Blue Mountain Eagle | Blue Mountain Eagle Sun, 23 Nov 2014 08:18:43 -0500 en Blue Mountain Eagle | Recount likely on Oregon GMO labeling measure Thu, 20 Nov 2014 19:54:52 -0500 PETER WONGCapital Bureau SALEM — An automatic recount now appears likely for Measure 92, a ballot initiative that would require labeling of food sold in Oregon containing genetically modified organisms.

The latest unofficial count Thursday from the Oregon secretary of state lists 750,989 votes against it, 749,505 for it. The difference of 1,484 is now within the 3,000 that triggers an automatic recount.

Counties have until Tuesday to certify their totals with the secretary of state, who has until Dec. 4 to certify the state results.

Although statewide recounts are rare, they do occur.

In 2000, Randall Edwards beat Gary Bruebaker for the Democratic nomination for state treasurer by 470 votes of more than 300,000 cast. Edwards went on to win two terms as treasurer.

In 1992, Les AuCoin beat Harry Lonsdale for the Democratic nomination for U.S. senator by 330 votes of more than 300,000 cast. AuCoin lost to Republican Sen. Bob Packwood.

Edwards and AuCoin led in their initial counts.

State law requires a recount at public expense if the difference is one-fifth of 1 percent of the total votes cast. Recounts also can be requested even if the margin is greater than the automatic trigger, but the individual or organization requesting it must pay unless the election result is reversed.

Spending by both sides on Measure 92 added up to nearly $29 million, shattering the record of $15 million set back in 2007.

Similar measures have gone down in California in 2012, Washington in 2013, and Colorado on Nov. 4.

Homer Dewayne Wood Thu, 20 Nov 2014 13:29:45 -0500 Homer Dewayne Wood, 76, died Nov. 18 at Richland, Wash., with family members at his side.

A graveside service will be held Monday, Nov. 24 , at 1 p.m. at the Canyon City, Ore., cemetery. A reception will follow to honor his memory at the community hall in Mt. Vernon.

Mr. Wood was born April 18, 1938, in Marcia, N.M., to Homer and Edna Wood. He attended school in Mt. Vernon and joined the Army in 1956. He served in armor (tanks) and became an instructor until his discharge in 1959. He met and married Betty White in 1960.

Mr. Wood became a truck driver and drove long haul trucks for years. Then he moved back to Oregon and became a log truck driver with logging being his love. He always had a smile and was quite a jokester, making those around him laugh and smile.

He liked country music and gospel music and became quite a musician himself. He was much loved by many and will never be forgotten.

He is survived by his wife Betty, his children Homer (Jake) Wood of Kansas, Susan (Joe) Willmorth of Parma, Idaho, Jimmy (Linda) Wood of Eagle, Idaho, and Wesley (Emily) Terrell of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho; sisters Opal Futter, Florence Burrious and Ruby McCoshum; brother, J.D,; and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

He was proceeded in death by his mother and father; his sisters, Evelyn Kline, Norma Davis, Alma Ruth Walker, and brother, James.

Highways ice up, closing I-84 Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:29:07 -0500 PENDLETON – Icy conditions are settling in on the region’s highways. Here’s the 10 a.m. alert from ODOT:

I-84 Westbound is now closed at MP 371 (6 miles west of Ontario).

The westbound closure was moved from Baker City due to backed up trucks that have filled the truck stop and are parked along the freeway and other streets near the Exit 302 interchange.

I-84 Eastbound remains closed 5 miles west of Boardman at MP 159.

Due to extreme icy conditions other highways are closed in Morrow and Umatilla counties, including: all of I-82 between MP 0 (I-84 junction) and the MP 10 (Washington border); all of OR 11 between MP 0 (near Pendleton) and MP 35 (Washington border); OR 207 between MP 0 (I-84 junction near Hermiston) and MP 10 (US 730 junction); and OR 204 (Tollgate Hwy) between MP 0 (OR 11 junction) and MP 40 (Elgin/Summerville Road).

Road conditions are extremely hazardous in Morrow and Umatilla County and travelers should postpone travel in this area until conditions improve. Check or call 511 / 800-977-6268 for updated conditions.

Edible pot, packaging concern lawmakers Wed, 19 Nov 2014 17:15:37 -0500 Hillary BorrudCapital Bureau SALEM — Lawmakers had lots of questions about Oregon’s new legal pot law Wednesday, at the first legislative committee meeting since voters approved Measure 91 earlier this month.

Adults age 21 and older can possess cannabis for personal use starting July 1, and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission will begin accepting applications for retailers in early 2016.

The agency has a lot of work to complete before then, and it was clear Wednesday that two areas where OLCC employees and lawmakers will focus their attention are marijuana product packaging and regulation of edible products.

OLCC employees presented an outline of issues they have authority to regulate under Measure 91, and anticipated costs and staff needs to begin regulating marijuana

Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton, said he worries that people could unknowingly consume marijuana products, for instance if they look like normal baked goods.

“I like brownies and I like cookies,” Girod said. “And I’d hate to think at the staff lounge we could have brownies and cookies that are laced with marijuana.”

Girod said it should be a crime to slip an edible marijuana product to someone who is unaware it contains the drug. OLCC staff responded they would have to check, but that type of behavior might already be a crime. Girod said he is also concerned that pot packaging will appeal to children.

“They’re going to do everything they can to appeal to kids,” Girod said of pot producers and retailers. “It’s the same way the tobacco industry used to be a long time ago. That’s why I think the agency needs to be on top of that segment of it, and hopefully ban some of those products that are really geared toward kids.”

Jesse Sweet, a policy analyst with the OLCC, said the agency has the authority under Measure 91 to regulate packaging to ensure it does not appeal to kids. Sweet said OLCC plans to take a “measured approach to implementation,” which will include a listening tour that will likely begin in January.

In December, a committee known as the emergency board that includes lawmakers from both the Oregon House and Senate will meet to address issues that arose between legislative sessions. OLCC employees plan to ask for $333,000, which they believe would cover start-up costs for the program through June 2015.

If lawmakers approve funding, the agency plans to hire four new employees to handle work such as policy analysis and public affairs. “They’re designed to really shape the policy and start building the program,” Sweet said. Eventually, the OLCC expects to have 28 employees in the marijuana program. Sweet said the OLCC is about to build “an agency within an agency.”

The OLCC estimated it will cost $2.6 million to manage the legal pot program during the next budget year that begins in July 2015.

Legal pot sales will generate tax revenue for the state when they begin sometime after Jan. 4, 2016, and estimates of the annual tax revenue range from $17 million to $38 million. The lower projections come from the state Legislative Revenue Office, and the higher one from supporters of Measure 91.

Tax revenue will pay the state cost to regulate marijuana, and any leftover money will fund a range of services include education, law enforcement and drug and alcohol treatment.

Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield, asked if the OLCC could begin its listening tour earlier than January. Steven Marks, executive director of the agency, said he would “love to be ahead of the curve” but logistics preclude that.

“Right now, we have no budget authority to work on this issue,” Marks said.

Rep. Margaret Doherty, D-Tigard, said Wednesday’s discussion was important, “because I think it shows the challenges we have.”

The committee of lawmakers expects to meet again early in December, although a meeting had not been scheduled as of Wednesday. People who want more information about Measure 91 and would like to sign up for state updates on marijuana legalization can visit

Merkley explains Keystone pipeline vote Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:41:30 -0500 PETER WONGCapital Bureau Newly re-elected Sen. Jeff Merkley said Wednesday his vote against the Keystone XL pipeline represents his opposition to further development of fossil fuels in an era of climate change.

“As an international community, if we are going to tackle carbon pollution and the resulting global warming, we have to make concerted decisions not to develop infrastructure that accelerates the exploitation of fossil fuels,” Merkley told reporters in a conference call.

Merkley and fellow Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden were among the 41 senators who voted Tuesday against proceeding with construction of a 1,179-mile pipeline to carry Canadian tar sands to oil refineries on the Gulf coast.

The bill fell one vote short of the 60 required to proceed with the legislation, which passed the House earlier this week.

It was one of the final votes in a post-election session under a Democratic majority in the Senate, which will be controlled by Republicans starting in January. The incoming leader of the GOP majority, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has said the bill will be brought back in the new session.

Merkley acknowledges as much when he said Tuesday’s vote was “perhaps a temporary defeat.”

“I assume that sometime in the first few weeks, we will see this again,” Merkley said. “There is a substantial probability it will pass, given the shift in numbers and the philosophies associated with that.”

Among other assignments, Merkley sits on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The bill faced a potential veto by President Barack Obama, who has said he would withhold his own decision on the pipeline until a Nebraska court weighs in on whether the state’s governor has the authority to allow the pipeline to pass through.

A bill through the new Congress that would compel presidential approval might draw a veto by Obama — or allow a deal for the pipeline in exchange for an unspecified presidential priority.

A veto override would require a two-thirds majority, or 67 of the full Senate.

‘Not some theoretical issue’

The oil moving through the proposed pipeline would add a projected 18.7 million metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere. That is a fraction of the 2.8 billion tons of greenhouse gases added by power plants and 1.9 billion tons added by gasoline-fueled cars and trucks in the United States, based on 2011 figures.

But Merkley said that even to restrain rising average global temperatures by 2 degrees centigrade, 80 percent of existing fossil-fuel reserves must be left untapped.

He said Oregon already is seeing effects of climate changes, such as growing acidification of oceans that threatens shellfish, a dwindling snowpack that reduces water supplies, and drier forests that increase risks of wildfires and insect infestation.

“This is not some theoretical issue about what might happen 50 years from now,” he said.

“Carbon pollution cannot be ignored by responsible leaders. The decisions we make now are going to have profound consequences for our children.”

Merkley also said that processing of tar sands is more energy-intensive — and carbon polluting — than for conventional oil and gas.

Supporters say the pipeline will add jobs and is vital to the national security.

“But we can create a lot more jobs,” Merkley said, particularly in public works and energy-efficient retrofitting of buildings, instead of temporary construction of the pipeline.

As for national security, Merkley argues that most of the oil that gets refined from the tar sands of Western Canada will be shipped elsewhere.

“The pipeline crosses America, but it does not enhance American security,” he said.

Tuesday’s vote comes the week after the United States and China announced an agreement on reduction of greenhouse gases — an agreement that technically is not a treaty subject to approval by a two-thirds majority in the Senate.

China has pledged to generate 20 percent of its power from sources other than fossil fuels by 2030, and that sometime around then, its carbon emissions will peak and then drop.

China ranks first and the United States second in such emissions, at 8.7 billion metric tons and 5.5 billion metric tons, according to 2011 data. The world total is projected at 32.6 billion tons.

“This is an example of the top two carbon polluters in the world coming together and saying we are going to work on this problem,” Merkley said. “I think it’s an important development in the effort to take on this threat to our planet.”

Oregonians weigh in on fish, wildlife director Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:55:47 -0500 Hillary BorrudCapital Bureau The next director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife should value conservation and have experience in science-based policy, according to the results of a recent public survey.

The agency conducted the survey as part of the process to select a new director, after Roy Elicker resigned from the position in September to take a job with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ODFW released the results of the unscientific survey on Tuesday.

Other qualities people selected as most important for the next director were strategic and visionary leadership on fish and wildlife management, and the experience to communicate “high profile, complex and potentially controversial subject matter” in a way that is transparent and encourages public trust.

Nearly 2,400 people participated in the online survey, which asked people to rank by importance a list of characteristics and experiences the state might look for in job candidates. ODFW asked participants if they identified with any particular interest group, and approximately 26 percent of the 2,000 people that answered the question said they were hunters. Roughly 13 percent of people identified themselves as anglers, 12 percent described themselves generally as members of the public, 10 percent said they were ODFW employees and 8 percent were from conservation organizations.

The agency is accepting applications for the job and although administrator Roger Fuhrman did not know how many people had applied as of Tuesday, he said the total number of applicants will be available after the Dec. 5 application deadline. The ODFW director reports to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, which will make the final hiring decision.

After Dec. 5, the state will begin a vetting process that includes interviews with a Department of Administrative Services executive recruiter and screening panel, meetings with Gov. John Kitzhaber or a member of his staff and an opportunity for the public to meet the candidates on Feb. 12. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to interview finalists for the job at a Feb. 13 meeting, and could decide at that point to offer the position to one of the candidates.

In the survey, ODFW also asked people to provide their own ideas on qualities that will be important in the next director. Many people said the director should be someone who hunts or fishes, while others said that person should concentrate more on conservation and the health of non-game species.

Some respondents said the new director should be ready to expand the agency’s focus beyond issues related to hunting and fishing. The numbers of hunters and anglers in Oregon declined over the past 30 years, and revenue from hunting and fishing licenses no longer keeps pace with inflation and other cost increases, according to an ODFW budget document from August. In ODFW’s 2015 biennium budget request, the agency asked the governor for $13.4 million in general fund and other state money, to cover expenses ODFW historically paid for with license revenue.

“It is important that the director be able to also bring the non-hunting and fishing community into the fold,” one respondent said. “Once included it is important that the director help those that do and don’t hunt and fish both understand the important role of responsible consumptive and non-consumptive uses of natural resources for both commerce and recreation.”

Who was John Day? Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:23:08 -0500 Two Grant County towns, a national monument and a river are among the features named for the legendary beaver trapper, John Day, yet little is known about the man, including his presence in this area and burial spot.

Local author Dave Sandersfeld strives to unearth some of the mysteries in his latest book, “Beaver Trapper John Day: Was He Buried Near Dayville Oregon in 1820?”

Sandersfeld spent 40 years on this quest, trying to figure out the confusing and conflicting old diary documentation on John Day’s life story. He returned to the trapper’s old haunts in Idaho and Oregon, which clarified a good deal, Sandersfeld said, about John Day’s 48 years.

“This book gives this very noble and remarkable ancestor back to the Day family,” he said.

Still, the mystery remains as to where John Day is buried.

“When we finally find John Day’s grave in eastern Oregon’s Ochoco National Forest, a lot of confusion over John Day’s latter days and, humble life will end,” Sandersfeld said.

Sandersfeld has a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism and public speaking from Oregon State University in Corvallis. His other books include “An Ice Age Tour: Along Oregon Hwy 26 Austin Junction to Picture Gorge” and “Growing BBQ Spices in a Garden.”

He and his wife, Debbie, live in Canyon City.

“Beaver Trapper John Day” is available from Amazon, in both Kindle and paperback.

Kudos given by the yard Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:26:52 -0500 PRAIRIE CITY – To everything there is a season – including awards from The Green Thumb Garden Club.

The club recently honored three Prairie City property owners for their well-tended yards and gardens, one for each of the seasons, spring, summer and fall.

The winners were Ivan Nance, for spring; Burke O’Brien and Carol Jacobs, summer; and Luella Simrell, autumn.

Each received a decorative ceramic garden frog, made by Donna Adams.

The club, which was organized in 1964, recognizes property owners each year for doing their part toward the upkeep of Prairie City.

Guard vet shares experiences with third-grade class Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:20:15 -0500 Angel Carpenter CANYON CITY – Memories of Afghanistan are still fresh for National Guard veteran Brandon Schlarbaum who recently visited his daughter’s third-grade class at Humbolt Elementary.

Students in Caroline Colson’s classroom had plenty of questions during his slide show presentation, which came Nov. 10, the day before Veterans Day.

Among the questions:

“Why do you wear camo?” “What kind of food did you eat?” “How did your Army guys survive?”

Schlarbaum achieved the rank of corporal in 2010 in the 81st Brigade, deployed with the 204th Combat Engineers out of Washington state.

He drove tow trucks – the tires about the same height as a third-grader – doing dangerous route clearance work.

His service, from January to September 2010, came to an early halt when his truck was shot at and blown up.

He was medevaced out and received a medical discharge due to his injuries.

Schlarbaum showed slides of the Afghanis’ mud adobe houses, which would keep the temperatures regulated at 65-80 degrees. Summer temperatures in Afghanistan could reach as high as 150 degrees, with winter temps down to 20, he said.

During most of his deployment, he slept outside, under the stars, near his truck.

Men could shower once a week, and women twice a week; many times laundry was done by wearing their clothing in the shower, he said.

The slide show included pictures of children begging on the roadsides, most without shoes. Some of the children were selling long pieces of bread for $1 each.

He noted that families on average earn $500 a year.

Showing a picture of an 8-year-old girl holding her 1-year-old brother, Schlarbaum explained that most girls aren’t allowed to go to school and they aren’t allowed to speak in public. Also, at about age 12 they have to start covering their faces.

Answering the children’s questions, Schlarbaum said the soldiers wear camouflage to help them “hide from the bad guys,” and that they eat MREs and Totem meals, ready-to-eat, except for special occasions. The 30 people in his platoon survived, but he said some Marines he had worked with died.

Schlarbaum said he gained a greater appreciation for many things.

“It’s amazing how much you take for granted in the United States,” he said.

Raising ‘Old Glory’ in Mt. Vernon Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:24:06 -0500

Teachers train for new preschool curriculum Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:23:28 -0500 JOHN DAY – The Early Learning and Frontier Hub for Grant and Harney counties is moving forward where the Commission on Children and Families left off.

Patti Wright, coordinator for the hub, said that with the help of state-funded grants the coordinating organization is working to improve kindergarten readiness and assessment scores, early literacy and professional development of providers.

“We are doing this through a variety of early literacy activities, professional development training for preschool teachers and in home care providers and kindergarten transition activities,” Wright said.

Recently, several teachers and providers received training in the use of Creative Curriculum materials. The trainees including representatives from Dayville, Long Creek, Monument, Sonshine Christian School, and one in-home child care provider.

Representatives from John Day’s Families First Parent Resource Center and The Growing Tree Infant Center participated in a Harney County training.

The participants received a curriculum set valued at $1,800, delivered Nov. 5-7, to use in classrooms or child care centers.

“The curriculum is widely used and proficient in Common Core educational principles,” Wright said. “This is a great resource available to economically challenged programs.”

Bazaar time in Mt. Vernon Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:22:45 -0500 MT. VERNON – Shoppers braved snowy roads and chilly weather last week to get to a pair of holiday bazaars in Mt. Vernon.

The annual Mt. Vernon Grange Bazaar featured a colorful array of hand-crafted goods in the Grange Hall on Highway 26, just east of town. Organizers offered a hot lunch of stew and slices of tasty homemade pies to fuel the shoppers and browsers.

Nearby at the Mt. Vernon Community Center, the Mt. Vernon Fire Department offered a two-fer – a bazaar and a bake sale. The event raised donations for the Christmas food basket program, and also included a chili and cornbread lunch.

The bazaar season continues this Saturday with Christmas on the Prairie, with activities all day in Prairie City.

Grant Union JV gridders gain lessons on field Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:18:11 -0500 Angel Carpenter JOHN DAY – Grant Union’s junior varsity football squad had a short season this year, with just three-and-a-half games, but lessons learned in practice and in game action will be helpful as the junior varsity and varsity teams build on experience.

The team had its only win against Heppner, 12-6, on the road in the first game of the season.

It was the junior varsity Pros’ only two-quarter contest.

They lost a close game to Crane, and also played Enterprise and Baker.

“The kids worked hard and got to participate in games and gain experience,” said Jason Miller, Grant Union’s athletic director and head coach of the school’s football program. “Unfortunately, there weren’t as many games as we would have liked. Hopefully in the future, with better participation numbers, in all classes, we’ll be able to have a full schedule.”

Miller said underclassmen filled in several varsity spots due to the low numbers – the varsity team’s main quarterback was freshman Wade Reimers, with freshman Brady Burch filling the spot at times.

Last year’s junior varsity and junior high teams went undefeated.

This year’s junior high team, made up of seventh- and eighth-graders, had 4-2 record, losing a couple close games, Miller said.

“They had a good season,” he added.

Miller has assistance from Casey Hallgarth, coaching the junior varsity team and Joe Hittle and Brent Smith who coached the junior high team. Varsity defensive coordinator Andy Lusco also assists the teams.

Grant Union JV netters rack up season wins Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:07:18 -0500 Angel Carpenter JOHN DAY – A bright future is in the cards for Grant Union volleyball.

The junior varsity team wrapped up a successful season, losing only two matches.

One game was lost to the Baker City junior varsity team at a tournament in which the Prospectors beat the Bulldogs earlier in the day.

Grant Union’s other loss was to the Prairie City varsity team, however, the Prospectors came back with a win against the Panthers later in the season.

The Prospector junior varsity 2 team didn’t have as many games, but also played well, said coach Rhonda Jenison, adding the team worked hard in practice even though their schedule was lighter.

Jenison coached the junior varsity team while Shanna Northway coached junior varsity 2 – the pair worked together during practices.

“It was a really strong JV season,” Jenison said. “Across the board they were really good kids on and off the court, and they worked hard and were very coachable. I look forward to seeing what they do in their future volleyball pursuits.”

Seventeen players on the junior varsity teams crossed over from JV to JV2 from time to time, Jenison said. With varsity included, there were a total of 26 Grant Union volleyball players.

JV and JV2 players included: Cody Jo Madden, Avery Lenz, Natalie Stearns, McKenzie Wilson, Whitney McClellan, Jocelynn Smith, Bayley Harper, Mariah Wright, Tegan Wright, Taylor McCluskey, Jaimi Gravley, Hailey Carter, Jessica Carter, Fallon Weaver, Tressa Ranft, Jozie Rude and Reagan Shelley.

“It was an honor to work with such a great group of kids,” Jenison said. “All JV players showed significant improvement over the season.”

She noted the support from the community also made it a positive year for volleyball.

“Our coaching staff would like to thank all our parents and our fans for being so supportive this year – they were amazing.”

High Desert League volleyball All Stars announced Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:05:20 -0500 Prairie City Panthers

1st Team

Brianna Zweygardt, freshman, setter

Amy Black, senior

Honorable Mention

Lindsey Stewart, senior

Michel Hitz, senior

Dayville/Monument Tigers

1st Team

Treiquella Osborne, senior

2nd Team

Mary Yankee, senior

Honorable Mention

Kendall Hettinga, sophomore

Skylar Powell, sophomore

Three musicians represent Grant Union at honor band concert Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:36:49 -0500 Angel Carpenter LA GRANDE – Three Grant Union senior band students performed in the Nov. 4 District 6 honor band concert held at La Grande High School.

Grant Union music director Mary Ann Vidourek recommended the following students for participation in the event: senior Marta Faulkner, flute, freshman Annie Wall, clarinet; and freshman Duane Stokes, baritone.

Vidourek described Faulkner as a dedicated musician.

“She practices, she’s interested in many styles of music and she participates in the Burns community band,” Vidourek said, adding that Faulkner is also creating a senior music portfolio and arranging a piece of music for the band.

Vidourek described Stokes and Wall as two “young aspiring musicians.”

Stokes said he enjoyed the concert.

“It was a great time and fun to work with a bunch of kids who know what they’re doing and had their pieces down,” he said.

Wall said she enjoyed playing with a big band and enjoyed working with director Ed Higgins of Portland State University.

“I always look forward to honor band,” Faulkner said. “It’s fun to work with serious students and experienced, well-known directors.”

These three students and Sam Bentz, who plays alto saxophone, will participate in this year’s Western International Band Clinic Nov. 21-24 where they will learn from and play for Robert W. Smith.

“We play a lot of his repertoire,” Vidourek said.

She will direct the Humbolt Elementary Christmas program at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15 at the Grant Union new gym, and the Grant Union holiday concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, at the Grant Union old gym.

Girls State delegates share session experiences Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:36:19 -0500 Angel Carpenter JOHN DAY – Four Grant Union seniors shared what they’ve learned of the political process during the Nov. 10 American Legion and Auxiliary Ellis Tracy Post No. 77 Girls and Boys State dinner.

The dinner was held at Alec Gay Hall, with family and friends of the students in attendance.

Sydney Stearns, Babe Nash, Jennifer McCloskey and Alia King attended the 75th annual Girls State session June 14-20 at Willamette University in Salem. No local boys attended Boys State this year.

Each girl played a political part in an imaginary 51st state created at the event.

Stearns and McCloskey were congresswomen, Nash was a lobbyist and King took part in a jury at a mock trial.

Grant Union 2014 graduate Hannah Andrews also attended the session as a junior counselor.

Some of the memorable moments the girls spoke of were visiting the State Capitol, hearing Secretary of State Kate Brown speak, and a candle-lighting ceremony – floating the candles in memory of veterans.

They also enjoyed gourmet meals, pajama parties and getting to know the other students.

“I had to learn 30 girls’ names,” Stearns said. “Most live on the west side, and it was amazing hearing about their lives.”

King said she enjoyed meeting everyone, and noted, “you gain a great support group.”

Several sponsors were recognized for their support. The girls’ $300 fees were covered by: Chester’s Thriftway, Carl Lino, John Day Elks Lodge No. 1824, Old West Federal Credit Union, Billy Drinkwater and John Day Lions fund.

Lino’s sponsorship was in memory of his wife, Sondra, who was Oregon’s Girls State director from 2003-2011.

Tammy Bremner is the current local Girls State chairman, and American Legion commander Art Pereira is the Boys State chairman. Pereira and Auxiliary president Ruth Harris presided at the dinner.

Chaplain Joan Bowling was recognized at the event for a recent monetary contribution to the Legion and Auxiliary, as well as her contributions to the community.

Those in attendance recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and sang the national anthem with Kathy Roberson accompanying on the piano. Her husband Pastor Ron Roberson of the Church of the Nazarene offered the benediction.

EOU offers new Advantage to career-bound students Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:35:18 -0500 LA GRANDE – Eastern Oregon University will launch a pilot program next fall that aims to help new students gain an upper hand in their college strategy.

Officials say the program – the Eastern Oregon Advantage – offers benefits including on-time graduation, fixed tuition rates, priority financial planning and career services support.

Jay Kenton, EOU’s interim president, is the driving force behind the new initiative.

“We’ve found that students want the ability to plan for their education,” Kenton said, “and by graduating in four years, they can be in the marketplace for employment sooner than most schools that require five or six years to finish.”

Any new student from Oregon, Idaho or Washington who applies as a freshman and enrolls on EOU’s main campus for fall 2015 is eligible to participate.

Eastern Advantage students will pay slightly more for tuition initially, but their rate is locked in to avoid any tuition increases implemented during their four years at the university.

Officials say students who know what major they want to pursue when they enroll have the most to gain. EOU will work with them to make sure the courses required for their degrees are available when they need them.

Participants also will receive individualized planning sessions on financing their education.

The promise of a degree in hand after four years could mean faster access to the job market, so the career services aspect ramps up when students become seniors. That will include help with conducting job searches and honing interview skills, creating resumes, preparing portfolios, and filling out graduate school applications.

Participants must maintain an acceptable grade point average, take the necessary number of credits each term and follow the university’s continuous enrollment policy are stipulations of the program. Summer term may be used to make up any missed credits.

Students also sign an agreement promising they will give back to the school after they graduate. Alumni can either donate to a scholarship fund to support future students, or contribute their time by assisting the alumni offices with recruitment activities.

“I’m not aware of any other schools that are doing this,” Kenton said. “There are similar programs out there, but we’re including financial aid and job placement services in addition to guaranteeing students will graduate in four years.”

For more information visit or call the Admissions Office at 800-452-8639.

Get it all at the Merc Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:34:38 -0500 Cheryl Hoefler DAYVILLE – If you live in Dayville and you need something, chances are good the Dayville Merc has it.

The new owners of the Merc – Simon and Tabitha Graves, and Simon’s father, Jay – are dedicated to that mission.

The long and growing list of offerings at the Merc includes general merchandise, beer and liquor, pet supplies and livestock feed, housewares, automotive items, office supplies, health and beauty products, and groceries – including fresh produce.

Customers will also find gifts and cards, and specialized items such as decorative knives and local artwork.

One of latest features the new owners like to show off is the new front counter with a glass display case containing a wide variety of old-fashioned candy and penny candy “by the pinch.”

Come springtime, they plan to open a bicycle shop with repair services and bicycle rentals, as well as fishing pole and camping equipment rentals.

The Graves relocated recently to Dayville from the Portland metro area, looking to get away from city life, and raise their children “out in the open air, with a more down to earth environment,” said Tabitha.

They became owners of the Merc on Oct. 1, taking it over from the Jones family.

Other family members also made the move to Dayville. Justina Frey, Tabitha’s mother, handles accounting duties, and her grandfather, Dennis Frey, is the Merc’s “good will ambassador.”

Tabitha said they had always dreamed of being small business owners and working for themselves.

“What better place to raise children than a town where everyone knows your name, and you can talk with anyone walking by?” she said.

A grand opening “welcome party” on Nov. 1 included such activities as kids’ games, contests, drawings, food and microwave experiments.

In addition to enjoying their new hometown, they are also thrilled over the Merc’s historic building, which they plan to continually update and renovate.

“We want the Merc to be a meeting place for anyone looking for a hot cup of coffee, a warm, comfy spot by the woodstove, a hot bowl of soup and friendly conversation,” Tabitha said.

“We hope to continue to grow the business and provide for the people who have kept it alive for 118 years,” she said, adding, “Here’s to 100 more!”

The Dayville Merc is located at the west end of town, and is open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sundays. The liquor store is also open on Sundays.

For more information, call the Merc at 541-987-2133, visit, or check out the Merc’s Facebook page.

Wolves split from pack, form new pair in Eagle Cap Wilderness Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:31:52 -0500 GEORGE PLAVENEO Media Group The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reports two wolves left their birth packs over the summer and are now paired together in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, southeast of Cove.

OR-24 dispersed from the Snake River pack and OR-27 from the Minam pack sometime in July. Both animals are fitted with GPS collars, and have been located in higher elevation areas of the Keating and Catherine Creek wildlife management units in northeast Oregon.

ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said it remains to be seen whether the animals will mate next year. A map of the pair’s territory is available online at

No incidents of livestock predation are tied to either animal, though local ranchers are encouraged to adopt nonlethal measures of wolf hazing such as range riders or fladry fencing.

Meanwhile, a second suspected pack in the Catherine Creek and Keating units is no longer believed to be in the area, according to ODFW. Biologists had spotted tracks late last year from five animals near Medical Springs in Union County, but have not found any recent evidence of wolves in the area.

Letter: Keep kids from using pot Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:31:23 -0500 To the Editor:

Encourage teens to stay away from pot. Just because it has become legal doesn’t make it right or smart to use it. Its effect to children and teens brain development is damaging even when used occasionally.

Teens who smoke pot daily are 60 percent less likely to finish high school or get a university degree than their weed-free peers, according to a high-profile study published in September in the Lancet.

The researchers, mainly from Australia, looked at outcomes from three long-term studies conducted in Australia and New Zealand. They compared participants’ life status at age 30 to their patterns of marijuana use before age 17 (never, less than monthly, monthly or more, weekly or more, or daily).

Compared to people who had never used cannabis, those who were daily users before age 17 had an 18 times greater chance of becoming cannabis-dependent. They were eight times more likely to use other illicit drugs in adulthood, and seven times more likely to attempt suicide, according to and article in the Globe and Mail.

Mike Hansen

Mt. Vernon

Letter: Veteran meals a treat Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:31:10 -0500 To the Editor:

I and the other veterans who got their meals paid for at the Outpost on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, appreciate their generosity. It was a nice gesture, and much appreciated by all.

Herb Brusman

(USN 1953-58)

John Day

Editorial: Paralysis by analysis delays pulling weeds Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:30:50 -0500 Whoever coined the term “paralysis by analysis” must have worked for the federal government – That’s certainly what comes to mind in the case of the flowering rush. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials put the brakes on efforts to get rid of the weed, which is taking hold along the Columbia River.

Flowering rush is a nightmare for irrigators in parts of the Pacific Northwest. It grows so thick that it blocks water flowing through canals. It has now appeared along the Columbia River, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture wants to get rid of it sooner before it spreads farther. Department managers want to send divers into the water to pull out the weed.

But wait a minute. The Corps, which has jurisdiction over the river, needs to review the potential impact of pulling weeds. The federal Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act should be consulted. On top of that, an archaeological assessment of cultural resources should be considered.

To pull a weed.

Even though the Corps has since decided NEPA and the cultural assessment can be skipped, it still must get the OK from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act.

To pull a weed.

It may be impossible to enumerate all of the shortcomings of the Endangered Species Act besides slowing the wheels of government, but we’ll list a few:

• Only a handful of species have recovered under the Endangered Species Act.

• More than 1,400 species are listed as threatened or endangered.

• It really doesn’t cover species so much as it covers populations. For example, 55,000 gray wolves are known to live in Canada, but right over the border in Washington state they are “endangered.” That’s nonsense. In fact, most of the wolves in Washington state appear to be overflow from Canada.

• There is no limit to the cost of species recovery. Billions of dollars have been spent in the name of the ESA.

• Environmental groups use the ESA as a money tree. By suing the federal government every time it misses an ESA-mandated paperwork deadline, these groups rack up attorney fees so they can – wait for it – sue the government again.

• Every time members of Congress try to make the ESA more workable, environmental groups that are the main beneficiaries of the law stop them.

Back to pulling weeds. We’re not sure which endangered species are protected while the federal agencies are doing their thing under the Endangered Species Act, but we do know that one species will continue to flourish: flowering rush.

Commentary: Smokeout offers new chance for healthy living Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:30:38 -0500 Sheila ComerTo The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November each year by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day.

By quitting even for one day, smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life, one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet about 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, approximately 1 in every 5 adults. As of 2012, there were also 13.4 million cigar smokers in the US, and 2.3 million who smoke tobacco in pipes. And even more disturbingly, more than a quarter of a million youth who had never smoked a cigarette used electronic cigarettes in 2013, according to a CDC study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research. These, most likely, will be tomorrow’s tobacco users.

Why quit?


• 20 Minutes: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.

• 12 Hours: The carbon monoxide level in our blood drops to normal.

• 2 weeks-3 months: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.

• 1-9 months: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease.

• 1 year: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.

• 5 years: Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years.

• 10 years: The risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking.

• 15 years: The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.

Quitting tobacco is the best thing you can do for your health.

The Grant County Health Department encourages you to make a plan and quit! Call the Quit Line 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit the Quitline online at

Sheila Comer is the Tobacco Prevention and Education Program coordinator at the Grant County Health Department. Information for this column comes from the American Cancer Society.

Shakespeare comes to Grant Union Tue, 18 Nov 2014 14:23:41 -0500 JOHN DAY – Grant Union Junior-Senior High School will host members of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 1 and 2.

A team of actors will give an evening performance for the public at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 1. There’s no charge, but donations will be accepted for the Juniper Arts Council scholarship fund.

This is the 44th tour of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s School Visit Program.

For more information, call 541-932-4892.