.

Lound married Virgie Maxine Averill Turnbull and had two daughters.

He attended the Shrine Temple Al Kader in Wilsonville, the Masonic Lodge in Canyon City and the John Day Elks Lodge.

Lound was preceded in death by his wife, Virgie. He is survived by his daughters, Melissa Anne Scarbrough of Pace, Florida, and Rebecca Sue Lound of Goldendale, Washington; a stepdaughter Robyn Ford-Turnbull of Vancouver, Washington; a stepson, Steven Turnbull of St. Louis, Missouri; three grandsons; and three step-grandchildren.

ODOT review could lead to hiring more consultants Wed, 22 Mar 2017 21:27:45 -0400 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau SALEM — A $1 million management performance audit of the Oregon Department of Transportation may yield no specific recommendations for how to improve accountability or reduce waste at the agency.

Instead, the Department of Administrative Services plans to recommend that the state spend more money and hire more independent contractors to address issues such as conflicts of interest in contracting and projects overdue and over budget.

The work product from those contractor studies could take up to a year, DAS Director Katy Coba told lawmakers on committee subgroup examining accountability measures.


The state paid New York-based McKinsey & Co. $1 million to evaluate the performance of the agency before lawmakers consider approving hundreds of millions of dollars in new transportation funding later this session. The new revenue would likely come largely from a hike in the state’s gas tax and registration fees.

Gov. Kate Brown ordered the review to help allay lawmakers’ concerns the agency wasn’t prepared to handle the new projects efficiently and effectively.

“You can understand why a couple of us are incredulous,” said Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose. “All of this was supposed to be the condition antecedent to a package. I’m just trying to figure out we are now trying valiantly to move a package and we’re finding out that all of this work that the governor called for is now out maybe as much as a year.”

When hiring additional consultants to reform ODOT, “how do we not waste a boatload of money?” Johnson asked.

Coba suggested that lawmakers could still move forward with the package, noting that the management review was generally favorable of ODOT.

“The McKinsey report, as I would interpret it, basically says ODOT is a solid operation,” Coba said. “They are in the top quartile for Western departments of transportation. This is a not a broken organization.”

McKinsey released a report of findings about the agency Feb. 1. For instance, the consultants concluded there is an unclear governance structure for ODOT and the Oregon Transportation Commission, which sets policy for the agency. The agency also lacks a strategic vision for the future and accountability measures, the consultants found.

Some of those findings could be addressed with law changes, said Sen. Kathleen Taylor, D-Portland.

“All of us are wanting to make certain that we can answer questions from the public about when they are paying more money at the pump the gas tax that the money is being used properly,” Taylor said.

Accountability measures could be proposed in-house or by legislators on the legislative Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization, which is responsible for crafting a transportation package.

For instance, lawmakers could restore the authority to hire and fire the ODOT director to the OTC, as some former commission chairmen have suggested. That authority now lies with the governor.

Despite McKinsey’s favorable report of the agency, some lawmakers will remain distrustful of the agency, said Rep. John Lively, D-Springfield.

Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton, said he was “less than impressed with the quality of what” McKinsey released.

DAS initially had planned to produce recommendations from McKinsey’s findings by March 1. That due date was pushed back to April 15, after the co-chair and vice-chairs of the transportation package committee asked DAS to “slow down,” Coba said.

“We were asked to slow down and I think that is all I am comfortable in saying,” Coba said, after lawmakers pressed her for more details.

Committee Co-Chairman Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Eugene, denied instructing DAS to slow down on the recommendations. But he admitted committee leadership had signaled to the agency that the recommendations were no longer essential to negotiations on the transportation package because the committee was looking at its own accountability measures.

Irrigators criticize $100 water rights fee proposal Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:11:28 -0400 Mateusz PerkowskiCapital Bureau SALEM — A proposed $100 annual fee on all Oregon water rights has met with criticism from irrigators who say it would contribute to already mounting financial burdens.

Farmers overwhelmingly testified against House Bill 2706, which aims to raise money for water management, during a March 22 hearing before the House Committee on Energy and Environment.

Members of the Klamath Water Users Association, for example, are already paying steep costs to comply with the Endangered Species Act and engage in water rights adjudication in the region, said Dave Jensen, a farmer and representative of the group.

“Would $100 break a bunch of farmers out there? Probably not, but there is always the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Jensen said.

For irrigators with multiple water rights, the bill would cap total fees at $1,000 a year, while municipalities could pay up to $2,500 a year.

The money raised would pay for the administrative, technical and field duties performed by the Oregon Water Resources Department, which oversees 89,000 water rights in the state.

The bill would effectively impose a discriminatory tax on irrigators and other water users, said Curtis Martin, a rancher and chair of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association’s water resources committee.

“There is no additional service being delivered to the users of the resource,” Martin said.

Opponents also argue that electricity costs have continued rising, adding to the cost of pumping water, and irrigators would have to pay the management fee even if they didn’t fully use their water rights.

“When they shut you off, you still have to pay that bill,” said Tom Mallams, a rancher and Klamath County commissioner.

House Bill 2705, a companion proposal requiring the installation of water measurement devices at irrigation diversions, also drew objections from irrigators at the hearing.

Complying with the requirement would be expensive and the Oregon Water Resources Department doesn’t have enough staff to analyze the new information anyway, said John O’Keeffe, president of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association.

“Additional data for the sake of data does not solve any problem,” O’Keeffe said.

It would be more realistic to ensure that watermasters — who can already order water measurements when necessary — are properly equipped to do their jobs, he said.

Installing water measurement devices also isn’t practical for farmers who rely on flood irrigation and divert water directly from streams onto fields, according to opponents.

Some opponents also questioned the fairness and wisdom of exempting domestic well users from the bill.

“If you’re going to manage water, I don’t know how you’re going to do that without looking at private wells,” said Irene Gilbert of La Grande, Ore.

Water conservation groups argued that a new funding source is needed because OWRD’s cost of administering water rights is largely borne by state taxpayers.

The private interests who primarily benefit from the system, meanwhile, only pay a one-time application fee to establish water rights, said Kimberley Priestley, senior policy analyst with WaterWatch of Oregon.

“This is the public’s water. The public is currently paying through the general fund for the management of its water,” said Priestley.

An annual management fee has already been identified as a stable source of funding by the Oregon Water Resources Commission, which oversees OWRD, she said.

As for measurement devices, the requirement is needed because “what gets measured gets managed,” Priestley said.

Proponents claim that only 20 percent of Oregon’s water rights holders currently measure and report their usage, since this is a requirement for irrigation districts, governments and those with rights issued since 1993.

Despite recognition by the Oregon Water Resources Commission as a key management tool, there has been limited progress in expanding water measurement, according to bill supporters.

“We can no longer afford to put our heads in the sand and pretend water management issues will just go away,” said Joe Furia, general counsel for the Freshwater Trust nonprofit.

The committee’s chair, Ken Helm, D-Beaverton, said the bills were “conversation starters” and would likely change in response to input from a “broad stakeholder group” he’s convened, which includes agriculture and environmental groups.

Farmworker housing operations tax credit progresses Wed, 22 Mar 2017 16:04:39 -0400 Mateusz PerkowskiCapital Press SALEM — A proposed tax credit to compensate farmers for half the operational costs of providing worker housing has made some headway in the Oregon Legislature.

Senate Bill 1, which is supported by a coalition of agriculture and housing groups, has moved out of the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue. The impacts to Oregon’s revenues and budget from SB 1 have yet to be determined.

While the bill will now move to the Joint Committee on Tax Credits, which includes members of both the House and Senate, it was referred out of the committee without recommendation as to its passage.

It’s common for the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue to move bills without a recommendation at this stage, since various tax credit proposals must still be prioritized, said Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, the committee’s chair.

“We don’t want to bias the situation,” he said.

The Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue initially voted to move the bill directly to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, but that recommendation was overridden by Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, who referred it to the Joint Committee on Tax Credits.

If approved by that committee, the bill would move directly to the House floor for a vote.

Bills that reduce state revenues — whether due to expenditures or tax credits — face a particularly tough road during the 2017 legislative session, as Oregon faces a $1.6 billion budget deficit in the upcoming biennium.

Under Senate Bill 1, farmers would be able to obtain tax credits for half the amount of repairs, maintenance, insurance and other costs associated with farmworker housing during the year.

Utility expenses are also included in these operational costs unless they’re paid by workers.

Oregon already has a tax credit for half the costs of actually building farmworker housing, with an annual cap of $7.25 million.

Walden uses clout to tout Obamacare replacement Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:11:44 -0400 KATHY ANEYEast Oregonian For Rep. Greg Walden, these are heady times.

The new chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee helped unveil a new federal health care plan to the nation at a news conference earlier this month. The Oregon lawmaker addressed a crowd of reporters about the proposed unraveling of former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Walden didn’t mince words in describing the GOP mission.

“Facts are, we’ve arrived at the scene of a pretty big wreck and we’re trying to clean up the mess,” he said. “If we don’t intercede now, fewer people will have access to insurance — period.”

The bill rolls back Medicaid expansion, nixes the requirement for large employers to offer coverage to full-time employees and ditches a mandate that compels Americans to get insurance, instead using a system of tax credits to induce younger, healthier Americans to buy insurance on the open market. Medicaid funding would come in the form of block grants.

Walden points to double-digit insurance increases and the shrinking list of insurers on the open market as reasons for why the ACA needs to be scrapped.

“Last year, 225 counties in America had one option left to choose from on the exchange,” Walden said. “This year, it’s 1,022 and that’s before Humana pulled out. This insurance market is collapsing before our eyes. The CEO of Aetna said (the market is) in a death spiral. Those aren’t our words, those are his words. As I talk to insurers, they’re looking at whether they can sustain the losses they’re enduring.”

Though Walden’s political sway seems at an all-time high, some of his constituents in Oregon’s 2nd district are pushing back against the proposed dismantling of the ACA. In January, for example, a group of locals rallied in Walden’s hometown of Hood River to protest the repeal.

Those constituents say Walden isn’t listening to the people back home. Retired health care administrator Fran Finney helped organize the Hood River rally as a way to protest repeal and get a message to Walden that he wasn’t doing their bidding.

“We organized this at the last minute because we were concerned about the direction we see health care going in,” Finney said. “The word got out informally. About 80 people showed up. It was a very cold day — about 15 degrees — and we stood in the snow.”

Protesters waved signs proclaiming “Save our Health Care” and “Health Care for All Americans.” They took turns speaking into a microphone about fears of losing health benefits. Some spoke in support of a single payer plan. Finney worried aloud about the “slippery slope of potential cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.” Mostly, she is concerned about family and friends.

“People are concerned about losing their health care,” she said.

In Walden’s rambling district, which covers about two-thirds of Oregon, Medicaid enrollment surpassed 30 percent in eight of the counties. About 129,200 people in the district are covered by Medicaid expansion. The district’s uninsured rate has dropped from 17 percent to eight percent.

According to a report by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Walden’s district expanded Medicaid more than any other Republican district in the country.

Finney and her friends wonder about Walden’s political future because of this disconnect. Until now, the road has been smooth. Since 1998, Walden has easily won reelection 10 times running.

Could reelection in 2018 be less of a cakewalk?

“We think he could be vulnerable,” Finney said.

That’s a 180-degree turn from President Donald Trump’s analyis, who warned House Republicans Tuesday they could lose their seats if they failed to replace the ACA. The Republican bill to repeal the health care act comes before the House Budget Committee on Thursday.

Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, is an Oregon lawmaker whose district geographically falls within Walden’s. Smith said he hears concerns about health care when he travels the area. Smith said Walden has to travel some rough roads in the coming months.

“Health care is a challenging issue for the Congressman and for folks in Eastern Oregon,” Smith said.

Rural Oregon has a large population of people dependent on the ACA and the Oregon Health Plan, he said. “They believe they have a right to affordable and accessible health care.” Smith called the effort “truly a balancing act to figure out how Oregonians can have access to health care without intruding into their private lives or being overly excessive.” That said, Smith likes the health care system Oregon has developed.

“Our state has been innovative in its approach to health care,” he said. “Oregon has significantly contained the cost of health care in comparison with other states.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown credited the ACA for bringing the level of insured to 95 percent of adults and 98 percent of children in the state.

“We know the ACA works in Oregon,” said Brown last week to a crowd gathered outdoors at the Capitol. “It’s considered a model system around the country.”

She called the proposed federal health plan “absolutely unacceptable.” Brown cited findings from a 19-page Oregon Health Authority/Consumer and Business Services department report that estimated nearly half a million Oregonians would lose health coverage and that 42,000 jobs would disappear.

“Our report found that for every step of progress Oregon has made, this proposal will take Oregon three steps back,” Brown said. “This bill is not about improving health care. This bill is about giving tax breaks to the wealthy.”

Representative Smith is reserving judgment about potential harm to Oregon.

“I’m not ready to go there yet,” he said. “I think it’s really premature. We don’t know what Congress will do yet.”

Walden has touted the plan at town halls in his district, assuring nervous constituents that no one will be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions and that adult children may remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26.

“We want to take the time to get it right — so there’s a lot of work going on,” Walden told a Boardman audience last month. “Our mission is to give Americans more choices and to bring the costs down.”


Contact Kathy Aney at or call 541-966-0810.

Porter’s post-prison destination in question Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:00:58 -0400 Sean Hart Grant and Lane counties are being considered as post-prison destinations for Sydney Dean Porter, who killed a John Day police officer in 1992.

Grant County District Attorney Jim Carpenter said Porter remains incarcerated pending final processing of his case by the Oregon Court of Appeals and the approval of a release plan by the Parole Board. If released to Grant County, Porter would reside in the Monument area, Carpenter said.

Porter pleaded guilty to aggravated murder for killing Officer Frank 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 court documents.

The parole board issued a prison release date in 2013 after little evidence was presented at a required exit interview, but the date was postponed after further evidence was provided. The board, however, did not hold a hearing with Porter at the time of the postponement.

The appeals court ruled the parole board should not have postponed his release without “a timely hearing” and reinstated the 2013 release date because of the legal errors by the board.

The Oregon Supreme Court denied a request to review the appeals court decision.

John Ward Ingersoll Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:31:01 -0400 John Ward Ingersoll, 62, of Canyon City passed away peacefully Sunday, March 19, at St. Luke’s Hospital in Boise, Idaho, surrounded by his family.

Ingersoll was born May 10, 1954, in Burney, California, to Marvin and Ethel (McGinty) Ingersoll.

He loved the outdoors and drawing. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather.

He is survived by his wife, Karen (Hicks) Ingersoll; three children, Shane Ingersoll, Shilo (Ingersoll) Ostberg and Tami Ingersoll; three grandchildren; brother, Robert Ingersoll; and sister, Deborah (Ingersoll) Schneider.

Per his request, no services will be held.

Costs of administering pot taxes escalating Tue, 21 Mar 2017 20:40:46 -0400 Claire Withycombe Capital Bureau

SALEM — The costs of administering Oregon’s recreational marijuana tax have escalated since initial estimates in 2015, and may be poised to increase again.

In part, that’s because it’s not yet clear just how much it will cost to build a secure, five-station payment area in the Oregon Department of Revenue.

The project, department officials say, is intended to accommodate the cash tax payments characteristic of the marijuana industry, which due to federal law is largely excluded from mainstream banking services. Many retailers make their monthly payments in cash and in person, and right now they use another area of the revenue building that was renovated for temporary cash handling.

The tax has proven a considerable windfall for the state, bringing in more than $60 million in revenue in 2016. But it has also created complications for the state’s tax-collecting agency.

Administering the tax, the department says, requires special equipment and staff to count money and guard against funny business ­— all of which costs money.

In early 2016, for example, the department estimated that it would cost $5,699 to buy air purifiers to mitigate the odor of marijuana that officials say emanates from some cash payments.

The costs to the department of administering the tax is paid for by marijuana tax revenues.

A request for proposals from contractors to renovate the Department of Revenue’s building in Salem closes March 22, the second bid for the project. An initial bid was put out earlier this year, but the bids received didn’t meet the department’s criteria, a spokeswoman said.

Because the project was still out for bid Tuesday, it was not known what the final costs will be, according to department officials.

In October 2015, the department estimated the five-station payment area would cost anywhere between $480,000 and $1.07 million to build, state records show. In 2016, department officials said they expected the project would land somewhere in the middle of that range, at about $787,000.

The administrator for the department’s administrative division, Shawn Waite, told lawmakers during budget hearings last week that the cost of construction of the payment center was expected to exceed initial estimates in 2015 due to construction inflationary costs, but could not provide an estimate of the increase as the project was still out for bid.

The bulk of the work is expected to be finished in October, and complete in November, according to the request for bid proposals; department officials initially expected it would be complete by June 30, Waite said.

Waite said the department initially struggled with the complexity of the construction project and the building’s existing architecture. But Waite also told lawmakers she believed the department hired a private third party to provide counsel on the project, and that the Department of Revenue worked with the Department of Administrative Services’ building management officials.

A Department of Revenue spokeswoman said the October date has been the expected completion date for a year and a half, and that it took longer than expected for the department to decide on a location. Waite said that they had considered building a structure offsite.

The project is forging ahead despite the uncertainty around whether state recreational marijuana laws will face enforcement from the administration of President Donald Trump. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s attorney general, has vocally opposed legalizing marijuana, which under federal law is considered a Schedule-I controlled substance.

Waite told lawmakers last week that there have been no problems or security incidents with the so-called “temporary” arrangement thus far — begging the question of why a new payment center is necessary if the current method has worked without apparent incident.

Asked that question, a spokeswoman for the department said in an email that the size and location of the current arrangement wasn’t “ideal long-term” for safety, security, convenience and “effectively handling cash payments.”

Critics urge more livestock antibiotics oversight in Oregon Tue, 21 Mar 2017 20:39:41 -0400 Mateusz PerkowskiCapital Bureau SALEM — Critics of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of livestock antibiotics want the state of Oregon to do it instead.

Over several years, the FDA has phased out the use of antibiotics for growth promotion and feed efficiency in livestock with the voluntary cooperation of pharmaceutical companies.

However, this approach hasn’t satisfied critics who say that antibiotics can still be used excessively by livestock producers for the prevention — rather than treatment — of disease.

“The loophole is they’re still allowing these drugs to be used on healthy animals,” said Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist with the Consumers Union, during a recent legislative hearing.

Under House Bill 785, Oregon livestock producers would only be able to provide a “medically important antibiotic” to their animals if a veterinarian determines it’s necessary to treat or control the spread of a disease or infection, or due to a medical procedure.

Farms that are considered “concentrated animal feeding operations” — such as many dairies and feedlots — would have to submit information about their antibiotic usage to the state government, with those records subject to disclosure as public documents.

Opponents argue the bill’s provisions unnecessarily infringe on a solution devised by the FDA at a federal level, creating state-specific restrictions that will leave Oregon’s livestock industry at a competitive disadvantage.

“They unfairly single out livestock producers,” said Nathan Jackson, president of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association.

The record-keeping requirements contained in HB 785 have also perturbed agriculture groups, who say they’re overly burdensome without being useful.

Chad Allen, president of the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, said he already tracks antibiotic usage at his dairy near Tillamook, Ore., but objected to submitting records to state authorities.

“It doesn’t serve the public any good for me to hand that over and bring a spotlight into my business,” Allen said.

Supporters of HB 785 said the FDA’s approach is ineffective because growth promotion accounted for less than one-fourth of antibiotic usage in livestock production.

Roughly two-thirds of livestock antibiotic usage has been devoted to disease prevention, which isn’t affected by the FDA policy and allows animals to be kept in “crowded, factory farm conditions,” said Hansen.

It’s also “blatantly false” and a “mischaracterization” to claim that FDA’s strategy is binding on the livestock industry, said George Kimbrell, senior attorney with the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit activist group that supports HB 785.

The FDA has issued guidance recommending certain actions to pharmaceutical manufacturers but these suggestions are not enforceable, Kimbrell said.

“What the FDA has done here does not have the force of law,” he said.

Opponents of HB 785 argue it’s a misconception that FDA’s policy is merely voluntary.

As of early 2017, all animal drug manufacturers have committed to change the labeled uses of antibiotics, so veterinarians cannot prescribe the drugs for growth promotion or similar uses, according to opponents.

“I am highly scrutinized and it is law,” said Chuck Meyer, a veterinarian and past president of the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association.

Veterinarians can’t rely on vague possibilities and must provide specific reasons to prescribe antibiotics, such as the illness of some herd members, said Mark Wustenberg, a veterinarian and vice president of producer relations for the Tillamook County Creamery Association.

“You have to have some strong justification to say there’s a disease entity you’re targeting in that population,” he said.

Veterinarians know when livestock immune systems are likely to be suppressed — due to weather events, for example — which makes disease outbreaks more likely, said Meyer.

“The difference between prevention and treatment is usually 24 hours,” he said.

Small schools seek funding to address seismic concerns Tue, 21 Mar 2017 20:11:47 -0400 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau SALEM — The tiny Alsea school district is asking state lawmakers to approve funding for a seismic needs assessment in small school districts that were excluded from a statewide seismic survey in 2007.

The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries conducted the survey to determine how many schools would need retrofits to withstand a catastrophic earthquake, which are estimated to strike the coastline an average of every 300 years.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, would appropriate $1 million to assess seismic needs at those school that were excluded.

“Given the state of our impending … earthquake it would be helpful to understand the needs of every school district,” Parrish said.

Some schools with enrollment of less than 200 were omitted from the 2007 survey to save time and money. Thirty-nine school districts had no buildings assessed in the survey, but some of those districts have since paid for seismic evaluations, largely with technical assistance grant money from the Oregon Department of Education. Neither ODE nor DOGMI have a comprehensive list of schools that still need assessments.

Parrish’s bill includes a tally of 27 school districts, but that number could not be verified Tuesday, March 21.

The catalyst for her bill were students at Alsea School District who questioned Alsea schools Superintendent Marc Thielman about why their school was excluded from DOGMI’s study.

“I was surprised to see the school that has given me so much … was not included in the assessment,” said Samuel Littlefield, a senior at Alsea High School.

Littlefield, 18, spoke during a hearing on Parrish’s bill in the House Committee on Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Tuesday. He wrote about the situation and appeared in front of the committee as part of his senior project.

Built in 1942, the high school serves as an emergency shelter for the community and is equipped with power generators.

Having a seismic assessment “would be critical as a political motivator in the community,” Thielman said. “It would drive everything we do. It is absolutely paramount.”

Gov. Kate Brown included $200 million in her 2017-19 proposed budget to seismically upgrade schools, at the request of Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, who has been a champion of addressing seismic shortcomings in the state.

The state Legislature approved $175 million in grants to seismically upgrade schools for 2015-17, which is projected to provide seismic retrofits to 124 schools, said Ed Tabor, program services manager at Business Oregon. The business agency administers the grant program.

Another 118 schools received $108 million in grant money for retrofits before the last round, Tabor said.

Many of Oregon’s schools were built prior to the 1990s before geologists considered Oregon at high risk for major earthquake activity and are not constructed to withstand a seismic catastrophe. The discovery of the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Oregon Coast revealed the potential hazards for the state’s older schools.

The last major quake on the Oregon Coast took place in January 1700, according to geologists.

“We’ve made more progress today than we made in the last decade, but we’re on borrowed time,” Senate President Courtney said in April 2016, when recipients of the seismic grants were announced. “We can’t lose our momentum.”

Panther track team aims for state Tue, 21 Mar 2017 16:53:20 -0400 Angel Carpenter The track and field season has just started, but already Prairie City’s new head track and field coach Nate Barber has his eye on state.

He said he’s enjoyed watching the Olympic trials on TV that take place at Hayward Field in Eugene at the University of Oregon campus.

“It’s Track Team USA,” he said. “Now, I finally get to go see it. I just want them to get in that atmosphere. There aren’t very many people who can say they ran there.”

Barber is taking over where Joe Weymouth left off. Weymouth was the Prairie City head track coach for 10 years with 28 years experience coaching sports.

Barber coached for seven years at Sugar-Salem High School in Sugar City, Idaho, where his son, now grown, broke his high school record in the 4x100 and the 200. Barber was also an assistant track coach for the last two years in Ft. Washakie, Wyoming.

The coach trains in the throwing events, sprints and relays, while assistant Kieley Williams coaches jumping events, also teaching the team yoga three times a week. Barber said the stretching exercises improve the team’s balance, power and flexibility.

He said the girls throwing events and sprints and the boys throwing events look especially promising.

The Prairie City team includes 11 athletes. There are three boys and eight girls on this year’s varsity roster, and all six freshmen were previously on the middle school track team.

Looking at the competition, Prairie City’s 1A Special District 4 opponents will be Adrian, Burnt River, Cove, Crane, Dayville, Harper Charter, Huntington, Jordan Valley, Joseph, Long Creek, Monument, Pine Eagle and Powder Valley.

Barber said he expects Jordan Valley, Crane and Adrian to be especially tough competitors.

“There are some schools that are just athletic in every sport. They’re just consistent,” he said. “Adrian has the numbers, too. They have a lot of kids that come out for sports.”

The coach added he’s happy to see so many incoming freshmen join the team.

“It builds depth,” he said. “It also helps build a long-term program.”

Senior Taci Perrenoud said she’s been competing in the 100-meter dash since sixth grade.

“It’s always been the strongest for me,” she said.

Her other events include the 200, 100 hurdles and long jump.

Perrenoud had an injured ankle early last season but said she’s ready to come back strong.

“I’m really excited for the season,” she said. “We have a young team, but I think we have quite a few state competitors.”

Senior Devin Packard’s events are shot put, discus and javelin, and he competed his eighth-grade and freshman year.

“We should have a strong competing team,” he said.

When asked what his favorite event is, Packard quipped, “Javelin — who doesn’t like throwing sharp objects?”

Another strong member of the team is junior Megan Camarena, who has been throwing shot put since sixth grade.

“I’m looking forward to how we’re going to be more of a family this year,” she said. “I hope to go to district and state.”

Barber said his seniors are providing good leadership, adding the team works well together, and they are “coachable.”

“They’ve all been positive,” he said. “They’ve done everything we’ve asked, and they’re on time and stretching. I’m excited to be doing this.”

Prairie City track and field schedule

Tuesday, April 4, Grant Union Small School Meet in John Day at 3:30 p.m.

Friday, April 14, Ranchers Invitational in Crane at 10 a.m.

Saturday, April 15, Burns Lions Oster Invitational in Burns at 12 p.m.

Tuesday, April 18, Grant Union Small School Meet in John Day at 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 22, 11th Annual Pepsi Invitational in Union at 11 a.m.

Friday, April 18, Don Walker Invitational in Nyssa at 12 p.m.

Saturday, April 29, Prairie City Invitational in Prairie City at 11 a.m.

Thursday, May 4, High Desert League Twilight Meet in Prairie City at 4 p.m.

Friday, May 5, Baker Invite in Baker City, 10 a.m.

Friday, May 12, District Track Meet, TBD

Thursday-Friday, May 18-19, OSAA 1A State Championships in Eugene

Scientific discoveries shared at Grant Union Science Fair Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:11:35 -0400 Angel Carpenter At Thursday’s Grant Union Science Fair, 13 students shared their discoveries with three judges at the school library.

Nine of the students were in Sonna Smith’s chemistry class, and four were in Randy Hennen’s upper-level science classes.

“I always appreciate the opportunity for them to participate in the scientific process,” Hennen said. “Designing the project, collecting the data, analyzing and interpreting it — that process is the most important part of the whole science fair enterprise.”

This year’s winners were sophomores Marissa Smith and Madi McKrola, who tied for first place, and senior James Mabe who placed second.

The winners received gift cards for fuel and monetary prizes donated by Old West Federal Credit Union and an anonymous donor.

Smith waded in streams to answer the question, “How Does Fire in Stream Riparian Affect Fish Populations?”

“I found there’s more fish in the burned stream reach than in unburned stream reach,” she said. “We used an electroshocker to collect the data on the fish. It was a lot of fun.”

McKrola searched out “Can Nanosilver in Consumer Products Affect Pond Life?”

“There is nanosilver in clothes and toothpaste ...,” she said. “(I wanted to) test the toxicity of it to see if it’s harmful to humans. I tested on microorganisms, and the more nanosilver in the water, the faster they died. It was fun to learn about. It was really interesting.”

Mabe said he spent most of his time with the judges explaining his project, “Are EM Drives a Realistic Mode of Extraplanetary Transport.”

Putting it in the simplest of terms, Mabe said, “Basically the thing in your microwave that cooks your food, put it in a tin can, and see if it moves.”

“My hypothesis was that it was going to move ... that was pretty neat,” he said.

Judges were Amy Stiner, executive director of the South Fork John Day Watershed Council; Anthony Tovar, a professor of physics at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande; and Neil Bauer, a retired science teacher.

“Science is a lot more than just a mountain of facts,” Hennen said. “Hopefully, when they see information on research findings in advertisements or political statements they’ll be able to evaluate them a little more critically in terms of credibility.”

John Day looks at investing in Main Street Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:10:25 -0400 Rylan Boggs The city of John Day is looking into purchasing a two story, 11,294-square foot residential and business building on a 12,632-square foot lot.

The building, at 131 W. Main St., currently houses four business, Naturally Yours, Etc., Karen Barntish LTC and H & R Block, and six apartments upstairs, only one of which is occupied.

After being approached by and meeting with business owners, John Day City Manager Nick Green submitted an application for an Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant up to $100,000.

The grant is intended to “acquire, rehabilitate and construct buildings on properties in designated downtown areas statewide and facilitate community revitalization that will lead to private investment, job creation or retention, establishing or expanding viable business or creating a stronger tax base,” according to Oregon Parks and Recreation.

The current owners of the building are asking $299,000 for the property, which has been on the market for about 850 days. It has a current real market value of $247,750 and a restored real market value of $774,200. If the grant came through, the city would still need at least $147,750 to purchase the property and an additional $2.08 million to restore the property, according to Green.

Naturally Yours employee Jamie Brown is in support of the investment and sees it as a step toward fighting population decline and making John Day more appealing.

“I don’t think counting on tourist money is wise, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to make the town more attractive,” Brown said. “I think even the local people will want to spend more time downtown if it’s more attractive.”

The space Naturally Yours occupies has a variety of problems, including a floor that is coming up, water stains on the ceiling and a bathroom that is a “disaster,” Brown said. She said having a more appealing storefront would have a positive impact for the community.

“You notice this building so much because it’s right at the stoplight,” Brown said. “When you come to the stoplight, that’s when you decide if you’re going to stop in John Day or not.”

Etc. owner Sherry Rininger’s husband, Dale Rininger, said their space in the building was out of date and had a variety of electrical problems. Rininger said they were just trying to stay afloat and supported the city’s investment in the building.

The building is over 100 years old and is in bad shape. Green gave a presentation to the city council March 13 that illustrated the condition of the structure. Water damage, asbestos insulation and outdated appliances are all issues.

A proposed design would result in four 1,200-square foot commercial spaces with improved storage, restrooms and energy efficiency as well as a mountain chic look. The second floor would be converted into condos with improved lighting, energy efficiency and affordable prices for landlords and renters.

If it invested in the property, the city could see benefits from an increased population and property tax base, investment in other Main Street properties and a boost in the economy through use of local contractors and materials. On the flip side, the structural repairs may exceed the project budget, local resources could become overextended and the city would become the landlord if the units did not sell.

The city has access to outside funds, such as the Main Street Revitalization Grant, which private investors do not. This makes city investment more feasible than private.

Green said the next step after submitting the grant would be to conduct a feasibility assessment in April.

Cops and Courts Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:09:55 -0400 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.

• Corey Ray Kingsmith was convicted of a probation violation and sentenced to seven days in jail, 40 hours community service and fined $25.

• Kristopher Goodwin was convicted of a probation violation, had his probation revoked and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.

• March 16: Arrested Corey Kingsmith, 29, La Grande, for driving under the influence, violating parole, driving while suspended and driving uninsured after responded to assist Grant County Sheriff’s Office with a report of menacing in Mt. Vernon.

• Scotty M. Ledford, 31, Prineville, died in a rollover accident on Highway 26 near milepost 55. OSP responded with Wheeler County Sheriff’s deputies and Oregon Department of Transportation at approximately 7:30 a.m. Ledford’s vehicle was headed east, lost control on a left-hand turn and rolled multiple times, coming to rest in a ditch on the opposite side of the road. A following vehicle hit the wreck with little damage.

Grant County Sheriff

The Grant County Sheriff’s Office reported the following for the week of March 9-15:

• Concealed handgun licenses: 9

• Average inmates: 9

• Bookings: 9

• Releases: 9

• Arrests: 1

• Citations: 2

• Fingerprints: 4

• Civil papers: 16

• Warrants processed: 3

• Asst./welfare check: 2

Mitchel Long, 46, John Day was cited for exceeding the posted speed, 82/65, March 9.

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

Driving Uninsured: George Drossel, 58, Nampa, Idaho, Jan. 8, fined $260; David James Darling, 42, Canyon City, Jan. 17, fined $260; Lisa Marie Moss, 24, John Day, Jan. 28, fined $260.

No snow park permit: Zachary Walter Bailey, 21, Burns, Feb. 25, fined $30.

Exceeding maximum weight limit: Edward Noble Hicks, 26, Prairie City, Feb. 10, fined $200.

Minor in possession of marijuana: Jeilen Sayers, driver’s license suspended for one year and fined $260.

John Day dispatch worked 155 calls during the week of March 13-19. Along with the various traffic warnings, trespassing, injured animals, noise complaints and juvenile complaints, these calls included:

• John Day Police Department

March 13: Responded with John Day Fire Department and Oregon Telephone Corp. to an electrical fire.

March 14: Took a report of a theft in Prairie City; cited a 28-year-old John Day resident for second-degree criminal trespass.

March 16: Arrested a 33-year-old Prairie City resident and a 32-year-old Prairie City resident for domestic violence, assault and disorderly conduct in the Prairie City Trailer Park.

March 17: Arrested a 36-year-old John Day resident for disorderly conduct at America’s Best Value Inn. Responded to a report of a verbal dispute on Main Street in John Day. Took a report of harassment in John Day. Advised of an identity theft. Received information regarding underage drinking. Cited a 19-year-old John Day resident for minor in possession. Responded to an accident and cited a 71-year-old John Day resident for failure to perform duties of a driver. Lakeview Police arrested a 41-year-old Prairie City resident on two Grant County warrants.

March 18: Received a report of juveniles drinking beer while driving. Received a report of criminal mischief and a resident’s punctured tires on Canton Street in John Day. Arrested a 50-year-old Canyon City resident for a restraining order violation on Main Street in John Day.

• Grant County Sheriff’s Office

March 13: Responded to a report of a male subject being verbally threatening. Responded with Oregon State Police to report of a prowler. Investigated a case of illegal possession of a controlled substance.

March 15: Took a report of a suspicious vehicle in Canyon City; investigated a suspicious vehicle on Highway 19.

March 16: Responded with Oregon State Police to a report of a male subject threatening to assault someone in Mt. Vernon.

March 18: Responded to a report of a dispute and physical altercation.

• John Day ambulance

March 13: Responded with Prairie City ambulance for a female patient with severe shortness of breath.

• Oregon State Police

March 14: Responded to a report of a horse on Highway 26 near Clyde Holliday State Park.

March 18: Advised of suspicious circumstances at Big Bend Campground.

March 19: Advised of illegal hunting from a helicopter.

• Dispatch

March 18: Received report of a pickup driving with no brake lights from a caller in Canyon City, Colorado. The call was transferred to the correct dispatch center.

Humbolt third through fifth graders win regional Battle of the Books Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:09:50 -0400 Blue Mountain Eagle

A team of third- through fifth-graders won their division at the regional Battle of the Books in Sisters March 11.

The Oregon Battle of the Books is a statewide reading motivation and comprehension program sponsored by the Oregon Association of School Libraries in conjunction with a Library Services and Technology Act grant.

Each division has 16 books the kids must read and answer questions about.

“We started practicing in January, by which point the students had already read each book multiple times,” Humbolt Librarian Lauren Berry said.

Humbolt also sent two sixth-grade students, Max Bailey and Kennedy Benge, who placed third out of 11.

Through the competition, students in third through 12th grade, regardless of ability, are exposed to quality literature representing a variety of literary styles and viewpoints.

The organization’s mission is to “encourage and recognize students who enjoy reading, to broaden reading interests, to increase reading comprehension, promote academic excellence, and to promote cooperative learning and teamwork among students,” according to its website.

The third- through fifth-grade team will be going to finals in Salem April 8.

Container deposit set to double Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:09:26 -0400 Rylan Boggs Starting April 1, empty cans will be worth twice as much.

Deposits on cans and bottles will jump from 5 to 10 cents in April, and customers will receive double the deposit they paid before the increase.

“As of April 1, 2017 all eligible containers will receive a 10-cent refund regardless of the amount shown on the container,” an Oregon Liquor Control Commission press release said.

The increase is designed to improve return rates and promote recycling.

“We want to make the transition as smooth as possible for customers, retailers, and manufacturers,” OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks said.

To encourage recycling in the wake of fewer returns, the 2011 state legislature decreed if return rates dropped below 80 percent for more than two consecutive years the deposit for each container would be doubled.

Chester’s Thriftway can process as many as 36,000 containers in a week, according to manger Robert Hunt, who said the store won’t lose money because of the adjustment.

The containers are regularly picked up by the Oregon Bottle and Recycling Company, which compensates retailers such as Chester’s for the cost of the deposit and ensures the materials are processed. Cans and glass are crushed down and sent to local recyclers to create new containers, while plastic is sent off to be made into strapping, plastic clamshells and polyester fiber for carpet, filler and clothing.

The 5-cent discrepancy between deposits will be passed on to distributors like Coca-Cola and Anheuser Busch, according to Peter Spendelow, a DEQ solid waste analyst. Though this could cost them a few million dollars, Spendelow said it had been budgeted and is just “a little blip for them.”

He said the return rate had fallen below 65 percent and cited the low deposit as a major factor. In 1971, when the bill was enacted, 5 cents had the same spending power as 31 cents today, Spendelow said. He pointed to high rates of return in Michigan and Alberta, both of which have 10 cent deposits.

Oregon’s bottle bill helps ensure containers are recycled, which reduces energy required to make containers and greenhouse gases. In 2009, more than one billion beverage containers were recycled under the bottle bill, which saved 3 trillion British thermal units of energy, roughly the same energy as 24 million gallons of gasoline, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

The bill has also substantially reduced greenhouse gases and container litter. While initially successful, returns eventually declined and by 2009, only about three-quarters of bottles were redeemed, according to the DEQ.