Blue Mountain Eagle | Blue Mountain Eagle Fri, 27 Nov 2015 17:56:11 -0500 en Blue Mountain Eagle | ‘B’ corps wince at possible tax exemption Fri, 27 Nov 2015 16:16:17 -0500 Hillary BorrudCapital Press SALEM — Companies that would be exempt from a proposed corporate gross receipts tax say the exemption could undermine the reputation of a movement to encourage environmentally and socially responsible businesses.

The union-backed tax measure planned for the 2016 ballot would require certain corporations to pay a 2.5 percent tax on sales in Oregon greater than $25 million. The measure exempts companies registered with the state as “benefit companies.”

Legislation passed in 2013 allows corporations to register with the state as “benefit companies” in order to put shareholders on notice that the company will not only seek profits, but will also pursue other goals such as sustainability. These companies are supposed to work with a third party, such as the certification nonprofit B Lab, to assess their operations, and then document positive impacts in annual reports. Registering for the corporate status currently does not affect companies’ Oregon tax bills.

The proposed tax exemption generated concern among some proponents of the benefit company model, who said it could damage the program’s reputation if the designation becomes popular as a strategy to avoid taxes.

“The B corporation movement is about having socially responsible companies, not getting tax breaks,” said Tom Kelly, president and owner of the remodeling and custom home construction company Neil Kelly. Neil Kelly is a registered benefit company, and Kelly said the exemption could impact “the B corp brand.”

“It certainly has the potential to attract companies that will become B corporations whose only intention is to get a tax break, which will dilute the value of the B corp movement pretty significantly,” Kelly said.

Nik Blosser, CEO of Celilo Group Media and chair of the board at Sokol Blosser winery, said he is also concerned about the exemption. Both businesses are registered benefit companies.

“We certainly didn’t become a B corp to get tax benefits, and I think that somewhat undermines the point for B corps,” said Blosser, who has not yet taken a position on the corporate sales tax proposal. “If the measure passes, I think we would want to advocate that the Legislature modify that part.”

Blosser said the current lack of enforcement by the Secretary of State’s Business Services Division could make it easy for corporations to register as benefit companies to get the tax exemption, without demonstrating positive social impacts. “There’s no one checking to see if you’ve done that,” Blosser said.

Ben Unger, executive director of Our Oregon and a chief petitioner on the tax initiative, dismissed the idea that the exemption could provide a loophole for corporations looking for ways to avoid the corporate sales tax.

“I don’t think we are,” Unger said. “I guess my point is there’s nothing that’s going to stop large, global corporations from avoiding taxes.”

Unger said Our Oregon included the exemption in the proposed measure to distinguish between huge multinational companies that avoid taxes and companies that are “doing their best to be a good corporate citizen.”

“U.S. corporations are hiding $2.1 trillion oversees that they owe taxes on in the U.S.,” Unger said. “But there’s a difference between those folks, those corporate boardrooms, and the small businesses in Oregon that fuel our economy and hire our employees.”

Our Oregon is gathering the necessary 88,184 signatures ahead of a July deadline to get the measure on the November ballot.

State Rep. Phil Barnhart, D-Eugene, said he supports the tax measure, even though lawmakers who passed the law to create benefit companies did not intend to create a tax benefit. “Most of the companies I’ve heard from, or we’ve heard from collectively, were not asking for a tax benefit,” Barnhart said. “They were trying to deal with this other issue, which is making sure that stockholders know that when you buy shares in this company, they’re going to be trying to do some other things in addition to trying to make you money.”

Barnhart said it is not yet clear corporations would register as benefit companies to avoid the tax, but “I can assure you that if it matters, we will be acting on it, probably in (2017) is my guess.”

There are currently more than 700 corporations registered as benefit companies in Oregon, according to a state database. However, the state has not tracked the amount of taxes paid by these companies, nor analyzed whether the benefit company exemption would cut into anticipated tax revenue.

The Legislative Revenue Office has estimated the tax could generate $2.6 billion annually.

Robert Manicke, a lawyer at Stoel Rives LLP who specializes in state and local tax law, said companies that sell high volumes of items with low profit margins such as grocery stores “would be affected strongly” by the tax plan.

Oregon is home to New Seasons Market, the first grocery store chain to be certified as a “B Corp” by B Lab. Although the company has already done much of the work necessary to qualify as a “benefit company” in Oregon, the grocer has not registered with the state to become one. Staff were unavailable to comment Wednesday, due to the Thanksgiving shopping rush.

Many existing benefit companies would avoid the corporate sales tax even without the exemption, either because they are too small or because they are not registered as “C” corporations, the only type obligated to pay the tax.

For example, Kelly said his business would not benefit from a corporate sales tax exemption because Neil Kelly is organized as an “S” corporation.

Shareholders of “S” corporation report profits and losses on their personal tax returns, while profits at “C” corporations are taxed both at the corporate level and when distributed as dividends to shareholders.

Celilo Group Media and Sokol Blosser winery would not have to pay the corporate sales tax, because their annual sales are less than $25 million, Blosser said.

Kelly, who said he would probably oppose the tax measure even without the exemption for benefit companies, has been trying to meet with Gov. Kate Brown about options to remove the exemption.

“(Brown) was real instrumental in having this thing happen when she was secretary of state,” Kelly said. “She’s definitely invested in it.”

Wanted: Coats for kids Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:25:10 -0500 CANYON CITY – Humbolt Elementary is collecting gently used winter clothing for local children.

Donations of coats, sweaters, boots, gloves, hats, scarves and snow pants are welcome.

Drop off locations are Humbolt and Chester’s Thriftway.

Clothing will be available for pick up during the week of Dec. 14-18 in the Humbolt Elementary cafeteria.

Prizes awarded in PC Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:24:42 -0500 PRAIRIE CITY – Several people kicked off the holiday season by winning a prize while bazaar shopping at Christmas on the Prairie.

The American Legion Auxiliary had drawings for several goodies:

• Lyn McDonald of Prairie City – $50 gift certificate at Huffman’s Select Market.

• Levin Preston of Sherman Oaks, Calif. – Kids basket.

• Barb Williams of Canyon City – Movie basket.

• Marjean Koser of Prairie City – Spa basket.

• Sharon Thissell of Seneca – Wine basket.

• Connie Flower of Prineville – Won not only the outdoors basket, but the load of wood, too, which she gave to her sister, Carol Purvis, of Prairie City.

The Green Thumb Garden Club’s drawing for a bird feeder went to Chris Camarena of Prairie City.

Holiday Showcase to deliver spirit of season Wed, 25 Nov 2015 15:17:58 -0500 Angel Carpenter JOHN DAY – Dancers will kick off the Christmas season at the annual Dance Showcase at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Dec. 3 and 4, at the Grant Union old gym in John Day.

Admission is $5 and a canned food item, children under 6 have free admission and refreshments will be served.

Shannon Adair who coordinates the event and is in her 19th year coaching the Grant Union dance team said the event will feature ballet, contemporary, jazz and hip hop styles with solo, small group and full group performances.

“For us, it’s a great start to the holidays, trying to deliver happiness and the spirit of the season,” Adair said.

About 60 dancers ranging in age from 3-18 will perform in the showcase.

The younger students – Level 1 through 3 and the junior team – receive their training at Body, Fitness & Dance, while the Grant Union dancers are a high school team.

Adair works with assistant coaches Jessica Moore and Kattie Piazza to coach the Grant Union Gold team.

Chandra Holliday coaches Levels 1 and 2, and Stephanie Parsons coaches Level 3.

Adair said she takes a lot of pride in the Holiday Showcase, and noted all the coaches were once on her dance team, except Holliday, who was on the Pendleton High School dance team.

“It’s a pretty big program for the size of our community,” Adair said. “I’m excited – it’s one of the things I have a lot of pride in.”

Brown adviser traveling to Paris climate talks Tue, 24 Nov 2015 19:59:17 -0500 Hillary BorrudCapital Bureau SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown’s energy policy adviser, Ruchi Sadhir, will travel to Paris next week as part of a delegation from California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois and Tennessee at the international climate talks in Paris.

The trip is being paid for by a California-based environmental organization that operates the largest accredited greenhouse gas offset registry for the California cap-and-trade program.

The focus of the United Nations summit is to work on a new international agreement between nations to address climate change. Individual states are not involved in the talks. Sadhir did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon about what she hopes to achieve during the trip. However, Chris Pair, Brown’s press secretary, said it is important for Oregon to have a “seat at the table” during the talks.

“Gov. Brown believes Oregon’s unique and special way of life is being threatened by climate change,” Pair wrote in an emailed statement. “Oregon is already experiencing the impacts of increased drought, devastating forest fires, fish die-offs from increased water temperature, and less snowpack that leads to less water supply. Future generations will rightly judge the morality and leadership of this generation not by the fact of climate change, but how we responded. Ruchi’s participation in the world climate conference in Paris is essential to ensuring that Oregonians have a seat at the table as the world decides how to mitigate climate change and adapt to the challenges climate change brings.”

Oregon taxpayers will not pick up the tab for the trip. Rather, the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Climate Action Reserve will pay for Sadhir’s travel, just as the group did for California Gov. Jerry Brown and other members of the delegation.

Climate Action Reserve advocates “market-based polices and solutions” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the group is involved in registering carbon offset projects through California’s cap-and-trade program. In California, Gov. Jerry Brown has been promoting non-binding agreements between cities, states and provinces to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown appointed Sadhir in September to replace energy policy adviser Margi Hoffman, who had also served as former Gov. John Kitzhaber’s energy adviser. Sadhir previously worked as a senior policy adviser at the Oregon Public Utility Commission.

Sadhir is the only member of the delegation from Oregon, according to Jennifer Weiss, a spokeswoman for Climate Action Reserve. Weiss wrote in an email that the delegation “is largely California state legislators and government officials but also includes officials from a few other states, environmental nonprofit representatives and sponsors.”

The Los Angeles Times has reported that billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer will be part of the group traveling to Paris, as well as former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Weiss declined to reveal on Tuesday how much the group will pay for Sadhir’s trip to Paris, but wrote in email that “We will also be providing gift reporting letters to the government officials that we are paying for and those will be reported in their (California Fair Political Practices Commission) filings.”

Weiss also wrote that the group annually discloses all of its funding sources to the IRS in tax filings.

Oregon’s government ethics law allows nonprofits to pay for public officials’ expenses “for attendance at a convention, fact-finding mission or trip, conference or other meeting if the public official is scheduled to deliver a speech, make a presentation, participate on a panel or represent state government,” according to the statute.

The Paris conference begins Nov. 30 and runs through Dec. 11. Sadhir will depart for Paris on Dec. 5, Pair said.

Ferrioli demands ODOT director’s resignation Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:27:44 -0500 Hillary BorrudCapital Bureau SALEM — Oregon Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, on Nov. 18 called for the state’s top transportation official to resign.

Ferrioli accused Oregon Department of Transportation director Matthew Garrett and advisers to Gov. Kate Brown of withholding key carbon emissions information from Democratic and Republican lawmakers who were negotiating a transportation funding package earlier this year. Ferrioli cited public records released by ODOT and the Governor’s Office.

Lawmakers gave up on the transportation funding proposal after Garrett revealed during the first public hearing June 24 that the plan would result in a smaller carbon emissions reduction than originally projected. ODOT staff had predicted smaller carbon reductions more than two weeks before the hearing, but did not pass that figure to lawmakers, according to emails released by Ferrioli’s office.

Lawmakers have continued to question the transportation agency’s management in recent months, and Brown acknowledged last week that ODOT needs to reassure lawmakers it is operating efficiently in order to build support for a possible 2017 transportation funding package.

The emissions calculations were a critical component of the 2015 transportation negotiations. Republicans had said they would only support an increase in the gas tax if Democrats agreed to repeal the state’s low-carbon fuel standard, which takes effect in January and is supposed to reduce carbon emissions from transportation by up to 10 percent — 7.7 million metric tons — over the next decade.

Democrats said they would only consider replacing the fuel standard with a plan that would result in at least an equal reduction in carbon emissions. ODOT staff provided estimates that the state could achieve that through a package of alternative fuel incentives and spending to improve public transit and reduce traffic congestion.

One part of the plan in particular resulted in immediate skepticism by environmentalists: proposed technological improvements in traffic flows that were supposed to cut carbon emissions by 2.02 million metric tons over a decade. Together with other components of the plan, these improvements were supposed to reduce carbon emissions by as much as 9.1 million to 11.22 million metric tons over a decade. Garrett said on June 24 the technological improvements would yield roughly 20 percent of the amount calculated originally for the bipartisan group, which meant the transportation package would no longer achieve the same amount of carbon reductions predicted from the low-carbon fuel standard.

Ferrioli revealed on Wednesday that he had also asked the governor to seek Garrett’s resignation soon after the hearing.

“In June, following the implosion of transportation negotiations, I demanded Gov. Brown immediately request the resignation of Director Garrett due to gross incompetency at best and dishonest manipulation at worst,” Ferrioli said in a written statement. “Whether Director Garrett knew the numbers ODOT provided the workgroup were wrong or he simply failed to provide the updated numbers in his possession, his decision to surprise workgroup members with new numbers in a public hearing without any advance warning led to the demise of a critical, bipartisan transportation infrastructure package for Oregonians that would have resulted in real carbon reduction.”

Records obtained by Ferrioli’s office showed as early as June 8, Garrett and Brown’s sustainable communities and transportation policy adviser Karmen Fore received emails from ODOT staff with lower carbon reduction estimates. Amanda Pietz, manager of ODOT’s transportation planning unit, wrote in the email that a computer model had predicted that $400 million in technological improvements to improve traffic flow could reduce carbon emissions by 2.02 million metric tons over a decade.

Nonetheless, transportation officials continued to provide documents to the bipartisan group of lawmakers negotiating the transportation package — known as the Gang of Eight — that showed the state could achieve the same 2.02 million metric ton reduction in carbon emissions at half the price, $200 million over a decade.

The ODOT estimates continued to sink lower, with Garrett passing along an updated prediction of 0.87 million metric tons in carbon reduction from $200 million in transportation improvements in a June 10 email to Fore and Brown’s energy policy adviser Margi Hoffman. However, ODOT and the governor’s advisers continued to tell lawmakers in updated briefing documents that they could achieve 2.02 million metric tons in carbon reductions for $200 million.

On the eve of the legislative hearing on the transportation package, Garrett asked his staff to double-check the numbers. Angela Crowley-Koch, legislative director for the Oregon Environmental Council, also questioned the calculations in an email to ODOT assistant director Travis Brouwer that evening.

“Can we please see the ODOT models for the carbon reductions from transit and transportation operation?” Crowley-Koch wrote. “I’ll admit surprise at the high level of carbon reductions from just $20 mil (annual) investment in transportation operations!”

Chris Pair, a press secretary for Brown, attributed the failure to pass along updated information to lawmakers to the fast pace “in the waning hours of session” and the complexity of the legislation. “That said, Governor Brown has asked the Oregon Transportation Commission to oversee a third-party review of (ODOT’s) management practices,” Pair wrote in an email.

Brown did not address her advisers’ handling of the information in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.

“If we are to ask Oregonians to step up and provide additional resources for our transportation system, they must first be confident that the resources currently available are being used responsibly,” Brown said in a statement.

Governor does have ability to reject refugees Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:24:09 -0500 Dear Editor:

In reference to the Nov. 18 Blue Mountain Eagle, a small article penned by Portland Democrat Paris Achen stated her LEGAL opinion that “Governors have no authority to reject Syrian refugees....” Our supposedly unbiased Blue Mountain Eagle needs to apologize for this extremely misleading comment that has no basis in law.

Each state has the sovereign authority to defend citizens against a federal government that fails to protect them. Writers for this paper can make up law if they wish to honor the Oregon government officials who support Obama’s WAR by Islamist Terrorists BUT should first change the name of the paper to the “Weekly Communist Journal.”

Tom McHatton

Long Creek

Worker suffers heart attack on Highway 395 project Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:24:08 -0500 Carl Sampson A Eugene man died of a heart attack Nov. 17 as he was working at the Highway 395 project south of John Day.

Patrick Cullen, 56, was employed by Wildish Standard Paving Co. in Eugene, according to Randall Hledik, director of general services for the company.

“Members of the crew responded and performed CPR until the ambulance arrived,” he said. “It was very tragic.”

Dr. David Hall, the Grant County medical examiner, said the cause of death was cardiac arrest.

Word on the Street Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:23:55 -0500 The Eagle asked people in Grant County: Who do you think will win the Civil War game, and what will the score be?

Grant County’s people show generosity Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:23:11 -0500 Carl Sampson One of my favorite spots in Grant County is atop the ridge near the airport overlooking John Day. From there, I can see much of the community nestled in the valley.

Off to the east, cattle are lowing in a green pasture. Baseball diamonds lie ready for the first hits of spring. The rodeo and fair grounds are buttoned up for the winter. White church steeples reach skyward.

This is a community at ease with itself.

By any measure, it’s been a difficult year. The wildfires that raced up the canyon, destroying all in their path, threatened the community but not its resolve. Those whose homes and property fell victim to the flames found help and comfort in the generosity of their neighbors and friends.

I like mathematics. It helps tell a story that cannot easily be told any other way. Consider these numbers: 7,180, 9.1, 35,051, 43 and 244,615.31.

In Grant County, 7,180 people live. It is a shrinking number. Since 1950, when the population peaked at 8,239, the number of county residents has decreased as the economy has faced challenge after challenge. The mills have struggled and other businesses have not been able to replace those economic drivers. The 9.1 percent seasonally adjusted local unemployment rate as of September was the highest in the state and more than 50 percent higher than the unemployment rate in Portland and the Willamette Valley.

The average per-household income of $35,051 signifies how much each household brings in annually. That’s $17,000 less than the median household income in Multnomah County.

The number 43 is the saddest number. It’s the number of homes lost to wildfires this year in Grant County.

If 43 is saddest number, 244,615.31 is the most miraculous. That’s the number of dollars donated to victims of the wildfires.

That means, in the county with the highest unemployment rate in the state, $34 was contributed by every man, woman and child. If you consider the 3,319 households in the county, $74 was contributed by each.

Every so often, life knocks you to your knees. No matter how tough you are or how prepared you are, something comes along that leaves you at loose ends. That’s when your neighbors, friends — and total strangers — pitch in to help you get back on your feet.

That’s when miracles happen.

People such as Jason and Amanda Wright and their daughter Carle know about that. They lost everything to the fires. Their home, clothes, furniture — everything. Yet through the generosity of the community and other guardian angels — including Kathy Stewart, who offered them the use of a furnished house — they are getting back on their feet.

The people of Grant County are known for their resilience, for how they bounce back from misfortunes, large and small. Now they are also known for their generosity.

When I stand atop that ridge overlooking the valley, I see more than the natural beauty. I see the beauty of the people who live here.

Carl Sampson is managing editor of the Capital Press, an agricultural newspaper and website. He was in John Day helping out at the Blue Mountain Eagle.

A tale of two wolf shootings Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:23:01 -0500 An Eastern Oregon man who accidentally shot a protected wolf near Prairie City may be able to take solace in the outcome of a nearly identical case last year in Washington state.

On Oct. 12, 2014, 38-year-old Jonathan Rasmussen notified state authorities that he had accidentally shot a wolf in a farm field southwest of Pullman, Wash. Wolves in Washington state are protected under the state Endangered Species Act.

Rasmussen was initially charged with taking a state endangered species, a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Whitman County, Wash., district attorney Denis Tracy had a tough choice to make, whether to prosecute Rasmussen to the maximum extent of the law — which would be legally correct but patently unfair — or seek a more even-handed outcome.

He chose the latter, and in September of this year reached an agreement with Rasmussen’s lawyer in which the hunter would forfeit his rifle and pay $100 in court costs and vow to commit no further game violations for six months.

Short of dropping the case altogether, this was about the best conclusion that could have been reached.

Fast forward to last week in Oregon.

Brennon D. Witty, 25, was charged with killing an endangered species after he accidentally shot a wolf on private property south of Prairie City. He was also charged with hunting with a centerfire rifle without a big game tag, Harney County District Attorney Tim Colahan said. He is handling the case because the district attorney in Grant County, where the accident happened, knew the defendant’s family.

Each charge is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $6,250 fine.

Witty notified authorities immediately and told them he had been hunting coyotes and accidentally shot the wolf.

The similarities between the facts of these two cases are striking, and the outcomes should be, too.

The federal Endangered Species Act and its state counterparts were written in an effort to bring species back from the brink of extinction. Wolves are not teetering near extinction, or anywhere close to it. Tens of thousands of wolves live in Canada and Alaska and hundreds live in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming after they were transplanted there and multiplied in number.

Now wolves are spilling into Washington state, Oregon and Northern California. Any wildlife biologist would agree that wolves are thriving in the Northwest. Their numbers are increasing, as are the number of breeding pairs. The loss of one or two wolves to accidents in no way endangers them.

The idea that someone who accidentally shoots a wolf and then notifies the authorities of his mistake should be criminally prosecuted completely misses the purpose of the state and federal laws, which are targeted at those who kill endangered species on purpose.

It is common for those who commit a crime and then cooperate with authorities to get lighter sentences.

In light of the realities of the wolf populations in the Northwest and the fact that sometimes people make mistakes, prosecutors would best serve the public by making sure the punishment matches the crime.

In these cases, the lighter the sentence, the better.

Thankful for farmers and ranchers at Thanksgiving Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:22:59 -0500 Cyndie Shearing The American Farm Bureau’s 30th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving dinner table revealed this year’s cost is $50.11, a 70-cent increase from last year’s average of $49.41.

The big ticket item — a 16-pound turkey — came in at $23.04 this year. That’s about $1.44 per pound, an increase of less than 9 cents per pound or a total of $1.39 more per whole turkey, compared to 2014.

Concerns about the supply of two favorite holiday foods — turkeys and pumpkins — turned out to be just a blip on the radar screen. Plentiful supplies of both are available at reasonable prices to grace our holiday tables.

As we turn to cooking and eating special meals at this time of year, exploring what farmers and ranchers have to say about how they produce food for our tables adds a little spice to our food-related conversations.

Don Steen, a turkey farmer in Missouri, has been working on his farm since 1973.

“There are both hen and tom turkeys. A hen is a female and a tom is a male,” explains Steen.

Water is very important to a turkey’s survival. Poultry — turkeys, chickens, ducks and other fowl — need to be able to drink water at all times. The Steens’ turkeys eat a corn, soybean and mineral mix made at a local feed mill.

The Steens have a high level of biosecurity on the farm to protect the turkeys. Cars and trucks are washed when entering and exiting the farm. Don and his wife even wear special clothing in the barns to protect the turkeys.

Pumpkin farmer Harriet Wegmeyer of Virginia was a guest on Emeril Lagasse’s cooking show. She and her husband plant pumpkins in early summer and harvest through mid-October. In winter they care for the land by planting cover crops to add nitrogen to the soil.

“Harvesting pumpkins is a hard job, because all of the picking must be done by hand and some of them are very heavy,” Wegmeyer says. Being a farmer is a year-round job but one that she finds exciting.

“Each season there is something new going on at the farm,” according to Jeff LeFleur, a cranberry farmer in Massachusetts. “Our goal is to take good care of the farm for future generations,” he says.

Many people believe that cranberries grow under water, but they do not. The bogs where cranberries grow are actually dry during most of the season. Water is used to help with the harvest and to protect the berries from the cold. Water also helps the cranberries grow.

If you’ve ever wondered why cranberries float, LeFleur has the answer.

“The cranberries float to the top because there are air pockets inside them,” he explains.

Order a copy of “Farm a Month: Where Does Our Food Come From?” from the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture to learn more about Steen, Wegmeyer, LeFleur and other food producers.

Cyndie Shearing is director of internal communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

County plans for possibility of spring flood Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:22:55 -0500 Carl Sampson CANYON CITY — Grant County commissioners huddled with staffers and their engineer Nov. 25. Their goal: To do everything they can to prevent or reduce flooding along Canyon Creek next spring.

“The creek has a history of flooding in the spring,” said Ted Williams, the interim emergency management coordinator. A winter of heavy snow followed by a warm and rainy spring could provide the formula for flooding. In 2011, 1964 and as far back as 1897, flooding along the creek has caused severe damage to property.

But the 110,000-acre Canyon Creek Complex wildfire, which burned much of the forestland upstream in the watershed, has added more vulnerability and uncertainty. Foresters are predicting more runoff this spring even if the weather conditions are normal.

With that in mind, the county is developing a two-stage plan.

The first stage involves preventing or minimizing the area’s exposure to floods next spring.

The second stage would involve developing a plan that would permanently solve the flooding threat.

But next spring is weighing most heavily on the commission. Engineer Doug Ferguson is mapping Canyon Creek, identifying areas within the 100-year flood plain that can be blocked off using sandbags or portable concrete structures called Eco-Blocks and Jersey barriers. They are pre-cast, portable and can be re-used.

“The idea is to pre-stage them where they’ll be needed,” Williams said.

The areas around Grant Union Junior-Senior High School, at the mouth of the creek near the John Day River and several other low spots have flooded in the past. Using a new survey, Kenny Delano Jr., Ferguson’s partner, is determining where exactly to place sandbags and concrete structures.

“I’ve been concentrating on the location of the treatments,” Delano said in an interview.

“This is more of a tactical discussion than an engineering discussion,” Ferguson said.

Next, the county will contact property owners about where the berms and concrete structures will be placed, Delano said.

The county plans to have up to 40,000 sandbags and 40 2-foot-by-2-foot-by-6-foot Eco-Blocks on hand. The county already has 20 Eco-Blocks and 29 Jersey barriers.

Of particular concern is the number of dead trees along the creek that could potentially snag other trees floating downstream and create a dam.

“There are a lot from the mouth of the river to the school,” Ferguson said.

County Judge Scott Myers and Commissioner Boyd Britton said an immediate priority will be getting rid of those potential snags.

“If we don’t do it we’re hurting,” Ferguson said.

Myers said the county needs to go to the Department of Fish and Wildlife to secure permits for the work.

“I think the conversation needs to go that we’re going to do it,” Britton said. “The time for asking for permission is passed.”

The commission also discussed two bridges, at Nugget and Inland avenues, which are particular concerns.

The Nugget bridge is all-wooden and in poor shape, Williams said.

The commission discussed buying a 60-foot portable one-lane bridge to have on hand should a bridge fail during a flood.

In addition, Williams said he will develop evacuation routes.

“We’ll plot out the areas that would need to be evacuated first,” he said. He will also identify buildings that can be used as shelters and develop the logistics for getting people to safety should a flood take place.

Williams, a security and search and rescue instructor who lives in John Day, is working under a 12-week contract with the county.

Sweet season’s greetings Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:21:58 -0500 Cheryl Hoefler PRAIRIE CITY – It wasn’t exactly a winter wonderland, but everything else about last Saturday’s Christmas on the Prairie in Prairie City was merry and bright – and sweet.

The “Candyland” theme this year was evident throughout town, most notably in the Teen Center, where children kept busy through most of the day with crafts, including creating and decorating their own gingerbread houses, an activity organized by Anna Smith and her husband, Tom.

Several merchants got in on the fun, too, and had their own gingerbread houses on display – some designed with the particular business in mind. Those creations were auctioned off at the tree lighting that evening, with the proceeds to benefit Talents and Treasures, organizers of Christmas on the Prairie.

Santa Claus and three of his elves arrived in style on a Prairie City Fire Department engine. Santa spent much of the day at the Teen Center, welcoming a steady stream of young visitors for photos and gift wishes.

Other festivities in town included the American Legion Auxiliary bazaar at the Prairie City School cafeteria and the school FFA auction and dinner that evening.

Christmas on the Prairie started in 1995, mainly as a day of seasonal sales and special drawings among the merchants in town. Santa made appearances, awarded prizes and gave out goodies.

The event has grown over the years, both in the number of activities and popularity throughout Grant County, as the kick-off to the holiday season.

The annual event is organized by Talents and Treasures of Prairie City.

Wanda Winegar, owner of Bar WB and one of the longtime organizers, said, “It’s a lot of fun seeing friends get to come together and visit.”

“It’s an important event for our community,” Winegar said.

Melanie DeJong, dental hygienist at Norm DeJong Dentistry, said, “It’s great to have fun things for the kids to do.”

“Anna (Smith) and her entourage are inspiring the community,” DeJong added. “It’s great to be part of something fun and creative.”

Kyler Shaw, 9, of Prairie City, enjoyed his first stint as one of Santa’s elves.

Among other duties, Kyler said he enjoyed getting to ride on the fire engine for Santa’s arrival.

But the best part?

“That I get to stand by Santa,” he said.

Memorial benefits seniors and homebound people Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:07:58 -0500 JOHN DAY – For local seniors and homebound folks, the holidays are full of more warmth and joy thanks to a local woman’s devotion to her late sister.

The 22nd annual Carrie Young Memorial, a by-donation spaghetti dinner and auction fundraiser, is coming up on Friday, Dec. 4, at the John Day Elks Lodge.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and dinner is served at 6 p.m.

Lucie Immoos launched the event in 1993, in memory of her sister, Carrie Young, who died in a car accident that year. Young worked as a certified nurse’s assistant, who was dedicated to working with the elderly at local medical facilities and nursing homes.

Proceeds from the fundraiser go toward the purchase of gifts and everyday living items for patients at four assisted living facilities – Blue Mountain Care Center, Valley View Assisted Living, Bear Valley Assisted Living and Chesley’s Elderberry House, plus helping with heat certificates, groceries, clothing and other needs for 150 homebound elderly and handicapped people throughout Grant County.

The event, which has grown in assisting more seniors each year, has become a local holiday tradition.

To make a donation or for more information, contact Lucie Immoos at 541-620-2098.

EOU president touts opportunities that are available Mon, 23 Nov 2015 17:05:45 -0500 Angel Carpenter JOHN DAY – Tom Insko, new president of Eastern Oregon University, shared his vision for the institution at the Nov. 19 Grant County Chamber of Commerce open meeting.

A group of about 25 met over lunch at the Outpost Restaurant, with Chamber president Jerry Franklin conducting the meeting.

EOU in La Grande has had a good deal of turnover in presidents and interim presidents in recent years, and Insko said he plans to be “the last one you will see for a long, long time – I’m here.”

Insko has a background in the timber industry, and managed Boise Cascade in Idaho for the past 20 years, including several manufacturing facilities and up to 1,300 employees.

When the latest opening for EOU president became available, he said he and his wife chose to make the switch.

“I decided to take a risk as a non-traditional candidate,” he said. “It’s truly an honor for me.”

Insko started the job July 1 and said his decision centered on his love of EOU and Eastern Oregon, and the opportunity to help students pursue the pathway to their dreams.

A graduate of EOU, Insko grew up on a farm near Elgin and graduated from Elgin High School in 1989.

He earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and business-economics at EOU and later received his master’s degree in business administration from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

Insko shared a few facts about EOU.

Eastern has 3,500 students with 37 percent on campus, 49 percent online and 14 percent at regional centers.

The campus population includes 74 percent Oregon residents, and half of those are from Eastern Oregon.

Insko said the university has a long-term vision to break down the urban-rural divide, adding he would like the school to help students find opportunities with existing industry and jobs, including state agencies and the departments of forestry and transportation.

Regarding other career opportunities, Insko said, the need for educators, including bilingual teachers, is already high and will grow in the coming years.

This year the university brought back the career center.

He opened the conversation to the audience, asking for their views on the university.

The input ranged from “It’s a perfect setting and a good fit for kids who grow up here” to another who said his son “wants to experience something away – exploring the world.”

Replying to the latter comment, Insko said, “I don’t think people understand what Eastern offers. EOU did me well, and it’s such a good value at the end of the day. I don’t want Eastern to be the best-kept secret.”

He said if he had gone to a bigger university, he might not have become the leader he is today.

“What I experienced as a student there were faculty members and administrators who took a personal interest in my success and development,” he said. “They supported me and challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and develop skills that I never thought I had. They believed in me and what I could be and, with their support, I felt safe in doing that, so when I graduated I was a confident leader.”

Marines meet to observe Corps birthday Mon, 23 Nov 2015 15:07:22 -0500 JOHN DAY – Sixteen local Marines and their wives met at the Outpost Restaurant in John Day on Nov. 10 to observe the 240th birthday of the Marine Corps.

Those attending served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq from 1943 to the present.

The Marines included Dave Saxton, Bud Salsbury, Dave Traylor, Dennis Smith, Gary Langenfeld, Jim Clark, Gary Whitmore, Bill Sexton, Ken Evans, Gary Daake, Walt Kight, Harry Stangel, Marc “Doc” O’Dell, Bob Stewart, Tom Baum and Dale Duby.

After introductions were made, a general reminiscence of wars served in and duty stations visited was the order of the gathering.

According to Traylor, not all Grant County Marines were able to attend, but they and all Marines who served were fondly remembered by those present.

WindFloat power too expensive for utilities Mon, 23 Nov 2015 19:27:40 -0500 Hillary BorrudCapital Bureau SALEM — Oregon utility officials said on Monday they do not want to purchase power from the first offshore wind pilot project proposed for the West Coast, because it would be too expensive.

The Seattle-based company Principle Power needs a commitment by May 2016 that Oregon ratepayers will purchase electricity from the 16- to 24-megawatt project known as WindFloat proposed off Coos Bay, in order to qualify for the remaining $40 million in a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The company also needs the guaranteed revenue stream from long-term power purchase agreements to secure financing for the project.

Brendan McCarthy, a registered lobbyist and environmental policy manager for Portland General Electric, said the company just completed a 267-megawatt wind farm in Eastern Washington.

“This is about five times as expensive,” McCarthy said, referring to the cost per unit of power from WindFloat. “That’s concerning.”

McCarthy spoke during a meeting of an advisory committee that Gov. Kate Brown formed in August to help Principle Power secure a power purchase agreement.

Annette Price, director of governmental affairs and a registered lobbyist for Pacific Power, said the utility had good conversations with Principle Power about the project, but “its too expensive for our ratepayers.”

A bill in the Legislature earlier this year would have required Portland General Electric and Pacific Power to purchase electricity from WindFloat under 20- to 25-year agreements. The legislation died in the face of opposition by the two companies, industries that use large amounts of power, the fishing industry and the Citizens’ Utility Board.

Oregon has already helped the project financially. The Oregon Wave Energy Trust, which received $1.96 million from the state during the 2013-2015 biennium, awarded a $99,000 grant to Principle Power which helped the company secure a $4 million U.S. Department of Energy grant, according to Business Oregon.

Monday was the second, and apparently the last, meeting of Brown’s WindFloat advisory committee. On Monday, committee chair and state Rep. Caddy McKeown, D-Coos Bay, instructed members to submit written comments by Dec. 15 to be incorporated into a report to Brown by Jan. 15.

“I was hoping we would not be scheduling another meeting,” said McKeown, who spoke little during the meeting on Monday.

In contrast, committee member state Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, peppered executives from Principle Power with questions throughout the two-hour meeting. Johnson asked how much space each floating turbine would cover — executives said each has a radius of 1,000 feet — and why other investors, including the oil company Shell, cannot fill the project’s funding gap.

“Shell’s got plenty of money,” Johnson said. “I don’t think there’s a lack of interest. Some of us are just concerned, who pays and how much?”

Principle Power CEO Joao Metelo said companies are investing in the technology, but they also need proof that the project can be financed.

The power purchase mandate in the bill in the Oregon Legislature earlier this year, House Bill 2216, could have generated an estimated $23 million annually for the project, said Oregon Public Utility Commission chief operating officer Michael Dougherty. That would have generated a total of $460 million to $575 million for Principle Power, if the utilities had signed 20 to 25-year contracts to buy the electricity.

For residential ratepayers, it could have cost up to 35 cents a month on their power bills.

A two-turbine pilot project could cost $150 million to $180 million, and a three-turbine project could cost $210 million to $250 million, according to a Principle Power presentation.

Johnson also asked Principle Power executives why they were no longer trying to sell power to the Jordan Cove liquified natural gas project, which they were exploring a couple years ago.

Kevin Banister, Principle Power’s vice president of business development in the Americas and Asia, said the company approached multiple industrial power purchasers but “there’s sticker shock for some of those players as well.” Due to delays in the Jordan Cove project, Banister said Principle Power could not secure a power purchase agreement with the developer in time to meet the May 2016 deadline for the federal grant.

Michael Hinricks, director of public affairs for Jordan Cove, gave a different reason why Jordan Cove developers are no longer discussing a power purchase agreement with Principle Power. Hinricks said Jordan Cove was waiting for Principle Power to complete a study of how the offshore wind project would impact the grid.

“There wouldn’t be any (discussions) with us, because we’re waiting on their interconnect study,” Hinricks said. The price of WindFloat’s power was also an issue for the Jordan Cove project, although Hinricks said Jordan Cove’s developers were interested in it because “it’s supporting green technology.”

Jeff Bissonnette, policy director for the Citizens’ Utility Board and a registered lobbyist, said perhaps there might be other ways the state could support the project so ratepayers would not directly shoulder as much of the financial burden. Bissonnette reiterated comments by utility representatives that rates should not be used to pay for research and development projects, nor for economic development.

“It seemed like it was the ratepayers of two utilities being asked to kind of bear this research burden in pushing the technology forward,” Bisonette said. “To the extent there are benefits to the state, that there is interest by the state, why isn’t there more of a discussion of a shared burden?”

Panthers prepare to blaze nets this season Mon, 23 Nov 2015 17:05:37 -0500 Angel Carpenter PRAIRIE CITY – The Prairie City Panthers boys basketball team is fired up and hoping their hard work and attitude take them far this season.

The 1A-8 High Desert League team is led by new head coach Jonathon Gill, with assistant coaches Bob Hassmiller and Charles Lawrence.

The squad includes four freshmen, one sophomore, one junior and three seniors.

“Everyone is playing varsity,” Gill said. “The JV are being thrown into the fire, and in the long run, we’ll get a better product – I’m excited about our four freshmen.”

Hassmiller said they’re training the team to work as a unit.

“We’re trying to build a foundation with fundamentals – solid passing and dribbling and everyone knowing their role and place on the team,” he said. “We are really glad to have Dorran Wilson back. He balances the team and creates offense, not just for himself, but open shots for his teammates as well.”

Wilson, a sophomore, was out early last year with an injury.

The team’s seasoned seniors include Ethan Camarena, Garrett Hitz and Brandon Gillihan.

Each has played basketball since sixth grade, and they all said they’re optimistic about the team this year.

“We’re trying to build a winning attitude in everybody this season, and we expect nothing less than a state championship,” said Camarena. “We have a great group of kids, and we get along great. It helps a lot as a team when you’re like brothers – like family.”

Hitz said the team is developing a “no-quit attitude.”

“I look forward to playing with the younger kids – they have a lot of grit,” he said.

“I think we’re headed to be great this season and think we’ll do really well,” said Gillihan. “We have a great team, and I’m happy to be with all the players.”

Gill said the Panthers are working on ball movement, reducing turnovers and defense.

“We’re going to be the aggressor and bring the action to the opponent,” he said.

He added that they also work to have fun and said sportsmanship is one of their core principles.

“It’s all about discipline in how you carry yourself on and off the court,” Gill said.

Hassmiller added, “Our kids are so humble, we almost have to get some fire out of them.”

All the coaches agreed they’d like to see the fans in the stands for the girls and boys basketball games.

Gill said although the boys team has had some down years, they are competitive this year and believe in themselves.

“The league will be competitive, and we want to be one of the top three teams,” he said.

McDonald’s soon to be demolished Mon, 23 Nov 2015 17:04:18 -0500 Angel Carpenter JOHN DAY – The Oct. 31 closure of McDonald’s restaurant in John Day saddened many in the community, including the owner, 18 employees and the patrons.

Jorge Ribeiro of Burns, who owned the restaurant, said he doesn’t know when it will be torn down.

“They asked us to be out within two weeks of closing,” he said, adding they just finished dismantling everything, inside and out.

He expects the building to be demolished sometime this month.

Ribeiro said corporate officials made the decision to close the restaurant, although he tried to talk them out of it, based on the “low economics of the situation,” and because they are reaching the end of a 20-year lease on the property owned by the D.R. Johnson family.

“The biggest thing – I’m going to miss all the regular customers I’ve had over the past 15 years that I’ve owned the restaurant, and all my great employees,” Ribeiro said.

“I was very happy to see that several found jobs elsewhere,” he added.

Ashley Pompa was a crew trainer and worked at McDonald’s for over nine years.

“There were a bunch of people who were totally devastated that we were closing,” she said.

This includes a group of regulars they nicknamed the “morning breakfast club,” she said. “They would show up at 6 a.m., and they all wanted coffee right at 6.”

She said the adjustment to the layoff and closure was difficult.

“It’s very sad,” she said. “I have two little ones, and I was really worried about finding a job and how to support my kids – it’s been rough.”

She said she’s kept busy staying involved at church.

With help from WorkSource Oregon she found a job at Chester’s Thriftway.

Several McDonald’s employees livened up their last day of work, dressing up for Halloween.

Pompa had ghost makeup, another was “Jason” (from the horror movies) and another made light of their situation, wearing a cardboard “Will work for food” sign around his neck.

The restaurant closed early that night to allow workers to take kids trick-or-treating.

“It’s going to be missed,” Pompa said of her former workplace.

Still, she said she has a positive outlook with her new job.

“I feel confident,” she said. “I’ve worked for McDonald’s for nine years, and I’m experienced with customer service.”

Drama club hams it up Mon, 23 Nov 2015 17:03:21 -0500 Angel Carpenter JOHN DAY – The Grant Union Junior-Senior High School stage was brimming with talent as the drama club presented its first production of the school year.

The evening of entertainment began with the melodrama “Her Heart Belongs to Heartburn” by Karen Fendrich, with a cast of six seventh-graders.

Students had a chance to let some zaniness shine in mystery-comedy “No Body to Murder” by Edith Weiss, including Josh Taynton as a lazy butler, Janelle King as a fitness instructor/detective and Sam Bentz as a “bad mime,” along with 17 others in the play.

Director Julie Reynolds said the club started this fall with 20 students and grew to 26. Nine in the group are seventh-graders.

“I thought they did well with it,” she said. “I selected a play that gave everyone a chance to have 15 or more lines, and it’s a good beginning play.”

Deer, elk serve as buffer to livestock attacks Mon, 23 Nov 2015 16:06:20 -0500 Eric MortensonEO Media Group They weren’t on the agenda when the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission voted Nov. 9 to take wolves off the state’s endangered species list, but Oregon’s elk and deer population likely will be key factors in wolf management decisions in the years ahead.

Mark Henjum, a retired wildlife biologist who was ODFW’s original wolf program coordinator, said healthy deer and elk populations are a buffer between livestock and the state’s increasing number of predators.

Oregon has 25,000 to 30,000 black bears, an estimated 6,200 cougars and a minimum of 82 wolves, according to ODFW.

Biologists fully expect the state’s wolf population to continue growing. Wolves occupy only 12 percent of their potential range in the state, and continued dispersal from Northeast Oregon will put them in contact with elk and deer and possibly in competition with other predators. Bears and cougars are much more widely dispersed in the state.

Sharp, localized drops in ungulate prey, as deer and elk are known, could drive predators to attack sheep, cattle or other domestic animals, Henjum and other biologists say.

Bears are primarily omnivorous but will take young deer and elk, especially in the spring. Cougars, meanwhile, are solitary ambush hunters and can take just about any animal at will, Henjum said. “They’re amazingly good at what they do,” he said.

Wolves travel in packs and chase down prey. They can kill solitary adult cougars, or females and kittens, and chase cougars off carcasses. Pressure from wolves can force cougars into steeper, brushier terrain. The competition for ungulate prey could produce a bad turn for livestock.

Biologists say wolves prefer elk, but attacks on livestock are what anger cattle and sheep producers and gain media attention. From 2009 through June 2015, Oregon’s confirmed losses to wolves stood at 79 sheep, 37 cattle, two goats and two herd protection dogs. Ranchers believe wolves are responsible for much more damage, saying livestock often disappear in wolf country. In addition, many livestock attacks are written off as “probable” or “possible” wolf depredations.

“This buffer thing is one of the main reasons we haven’t seen so high a rate of loss of livestock,” Henjum said. “I think down the road, trying to maintain the ungulate populations is something that’s going to be more important as we move on.”

Although wolves were taken off the state endangered species list, their existence in Oregon is still governed by a wolf management plan. Hunting and trapping are not allowed, and there’s no sport season for wolves. The plan does allow “controlled take” of wolves in cases of chronic livestock attacks or decreases in prey.

Phase 3 of the wolf plan, the next step after delisting, calls for wolves to be managed “in concert with its wild prey base,” a move strongly supported by groups such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “Oregon’s wolf population is rapidly approaching the point where human tolerance and unacceptable impacts upon the wolf’s deer and elk prey base must be addressed,” the foundation said in a letter to the ODFW Commission.

Jerome Rosa, executive director of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, said his organization’s members report seeing fewer deer and elk in some areas, and more in others.

What’s ahead for wolves might be found in Oregon’s cougar management plan, which allows for targeted killings to address problems. In October, the ODFW Commission authorized killing 95 cougars in four wildlife management units during 2016. One area was chosen because of human, livestock and pet safety concerns, and three were selected to help mule deer recover. The kills, to be done by ODFW employees, federal wildlife service agents or contractors, are in addition to whatever other cougar deaths occur.

Students of the Month October – Grant Union Junior-Senior High School Mon, 23 Nov 2015 16:04:07 -0500

Sports schedule Mon, 23 Nov 2015 16:02:53 -0500 College football

Friday, Nov. 27

Civil War

Oregon Ducks vs. Oregon State Beavers, Eugene, 1 p.m.

High school


Friday, Dec. 4

Dayville/Monument @ Echo at Fossil Tourney, girls varsity 3 p.m./boys varsity 4:30 p.m.

Prairie City vs. Redmond JV in Prairie City, girls varsity 5 p.m./boys varsity 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 5

Dayville/Monument @ Pilot Rock at Fossil Tourney, girls 1 p.m./boys 2:30

Prairie City vs. Burnt River in Prairie City, girls 2 p.m./ boys 3:30 p.m.

Grant Union vs. Redmond JV in John Day, girls varsity 2 p.m./boys varsity 3:30 p.m.


Saturday, Dec. 5

Grant Union @ Irrigon Duals in Irrigon, TBA


Thursday, Dec. 3

Grant Union presents Holiday Showcase in John Day, 7 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 4

Grant Union presents Holiday Showcase in John Day, 7 p.m.

On the town John Day Mon, 23 Nov 2015 15:05:26 -0500 Cheryl Hoefler JOHN DAY – Eventually, almost everyone – even in the most far-flung corners of Grant County – ends up in John Day for one reason or another.

The “hub” town, population 1,735, is home to such facilities as Blue Mountain Hospital and Hospice, Grant County Regional Airport and Industrial Park, the Grant County Fairgrounds and Rodeo Arena, and state and federal forest agencies, as well as an array of businesses and community services.

John Day is home to an active Elks Lodge, American Legion and Auxiliary, a spacious senior center and two museums – Kam Wah Chung, and Ranch and Rodeo.

The Grant County Chamber of Commerce and Grant County Library are also based in John Day.

And residents don’t have to venture far to enjoy the great outdoors, thanks to the John Day-Canyon City Parks and Recreation Department. John Day City Park and Gleason Public Pool are in the heart of town, along the banks of Canyon Creek. Seventh Street Complex at the north side of town offers several recreational opportunities – baseball and softball fields, basketball and tennis courts, skate park, a pond, picnic areas, playground and a trail. The trail is being repaired and extended, memory benches installed along the path and new restrooms yet to be added near the basketball courts and skate park.

Just to the west of town is John Day Golf Course, offering nine holes of putting and driving fun.

Seasonal activities in John Day include the John Day Farmers’ Market, held Saturdays from mid-June to mid-October, and the John Day Community Garden, which has taken root on the Third Street Extension across from the rodeo arena. Both were established in 2010.

Downtown John Day has been getting a major facelift during the past year.

Phase one of the John Day Beautification Project included improvements such as reconstructed sidewalks, and new light fixtures and poles with hanging basket planters on Main Street and South Canyon Boulevard, east and south of the stoplight.

City Manager Peggy Gray said the project, made possible by an Oregon Department of Transportation grant, “enhances the look and feel of the city’s downtown area and we hope, a sense of pride for the community.”

Mayor Ron Lundbom said they’ve been fortunate to have the state’s help and added, “I think it turned out great.”

The City has received another ODOT grant to construct new sidewalks and widen existing bicycle lanes on South Canyon Boulevard from Southwest Sixth Avenue to Grant Union Junior-Senior High School. That project is scheduled for 2018.

Gray said the city is applying for 2018-2021 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program funds which will complete the downtown improvements, with new sidewalks and pedestrian lights on remaining portions of Main Street and South Canyon Boulevard.

John Day is also getting a new fire station, which is under construction on South Canyon Boulevard. The facility will allow the John Day Rural Fire District to better serve John Day, with more garage space for emergency vehicles, as well as a meeting and training room for community use. Expected completion is spring 2016.

Lundbom, who has lived in John Day with his wife, Sherri, since 1966, is midway through his current term as mayor. He previously served as mayor in 2012 when he succeeded Bob Quinton, who moved outside the city limits. Lundbom’s other civic positions have included city councilor, Grant County Airport Commission chairman and Grant County Air Search president.

He owns the NAPA Auto Parts store, that was first owned by his parents in 1966, and has been the school golf coach for 10 years.

“I like being involved,” Lundbom said.

Current city council members are president Steve Schuette, and councilors Louis Provencher, Paul Smith, Lisa Weigum, Gregg Haberly and Donn Willey.

Lundbom said he likes working with the council and city staff to keep John Day moving forward and growing.

“We have a good group and we all have the same goals,” he said.

“My job is so easy with Peggy, who is on the ball with everything,” Lundbom added.

Gray has lived in the John Day and Canyon City area for almost 40 years, and has worked for the City of John Day for 23 years – 14 as the city manager.

She gave credit to all the people – too many to mention, she said – who give of their time to make the community so special.

“This is the most giving community I’ve seen,” Gray said.

“What amazes me is how this community pulls together during a crisis – the recent fires proved this again,” she said.

“How all the agencies have worked together – ODOT and all the state agencies, county, cities, U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, Bureau of Land Management, Sheriff’s Office, local police and fire departments – it was, and is, just incredible,” Gray said.

Lundbom said the people here are about as nice as they get.

“It’s been a great place to raise our kids,” he said.

John Day City Council meets at 7 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. The council meets only the second Tuesday in November and December, due to holidays.

John Day City Hall is at 450 E. Main St. Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., excluding holidays.

Call 541-575-0028 for more information, or visit