Blue Mountain Eagle | http://www.bluemountaineagle.com Blue Mountain Eagle Sun, 23 Apr 2017 16:09:26 -0400 en http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/staticimage/images/rss-logo.jpg Blue Mountain Eagle | http://www.bluemountaineagle.com Vale snaps Lady Pros win streak http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170421/vale-snaps-lady-pros-win-streak http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170421/vale-snaps-lady-pros-win-streak#Comments Fri, 21 Apr 2017 21:01:05 -0400 Angel Carpenter http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170429991 The Grant Union Prospector softball team came up short Saturday in a tough home test against league foe Vale.

The Prospectors gave up two wins to the Vikings, 9-2 and 7-6, breaking their 13-game win streak.

Vale made a statement early in the first inning of game one when Viking Grace Reever hit a grand slam, adding two more runs for a 6-0 lead.

Grant Union finished the inning with Brianna Zweygardt scoring Whitney McClellan with a single, and Ravyn Walker also reached home plate while Hailie Wright was up to bat.

The Prospectors were able to tamp down on Vale’s momentum in the second with Grant Union pitcher Cody Jo Madden striking out one Viking batter, left fielder McClellan catching a fly ball and short stop Walker passing to first baseman Dauna Bishop for an out.

Vale scored three more runs in the game for the win.

Prospector Cody Jo Madden was in the circle for game one and Mariah Moulton pitched six innings of game two with Madden closing in the seventh. Vale’s Amanda Trenkel pitched both games for the Vikings.

Grant Union regained composure for the second game.

Moulton pitched a strikeout in the top of the first inning, and after Vale hit a single, Grant Union made two more outs.

The Prospectors scored three runs in the bottom of the inning when Zweygardt singled, scoring McClellan; and Marissa Smith singled, scoring Walker and Hailie Wright.

Vale scored one run in the second inning, three in the fourth and one in the fifth to put the Vikings ahead 5-3.

Zweygardt scored a one-run homer in the fifth for Grant Union.

Vale came back with two runs in the sixth, then Prospector Tressa Ranft’s score off McClellan’s single in the bottom of the inning made it 7-5, Grant Union trailing.

Grant Union made the outs in the seventh, and the prospect of a comeback looked good.

Zweygardt, Wright and Smith loaded the bases, and while Zweygardt made it home, the other runners were left on base, Vale squeaking out the win.

“We grew up a lot from the first game to the second,” said Grant Union head coach DeAnna Nash. “It’s hard for them to realize that right now.”

She noted that Vale always presents a mental hurdle, but the experience of the first game, helped in the second.

“Just a couple of balls bouncing in a different direction would have made it a different game,” she said.

Nash added, “Whether you win or lose, you come away with some lessons. I believe what we learned today will carry over for us — they’ll bounce back.”

Grant Union will face the 2A/1A defending state champions Pilot Rock/Nixyaawii Rockets in Pilot Rock at 4:30 p.m. Thursday for a nonleague single game.

The following day, Grant Union is back to league action taking on the Burns Hilanders for a doubleheader at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on the road.

“Burns is always tough because they are our closest rival, so we’ll have to prepare for a couple road games with them,” Nash said.

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Lawmakers propose cost containment measures http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170421/lawmakers-propose-cost-containment-measures http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170421/lawmakers-propose-cost-containment-measures#Comments Fri, 21 Apr 2017 19:51:30 -0400 Claire Withycombe http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170429992 Capital Bureau

SALEM — Concluding a week of heightened budget rhetoric at the Oregon Legislature, a bipartisan group of legislators say the state’s budget crunch could be addressed in the short- and long-term through a score of possible measures, including a hiring freeze and tweaks to the state’s public pension system.

However, it’s not yet clear how much these strategies, if implemented, would save as lawmakers try to address a $1.6 billion shortfall in general fund revenue necessary to maintain current services.

Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, a member of the group and co-chair of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means — which hammers out the state’s budget — says the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Office could produce an estimate of potential savings as early as next week.

Devlin and four other lawmakers have been meeting privately to find ways to cut down on state spending. They released their 18 cost-containment ideas publicly for the first time Friday.

The legislators are: Sen. Jackie Winters, R-Salem; Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner; Rep. Nancy Nathanson, D-Eugene; and Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose.

Those ideas include issuing bonds only for larger projects so as to cut debt costs, and increasing current and future employees’ share of retirement costs.

“These are sort of the core of what we think it would take to start to do some of the things to bend the cost curve over the long term,” Devlin said, noting the list was not exhaustive or all-inclusive.

The group also proposed two immediate steps to take to address the upcoming two-year budget — freeze hiring of “non-essential” state positions and stop automatically granting inflationary increases for services and supplies.

Legislators also released a list of “principles” to guide budget decisions, such as requiring analysis of program costs on an ongoing basis rather than just their initial costs; and not creating programs or funds without money to pay for them.

Many of the proposed long-term proposals address costs associated with state employees such as pensions and healthcare costs, resulting in pushback from union groups.

SEIU 503 President Steve Demarest said in a statement that the cost containment measures presented an “effort to scapegoat people who have dedicated their lives to public service” and called for changes to state business taxes — another source of contention this legislative session. Another group of lawmakers is evaluating possible adjustments to the state’s revenue system.

“We’re doing this not because we think that this is solely an issue for public employees,” Devlin said. “Obviously I do believe that public employees should be compensated justly.”

House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, said after the proposals were announced Friday that the ideas represented a “starting point.”

“While House Republicans have questions about the implementation and durability of these ideas, they nonetheless represent an encouraging starting point in a broader conversation,” McLane said in a statement. “The bottom line is Oregon’s state government must have structural spending reform to meet our commitments in the long term.”

Patrick Criteser, chair of the Oregon Business Plan — a coalition of business leaders and a prominent voice weighing on state public finance — said the ideas proposed Friday were an indication legislators are “looking seriously” at ways to address the state’s budget for the long haul.

“We know addressing these costs will not be easy,” Criteser said in a prepared statement, “and this memorandum shows that legislators are prepared to have hard conversations about the state’s structural spending issues, including the need to rein in the costs of the public sector healthcare benefits and making sure that the public pension system is secure for all employees.”

While it’s been known since January how much may need to be trimmed from areas of the budget more generally, a list of proposed cuts to specific programs released this week has highlighted the possible effects of budget reductions on education and services for people with disabilities and the elderly.

On Thursday, Gov. Kate Brown announced a state government hiring freeze on each agency until its budget is approved by the legislature. That could leave higher starting balances for the upcoming biennium, which begins July 1. Her proposal differs from what legislators have suggested ­— a hiring freeze for nonessential employees for the next two years of the budget.

On Friday, a separate work group on public safety spending also presented proposals focused on measures to restrain growth of the state’s prison population. Early estimates from the Legislative Fiscal Office indicate the state could save at least $19.75 million of general fund money in the upcoming budget cycle by making certain changes, such as extending the duration of a program that allows certain prisoners to be released early in favor of community-based supervision.

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DMV warns of phishing scam http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170421/dmv-warns-of-phishing-scam http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170421/dmv-warns-of-phishing-scam#Comments Fri, 21 Apr 2017 10:38:15 -0400 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170429993 Oregon residents have reported telephone calls from someone claiming to be collecting DMV fees owed and insisting upon immediate payment.

These types of calls mirror the scams of recent years in which victims are told they owe money – vehicle registration fees, back taxes, fines or other government fees – and must make payment immediately, according to a press release from the DMV.

The scammers may ask for payment by wire transfer or prepaid debit/credit. Or they may ask for personally identifiable information, such as Social Security number, bank account number, debit/credit card number or other information that could be used to steal money, commit fraud or perpetrate identity theft. Some callers threaten arrest, lawsuits and/or criminal prosecution.

The callers sometimes leave voice messages demanding an immediate call back. In addition to telephone calls and robo-call machines, these scammers often use email, social media and texting. Scammers have found ways to fool caller ID and appear to be calling from a real DMV phone number, so customers who try to call back reach the real DMV call centers. This is part of the scammers’ attempt to make the call seem legitimate.

When you do business with Oregon DMV, remember that:

• DMV never calls customers to request unpaid vehicle or driver-related fees. DMV sends correspondence by mail.

• DMV is not able to accept payments by phone, wire transfer or prepaid card. DMV asks for payment by check mailed to Oregon DMV or by our online Vehicle Registration Renewal at OregonDMV.com.

• DMV never calls and asks for debit/credit or other account numbers or Social Security Number by phone.

• DMV never threatens arrest or lawsuits for allegedly unpaid DMV fees.

• DMV does not collect state or federal income taxes. There is no connection between income taxes and vehicle registration fees.

Consumers themselves are the best protection from falling for these scams, which are becoming more sophisticated and authentic in appearance. Scammers constantly change tactics. The Oregon Department of Justice has more to protect yourself here: http://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer/pages/index.aspx.

Any time you need to visit an Oregon DMV office in person, DMV suggests that you first visit OregonDMV.com to find office hours and locations, and to make sure you have everything you need before your visit. You can also see current wait times for most offices.

You may be able to do your DMV business from home at OregonDMV.com. You can renew your vehicle registration, file a change of address or file notice of the sale of your vehicle online without getting in line at an office.

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Oregon drops several defenses in $1.4 billion timber lawsuit http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170421/oregon-drops-several-defenses-in-14-billion-timber-lawsuit http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170421/oregon-drops-several-defenses-in-14-billion-timber-lawsuit#Comments Fri, 21 Apr 2017 09:04:04 -0400 Mateusz PerkowskiCapital Bureau http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170429994 ALBANY, Ore. — The State of Oregon has conceded that a class action lawsuit seeking $1.4 billion for insufficient timber harvests isn’t blocked by the statute of limitations.

The state government has also dropped its argument that county governments and local taxing districts don’t have legal standing to sue Oregon for alleged breach of contract.

Last year, Linn County filed a lawsuit accusing Oregon of violating contracts with 15 counties by reducing logging on about 650,000 acres of forestland the counties had donated to the state.

The lawsuit was certified as a class action by Linn County Circuit Judge Daniel Murphy, which means the 15 counties and roughly 150 taxing districts, such as schools and fire departments, were joined as plaintiffs in the case.

Since then, Clatsop County’s government and Clatsop County Community College have opted out of the lawsuit while other taxing districts within Clatsop County have not.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs had asked the judge to eliminate 12 “affirmative defenses” intended to shield the State of Oregon from the class action lawsuit.

During oral arguments on April 20, Oregon’s attorneys agreed to drop several of these defenses, including the expiration of statute of limitations, the plaintiffs’ lack of legal standing and the court’s lack of jurisdiction over the case.

However, Oregon’s attorneys also argued for the validity of remaining defenses, such as the claim that the federal Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act preclude the level of logging sought by the plaintiffs.

Counties turned over the forestlands in the early 20th Century in return for a share of timber revenues, but plaintiffs claim Oregon has curtailed logging due to environmental and recreational considerations.

Even if the Oregon’s contract with the counties did require timber revenues to be maximized, that’s no longer possible because federal laws effectively impose limits on logging, said Scott Kaplan, attorney for the state.

“That purpose, if there was such a purpose, can’t be satisfied,” he said.

This defense isn’t valid because the lawsuit only seeks to recover damages for lost revenues from lawfully harvested timber, argued John DiLorenzo, attorney for the plaintiffs.

Oregon’s reduction in timber harvest goes beyond what’s required by federal law, he said. “Honoring federal requirements is built into the calculation of damages.”

Oregon’s “greatest permanent value” rule for managing state forests, enacted in 1998, is blamed by plaintiffs for causing the harvest reductions.

Attorneys for the state government say the “greatest permanent value” rule conforms with Oregon law and the Oregon Department of Forestry is complying with the rule, which is a valid defense to the breach of contract claim.

DiLorenze said the plaintiffs agree that ODF is following the rule, but they simply want to recover damages resulting from that compliance.

“We’re not seeking to void the rules,” he said.

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Governor orders statewide hiring freeze http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170420/governor-orders-statewide-hiring-freeze http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170420/governor-orders-statewide-hiring-freeze#Comments Thu, 20 Apr 2017 20:21:19 -0400 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170429995 SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown Thursday ordered a temporary statewide hiring freeze to help address Oregon’s $1.6 billion revenue shortfall.

The executive order was the first of a series scheduled for the next several weeks aimed at cutting expenses and improving efficiency, according to the Governor’s Office.

“Oregon’s children and families deserve the chance to lead healthy and productive lives. But the cuts to the state budget recently proposed by the Legislature put the most vulnerable Oregonians even more at risk than they are now. This is unacceptable,” Brown said in a statement.

The hiring freeze goes into effect immediately and will last until each state department’s budget is approved by the Legislature, according to the Governor’s Office.

The Governor’s Office is still calculating how much the hiring freeze could save, said Brown’s communications director, Chris Pair.

This order also pares spending on state travel expenses and consolidates office space.

Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli of John Day has been calling for a hiring freeze for several weeks. The hiring freeze, if left in effect, could save an estimated $790 million in the next two years, according to the Senate Republican Office. The office based the number on consultation with the Legislative Fiscal Office, according to an email from Paul Rainey, caucus administrator for the Senate Republic Office.

The Department of Corrections, Oregon Youth Authority, Oregon State Hospital and some Department of Human Services divisions would “not be able to freeze,” the email states.

“If these were excluded, the estimate is about $790 million total funds,” according to the email.

“We have options, we have solutions, and we have bills to fix the structural problems plaguing our state’s government. We must move forward with a budget that isn’t a list of red-alert threats. Senate Republicans are committed to listening to Oregonians who have clearly stated, repeatedly, we are not interested in hiking taxes and hurting the poor to satisfy overspending Democrat politicians,” Ferrioli said in a statement.

The governor said she also has plans to issue executive orders to improve debt collection, renegotiate contracts with state vendors, address the unfunded liability in the Public Employees Retirement System and clarify policies regarding bargaining with state employee unions.

“The entire state must take responsibility and join in this effort. I have challenged state agencies to look for both short-term savings and ways to address long-term cost drivers throughout state government. I also encourage the Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, the Attorney General, and the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries, as well as the Legislative Assembly and the Judicial Department, to adopt policies that freeze hiring, reduce travel expenditures, and optimize facility usage.

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Parks & Rec offers sports for kids, adults http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170420/parks-rec-offers-sports-for-kids-adults http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170420/parks-rec-offers-sports-for-kids-adults#Comments Thu, 20 Apr 2017 15:34:12 -0400 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170429996 Registration is open for T-ball for kids and co-ed softball for adults, offered by the John Day-Canyon City Parks and Recreation District.

The deadline for T-ball registration is Tuesday, April 25.

Registration forms are available online at jdccparksandrec.weebly.com and at Humbolt, Prairie City and Seneca schools.

Applications and fees may be returned to the school or the parks and rec office.

Practices and games are scheduled through late May with a focus on fun, teamwork and sportsmanship as well as fundamental skill development.

Early registration fee is $45 for residents within the John Day-Canyon City tax district and $50 for out-of-district residents.

Adult co-ed softball registration is open through Monday, May 1.

The league is open to all adults 18 and up who are out of high school. Team rosters will be expected to have 10 to 12 players with at least four women on each.

The three-pitch league will begin in mid-May and run through early July. Registration fee is $175 per team.

For more information, check the Parks and Rec website at jdccparksandrec.weebly.com, follow them on Facebook “John Day Canyon City Parks and Recreation” or call Jeff Meyerholz at 541-620-4515 or the office 541-575-0110.

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Daniel ‘Buzz’ Walter Harris http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Obituaries/20170420/daniel-buzz-walter-harris http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Obituaries/20170420/daniel-buzz-walter-harris#Comments Thu, 20 Apr 2017 10:59:35 -0400 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170429997 Daniel “Buzz” Walter Harris, 87, passed away Sunday, April 2, at his son’s home in Caldwell, Idaho. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, May 29, at the Prairie City Baptist Church with Pastor Dave Hoeffner officiating. Interment of his urn will follow at the Prairie City Cemetery. Friends are invited to join the family for a reception at the Strawberry Mountain Grange in Prairie City following the services.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Prairie City Senior Center through Driskill Memorial Chapel, 241 S. Canyon Blvd., John Day, OR 97845.

To offer condolences, visit driskillmemorialchapel.com.

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Thomas Hunt http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Obituaries/20170420/thomas-hunt http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Obituaries/20170420/thomas-hunt#Comments Thu, 20 Apr 2017 10:59:30 -0400 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170429998 Thomas Hunt, 81, passed away Dec. 31, 2016. A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 29, with Allan Mullin officiating. A reception will follow at the American Legion Hall in John Day. Memorial contributions may be made to Air Life of Oregon or the Grant County Ambulance fund through Driskill Memorial Chapel, 214 S. Canyon Blvd., John Day, OR 97845. To offer condolences, visit driskillmemorialchapel.com.

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Many bills beat deadline and live on in Legislature http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170420/many-bills-beat-deadline-and-live-on-in-legislature http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170420/many-bills-beat-deadline-and-live-on-in-legislature#Comments Thu, 20 Apr 2017 09:07:12 -0400 Claire WithycombECapital Bureau http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170429999 SALEM — Tuesday was the deadline in the Oregon Legislative Assembly for policy bills to move out of the chamber where they originated, or into one of a handful of key committees.

With the exception of bills assigned to bicameral committees — or to those in the rules, revenue or ways and means committees — bills that have not been passed by either the House or the Senate are effectively dead for this session.

Legislators are still crafting a transportation package, which has not been assigned a specific bill. Yet-to-be written revenue and spending bills are similarly exempt from the deadline.

The following is a handful of significant legislation, and whether it met the deadline.

• Public pensions ­— In a narrow committee vote Monday, the Senate Workforce committee referred Senate Bills 559 and 560, which would change public employee benefits in an effort to bend the cost curve of the Public Employee Retirement System, to Ways and Means.

• GMOs — Companion bills that would have allowed local governments to regulate genetically modified crops are among the casualties midway through the session. Under state law, most local governments can’t restrict seed. House Bill 2739, which would allow landowners to sue biotech patent holders for the unwanted presence of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, on their land, was passed to House Rules Committee, which isn’t subject to an April 18 legislative deadline.

• Pay equity — HB 2005 would increase civil penalties for paying women and minorities less than others who do the same work. It passed out of the Oregon House 36-24 after extended debate. As a result of its passage out of the House, it met Tuesday’s deadline, and will be worked in the Senate Workforce Committee.

• Carbon emissions — SB 557, which would create a “cap-and-invest” system for pricing greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters and using the proceeds for things like transportation infrastructure projects. It still survives by way of referral to the Rules Committee, and subsequently, the Senate Business and Transportation Committee.

• Rent control — HB 2004, which would lift a statewide ban on rent control, has been a popular bill as Portland and other areas of the state struggle with a housing shortage during a time of strong population growth. It’s been criticized for failing to address the root of the housing problem here, but advocates say that it’s a short-term fix for a dire need. The bill has passed out of the House and still survives.

• Transitional leave — SB 935 would expand the maximum amount of time someone can be released from prison through the state’s short-term transitional leave program from 90 to 180 days, part of the state’s efforts to reduce the burden on the state prison system. It has been referred to Ways and Means.

• Child welfare — SB 942, which initially would have required the Department of Human Services to conduct a study on child safety, was replaced by an amendment that would require the agency — which has been beset with child safety issues — to improve how it makes findings in investigations of child abuse. It’s now in Ways and Means.

•Guns — A series of senate bills that provoked emotional testimony at the Legislature Monday did not pass out of chamber, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get reintroduced through rules or through other revival mechanisms. Senate Bill 868, for example, which would create a court process to prevent someone at risk of suicide or harming someone else from possessing a gun, was instead inserted as an amendment to another bill that did make it out of committee Tuesday.

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Track and field athletes soar to new heights http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170419/track-and-field-athletes-soar-to-new-heights http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170419/track-and-field-athletes-soar-to-new-heights#Comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 18:05:41 -0400 Angel Carpenter http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419907 Several Grant County athletes gave remarkable performances Tuesday at the Grant Union Small Schools Meet in John Day.

Grant Union Prospector Nick Springer was among the athletes setting personal records. He cleared the bar in high jump with a 6-0 leap in second place behind Crane’s David Steeves (6-01.00).

Prospector head coach Sonna Smith said Springer’s record places him first in the 2A Wapiti League.

Springer was also first in shot put (40-02.00) and second in discus (113-02), setting personal records in each.

The Grant Union girls team won the meet with 206 points, followed by Monument in second with 86 and Mitchell-Spray third with 84. A total of seven girls teams competed.

Of the eighth boys teams, Crook County placed first with 130 points, followed by Crane second with 124 and Grant Union third with 121. Athletes from Prairie City, Dayville and Ione also competed.

(See results for Grant County individual athletes below.)

The Grant Union girls 4x100-meter relay team, with a time of 52.37, placed first and are the best in league and second in the state for 2A level schools, Smith said. The relay team included Sydney Brockway, Trinity Hutchison, Sierra Cates and Kaylee Wright.

Wright also won the javelin (125-05) and high jump (5-02.00). She was second in the 100-meter dash (13.23), behind Monument’s Sophie Pettit (13.10).

In the girls long jump and triple jump events, Grant Union’s Trinity Hutchison finished first (16-01-00, 34-01-00), followed by Grant Union’s Sydney Brockway (15-10.00, 31-03.00) who set a season record in the long jump and personal record in the triple jump.

Smith said jump coach John Houk talked both girls into adding the event.

“John is consistently able to get boys and girls where they need to go,” Smith said.

Grant Union distance runner Tanner Elliott placed first in the 800 (2:13.46) and 1500 (4:44.51), setting personal records in both.

For the Monument girls, Faythe Schafer delivered a personal record time in the 400 (1:06.68), earning first place. Dinorha Vidrio Landin also set three personal records with second place in the 800 (3:07.29), fourth in long jump (14-04.00) and third in triple jump (29-09.50).

For the Monument boys team, John Ramirez was first in the 100 (11.85), first in the 200 (24.02) and fifth in long jump (17-05.00); Hayden Schafer was third in shot put and discus; and Jess Hoodenpyl was second in the 3000.

For Prairie City boys, Jake McHatton set personal records in all three of his events, shot put, discus and javelin. Devin Packard exceeded his previous records in javelin and the 100.

Rilee Emmel had a personal record in the 100 for the Prairie City girls.

Dayville’s Gabe Walker delivered a personal records in the 110 hurdles, with second in a time of 20.26, and the 200.

“We had great help again,” Smith said. “The meet went off great, and the people who stepped in and helped made it happen.”

Grant Union will compete at Saturday’s Pepsi Invitational at 11 a.m. in Union.

Monument competes Friday at 3:30 p.m. at the Viking Invitational in Vale.

Grant County results, GU Small Schools Meet, April 18

Placement/Grade/Name/Mark/School (PR=Personal Record, SR=Season Record)

BOYS

100 Meters Varsity - Finals

1. 12 John Ramirez 11.85a PR Monument

11. 12 Jess Hoodenpyl 13.32a Monument

11. 12 Devin Packard 13.32a PR Prairie City

200 Meters Varsity - Finals

1. 12 John Ramirez 24.02a PR Monument

7. 10 Gabe Walker 26.16a PR Dayville

9. 9 Mason Gerry 26.93a PR Grant Union

13. 10 Braden Spencer 27.20a PR Grant Union

400 Meters Varsity - Finals

4. 11 Josh Carpenter 1:01.25a SR Grant Union

5. 9 Luke Claughton 1:02.33a PR Grant Union

10. 9 Airron Glimpse 1:07.58a Grant Union

800 Meters Varsity - Finals

1. 10 Tanner Elliott 2:13.46a Grant Union

5. 12 Jess Hoodenpyl 2:29.65a SR Monument

1500 Meters Varsity - Finals

1. 10 Tanner Elliott 4:44.51a PR Grant Union

3000 Meters Varsity - Finals

2. 12 Jess Hoodenpyl 11:58.35a PR Monument

110m Hurdles - 39” Varsity - Finals

2. 10 Gabe Walker 20.26a PR Dayville

4. 9 Gage Brandon 21.01a Grant Union

300m Hurdles - 36” Varsity - Finals

4. 9 Gage Brandon 54.07a Grant Union

4x400 Relay Varsity - Finals

3 — Josh Carpenter

Braden Spencer

Tanner Elliott

Luke Claughton 4:11.95a Grant Union

Shot Put - 12lb Varsity - Finals

1. 12 Nick Springer 40-02.00 PR Grant Union

3. 12 Hayden Schafer 36-10.00 Monument

5. 9 Drew Lusco 34-08.50 Grant Union

6. 12 Devin Packard 33-09.50 Prairie City

8. 11 Josh Carpenter 32-11.50 PR Grant Union

9. 9 Jake McHatton 32-04.00 PR Prairie City

14. 9 Caleb Dilley 22-11.50 PR Grant Union

Discus - 1.6kg Varsity - Finals

2. 12 Nick Springer 113-02 PR Grant Union

3. 12 Devin Packard 109-01 Prairie City

4. 12 Hayden Schafer 107-04 SR Monument

5. 9 Drew Lusco 100-04 Grant Union

6. 9 Jake McHatton 96-00 PR Prairie City

Javelin - 800g Varsity - Finals

3. 12 Hayden Schafer 137-03 Monument

4. 9 Mason Gerry 135-00 PR Grant Union

5. 12 Devin Packard 134-00 PR Prairie City

7. 12 Nick Springer 127-06 PR Grant Union

12. 11 Duane Stokes 107-03 Grant Union

17. 9 Airron Glimpse 91-07 PR Grant Union

24. 9 Jake McHatton 70-08 PR Prairie City

High Jump Varsity - Finals

2. 12 Nick Springer 6-00.00 PR Grant Union

4. 11 Duane Stokes 5-02.00 Grant Union

Pole Vault Varsity - Finals

3. 9 Luke Claughton 8-00.00 Grant Union

6. 10 Braden Spencer 7-06.00 Grant Union

Long Jump Varsity - Finals

5. 12 John Ramirez 17-05.00 PR Monument

6. 9 Mason Gerry 17-04.50 PR Grant Union

8. 11 Duane Stokes 16-10.00 Grant Union

13. 10 Gabe Walker 15-04.00 Dayville

16. 9 Kellen Shelley 14-11.00 PR Grant Union

20. 9 Airron Glimpse 14-03.00 PR Grant Union

Triple Jump Varsity - Finals

2. 9 Mason Gerry 34-09.00 Grant Union

4. 11 Duane Stokes 33-10.50 Grant Union

6. 9 Kellen Shelley 32-00.00 Grant Union

8. 10 Gabe Walker 31-00.00 Dayville

GIRLS

100 Meters Varsity - Finals

1. 10 Sophia Pettit 13.10a Monument

2. 10 Kaylee Wright 13.23a Grant Union

5. 9 Emily Ennis 14.91a Prairie City

8. 9 Rilee Emmel 15.49a PR Prairie City

200 Meters Varsity - Finals

1. 9 Emily Ennis 30.55a Prairie City

5. 9 Rilee Emmel 31.99a Prairie City

9. 10 Aleah Johns 34.54a Prairie City

400 Meters Varsity - Finals

1, 10, Faythe Schafer, 1:06.68a PR, Monument

2, 9, Sierra Cates, 1:09.51a PR, Grant Union

5, 9, Ellie Justice, 1:18.82a PR, Grant Union

6, 12, Reitta Wyllie, 1:22.84a SR, Grant Union

8, , Sammi Buckhaults, 1:46.78a PR, Grant Union

800 Meters Varsity - Final

2. 12 Dinorha Vidrio Landin 3:07.29a PR Monument

5, 9, Erika Dickens, 3:16.53a, Grant Union

1500 Meters Varsity - Finals

2, 9, Erika Dickens, 6:25.06a, Grant Union

3, 1, Haley Pfefferkorn, 7:25.99a, Prairie City

100m Hurdles - 33” Varsity - Finals

1, 10, Kyla Emerson, 18.00a SR, Monument

2, 10, Sydney Brockway, 18.64a SR, Grant Union

300m Hurdles - 30” Varsity - Finals

1, 10, Kyla Emerson, 50.99a PR, Monument

2, 10, Sophia Pettit, 51.28a PR, Monument

4, 10, Trinity Hutchison, 54.26a PR, Grant Union

8, 9, Ellie Justice, 1:06.03a PR, Grant Union

4x100 Relay Varsity - Finals

1 —Sydney Brockway, Trinity Hutchison, Sierra Cates, Kaylee Wright, 52.37a, Grant Union

2 — Kyla Emerson, Sophia Pettit, Dinorha Vidrio Landin, Faythe Schafer, 54.22a, Monument

Shot Put - 4kg Varsity - Finals

2, 11, Jozie Rude, 35-05.50, Grant Union

3, 12, Reitta Wyllie, 30-00.00 PR, Grant Union

4, 11, Megan Camarena, 29-01.00, Prairie City

6, 10, Danielle Girvin, 27-08.50, Grant Union

7, 12, Chelsie Kodesh, 27-06.50, Grant Union

8, 9, Aubrey Bowlus, 25-11.00, Monument

11, 9, Megan McManam, 24-08.50 PR, Grant Union

13, 11, Kelsey Morrison, 23-10.00, Grant Union

19, 9, Sammi Buckhaults, 19-06.50, Grant Union

Discus - 1kg Varsity - Finals

1, 11, Jozie Rude, 96-11, Grant Union

3, 12, Chelsie Kodesh, 95-01, Grant Union

4, 12, Reitta Wyllie, 94-00, Grant Union

6, 9, Megan McManama, 76-05 PR, Grant Union

8, 10, Danielle Girvin, 75-02, Grant Union

9, 10, Kyla Emerson, 74-08, Monument

11, 10, Faythe Schafer, 68-02, Monument

13, 9, Aubrey Bowlus, 67-02, Monument

18, 9, Sammi Buckhaults, 55-10 PR, Grant Union

21, 11, Megan Camarena, 52-03, Prairie City

23, 11, Kelsey Morrison, 48-03, Grant Union

Javelin - 600g Varsity - Finals

1, 10, Kaylee Wright, 125-05, Grant Union

2, 11, Jozie Rude, 111-06, Grant Union

3, 10, Danielle Girvin, 95-02, Grant Union

4, 12, Chelsie Kodesh, 91-03, Grant Union

5, 10, Faythe Schafer, 84-06 SR, Monument

7, 10, Haley Pfefferkorn, 76-06, Prairie City

10, 9, Aubrey Bowlus, 60-08, Monument

High Jump Varsity - Finals

1, 10, Kaylee Wright, 5-02.00 PR, Grant Union

Pole Vault Varsity - Finals

1, 11, Jozie Rude, 8-06.00 SR, Grant Union

2, 11, Annie Wall, 5-06.00, Grant Union

Long Jump Varsity - Finals

1, 10, Trinity Hutchison, 16-01.00, Grant Union

2, 10, Sydney Brockway, 15-10.00 SR, Grant Union

3, 10, Sophia Pettit, 15-03.00, Monument

4, 12, Dinorha Vidrio Landin, 14-04.00 PR, Monument

5, 9, Sierra Cates, 13-09.00, Grant Union

14, 10, Jessica Reames, 9-03.50, Prairie City

Triple Jump Varsity - Finals

1, 10, Trinity Hutchison, 34-01.00, Grant Union

2, 10, Sydney Brockway, 31-03.00 PR, Grant Union

3, 12, Dinorha Vidrio Landin, 29-09.50 PR, Monument

4, 9, Sierra Cates, 28-11.00, Grant Union

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Wyden addresses infrastructure, health care, privacy at town hall meeting http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170419/wyden-addresses-infrastructure-health-care-privacy-at-town-hall-meeting http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170419/wyden-addresses-infrastructure-health-care-privacy-at-town-hall-meeting#Comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 18:45:19 -0400 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419906 Pledges to find common ground with Republicans on key issues

By Rylan Boggs

Blue Mountain Eagle

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) fielded a variety of questions from citizens and Grant Union students during a town hall meeting in John Day Tuesday, April 18.

He addressed issues ranging from health care to infrastructure and committed to making a bipartisan effort to repair failing infrastructure in Oregon.

Grant Union students asked questions about future NASA funding, foster care and tax reform. Wyden said he was in favor of increased NASA funding and opposed to tax reform that would only benefit the upper class.

He told students about the Family Stability and Kinship Care Act which he introduced to expand services and resources available to keep children at home or with another family member instead of in foster care.

Susan Christensen, the executive director of the Greater Eastern Oregon Development Corporation, called on Wyden to address failing infrastructure, for the continuation of EPA grants and state loan programs benefiting rural communities and to streamline regulatory requirements so her office can spend more time working and less time dealing with regulations.

Wyden said improving roads, bridges and broadband connectivity was a top priority of his and said, “Big league quality of life needs big league infrastructure.” He urged Christensen to contact him with specific examples of government regulations that made her job harder so he could work to streamline the process.

John Day resident Ashley Stevick asked what he was doing to protect access to health care and women’s reproductive rights.

“I’ve always felt that health care is the most important issue,” Wyden said, adding he would continue to protect the Affordable Care Act and the protections it offers.

“On my watch, as long as I’m chairman and a ranking member on the finance committee, we are not going to deny women the opportunity to go to the doctor they trust,” Wyden said.

Grant County resident Pat Holliday urged Wyden work with Republicans to solve problems and to fight for the re-authorization of Secure Rural Schools funds, which have helped fund schools, roads and restoration projects.

Wyden, who co-authored the SRS legislation, said he would “pull out all the stops” and work with Republicans to get the funds back. He said he had support in the House for the issue and that a key factor would be to get the timber harvest back up. Wyden said he wanted to break the party gridlock and party polarization by working together on issues both parties could agree on, such as tax reform and fighting against special interest lobbies.

A Grant Union student asked Wyden about the “blockade” of claims the Department of Veterans Affairs was dealing with. Wyden responded that veteran care in Oregon is actually quality care, if vets are able to access it. He proposed hiring more employees at the VA and making more care providers available to veterans.

Former Grant County commissioner Chris Labhart expressed disappointment at recent divisive rhetoric in the country and asked Wyden to clarify proposed cuts to the Meals On Wheels program.

Wyden said the Department of Health and Human Services could receive a 16.7 percent cut, which would affect Meals on Wheels. He commended Labhart for his work delivering meals to senior citizens in Grant County and said preventative care, such as ensuring seniors’ basic needs are met, keeping them out of the emergency room and cutting down on Medicaid costs.

In response to a question about increased national security, Wyden urged people not to give up liberty for security. He said he was working against efforts to weaken encryptions protecting information against hackers, terrorists and pedophiles.

Local attorney Jonathan Bartov asked Wyden about protections recently repealed by the Federal Communications Commission that prohibited communication providers from selling personal information such as browsing history without explicit consent. Bartov asked if any efforts were being made to reinstate those protections.

Wyden called the repeal “one of the most horrible decisions I can remember” and an example of “outrageous special interest power.” He said browsing information is incredibly personal and shouldn’t be sold without consent and said he would work to try to overturn it.

Wyden closed the meeting by saying political change starts at the ground level in places like town hall meetings and works from the bottom up.

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Under court order, DHS will restore in-home care services http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170419/under-court-order-dhs-will-restore-in-home-care-services http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20170419/under-court-order-dhs-will-restore-in-home-care-services#Comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 17:32:15 -0400 Claire Withycombe http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419908 Capital Bureau

SALEM — The Oregon Department of Human Services will temporarily restore previous levels of in-home care services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities under a court order won by plaintiffs who filed a federal lawsuit contesting recent cuts.

DHS determines every year how many hours of in-home care someone with an intellectual or developmental disability is eligible for.

Disability Rights Oregon, an advocacy organization that filed the suit last week, objects to how those decisions are made, saying the process is opaque.

The lawsuit alleges that under federal law, the agency violated the civil and due process rights of Oregonians receiving these services, as well as the Medicaid requirement that the Office of Developmental Disabilities Services must provide such services “as needed.”

Last year, the agency implemented a new assessment method on a rolling basis, which the lawsuit argues resulted in a reduction of in-home care hours for many people — although the amount of help they needed at home had not changed.

Not all people receiving in-home care services have yet felt reductions, because the changes have been implemented gradually.

Tom Stenson, litigation attorney with Disability Rights Oregon, said Wednesday’s order means any new assessment method DHS wants to use “effectively requires” court approval.

The lawsuit is still ongoing. DHS is “working on (its) plan to implement the agreement,” a spokeswoman said in an email.

Bob Joondeph, the group’s executive director, said that his organization also wants to make sure families had a transparent avenue to challenge a needs assessment.

“It’s great if they change the formula to work better,” said Joondeph, “But at the end of the day, what we want is that even with the new formula, we’d be able to explain to people why there’s a change and give them an opportunity to contest it.”

Joondeph said his organization had raised the issue and proposed solutions in private meetings with the agency, but filed a lawsuit after the agency did not act.

In 2013, after the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and a specific federal funding option called the Community First Choice Plan that provided funds so people with disabilities could access community-based services, there were significant increases in those eligible for in-home care — and in costs to the state.

In 2015, Oregon legislators agreed to pay for the unanticipated costs in the upcoming budget cycle, but asked DHS to come up with a way to contain the rate of cost growth in the future. That became the method that advocates are now contesting in court.

Renee Kuhn, of Woodburn, says her daughter would need to enter adult foster care if the state cut her in-home care hours.

Khrizma Kuhn, 34, is severely disabled, requiring help with basic activities and care such as bathing and eating. She receives 20 hours of care a day, Renee Kuhn said. Her daughter underwent her annual assessment on Tuesday and she expected to learn the results Friday.

“We already told our caseworker to begin the steps to explore foster homes for our daughter, where she can access the services she needs,” Renee Kuhn, who also advocates for other families with children who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, said.

The Department of Human Services makes up a significant chunk of the state’s approximately $20 billion general fund budget, which lawmakers are busy trying to balance in the face of an approximately $1.6 billion shortfall.

Reducing in-home care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by 30 percent, as DHS had planned prior to the court order, would have saved the state’s general fund $6 million in the upcoming two-year budget.

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Grant Union softball extends win streak in first league games against Nyssa http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170419/grant-union-softball-extends-win-streak-in-first-league-games-against-nyssa http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170419/grant-union-softball-extends-win-streak-in-first-league-games-against-nyssa#Comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 16:13:06 -0400 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419909 After dropping the season opener, the Grant Union Prospector softball team has not been beaten.

The team capped a month-long winning streak with two wins over Nyssa Bulldogs Tuesday in John Day to start league play in 3A Special District 2.

The Lady Pros (13-1) came out with a 21-11 win in game one, followed by a 12-0 shutout in the second, against the Bulldogs (5-6).

Grant Union is the fourth-ranked 3A team in the state by the Oregon School Activities Association, behind Glide (9-1), Rainier (10-1) and Dayton (10-1).

The team next faces the seventh-ranked Vale Vikings. The Vikings (10-6) are also undefeated in league play with two wins against Enterprise/Joseph/Wallowa (3-5) and a win against Nyssa. The team is on a seven-game winning streak.

The doubleheader games are scheduled for 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Friday in John Day.

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Grant Union boys lose close games in Elgin http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170419/grant-union-boys-lose-close-games-in-elgin http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170419/grant-union-boys-lose-close-games-in-elgin#Comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 15:58:47 -0400 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419910 The Grant Union boys came away with two losses, 1-0 and 6-5, in Elgin Tuesday.

In game one of the doubleheader, the Prospectors and Huskies both remained scoreless until the bottom of the seventh inning.

Grant Union (0-8, league) will face Sherman/Arlington/Condon (5-1, league) for two games at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday in Moro.

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Review of Oregon’s wolf management plan begins http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170419/review-of-oregons-wolf-management-plan-begins http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170419/review-of-oregons-wolf-management-plan-begins#Comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 13:14:43 -0400 Eric MortensonCapital Press http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419911 Oregon’s wolf management plan is up for public review as the ODFW Commission once again attempts to balance the restoration of an apex predator with the havoc they can cause in rural areas.

The commission will take comments on a draft conservation and management plan during an April 21 meeting in Klamath Falls, and will repeat the process May 19 in Portland. The commission eventually will adopt a five-year management plan; no date is set yet.

Russ Morgan, ODFW’s wolf program manager, said the draft management plan builds on what wildlife biologists have learned over the years. When the first management plan was adopted in 2005, there were no documented wolves in Oregon. The first pups were discovered in 2008, and by the end of 2011 there were 29 confirmed wolves in Oregon. The state documented 64 wolves at the end of 2013, and a minimum of 112 by the end of 2016, including 11 packs and eight breeding pairs.

Morgan said the plan couples state data with “tons of research” that’s been done on wolves in Oregon and elsewhere over the years.

“This plan still maintains a very active conservation approach, it doesn’t change in that regard,” Morgan said.

Oregon classifies wolves as a “special status game animal.” The draft plan allows ODFW to authorize hunters and trappers to kill wolves in two specific “controlled take” situations: Chronic livestock depredation in a localized area, and declines in wild ungulate populations, principally deer and elk. The draft plan does not allow a general hunting season, a prohibition that would hold for five years after the plan is adopted.

“I can’t predict what will happen to wolf management years and years out, but during this planning cycle, absolutely not,” Morgan said of a possible sport hunting season on wolves.

Livestock producers and wildlife activists don’t like aspects of the draft plan.

The Oregon Farm Bureau and Oregon Cattlemen’s Association said it makes it harder for ranchers to protect their animals because it increases the number of confirmed attacks required before allowing lethal control of wolves.

The draft plan requires three confirmed depredations or one confirmed and four “probable” attacks within a 12 month period. The previous standard was two confirmed depredations or one confirmed and three attempted attacks, with no time period set.

The groups also believe ODFW should continue collaring wolves, and should set a population cap for wolves in Oregon. Without a benchmark, “we will not be able to tell when wolves have reached their natural carrying capacity” in the state, the Farm Bureau said in a statement.

Cattlemen also want local biologists to make the call on lethal control of wolves, not department administrators in Salem. Todd Nash, the association’s wolf policy chair, said ranchers’ views aren’t reflected in the draft plan.

“It doesn’t look like we were even in the room, and that’s really disappointing,” he said.

Some activists, however, believe ODFW is moving too quickly to relax conservation safeguards, including the decision in 2015 to take wolves off the state endangered species list. Among other things, they point to the annual wolf count figures released this past week as proof the population is fragile. The minimum count of 112 wolves at the end of 2016 was only two more than in 2015, after years of sharp growth. Even ODFW described the population gain as “weak.”

The department said a combination of factors probably contributed to the modest increase. At least seven wolves were killed in 2016, including four members of the Imnaha Pack shot by ODFW for repeated livestock attacks. Blood samples taken from captured wolves indicated many animals were exposed to recent or severe parvovirus infections, which can take a toll on pups. Finally, bad winter weather hampered efforts to count wolves. Wildlife officials stress the annual population figure is a minimum number, and believe the state has considerably more wolves.

Nonetheless, Nick Cady, legal director for the Eugene-based group Cascadia Wildlands, said wolves aren’t the “exponentially growing and undefeatable species” that opponents sometimes describe.

“One hard winter and there’s no growth,” he said.

Cady said wolf recovery faces numerous hurdles. Anti-predator bills pop up in the Legislature on a regular basis and ODFW is deferential to hunting interests that provide budget money through license sales, he said. The state appears headed to a wolf management approach that allows hunting while doing “basic level monitoring so they don’t go extinct, which I think wolves are not ready for.”

Cascadia Wildlands opposes killing wolves if deer and elk populations drop. Cady said proper habitat is a greater factor in ungulate populations than wolves. The group also opposes draft plan provisions that allow USDA Wildlife Services to conduct livestock depredation investigations. Cady said the agency is too quick to blame wolves for every attack.

Wildlife Services came under intense criticism this spring when it killed an Oregon wolf with an M-44 cyanide poison trap set to kill coyotes. Soon after, a dog in Idaho died and a teenage boy was injured when they encountered an M-44. Wildlife Service subsequently announced it would not use the devices in six Eastern Oregon counties where the majority of the state’s wolves live.

“Given their track record, they shouldn’t be involved in predator management in Oregon in any capacity,” Cady said.

Past wolf hearings have become displays of the state’s urban-rural divide. Wildlife activists from Portland and Eugene, and from out of state, tend to celebrate the presence of wolves restored to the landscape. Cattle ranchers and other rural residents tend to testify about the expense of defensive measures and the grisly results of livestock attacks.

As the draft wolf plan authors put it, “people with the most positive attitudes about wolves have been those with the least experience with them. People who live in areas with wolves have more negative attitudes toward wolves than the general public, and negative attitudes are further amplified by wolf predation of livestock.

“In Oregon, it is expected that an increasing and expanding population of wolves will result in more, not less, conflict in the future,” the plan concludes.

The plan says the impact of wolves on deer and elk is mixed, and is complicated by the presence and feeding habits of cougars, bears, coyotes and bobcats.

When hunting elk, “wolves continually test prey to identify weak individuals” they can single out for attack. Such “near constant hunting pressure” could change the habitat use, vigilance, movement rates and migration patterns of elk, according to the report. The fitness and reproductive potential of elk could be expected to decline in such cases.

Wolves don’t eat mule deer that often, but their presence could force cougars into steeper terrain where they’d be more likely to encounter mule deer, according to the report.

The second public meeting is Friday, May 19, at the Embassy Suites hotel near the Portland Airport.

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Rough winter means fewer hunting tags for deer, pronghorn http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170419/rough-winter-means-fewer-hunting-tags-for-deer-pronghorn http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170419/rough-winter-means-fewer-hunting-tags-for-deer-pronghorn#Comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 13:07:37 -0400 George PlavenEO Media Group http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419912 Local hunters may face longer odds this year drawing a deer or pronghorn tag in northeast Oregon after the animals struggled through a particularly harsh winter.

The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife has announced 2017 emergency tag reductions for buck deer, antlerless deer and pronghorn primarily affecting hunting units in Baker, Union and northern Malheur counties.

Just half of the usual buck and pronghorn tags will be available in Baker County, and two doe hunts scheduled on agricultural lands — one in the Sumpter Unit and one in the Keating Unit — were canceled entirely.

Tags were also reduced by 35 percent across Union County, along with 40 percent in the Beulah Unit and 25 percent in the Owyhee Unit.

Brian Ratliff, ODFW district wildlife biologist in Baker City, said there are still hunting opportunities though it may be difficult for hunters to draw a tag they are used to drawing with fewer preference points.

“As the populations grow again, we can move our tags back in an upward direction,” Ratliff said.

The tag reductions are based on early spring flight surveys, which show how winter took a toll on mule deer. Fawn ratios are down considerably, Ratliff said, with some units as low as eight fawns per 100 adults. Spring surveys typically show fawn counts in the mid-30s per 100 adults, he said.

What’s more, Ratliff said Baker County lost 32 percent of adult radio-collared does. The average for the Blue Mountains is 8 percent.

“That’s really concerning,” he said.

Wildlife officials feared this kind of mortality earlier in the winter, when temperatures in Baker County dipped as low as minus-28 degrees and failed to rise above freezing for 28 consecutive days. Snow depth exceeded 18 inches in some areas, including lower elevations where deer and elk usually migrate for winter forage.

Ratliff said it was the worst winter for wildlife in more than 20 years.

“The deer went as low as they could possibly go,” Ratliff said. “I saw them in places I’d never seen them before. But there was no forage for them that wasn’t covered by snow and it was just really tough on fawns.”

Elk, however, seemed to fare better due to their larger size. Ratliff said elk are able to generate more body heat with less energy, and can break through hard, crusty snow easier than smaller ungulates like deer and pronghorn.

Though Ratliff said they did have some elk mortality, it was not significant and ODFW will not be reducing elk tags come fall.

Brian Laughlin, acting assistant district wildlife biologist for ODFW in Pendleton, said the Umatilla District was not as severely affected by winter and does not anticipate any reductions in big game tags.

“We definitely had a hard winter,” Laughlin said. “But we didn’t have 28 days straight with below-freezing temperatures.”

The district, which includes the Walla Walla, West Mount Emily, Ukiah and Columbia Basin units, should see deer and elk numbers comparable to previous years, Laughlin said.

“Looking at those numbers, we do not see a drastic change in this year’s spring (survey) flights compared to last,” he said.

Across the Blue Mountains, Ratliff said hunters can expect to see fewer deer on the landscape this fall, especially yearling animals such as spikes and 2-point bucks. Those age classes made up about 33 percent of Baker County’s total harvest last year.

By reducing tags now, Ratliff said they can allow those populations to recover and get back ahead of the game.

“This way, we can get underneath it,” he said.

Hunters who applied for one of the affected hunts have until June 1 to change their choice for free. A unit-by-unit look at available tags can also be found online at www.dfw.state.or.us.

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Chamber Newsletter: Is it spring yet? http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Business/20170419/chamber-newsletter-is-it-spring-yet http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Business/20170419/chamber-newsletter-is-it-spring-yet#Comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 13:03:26 -0400 Jerry FranklinTo http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419913 Is it spring yet? April is always a little unpredictable but is one of my favorite months of the year, when the valley turns green, the flowers are in bloom and the sight of all the newborn calves romping around the pastures. Your chamber has been busier then ever with summer vacation approaching and the increased activity surrounding the solar eclipse. Last week’s monthly eclipse meeting was well attended with folks from around the county. It seems every meeting new ideas surface as well as potential problems that could arise. Tammy Bremner has been doing an excellent job of coordinating all of the different groups and activities that will help everyone make it through the event in a positive way, and also leave a good positive impression of our county to all of our visitors. We would like to welcome two new chamber members, North River Electric and The Ugly Truth Bar & Grill. Tim Holly, president of the Grant County Snowballers, informed me that the club was successful in attracting the OSAA state convention to John Day on January 10-13, 2018. The planning has begun, and the club is looking for a few volunteers so give Tim a call. We have two remaining sponsor spots left on our monthly newsletter. If you like to help us out, the annual advertising cost is $200. Join us Thursday, April 20, for both our monthly business meetings at the chamber office at 11 a.m. and adjourn to the Outpost at noon for our lunch meeting. Our guest speakers for this month will be Catie Bennett from Boise, Idaho, who will provide information about the Small Business Administration, and TJ Cooley, the new John Day postmaster, who will be sharing matters of interest about postal department. I hope to see all of you there!

Jerry Franklin is the president of the Grant County Chamber of Commerce.

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Harshfields release statement regarding arrest in elk poaching case http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170419/harshfields-release-statement-regarding-arrest-in-elk-poaching-case http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170419/harshfields-release-statement-regarding-arrest-in-elk-poaching-case#Comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 12:37:53 -0400 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419914 EO Media Group has received a statement from Lissa Casey, attorney for Larry Harshfield, and his wife, Pam.

The content of that statement is published here.

•••••

The Oregon State Police and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have been trying to convict Mike Harshfield in the court of public opinion before the District Attorney ever charged him with a crime.

Even though he had a lawyer, he was arrested and taken to jail in a political maneuver by the police, while the DA was out of the office. Instead of letting this case proceed as other criminal cases do, law enforcement arrested a hard-working rancher to provide information for their press releases.

He and his family can’t be silent anymore in the face of the public information campaign the government is waging against him.

–– Lissa Casey, Attorney for Larry Michael Harshfield

••••••

I would like to address the ODFW press release and explain our side of the story in hopes you might gain some perspective on the issues of the large elk populations in Wallowa County on private property and the prohibitive expense and hardship land owners are incurring.

We have been on our ranch in Wallowa, since December 1977 –– 40 years. Nothing has been given to us.

In the beginning, it was very difficult to make the annual payments. To help make these payments and cover expenses, Larry (Mike), has driven log truck full-time for 50 years. We do not own a trucking company. He is an owner/operator of one truck. It has taken hard work and long hours to call 450 acres our own.

We have tried to manage the land here wisely and not abuse the resources it has to offer. There has been water and forage development that has benefited our livestock and all the wildlife this ranch supports.

We have always been mindful to not over-graze the property and keep the invasive weeds in check. There is approximately 130 acres in production which is where the hay is produced to feed our cattle herd.

It is managed in a rotational plan with portions farmed each year to keep yields as productive as possible. Putting a crop in annually is expensive and labor intensive. My husband and I take great pride in our work.

I am estimating that about 20 years ago, a small herd of elk about 15-20 head started coming to our ranch. It was always in late summer or early fall. We actually enjoyed seeing them. It wasn’t a problem at this time. With low numbers of elk, there was enough feed to share.

We bring our cattle herd back to the ranch mid to late September. By this time, most of the hay crop is in the bale and stored in hay sheds for winter feeding. We try to irrigate again and grow back some fall forage for the cattle to graze before weaning the calves. By late November we start feeding the hay produced on our ranch.

The years since the first arrival of the elk here have changed dramatically. We have watched that small herd increase in numbers to now approximately 200 head.

Our ranch has become part of their range. It has become apparent that the elk have come earlier and stay longer. Generations of that herd flourish here and instinctively come here.

Being nocturnal animals, they always arrive about dusk and will spend all night grazing in our hay fields and eating large amounts of the regrowth of grass and alfalfa intended for our cattle.

It is also during the rutting season when numerous bull elk bugle and compete for breeding rights. I have photographed large areas where the ground is bare from the bulls fighting with one another and also rubbing their antlers.

We have watched the elk trail into our hay fields while we are still there with our equipment finishing our long days of work putting up our hay crop. Even if we deter them, they leave temporarily and return when we have left the fields.

The winter of 2016-17 came early to Wallowa County and has been about the worst I have seen in 40 years we have been on this property. Along with heavy snowfall, came sub-zero temperatures which lasted many weeks instead of days.

We started noticing large numbers of elk appearing on our hill ground and in the hay fields. They had stayed in the valley appearing to be trapped because of the deep snow.

Then things changed suddenly and the elk were coming into our barn lot, feeding in our hay sheds. This had never been an issue before. Imagine if you will, 150-200 head eating the hay we were needing for our cattle.

I began calling ODFW for help with this huge problem, and all I heard was shot gun shells for hazing and depredation tags. All this was during minus-25 degree temperatures and many sleepless nights.

My husband was up 2-3 times a night hazing the elk out of the hay sheds. He would haze them out of our barn lot with our 4-wheel drive tractor because the snow was so deep because that was the only way to get around in the deep snow.

He would haze them about ¾ of a mile, only to have them turn around and follow him back, staying just out of the tractor headlights. Nothing worked and the desperate, hungry elk came back.

We offered to feed them if ODFW provided the hay. We were told that there were no funds available for that. I highly encourage anyone who is interested, to look up an article and video on what Idaho Fish & Game did for their elk and deer populations this winter on the Tex-Creek Wildlife Management Area. They planned and initiated a feeding operation with concerns for both private property landowners and the wildlife.

It was also during this time that concern became urgent regarding the snow loads of all of our out-buildings and home. Another stressful situation to add to the elk problem. We would look out our kitchen window and see up to 200 head of elk in our barn lot and hay sheds.

As the snow slid off the hay sheds, they were able to climb up snow banks and tear through the netting to get hay. As the snow got deeper, they were even able to get over the fencing.

The situation was desperate. Keep in mind again, that the elk came into feedlots with cattle in them and hay sheds. Who in their right mind would shoot into a herd of cattle attempting to haze the elk?

I began calling ODFW about our concerns approximately 15 years ago. In the beginning, the agency was willing to cost share some of the expenses such as fertilizer, fencing and weed control. That now has changed, and I am told there is no longer any assistance available.

All they are willing to do is issue hazing permits and shotgun shells, some depredation tags and plastic fencing. Two years ago I sent them a bill for $10,000 to cover our loss of hay and fall pasture. No compensation was paid.

On Feb. 11, two OSP game wardens drove onto our property. e were informed there had been an anonymous call of possible dead elk on our ranch. They told us there had been a search warrant issued and that four additional troopers were en route with high-track ATV’s to conduct an investigation. Later I was told that they had flown the ranch prior to getting the search warrant.

The investigation began with four troopers on high-track ATV’s covering the entire 450 acres of our ranch. Troopers Knapp and Miller stayed back to search the hay sheds and barn lot. We finished our feeding chores, and Mike again told the game wardens of our extreme problems with the elk on our property.

It has been stated by Mike Hanson of the ODFW, that they have been trying to work with us. This is partially true. We put hunters names on the depredation tag list, and people did get tags and fill them. I was told that we had to prove we had done everything they suggested before ODFW would issue the kill permits.

Next we put up rolls of their plastic fencing around the hay shed and had to hire two men to do this, only to have it torn and pulled down by the next morning. Next came $6,000 worth of 7-foot, heavy metal panels, purchased by us, which weren’t in our operating budget for the year.

Again I called ODFW and was told the kill permits would be available, but Larry (Mike) and I had to do all of the work. Is it realistic to assume that we have the time to kill, dress and deliver elk to the local butcher shop with the kill permits they offered?

Imagine doing this in the extreme weather conditions, while tending to our cattle during the day. I even asked ODFW if they would come out and kill and dress them out. The answer was no.

We have to care for our animals all day long in sub-zero temps and then care for 200 of the State of Oregon’s elk herd all night long. Not once did any of the ODFW employees offer to come out and survey the damage being done or help haze the elk.

In answer to the accusations that we don’t allow hunters, that is not correct. We have allowed people we know, who can utilize the meat, to purchase depredation tags. Often times they are working during the week and can only hunt on weekends or evenings.

This limits the time that the tags allow. Another reason we have limited hunters coming on our property, if the hunters come from outside Wallowa County, they are not familiar with our fence lines. We do not have permission from adjoining landowners to kill elk on their ground.

Yes, we are particular who hunts on our property as we feel responsible if shots are fired towards neighbor’s homes and an elk is killed off of our property.

We are honest, law-abiding citizens. We pay our taxes and support many local businesses. This did not have to happen, but any solution offered had minimal results

As a final comment, the elk carcasses did not go to waste. Many bald eagles, coyotes and other wildlife have benefited and continue to benefit from them during this harshest of winters in many years.

In hindsight, I regret not calling the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office or the Oregon State Police repeatedly during this crisis so they would have come out and seen first-hand what we were dealing with and all of the damage being done.

Only my husband and I know. It’s our word against theirs.

–– Pam Harshfield, wife of Larry Michael Harshfield

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Resource Advisory Council positions open http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170419/resource-advisory-council-positions-open http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170419/resource-advisory-council-positions-open#Comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 10:31:49 -0400 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419915 The Bureau of Land Management recently announced that it is seeking public nominations for open positions on 36 Resource Advisory Councils. As published in a notice in the Federal Register, the BLM will consider nominations for 45 days ending Friday, May 26.

Among those groups seeking applicants is the John Day / Snake RAC, which is made up of 15 citizens representing a wide array of interests, including recreation, commercial timber, mining, transportation, education, environmental groups and the public at large.

Members meet three to four times a year at sites across the Prineville and Baker Field Office of the Vale BLM districts, familiarizing themselves with issues including wildfire recovery, sage grouse and wild horse management, public land use designations and many other topics. They also bring forward issues from their constituents. The diverse membership of each RAC helps ensure that BLM land managers receive the varying perspectives they need to achieve their mission of managing the public lands for multiple uses.

This RAC also provides advice for the Malheur, Ochoco, Umatilla, Wallowa-Whitman and part of the Deschutes National Forests. Examples of issues recently worked through by the RAC include user fees for the John Day River system and travel management.

“The BLM Resource Advisory Councils are an important forum for the community conversation that is a key component of public land management,” said Oregon-Washington BLM State Director Jamie Connell. “By ensuring that RAC representation reflects a variety of perspectives, RAC members provide a valuable service to the Bureau by delving into issues and proposing solutions on a wide variety of land and resource uses issues.”

The John Day / Snake RAC will be filling up to nine positions spanning three categories:

Category One: Public land ranchers and representatives of organizations associated with energy and mineral development, the timber industry, transportation or rights of way, off-highway vehicle use and commercial recreation.

Category Two: Representatives of nationally or regionally recognized environmental organizations, archaeological and historical organizations, dispersed recreation activities, and wild horse and burro organizations.

Category Three: Representatives of State, county or local elected office; representatives and employees of a state agency responsible for the management of natural resources; representatives of Indian tribes within or adjacent to the area for which the RAC is organized; representatives and employees of academic institutions who are involved in natural sciences; and the public at large.

Individuals may nominate themselves or others to serve on an Advisory Council. Nominees, who must be residents of the state or states where the RAC has jurisdiction, will be reviewed on the basis of their training, education, and knowledge of the council’s geographic area. Nominees should also demonstrate a commitment to consensus building and collaborative decision-making. All nominations must be accompanied by letters of reference from any represented interests or organizations, a completed RAC application, and any other information that speaks to the nominee’s qualifications.

For more information on the RACs in Oregon & Washington, go to https://on.doi.gov/2kkiM7Z

To learn how to apply for a RAC appointment, go to https://on.doi.gov/2opFACz

For additional information, please contact Greg Shine at 503-808-6306 or gshine@blm.gov.

Completed applications should be mailed to:

Greg Shine

Oregon/Washington State Office

Bureau of Land Management

1220 SW 3rd Ave

Portland, OR, 97204

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Unlicensed home inspector fined $80,000 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170419/unlicensed-home-inspector-fined-80000 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170419/unlicensed-home-inspector-fined-80000#Comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 10:17:04 -0400 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419916 The Construction Contractors Board has levied more than $80,000 in fines against a phony home inspector who performed dozens of inspections in Central and Eastern Oregon in recent months.

Gregory Mason Miller of Bend used a license number belonging to a legitimate construction contractor with the same first and last name, along with the name of an unrelated Bend business, according to a CCB press release. In advertising, he claimed to be licensed, bonded and insured.

Home inspectors must be certified by the Construction Contractors Board after passing a national exam. Additionally, a home inspection business must hold a CCB-issued contractor license. Miller was neither certified nor licensed.

“He was doing significant business without offering any of the consumer protections that come with licensing, including a bond and CCB record that would alert potential clients to any history of problems,” Enforcement Manager Stan Jessup said.

The CCB added Miller to its new Buyer Beware list that warns the public of chronic offenders. People who make the list generally are phony or predatory contractors who take money and produce little or no work or who repeatedly violate state contracting laws.

“The goal is to make sure he doesn’t do any more home inspections without obtaining the proper licensing,” Jessup said. “And it’s a reminder to the public that people will lie — and do so convincingly — about who they are and their credentials.”

Consumer complaints triggered the CCB investigation, which is ongoing.

The CCB licenses construction contracting businesses, including home inspection businesses and home inspectors. Most any business seeking work on a new home or home improvement project needs a license.

Contractors must include their CCB license number on any advertising so you can verify their license. To do so, visit oregon.gov/ccb and enter a license number or name in the orange “Search” feature. Verify that the license is “active” and that the full name on the license matches the contractor in question. In this case, Gregory Mason Miller did not show up in a search with any home inspector credentials. Call 503-378-4621 for help searching or understanding the results.

Contractors and consumers can report unlicensed contractors and other illegal activity on the CCB’s website or by calling 503-934-2246. Licensed contractors carry bonds and insurance and can be held accountable if something goes wrong. Only licensed contractors can get required building permits.

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Sports Roundup http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170418/sports-roundup http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20170418/sports-roundup#Comments Tue, 18 Apr 2017 18:07:30 -0400 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419919 Ranchers Invitational brings out the best in athletes

Monument, Long Creek and Prairie City track teams competed through wind and snow at Friday’s Ranchers Invitational in Crane.

The Monument girls earned second place out of 12 teams, and the Long Creek boys finished fifth out of 12.

Despite the chilly weather, it turned out to be a great day for several Grant County athletes to break records, including the Monument girls 4x100-meter relay team and the Long Creek boys 4x100 team.

The Monument relay team, which includes Kyla Emerson, Sophie Pettit, Aubrey Bowlus and Faythe Schafer, won first place with a time of 55.95, a full 7 seconds ahead of the second-place team from Mitchell-Spray.

“They simply did everything right,” Monument head coach Darrin Dailey said. “... They knew they were in the lead from the very beginning and didn’t let up an ounce.”

He said the time ranks them first in the district and seventh in the state.

Emerson also beat her previous season records in the 100-meter hurdles, where she placed first, and the 300 hurdles, where she finished second. She also had a personal record in discus, placing fourth with a mark of 76-07.

Pettit had first-place finishes in the 100-meter dash and long jump.

Faythe Schafer had a personal record in the 200, placing second with a time of 29.64. She was also fifth in javelin and seventh in discus.

For the Monument boys, Jess Hoodenpyl finished second in the 1,500-meter run and sixth in the 800. He finished fourth in the 300-meter hurdles — his first time trying the event.

Monument’s Hayden Schafer finished second in javelin with a mark of 132-09 and sixth in shot put and discus.

Prairie City’s Devin Packard finished third in javelin, about 3 feet behind Schafer, achieving a personal record. Packard was also fourth in discus and 11th in shot put.

For the Prairie City girls, Rilee Emmel was 13th in the 100 with a time of 16.31 and a personal record. She was fourth in the 200.

The Long Creek boys 4x100 relay team, including Nathan Galmiche, James Kreamier, Matheus Gamba and Emile Stainier, finished second with a time of 50.29.

Long Creek head coach Linda Studtmann said it was a personal record for the group.

“I hope to see continued improvement on their time and would love to see them get first one of these times,” she said.

Several Long Creek boys placed well in their events with each achieving at least one personal record.

Gamba and Stainier both tied for second in the high jump, and Galmiche was third in the long jump.

Stainier tried the long jump for the first time, placing third, and plans to continue competing in the event.

All four girls on the Long Creek team earned a personal record in at least one of their events, including Ya-Chi Hsueh who broke her records in the 100 and shot put.

Studtmann said, although she likes to see her athletes succeed and win, “success is not always measured by a score on a sheet of paper.”

“My goal for all our athletes is that they learn, improve, and do their best,” she said. “Then when they achieve that, let’s take that and learn and improve some more, and make their best even better.”

Grant Union girls roar to second at Burns Lions meet

Athletes from Grant Union, Prairie City and Dayville competed at Saturday’s Burns Lions Arlie Oster Track Meet.

Grant Union’s Jozie Rude amazed her coach Sonna Smith Saturday as she tied the school record in shot put at the event. She earned first in shot put with a distance of 37-7.5 at Burns High School.

“The previous record she now shares was set in 1995 by Jess Zinn,” Smith said.

Rude also set a personal record of 22 feet in discus with a throw of 115-5 and placed third in javelin.

Four Grant Union girls entered in javelin, discus and shot put made it to finals, Smith said.

Kaylee Wright had a season record throw of 126-00 in javelin for first place, followed by Rude with a throw of 114-11. Dayville’s Kristina Humphreys placed third with a mark of 114-00.

Wright also placed first in the high jump with a leap of 5-00 and was first in the 100 with a time of 13.13.

Smith also highlighted Trinity Hutchison and Sierra Cates who had their first official triple jumps at the meet and are now first and second in league. Erika Dickens also set new personal records in the 1,500 and 800.

Chelsie Kodesh had a season record in discus where she placed second with 100-05, and she was followed by Reitta Wyllie who placed third with 89-06.

For the Grant Union boys, Mason Gerry had a 20-foot personal record in javelin, placing fourth in the finals with a throw of 133-09. Nick Springer set a season record in the high jump with a mark of 5-10.00 and a personal record in javelin, where he placed eighth out of 31 competitors.

Several Prairie City athletes set personal records, including Emily Ennis for the 100 and 200 and Jessica Reames in javelin and long jump.

Setting personal records for the Prairie City boys were Jake McHatton in discus and javelin, placing eighth and 10th, respectively; Devin Packard, fifth in discus; and Lane Williams for long jump.

For the Dayville boys, Gabe Walker had personal records in three of four events, the 200, 110 hurdles and long jump.

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Photos from five local Easter egg hunts http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/People/20170418/photos-from-five-local-easter-egg-hunts http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/People/20170418/photos-from-five-local-easter-egg-hunts#Comments Tue, 18 Apr 2017 18:09:00 -0400 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419917

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Philly Trip leaves positive impression on Grant Union students http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/People/20170418/philly-trip-leaves-positive-impression-on-grant-union-students http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/People/20170418/philly-trip-leaves-positive-impression-on-grant-union-students#Comments Tue, 18 Apr 2017 18:08:53 -0400 Angel Carpenter http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419918 After two years of grueling fundraising activities, 21 Grant Union seventh- and eighth-graders and 14 chaperones made their Philly Trip a reality.

The group visited Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C., March 24 through April 2, during spring break.

Traveling to the Big Apple was an eye-opening culture shock for most of the students.

“Just walking around New York was crazy, compared to where we live,” said eighth-grader Quinten Hallgarth. “There are so many people.”

The trip to downtown New York City included a ride in three limos in Times Square and a night out at the Gershwin Theatre for the play “Wicked.”

One day, the students went from having homemade breakfast with the Amish in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to going through security at the Pentagon.

“I learned a lot about the Pentagon that I never knew,” said seventh-grader Sam McCracken. “I never thought it was that big.”

Quinten said he was also impressed by the Pentagon, where they walked a mile and a half of the 17 and a half miles of hallway.

“The guys told some funny stories,” he said. “They have a big workout gym. Two White Houses could fit inside.”

“My favorite part was being able to see the White House,” said eighth-grader Jordyn Young. “We got to go inside.”

Her other favorite spots included the Supreme Court and Empire State Building, where they traveled to the 86th floor.

The Holocaust Museum, Valley Forge, the 9-11 Memorial, the World War II Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, the Washington Monument and St. Patrick’s Cathedral were just a few of the other stops along the way.

Trip organizers were Humbolt sixth-grade teacher Casey Hallgarth and his wife, Heidi. But it was Imbler teacher Georgia McKee who started the Philly trips for Imbler students several years ago.

Heidi and son Cameron went on the trip when he was in eighth grade. Casey, who previously worked as a teacher in Imbler, tapped McKee for help in organizing a trip for his students.

After the two years, Casey said he thought this first Philly Trip might be the last.

“It was hard,” Casey said, “but after seeing the kids and the parents on the trip, it was totally worth it.”

Quinten, Sam and Jordyn all agreed the trip was worth their effort.

“It was 100 percent worth it,” Quinten said.

Casey said he appreciated the community making the trip possible with $100,000 in donations.

Planning is already underway for Philly Trip 2019.

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In tune with art http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/People/20170418/in-tune-with-art http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/People/20170418/in-tune-with-art#Comments Tue, 18 Apr 2017 18:07:24 -0400 Rylan Boggs http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419920 When David Seacord paints, he feels he is merely a conduit for a higher power to work through.

Instead of holding the brush, he is the brush.

He started painting at 50 years old and has since become a nationally sold artist. Seacord splits his time between operating out of Prairie City and New Mexico. When on the road, he lives out of a large industrial truck retrofitted with a personal library, kitchen, sleeping area and piano.

As well as being a painter, he is also a musician and piano tuning expert. Seacord said he has tuned 10,000-15,000 pianos, which provides a steady source of income between art sales. He said local retiring piano technician Ed Carwithen is referring clients to him.

Seacord paints emotionally and rarely knows what the final product will look like.

“Painting is a spiritual process,” he said. “I experience myself as the brush. I experience that there is a higher power that is doing the painting.”

People often point out divine “beauties” he subconsciously put into his own art. One example is a small grizzly bear in his piece Frozen Wild Freedom, a landscape of a mountain lake in the winter.

Seacord’s publisher, Billie Sheen, has high praise for David’s work and has faith he will become a world-renowned painter.

“The first time I saw his work I felt like I was in the presence of a very holy thing,” Sheen said.

Sheen works with many artists but said Seacord’s work stands out with its elements of light, love and connection to the universe.

Seacord compares his painting process to dancing with someone. When stepping out on to the floor, one might know the style of dance but has no idea the sequence of moves to be performed. Dancing provides a palette of options, much like Seacord has a palette of paint.

He is a self-taught artist and learned to paint by replicating different techniques to control what went onto the canvas. Over time, his skill set became broader.

Because painting is a very emotional and spiritual process for Seacord, he said people can look at one of his pieces and see his state of mind when he created it. He compares it to a tracker gleaning information from an animal’s paw print in the mud.

Unlike many artists, Seacord said he rarely suffers from an artistic block. Much like tuning a piano, he is able to sit down with a brush and access the professional skills he has learned.

“Whenever I go into my studio, pick up a brush and am really ready to be present, whatever is using me as its brush is ready to go,” he said.

Sometimes the strongest reactions to art come from those who are not often exposed to it, Seacord said, which is why he enjoys putting on shows such as an upcoming concert and exhibition at the United Methodist Church in John Day.

Those in attendance will be able to see Seacord’s work and hear him sing and play guitar and grand piano in the church.

The exhibition begins at 7 p.m. Friday, April 28, and ends at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30. On April 29, Seacord will perform a concert at 7:30 p.m. with Peter and Rachel Lyttlewood of Long Creek.

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New family nurse practitioner: ‘education empowers’ http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170418/new-family-nurse-practitioner-education-empowers http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20170418/new-family-nurse-practitioner-education-empowers#Comments Tue, 18 Apr 2017 18:04:14 -0400 Angel Carpenter http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170419921 For family nurse practitioner Mendy Sharpe, education is key to unlocking good health.

Sharpe began working at the Grant County Health Department in John Day in December. She and her family moved to Prairie City from Austin, Texas, where she grew up.

Sharpe was a critical care nurse for most of her nursing career, working while finishing studies to become a family nurse practitioner. She spent five years in critical care, working in urgent care and as a home health nurse, but most of her experience was in a hospital setting.

“I’ve dealt with a lot of younger people, but also older people who had exacerbations from chronic diseases,” she said. “My goal is to prevent, as much as possible.”

Catching health problems early can help patients have the best outcome possible.

“If they get that education, it empowers them to make better decisions regarding their health,” she said.

Sharpe also tries to educate herself, learning new things and keeping herself up to date in her field, she said.

She enjoys working at the health clinic and said there are good resources available for such a small area. She noted having the mental health clinic, Community Counseling Solutions, attached to the health department was rare.

“Here at the health department, we have family planning services with access to contraceptives,” she said, as well as resources for those who are pregnant, such as the WIC program, or those who would like to become pregnant.

She said they now take laboratory work at the health department, and their morning and evening hours are geared more toward urgent care.

When she’s not working, Sharpe said she enjoys spending time with her family.

This includes her husband, David, an Army veteran who attends school full-time, working on a bachelor’s degree in informational technology. His five-plus years in the military included deployment to Iraq.

She and David have two children, son David, 11, and daughter London, 6. Mendy said they’ve enjoyed going to the movies out of town and taking vacations to visit other states.

A draw to the area for the Sharpes was having family and friends nearby in Eugene, northern California and Washington — as well as the weather.

“Now that the weather is starting to warm up, we want to start doing outdoor activities and find places to hike and go camping,” she said.

Sharpe said she is enjoying the close-knit community.

“Everybody is really friendly, and you don’t always get that in a bigger city,” she said.

The health department, located at 528 E. Main St., Ste. E, is open 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1-6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. On Fridays, the health department is open 8 to 5 p.m. with no providers available on that day.

For more information, call 541-575-0429.

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