Blue Mountain Eagle | Blue Mountain Eagle Sun, 28 Aug 2016 03:12:57 -0400 en Blue Mountain Eagle | Jury: Peterson guilty on three felony charges Fri, 26 Aug 2016 18:10:19 -0400 Sean Hart A 12-person jury convicted former Monument fire chief Roy Richard Peterson on three felony counts related to theft from the fire district.

The jury found Peterson guilty of first-degree theft, first-degree aggravated theft and possession of a stolen vehicle Friday in Grant County Circuit Court after a five-day trial. He was found not guilty of another count of first-degree aggravated theft.

The charges stem from Peterson’s acquisition of resources — money and equipment — for fire protection in Monument and his subsequent refusal to turn over the resources to the Monument Rural Fire District, which was formed by voters in November of 2012.

The state prosecutor, Senior Assistant Attorney General Daniel P. Wendel, said in his closing argument the first-degree theft charge was for submitting a fraudulent invoices in excess of $1,000 with a grant application to the Oregon Department of Forestry on or about Feb. 15, 2013. Wendel said Peterson used white out to submit the same invoice on different grant applications in 2011 and 2012.

Wendel said Peterson displayed a “pattern and practice” of fraud even before 2012 by submitting invoices and then canceling the order. He said Peterson used the fire district as “his personal piggy bank.”

“From 2008 to 2012, the defendant took every opportunity he could to steal money from the state by submitting fraudulent invoices,” Wendel said.

Peterson’s attorney, D. Zachary Hostetter, said Peterson reallocated the funds to cover attorney fees incurred rather than purchasing the equipment listed on the invoices. He said Peterson used his own funds

Hostetter said, for all of the charges, Peterson acted under an honest claim of right, believing he was entitled to the property or had a right to acquire or dispose of it as he did, which would have been a valid defense under Oregon law.

The first-degree aggravated theft and possession of a stolen vehicle charges were for withholding fire vehicles and equipment in excess of $10,000 from the Monument Rural Fire District on or about Feb. 21, 2013.

The charges stem from an investigation by the Oregon State Police and the Oregon Department of Justice that began in May 2013. Police served a search warrant in October 2013 at property in the Monument area and seized fire vehicles and evidence for the case.

The indictment count for possession of a stolen vehicle lists “a 1970 Ford, a 1974 Freightliner, a 1983 Ford L9M, a 1993 Ford F350, a second 1993 Ford F350, a 1965 Western States, a 1966 Ford 900, a 1974 Western States, a 1986 Ford Econoline, and a 1988 International.”

For about a decade, Peterson was a vocal advocate for establishing a rural fire protection district in the Monument area. He was chief of Monument’s city department at one time and also acted as chief of the rural district that was yet to be formalized.

After the rural district was formed by voters in November 2012, the newly installed board and Peterson differed on its management and operation. Noting challenges with meeting procedures, operations, equipment and leadership, all of the board members resigned in December 2012.

The board was re-established in January 2013 when the Grant County Court appointed new members. The new chief of the district asked Peterson to return the equipment to the district, but he did not.

Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer deputized Peterson March 1 of this year to assist with a search and rescue operation. Palmer’s official deputy appointment of Peterson mentions “Search & Rescue” and “Radio Tech/Communications,” though the document also says Peterson is appointed “to do and perform any act which (Palmer) might perform as Sheriff, this appointment to be and reamin (sic) in full force and effect during my pleasure.”

Palmer did not immediately respond to an email Friday evening asking if Peterson was still an active deputy.

Palmer originally investigated the complaint against Peterson.

In an April 25, 2013, letter, Palmer told Oregon Department of Forestry State Forester Doug Decker he started investigating “an alleged criminal case” in 2010 between the city of Monument and the rural fire district over equipment obtained “legally and lawfully through ODF” by Peterson.

Palmer said “there was a dispute as to who lawfully owned what equipment and how some of the funding was channeled through the City’s Federal Tax ID number and their (Dun & Bradstreet number).” He said Ryan Joslin, the district attorney at the time, informed the parties the issue was a civil matter.

Palmer’s letter indicated the fire district board believed it rightly owned the equipment, because it was procured with grants in the name of “Monument Rural Fire District.” However, Palmer said “the grantee” — Peterson — obtained the equipment legally and still possessed it.

Palmer also said the equipment was on private property, and there was no probable cause a crime was committed, nor justification for a search warrant.

“As it stands right now ... I do not have enough evidence, nor do I believe I have the authority to intervene in this dispute,” he wrote.

When Palmer deputized Peterson, he joined a long list of Grant County deputies. The sheriff has deputized 69 people in a variety of categories, including deputy, corrections, reserve, search and rescue, chaplain, special deputy, public lands patrol, public lands deputy and natural resource committee.

Oregon law says sheriffs are responsible for the conduct of their deputies.

ODOT’s lax quality control raises questions of fraud Fri, 26 Aug 2016 14:33:07 -0400 NICK BUDNICKCapital Bureau Potholes and ruts cost the average Oregonian driver hundreds of dollars in vehicle repairs every year.

But as Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matt Garrett prepares to ask lawmakers for hundreds of millions of dollars in increased taxes and fees on Oregonians to fund new roads and bridge upgrades, documents show that his department has for more than a decade resisted basic quality improvements intended to stop construction fraud, combat premature potholes and make roads last longer.

Federal highway officials have warned ODOT repeatedly since 2005 that its road-paving inspection program is vulnerable to fraud. Because the department fails to undertake basic precautions, asphalt contractors can game ODOT’s system to make it appear standards were met while compromising road quality, similar to what Volkswagen did with diesel emissions.

ODOT estimates it spends $100 million a year on asphalt. In the past year, it used about 1.6 million tons of it to build new roads and rehabilitate existing ones.

For about two decades, Oregon has relied on road contractors to test their own asphalt quality and show they meet minimum standards. State technicians do their own tests to spot-check one-in-10 results.

Garrett maintains that ODOT’s money is well spent, that he has faith in the integrity of Oregon’s construction oversight system.

But the federal assessment that Oregon is vulnerable to trickery is echoed by some of ODOT’s current and former employees.

“Quality control was not taken seriously,” says Bret Alford, a longtime ODOT quality-control specialist who left the agency in 2012. Oregon’s contractor-driven oversight system, he adds, “Seems like the fox guarding the hens to me.”

ODOT’s oversight system creates a “huge risk of fraud,” former ODOT internal auditor Mary Hull Caballero, who investigated the state agency’s construction practices extensively, told Secretary of State auditors in 2013, according to a summary of the auditors’ interview. Hull Caballero, who is now the city of Portland’s elected auditor, declined to comment for this story.

While there are plenty of good contractors out there, “it is so easy for a contractor to falsify documentation,” says Carol Putnam, a former ODOT quality assurance specialist who left the department in 2013. “We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.”

In 2014, the Federal Highway Administration communicated the results of a top-to-bottom review of Oregon’s quality control for road construction conducted the previous year. Its recommendations largely echoed a report it issued in 2005.

Since 2005, federal highway officials have urged Oregon to pursue electronic data collection of quality test results and to use statistical comparisons to look for anomalies and bogus reporting.

Oregon, instead, does not systematically track quality results or use the statistical tests that are common in other states, according to the federal review. Instead of tracking numerous results statistically, a technician will simply compare the state’s result to the contractor’s finding during the spot-check conducted on 10 percent of tests.

“This method of verification is very weak and will only detect severe problems with contractor test results,” according to a 2013 Federal Highway Administration report.

Much as it did when the highway administration made the same recommendation in 2005, ODOT has promised to launch a study of the issue. In July, work began on a $300,000 study by a Texas A&M Transportation Institute researcher who formerly worked for the pavement industry.

Not only is Oregon’s rudimentary spot-check method weak and vulnerable to fraud, the state doesn’t do enough spot-checking to determine if it has a problem, according to the feds.

In a November 2014 memo requesting funding to study potential quality improvements, ODOT’s top quality assurance engineer, Greg Stellmach, wrote that data gathered that year suggested that contractors are not following ODOT rules on random quality testing. That, in turn, can have a “huge impact” on the department’s spending on asphalt, he wrote.

Oregon’s roads use asphalt generated by privately owned asphalt plants. Oregon, however, continues to test the asphalt at the plant itself, using a system that allows the plant operator to know generally when the contractor’s self-test sample is supposed to be taken. That allows the operator to temporarily “optimize” the asphalt mix to meet quality standards, according to the 2014 memo by Stellmach, the ODOT quality expert. Not only that, but the plant operator has plenty of time to switch to a different mix when it sees a state quality technician drive up to double-check the contractor’s self-test, according to the federal audit.

Fraud by asphalt plants is not an abstract concern. Documents show that in 2008, an ODOT pavement engineer resigned in protest and warned the Federal Highway Administration of an “unethical” failure by ODOT management to investigate what he concluded was contractor fraud by an asphalt supplier.

Similarly, Alford, the former ODOT quality specialist, says he heard from a friend who worked for an asphalt contractor that there literally was a switch the operator could flip to meet quality standards when the ODOT inspector showed up.

Oregon is the only state west of the Rockies to still test at the plant. Most western states test closer to the paving machine as it lays asphalt on the roadbed.

ODOT Construction and Materials Engineer Joe Squire says testing the asphalt behind the paver would endanger the employee doing the testing. However, a 2007 University of Illinois survey of state departments of transportation found that “sampling behind the paver is being conducted by many states without much difficulty.”

Another major issue for ODOT is compaction, meaning the use of those giant yellow rollers to get the asphalt to meet the required minimum density. Density tests after compaction are used to determine bonus payments to contractors.

A Portland-area ODOT project manager, Ron Larson, explained the issue to state auditors in 2013. “The higher the compaction, the longer (the roadway) lasts,” he said, according to notes of his interview. “Problems in this area are what eventually form potholes.”

Poor compaction and low density, he said, is ODOT’s “biggest problem” on projects that go bad.

And yet contractors can use rollers to game the density tests, as ODOT officials have acknowledged. The contractors whose rollers are compacting the asphalt often know in advance the locations where the density of their product is going to be tested, allowing them to manipulate the system, according to ODOT’s top quality expert.

“Frequently the locations that the density shots should be taken at are marked along the pavement at the tonnage where the test needs to be taken,” Stellmach wrote in the 2014 ODOT document discussing weaknesses in Oregon’s system. “This allows the roller operators to be aware of test locations and potentially influences the pattern that they make in rolling the asphalt. The (contractors’) density technician may also ask the roller operator to do additional compaction in a location that has not met compaction requirements.”

Stellmach, in a telephone interview in which his boss, Joe Squire, and two public relations specialists were listening in, said that he has no evidence that gaming the system is a problem. Squire, for his part, said “the vast majority of pavements within the Oregon highways system is rated fair to good or better, which is very high among states.”

Contractor technicians who cheat on tests face potential criminal charges and fines. Squire and Stellmach noted the state has suspended several technicians in recent years, one of whom was suspected of fraudulent misrepresentation.

Alford, for his part, says he saw a dynamic at ODOT that was focused on getting things done on time as well as excessive coziness between contractors and his coworkers, including project managers. Once, he protested that he would sign only truthful quality reports. A manager responded that Alford would sign whatever report he was told, “or I would be out of a job,” Alford recalls.

Review: DHS could do more to prevent foster care abuses Thu, 25 Aug 2016 17:04:38 -0400 Claire WithycombeCapital Bureau SALEM — The Oregon Department of Human Services might be able to prevent the abuse of children in Oregon’s foster care system by placing their charges more appropriately and better coordinating its response to allegations of abuse, according to draft of an outside assessment of the agency, released Thursday.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown charged an External Advisory Committee comprised of legislators and stakeholders in the state’s foster care system with conducting an independent review of DHS late last year. The draft assessment, prepared by management consultancy Public Knowledge, LLC, was presented to the committee Thursday.

The assessment highlighted how the agency could improve its service to children in state care.

DHS has faced public scrutiny after high-profile allegations of abuse at substitute care facilities, and is also under fire for how some incidents were addressed on an administrative level.

The agency has limited capacity, the draft report found, and children are placed in foster care facilities based on available space, rather than their individual needs. Those facilities, in turn, may not have enough or appropriate assistance, especially for high-need youth. The draft assessment also found case workers ask providers to take in more children than they are certified or licensed to handle.

The assessment also found that the agency is inconsistent in investigating allegations of abuse. The reporting, screening and investigating of alleged abuse in foster care is done locally and so could yield different results in different places.

Information could also be better shared between different entities in the system, the draft assessment found. At least six lawsuits against the agency involved “multiple reports of abuse that were closed at screening or never fully investigated.”

When surveyed, youth in foster care and other reporters of abuse rated the reporting system as “untrustworthy.”

The findings also identified “barriers” to making improvements to the system, which were split into three main categories: “unreasonable” caseloads, the recruitment and retention of providers and a lack of adequate data. Reported abuse of children in foster care has increased in the past several years, the report found.

The External Advisory Committee includes state legislators, as well as care providers and other stakeholders. It’s chaired by Clyde Saiki, the head of DHS.

Half acre of Olive Lake closed to boating, swimming Thu, 25 Aug 2016 16:38:37 -0400 A small portion of Olive Lake, a popular mountain lake and campground located on the North Fork John Day Ranger District of the Umatilla National Forest, is now closed to boating and swimming due to a mechanical failure in the water release gate located at the bottom of the dam structure, District Ranger Ian Reid announced Thursday, Aug. 25.

“Suction created by water flowing into a 14-inch-wide intake pipe poses a significant hazard to a person swimming near the intake area,” Reid said in a statement.

The area closed to public entry is approximately one-half acre and will be signed, fenced and defined by a string of buoys extending from the dam into the water about 200 feet to notify swimmers and boaters of the safety hazard and area to avoid. The area is located on the northeast side of Olive Lake. The campground and hiking trail around the lake remain open, and boating and swimming are still allowed outside the restricted area. Currently less than one percent of the 149-acre lake surface area will be affected by the closure.

“Forest Service engineers were out the week of Aug. 22, inspecting the dam and preparing for maintenance operations scheduled to begin this fall,” Reid said.

While testing the gate mechanism, the hydraulic system failed, preventing the gate from closing and resulting in a small leak of 2-3 gallons of hydraulic fluid into the lake. The spill does not pose a public safety risk. Mitigation measures are in place to absorb the material, and Oregon DEQ notifications have been made. Manual closure of the gate is not currently possible due to a failed hydraulic hose and underwater safety concerns.

“The gate was installed back in 1979 and the gate mechanism is aging,” said acting Forest Engineer Paul Gerber. “This week’s inspection was scheduled specifically to assess the required maintenance needs and to evaluate alternatives for future rehabilitation of the dam.”

The gate will remain open until the lake drops to a level where it is safe to repair, approximately 27 feet. A contractor is in place to begin maintenance operations after the Labor Day weekend. Pacific Northwest regional geotechnical project engineer Jonathan Berry anticipates that the lake could drop up to 7 feet by the holiday weekend, which may impact access to the boat ramp and docks located at Olive Lake.

Forest staff will monitor lake levels for hazards that become apparent as the lake drops but swimmers and boaters are also asked to stay vigilant and observe the existing no-wake restrictions in Olive Lake. Additional restrictions or closures may be implemented as the lake level continues to drop.

“I appreciate the public’s patience and understanding while we repair the aging dam structure,” Reid said. “We realize this is a popular fall recreation area for hunters and anglers and are committed to maintaining recreational opportunities at the site while providing for public safety.”

Olive Lake and campground are located 12 miles west of Granite. The natural lake was deepened by a 30-foot-high dam built in the early 1900s by the Fremont Power Company to provide hydroelectric power, generated at the Fremont Powerhouse, to the then-booming gold mining community.

Forest engineers hope to have repairs completed before this winter and expect the lake to refill with spring runoff in time for the 2017 recreation season.

For more information about the closure area or permitted recreation activities on Olive Lake, contact the North Fork John Day Ranger District at 541-427-3231.

Rail Fire expands to the south Thu, 25 Aug 2016 15:41:38 -0400 The Rail fire near Unity continues to expand to the south while patrols and mop-up operations continue on the northern edge of the blaze. The fire is now 32,840 acres and 47 percent contained, according to a Thursday update from the management team.

Aerial supports intends to drop ping-pong ball sized ignition devices to back burn areas in the fire’s path. The plastic spherical devices being used are filled with combustible chemicals that ignite when dropped.

Wind has hindered some burnout operations, but in other areas protected from the wind they have continued. Though suppression is the immediate focus, some crews have begun necessary rehabilitation efforts in burned areas along the northern part of the fire

The fire is now staffed by 872 people: 25 crews, 41 engines, seven dozers, 31 water tender, four masticators, five skidders and seven helicopters.

For more information, call 541-446-3592 or email

A detailed map of road closures can be seen at:

Fire restrictions for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest are posted at Restriction information for the Malheur National Forest is posted at

Grant County Court minutes: Aug. 17, 2016 Thu, 25 Aug 2016 15:25:34 -0400 Grant County Court minutes from Aug. 17, 2016:

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 Chris B. Labhart and Boyd Britton, Administrative Assistant Laurie Wright, Judy Kerr, Jim Sproul, Rob Seaver, Ken Brooks, Road Master Alan Hickerson, Janine Goodwin, Beth Spell, Jim Spell, Mike Cosgrove, Dan Becker, Kay Steele, Larry Decew, Logan Bagett, Rylan Boggs, and Pastor Flora Cheadle. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Cheadle.

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

ANNOUNCEMENTS. Commissioner Britton reported he was involved in a few things at the fair last week and the fair went very well. Britton said 42 years ago today he married Bonnie and it was the best thing that ever happened to him. Britton met with Scott Fairley of the Governor’s office yesterday and one of the items they discussed was Bates Pond. On August 11th the National Geographic Names Board met and decided to wait for a while before making a decision on Grant County’s request for names.

Judge Myers conducted a name change hearing last Thursday and over the weekend went to a family reunion. Monday he attended a Firewise dedication at the Ritter Bridge for two new Firewise communities. Pine Creek, Ritter and the Middle Fork are the only Firewise communities east of the Cascades. Myers performed a wedding Monday afternoon and another yesterday morning.

9:13 am Rylan Boggs entered.

Myers advised the county will be having a yard sale here on Friday and tomorrow he will be attending an all day meeting at the Canyon City Community Hall regarding Bates Pond.

Commissioner Labhart attended a Health Evidence Review Commission meeting in Wilsonville on August 11th, volunteered at the American Legion Hamburger Stand at the Grant County Fair on August 13th and chaired the John Day Senior Center Board of Directors meeting on August 15th. In the upcoming week he will attend the Local Community Advisory Council meeting at the John Day Fire Hall on Wednesday, August 17th and the Circuit Court hearing for Webb v. Grant County on Thursday, August 18th.

9:15 am Kara Kohlfield entered.

MINUTES. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to approve the August 10th minutes as presented.

COUNTY ROAD 28. Road Master Alan Hickerson discussed a request for approval to install a gate across County Road 28. The landowner Ken Brooks submitted the request to the road department. Brooks would like to install the gate and keep it locked to prevent hunters and the public from traveling this portion of the road during fire season. The gate will only be utilized during fire season and the proper officials will be given a key to access the road as necessary. Brooks advised the county road only accesses his property and a few neighbors, so the county road only goes to private property. Brooks said in the past there was a gate across the road. Brooks said the road is in the process of being vacated, but getting easements signed from the neighbors has been difficult. This would only be a seasonal gate and Brooks stated all of his neighbors have agreed to the temporary gate. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to approve the request to install a temporary gate across County Road 28. Britton and Myers voted yes, Labhart voted no because he is concerned about closing a county road.

9:20 am Jerry Franklin and Janine Goodwin entered.

BLUE MOUNTAIN HOSPITAL. Kara Kohlfield, Ambulance Service Director, requested court review and approval of the Blue Mountain Hospital District Service Area Plan. Kohlfield explained this is an update on the ambulance service agreement with the county and state. Once the agreement is approved it must be immediately sent to the state and then the state has 60 days to approve it. Kohlfield explained some small changes needed in the plan regarding service areas and volunteer staffing. Kohlfield talked about the difficulties volunteers face and how demanding volunteering is. The district has hired new employees and is working to address issues with volunteer shortages. Discussion followed about having a county representative at meetings and communication problems and solutions in the event of a disaster. Myers explained how ordinances are adopted by the county and thinks this might need to be handled as an emergency due to the time constraints. Myers would like to send the agreement to Ron Yockim for review and approval as to form and then suggested a hearing be scheduled in the near future. In Labhart’s opinion the county should have a dedicated representative on the ASA Committee.

9:31 am Ryan Nehl and Eva Harris entered.

Britton asked how the newly hired employees were being funded and Kohlfield said the hospital has a fund for the ambulance and explained the budget adjustments that have been implemented. The problem with ambulance coverage in the outlying areas of the county was discussed.

9:51 am King Williams entered. 9:53 am Tammy Bremner, Kathryn Kight and Hilary McNary entered.

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. Jerry Franklin and Tammy Bremner from the Grant County Chamber of Commerce wished to discuss the county requirements for temporary use permits for the 2017 Solar Eclipse. Franklin said Grant County is going to be one of the more desirable places in the west for viewing the eclipse and a very large influx of people is expected. Franklin stated the Chamber has been meeting about the eclipse for a few months now and working on solutions for lodging for people who come to Grant County. This event will be a chance to showcase our county and a large economic boost as well. Bremner advised the court that at the last Chamber meeting a form was handed out to people who might want to rent to those who attend the eclipse. All available lodging is reserved in the county currently. Bremner discovered there are a lot of requirements to receive county permits. Planning Director Hilary McNary explained to those in attendance the current county ordinance that she must follow. McNary made the suggestion that the county could possibly issue one temporary use permit that would cover the entire county and list each gathering location on the permit. Eva Harris said she talked to the City of John Day and they have decided to waive all permits for this event. McNary stated waiving permits is a viable option for the county as well. McNary suggested contacting Ron Yockim for assistance and said he has worked on mass gatherings before. She also explained the benefits to issuing a permit for the agencies involved such as the Sheriff’s Department and Oregon Department of Forestry. McNary read portions of state law regarding mass gathering requirements to the court. Harris has concerns with the requirements. Kathryn Kight feels mass gathering is a workable option and it would be much safer to have plans in place. McNary advised if this is handled under the mass gathering statute it takes the planning department out of the process. Kight offered suggestions to alleviate the work for our local resources. Britton doesn’t want the planning department to be out of the preparedness process for this event and pointed out that some landowners may not want 60 RV’s on land adjacent to them. McNary explained the process for landowner objections. Mike Cosgrove sees the potential for thousands of people coming here and is worried our highways will be clogged with people. Cosgrove would much rather see landowners provide places for people to stay. Harris believes the court can waive the permit fee of $517 if they chose to. Labhart would like the court to postpone this issue and seek advice from legal counsel. Britton suggested having McNary work with legal counsel regarding possible solutions. Discussion followed about safety issues and potential solutions.

10:37 am the court took a short break. 10:40 am Rusty Wright and Gregg Smith entered.

10:44 am the court returned to session.

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE. Justice of the Peace Kathy Stinnett had sent a written request to the court for permission to send a revised version of the job description for the Justice Court Clerk to LGPI for review. In Stinnett’s opinion the current job description is inadequate and does not provide a good description of the tasks, duties and responsibilities the clerk actually performs. Britton wanted clarification on what would happen if the job placement changed on the scale. Myers said typically the court follows LGPI’s recommendation. Labhart agreed the court should be held harmless and follow LGPI’s recommendation whether that be up or down on the wage scale. MSP: Myers/Labhart -- to approve submission of the revised job description for the Justice Court Clerk to LGPI for review and placement.

COUNTY YARD SALE. Treasurer Kathy Smith requested permission from the court to provide food for the workers for the county wide yard sale on August 18th and 19th. Smith explained that it is very difficult to get community service workers to return after lunch and they rarely return to finish the day. Smith believes providing lunch for all the workers will help alleviate this issue. The cost would be taken out of the courthouse travel line. Labhart doesn’t believe the court should provide food to court ordered community service workers and will vote no because they should bring their own lunch. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to approve the request to purchase food for the yard sale workers from the courthouse travel line. Myers and Britton voted yes, Labhart voted no and believes community service workers should bring their own lunch.

FAIR HAND CHECK. The court reviewed a hand check to pay for the 4-H and FFA premiums for the fair open class in the amount of $4,100. These are for the cash awards for fair entries. MSP: Myers/Labhart -- to approve the hand check in the amount of $4,100. ***The Treasurer later advised the actual amount of the check was $7,917.75***

ROAD DEPARTMENT HAND CHECK. The court reviewed a hand check to pay for the flatbed for the 2016 Ford F-450 for the road department in the amount of $2,495. MSP: Myers/Labhart -- to approve the hand check in the amount of $2,495.

10:53 am Kathy Smith entered.

FAIR HAND CHECK. The court reviewed an additional hand check to pay Cascade Amusements for providing the rides at the fair. Treasurer Kathy Smith advised the court she hasn’t heard from Mindy Winegar as of yet about the amount because there is some question as to the correct amount. Smith doesn’t think the amount will be over $8,000. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to authorize Judge Myers to sign the hand check when it is completed, not to exceed $8,000.

COMMUNITY ADVISORY COUNCIL. An application to volunteer for the Community Advisory Council had been sent to the court for review. Krista Qual was the applicant. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to accept the volunteer application and appoint Krista Qual to the Community Advisory Council.

PUBLIC COMMENT. Gregg Smith thanked the court for their support with Bates Pond and the fake Indian names. Smith offered his appreciation for everything the court does. Kay Steele stated she is a member of a newly formed group in Grant County called the Grant County Positive Action Committee. Steele said they are an extremely diverse group of individuals with different political and religious backgrounds that wish to work toward community unity. Steele told Commissioner Britton they supported him as a group in the recall election and thanked him and his wife Bonnie for all they have endured through this and for putting Grant County’s interests above his own. Steele feels the recall was actually a blessing to the county and has brought people together. Jim Spell said he has worked with the Grant County Food Bank in the past and the food bank supported the Monument Food Bank at that time. Spell is hearing the Monument Food Pantry is currently struggling. Spell asked what is being done to assist them. Labhart invited Spell to go with him to the Senior Citizen’s Center in Monument to talk to people about this. Myers told the audience that during the emergency food and shelter meeting recently only the Grant County Food Bank and Prairie City Food Bank applied for the funding. Ryan Nehl provided an update on the Rail Fire and said it has entered Grant County although it is primarily located in the Wallowa Whitman National Forest. The fire is in the Monument Wilderness and grew by around 5,000 acres yesterday. Nehl stated the Forest Service is attempting to minimize the impact to hunters with road closures. Currently only 8 acres of private land has been burned. The fire is burning mostly dead bug kill lodgepole pine. Labhart read the resource list to the audience of what is currently staffed on the fire.

11:08 am -- Adjourned

Respectfully Submitted,

Laurie Wright

Administrative Assistant

Gov. Brown confirms five debates with Pierce Thu, 25 Aug 2016 14:45:52 -0400 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau Gov. Kate Brown announced details Thursday for five debates she plans to participate in this fall.

Her campaign has said the sitting governor who is seeking election for the first time would agreed to at least three debates. As former secretary of state, Brown succeeded Gov. John Kitzhaber when he resigned in February 2015 amid an influence-peddling scandal.

The five scheduled debates with GOP nominee Bud Pierce will be held in Bend, Portland, Eugene and Medford.

“I’m proud of all that we’ve gotten done in just a year and a half. And, there is much more work to do - for families, for our environment and for better government,” Brown said in a statement Thursday. “I’m looking forward to traveling across our state and sharing my vision for how we will move Oregon forward, together.”

{img:122791}Pierce said Thursday he’s glad to see Brown has increased the number of debates she’ll accept.

He noted that Brown declined to join in the traditional first debate of general election season sponsored by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association July 22.

“I’m glad the governor now feels ready to be in front of the people,” Pierce said in a statement Thursday. “Throughout the entire campaign, I’ve told voters that I will attend any debate at any time and have accepted every single debate invitation I’ve received, since I believe debates are very important.”

In addition to the debates with Brown, Pierce has accepted three other debate invitations and “is anxiously awaiting the governor’s decision” on those debates, according to Pierce’s campaign. Those include a debate sponsored by KDRV in Medford on Oct. 16.

Pierce also accepted an invitation for a debate by the Pamplin Media Group/EO Media Group/Skanner News Group/KOIN 6 News/University of Oregon Agora Journalism Center and another debate by KATU, both of which had dates to be determined, said Stacey Kafka, Pierce’s communications director.

Liz Accola Meunier, a spokeswoman for Brown’s campaign, said Brown has declined the debate by Pamplin Media Group/EO Media Group/Skanner News Group/KOIN 6 News/University of Oregon Agora Journalism Center and is still considering the other two.

“We’ve received a lot of great proposals and the governor is eager to talk about a variety of issues that matter to Oregonians,” Meunier said. “Unfortunately, due to scheduling constraints, decisions on this fall’s debate schedule so far have been made primarily on logistical grounds.”

The five confirmed debates between Brown and Pierce are:

• Sept. 24, Bend. Sponsored by: Society of Professional Journalists, The East Oregonian, Jefferson Public Radio and KTVZ-TV.

• Sept. 30, Portland. Sponsored by: Portland City Club

• Oct. 6, Eugene. Sponsored by: League of Women Voters and Oregon Public Broadcasting.

• Oct. 13 , Medford. Sponsored by: KOBI-TV and KOTI-TV.

• Oct. 20, Portland. Sponsored by: KGW-TV and The Oregonian.

Brown’s campaign says proposals for additional debates, forums or appearances will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

ODA’s Katy Coba named Oregon COO Wed, 24 Aug 2016 14:02:17 -0400 Claire Withycombe Capital Bureau

SALEM — Katy Coba, the director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, has been appointed the state’s chief operating officer and director of the Department of Administrative Services, the state’s overarching administrative agency, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s office announced Wednesday.

Coba’s appointment is effective Oct. 1 but requires confirmation by the Oregon Senate in September, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office.

Coba, who has been agriculture director since 2003, started working in state government in 1985.

Kristin Grainger, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Coba, a Pendleton native, was a “proven leader” and “committed to excellence” in state government.

“Her roots in rural Oregon and Eastern Oregon were influential as well,” Grainger said.

Grainger said the state’s budget development process will likely be a focal point for Coba in her new position.

A news release from the Governor’s Office also cited Coba’s experience as part of the Enterprise Leadership Team, a group of state agency leaders that advises the governor and chief operating officer.

The Department of Agriculture’s deputy director, Lisa Charpilloz Hanson, will serve as interim director starting Oct. 1, until a successor to Coba is appointed, according to the news release.

George Naughton has been the interim director of DAS since March 2015, according to Wednesday’s news release. He will continue to be the department’s chief financial officer.

Naughton was appointed interim director when Michael Jordan, the chief operating officer under former Gov. John Kitzhaber, announced his resignation, effective April 1 of that year.

Clyde Saiki, who now heads the state Department of Human Services, also served as interim director of DAS before he was appointed to lead DHS in November. At that time, Naughton stepped in again to lead DAS in an interim capacity.

Coba, reached by phone Wednesday, said she wanted to be an “ambassador for public service” in her new role.

She said she intends to focus on outreach and recruiting new, diverse employees to state agencies to replace the state’s retiring workforce.

She also said another priority during her tenure would be addressing Gov. Brown’s stated intention to improve accountability and transparency in state government.

She said there are a number of complex challenges facing the agency, and although they are somewhat familiar territory thanks to Coba’s role on the Enterprise Leadership Team, she said, she plans to begin her new role by meeting with other state agency directors, legislators and “other leaders around the state” and listening to their feedback on DAS.

Coba said she also wanted to inform Oregonians about state government and its purpose and functions.

“The Department of Agriculture is really a great role model,” Coba said. “We focus on education and outreach and providing technical expertise to the people we interact with, and that is our first goal in the work that we do.”

She said that it was an “interesting time” in public discourse around state government, citing the distrust of government displayed by protesters during the occupation of the Malheur National Wildife Refuge in Harney County earlier this year.

Although the occupiers were protesting what they characterized as federal overreach, Coba said the underlying message of a “regulatory burden” was one shared by other state residents.

Coba said she had been approached previously by the Governor’s Office about the position, but said she indicated at the time that she was not interested.

But the governor’s office persisted, Coba said, and the first “serious conversation” about Coba taking over the job as head of DAS occurred less than a month ago, she said.

State Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, described Coba as a qualified leader with the “character,” “smarts,” and “bona fides” to lead the agency.

“With as many agencies as have problems right now, the [Oregon Department of Agriculture] is not one of those that my constituents call me about, and I represent a rural and agricultural district,” Johnson said.

Although Coba will be leading what Johnson describes as “huge bureaucracy” at DAS, the state senator said Coba would quickly gain the trust of other agency directors because of her experience as an agency head.

“...If anybody is up to the task of trying to wrestle with the issues at DAS, it’s Katy,” Johnson later continued. “She’s a seasoned professional.”

Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, echoed Johnson’s statement.

“If I know anything about Katy Coba, she’ll get the job done,” Courtney said in a statement Wednesday.

State service is something of a family business for Coba.

Coba’s husband, Marshall Coba, is a lobbyist, and her parents served in state government.

Her father, Mike Thorne, was a state senator from 1973 to 1991, going on to serve as director of the Port of Portland until 2001 and as the chief executive of the Washington State Ferry System from 2002 to 2004. Coba’s mother, Jill Thorne, was an aide to former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt.

According to Coba’s biography on the state Department of Agriculture website, she was raised on a wheat farm and attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., earning a B.S. in economics.

Around the wilderness Tue, 23 Aug 2016 19:34:54 -0400 Sean Hart Despite the Canyon Creek Complex fire that burned through much of the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness southeast of John Day in 2015, most of the roads in the area are open, and few of the campgrounds are within the fire boundary.

While some closures are still in effect — such as Forest Roads 1516 and parts of 1518 and 1520 as well as the Canyon Meadows Campground — it is still possible to travel through and around the fire area on well maintained roads to a variety of recreational opportunities, such as hiking, biking, fishing and camping.

Whether you choose a short drive and hike to Strawberry Lake in the wilderness area or a longer loop around the wilderness through Logan Valley, you can easily find areas where the majestic forest remains.

One of the quickest and easiest options is Strawberry Lake on the northeastern side of the wilderness area, which did not burn. The end of the road is a short drive south from Prairie City on County Road 60 about 9 miles to Slide Creek Campground, which has three tent/trailer sites with stream water, and 2 more miles on to Strawberry Campground, which has 10 sites and piped water.

The lake, however, cannot be reached by vehicle. You’ll have to hike in about a mile from the campground to reach the lake and about another to mile to reach Strawberry Falls, but it’s worth it.

The area offers fishing and even more hiking opportunities, as the hiking trail is connected to a trail system that traverses the wilderness area, though the trails to the west quickly encounter the fire boundary.

If you start the loop around the wilderness area heading south from John Day, you’ll drive through the fire boundary on Highway 395 and County Road 65, which becomes Forest Road 15 near Wickiup Campground, the first you’ll encounter on the west side of the loop.

The campground, which has four picnic sites and seven tent/trailer sites and stream water from Canyon Creek, is open, but Forest Road 1516 just beyond the campground remains closed.

Continuing southeast on Forest Road 15, you will soon leave the fire boundary and come upon Parish Cabin Campground near the intersection with Forest Road 16.

The campground features one picnic site and 19 tent/trailer sites with piped water.

About two miles east of Parish Cabin on Forest Road 16, you will come upon signs pointing north to Road’s End Trailhead on Forest Road 1640, which travels back into the burned area to several trailheads at the boundary of the wilderness area. As the name suggests, however, you’ll have to leave your vehicle there if you plan to hike into Strawberry Lake from the south side of the wilderness.

Continuing east on Forest Road 16, you will enter Logan Valley. Roughly 6 miles east of Parish Cabin, you will encounter Forest Road 924, which travels north about 2 miles to Lake Creek Youth Camp, a private group compound (call 541-575-2153 for availability and prices), and about another mile to Murray Campground.

Lake Creek flows right beside the campground, which features five tent/trailer sites and piped water.

About 1.5 miles east of the turnoff for Lake Creek camp, you will encounter the turnoff for Big Creek Campground, which is less than a mile from Forest Road 16 on Forest Road 815.

Big Creek Campground has 15 tent/trailer sites and piped water. An information station at the campground entrance points out mountain biking trails, and Big Creek runs right beside the campground.

If you follow Forest Road 16 east out of Logan Valley to its intersection with County Road 62 at Summit Prairie, you can travel the county road north to Prairie City.

About 6 miles north on County Road 62, you will encounter Crescent Campground, a minimally developed location with four tent/trailer sites and stream water.

North on County Road 62, about 2 miles from Crescent Campground, you will come to Trout Farm Campground, which features six picnic sites and six tent/trailer sites and piped water.

Continue north on the county road, and you will reach Prairie City. From there, it’s a short drive west on Highway 26 to John Day.

The loop around the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness area is simple and easily accessible in the summer.

From John Day, take Highway 395 south about 10 miles. Turn southeast on County Road 65, which becomes Forest Road 15. Turn east on Forest Road 16 through Logan Valley. Turn north on County Road 62 to Prairie City. Return west on Highway 26 to John Day.

Alternatively, you can take a slightly longer route through Seneca. From John Day, take Highway 395 south to Seneca. Turn east on Forest Road 16 through Logan Valley and continue the loop.

Strawberry Lake is not on the loop, but it’s only about 11 miles south of Prairie City on County Road 60.

Note: The Forest Service plans to open roads as hazards are removed, and other developments, such as new fires or road work, could cause other closures. For updates, contact the Forest Service, 541-575-3000, or visit

Details emerge in Hermiston murder-suicide investigation Tue, 23 Aug 2016 19:30:11 -0400 Phil WrightEO Media Group Jason Huston fired three rounds from a 9 mm Glock pistol Thursday into his lifelong friend Ken Valdez at his Hermiston home, killing him. Huston also shot Andria Bye once and, in the end, shot and killed himself.

Bye was taken to the hospital after telling police what had transpired, though she didn’t know the whereabouts of her son, 14-year-old James “JJ” Hurtado.

Perhaps no more than an hour before, Huston is believed to have shot and killed Hurtado, to whom he was something of a father figure, with the same pistol.

Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston and Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan revealed more on Monday about one of the most violent crimes in Hermiston’s history.

Huston and Valdez, both 45, had known each other as far back as high school and had coached wrestling together since 2013, and Huston and Bye had previously been in a relationship. Edmiston held off discussing a motive, calling it premature while the investigation continues.

Hurtado had last been seen Thursday at 10 a.m. when Huston picked him up in Umatilla and said they were going to play disc golf at McNary Park, according to Edmiston.

Police around 11:18 a.m. responded to calls about a shooting at Southwest 11th Street and Hermiston Avenue. They found the door open at Valdez’s home at 130 N.W. 11th St., and inside found Bye and the bodies of Valdez and Huston.

Edmiston said Bye gave a detailed statement to police, but Huston had not told her he shot her son. Bye was released from the hospital over the weekend.

Detectives at a debriefing talked about their search for Hurtado that began soon after they arrived at Valdez’s home, Edmiston said, and also came up with a “to do” list, including more places to check for the teen. They soon learned of two places Huston was known to go shooting recreationally.

“When we got that, it was starting to get dark,” Edmiston said, “so we had to hurry.”

Detectives went to both sites, he said, and found the boy’s body off Country Lane about two miles outside the Hermiston city limits.

Police found a pickup that belonged to Huston on Bridge Road, which is near Country Lane, but Edmiston said Huston drove another pickup into town and parked it at Foxwood Apartments near Valdez’s home.

Valdez had a roommate, Edmiston said, but that person was at work during the shooting.

GU team ready to net wins Tue, 23 Aug 2016 19:30:05 -0400 Angel Carpenter There’s been a shake up for the 2A Grant Union volleyball team and Wapiti League this year.

One of the Prospector varsity starters transferred schools, and five seniors graduated.

Adding to the changes, the Burns Hilanders, one of Grant Union’s toughest opponents, have moved from the 2A class to 3A.

Kori Pentzer, who was an offensive force for the Prospectors the past two years, transferred to an Idaho school. Without her and the five graduates, the team will have three returning varsity starters: seniors Chelsie Kodesh and Heather Mosley and junior Mariah Moulton, each with three to four years of experience on varsity.

“They bring a lot of leadership to the team,” Speth said.

Senior Natalie Stearns also has varsity experience.

Speth said varsity starters and team positions haven’t been filled yet, but expected to have the final roster complete next week.

“It may change throughout the season as there is a lot of strong competition for a few positions,” she said. “I generally like fewer on varsity to help develop team chemistry. We have so many athletes that can play all six rotations, so we usually have smaller numbers on varsity in the rotation.”

Kodesh was libero for the past two seasons, but she’ll return as an outside hitter, which she played as a freshman.

“She is a strong passer and defender, and a smart hitter,” Speth said. “She’ll be consistent for us at this position.”

During last year’s final game at state, Kodesh fueled a rally with 11 straight service points, including two aces, contributing to Grant Union’s win over the Kennedy Trojans for third at the state tournament.

Moulton also brings outside hitting energy to the team.

“She has worked hard over the past year to develop her strength, and that is showing already in her attacking,” Speth said.

Moulton was selected for the Oregon All State third team last season. She led the team in serving percentage and was second, after Pentzer, in all attack and serve-receive categories for Grant Union.

Mosley returns as a middle hitter.

“We look for her to continue developing as an offensive force for us to go along with her strong blocking,” the coach said.

Stearns will play a defensive role as libero, or defensive specialist.

Speth said Stearns has worked on her passing skills and shows great control while moving the ball defensively.

Other team positions will be ready to announce next week, Speth said.

“A few of the players have been asked to switch positions, so we’re in the process of seeing what works best for the team overall,” she said, adding they have a lot of strong players to choose from.

The Wapiti League mix of teams presents another change for Grant Union.

With Burns moving to 3A and Cove to 1A, Grant Union will face Enterprise, Elgin, Imbler and Union this season.

Two teams will advance to the state playoffs.

“Imbler will be our strongest league and state competition this year,” Speth said. “They have a strong senior class that played a lot during the club and summer seasons.”

Last year, Grant Union beat Imbler 3-0 at the Wapiti League Tournament with scores of 25-14, 25-17 and 25-22. Grant Union took second place, and Burns won the tournament.

In 2014, the Prospectors were third place in league and took second to Burns in the state championship game.

Speth said she’s positive about her team’s outlook this year.

“We will be competitive in league and at the state level,” she said.

The three Prospector seniors expressed their optimism for the season, and all agreed winning districts would be a great way to cap off their senior year.

Kodesh said the team has already shown their competitive edge in practice.

“I’m looking forward to stepping up and being more of a leader this year,” she said. “We have a good chance to win districts.”

Stearns said she especially appreciates the way the players support one another, realizing none are perfect.

“We’re all aiming for the same goal,” she said. “We all have good sportsmanship — we help each other and pick each other up.”

All the seniors have played volleyball since grade school, including Mosley, who’s played since first grade.

“I’m excited to see how far we’ll go,” she said. “I believe we can be league champions. We work well together with good attitudes, and we’re shooting for first this year.”

Grant Union will host a tournament beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 26.

Teams competing include Grant Union varsity and junior varsity, Burns, Crane, Enterprise, Heppner, Pilot Rock, Powder Valley, Jordan Valley, Prairie City, Monument/Dayville and Weston-McEwen.

Aug. 26: V/JV @ Crane, 2 p.m.

Aug. 27: GU Tournament, 8 a.m.

Sept. 3: V/JV @ Heppner Tournament, 9 a.m.

Sept. 6: V/JV @ Culver, 5 p.m.

Sept. 10: V @ North Marion Tournament, TBA

Sept. 16: V @ Baker Tournament, 9 a.m.

Sept. 20: V/JV vs. Crane, 4 p.m.

Sept. 24: V/JV @ Enterprise, 12 p.m.

Sept. 24: V/JV @ Elgin, 5 p.m.

Sept. 27: V/JV/JVII @ Burns, 4 p.m.

Sept. 29: V/JV/JVII vs. Imbler, 4 p.m.

Sept. 30: V/JV vs. Union, 4 p.m.

Oct. 7: V/JV vs. Elgin (homecoming), 3 p.m.

Oct. 8: V/JV vs. Enterprise, 1 p.m.

Oct. 14: V/JV/JVII @ Imbler, 5 p.m.

Oct. 15: V/JV vs. Union (Dig Pink), 1 p.m.

Oct. 18: V/JV/JVII vs. Burns (senior night), 4 p.m.

Oct. 21: Wapiti District Tournament @ EOU, TBA

Oct. 29: 1st round state playoffs, TBA

Nov. 4-5: state championships, Redmond, TBA

Nothing easy about conservation easements Tue, 23 Aug 2016 19:11:16 -0400 Mateusz PerkowskiEO Media Group Rancher Roger Ediger has no problem giving up the ability to subdivide his nearly 2,700-acre property near Mount Vernon.

Development is the biggest threat to agriculture, wildlife and open space, Ediger believes, which is why he decided to place a conservation easement on the land that will preserve its current condition in perpetuity.

“If we don’t look farther than our own lifespan, then we’ll have nothing,” he said.

However, Ediger still faces a dilemma.

He is reluctant to have an environmentally oriented land trust or similar entity impose conditions on how he operates the ranch in exchange for “holding” the easement.

Since no third party holds the easement, though, it’s possible that a future landowner will simply ignore the prohibition against development if nobody’s there to enforce it.

“An easement is only as good as it is enforceable,” said Mike Running, executive director of the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts.

Ediger’s situation is a microcosm of the anxiety surrounding conservation easements in the agricultural community.

Some farmers want to extinguish development rights to protect the landscape while reducing property values to cut inheritance taxes, but they’re worried about someone forever looking over their shoulder.

“I have no desire to be micro-managed. I have no desire at all,” said Ediger, who hopes that Grant Soil and Water Conservation District will ultimately agree to hold his easement.

Meanwhile, organizations that are familiar to farmers, such as local soil and water conservation districts, are hesitant to hold conservation easements precisely because they may someday be forced to litigate against future landowners who violate the terms.

“If someone comes around with the right amount of money, they can keep you tied up in court until you holler uncle,” Ediger said.

Soil and water conservation districts have a long history of working with growers, so they’ve established a level of trust that outside organizations often don’t have, said Jim Johnson, land use specialist with the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

“They’re a local government with an elected board, so they’re accountable to a local constituency,” he said.

Lucien Gunderman, a farmer near McMinnville, also wanted to preserve his family’s 720-acre property but felt that land trusts — which commonly hold easements — had an environmental agenda in their easement proposals.

“A lot of their stuff, I didn’t like the way it was worded,” Gunderman said.

For example, he wouldn’t be allowed to continue operating a wood stove business on the property, as it was considered a commercial use.

Instead, Gunderman struck a deal with the Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District under which the easement prohibits subdivisions and most construction while setting limits on logging the forested portion of the property.

“With the district, it was a perfect fit,” he said.

Larry Ojua, the district’s manager, said not all properties match the district’s goals. He has turned down four easement proposals.

One major consideration is whether the district has the resources to defend the easement. Gunderman, for example, provided the district with $8,000 for its future administration.

“We look at it selectively,” said Ojua. “We’re not really prospecting for properties.”

Another factor is the prospect of forever monitoring to ensure the terms are being met, said Tom Salzer, manager of the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District, which is looking at the possibility of holding perpetual easements.

“For us, it’s the overhead of staff time to do the annual monitoring and reporting,” he said. “That’s staff time we’re not spending serving our core customer base.”

Woody Wolfe, a farmer and rancher near Wallowa in northeastern Oregon, shared the same trepidations as Ediger and Gunderman but is now satisfied with his decision to sell an easement to a land trust.

“I can guarantee it’s not for everybody,” he said. “There has to be a fundamental desire within the person to agree with conservation.”

In 2011, Wolfe sold an easement on roughly 200 acres to the Wallowa Land Trust for $200,000 that allows him to conduct common farming practices on most of the property, though he can’t subdivide it, use it for commercial purposes, or build new roads without permission.

About 36 acres are reserved for riparian habitat, which means he can’t graze cattle or travel in a motorized vehicle on the land unless it serves an ecological purpose.

Wolfe is all right with the arrangement because a team of specialists overseen by the land trust monitors the 36-acre parcel and conducts conservation projects on it, which are funded with grants.

“I’m not responsible for implementing them,” he said. “All I have to do is let them manage it.”

Conservation work is a key aspect of the Wallowa Land Trust’s mission that qualifies it as a charitable organization, said Kathleen Ackley, its executive director.

“There has to be some level of conservation for us to be able to work with a landowner,” she said.

Entities that pay for easements — such as the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service — must also ensure their money is helping the environment, which is why land management plans are often tied to the funding, Ackley said.

“Most easements are going to reference some sort of management plan,” she said.

In return, landowners get the benefit of an income tax deduction for the portion of the easement’s value they donate, Ackley said. “It’s a mutually beneficial strings attached.”

The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, a government agency funded with state lottery dollars, is constitutionally mandated to use those funds for projects that conserve wildlife habitat and water quality, said Meta Loftsgaarden, its executive director.

“We have an obligation to meet that bar,” she said.

For the same reason, the agency must perform its own periodic monitoring of conservation easements — in addition to the easement holder’s monitoring — and advise landowners when they fall short of complying with its terms.

Loftsgaarden said this dual monitoring may cause landowners to ask, “Why are you coming back here?”

Before 2012, when OWEB overhauled its regulations to make the easement program more transparent and accountable, the answer to that question often wasn’t communicated clearly enough, she said.

“It’s a permanent investment of public dollars, so the agency has to continue to track them,” she said.

OWEB is also devising an “Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program” that would emphasize protecting actively farmed properties.

The program would not be funded with OWEB’s lottery dollars, so it wouldn’t have to focus on habitat and water quality issues, Loftsgaarden said. It’s possible the Oregon Legislature will be asked to fund the program separately to prioritize agriculture.

“It can’t come into the door unless it’s a working land,” she said.

A big advantage of having a conservation easement funded by OWEB is that the agency can rely on attorneys from the Oregon Department of Justice to enforce its terms.

So far, the agency hasn’t had to take legal action, but the potential for such cases causes a lot of consternation among easement holders, even though they’re relatively rare.

“When it does occur, it can take up a lot of your resources,” said Johnson of ODA.

Oregon law restricts landowners from partitioning property within “exclusive farm use” zones into parcels smaller than 80 acres for farmland and 160 acres for ranchland.

However, even such relatively large parcels can undermine a region’s agricultural character if they’re not actively farmed, Johnson said.

“They may be marginally farming but it’s really just a large rural estate,” he said.

The fear is that someone with lots of money — a brash and litigious billionaire, perhaps — will be willing to outspend an easement holder in court to violate an easement.

“I’ve got more money than you, so what are you going to do?” said Fritz Paulus, an attorney specializing in conservation easements. “It sometimes turns into these money battles.”

Easements be written to have “teeth” by requiring landowners to pay the holder’s attorney fees if they lose a case, Paulus said. However, winning a judgment in court isn’t the same thing as cash.

“Can you collect on that? It’s a whole other issue,” he said.

To deal with the problem of looming litigation, the Land Trust Alliance, which represents land trusts, founded the Terrafirma risk retention group.

Land trusts pay premiums into the program, pooling their money for the eventuality that a lawsuit must be filed to defend an easement.

Terrafirma handled 79 claims in 2015, up from 57 claims in 2014 and 38 claims in 2013, when the program was created.

“It usually involves a change in ownership, and someone who has not bought into the concept of a conservation easement,” said Russ Shay, public policy director for the Land Trust Alliance.

Having such insurance can help discourage landowners from violating easements, since they know it will entail a legal battle, he said.

As government entities, soil and water conservation districts can’t take part in Terrafirma, but Shay advises they set aside money for litigation for the same reason.

“Being prepared is half the battle,” he said.

Summer food for local kids is a success Tue, 23 Aug 2016 19:04:06 -0400 Angel Carpenter Local youth of all ages enjoyed free lunches this summer through the USDA Summer Food Program.

Meals were offered June 13 through Aug. 12 in John Day, Prairie City and Long Creek.

Adults, 19 and up, were also invited to buy a meal for $2.

The program was coordinated by Kim Ward of John Day-Canyon City Parks and Recreation, and Jeanie Moulton was the cook.

Ward said they fed an average of 100 kids at the John Day City Park.

Gleason Pool lifeguards help serve the lunches.

“During summer school, we were almost at 200,” she said.

Sabrina Howard of Prairie City and other volunteers helped deliver the meals to Prairie City Tuesday through Thursday, with about 30 lunches handed out.

Volunteers from Long Creek’s North Fork Watershed Council helped bring meals to an average of 10 kids on Tuesdays.

“It’s been a great summer for summer food,” Ward said.

Delicious contest yields cash prizes Tue, 23 Aug 2016 19:05:00 -0400 Angel Carpenter Some of the pies were still warm from the oven for the Aug. 10 Grant County Pie Bakers Contest.

Judges had the sweet job of tasting each of the entries and grading them on a variety of factors. The “taste testers” included Melody Field, Virginia Kendall, Chris Yriarte, Jim Carpenter and Gary Delaney. Rick Thompson helped plate up the bite-size servings for the judges.

Morganne Wyllie of John Day placed second in the youth division with her double-crust blueberry pie.

“It’s fun baking with my grandma Susan Wyllie,” she said. “She usually shows me step by step.”

Susan Wyllie won second place in the adult division for her double-crust blueberry-apple pie.

The pies were later auctioned off, the proceeds benefiting improvements at the fairgrounds.

Pie baking contest chairman Marsha Delaney said more bakers should consider joining the contest next year.

“We’d love to have more participation,” she said. “It’s more fun if there’s more competition. We appreciate the judges and Rick Thompson for helping out.”

Pie baker results:

Adult — double crust

Cindy Wilburn, first and best of show, $50, apple

Susan Wyllie, second, $25, blueberry-apple

Adult — single crust

Tiffnie Schmadeka, first, $50, pecan

Youth — double crust

Kathlyne Page, first and best of show, $25, mincemeat

Morganne Wyllie, second, $15, blueberry

Eastern Oregon credit unions announce plans to merge Tue, 23 Aug 2016 19:02:59 -0400 Rylan Boggs Two Eastern Oregon credit unions have announced their intent to merge.

Under the intended merger, Union Wallowa Baker Federal Credit Union would merge into Old West Federal Credit Union. This would create a membership of over 12,000 that would have access to seven branches throughout Eastern Oregon.

“Both credit unions share a common heritage and great reputations,” Ken Olson, President and CEO of Old West stated in a press release. “I was impressed by Union Wallowa Baker board’s commitment to their members and employees. I’m humbled that they would choose Old West as a potential merger partner.”

Carol Kroll, Board Chair of Union Wallowa Baker, was enthusiastic about the potential merger.

“Being able to offer the products and services that members want while maintaining a local, personalized presence is an expensive proposition for any credit union,” Kroll stated in a press release, “and combining our assets with Old West will help ensure that a local, accountable cooperative is here to serve our members.”

The combined credit union would have assets of over $160,000,000 and serve eight Oregon counties. Pending regulatory and member approval, the merger could be completed as early as December.

“It’s not been an easy time for small credit unions in this regulatory economic environment,” Olson said in a follow-up interview. “I think they wanted to ensure that their members in that area a would be continue to be serviced by a local financial institution.”

Olson added that he didn’t anticipate any jobs being lost in the merger and that they may even add a few people to the La Grande office.

Rail Fire expands to 32,170 acres, 40-percent contained Tue, 23 Aug 2016 14:24:13 -0400 Rylan Boggs Firefighters have contained more of the Rail Fire near Unity, but it continues to grow.

The fire now encompasses 32,170 acres and is 40-percent contained, according to a Tuesday update from the management team.

As a precaution, County Judge Scott Myers said a level one pre-evacuation notice has been issued for Summit Rock, Elk Creek Campground and Hunter’s Camp Area. Level one means residents and visitors to the area should be ready to leave if conditions worsen.

The areas under advisory are 2 to 3 miles southwest of the Rail fire, Myers said. The area extends from Summit Prairie Road east to the Grant County line and south from the Grant County line 3 miles to Tub Springs.

Windy conditions fanned the fire Monday night, testing containment lines, but firefighters were able to extinguish small spot fires, the management team reported. Cooler temperatures, higher humidity levels and air support have helped firefighters along the fires southeast flank.

Mop-up operations are the primary concern on the western, northern and eastern edges of the fire while it continues to move south into the Malheur National Forest. Crews will begin to examine parts of the northern edge of the fire using hand-held infrared units that allow them to detect heat that would be otherwise invisible.

The fire is now staffed by 849 people: 24 crews, 42 engines, seven dozers, 25 water tenders, four masticators, five skidders and seven helicopters.

The cause of the fire, which started July 31 about 10 miles southwest of Unity, is still under investigation.

Malheur National Forest officials are imposing new restrictions to prevent starting any new fires. These restrictions are part of Phase C of Public Use Restrictions, which are put into place when there is a fire danger rating of extreme and the forest is at Industrial Fire Precaution Level 4.

These restrictions include bans on all campfires, allowing only liquid and bottle gas stoves and heaters, and prohibit all use of chainsaws and internal combustion engines with the exception of motor vehicles starting Wednesday, Aug. 24.

Additionally, generators are allowed only if they are placed in the center of a cleared area at least 10 feet in diameter, or are in a truck bed devoid of flammable material. RVs with factory installed generators must have the exhaust discharge centered in a 10 foot cleared area.

Off-road vehicle travel or travel on roads with standing grass or other flammable material is not allowed. All roads identified in fire closure orders are closed. Smoking is only allowed in vehicles, buildings and developed recreation sites or when stopped in an area cleared of all flammable material.

In 2016 there have been 486 wildfires caused by humans with at least one known case of arson, this is an increase over the state’s 10-year year average, according to The Oregon Department of Forestry.

“While you and your family are enjoying Oregon’s great outdoors, I encourage you to not only be fire safe but be alert to any suspicious behavior and report it to local law enforcement officials,” Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement.

Fourteen fires are currently being investigated as arson, including the Withers fire north of Paisley that has burned over 3,400 acres.

“Oregon continues to experience extremely dry conditions where any stray spark could spell disaster in any area of the state,” State Fire Marshal Jim Walker said in a statement.

For more information on the restrictions, contact any of the following forest offices: Malheur National Forest Supervisor and Blue Mountain Ranger District office, 541-575-3000; Prairie City Ranger District, 541-820-3800; Emigrant Creek Ranger District, 541-573-4300.

To report a wildfire, call John Day Interagency Dispatch Center at 541-575-1321 or the Burns Interagency Dispatch center at 541-573-1000.Tips can also be made by calling the Oregon State Police at 503-375-3555 or 911 in case of an emergency.

For more information about the pre-evacuation notice, contact Grant County Emergency Management Coordinator Ted Williams at 541-575-4006.

Cowkids rustle up fun Tue, 23 Aug 2016 19:00:41 -0400 Results from the Aug. 14 Cowkids Rodeo at the Grant County Fairgrounds.

Wooly bullies: Nolan Mobley, first; Paxton Waggoner, second; Trevor Sasser, third.

Dummy roping: Paxton Waggoner, first; Cruz Trevino, second; Kodee Kimball, third.

Pole bending: Kodee Kimball, first; Jadon Snow, second; Paisley Jennings, third.

Barrels: Kodee Kimball, first; Cash Coleman, second; Jadon Snow, third.

Goat tail untying: Kodee Kimball, first; Cash Coleman, second; Jadon Snow, third.

Youth Division

Calf riding: Taylor Parsons, first; Tayton Harper, second; Jace Waggoner, third.

Dummy roping: Colton Clark, first; Denni Coleman, second; Savannah Watterson, third.

Pole bending: Denni Coleman, first; Hayden Churchfield, second; Colton Clark, third.

Barrels: Denni Coleman, first; Hayden Churchfield, second; Taylor Churchfield, third.

Goat tail untying: Taylor Churchfield, first; Denni Coleman, second; Colton Clark, third.

(Breakaway roping had four competitors, no time.)

Steer riding: Riley Robertson, first; Kase Schaffeld, second; Callie Arriola, third.

Dummy roping: Lacy Churchfield, first; Rowdy Israel, second; Riley Robertson, third.

Pole bending: Lacy Churchfield, first; Bailey McCracken, second; Sam McCracken, third.

Barrels: Lacy Churchfield, first; Bailey McCracken, second; Sam McCracken, third.

Goat tying: Lacy Churchfield, first; Quinton Johnson, second; Kase Schaffeld.

(Breakaway roping had four competitors, no time.)

Steer riding: Opie McDaniel, first; Warner Robertson, second; Ben Combs, third.

Dummy roping: Trinity Hutchison, first; Jackson Schaffeld, second; Opie McDaniel, third.

Pole bending: Regan Johnson, first; Cinch Anderson, second; Denali Twehues, third.

Barrels: Denali Twehues, first; Regan Johnson, second; Trinity Hutchison, third.

Goat tying: Trinity Hutchison, first; Denali Twehues, second; Cinch Anderson, third.

(Breakaway roping had two competitors, no time.)

Kids win prizes while reading Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:48:31 -0400 Angel Carpenter Children had incentives to check out books from the Grant County Library this summer.

The library had two programs to encourage youth to read, the summer reading program at the John Day City Park and the reading program at the library.

Devrie Delaney, 9, and Orean Maurer, 4, won bikes donated by the Grant County Library Foundation through the program at the park.

Maleah Archibald, 8, and Huntur Wright, 7, won kids edition Kindle Fires through the reading program at the library.

Children entered to win the Kindles by reading five books a week for the past five weeks, and smaller weekly prizes were also given away, including book bags, T-shirts and bicycle lights.

Washington county authorizes action against wolves Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:47:37 -0400 Don JenkinsEO Media Group Ferry County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Friday authorizing the sheriff’s office to kill the remaining nine members of a wolf pack in the northeastern Washington county, if state wildlife officials don’t resume shooting wolves.

“That pack of wolves needs to be gone,” Commissioner Mike Blankenship said. “I feel the sheriff has that power and that obligation as much as he would with a wild dog out there.”

The Department of Fish and Wildlife halted the search Thursday for the Profanity Peak pack 13 days after shooting two adult female wolves from a helicopter. Four adults and five pups survive.

WDFW initiated lethal removal Aug. 3 after the pack killed at least four calves and one cow in less than a month. The pack probably was responsible for at least three other depredations, according to WDFW.

Blankenship said WDFW ended the culling of the pack prematurely. County officials have pressed the department to eliminate the entire pack since 2014, citing concerns for humans, pets and livestock.

County commissioners held a special meeting Friday afternoon at which they approved giving Sheriff Ray Maycumber the resources to lethally remove the pack.

It may not be necessary. WDFW says it will resume hunting for the Profanity Peak pack if more depredations occur, which is a strong possibility, Blankenship said.

“An operator has been losing an animal a day since their animals were put on the range,” he said. “Should Fish and Wildlife fail to, we’re prepared to step up and finish that job.”

If the county targets wolves, it would test WDFW’s jurisdiction over the state’s wildlife.

“Maybe that would get challenged and maybe we need to have conversation. I’m sure it would be a fairly mind-blowing case,” Blankenship said.

The two wolves that were shot included the breeding female. WDFW officials say they can’t identify different pack members from a helicopter. After the shootings, the pack withdrew to heavy timber in the Kettle River Range Mountains and became increasingly difficult to track, even though two wolves wore GPS radio collars, according to WDFW.

WDFW also suggested in a press release that shooting the two wolves had been effective in stopping depredations.

“The goal of removing some wolves from the pack was to stop wolf attacks on area cattle herds,” WDFW wolf policy coordinator Donny Martorello said in a written statement. “The last confirmed depredation by the pack was two weeks ago, but we are prepared to resume operations to remove wolves if monitoring efforts confirm new attacks.”

Efforts to reach the ranch suffering the most losses were unsuccessful. But others in contact with the producer said livestock remains continue to be found. In some cases, too little remains of the carcass to identify whether the animal was killed by a wolf.

“As long as the wolf eats the whole calf, they’re home free,” said state Rep. Joel Kretz, who represents Ferry County.

Kretz credited WDFW’s on-the-ground staff with doing the best they could, but criticized the department’s leadership for ending the operation.

“Why do you just stop?” he asked. “It seems like they’re giving themselves an ‘A’ for participation, but flunked the test.”

Kretz said he was ready to back up county officials if they decided to initiate lethal removal.

“I’m willing to go along on that trip,” he said. “If there’s a confrontation on this, so be it.”

Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity said Ferry County ranchers and officials should be celebrating that WDFW hasn’t confirmed a wolf attack since Aug. 3, instead of contemplating shooting more wolves.

“Thumbing your nose at state law doesn’t engender a lot of respect from the rest of the public about your attitudes of living with wildlife,” she said. “This isn’t the 1850s.”

WDFW announced Aug. 3 it would “partially remove” the pack to stop attacks on livestock. Before starting the operation, WDFW said it had a specific number of wolves it planned to shoot, but has declined to release the number.

“They are the only ones who knows what success is,” said Stevens County rancher Scott Nielsen, vice president of the Cattle Producers of Washington.

Nielsen said the state has shirked its responsibility and county officials have a duty to step in.

“I’m sure they’ll get portrayed as a bunch of rednecks on the westside (of Washington) if they act, but they’ve been forced into it,” he said.

Stevens County rancher Dave Dashiell, who estimates he lost up to 300 sheep to the Huckleberry pack in 2014, said he wasn’t surprised WDFW stopped searching for wolves. WDFW announced it planned to shoot up to four wolves in the Huckleberry pack and ended operations after shooting one.

“It’s the same old, same old,” said Dashiell, who has reduced his sheep flock by about two-thirds to better protect it.

“They never did say how many wolves (in the Profanity Peak pack) they were going to kill,” he said. “They always leave themselves an out.”

It’s unclear whether WDFW would wait for another depredation to be confirmed before restarting lethal removal. Efforts to obtain comment from WDFW were unsuccessful.

A conservationist on WDFW’s wolf advisory group, Paula Swedeen of Conservation Northwest, said WDFW would be within state policy to resume lethal removal, even if further depredations were only classified as probable.

“I think ‘probables’ would probably indicate a continuation of the pattern,” she said. “I don’t think it’s accurate to call it (lethal removal) done. I think it’s more of a pause.”

Grant County Meetings Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:44:03 -0400 ONGOING

Grant County Library is open 1-5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-noon and 1-7 p.m. Tuesday; and 7-9 p.m. Thursday. The library is located at 507 S. Canyon Blvd., John Day.

Canyon Mountain Center offers meditation sittings from 5:30 to 6:10 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 511 Hillcrest, John Day. Call ahead, 541-932-2725.

Burns-Hines VA Clinic – Services for Grant County veterans. Immunizations, minor surgical procedures, blood pressure and diabetes monitoring, group therapy for combat PTSD, sobriety and other issues. Lab draws on Wednesdays. Nursing staff and therapy Monday through Friday. 541-573-3339.

Grant County Genealogical Society Research Center – Open 1-4 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. Parsonage building behind Historic Advent Church, West Main Street in John Day. 541-932-4718 or 541-575-2757.


9 a.m-1 p.m. – Grant County Food Bank Surplus Food Distribution, 530 E. Main St., John Day. People are asked to bring empty boxes. Call 541-575-0299.

9 a.m. – Grant County Court, courthouse, Canyon City.

9 a.m. – Shepherd’s Closet, open, with free clothing for all ages and coffee, at Prairie City Assembly of God. 541-820-3682.

9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. – Veterans/families services, John Day Elks Lodge. Topics include PTSD services and individual needs.

11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. – TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), weigh-in, meeting. United Methodist Church library, 126 N.W. Canton St., John Day. 541-575-3812, 541-932-4592.


9 a.m.-5 p.m. – Family History Center open, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, John Day. Also open by appointment. 541-656-8069.

Noon – Seniors Meal Program and bingo, John Day Senior Center, 142 N.E. Dayton St. 541-575-1825.

6 p.m. – “The Girlfriends” Women’s 12-step Recovery, Families First office, John Day. 541-620-0596.


4 p.m. – Long Creek Historical Society, Long Creek City Hall, 541-421-3621.

7 p.m. – Whiskey Gulch Gang, Sels Brewery, Canyon City. 541-575-0329.


8 a.m. – Overcomers Outreach, Christ-centered, 12-step support group. Living Word Christian Center guest house, 59357 Highway 26, Mt. Vernon. 541-932-4910.

8:30 a.m.-noon – John Day Farmers Market, SW Brent St., John Day. Crafts, baked goods, produce, kids activities, entertainment, information booths.

10 a.m. – Grant County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, location varies. Call 541-575-1131 or 541-946-3874.

7 p.m. – Bingo, Monument Senior Center. Potluck dinner at halftime.


Fun Jam, musicians and listeners welcome for bluegrass, gospel and traditional country western music. Call for time and location, 541-575-1927.


Noon – Seniors Meal Program, John Day Senior Center, 142 N.E. Dayton St. 541-575-1825.

6 p.m. – Mt. Vernon Volunteer Fire Department, 541-932-4688.

7 p.m. – John Day Valley Bass Club, Outpost Restaurant. All are welcome. William Gibbs, 541-575-2050.

7:30 p.m. – Outlaw Group of Alcoholics Anonymous, Presbyterian Church in Mt. Vernon. 541-932-4844.


10-11 a.m. – Story Hour and craft project, Grant County Library, for preschoolers 0-6 years old. 541-575-1992.

12 p.m. – Seniors Meal Program at the Monument Senior Center.

12 p.m. – Transient Room Tax Committee, Grant County Chamber of Commerce, 301 W. Main St., John Day.

12 p.m. – Grant County Genealogical Society, Outpost restaurant, John Day. 541-575-2757, 541-932-4718.

7:15 p.m. – Boy Scout Troop 898, John Day Elks Lodge, John Day. 541-575-2531.


12 p.m. – Seniors Meal Program at the Prairie City Senior Center, 204 N. McHaley, Prairie City.

12 p.m. – Women’s Support, by Heart of Grant County, for domestic violence survivors. Free lunch. 541-575-4335.

6:30-8:30 p.m. – Family History Center open, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, John Day. Also open by appointment. 541-656-8069.

7:30 p.m. – Let Go Group of Alcoholics Anonymous, St. Elizabeth Catholic Parish Hall, John Day. 541-575-0114.

Out of the Past Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:34:51 -0400 A look back on news from Grant County over the past 100 years, pulled from past issues.

Ready For School

One week from next Monday school opens in Prairie. During the past week, new equipment and supplies have been installed and it is expected that on the appointed day all will be in readiness.

All of the teachers hired will be on hand. Prof. Boitnott has been here though the summer, and is aiding in the preparations. His two assistants in the High school have sent word that they would be in during the coming week.

A letter received this week from this week from Bure Hays, of Colorado, states that he will be in Prairie in a few days. Mr. Hays will teach the seventh and eighth grades.

V. E. Daniels, of Canyon City, will have change of the fifth and sixth, and is already for the opening.

Miss Mayme Schwartz, who has taught the third and fourth grades for the past two years, is visiting relatives in North Dakota and Montana, on her return from a trip to her home in Minnesota.

Miss Kathryn Pooler, who taught in the Meador District last year, will have charge of the primary, and is now residing with Miss Emma Meador near town.

So all of the seven teachers will be on hand, and all the indications point to a very auspicious beginning the first year in the new building.

All of the new equipment is first class, and of the most modern type. The desks for the high school are of a style never before used in this section, and are exceptionally comfortable.

Prof. Boitnott has received a number of inquiries from out of town pupils, and the attendance will undoubtedly be by far the largest ever enrolled at a school in Grant County.

Rattlesnake takes a ride

Frank Baier took a ride with a rattlesnake, or rather, the rattlesnake took a ride with Mr. Baier, who lives seven miles up Canyon Creek. He went into the garage to get his car, and there was a four foot rattler which he killed with little ado, because he is used to it, and then got into his car. When he got to Canyon City and stopped in front of the Geo. Smith place, another four-foot rattler wiggled out of the car and started for the MacRae home. It was killed. One can never tell just what kind of company they will pickup and so far as the record reveals that is the first rattlesnake that was a hitch-hiker.

Long Creek rider cited for rodeo skills and grades

Jeff Coelho, a sophomore from Long Creek, just completed a spectacular rookie year in the Oregon High School Rodeo Association.

The 16-year-old qualified as an individual from Grant County for the Oregon State Finals in Hillsboro last June. He won the same championship in boy’s cutting, placed seventh in calf roping, was awarded a silver buckle for the Rookie of the Year, and was presented with a Director’s award for scholastic honor roll.

As Cutting champion, Coelho was part of a team sent to represent Oregon at the National High School at Shawnee, Okla. Canada and thirty-seven states, including Hawaii, competed at the finals. Of ninety-eight boys entered in the cutting, Coelho placed ninth in the nation, and was one of the top ten awarded an academic scholarship. Oregon placed tenth in the team competition.

Coelho’s calf roping earned him an invitation to the silver State International Rodeo, where he again represented Oregon. Held in Fallow, Nev., this rodeo is for contestants who place from fifth to eighth place at their state finals. More than 30 states and Canada were represented. Out of 117 calf ropers, Coelho placed twelfth. Entrants may enter another event, and Coelho chose team roping. He and his partner, Kerry Burgess, or Jordan Valley, won a preliminary go-round, and captured the reserve championship from a field of 80 teams.

The 1991-92 season for Oregon begins soon with the first high school rodeo at Condon during the Labor Day weekend. Coelho will compete in cutting, calf roping, and team roping, and hopes to qualify for Nationals again, this time in more than one event.

Editorial cartoons Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:34:12 -0400

Our View: Immigration reform will require courage Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:33:40 -0400 There are 12 million stories about those who have illegally immigrated to the U.S. They range from heart-wrenching to opportunistic. Each is different in many ways, and the same in one: Each person broke federal law in getting here.

That’s why the discussion of illegal immigration is so divisive. While many Americans see the people behind the statistics, many counter with, “What part of illegal don’t you understand?”

Democratic and Republican presidential administrations for decades have tried to come up with effective and fair means of addressing illegal immigrants that ranged from deportation to amnesty.

President Barack Obama even tried an end-run around Congress after that esteemed body refused — again — to do anything substantive about the issue.

Though politicians tend to fall back on a combination of generality, placation and prejudice when they speak about illegal immigrants, many of the arguments circle around to what Congress needs to do to address the issue.

Most people agree that the border must be secured to prevent the free flow of people in and out of the U.S. Without that, we have no immigration policy.

Most people also agree illegal immigrants must pay a fine for breaking the law in order to be considered for any type of legal permanent residence. And they must not have broken other criminal laws.

They must also learn to speak English. It makes no sense to foster a nation in which the people do not share a common language. For the sake of the nation, and for the immigrants, they must learn English.

Much hangs in the balance, including the integrity of our country and an acknowledgment that, from its very beginning, this is a nation of immigrants.

Of particular concern to farmers and others is the fact that about 75 percent of our food is harvested or tended by illegal immigrants, according to Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan organization made up of 500 CEOs and mayors.

Each year, farmers and food processors are put at risk. They need to hire enough people to pick and process the crops. Though they insist that workers possess proper documentation, it is too often falsified. This puts farmers in a quandary. They need workers, but they have little choice but to accept at face value the paperwork that’s presented.

The other option is obtaining H-2A guestworkers. While this assures that the workforce will be legal, it is expensive and time consuming and relies on federal agencies whose priorities are set in Washington, D.C.

We are often told that congressional action on immigration will take place “after the next election.”

As it turns out, there’s always another election, allowing politicians to duck and cover one more time, leaving immigration reform — and a growing list of other pressing matters — unaddressed.

As the fall general election approaches, we urge our readers to listen closely to the congressional and presidential candidates. Brush aside the bombast and the generalities and look for positions on immigration reform that are practical, affordable, effective and offer a long-term solution.

They all know what that solution is, they just aren’t willing to display the courage it takes to make it a reality.

Cops & Courts Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:33:02 -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.

• Aug. 18: An Officer responded to a call stating a man had accidentally shot himself in the leg. Subject was taken to Blue Mountain Hospital.

• Aug. 18: Shawn Colman Kite, 48, was arrested for DUII and charged with domestic violence after officers responded to a domestic violence call in Prairie City at about 10:37 a.m. When officers arrived, Kite had already fled in a 1993 Pontiac Bonneville. About an hour later an officer located and stopped the vehicle. Kite appeared to be under the effect of a controlled substance. He consented to sobriety tests and was arrested and taken to the Grant County Jail.

Aug. 20: a single, non-injury crash occurred on near milepost 134.5 on Highway 26 in Grant County. The lone driver was headed east when they lost control of the vehicle on a right-hand turn. The airbags did not deploy and the driver was wearing a seatbelt. The road was covered with gravel due to an ongoing chip sealing project.

CANYON CITY — The Grant County Sheriff’s Office reported the following for the week of August 14-21:

• Concealed handgun licenses: 3

• Average inmates: 11

• Bookings: 11

• Releases: 11

• Citations: 2

• Fingerprints: 5

• Civil papers: 19

• Warrants processed: 3

• Asst./welfare check: 3

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

• Exceeding the speed limit: Daniel Gabriel Cohrs, 23, Cornelius 77/65 zone, Aug. 10, fined $135; Anthony Wyatt Hall, 19, Canyon City 77/65 zone, Aug. 13, fined $135.

• Violation of the basic speed rule: Stephen R. Johnson, 67, New Orleans, 75/55 zone, July 31, fined $160; Renea Lynn Ostermiller, 42, Portland, 74/55 zone, July 16, fined $160; Timothy Mitchell Jaureguy, 46, Seattle, 75/55 zone, July 31, fined $160. John Edward Mallars, 64, Pilot Rock, 75/55 zone, Aug. 9, fined $160.

• Driving with a suspended license: Benjamin Keith Lee, 36, Canyon City June 30, fined $435.

• Semi Trailer exceeding 53 feet in length: Ioan Calaras, 45, Mississaugh Aug. 10, fined $95.

• No operator’s license: Allison M. Cifuentes, 23, Prairie City, May 22, fined $260.

• Unsafe passing on the left: Kelli Dawn Sterling, 50, Puyallup, July 31, fined $260.

John Day dispatch worked 153 calls during the week of August 14-21 . Along with the various traffic warnings, trespassing, injured animals, noise complaints and juvenile complaints, these calls included:

• John Day Police

Aug. 15: responded to a reported break in at John Day Video.

Aug. 16: Arrested Devan Haynes, 23, on a Grant County Felony Warrant..

Aug. 18: Arrested Shawn C. Kite for assualt after responding to a domestic disturbance call at 470 N. Washington St.

Aug. 19: Arrested David Wesly Burke, 22, on fraud charges.

Aug. 20: Responded to a complaint of a suspect driving with an open container near John Day Park. The subject was found to be drinking root beer.

• Grant County Sheriff

Aug. 19: Responded with OSP to report of shots fired.

• John Day ambulance

Aug. 16: John Day and Seneca ambulances responded to reports of a gunshot injury.

Letter: ‘The little guy’ would pay for tax increase on large industry Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:32:56 -0400 To the Editor:

Gov. Brown wants to raise taxes on large industry. Doesn’t she care that all of these costs are passed on to the end users? That means people on fixed incomes, unemployment and minimum wage wages. She says schools need the money. When Oregon passed the lottery that was supposed to take care of the schools. Now the lottery is used up by any group that comes up with some trumped up claim that they need funded and the schools keep clamoring for more money. They are extremely well taken care of but the education keeps falling behind. So much for the little guy who has to foot the bill.

Joe Clarke

Long Creek