Blue Mountain Eagle | Blue Mountain Eagle Wed, 20 Sep 2017 22:55:35 -0400 en Blue Mountain Eagle | Ballot title approved for health care funding referendum Wed, 20 Sep 2017 19:42:38 -0400 Claire Withycombe Capital Bureau

SALEM — Although a legislative committee approved a ballot title and explanatory statement for a potential referendum on health care funding Wednesday, it’s likely not the last battle in the continuing war of words over the issue.

A trio of Republican lawmakers hope to get sections of the state’s health care funding legislation — which uses assorted revenues to help pay for the state’s Medicaid program, called the Oregon Health Plan — on the ballot in a special election in January.

They say they are challenging assessments on hospitals, insurers and coordinated care organizations, the regional networks of providers serving patients on the Oregon Health Plan.

The petitioners include Republican State Reps. Julie Parrish, of Tualatin/West Linn; Cedric Hayden, of Roseburg; and Sal Esquivel, of Medford.

If they are successful in gathering nearly 59,000 signatures by Oct. 5, voters will have a chance to weigh in on Jan. 23. Parrish declined to say how many signatures the petitioners had gathered as of Wednesday, saying only that there were “lots.”

But legal issues are percolating over the ballot title language and the text of the referendum petition itself. The ballot title is a statement summarizing the initiative and its impacts printed on the petition.

Legal challenges to the ballot title go directly to the Oregon Supreme Court.

Parrish said she plans to file a legal challenge to the ballot title and explanatory statement that the committee approved in a 5-to-1 vote Wednesday afternoon.

The petitioners also contest an Aug. 31 legal opinion in which legislative counsel found that a “no” vote would merely delay the implementation of, not do away with, a .7 percent assessment on certain hospitals.

“That’s a separate litigation question outside of the ballot title,” Parrish said.

At issue at the committee’s meeting Wednesday, though, were the official descriptions that voters will see in January if the measure qualifies for the ballot.

Social services groups and unions have said the ballot title language that lawmakers approved doesn’t go far enough in explaining the impacts of striking down the funding package, specifically how many low-income Oregonians would be effected.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, who oversees the state’s elections, in written testimony criticized the language of the draft caption, calling it “unreasonably long and confusing.” He adding that the language describing the funding package should include the word “tax.”

However, Johnson told lawmakers Wednesday that since the legislation refers to each funding mechanism as an “assessment,” the use of that term, rather than “tax,” in the ballot materials is appropriate.

What you can do under Oregon’s new distracted driving law Wed, 20 Sep 2017 17:14:04 -0400 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau SALEM — A new distracted driving law expands an existing ban on using cellphones while driving to all electronic mobile devices and stiffens fines and penalties, effective Oct. 1.

The law is aimed at improving safety conditions on Oregon roads. Drivers who talk on the phone are more than four times, and those who text are more than 23 times, more likely to have a crash, according to a report by the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Distracted Driving Task Force.

Violators face a fine of $130 to $1,000 for their first offense, $220 to $2,500 for their second offense, and a Class B misdemeanor conviction with a minimum fine of $2,000 and up to six months in jail for their third offense.

First-time offenders can avoid the fine by taking a distracted driving avoidance course, but the violation will remain on their record.

So, what can you still do with your mobile electronic devices while driving once the law takes effect?

When state lawmakers earlier this year changed the law, they came up with a limited list of exceptions to the ban. None of the exceptions apply to drivers younger than 18.

• Hands-free devices: Hands-free or built-in devices activated by voice command or activated while off the road are exempt from the ban.

Drivers also may talk on the phone while driving, if the phone is set to speaker mode and is not in their hand, said Lt. Timothy Tannenbaum of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

“You can have a conversation while it’s on your dashboard, or on the seat next to you, as long as you’re not having to type in numbers or manipulate the phone,” he said.

Traci Pearl, a manager with the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Safety Division, said a mounted phone is a safer alternative to looking down at the seat or console, but both ways are legal.

Single touch or swipe: Changes to the law allow drivers a single touch or swipe of a screen or button to activate or deactivate a device or function.

This is the exception that allows drivers to answer a phone call, or start a navigation map. It also is meant to allow Uber and Lyft drivers to respond to calls for service.

“If you can push one button to call the office, you are OK, but if you have to dial a phone number, that is not OK,” Pearl said.

• Parked: If one swipe was inadequate to find a desired destination, a driver could, under the law, pull over on the side of the road or in a parking space and legally use their electronic mobile device to, say, type in an address. But don’t try to do it at a stop sign or stop light. You could get a ticket.

• Emergencies: Drivers who are experiencing a medical emergency and have no passengers may use a mobile electronic device to summon help.

• Truck and bus drivers: The law makes exceptions to the regulations for truck and bus drivers, who cannot be cited provided they are abiding by federal rules for commercial driver’s licensees.

• Radio traffic: CB users, bus drivers, utility and truck drivers may use a two-way radio only for employment purposes.

• Emergency responders: Police, paramedics and firefighters, may use electronic mobile devices when responding to an emergency call.

• HAM radio operators: Old-school HAM radio operators could be a safety net for communication in the case of a natural disaster, such as an 8.0 earthquake, when other communication systems are down. That earned them an exception to the new restrictions.

The stricter law, born out of House Bill 2597, was a response to an incident in Washington County.

Oregon State Police arrested Beaverton resident Esmirna Rabanales-Ramos on drunken driving charges after a trooper reportedly saw the glow of a cellphone illuminate her as she drove.

In 2015, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled the trooper had no probable cause to stop her, because using a cellphone wasn’t against the law, only using it to communicate.

House Bill 2597 “makes the law compliant with the intent,” Tannenbaum said. “The intent was to get phones out of people’s hands. It’s not hard to tell who is manipulating a phone. Surfing the Internet or checking Facebook while driving is just as dangerous as talking or texting.”

Geoff Pursinger of the Hillsboro Tribune contributed to this story.

Chamber newsletter: September 2017 Wed, 20 Sep 2017 15:06:49 -0400 Jerry FranklinTo THANK YOU GRANT COUNTY!! We survived the eclipse and in my opinion as well as others in the county our guests went away with an appreciation of our friendly nature and a preview of our many attractions that we get to enjoy each and every day. We were working with an unknown factor of how many visitors to expect and we were prepared and up for the task. I have heard estimates of 22,000 to 23,000 in the valley and it might have been a blessing that we didn’t have as indicated a possible 50,000 visitors. The Chamber wants to thank each and every one of you for your efforts and we hope that some of you made a few bucks for your time invested. We also want to give a special thank you to Tammy Bremner for her organizational skills and for taking the lead a year ago in starting up the planning process for the eclipse, and kudos to her capable staff of dedicated volunteers, who have had their hands full helping her make this a very successful event. They also gave the Chamber a very positive public image. Who knows, maybe one of our visitors will bring a business back and provide a few jobs and more children for our schools.

The addition of our new 24/7 secured front entry public information area, plus the electric charging station and access to wi-fi, has worked out well and has provided an important service to our visitors and local businesses. Within the next two weeks you will become aware of something new at the Chamber office, which will be heralded a first in the nation, Grant County and in John, which will be in the forefront. STAY TUNED!

For obvious reasons we are running a little behind with our annual dinner and installation of officers but it is in the works. This will be the completion of my third and final term as president of the Grant County Chamber of Commerce. It has been a real privilege and honor to serve such a vital and valuable organization, focused on making our county and businesses as viable as possible. I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished these past few years, and it is all because we have a good group of pro-active board members, a dedicated office manager and her volunteer staff, plus a strong supportive group of Chamber members. I want to welcome our new incoming President Bruce Ward and wish him much success. I know that he will do a good job of keeping the Chamber moving forward in a positive direction.

Our guest speaker for our September 21, 2017 lunch board meeting will be John Day City Manager Nick Green, who will address local projects and activities. Join us for both our 11:00 a.m. board meeting at the Chamber office and/or luncheon meeting at noon at the Outpost restaurant.

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

Two schools announce game-time changes Wed, 20 Sep 2017 10:36:49 -0400 Athletic directors from two Grant County schools announced changes to this week’s football schedule due to referee availability.

The Monument/Dayville Tigers will host the Mitchell/Spray/Wheeler Rattlers at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, in Dayville.

The Prairie City football team hosts the Harper Hornets for the Panthers’ homecoming at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, in Prairie City.

Panther senior Danner Davis will be recognized just before the game, and the homecoming court will be announced at halftime.

At 4:30 p.m. Friday, Prairie City hosts Harper for volleyball, including one junior varsity set at 4:30, with the varsity match starting at about 5 p.m.

Prairie City will also have middle school volleyball and football games at 10 a.m.

Governor doesn’t get meeting with Sessions Tue, 19 Sep 2017 19:41:02 -0400 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau SALEM — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions didn’t meet with Gov. Kate Brown while in Portland Tuesday, despite her request for an audience with him.

In a speech at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Northwest Portland, Sessions castigated sanctuary cities as promoters of “lawlessness.”

Meanwhile, Brown spoke with reporters in her office at the Oregon Capitol.

The governor said she requested a meeting with Sessions but received no response from his office. She said she would have appealed to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The program allows undocumented young adults brought to the United States as children to legally work and attend school in this country.

“He clearly did not have time to meet with me and hear my strong views about how I feel about making sure that Dreamers are able to go to school, to work and to lead lives in this state,” Brown said.

Sessions’ office did not immediately return a phone call from the Pamplin Media/EO Media Capital Bureau seeking comment on why he decided against meeting the governor.

In his speech, he said the nearly 500 sanctuary cities across the nation “hinder the work of federal law enforcement” and “promote lawlessness.”

“That makes a sanctuary city a trafficker, smuggler, or gang member’s best friend,” Sessions said.

Brown said she is “appalled by the position of the attorney general.”

“I want to make it very clear that Oregon is a state that welcomes and wants to encourage our immigrant and refugee communities,” the governor said. “We see them as a very important part of Oregon’s cultural and economic fabric, and they’re part of what makes Oregon unique.”

A 1987 law effectively made Oregon a sanctuary state. Brown reinforced that law with an executive order in February barring the use of any state resources to enforce federal immigration policy.

Sessions announced Sept. 5 that the Trump administration would phase out DACA in the next six months, unless Congress chose to enact the program legislatively.

The administration asserts that the program, created through executive order by then-President Barack Obama, is unconstitutional because it circumvents congressional powers.

Oregon is one of 16 states that sued the Trump administration earlier this month claiming that the dissolution of DACA violates the Constitution’s equal protections clause.

If Brown had met with Sessions, she said: “I would tell him that his position on DACA is absolutely counter to Oregon values and Oregonians.”

New drug laws draw mixed views Tue, 19 Sep 2017 17:11:24 -0400 Small-scale possession now a misdemeanor for first-time offenders

By Rylan Boggs

Blue Mountain Eagle

Small-scale drug possession is now a misdemeanor in Oregon, but jail sentences could actually be longer.

While some believe House Bill 2355 will help people who are addicted to drugs by promoting treatment rather than jail time, Grant County District Attorney Jim Carpenter said the changes might not reduce sentences for offenders. The bill reducing the charges for personal possession of drugs, such as cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin, from felonies to misdemeanors for first-time offenders took effect Aug. 15.

Carpenter said these changes, however, might not reduce sentences for offenders, and fines may actually increase as a result.

As an example, he said possession of meth is classified with a crime seriousness of one, the lowest, on the Oregon felony sentencing guidelines grid, which carries a presumptive sentence of 10 days in jail. As a misdemeanor, the same crime is not subject to the same sentencing guidelines, Carpenter said.

“The maximum sentence for simple possession now classified as a misdemeanor is 364 days in jail, a $6,250.00 fine, or both,” he said. “I now have the option, instead of recommending 10 days for every offense, of recommending increasing amounts of jail time for each subsequent offense, up to a maximum of 364 days.”

He also said these new criminal classifications will increase his workload without providing any additional funding. Probation for felony crimes are supervised by the probation office while misdemeanors are supervised by the DA’s office.

He also said the new sentencing guidelines could send the wrong message to young people.

“Oregon has just announced that possession of very dangerous substances, such as methamphetamine, is less serious this month than it was last month,” Carpenter said. “If anything, we should be telling our youth that possession of meth is more serious than it ever was.”

Thad Labhart, clinical director at Community Counseling Solutions, disagreed. He said harsh penalties don’t dissuade people from drug use, especially once addiction takes over.

“I think this bill helps county residents by assisting those who need treatment to receive it, which in turns addresses the underlying problem,” he said. “Jail has been shown time and time again to not deter drug use. The upside of the bill outweighs any downside. ... One only has to look at our jail population to see how stiff drug possession laws don’t deter many.”

Labhart said the bill is a step in the right direction in dealing with drug addiction in the state, but the focus needs to be on treatment. Community Counseling Solutions offers DUII counseling, individual counseling, family counseling, peer counseling and referral to inpatient/residential services as well as urinalysis testing and a jail diversion program.

He said supporting treatment did not mean being “soft on crime.”

“Unfortunately, things like theft and money crimes often accompany substance use disorders. This bill doesn’t reduce penalties for such crimes,” he said. “The bill, however, was supported by the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police as well as the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association. That alone says something.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon took the stance this could be good for Oregonians.

“A felony conviction for small-scale drug possession can prevent people from getting housing, a job or a student loan,” the ACLU of Oregon said in a statement. “The current approach is also unfair. People of color possess drugs at the same rates as everyone else but are more much likely to be arrested.”

Escape from addiction Tue, 19 Sep 2017 17:11:48 -0400 Rylan Boggs Otis started drinking when he was 9. “I held out a long time before I started,” he joked.

His first taste was sampling his uncle’s home-brewed beer when his father asked him to fetch one.

“I was a full-fledged alcoholic by junior high,” he said. “I just loved the buzz.”

His parents, migratory fruit pickers, were constantly on the move. Otis said he attended as many as eight grade schools in his childhood. His parents accepted and normalized his drinking at a young age.

It was during this time he found his passion for music, playing the guitar and banjo.

While Otis said he had a good childhood, he doesn’t remember a single sober weekend in high school.

After graduating, he married a woman in Idaho. Their relationship was short-lived and he quickly moved to Wyoming and then Florida, working as a carpenter.

When he arrived in Florida he had roughly $6,000 in cash. He woke up one morning in a ditch, “broker than a Georgia convict,” he said.

Following this, he got a job working on a wealthy man’s yacht as a deckhand.

“It was party time on that yacht ’cause he was always gone,” Otis said. “He had a push-button bar that would open up, and it was solid booze on one wall.”

Life was good for Otis. It got even better when he stole the yacht and sailed it to the Bahamas with the captain. When the owner realized what happened, life got significantly worse.

“He said, ‘Otis, I’m giving you your notice.’”

Alcohol gave him permission to do these things and was a factor whenever he would lie, cheat or steal, he said.

From Florida, it was on to the discos and bars of Portland.

“I had a really good time in those years, until I reached a point in my life where I got so sick and tired of getting kicked out of bars, I bought one,” he said.

This was part of a six-year period where he would regularly wake up not knowing if it was Tuesday or Sunday.

It wasn’t just drinking anymore either.

“Drugs are free whenever you have booze,” he said.

His drug and alcohol use resulted in him being charged with driving while intoxicated seven times, three within a 30-day period. Willing to take anything, he was “just trying to get out of Otis,” he said.

Eventually, he came to terms with the fact he had a problem. He sold the bar to save his life and began treatment and thought it would be as easy as getting a quick fix, entertaining everyone at the treatment center with his mandolin and walking out.

The employees immediately confiscated his instrument and told him to cut the jokes, that this was serious.

While in treatment, he met a man with one eye sewn shut. Giving in to his curiosity, Otis asked him what happened.

The man told him he didn’t know how he lost his eye; he just woke up without it.

This story moved Otis, motivating him to stay in treatment and stay clean.

And it worked, for six months.

Once out of treatment, he went back to working as a carpenter.

In an interview, his boss commended him for not drinking. However, he also opened a desk drawer revealing a pile of cocaine and asked Otis if he “partook.”

“Well, shoot,” Otis responded, “I’ve been known to partake.”

And for three months, he said, it was “off to the races.”

One weekend, he was late picking up his daughter, showing up two days late on a Sunday. When he did show up, he fainted in front of her.

He woke up to her rubbing his face, saying, “You’re sick, daddy. You’re sick.” That was a turning point.

Otis is now 66 and has been sober for 29 years. He recently became a grandparent, and couldn’t be more enthusiastic about it.

“I’m so happy to be a grandpa. Oh my God, that kid is gonna be spoiled,” he said.

In those 29 years, Otis bought a lodge and followed his dream of being an outfitter and guide, has been married for 18 years and still finds time to play a little music.

“I couldn’t even look in the mirror and look in my own eyes before I got sober,” he said. “I’m doing really good right now, and I just feel fantastic.”

Small sawmill operation coming to Ritter Tue, 19 Sep 2017 17:11:14 -0400 The Ritter Land Management Team, a nonprofit group made up of nearly 30 local landowners, recently took delivery of a portable sawmill they hope will help rid the Ritter landscape of unwanted juniper and provide much-needed jobs.

Western juniper, although native to Eastern Oregon, has become invasive and overtaken upwards of 9 million acres of rangelands, using up water in an already dry landscape, according to a press release from the land management team. Mature trees can consume nearly 30 gallons a day, and crowd out native plants needed by both wildlife and livestock. An Oregon State University study showed that cutting juniper quickly restores watersheds and improves streamflows, which in turn improves grazing for cattle and habitat for species such as the greater sage grouse and mule deer.

When Ritter landowners identified the spread of juniper as one of the greatest threats to the health and productivity of their lands, the group began to wonder if a sawmill might be the answer.

“Everyone wants to get rid of juniper, but removal is both expensive and difficult,” said Executive Director Patti Hudson. “Then once it’s cut and on the ground, what do you do with it?”

The group contacted Sustainable Northwest, a nonprofit working on balanced solutions to economic and environmental problems, and a strong advocate of the emerging juniper milling industry. Sustainable Northwest helped the team tap into the Western Juniper Industry Fund, created by the state Legislature to help jump-start the juniper sawmill industry. It provided funding for a feasibility study to determine if the idea of a sawmill in Ritter would work.

“We knew we had a lot of juniper, but we weren’t sure we had enough to keep a mill going,” said rancher and board member Caleb Morris. “But the study showed there’s at least a 20-year supply here, and more if we expand beyond the Ritter area.”

Ritter landowner and board chair Rhonda Kennedy said that in addition to examining the quality and quantity of the juniper supply the study also looked at the financial feasibility of a small sawmill operation in Ritter.

“It showed us how this could be done and how doing it could benefit the entire community,” she said.

Soon after the study was completed, the team had to make a decision. The Western Juniper Fund still had money to help purchase some of the needed equipment for the Ritter sawmill, but not enough to do everything, and the program was about to end. Oregon Community Foundation quickly stepped up to help leverage the state funds and meet the match requirement.

“We had to act fast to take advantage of these funds while we still could,” said Hudson. “We decided to take a phased approach and purchase the mill and a telehandler to get us started. It wouldn’t have happened without the Oregon Community Foundation’s commitment to Eastern Oregon, a lot of hard work at the state level and all the help and support Sustainable Northwest has provided.”

The Ritter mill expects one of its major customers to be Sustainable Northwest Wood, a for-profit Portland lumberyard owned by Sustainable Northwest where juniper sales are growing at 50 percent per year.

“We’re looking forward to collaborating with RLMT to sell juniper from the Ritter area. Our customers will enjoy supporting the group’s rangeland restoration projects through the purchase of this lumber,” said Ryan Temple, president of Sustainable Northwest Wood.

“The market is there. We have the juniper and the means to mill it. We’re optimistic we can make this work,” said Hudson.

Eliminating Medicaid backlog will cost Oregon at least $4.3 million Tue, 19 Sep 2017 17:09:33 -0400 Claire Withycombe Capital Bureau

SALEM — An intensive effort to shore up Oregon’s Medicaid enrollment records is expected to cost the state at least $4.3 million.

Participants in the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon’s Medicaid program, must have their eligibility for the plan verified annually in a process called redetermination.

Oregon had fallen behind on those annual redeterminations, and by late May had an estimated backlog of about 115,000 people whose eligibility for the Oregon Health Plan was in question.

State workers and contractors hired by the state spent months verifying whether those people were still eligible to receive Medicaid benefits, a project that concluded at the end of August.

Of the group of approximately 115,000, the state found that more than half were still eligible for the Oregon Health Plan.

However, 31,895 did not respond to the department’s inquiries and 22,937 were found to no longer qualify for the program; both groups were removed from the state’s Medicaid rolls.

The $4.3 million estimated cost includes a $1.05 million contract with auditing firm KPMG and $1.7 million in costs associated with limited-duration staff.

The Oregon Health Authority worked with three other private vendors, and used Oregon Department of Human Services employees and its own staff to handle the work.

According to an email from Interim OHA Director Pat Allen to two legislative offices, provided to the EO Media Group / Pamplin Media Group Capital Bureau on Monday, the outside vendors provided expertise in project management, “back up call center support,” and support for processing renewals.

This outsourcing allowed OHA staff who had more familiarity with the system to focus on more complex cases requiring redeterminations, according to Allen’s email.

Allen said that the cost breakdown he provided to Rep. Julie Parrish, R-Tualatin/West Linn, and Mike Carew, chief of staff to House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, on Friday evening was the best estimate his agency could presently provide.

Certain internal costs such as payroll will not be known until after the end of the fiscal quarter, Allen, the former director of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, said.

“In summary, this represents our best estimate at this point,” Allen wrote. “It will no doubt change somewhat, and we can provide a more detailed final accounting in November.”

The EO Media Group / Pamplin Media Group Capital Bureau inquired about the costs associated with reconciling the backlog earlier this summer, under the tenure of prior OHA Director Lynne Saxton, who resigned at the end of August in the wake of a public relations scandal.

While at the time, OHA did provide some information about private vendors brought on to help with the project, public relations officials at the agency declined to provide more specific information about the internal personnel costs associated with the project, saying only that those costs were within the agency’s approved budget.

The approximately $4.3 million in costs pale in comparison, though, to the overall financial challenges Oregon government has faced in implementing the Affordable Care Act, which allowed states to raise the income threshold for Medicaid.

While hundreds of thousands of Oregonians gained coverage under the ACA, with the federal government footing most of the bill, Oregon government projects related to the expansion have faced setbacks.

Cover Oregon, an ambitious state-run health care exchange, failed to come to fruition, costing taxpayers about $300 million.

An ongoing state IT project to integrate eligibility systems for various social safety net programs in Oregon, including OHP, is estimated to cost $241.7 million, according to documents produced by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Office.

A portion of that is expected to be covered by the federal government. The project’s progress is being monitored by the Legislature and is expected to be complete by June of 2019.

Cops and Courts Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:52:33 -0400 Arrests and citations in the Blue Mountain Eagle are taken from the logs of law enforcement agencies. Every effort is made to report the court disposition of arrest cases.

Britt Mitchell Wilcox was convicted of a probation violation Sept. 11. He was sentenced to three days in jail and fined $25.

Responded to a report of a dead buck on Forest Service Road 36 Sept. 10 and determined it had been killed by a cougar.

Arrested Justin Michael Spelis, 37, Canyon City, for driving under the influence of intoxicants Sept. 10 on Highway 26 in John Day. Breath samples indicated a blood alcohol content of .19 percent. He was also issued a citation for violation of the posted speed, 43 mph in a 25 mph zone.

Responded to a report of power lines on fire at about 10:26 a.m. Sept. 12 at Highway 395 and Bridge Street in Canyon City. A truck driver hauling logging equipment became entangled in the lines and snapped power poles. The driver, Mark D. Powell, 59, of Mt. Vernon was determined to be in violation of moving a vehicle on a roadway with a height in excess of 14 feet; his load was measured at 16 feet.

The Grant County Sheriff’s Office reported the following for the week of Sept. 7-13: concealed handgun licenses, 10; average inmates, 14; bookings, 11; releases, 11; arrests, two; citations, four; fingerprints, seven; civil papers, 14; warrants processed, five; asst./welfare check, one; search and rescue, two.

Cited Brandon Sinclair, 32, Medford, Levi Benford, 28, Springfield, and Zach Gwillim, 19, Monroe, for violation of the basic rule.

Cited Kathleen Rose, 62, Mt. Vernon, for dog as a nuisance.

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

Violation of the speed limit: Sander T. Turpin, 27, Lakewood, Colorado, Aug. 17, 79/65 zone, fined $170; Gregory G. Armstrong, 40, Oakland, California, Aug. 18, 74/65 zone, fined $160; Kelly A. Bleiweis, 43, Issaquah, Washington, Aug. 20, 51/35 zone, fined $160; Marty. R. Masterson, 39, Junction City, Aug. 5, 42/30 zone, fined $160; Vincent M. Buhagiar, 25, Concord, California, Aug. 23, 50/35 zone, fined $160; Nolan K. Rohrer, 19, Millville, Pennsylvania, Aug. 21, 74/65 zone, fined $160; Alexander R. Freilich, 26, Olympia, Washington, Aug. 20, 70/65 zone, fined $110; Jedidiah J. Palmer, 38, Boise, Idaho, Aug. 20, 75/55 zone, fined $160; John H. Thomas, 25, Los Angeles, California, Aug. 19, 54/35 zone, fined $160; Jason J. Finney, 48, Tenino, Washington, Aug. 20, 80/65 zone, fined $260; Jeff N. Westergaard, 55, Ashland, Aug. 18, 84/65 zone, fined $160; Sondra Carr, 51, Astoria, Aug. 18, 53/35 zone, fined $160; Brian L. Bassett, 58, Puyallup, Washington, Aug. 19, 53/35 zone, fined $160; Steven R. Morrissette, 53, Austin, Texas, Aug. 19, 42/35 zone, fined $110; Michael J. Beiler, 28, Richfield, Ohio, 74/65 zone, fined $160; Leo B. Sullivan, 59, Pasadena, California, Aug. 18, 90/65 zone, fined $435; Robert T. Dowling, 42, Roy, Washington, Aug. 20, 71/65 zone, fined $160; Robert M. Donaldson, 60, San Ramon, California, Aug. 17, 40/25 zone, fined $160; Leeyih Chiew, 46, Flushing, New York, Aug. 20, 77/65 zone, fined $260.

Violation of the basic rule: Kyle L. Jacoby, 25, Commerce City, Colorado, Aug. 22, 78/55 zone, fined $260; Matthew M. Broemeling, 20, John Day, July 29, 74/55 zone, fined $135.

Passing in a no-passing zone: Edward Vertucci, 54, Ventura, California, Aug. 21, fined $260.

Driving uninsured: Todd M. Winegar, 40, Prairie City, Sept. 1, fined $260, Sept. 29, fined $260; Jordan N. Lake, 26, Miami Gardens, Florida, June 28, fined $270, July 7, fined $270; Tanaya S. Robinson, 37, John Day, Aug. 15, fined $260.

Driving while suspended: Tanaya S. Robinson, 37, John Day, Aug. 15, fined $435; Todd M. Winegar, 40, Prairie City, Sept. 1, fined $435, Sept. 29, fined $435.

No operator’s license: Jordan N. Lake, 26, Miami Gardens, Florida, June 28, fined $270, July 7, fined $270.

Failure to drive within lane: Fritz M. Voigt, 36, Prairie City, Aug. 14, fined $130.

Unreasonable sound amplification: Olle L. Starnes, 47, John Day, June 26, fined $120.

Off-road vehicle on highway: Allen E. Boos, 64, Prairie City, Aug. 17, fined $130.

Open container of alcohol: Jacob M. Hueners, 29, Redmond, Aug. 27, fined $130.

Maintaining a dog as a public nuisance: Gary M. Jackson, fined $260.

Offensive littering: Rodney J. Hendricksen, fined $435.

Todd W. Stewart, Seattle, Washington, was convicted of harassment and disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to 25 days in jail and fined $200. One count of theft by extortion was dismissed.

John Day dispatch worked 171 calls during the week of Sept. 11-17. These calls included:

• John Day Police Department

Sept. 12: Responded to a report of harassment and theft at a Main Street business.

Sept. 13: Responded to a report of a large black bear on a residential street in Prairie City.

Sept. 15: Responded to a burglary.

• Grant County Sheriff’s Office

Sept. 11: Responded to a report of a missing hunter on Forest Road 16.

Sept. 12: Responded to a subject needing assistance hiking out from Slide Lake with an injured dog. Responded to shots fired in the Table Mountain Lookout area.

Sept. 14: Responded to a burglary.

Downed power lines create life-threatening hazards Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:52:30 -0400 Angel Carpenter A crash in Canyon City last week that left power lines strewn in the streets prompted Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative officials to remind residents of the dangers of downed power lines.

On Sept. 12, a transformer blew and caught fire and several power poles and lines went down on Highway 395 South and in the neighborhood of Rebel Hill and Bridge Street, after a truck driver’s load clipped power lines.

Canyon City volunteer firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze, and officers from Grant County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and John Day Police Department also responded to the scene.

Lara Petitclerc-Stokes, OTEC’s manager of communications and government affairs, said the situation in Canyon City was dangerous.

“We continually try to educate,” she said. “When a power pole is hit, we just want everyone to recognize electricity radiates out in circles.”

OTEC’s Loss and Control Manager Jeff Anderson explains in an article on the OTEC website what can happen.

“When current is flowing from a downed power line into the earth, a high-voltage condition is created,” explains Anderson. “When faced with this emergency scenario, it is important for crews to remain a safe distance away until given the all-clear to move in. Voltage can be radiating from the downed line into the ground. If responders step too close, electrical voltage can come back up through the ground and electrify the emergency crews trying to save an accident victim. This is called ‘step potential.’”

He added, “If contact is made with an energized power line while you are in a vehicle, the best thing to do is to try and remain calm and not get out unless the vehicle is on fire. If you must exit because of fire or other safety reasons, try to jump completely clear, making sure that you do not touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. Land with both feet together, maintain balance and shuffle away in small steps to minimize the path of electric current and avoid electrical shock.”

For more information on the importance of staying away from downed power lines, what to do if your vehicle comes into contact with a power pole and the dangers of step potential visit

Color Me Free Fun Run and Walk planned Sept. 30 Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:51:43 -0400 Heart of Grant County’s fourth annual Color Me Free Fun Run and Walk to kick off Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October is coming up.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. with the event starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at the John Day Industrial Park.

Participants receive a white T-shirt and can walk, run, skip or dance around the mile-long track as many times as they like, visiting color stations where paint throwers add bright colors to the shirts.

Registration is $20 per person or $40 per family and is open to all ages. Free hot dogs and water will be available.

Proceeds benefit Heart of Grant County, which provides services and support for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as educational programs to promote healthy relationships and a life free from violence.

For more information about the Color Me Free Fun Run and Walk, contact Heart of Grant County at 541-575-4335. People in need of assistance can seek immediate help through the organization’s 24-hour hotline at 541-620-1342.

Lasting impressions Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:51:41 -0400

Cross country runners build endurance while having fun Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:51:30 -0400 Angel Carpenter Head coach Sonna Smith has 17 high school athletes out for the cross country team this year.

“This is the largest team I’ve ever had, which is encouraging to me,” she said.

With 13 boys on the roster, a full five-member varsity team was easy to form.

One of the five varsity girls is down with an injury, so the remaining members run as individuals at the meets.

The team was surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Catherine Creek near Union Saturday, running through forested areas, up hills — and through a mud pit, twice.

Smith said the athletes were in mud up to their mid-thighs, and exiting the mudpit was slick.

She said having extra boys running on the Grant Union team this season makes them more competitive.

That friendly rivalry is needed for the big field of opponents in Special District 5, which includes 16 other teams in the 3A/2A/1A class, and some schools combine for a team.

“Our boys district division has the top seven runners in the state, so our boys have tough competition,” Smith said.

With the athletes they’ll face, the Grant Union boys have looked at what they need to do to be competitive.

“Their goal from the timed trial is to cut a minute a month off their 5K time,” Smith said. “That’s a lofty goal.”

Training for the entire team includes different types of running.

Smith said they work on base running, and take on hills to build endurance and speed. Tempo runs and repeats, running a certain pace for an alloted time, and cross training in the weight room to strengthen their core are other workouts on their list.

The coach said a couple athletes joined the team this year to condition for winter sports.

“They have been a pleasant surprise,” she said.

Smith started the cross country program in 1995, and the school has had a team off and on since then.

The program sparked back up four years ago, after the last hiatus.

The coach also trains younger runners — seven middle schoolers and one elementary school athlete — whom she hopes will build the high school team in years to come.

In practice last week, all the athletes joined for “game day” and were given a choice between four activities to get them running in short bursts.

The majority enthusiastically chose a game called “Bigger Better.”

Divided into four teams, the runners ventured out, making stops along their way to trade a large paper clip for something bigger and better, trying to increase the size and value of the item as they ran along.

“We’re having a fun season and that is due to the many personalities that are present on this team this year,” Smith said.

Grant Union cross country schedule

Sept. 22: Footrace to Valhalla in Umatilla, girls varsity starts at 1:40 p.m., boys at 2:10 p.m.

Sept. 29: Baker Invitational at Quail Ridge Golf Course in Baker City, girls at 4:30 p.m., boys at 5:15 p.m.

Oct. 7: Tigers Invitational at Buffalo Peak Golf Course in Union, TBD

Oct. 14: Burns-Idlewild Meet at Idlewild Campground, boys at 10:45 a.m., girls at 11 a.m.

Oct. 27: 3A/2A/1A Special District 5 Cross Country Championship at Pendleton Community Park, TBD

Sports Schedule Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:50:07 -0400 Thursday, Sept 21

Long Creek/Ukiah volleyball vs. Nixyaawii in Ukiah at 5 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 22

Grant Union cross country @ Footrace to Valhalla in Umatilla, girls varsity at 1:15 p.m., boys varsity at 1:45 p.m.

Prairie City volleyball vs. Harper in Prairie City at 4 p.m. (homecoming, cancer awareness)

Monument/Dayville football vs. Mitchell/Spray/Wheeler in Dayville at 1 p.m.

Grant Union football vs. Burns in John Day at 7 p.m.

Prairie City football vs. Harper in Prairie City at 1 p.m. (homecoming)

Saturday, Sept. 23

Prairie City, Monument/Dayville volleyball @ Crane Tournament in Crane at 9 a.m.

Long Creek/Ukiah soccer @ Dayton in Dayton, Washington, at 11 a.m.

Grant Union volleyball vs. Enterprise in John Day at 12 p.m. (Dig Pink)

Grant Union volleyball vs. Elgin in John Day at 5 p.m. (Dig Pink)

Tuesday, Sept. 26

Grant Union volleyball vs. La Grande in John Day at 4 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 27

Prairie City volleyball @ Burns at 4 p.m.

Volleyball teams serve up awareness Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:50:05 -0400

Flat project objection period open Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:38:32 -0400 The Flat Vegetation Management Project on the Emigrant Creek and Blue Mountain ranger districts has entered the 45-day objection period for the Final Environmental Assessment and the Draft Decision Notice today, Sept. 20.

The Flat project area includes approximately 47,500 acres in the Camp Creek, Dog Creek-Silvies River, Flat Creek-Silvies River and Mountain Creek subwatersheds within Grant and Harney counties. The Flat project proposes an assortment of activities, including vegetation management, fuels treatments, evaluation of the road systems and riparian, meadow, aspen, sagebrush steppe and upland restoration treatments.

For specific directions on how to file an objection along with complete details for this project, access the Forest Service website at or request a copy by contacting Lori Bailey or Melissa Ward at 541-573-4300 or by emailing

Objections concerning the project must be postmarked or received by the reviewing officer within 45 days from the date of the publication of the legal notice. All objections are available for public inspection during and after the objection process.

Pizza fundraiser benefits hurricane victims Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:38:30 -0400 Old West Federal Credit Union is teaming up with Figaro’s Pizza of John Day for a fundraiser benefiting the victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

There will be one size offered, extra large on original crust, with six different pizzas to choose from. Gluten free is available for an extra cost. Prices range from $16-20. For every pizza purchased, $5 is donated. Pizzas must be paid for at the time of the order.

Order forms can be picked up Old West’s John Day and Prairie City offices and Figaro’s. Orders and payment must be placed or dropped off at Old West’s John Day office by 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2. If dropping off at the Prairie City branch, have orders and payment in by 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29.

Pizzas will be ready for pick up from 1:30-5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, at Old West’s John Day office.

ODFW Access and Habitat Program Board seeks members Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:38:29 -0400 Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is currently accepting applications for two positions on the statewide board for the Access and Habitat Program.

Apply by Oct. 9 using the Board Application document on the Access and Habitat Get Involved website to be considered.

All positions are volunteer. People with an interest and experience in forestry, agriculture or ranching and hunting and wildlife conservation are encouraged to apply. Applicants should be willing and able to work collaboratively with landowners, sportsmen’s groups, ODFW staff and other government agencies to facilitate the A&H Program.

Statewide board members are appointed to four-year terms by the Fish and Wildlife Commission and meet four times each year in various communities throughout the state to review project funding applications, hear public testimony and act as liaisons between the program and the public. The seven-member board — three landowner representatives, three hunter representatives and the chair — review and recommend wildlife habitat improvement and hunting access projects to the commission.

The Access and Habitat Program is funded by a $4 surcharge on hunting licenses. Funds are distributed through grants to individual and corporate landowners, conservation organizations and others for wildlife habitat improvement and projects to provide hunter access throughout the state.

For more information, contact Isaac Sanders at 503-947-6087 or for application forms and more information.

Editorial cartoons Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:38:28 -0400

Our View: Manage forests, or watch them burn Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:38:20 -0400 For those who have not witnessed the blast-furnace heat and the eye-stinging smoke of a wildfire along with the mass destruction of timber, homes, businesses and wildlife, the recent fires should be a learning experience.

Nearly every corner of the West was on fire. From Arizona to Washington state and from California to Montana, 65 active fires were burning 2.83 million acres. Those numbers include only the fires that were 10,000 acres or larger. The average size of those fires was 43,556 acres.

In some areas, including Portland and Los Angeles, the fires got too close for comfort. Drivers on Los Angeles expressways could see flames racing up the hillsides, and Interstate 84 east of Portland was closed as firefighters valiantly worked to keep the wind-driven flames at bay.

For many Western city dwellers, wildfires just got personal. They were no longer something they watched from afar, watching video snippets from the safety of their homes and apartments. The stench of smoke could be smelled and the raging flames could be seen up close.

Firefighters were forced to prioritize which blazes to fight and which to let go. They hoped to save the lodge at Multnomah Falls in the Columbia Gorge and the lodge at McDonald Lake in Glacier National Park. They battled to keep fires away from Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks.

Among politicians, the chatter was about how to fund firefighters — talk about fiddling while the West burns. They want to make sure the money for firefighters doesn’t come out of the U.S. Forest Service budget but from the money set aside for disasters.

This chatter has been going on for years now, and any effective member of Congress would have gotten it passed and signed by the president. But we haven’t really seen much in the way of effectiveness coming out of Congress recently, have we?

What they need to talk about — and take action on — is the absolutely irresponsible and short-sighted way public lands in the West are managed.

Let’s start with forests, shall we?

At some point the Obama administration decided nearly all federal forests were off-limits to logging, the best and only way to manage forests. For decades, foresters have been warning that letting forests go unmanaged will only mean bigger and badder wildfires in the future.

We need federal managers who are allowed to effectively manage publicly owned forests. Instead of taking out roads from national forests, they need to leave them in place. They need to sell timber in strategic ways that will make fighting the next wildfire easier.

In the vast open spaces of the West they need to allow more cattle grazing, which has been shown to be an effective way to keep down cheatgrass and other weeds that burn hot and kill the ecosystem. Juniper trees need to be taken out of all areas, including wilderness, where they are destroying the countryside and hindering the recovery of the greater sage grouse and other important species.

The people who know the West best are those who live there. Federal managers need to listen when people tell them that they are setting up the region for disastrous fires. That has happened time and time again, especially in Oregon and Washington state.

And don’t listen to critics who holler that people just want to clearcut the West. In decades past, federal land was actively managed — logged — and the forests are still a beautiful resource. Those who say they don’t want one tree cut down are simply denying the fact that forests need to be managed, or they will eventually be destroyed by wildfire, bark beetles or disease.

Managing forests and open spaces will not put an end to wildfires, but it will reduce their size and number.

Farmer’s Fate: The eighth day of the week Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:38:19 -0400 Brianna WalkerTo Have you ever reached the end of your week, barely making it halfway on your “to do” list? Starting out the week on last week’s list seems a bit like combining with a hopper that never fully empties.

To keep the hopper emptied and the “to do” list short, one seems to have to ignite the midnight petroleum frequently, and then suddenly you find that “spontaneous napping” has somehow found its way to the top of your list. I finally got my eight hours of sleep in — took four days, but who’s counting?

Summertime seems to be the worst for uncompleted lists: always trying to squeeze an extra hour or two out of each day. Each morning we juggle the harvest balls of hay, wheat and watermelons between us and the crew. If we are lucky we keep those balls bouncing between us long enough to eat breakfast — before noon!

Recently, sitting in the freshly cut hay, drinking a warm Gatorade, looking into a swather header that obviously felt it had put in its eight hours and wanted to go home, I had an epiphany. Our lists aren’t too long — our weeks are too short. We need an eight-day week. And I have the perfect name for it: Someday. Just think what we could get done!

How many times have you asked your spouse about building that extra room on your house? Or having a yard sale to clear out the clutter? Or maybe building that tree house for the kids? Yeah, you’ll get to that “Someday.”

How wonderful would that be to have Someday roll around every week? I could finally get my sewing room completed. My husband could finally fix his old Trans Am that has held down the same piece of ground for close to six years now — OK, so that one might take “a month of Somedays.” But just think of the things you’ve been needing to finish that would suddenly happen. I might actually get my Christmas tree taken down — but then again, if I just wait a few more months I’ll be ahead of the game. Someday, I’ll be on top of my housework. Someday, I’ll learn that foreign language. Someday...

My husband interrupted my thoughts, “I got the header fixed, when do you want to finish swathing?”

“Someday,” I smirked at him.

They say every day is a gift. Well, if that’s true, then I’d like a receipt for Monday. I’d like to exchange it for “Someday.”

Brianna Walker occasionally writes about the Farmer’s Fate for the Blue Mountain Eagle.

Guest Comment: Social Security for those who served Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:38:18 -0400 Kimberly HermannTo The men and women who served our country in the military can count on Social Security to be there for them throughout their lives.

Active duty military members earn credits toward Social Security retirement benefits. Wounded Warriors can receive expedited handling of their claims to receive disability benefits. We also provide survivor benefits for young children and spouses of veterans who have died.

You can learn more about how Social Security helps our veterans build a secure financial future for themselves and their families at

Our newest initiative, Journey to Success: Employment Tools for Veterans with Disabilities, is a five-part online guide that helps certain disabled veterans return to fulfilling employment in the American workforce. The guide highlights resources, such as career counseling, job training and employment services.

You can access Journey to Success at

We know some veterans suffered injuries so severe they cannot return to their previous work. However, for those veterans who are interested in testing their ability to find and maintain gainful employment, these resources can help. We thank all members of our military and veterans for their service and sacrifice.

To learn more about our programs and benefits, visit

Kimberly Hermann is a Social Security public affairs specialist.

‘The deer are now a remnant herd’ Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:38:16 -0400 To the Editor:

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Ryan Torland discredits himself in the eyes of old-timers in Grant County when he asserts that the local deer herds are “chugging along just fine.” Talk to just about any old-time rancher or Grant County hunter, and they will tell you the truth: “The deer are just a remnant herd of what they used to be.” We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the deer herd is not “chugging along just fine”; the remnant is barely “chugging” at all. This kind of “misdirection” is why so many hold ODFW in contempt; we don’t like to be lied to. We hold our nose and buy our license, buy deer hunt applications and, if successful, know that 85 percent of us will just be buying the right to take our rifles for a walk in the woods. Oh, we enjoy the camping trip, the camaraderie, the stories from the good old days, but what we would really like is a reasonable chance at success for our dollars. Mr. Torland may respond with numbers and statistics, but those of us who have been there and done that know the truth. The deer are now a remnant herd.

Reg LeQuieu

Mt. Vernon

Finley finishes fourth in Burns Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:38:14 -0400