Blue Mountain Eagle | Blue Mountain Eagle Thu, 20 Jul 2017 20:42:11 -0400 en Blue Mountain Eagle | State hikes individual, business health premiums Thu, 20 Jul 2017 20:20:34 -0400 Claire Withycombe Capital Bureau

SALEM — Oregonians and small businesses buying their health insurance on the individual and small group markets can generally expect to see rate increases next year.

The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services released its annual rate decisions Thursday, as uncertainty around health care policy looms on the state and federal levels.

On the individual market, the changes announced Thursday range from an average 1.6 percent dip for BridgeSpan Health Company to an average 14.8 percent increase for the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest.

For small businesses, the average changes range from increases of 3.3 to 10.1 percent.

The state uses a variety of criteria to make rate decisions, and multiple factors, including “legal uncertainty” surrounding the fate of the federal Affordable Care Act and the escalating cost of providing insurance, have led to increases in costs.

But the Department of Consumer and Business Services says that the rates would be, on average, 6 percent higher if not for the reinsurance program created by the Legislature this year, which it says “will add additional stability and predictability in the market.”

Reinsurance is kind of like insurance for insurers — it’s intended to protect them from high claims. State Rep. Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, said last week that the reinsurance program provides rate relief while the state also tries to reduce the costs of medical care.

“We put it in place for two years so that we could move forward,” Rayfield said.

The legislation that created that program, though, which includes a 1.5 percent tax on insurance premiums, may be subject to voters’ opinion come January.

Three Republican lawmakers filed a referral petition to get certain parts of the bill on the ballot. If they are successful, voters will weigh in during a special election Jan. 23.

State Rep. Julie Parrish, R-Tualatin/West Linn, one of the legislators behind the referral effort, is critical of the state’s reinsurance program.

She says moving public employees onto the exchange could have prevented instability in the market.

“We need to put more lives on the exchange to make it work,” Parrish said, “We don’t have to raise people’s taxes to do it.”

Parrish has also suggested moving public employees into coordinated care organizations, the regional networks of providers serving Oregonians on Medicaid.

Parrish, along with State Rep. Cedric Hayden, R-Roseburg, and Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, are angling to get portions of the legislation on the ballot, including a .7 percent “true tax” on hospitals.

The state is in the process of applying for a “state innovation” waiver from the federal government, which would result in more federal funding, although that waiver is not required to run the program.

Jesse O’Brien, policy director for the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, called the announcement a “huge win for consumers” because, on average, the rate increases were less than insurers had asked for.

However, O’Brien also made note of the uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act and argued that passage of repeal or replacement legislation could lead to higher rate increases.

Wellness exams, with sports physicals, provided July 27 at Grant Union Wed, 19 Jul 2017 17:19:43 -0400 All Grant County middle and high school students are encouraged to attend an event providing wellness exams, which include a sports physical.

The event takes place from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, July 27, at Grant Union Jr./Sr. High School.

Due to policy changes, a comprehensive wellness exam is now given, which includes the sports physical. The exams are fully covered each year by all insurance companies.

Students unable to attend should schedule a wellness exam with their primary care provider.

Providers at the event will measure adolescents’ growth, screen for depression and other concerning conditions, perform a physical examination, make sure immunizations are up to date and counsel the student regarding health topics that are important for adolescents.

For more information, visit the School Based Health Center at Grant Union or call the Grant County Health Department at 541-575-0429.

Blue Dollar Complex Grazing Allotments Project open for comments Wed, 19 Jul 2017 15:35:08 -0400 The 30-day comment period for the Preliminary Environmental Assessment for the Blue Dollar Complex Grazing Allotments Project on the Prairie City Ranger District began July 19 with publication of a legal notice in the Blue Mountain Eagle.

The Malheur National Forest is proposing to implement decisions regarding livestock grazing permits and rangeland management actions on the Bluebucket, Dollar Basin and Star Glade grazing allotments. District Ranger Ed Guzman is the responsible official for this project. The project planning area is located about 25 miles south of Prairie City, in Grant and Harney counties, and encompasses just over 40,000 acres of National Forest System lands. Approximately 2,200 acres of additional private and state lands are also within the overall project planning area boundary. The Prairie City Ranger District proposes modifications to grazing practices, changes to pasture and allotment boundaries and additions of structures and improvements to meet the purpose and need to reflect current management direction, policies, other applicable laws and regulations and to address resource concerns to achieve desired conditions.

The project documents can be accessed on the Forest Service website at, or copies can be requested from Marion Mahaffey, range NEPA coordinator, at 541-575-3302 or by emailing

Written comments concerning the project must be submitted to: Ed Guzman, Prairie City District Ranger, 327 SW Front Street (P.O. Box 337), OR 97869 or facsimile comments to: 541-820-4844. Hand-delivered comments must be submitted during business hours, 8-11:30 a.m. and 12:30-4:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, excluding holidays. Electronic comments must be submitted in a format such as an email message, plain text (.txt), rich text (.rtf), or word (.doc) to

Only those who submit timely and specific written comments regarding the proposed project or activity during a public comment period established by the responsible official are eligible to file an objection. It is the responsibility of persons providing comments to submit them by the close of the comment period and ensure that their comments have been received. Individuals and organizations wishing to be eligible to object must meet the information requirements of 36 CFR 218.

For more information, contact Mahaffey at 541-575-3302.

Berry promoted to major Wed, 19 Jul 2017 15:00:00 -0400 Grant Union alumnus Clint Douglas Berry was promoted to major in the Wisconsin National Guard May 2. His duty assignment is plans and policy Officer, Joint Forces Headquarters, in Madison, Wisconsin. He has performed 12 years of military service. Berry, a 1990 graduate of Grant Union High School and a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, is the son of Tom and Cheryl Berry of John Day. He currently resides near Escanaba, Michigan, with his wife, Brooke, and six children.

Hope4Paws seeks donations for yard sale fundraiser Wed, 19 Jul 2017 14:22:01 -0400 Hope4Paws: Grant County is seeking donations for the group’s annual yard sale.

The sale, held in John Day during Grant County Fair weekend, is a fundraiser for the pet rescue and education nonprofit.

The sale will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 11-12, and 9-11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 13.

It will be at the same location as last year, in the Four Seasons Plumbing lot on North Canyon Boulevard across from DMV and the Blue Mountain Eagle.

Items may be donated in advance by calling 541-575-0500 and leaving a message to arrange a drop-off time.

Hope4Paws volunteers also will accept donations at the yard sale site on Thursday, Aug. 10, the day before the sale.

While clothing, toys, outdoor equipment and household goods in usable condition are welcome, some items cannot be accepted. Organizers ask donors not to bring stuffed furniture, TVs or computer components.

Anyone with questions about donating can contact Hope4Paws at 541-575-0500.

Grocers seek state constitutional ban on taxing food Wed, 19 Jul 2017 13:48:29 -0400 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau SALEM — The Northwest Grocery Association is seeking a ballot measure in 2018 to constitutionally bar taxes on food.

The association filed paperwork Tuesday to petition for an initiative proposing a constitutional amendment prohibiting taxes at every point of food sales, from production, processing, wholesale and retail, with the exception of meals served at restaurants.

“It really is just protecting people’s access to food and only food for human consumption,” said Joe Gilliam, the association’s president.

The association’s action comes as public employee unions pursue placing a corporate sales tax on the ballot in 2018, a pared-down version of Measure 97 defeated in 2016.

The grocery association has launched a website to campaign for the “Yes! Let’s Keep Our Groceries Tax Free” act.

Businesses and public employee unions have clashed over the last year over how to address the state’s revenue shortfall. Businesses have called for reductions in spending and public pension benefits in exchange for any increase in corporate taxes. Unions favor a gross receipts tax that would be based on corporations’ sales and would put corporations more in line with what individual taxpayers contribute toward state coffers.

Katherine Driessen, a spokeswoman for Our Oregon, one of the groups behind Measure 97, said the grocery tax ban “is really about padding the pockets of large international grocery chains like Walmart that already receive billions in subsidies from Oregon taxpayers for their low-wage jobs.”

“Everyone in our community has to do their part to fund our schools and our services, and the last thing we should be doing is creating special interest carveouts for some of the world’s largest corporations that just don’t want to pay their fair share,” she said.

Gilliam called Our Oregon’s comments “political jargon.”

“Measure 97 was a gross receipts tax, which was defeated soundly,” Gilliam said. “Gross receipts taxes on any business with thin margins can’t absorb the cost. It drives prices up and hurts people’s access to food.”

Under the proposed measure, the food industry would continue to pay corporate income tax, and the sales of other household goods and pet food still would be subject to taxes, Gilliam said. Walmart is not among the association’s 400 members, he added.

The campaign will need to collect 117,578 signatures by July 2018 to win a place on the general election ballot the following November.

New wheelchair provides opportunities for quadriplegic hunter Wed, 19 Jul 2017 11:48:21 -0400 JADE McDOWELLEast Oregonian Nels Hadden may not be able to move his arms or legs, but he can still take down a deer with a crossbow.

There’s no magic spell or use of the Force, just the power of technology that lets quadriplegic men and women do things that would have been impossible years ago.

Hadden was paralyzed from the neck down in 2009, when he stopped to help at the scene of a crash on Interstate 84 and was struck by another car that slid out of control on the ice. He lived in Milton-Freewater at the time and has since moved to Walla Walla.

On Tuesday the nonprofit Independence Fund gifted Hadden an upgraded wheelchair with 16-inch pneumatic wheels and four wheel drive that will allow him to roll across uneven terrain. He can’t wait to use it to hit the beach for the first time in more than eight years.

“This is going to give some of those things back that were taken away from me,” he said.

Hadden has always been able to move about and control a cell phone using puffs and sips of air into a straw near his mouth, but his other chairs have always been designed for flat, even surfaces.

One of the biggest things the all-terrain chair will help with is hunting. Hadden was an avid hunter before the accident, and still is today. He may not be able to hug his children or lift a spoon to his mouth, but a Walla Walla man named Gary Parson helped him obtain a contraption that mounts a rifle, shotgun or crossbow on his wheelchair and allows him to sight it and pull the trigger using puffs of air from his mouth.

He has been hunting in the years since, and has a few sets of antlers at home to show for it. In the past, he has had to more or less park his wheelchair in one spot and hope the right animal wandered past. Now he’ll be able to move through the forest with other hunters in a manner more reminiscent of when he was younger.

“I grew up in Pilot Rock and my family, that’s just something that we did,” he said. “It’s not just about taking an animal, it’s about getting together and joking and laughing.”

Even when he was stuck sitting in a blind not too far from the wheelchair-accessible van, Hadden has had some adventures. One night he and his nurse Miranda Amwoka were sitting in the blind when a mama bear and her two cubs walked by. The mama bear came up against the side of the blind, stuck her head in and looked right in at the two of them. Since Hadden was strapped to a wheelchair and Amwoka didn’t have a weapon, it was a pretty scary experience for both of them.

Nels’ wife Betsy said he has more Twitter followers than anyone in the family after he gathered a fan club of hunters and hunting companies interested in his exploits. A couple of them even sent free game cameras for him to review. He has more than 40,000 game camera photos saved on his computer.

Betsy was the one who found out about the Independence Fund, a nonprofit that gives all-terrain wheelchairs and other tools to veterans injured in combat so that they can resume more of the outdoor activities they enjoyed before their injuries. Hadden wasn’t injured in combat, but he is a veteran who served nine years active duty and he was injured while acting as a Good Samaritan, so Betsy convinced him to take a shot at applying anyway. He received a letter saying that usually he would not be eligible, but there was a veteran in the area who had recently given one back because he only got to use it a couple of times before he fell too ill. The group was willing to give Hadden the used chair for free.

It wasn’t a simple matter of moving the chair from one part of Oregon to another. Each chair for a quadriplegic user must fit them “like a glove” in order to avoid pressure sores, and Hadden has even more needs because of the extent of the injuries he suffered during the accident. The chair was sent to a factory where it was customized to Hadden’s measurements and needs, but when Pete Hedberg of Pacific Healthcare Associates delivered it on Tuesday it still took an hour and a half of small adjustments before Hadden was lifted into it using a sling attached to an apparatus on the ceiling. Then it was another hour of adjustments aided by a tape measure to make sure his arms were resting at equal height.

“It takes longer than normal to sit him because he had so many bones broken,” Betsy said.

Still, Hadden was excited about the long-awaited chair, which resembles a shiny red miniature ATV on the bottom.

“Wow, she’s purdy,” he drawled as he laid eyes on the chair. “Pretty fancy.”

He commented on the lights and turn signals on the chair, joking, “Wal-Mart, here we come!”

Hadden doesn’t know the exact value of his new chair, but he does know that the less-fancy one he has been using cost $40,000. Buying a new wheelchair would have cost him more than buying a new car, he said. He can’t even begin to express how grateful he is to receive one for free.

“You rely on it every day because without it you’re in bed,” he said. “It’s basically like an arm or a leg.”

For more information about the Independence Fund, visit


Contact Jade McDowell at or 541-564-4536.

Judge bars arson suspect from having ‘fire starting materials’ Wed, 19 Jul 2017 11:25:05 -0400 PENDLETON — Angela Fix remains in the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton, in lieu of $50,000 bail for the charge of first-degree arson.

The state accused Fix of starting the fire early Sunday at 439 S.W. Birch Place, Pilot Rock, the home of Larry Castro. Pilot Rock Police Chief Bill Caldera reported Castro’s body was in the home. He was 77.

Circuit Judge Jon Lieuallen set the bail during a hearing Monday afternoon at the Umatilla County Courthouse, Pendleton. Fix became disruptive and attorney Kara Davis, who represented Fix for the hearing, said Fix’s comments were “ill advised.” Lieuallen also ordered courtroom staff to turn off her microphone.

If Fix can post $5,000, 10 percent of the bail, she can get out of jail. Lieuallen on the jail release form noted one special condition of her release: “No fire starting materials.”

Fix has a hearing the morning of July 24 in which the district attorney’s office is likely to bring formal charges from an indictment.

Fix nor anyone else faces charges in connection to Castro’s death. However, Caldera stated, the investigation is ongoing.

Crews working three small fires near Prairie City Wed, 19 Jul 2017 11:08:24 -0400 Local fire crews are staffing three fires in the Prairie City area after thunderstorms Tuesday evening, and new public use restrictions will soon be implemented.

Malheur National Forest crews are working on two fires, according to an agency press release. Incident 127, about 1 mile south of Dixie Lookout, is estimated to be 2.5 acres. Incident 129, about 10 miles east of Prairie City near Grouse Knob, is estimated to be 1/5 of an acre.

ODF crews are working Incident 128 about 3 miles northwest of Prairie City, which is about 1 acre.

Forest officials will implement Phase B Public Use Restrictions Thursday, July 20, on the Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman national forests due to high fire danger, the potential for human caused fires and concern for public safety. The increased restrictions pertain to the use of campfires, smoking, chainsaws, internal combustion engines and generators.

Campfires will only be allowed in designated campgrounds and recreation sites. Liquefied or bottled gas stoves and heaters are allowed for cooking and heating.

Operating an internal combustion engine, such as a chainsaw, will be prohibited.

Generators will only be allowed in the center of an area at least 10 feet in diameter that is cleared of all flammable material, or when fully contained within a pickup truck bed that is devoid of all flammable material, or when factory installed in a recreational vehicle and the generator exhaust discharge is located in the center of an area at least 10 feet in diameter that is cleared of all flammable material.

Smoking is only allowed within enclosed vehicles, buildings and developed recreation sites or when stopped in an area cleared of all flammable material.

Regulated closures are also in effect on state and private lands protected by Oregon Department of Forestry in northeast and central Oregon.

New state laws designed to protect against federal crackdown on marijuana Wed, 19 Jul 2017 09:01:40 -0400 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau PORTLAND — A new state marijuana law designed to protect customers from federal prosecution is already changing the nature of sales at dispensaries.

Effective as soon as it was signed by Gov. Kate Brown April 19, Senate Bill 863 prohibits dispensaries from recording, retaining or transferring the names or other identifying information of customers who purchase marijuana.

The regulation is one of several new state laws designed to shield the cannabis industry from a potential federal crackdown on the state’s legal market and to refine overall rules governing the industry.

“Changes seem to be occurring on a daily if not an hourly basis on the federal side, and I personally am very concerned that we give as much protection to Oregon citizens to ensure their personal identification information isn’t compromised through some kind of federal subpoena or some other act that a business is not going to have the fortitude or maybe the legal basis that the state would have to fight those type of requests,” said Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, a chief sponsor of Senate Bill 863.

The absence of customer records would hinder authorities from prosecuting customers for federal marijuana crimes.

However, from a customer service perspective, the change brought some disadvantages to retailers.

“It was nice to be able to bring up their sales history. We used to keep track of what products customers bought so if they forgot what they bought last time we could pull up a record of it,” said Alex Richter, manager of Foster Buds’ location on Northeast Glisan Street in Portland. “Now, we’re like a bar or a convenience store. We just look at your I.D. to make sure you’re over 21.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has publicly disagreed with the Obama administration’s acceptance of state marijuana programs, which violate federal law. In May, Sessions wrote to Congress asking it to scrap a budget amendment in effect since 2014 that effectively shields state medical marijuana programs from federal prosecution.

Sessions’ comments on marijuana prompted Prozanski to add an emergency clause to Senate Bill 863, making it effective upon passage.

Rep. Ann Lininger, D-Lake Oswego, a lawyer who co-chairs the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Marijuana Regulation, said other new laws also aim at fortifying the industry against federal backlash.

Senate Bill 1057 allows recreational marijuana retailers to quickly switch their adult-use recreational licenses to a medical-only license in case of “federal obstacles,” Lininger wrote in a memo on new cannabis laws. The law assumed that Congress would continue the budget amendment, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, to prohibit the federal government from spending money to interfere with medical marijuana programs.

The bill mandates that medical cannabis producers, processors, wholesalers and medical dispensaries undergo the same stringent seed-to-sale tracking of products that the recreational industry has been subject to since recreational sales were legalized.

The bill also directs state regulators to create a database of anonymized medical marijuana transactions to help detect and prevent diversion of product into the illicit market.

An analysis by Oregon State Police earlier this year showed product is leaking into the illegal market.

“Anything we can do to cut off leakage … would put us in a stronger position” with the federal government, Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, co-chairwoman of the marijuana regulation committee, said in May.

House Bill 2198 gives the Oregon Liquor Control Commission additional authority to respond to applicant or licensee misconduct. Another new law, Senate Bill 56, allows the liquor control commission to immediately suspend any licensee who has transferred product into the illegal market. The bill also orders the creation of a state hotline where local authorities can verify whether a grow site is registered or licensed.

Oregon is one of eight states, plus the District of Columbia, that has legalized recreational adult use of cannabis. Twenty-one others states have legalized medical marijuana.

Despite local efforts to protect the industry, the federal government may not need states’ cooperation to enforce the federal ban.

The U.S. Department of Justice could shut down the marijuana industry through the federal courts, according to Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management, when he was quoted in Business Insider in February.

The federal government would only need to obtain copies of marijuana license applicants and seek an injunction against the applicants from selling cannabis, Kleiman has said.

Such a shutdown would likely revive Oregon’s illegal market, wipe out 12,500 jobs and drain state coffers of a projected $105 million in annual recreational marijuana tax revenue, used to support public education and services, Lininger said.

Eclipse accommodations popping up, and filling up Tue, 18 Jul 2017 18:05:57 -0400 Angel Carpenter There are just 32 days left as the total solar eclipse countdown continues.

Some say the Monday, Aug. 21, celestial event will be an experience of a lifetime.

Camping and RV sites, which have popped up throughout Grant County, are filling up.

The campsites will offer observers a view of the two minutes of totality, and some will also host a weekend of entertainment.

The Burns Paiute Tribe is hosting cultural event called Experience Beechcreek for campers.

Located 2-3 miles north of Mt. Vernon off of Highway 395, the weekend will include drumming, singing, dancing, native stories and games for the kids on Saturday, and comedian entertainment on Sunday.

Jarvis Kennedy, a tribal council member, said the property includes 300 tent sites and 100 RV spots with space for vendors.

Tepees will be set up near a cabin on site, and a check-in office will provide a respite for elderly to cool off.

The tribe purchased the 2,400-acre property in March of 2016, and Kennedy said it includes aboriginal territories of the natives.

“We’re just trying to have a community gathering with not just the Burns Paiute people but with all the people of this area and visitors to celebrate this eclipse,” Kennedy said.

For more information, call Kennedy at 541-589-4191.

“Pandyfest,” hosted by the Weaver family on West Bench Road in John Day, includes two nights of camping, four meals, entertainment from six Portland bands, a 100-foot slip and slide and other backyard games.

Mandy Weaver, who is spearheading the event with her husband, Patrick — the combination of their two names creating the word “Pandy” — said they have 20 tent spots left with 60 spots already rented to 105 people.

Locals who want in on the fun can purchase a day pass for dinner and entertainment for $50. There are about 25 weekend passes left.

“There are many things I’m looking forward to over the Pandyfest weekend, but some major highlights are time with friends and family surrounded by rocking music, tasty food and an epic celestial experience,” Mandy said. “Counting down the days!”

Several other campsites and venues are also available in Grant County.

In Prairie City, the Emmel Ranch will have camping spots near the downtown area in a field adjacent to the Prairie City Wood Products property, and the Riccos will also offer camping and parking for a view of the eclipse 1.2 miles south of Prairie City on Strawberry Wilderness Road (County Road 60).

Long Creek School has tent and RV spots available, and there will be a Portland State University learning center at the school with a telescope for viewing the night sky. The NOAA weather center will also be at Long Creek City Hall. For more information, visit or call the school at 541-421-3896 or Jennie Freeman at 541-508-9247.

Other spots, including a few home rentals, are listed at the Grant County Chamber of Commerce website,, or call them at 541-575-0547.

“There are still a lot of accommodations available,” said chamber office manager Tammy Bremner.

Grant County Chamber of Commerce office manager Tammy Bremner said there will be public showers at the Industrial Park and anyone can pay for a shower there.

HECS has a large room with cots for a large group at the Industrial building, and they’ll have a large tent with five cots. Showers are included with those reservations.

The chamber has porta potties for rent, and Bremner recommends business owners rent one to place on their properties.

She noted 20,000 copies of a new Grant County map will be available Thursday, Aug. 10.

Made available by Grant County Economic Development and Firewise, Bremner said they are well done and can be found at the chamber and other locations.

A fading Rainbow: Hundreds clean up the mess of thousands after gathering Tue, 18 Jul 2017 18:04:11 -0400 Rylan Boggs As Don Joseph picks his way through a pine forest used by the Rainbow Gathering, it’s obvious people were here.

Paths snake in between trees and sites where tents and latrines were set up a couple weeks ago for more than 13,000 attendees, but it’s hard to say where exactly they were.

Beyond a few orange peels, there’s no garbage in a small chunk of forest used by several hundred Rainbow Gathering attendees who stayed behind after the July 1-7 gathering to clean up.

Joseph, a Vietnam veteran and regular gathering attendee, takes pride in the condition in which the gathering attendees leave their sites.

As with the gathering, many volunteers on the clean-up crew prefer not to give their full name, including Scott. He said attendees who stayed after the gathering have been naturalizing the area by removing trails, fire pits and latrines, ensuring all holes are filled in and spreading duff over disturbed areas.

“The idea is to make it look like we were never here, but we’ll never achieve that,” Scott said.

He explained the vegetation will need time to bounce back, and they can’t simply wave a magic wand and remove all traces of the people who attended the gathering this year.

Scott typically works clean-up at gatherings, and said this one is better than some.

“I’ve seen smaller gatherings produce more trash,” he said.

He attributes this to a downhill walk to the parking lot, allowing people to more easily remove what they brought in, and a dry climate, which didn’t ruin gear with heavy rains.

While the few are left to clean up after the many, Scott doesn’t feel animosity toward those who left behind uncleaned campsites. Instead, he directs it at the hangers-on who refuse to leave the gathering but aren’t assisting with the cleanup.

“You can’t clean the house while all the children are inside,” Scott said.

The majority of the area is anticipated to be recovered within a year, while some smaller areas will take significantly longer to recover, according to a Forest Service press release.

“Only time will tell, but we will do our very best to continue to document damages and impacts to the land, water, and wildlife as well as establish long term monitoring to assess impacts,” Blue Mountain District Ranger Dave Halemeier said.

One of the biggest priorities for those cleaning up is the removal of trash. Everything from cigarette butts to tents were left at the gathering, and volunteers are slowly moving it to the front gate, where it is then trucked to the transfer station outside John Day.

David, a volunteer working near the gate, said roughly 90 percent of the trash has been removed from the forest. At the gate, he and other volunteers work to sort through garbage, recycling and abandoned camping gear and clothing.

Piles of shoes, sleeping bags and tarps are dwarfed by the mountain of garbage.

Lesa, another volunteer working at the gate, said they plan on removing all trash from the site, but need all the help they can get.

“A lot of people left with empty vehicles, which is not OK,” she said.

As part of the recovery efforts, long-term water quality monitoring sites will be established and resource specialists from the Forest Service will work with gathering clean-up crews to ensure efforts meet Forest Service standards, according to the Forest Service press release.

Rural nursing homes on edge as state eliminates beds Tue, 18 Jul 2017 18:01:59 -0400 Les ZaitzThe Enterprise The elderly woman had heard rumors of closure in the hallways of Presbyterian Community Care Center.

She learned the rumors were true when Cathleen Sullivan, the administrator of the nursing home in Ontario, came to her room to tell her she would have to find a new home.

“When do I have to leave?” the resident asked.

Similar scenes played out in room after room as Sullivan delivered the news. And word of the impending closure rocketed through Eastern Oregon’s nursing home industry. The challenges of rural health care had claimed another victim.

Reliance on nursing homes has declined across Oregon for decades. People now have more options than ever for care that ranges from weeks to years. Use of assisted living, residential care, and foster homes has mushroomed, according to state officials. They say consumers are less likely to resort to nursing homes, a choice dictated by preference or by finances.

Yet in rural Oregon, nursing homes remain a key fixture in health care, providing what no other residential facility can – around-the-clock nursing care. Only hospitals provide more extensive medical attention. Rural nursing homes in 2013 were considered so important legislators once labeled them “essential” assets for rural communities.

State officials still consider them so.

“We don’t want a community not to have a nursing facility option,” said Mike McCormick, deputy director of the state’s Aging and People with Disabilities unit of the state Department of Human Services.

Yet nursing home operators say state policies are to blame for weakening rural nursing homes, which by virtue of their location face higher costs.

“We’re in danger of losing vital access to vital services in rural communities,” said Jim Carlson, president of the Oregon Health Care Association.

In Prairie City, Blue Mountain Care Center has seen a steady drop in residents, including a decline of an average of 15 residents relying on state help to 10.

In Baker City, the county’s only nursing home closed last year. The home opened in 1987 with 80 beds; by early 2016, just 15 were occupied.

The resident count has dropped as well at Milton-Freewater Health and Rehabilitation Center. The center expanded its therapy staff to increase patient numbers.

“We have struggled to have a full therapy department, thus limiting what we can offer for rehabilitation services for the community,” said Russell Patterson, executive director.

In La Grande, two nursing homes merged, and La Grande Post-Acute Rehab reports steady client numbers. Yet stays are shorter.

“It just makes running a skilled nursing facility more challenging,” said Steve Hamilton, executive director of the La Grande facility. It now has 38 residents.

Sullivan says state conduct in part forced the decision to close Presbyterian, which has served Malheur County more than 60 years. She and others believe state workers steer consumers away from nursing homes or press residents to move out sooner than they should.

Sullivan said her census of patients who rely on state-paid care has dropped steadily in recent years. In its current budget year, Presbyterian has lost $300,000.

Tom Hathaway, administrator of Pioneer Place, which has a nursing home as well as assisted living in nearby Vale, has seen the same trend. The drop has been so precipitous that Hathaway was preparing his board for a decision to close its nursing home. That decision is forestalled now by the loss of the Ontario home.

But unless something changes, he said, “we’ll be lucky to last a year.”

Hathaway has been pressing the state to explain why it is sending fewer clients to nursing homes.

The health care association is pressing as well.

“It’s been a pretty aggressive program the state’s been running,” said Carlson.

In 2013, state officials and the nursing home industry agreed that Oregon had too many nursing home beds still in use after the shift to less-intensive care took hold. They agreed to eliminate 1,500 beds over three years out of a total of 12,332. The program was aimed at western Oregon and particularly urban areas. The state would reward the industry for hitting targets, and pay less in daily rates if it didn’t.

The industry got close – 1,210 beds.

“Now we’re in the stick era,” said McCormick, to get more beds taken out of service.

Nursing home officials said, while it made sense to take empty beds offline in the Willamette Valley, the state seems determined to cut nursing home use in all corners of the state.

McCormick insisted that’s not so.

“The consumer preferences are overwhelmingly obvious,” he said. “People do not want to live in a nursing facility for a long period of time.”

He said state workers help patients get the right care in the right place. He said the state emphasizes independence, dignity and choice.

Sullivan said Presbyterian advocated for residents who wanted to stay in the nursing home rather than move to a lower level of care.

“On occasion, it worked,” Sullivan said. “Often, it didn’t.”

She became convinced that health care wasn’t the only issue.

“The factors were financial” in the state’s recommendations to patients, she said.

Sullivan and others say shifting patients away from nursing homes has more impact than just on the finances of the business.

Carlson, of the health care association, said he hears complaints from members who get patients from nursing homes about “inappropriate placements.” That means, he said, that patients are moved into health care facilities that can’t treat them.

“They get very frustrated when they get people whose care needs are too great,” Carlson said.

Hathaway thinks perhaps one-fourth of those moved out of nursing homes aren’t people who can care for themselves.

“Are they getting the nursing level of care they should be getting?” Hathaway asks. “Probably not.”

One nursing home administrator who spoke on background for fear of angering state officials said residents are moved out of nursing homes too quickly on occasion. He hears about “bad outcomes including deaths” but said no system in the state tracks the impact of such moves.

McCormick said “negative outcomes” happen at all long-term care facilities but the state relies on its case managers and licensing teams to detect issues. He noted that Oregon recently ranked No. 2 in the country in effective nursing home transitions as measured by AARP.

Carlson said his association is urging legislators to examine the issue after the current session. He said the state also ought to consider differing compensation for rural nursing homes just as rural hospitals get extra pay.

Ruth Gulyas of Leading Age Oregon said her group too is pressing the Department of Human Services to consider such an option. She said the response to that recent request was “they were going to look into the situation.”

McCormick said his agency has never considered such an option.

McCormick said that while nursing homes are a “critical” part of the health care system, the state leaves it to the marketplace to determine their financial viability. He was asked what the Department of Human Services is doing to ensure their survival.

“I don’t think we’re doing anything,” McCormick said. “We’re executing the statutes as written.”

Story written and reported by Les Zaitz of the Malheur Enterprise with additional reporting by Kathy Aney of the Pendleton East Oregonian, Susan Parrish of the La Grande Observer and Rylan Boggs of the Blue Mountain Eagle in John Day.

The Eagle wins 22 awards in state contest Tue, 18 Jul 2017 18:01:45 -0400 The Blue Mountain Eagle was recognized as one of the top weekly newspapers in Oregon, earning 22 awards in the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association Better Newspaper Contest.

The contest was judged by personnel from newspapers in Pennsylvania, and the Eagle competed against weeklies that distribute 2,001-3,000 copies.

The Eagle earned five first-place, eight second-place and nine third-place awards in the annual competition featuring work from 2016.

For the top honor — General Excellence — the Eagle earned second place. The entry is judged based on the overall product, from news and editorial content to photos and design to advertising and reproduction. The samples are taken from three editions from specific months throughout the year. The Sandy Post, a Pamplin Media Group publication, placed first.

“General Excellence award is the top award the Eagle can receive, and it’s an honor to be recognized by our peers for our efforts,” Editor Sean Hart said. “The staff at this newspaper works hard to deliver the news, and I cannot thank them enough for their dedication.”

The Eagle earned first place in the special section or issue category with its breast cancer awareness special edition. The Eagle also placed third in the category with its Journey special section.

Page designer Randy Wrighthouse defended his title, winning page one design again this year.

Angel Carpenter earned the top honor for lifestyle coverage with a story about Mary Weaver battling cancer a second time.

Carpenter and Rylan Boggs won the photo essay category with a series of shots from the Grant County Fair.

Former editorial assistant Cheryl Hoefler earned the top prize for sports photo with a shot of Buddy, the Easter elk, running in the Dayville Bunny Hop 5K. The story also placed third in the sports category.

Carpenter earned three second-place awards: business and economic issues for a story about eclipse accommodations, sports photo for a shot of the John Day Swim Team and writing for a collection of three stories.

Wrighthouse and graphics designer Alan Kenaga placed second in graphics for a map and photo package about county geographical features that formerly included “squaw” in the title, which were renamed.

The Eagle earned second place for web design.

Editor Sean Hart placed second in headline writing and enterprise reporting.

Boggs placed third in the feature photo category with a shot of Leo Dedmore hiding behind a pumpkin.

Carpenter earned third place in the personality feature category.

Hart placed third in writing and third in the general feature category for a story and photos about salmon being released into the landlocked Malheur River.

The Eagle’s website placed third overall. A slideshow with audio of the planned meeting in John Day featuring people occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge placed third in multimedia element, and election night coverage earned third place in the online breaking news category.

Grant County carnage Tue, 18 Jul 2017 18:01:20 -0400 Rylan Boggs For the 28th year in a row, the Whiskey Gulch Gang is putting on the Demolition Derby.

The event, at 7 p.m. Saturday, will feature a variety of vehicles pitted against each other in a last-man-standing-style brawl.

Longtime organizer Hugh Farrell describes the event as “kind of a madhouse.”

Despite this, Farrell said none of the drivers have ever been injured, or at least never complained about it.

Driver safety is a priority. Helmets and seat belts are mandatory, and neck collars and eye protection are recommended.

The derby is split into three heats for cars and one heat for pickup trucks. The winners of each heat will win $250, and all who are able continue on to a final showdown will compete for a $2,000 top prize.

“A lot of them get right back in there, beat all to pieces,” Farrell said. “You wouldn’t think they’d run again, but they do.”

Other trophies are awarded for best looking car and most aggressive driver.

No utility vehicles, four-wheel drive vehicles or Chrysler Imperials are allowed in the competition.

The Imperials are not allowed because they are significantly tougher than many other vehicles, Farrell explained. Though a wide variety of vehicles are accepted, American cars built before the 1980s tend to fare better, according to Farrell. Cars suitable for the derby are getting harder to find, and often the ones drivers do find are expensive, he said.

“Some people go to a lot of work to get a car set up properly,” he said. “But sometimes a broken wire can put you out. You just never know.”

Money raised from the derby helps the Whiskey Gulch Gang host other events.

“If we didn’t have the derby, we wouldn’t be able to have the (‘62 Days) celebration,” Farrell said.

The derby begins at 7 p.m., and children six and under get in free. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or beforehand at Ace Hardware, True Value or Les Schwab Tires.

Those interested in entering a vehicle in the derby or wanting more information should contact Hugh Farrell at 541-575-0329 or 541-620-0931.

A $50 entry fee covers a car, driver and one pit crew member. Pit passes are $30 each.

Two sisters enjoy range camp in the High Desert Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:35:40 -0400 Angel Carpenter Grant Union Junior-Senior High School students Maggie and Ellie Justice of John Day experienced a four-day “getaway” at the June 21-24 High Desert Youth Range Camp.

The two sisters joined 11 other students from Oregon, Idaho and Washington at the camp to study rangeland issues at the 16,000-acre Northern Grant Basin Experimental Range near Burns.

Maggie, who will be a senior this fall, was chosen as top camper and will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Sparks, Nevada, to represent Oregon at the High School Youth Forum held during the annual Society for Range Management meeting.

Maggie owns 13 head of cattle, has shown livestock at the Grant County Fair and made a presentation about crested wheat grass at the Oregon Stockgrowers Association last September.

She said her favorite part of the range camp was learning the importance of sage brush and perennial grasses.

“We identified the grasses, and before this camp, I thought it was a bunch of weeds that got stuck in my shoes,” she said. “I think it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. You’ve got to know what’s around you and understand the importance of it — just a base knowledge of what’s going on out your back door.”

Camp coordinator Gabrielle Johnson said they had an excellent and engaged group of campers.

“The students were eager to hear the material presented, were full of thoughtful questions and showed great willingness to learn all they could,” she said.

The camp offered more than learning about soils, sagebrush and invasive weeds. It included a hike to a butte, dutch-oven cooking provided by Harney County Cattlewomen members and a karaoke night.

Ellie, who will soon be a sophomore, said she enjoyed the educational experience, as well as the more entertaining parts of the camp, including geocaching for varieties of grasses, such as buckwheat and needle grass.

“You can’t really go there and not learn,” she said.

She said she appreciated the opportunity to broaden her horizons at the camp.

“Our environment has so many animals that you can’t always see,” she said. “It’s cool seeing how complex it is.”

The range camp is a cooperative effort between Eastern Oregon Agriculture Research Center, Agriculture Research Service and Harney County Watershed Council with several sponsors and instructors supporting the effort.

Each camper paid $50 to attend, and sponsors defrayed the cost with a $125 scholarship for each high school age youth.

The participants also earned two credits through Treasure Valley Community College.

“It’s something that I’d recommend for everybody,” Maggie said. “You get college credits and free food. What more can you ask for?”

Lapping up funds: Swim team fundraiser tops 2,500 laps Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:27:47 -0400 Angel Carpenter John Day Swim Team youth had plenty of practice for this weekend’s home meet at Friday’s lap-a-thon fundraiser.

There were 54 athletes swimming a total of 2,555 laps.

Amelia Hall was one of the top performers of the day, completing 110 laps at Gleason Pool in John Day.

One observer said Hall was hardly out of breath after swimming a number of laps equal to three miles.

Fundraising coordinator Heather Rookstool said the lap-a-thon and a can-drive trailer are their only fundraisers this year.

For the lap-a-thon, donors could pledge money for each lap a swimmer would make or pay a flat rate.

Rookstool said the athletes worked hard, and the proceeds will be used to pay for the coaches’ insurance, the USA swim fees and supplies needed for the home meet.

Board president Haley Walker said it was exciting to see the kids set goals.

“I think all or most of them achieved their lap goal,” she said. “They encouraged each other and cheered each other on. The team atmosphere was great.”

The team hosts an invitational swim meet at Gleason Pool this weekend. Start times are 6:50 p.m. Friday, 8:15 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday.

Teams participating include The Dalles, Pendleton, La Grande and league opponents Prineville and Lakeview. There are four Burns swimmers on the John Day team this year.

Summer Games brings thrills for local Special Olympics team Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:26:00 -0400 Angel Carpenter This year’s Special Olympics State Summer Games was a sensation for the Grant County team.

The largest annual event for the organization drew 2,000 athletes, 600 coaches and 1,300 volunteers for the July 7-9 event in Corvallis.

Among the Grant County athletes competing in track and field events was Harvey Davis, who finished second in the 100-meter dash in his division.

“I enjoyed being with everybody and being supported by everyone,” he said. “My favorite thing about the Summer Games was winning the silver medal in the 100-meter dash.”

Jay Colson improved on his shot put throw and finished seventh against tough competition. He threw 7 meters, and hopes to increase it to 10 meters next season.

“You can go to compete and meet other people, and just do your personal best,” Colson said. “The best part is to just have fun and enjoy the event.”

The track and field competition took place at Corvallis High School, and the Games ceremonies were held July 8 at Oregon State University’s Reser Stadium.

Grant County coach Deronda Lallatin was pleased with her team, which includes Davis, Colson, Elizabeth Swarthout, Katie Latham, Rodney Brunson, Brian McKrola, Crystal Wimberley and Katie Shockley.

“Those who struggled at the regional competition did well at the state games,” she said. “Their hard work paid off.”

The team stayed at the OSU dorms instead of hotels this year.

“It was a lot of fun,” Lallatin said. “Everyone was excited about the new venue.”

The team also enjoyed a dance Saturday evening where they met members of the OSU football team.

Cheering on the eight local athletes were six volunteers, including team helper Sarah Lallatin, and volunteers David Gill, Karla Colson and Mike and Lori Shockley.

Next up for the Grant County team will be soccer in the fall, if they can find a coach. Lallatin welcomes anyone interested in coaching to contact her at 541-620-4295.

Summer Games

Elizabeth Swarthout, first, softball throw

Katie Latham, second,100-meter dash

Harvey Davis, second, 100-meter dash

Rodney Brunson, third, softball throw

Jay Colson, fourth, standing long jump; seventh, shot put

Jay Colson, Caleb Madsen, Brian McKrola and Crystal Wimberley, fourth, 4x100-meter relay

Grant County Seniors Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:21:54 -0400 JOHN DAY — Golly, I think my computer may have outgrown my brain! I am getting messages about “read only” and administrator that I have no idea about. I am the only one who uses it — what have I done? Luckily, I am still sneaky enough to get around this junk that I finally gave up on Microsoft Help and went about it on my own. Wish me luck.

On July 10 no one had signed up for greeting, so I sat down — and along came three people to help. I grabbed Bonnie Kocis, and we had a little catch up visit.

The Lutheran Church was here to serve us: Jeanette Kile, Ray and Verna Maurer, as well as Bonnie and Frances Kocis attended graciously to our needs at the table. Bonnie and Frances had already taken out the meals for delivery to John Day and Canyon City, while Veanne took the Mt. Vernon route on her own. Veanne is our girl “Friday,” as well as Monday through Thursday. I hope you all appreciate all she does. I sure do … mops! The total regular meals delivered were 36, with 50 frozen as well. I know those who receive them really appreciate your coming out.

We want to thank Russell’s Custom Meats again for helping us during our freezer crisis. The freezer is fixed now, and our food is safely back. But what would we do if they hadn’t come to our rescue?

Jeanette Kile led our flag salute, and Frances Kocis led our prayer for our meal. Verna Maurer won the free meal in our drawing, Pat Amling won the Len’s Drug certificate and Frances Kocis won the Harrison Ranch Produce certificate to be redeemed at the Saturday Market. It was National Piña Colada Day, so we had piña colada cake after stuffing ourselves on Shay’s cheeseburger-stuffed French bread. Amazing, do that one again! Green salad and veggies rounded out the meal. We served 25 diners.

We welcomed home Heather (Sheedy) Swank and her husband, Carl. Nice to have you here.

July 13, Jeanette Julsrud and Bonnie Kocis were back at the greeter’s desk, and Cornerstone Church was serving at the tables. Zola Pike, Carla Anderson, Donna Mulder, Donna Johnson and Henry Miller took very good care of us. Brenda and Jay Taramarsso took out the regular meals in John Day and Canyon City, while Rodney Bruser and Larry Palmer from Step Forward delivered to those on the Mt. Vernon route.

Veanne didn’t have much in the way of announcements but had the sad job of telling us about Billy Drinkwater’s passing. What a gentle friend he has been to many.

Donna Johnson led us in the flag salute, and Carla Anderson led the blessing for our food. Jan Holtz (aka Kay) won the Valley View meal, Deda Porter won the Chester’s Thriftway certificate and Zeke Rookstool won the Harrison Ranch Produce gift certificate. Zeke and his sister Zoey joined their great grandparents, Nicky and Gene Essex, for lunch and planned to play bingo after the meal.

We were treated to grilled pork chops, roasted Parmesan potatoes, spinach pie, apple Waldorf salad and miscellaneous ice cream for dessert. Our entrée was donated by the folks at Malheur Lumber Company. We served 63 well-fed and happy diners.

July 20, we’ll celebrate “Christmas in July” with turkey, dressing and lots of door prizes and fun. You know that Linda works on the prizes all year.

July 24, we will enjoy seafood primavera! Don’t forget to be here by 11:45 a.m. so we can serve on time.

Psalms 127:3 “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.”

MONUMENT — My wonderful hubby gave me the report for the senior lunch for July 11. I was gone all week so he was kind enough to take down all the information for my article. I’m very blessed.

Terry Cade and Carrie Jewell made sweet and sour chicken, steamed white rice, a fresh green salad, fruit and cookies for dessert. May the Lord bless the hands that prepared the meal, and many thanks.

The greeters were Bob Blakeslee, Bodean Andersen and Marva Walker. Bob led the flag salute. Bodean prayed the blessing over the meal and made the announcements. There were 41 guests present and four takeouts. The free meal tickets were won by Linda Blakeslee and Olivia Hoodenpyl.

I hope you all are preparing for the upcoming Monument Buckaroo Fall and Harvest Festival on Sept. 23. It was a huge success last year, and everyone who came had a great time and enjoyed a wonderful meal. We are going to have three grand marshals this year, Betty Richards, Donna Campbell and Tom Campbell. There will be silent and live auctions, music in the park, food booths and games.

The salmon and elk dinner will be served from 5-7 p.m. at the Monument Senior Center. The cost of the dinner is a suggested donation of $15 per person or $25 per couple. Children ages 6-12 years are $7.50, and 6 and under are free. There will be door prizes drawn during the dinner event.

The many different auctions occurring will include the silent auction, pie auction, live auction and raffle drawings for the rifle, and a hand-made quilt by Judy Harris. I am looking forward to this coming dinner and many others are too. Hope to see you all again this year!

Well, I was gone all of last week because I went with my two little ones to Camp Elkanah near La Grande. I had volunteered to be a counselor and along with my co-counselor, we were in charge of nine little girls. I didn’t know what the Lord had in store for me. I had no expectations. Wow, these little girls will forever live in my heart. All but our own (mine and the other counselor’s) girls came from broken homes.

These beautiful little girls were so precious. Each one of them were so different and unique. It was a privilege and an honor to serve them. It was a wonderful time of worshiping the Lord and taking care of them. I got to tell them Bible bedtime stories and pray over them. I told them the story of Samuel, and I embellished the story a bit. I had to stop in the middle because it was late, and they protested to my amusement. They were devastated when they thought I wasn’t going to finish the next night, ha. Of course I couldn’t disappoint the little dears. I pray that these little darlings would grow up knowing how much the Lord loves them.

Matthew 19:14 “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

PRAIRIE CITY — Did you know that July 3 was “Air Conditioning Appreciation Day”? And do we ever! These triple-digit temperatures really make you appreciate the AC. Though, I have noticed that the 90-degree temps are more bearable. We’re getting used to them, right?

The combination of hot weather and little water does make it more difficult to keep the garden growing. I hate to report that if I had to depend on what I hope to harvest from my little patch, it will be mighty slim pickings this winter. The bugs had made severe inroads before I finally woke up to where the insecticide was stored. Oh, the trials and tribulations of growing a garden in Grant County.

Tom’s food for thought: “To stay youthful, stay useful.” And someone named Perianer stated, “the useful and the beautiful are never separated.” Chew on those for a while.

Larry, Ken and Carlos took care of the home deliveries. I had to do double duty at the registration desk and announcing. Fran Bunch has been cleaning out good and brought several boxes of cookbooks to give away. We still have some goodies displayed on the stage that you can give a good home to.

We made out like bandits with all the donations towards our meal. We thank the family of Dorothy Blasing for the food and flowers that we got to enjoy that were left from the memorial dinner. Thank you so much. So we had orange juice, ham with pineapple sauce, mashed potatoes, several delicious salads, watermelon and vanilla ice cream with fresh cherry pieces on top. Mmm, good. Thank you, Tom, Julia and Marjean.

Helen Emmel made an appearance – yay! – with Vonnie Blasing and her daughter Cindy. The flowers that were on the tables were designed by Helen’s daughter Denise, who has a flower shop in Baker City. Each bouquet got to go home with someone. And Vonnie won the $5 gift certificate donated by Prairie Hardware & Gifts. She went to find something that she could take back to South Dakota on the plane.

Larry Wright was sporting several large bandages on his arms. That’s what happens when you trip and fall on cement. So, you all be careful out there. Lorna and Krystin brought Marilyn Randall, Joan Metlock and Otho Laurance from the Blue Mountain Care Center.

For you trivia buffs: The threads of a screw slope at a 60-degree angle. And Henry F. Phillips was the inventor of the Phillips screwdriver and its matching screw. They were first used on the 1936 Cadillac. Within two years, all car manufactures had switched to this new and improved design.

Ezekiel 43:11: “…make known to them the design of the temple…and all it’s regulations and laws. Write these down…so they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations.”

Blind man rides coast to coast Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:21:52 -0400 Rylan Boggs A blind man riding his bike from coast to coast made a stop in John Day.

Chris Mairs lost his sight at 18 years old to a rare degenerative eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa.

Mairs, now 60, hopes to ride from Astoria to New Hampshire in 60 days, averaging 60 miles each day.

Before reaching John Day, he rode 116 miles in a day.

“The weather has been fantastic,” Mairs said. “I can’t see the scenery, but I’m told it’s pretty spectacular.”

He aims to raise $144,000 in donations to restore sight to roughly 3,600 people suffering from impaired vision. So far he has raised almost $100,000.

Mairs said there are roughly 39 million blind people in the world, and the most common cause for sight loss in world is cataracts. He said it is possible to entirely cure cataracts for about $40.

“If I raise $40 for each mile we ride, then we can restore sight to 3,600 people,” Mairs said.

He is working with See International, which works in countries including Namibia, Ghana and Cambodia to restore sight.

On the front end of the tandem is Alastair Heggie. Mairs rode with Heggie’s flatmate previously, and the two agreed to split the ride with Mairs.

Heggie is riding the first 30 days to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The two had only ridden roughly 70 miles together before setting out on this journey.

The two are learning to work in tandem and said the down hill and flat riding are easier than on a normal bike, while the hills much more difficult.

“We’ve got the air resistance of a single person but the engines of two,” Heggie said.

Both are looking forward to the rest of the journey but are a little worried about some of the steeper climbs like those near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, as well as high temperatures and humidity later in the ride.

Mairs said he is looking forward most to “dipping our wheel in the Atlantic.”

Those interested in following Mairs’ journey or donating can visit

What’s Happening Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:21:38 -0400 The deadline for What’s Happening items is 5 p.m. Friday. Call the Eagle, 541-575-0710, or email For meetings this week, see our list in the classifieds on Page A17.

• 11 a.m., Chamber office, 301 W. Main St., John Day

The public is welcome to attend the business and board meeting of the Grant County Chamber of Commerce, with an adjournment to the Outpost Restaurant at noon. Guest speakers will be Don Merritt, curator of the Kam Wah Chung museum, and Shelley Hall, superintendent of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Call the Chamber of Commerce for more information, 541-575-0547.

• 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., SW Brent St., John Day.

The market features crafts, baked goods, produce, kids activities, entertainment and information booths. For more information, call 541-792-0958 or email

• 5:30-8:30 p.m., United Methodist Church, 123 NW Canton St., John Day

Residents are welcome to enjoy a dessert social. For more information, call the church at 541-575-1326.

• 7 p.m., Grant County Fairgrounds, John Day

The 28th annual event, sponsored by the Whiskey Gulch Gang, will feature a variety of prizes, including $2,000 for first place, $1,500 for second place and $500 for third place. The entry fee is $50 per car, which includes the driver and one pit crew person; pit passes are $30 a person. Pre-sale tickets, $10 for adults and $6 for children 12 and younger, are available at John Day True Value, Nydam’s Ace Hardware and Les Schwab Tire Center. Tickets at the gate will cost $2 more. Children under 6 are free. For further information and rules, call Hugh Farrell at 541-575-0329 or 541-620-0931, or email

• 5:30-8 p.m., Prairie Baptist Church, 238 N. McHaley St., Prairie City

Children in kindergarten through sixth grades are welcome to attend. Family members are invited to join nightly dinners at 5 p.m. and stay to watch the activities. For more information, contact the church at 541-820-3696.

• 6:30 p.m., Canyon City Community Hall

A viewing of the recently released film “Now is the Time - Healthcare for Everybody” will be available to the public. Grant County Democrats are sponsoring the film. Discussion and refreshments will follow.

• 8 a.m., Grant County Fairgrounds, John Day

The youth rodeo starts at 9 a.m. Membership is $30 per person or $45 per family, and membership is required. Entry fees are $2 per event or $10 for the day. For more information, call 541-575-3520 or 541-792-0077, or email

• 7:30 p.m., Madden Brothers Performing Arts Center, 116 NW Bridge St., John Day

The band will be joined by guest performer Dustin Schaefer, featuring country/rock and Americana music. Doors open at 5:30 for VIP and at 6:30 for general admission. Ten pairs of VIP tickets are available, including two front row seats, prime rib and beverages. Suds Pub will provide food and beverages, and all ages are welcome. Tickets start at $25 and may be purchased at or by calling 1-800-595-4849.

Out of the Past Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:21:35 -0400 Severe Grasshopper Infestation Develops in Grant County

Severe injury to crops, lawns, shrubs and in fact anything green is in store for Grant County people, unless immediate steps are taken to poison the hoard of young grasshoppers that have recently appeared in the county, according to L.E. Cowden, Bureau of Entomology, from The Dalles, who spent two days surveying conditions in Grant County last week at the request of M.E. Knickerbocker, County Agent.

Mr. Cowden stated that the only effective control is by means of the spreading of a poisoned brand sawdust mixture, and that a large measure of success is obtained by this method only when baiting is done on a community-wide basis.

The type of grasshoppers found in the greatest numbers is the Clear Wing or Warrior grasshopper, which is a great migrant, and upon reaching the adult stage will travel as far as 200 miles to find green food, Cowden stated.

When the hoppers mature, much more damage is done than at the present stage, and because of the fact when they mature there is greater difficulty in successfully poisoning them, it is important to start control measures as soon as possible, Cowden believes.

Infestations ranging up to a population count of 140 per square yard were found by Mr. Cowden. Some damage can be expected when counts show a population of 10 to 20 per square yard and the normal is only one to two, he stated.

The county agent reported that mixing stations have been established in Prairie City, Canyon City, Mt. Vernon, and the Mead Gilman and Roy Cork place in the Monument area. More stations can be established in other areas whenever the need develops.

Five tons of bran and four barrels of sodium arsenite have been obtained for poisoning purposes. Bait is most effectively distributed in the early morning when the temperature ranges from 60 to 90 degrees and should be broadcasted thinly over the ground to avoid poisoning of livestock, Knickerbocker said.

County Fair Plans Jell Early – ‘Fun for Everyone’

“Fun for everyone” is guaranteed at this year’s Grant County Fair, according to fair managers Mr. and Mrs. L.J. “Pete” Baucum.

Fair activities kick off on Aug. 20 at 10 a.m. with the Grant County Open Class Horse Show. Aug. 12 is the closing date for entries. This year there will be no exceptions.

The fairgrounds will be open for reception of animals and displays from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 6, and again on Thursday, Sept. 7, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Judging will take place the rest of Thursday and the grounds will not be open to the public. Open class livestock this year will include registered and grade cattle swine, sheep, poultry and rabbits.

John Day Kiwanis Club will sponsor the first of two parades on Friday. The same prizes and money will be awarded as in past years. Saturday’s parade will have the theme of Nursery Rhymes. There will be a children’s division this year and the winners of the Kiwanis parade competition will be in the Saturday event. The Herman Oliver Award will be changed to three places of prize money for the best organizational riding groups. Horses and equipment as well as riders will be judged.

Community Booth scoring will receive a boost this year as an additional $30 will be awarded to each entry which scores 75 out of 100 points. This is in addition to the regular prize money.

Portland’s Oregon Journal Juniors will provide entertainment and music Friday, and will offer a variety show Saturday night at the Fair. Local talent will be invited to join in the variety show.

The crowd-pleasing Grant County Fair Rodeo will be held Sept. 8-9 – an evening show on Sept. 8 and an afternoon event on Sept. 9. Thursday night, Sept. 7, there will be jackpot team roping.

As an added event, Grant Union High School will kick off their football season with the first home game.

Long Creek co-gen plant could close

An agreement reached between the Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative and Blue Mountain Forest Products of Long Creek is expected to save OTEC customers an estimated $57 million in power purchase costs over the next several years, but it also likely means the shutdown of the co-generation power facility in Long Creek.

The initial power purchase agreement with BMFP was negotiated by CP National, which provided Eastern Oregon electrical service before OTEC’s formation in 1988.

The agreement was inherited by OTEC as part of its takeover of CP National. Under the agreement, OTE would pay steadily increasing costs for power from the Long Creek co-generation power facility.

The buy-out of the contract with BMFP may well force the shutdown of the Long Creek power facility unless a new power purchase agreement can be negotiated with another utility company.

Bruce Malcolm, president of BMFP, said the Long Creek plant will continue in operation until Oct. 1. “We’ll probably have to mothball the plant then until we can find a buyer,” he said. “We’ll try and absorb the employees into the sawmill.”

He said the co-generation plants employs about 12 workers, and the sawmill operation can run independent of the co-generation plant.

Presently, OTEC purchases wholesale power from the Long Creek plant at a rate of – cents per kilowatt hour (kwh). Under the agreement, that rate would increase to 23 kwh if the agreement remained in effect through its 2010 expiration date.

By contrast, OTEC purchases wholesale power from the Bonneville Power Administration for 2.5 cents per kwh. OTEC members will see now immediate change in their electric bills because of the settlement which will relive the pressure for future rate increases because of the savings accrued in the buy-out of the contract, according to General Manager George King.

OTEC will use $8.5 million in pre-payment from the BPA through its residential exchange program plus a $500,000 loan from the Cooperative Finance Corporation – the co-op’s banker – to complete the buy-out of the contract.

With the settlement, OTEC will save money by purchasing a greater percentage of its power from the BPA, which offers a far lower wholesale rate to Pacific Northwest customers, said an OTEC spokesperson.

Monument fires merge, explode

The Monument Complex fires, sparked by lightning July 13, exploded since last week to cover more than 23,390 acres by Tuesday, July 17. The fire grew by more than 10,000 acres on July 15 alone, doubling its size. The complex was created when several blazes – including the Red Hill, Lovlett Corral and Wall Creek fires – merged. The fires were burning on Umatilla National Forest, Oregon Department of Forestry and BLM-protected lands about 5 miles north of Monument.

As it spread, the fire ran up ridges and jumped roads to come close to the rural residences around Monument, at one time threatening some 245 structures. On Tuesday, fire officials reported that three unoccupied structures or outbuildings had burned, and 20 structures remained threatened.

Over the weekend, the fire spread onto the historic JV Ranch, fueled by heavy grasses and driven by gusty winds. One spot fire touched off a meadow at the ranch headquarters, threatening main buildings there. However, two ODF engines responded and were able to stave off the flames. Those buildings survived the blaze, but the ODF reported that other ranch structures were damaged.

Fire officials on Monday were keeping a close eye on the residences within a few miles or so of the fire’s edge. However, they stressed that no evacuations had been ordered as of Tuesday.

Donald Lee Caldwell Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:20:43 -0400 Donald Lee Caldwell, 71, of Hermiston passed away at his home on Saturday, July 15, after a long, hard battle with pulmonary fibrosis.

Caldwell was born Aug. 20, 1945, in Raymond, Washington, the son of Lee and Edith (Emerson) Caldwell. He lived in South Bend, Washington, as a child where he graduated from high school in the class of 1963. After high school, he enlisted in the Air Force, where he was stationed abroad and served four years.

He then moved to Washington, D.C., for a short time before moving to Hillsboro. While living in Hillsboro, he worked at a service station and then began working for the city wastewater treatment plant. With a full-time job and family, he attended Clackamas Community College, receiving his associate degree.

In 1974, he moved to Hermiston to become the superintendent of the wastewater treatment plant. One of his biggest accomplishments was assisting in upgrading the city’s wastewater treatment system and his vision of relocating the plant to its current location in the early 1980s to keep up with the growth of the city of Hermiston. In 1993, he took a position with the Department of Environmental Quality and oversaw the eastern region. He lived in Pendleton for a short time before moving to John Day in 1997, where he worked as the public works director until his retirement in 2000. He moved back to Hermiston from John Day in 2016.

Caldwell enjoyed buying and selling antiques and collectibles and started a business called “Grandkids Inheritance.” He was known as “Dealin’ Don” to many associates at estate sales and auctions. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, camping and was an avid poker player. He cherished his family, and his grandchildren were his pride and joy. He enjoyed attending their activities and sporting events. He was involved with many community organizations, such as president of the Hermiston Band Boosters, where he assisted in raising money for the band to travel to Europe; Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association, where he received the William D. Hatfield Award for outstanding performance and professionalism in 1988; John Day City Council member from 2002-2014; actively involved in the Grant County Senior Center in John Day; and member of the Elks Lodge for 44 years and the Eagles Lodge.

Caldwell married JoAn Arnold in Hinsdale, Montana, on Aug. 1, 1967, and from this marriage two sons, Jeff and David, were born. The couple divorced many years later. He married Carolyn Mayden on Dec. 7, 1997, in Walla Walla, Washington.

He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, of Hermiston; sons Jeff and wife, Nancy, and David and wife, Brenda; four grandchildren; sisters Dorothy Heater and Diane Hull; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by a sister, Delores Brown, and a brother, Dale Caldwell.

Viewing will be held from 3-6 p.m. Thursday, July 20, at Burns Mortuary chapel in Hermiston. A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Friday, July 21, at Burns Mortuary chapel. Burial with military honors will follow in Hermiston Cemetery. A reception will follow the graveside service.

Memorial donations can be sent to Shriner’s Hospital,

To leave an online condolence for the family, visit

Dorothy Katherine Blasing Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:20:34 -0400 Dorothy Katherine Blasing, 98, of Prairie City passed away Wednesday, July 5, at Blue Mountain Care Center in Prairie City. A service was held Tuesday, July 11, at the Prairie Baptist Church, in Prairie City.

Blasing was born Dec. 19, 1918, at Manhattan, Kansas, to Julius and Melia Hoerman. She attended Manhattan schools and graduated from Manhattan High School. She married John “Mel” Blasing Feb. 13, 1937, in Manhattan and then headed west living in Unity, Bates and Prairie City.

She was involved in many church and community activities. She was a member and president of her Home Extension group, played piano and was active in Bible school at her church. Blasing was also a member of the Community Choir for several years, was involved in many school activities, such as PTA, and followed her son, Larry, to many of his football and basketball games. In her younger years, she spent several summers up in the Dixie Mountain fire lookout tower. She was on the Prairie City Cemetery board for many years. She was also in charge of the church service at the Blue Mountain Care Center on Sunday afternoons for many years and was an avid visitor at the center.

She liked horseback riding, sewing crafts and anything outdoors, especially herding cattle to and from summer pastures.

She is survived by her grandson Loy Blasing of Missoula, Montana; sister Helen Mann of Antioch, California; daughter-in-law Yvonne Blasing of Rapid City, South Dakota; and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by husband, John “Mel” Blasing; son, Larry Blasing; three brothers; and one sister.

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George ‘Shiloh’ Ernest Rogers III Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:20:25 -0400 George “Shiloh” Ernest Rogers III, 43, of Fort Hood, Texas, passed away Sunday, July 2, near Forest Service Road 24 on the Malheur National Forest. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Rogers was born April 25, 1974, in Killeen, Texas, at Fort Hood to George Rogers Jr. of Dumas, Texas, and Brenda (Smith) Woodall of Rocky Ford, Colorado. He attended Dumas High School, where he played football and baseball. After high school, he worked in construction and lived most of his life in California.

Rogers was free spirited, and he loved nature, his family and being outdoors.

He is survived by his two sons, Julian Rogers of Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Cedar Shylow Rain of Eureka, California; father, George Rogers Jr. and his wife, Doreen, of Dumas; mother, Brenda Woodall and her husband, Carl Woodall, of Rocky Ford, Colorado; brothers Dwayne Rogers of Colorado and Jeff Rogers of Dumas; two half-brothers Adam Rogers of Dumas and Eric Rindhal of Twin Cities, Minnesota; step-sisters Jacqueline Aikman and fiancé, Gavin Hoskins Lorraine, of Amarillo, Texas, Clarissa McPherson and husband, Matt, of Dumas, Miranda Coon and husband, Randy, of Dumas, Gaylene Woodall and Eric Woodall of Oklahoma, Cindy Miller of Fitch, Texas, and Jennifer Miller of Grand Junction, Colorado; and several nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of one’s choice through Driskill Memorial Chapel, 241 S. Canyon Blvd., John Day, OR 97845.

To leave a condolence for the family, visit