Blue Mountain Eagle | Blue Mountain Eagle Wed, 17 Sep 2014 14:24:31 -0400 en Blue Mountain Eagle | Officials regroup at ESD fire scene Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:54:45 -0400 JOHN DAY – Officials are working to set up the Education Service District computer servers in another location and restore service for agency clients as soon as possible.

ESD’s servers were shut down when fire swept through the building at 835 S. Canyon Blvd. Tuesday night.

ESD Superintendent Robert Waltenburg said Wednesday morning the servers were in the basement, an area not hit by the fire, so they should be fine. However, the shutdown interrupted a mix of phone, email and Internet services at Grant County offices, schools and City of John Day operations.

He said the plan is to move the servers to another location to bring those offices back online.

Meanwhile, workers in many of those agencies were having a quiet morning, relying on cell phones for essential business.

The fire displaced a dozen people who work in the building. In addition to ESD, the building housed the local offices of Eastern Oregon University and Blue Mountain Community College, and CASA of Grant County.

Waltenburg lauded the efforts of firefighters who worked into the night to save the building and put out hot spots. Crews from Mt. Vernon, Canyon City and Prairie City turned out to assist the John Day Fire Department. The Grant County Sheriff’s Office and John Day Police Department responded, with John Day Chief Richard Gray staying at the fire scene overnight to provide security.

Surveying the charred structure, Waltenburg was philosophical.

“We can’t undo it,” he said. “The fortunate thing is nobody got hurt. We can replace things.”

Fire Chief Ron Smith said the cooperative efforts of all the fire agencies kept the fire from reducing the building to “a pile of rubble.”

“Everybody did an excellent job last night,” he said.

Much of the building is charred but still standing. The fire didn’t reach a small area at the rear section but it sustained smoke damage. Smith termed the building a loss.

Still, he said, “the more structure you have left, the easier it is to come up with a cause.”

Dave Fields, deputy state fire marshal, was on the scene Wednesday morning to begin the investigation of the fire, and an Oregon State Police fire investigator was en route to help.

“Basically what we do is look at all the potential causes, and start ruling them out,” Fields said.

Update: Fire Marshal investigating ESD fire Wed, 17 Sep 2014 08:34:46 -0400 JOHN DAY – The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office has been called in to investigate the cause of the fire that destroyed the Education Service District building Tuesday night.

John Day Police Chief Richard Gray said the fire was reported about 9 p.m. John Day Fire and Police responded to find the at building 835 S. Canyon Blvd. engulfed in flames.

The fire department was assisted by crews from the Canyon City, Mt. Vernon and Prairie City fire departments, and the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.

Canyon Boulevard was temporarily closed to traffic as fire crews battled the blaze Tuesday night.

Officials reported Wednesday that email service to the local schools, county offices and John Day city offices has been disrupted by the fire, which shut down the ESD server.

Editorial: The paler shade of crime Tue, 16 Sep 2014 09:04:51 -0400 One of the most insightful observations made about the NFL domestic-violence scandal was that a muscle-bound thug who beats up a stranger in front of a security camera might find himself spending significant time behind bars. But local authorities in Atlantic City, N.J., considered a “diversion program” to be response enough when Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice knocked his fiancée (now wife) unconscious and dragged her limp body out of an elevator like a deer carcass.

Also lamentable is the extent to which Ravens’ senior management’s first instinct was to minimize Rice’s responsibility for his actions, while trying to deflect blame onto the woman. Though rallying around a teammate may be instinctive, a trend-setting community institution has an obvious and overriding duty to set an example by not instantly lurching into tired, chauvinistic clichés.

Newsworthy as all this is, it would hardly warrant comment in a rural Western publication were it not for the fact that similar behaviors and attitudes are pervasive, and our communities are not immune. The surprise isn’t that Rice initially avoided serious consequences for his behavior, but that he eventually did.

In our culture, we for some warped reason continue to treat domestic violence as a paler shade of crime. Beating up a loved one too often results not in vigorous prosecution, but at most, going though the motions of anger management class, with no meaningful punishment or enduring lessons. Though it is safe to say our district attorney and victim assistance office takes these matters seriously, there still is a public perception that a violent attack is somehow less problematic if the victim is a spouse.

Add in the phenomenon seen in the Rice case, where his victim tells the world she wants everyone to forget it and move on. The psychology and economics of such behavior are beyond the scope of this editorial. But clearly, society has little hope of developing better tactics against domestic violence if we defer to the wishes of victims who remain under the control of their assailants.

As seen in the public relations fallout from the Rice case, the NFL has a compelling monetary incentive to be perceived as sensitive to this issue. The League does have a department, a machine really, to deal with bad behavior by its athletes. But recent news reports suggest the focus is more on damage control for the League than taking a strong moral stand about acceptable behavior.

As prime role models for young men, major sports teams and players have the potential to shift public consciousness. It might be ironic if an entertainment business premised on hard hitting on the playing field could lead efforts to keep violence out of families. But it is, just barely, conceivable.

In the meantime, the Rice incident should spark continuing conversations in homes and school classrooms across the nation. Beating and dominating weaker family members isn’t OK in the sports world – or anywhere else.

Fire engulfs Grant County ESD building Tue, 16 Sep 2014 22:18:45 -0400 John Day Volunteer Fire Department responded to a fire at the Grant County Education Service District building at 835 S. Canyon Blvd., in John Day across the street from the Snaffle Bit Dinner House at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night. The building was reported as fully engulfed. At least two fire trucks were on scene as well as other emergency responders. Highway 395 South was closed to traffic near the fire while firefighters worked. Officers kept bystanders back from the scene for safety.

Exchanging thoughts to serve students Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:44:09 -0400 Angel Carpenter JOHN DAY – Can’t make it to the latest Grant School District No. 3 school board meeting?

Next week, the district is starting a project called ThoughtExchange, allowing parents, students, staff and others in the community to share their thoughts and concerns about their schools online.

Superintendent Mark Witty said the ThoughtExchange is a “unique, virtual approach to get a sense of shared values.”

He noted the process takes 5-10 minutes to answer three questions online.

The questions are:

• What are your concerns for this school year?

• What do you appreciate about this school year?

• What are some other things you would like to say about our school this year?

People will log on as a parent, student, staff or community member with no personal information, such as name or email, shared.

The launch date is Monday, Sept. 22, and the program will run through Wednesday, Oct. 1.

After about three weeks, participants will be asked to return to the website, read through the responses and “star” those comments they feel share their priorities.

Witty said he learned about the ThoughtExchange from other administrators in Oregon and Washington last summer.

“It’s a positive way to engage the community,” he said. “Everybody is busy, and this allows an individual to participate from their own home.”

Once information is gathered, a report will be given at a school board meeting, as early as November.

Witty said he hopes the feedback will help them learn what is going well in the district and areas where improvement is needed.

“We hope this will help us better serve our students,” he said.

XC teams make tracks at Catherine Creek Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:24:07 -0400 Angel Carpenter UNION – Cross country runners competing in the Catherine Creek Scamper got down to the nitty-gritty – and the downright mucky.

“The course has a notorious mud hole where shoes get sucked off feet and disappear,” said Grant Union head coach Sonna Smith. “Both races ran through it twice. The middle school 2.5K course was flat and on grass through the park, while the high school 5K climbed and descended on forest trails, crossing Catherine Creek twice.”

From Grant County, Grant Union, led by head coach Sonna Smith, had junior varsity, junior high and middle school teams, and Monument, led by Chuck Thomas, brought a junior high and middle school team.

Highlights for Grant Union include eighth-graders Tanner Elliot and Walker Joslin placing first and second, respectively, in the junior high race.

All high school runners competed with the junior varsity.

With 12 teams and 50 runners, Sam Bentz placed 23rd and Trejan Speth, 28th, for the boys junior varsity team.

Competing with 39 runners, Hannah Deming placed 19th; Kaylyn Joslin, 26th; and Babe Nash, 37th, for the girls.

For Monument’s middle school team, sixth-grader Mark Thomas placed second.

Grant Union’s athletes will run in the Hilton Half, which includes the choice of a 5K or half marathon, at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Seventh Street Complex in John Day.

Runner’s Soul XC Festival in Hermiston

Grant Union junior varsity results, 5K


37th Kelsey Long 32:00.3  

39th Kaylyn Joslin 34:53.2  

46th Babe Nash 39:19.6  


46th Trejan Speth 22:25.8

61st Michael Ashmead 23:55.0

2,500 Meters Middle School (grades 5-8)


Grant Union

2nd Tanner Elliott 9:35.9  

8th Walker Joslin 10:25.6   

25th Cody Combs 12:03.4   

26th Bo Olson 12:04.9  


12th Mark Thomas 10:37.8


12th Miranda Cook 11:59.5

Panthers lose hard-fought game at Spartan field Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:23:24 -0400 Angel Carpenter HALFWAY – It was a close first game for the Prairie City football team.

The Panthers, playing eight-man ball, lost their first game of the season 20-22 against the Pine Eagle Spartans in a hard-fought contest.

“It was a lot of work for them,” said head coach Darrel McKrola.

The Panthers took the lead at halftime with a score of 14-8.

Dorran Wilson scored each of the team’s three touchdowns.

McKrola said he was pleased with his team’s strong defense, and offense had some good receptions.

The Panthers caused seven Spartan fumbles, recovering two, and had at least three fourth-down conversions and six sacks in the game.

“They played hard and were really disciplined,” McKrola said. “Everybody contributed – it was definitely a team effort. I’m looking forward to the season.”

The Panthers, a junior varsity team, host Adrian at 7 p.m. Friday under the lights.

Tigers rush to victory at Arlington field Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:22:04 -0400 Angel Carpenter ARLINGTON – With a “never-quit” attitude, the Dayville/Monument Tigers came out roaring, defeating the Arlington Honkers 26-20 on the road last Friday.

“I was very happy with the performance of the guys against Arlington,” said head coach Nathaniel Ashley.

Highlights included Dakota Emerson and Jeremy Hand gaining more than 100 yards rushing.

Emerson also scored three touchdowns in the game, and threw a touchdown pass to quarterback Jordan Bowlus.

Bowlus also made a two-point conversion, rushing the ball.

Tanner Walczyk recovered a fumble, and Brody Breck and Emerson each had an interception.

“Dakota’s interception finished the game, allowing us to take knees to run the clock out,” coach Ashley said, adding, “The guys never quit and never backed down.”

He said the team will work this week to clean up penalties in preparation for their game at 1 p.m. Saturday against Pine Eagle in Baker City.

“We’re going to have to show up with our A game,” he said.

Lady Panthers focus on ‘killer instincts’ Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:20:45 -0400 Angel Carpenter HALFWAY – Prairie City’s Lady Panthers had a weekend of ups and downs.

On the road, the Panthers defeated the Pine Eagle Spartans in two sets Friday and went on to the Crane Tournament Saturday, where they lost one match and won one.

In Halfway, Prairie City beat the Spartans 25-18 and 25-17.

“The girls played well, focusing on making a good pass so they can attack the ball over the net,” said head coach Louanne Zweygardt.

In Crane the next day, the Panthers lost their first match to the Crane Mustangs in two close sets, 21-25 and 23-25.

“Their serving was not as strong Saturday morning and in close sets like that it is enough to make the difference,” the coach said.

The Panthers got fired up again against McDermitt, winning in three sets with scores of 25-5, 25-23 and 25-22.

“We took the first set 25-5 with strong serving by Cassie Hire, who served 16 straight serves to finish out the set,” Zweygardt said.

She noted her team lost a little focus after the first set, but won the next two with close scores.

“We are going to be working on our ‘killer instinct,’ focusing on every point as if it was the last one of the match,” she said.

The Panthers host the Grant Union junior varsity teams this Wednesday at 5 p.m. and travel Saturday to the Baker Interleague Tournament, the time to be announced.

Lady Pros sweep first league game Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:18:19 -0400 Angel Carpenter JOHN DAY – The Prospector volleyball team swept Elgin at their home court last Thursday.

“This was a good win for us, for our first league match of the season,” said head coach Shae Speth. “Elgin has a strong senior group that has been playing varsity for a few years.”

Grant Union worked for the three wins, the Huskies coming out especially strong in the final set.

The scores were: 25-20, 25-13, 25-22.

“Chelsie Kodesh and Mariah Moulton had strong serving runs, pushing us ahead at key points in the match,” Speth said. “We definitely saw what we need to work on, and will continue to improve on keeping our focus and intensity in closing out sets.”

Prospector Carli Gardner, who was wished a happy birthday at the event, said she felt the game went well.

“We had a couple runs where we needed to work more on our fundamentals, but we had fun and played great and won our first league game, so that’s awesome,”

The team traveled to Aurora Saturday for the North Marion Tournament, where they faced teams from larger schools, 4A-6A.

They were one of only two teams from the 2A class.

The fun started Friday night, when the team attended an Oregon State vs. Michigan volleyball game and also practiced at the OSU campus.

“This was a great trip for our varsity team, not just for some higher level volleyball, but for the team experience,” Speth said.

At the tournament, Grant Union earned second place in pool play, putting them in the championship bracket.

“That was one of our goals for the tournament – get to the championship bracket, rather than the consolation bracket,” she said. “Another goal at the tournament for us was working on strengthening our blocking and back row defense.”

In pool play the Prospectors beat Douglas 25-12 and 25-17 and North Marion 25-17 and 25-21, and then lost to Ridgefield, Wash., 11-25 and 18-25.

They went on to bracket play, losing to Ridgeview 15-25 and 21-25.

“We knew this would be a tough match, as Ridgeview had strong hitters at a level we just have not seen this year,” she said. “Although we lost, we played well and competed with a really good team.”

She said the girls gained self-assurance, discovering they can play at that level.

“The intensity of the match was high with several long rallies after the girls realized they could read, block, and dig Ridgeview’s hard hits,” she said. “This confidence will most definitely help us as we get further into league.”

The Prospectors travel Friday to Baker City for the Baker Invitational Tournament, with the action starting at 9 a.m.

GU vs. Elgin

Stat highlights

Mariah Moulton: 7 kills (team-high) on 12 swings, 4 aces, 4 digs

Mariah Meyerholz: 13 assists

Heather Mosley: 6 kills

Carli Gardner: 5 kills, no hitting errors

Emily Mosley: 3 kills, no hitting errors

Kori Pentzer: 6 kills on 11 swings, 10 digs (team high)

Chelsie Kodesh: 3 kills, 10 assists, 4 aces

GU @ N Marion Tourney

Stat highlights

Moulton: 15 kills, 4 aces, 20 digs

Samantha Brock: 4 kills, 2 digs, 2 block assists

Rheanna Cartner: 7 kills, 23 assists, 21 digs, 2 aces, 4 block assists

Meyerholz: 2 kills, 34 set assists, 8 aces (team high), 17 digs

H. Mosley: 8 kills, 4 digs, 1 solo block, 4 block assists

Gardner: 8 kills, 5 aces, 6 digs, 2 solo blocks, 5 block assists

E. Mosley: 1 kill, 2 digs, 3 block assists

Pentzer: 23 kills (team high), 6 aces, 29 digs (team high), 2 solo blocks, 2 block assists

Kodesh: 14 digs

Sydney Stearns: 7 digs

GC league foes face off in Monument Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:15:36 -0400 Angel Carpenter MONUMENT – The Monument gym drew High Desert League opponents Dayville/Monument and Long Creek/Ukiah, and Mitchell/Spray (Big Sky League) for an afternoon and evening of volleyball action Sept. 9.

For Dayville/Monument, the tourney offered the first of several matches played in week with three destinations on the team’s packed schedule.

It also was the first time Long Creek and Ukiah players had been able to get together for volleyball, but the team showed steady improvement as the tournament progressed.

Dayville/Monument’s Tigers won 3-0 over Long Creek/Ukiah, with scores of 25-7, 25-8 and 25-10.

Long Creek/Ukiah took another hit, losing to Mitchell/Spray, but they again showed gains with scores of 4-25, 16-25 and 17-25.

Mitchell/Spray tried to give the Tigers a run for their money in the final match, which stretched out to four sets, but Dayville/Monument held on for the win.

The Tigers won 3-1 with scores of 25-8, 19-25, 25-11 and 25-12.

Tiger coach Patti Wright said her players’ serving was much improved.

She highlighted Treiquella Osborne, who had 20 kills in the final match, and Mary Yankee, who had 8. The setter, Skylar Powell, had 12 assists.

“It was great – she set really well and was a key server for the match, as was Mary Yankee.”

Wright noted that Powell scored 12 of 25 points in the final game, after 14 in the second.

Long Creek/Ukiah coach Reagan Enriquez, co-coach with Linda Studtmann, said her team gave her goosebumps in the last couple sets.

“Everyone started coming together,” she said. “It took a while to get our rhythm, but when they did the girls fell into their roles naturally.”

The Tigers continued their week with more games.

They faced the Arlington Honkers on the road last Friday, winning 3-2 with scores of 25-9, 25-12, 22-25, 19-25 and 15-9.

“Again, we had consistent serving from Skylar in that match,” she said.

Saturday’s game at the Sherman County Tournament in Aurora allowed the Tigers to gain more experience with a couple wins over 2A teams.

They lost their first match with top-ranked 1A Dufur, 15-25 and 21-25, but came back and beat Stanfield 25-20 and 25-21.

The Tigers also defeated Sherman County 25-16 and 25-16.

They lost two sets to Lyle, and Lyle lost to Dufur, which took the championship.

“It was a great weekend of volleyball,” Wright said. “We played a lot and got a lot of experience for our younger kids.”

She said she hopes to have a full, healthy squad this weekend.

“I think it was important for us to see teams that we don’t normally play,” she said. “Playing 2A teams like Stanfield helps us improve.”

The Tigers host the Burnt River Bulls in Dayville at 4 p.m. Friday and travel to Pilot Rock Saturday for a 1 p.m. game with Echo.

GU football takes fresh start Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:09:14 -0400 Angel Carpenter JOHN DAY – “Discipline, work ethic, commitment and loyalty” – all are qualities head coach Jason Miller is striving to ingrain in the 33 members of the Grant Union football team.

The Prospectors are making a fresh start this year with more than a dozen freshmen – some taking on major roles – in a new league.

There are five seniors on the team: Tyler Manitsas, Justin Gravley, Jerry Carter, Paul Roark and Adrian Swogger.

There is “no clear distinction between JV and varsity, yet,” Miller said.

He’s led the Prospectors for six of his seven years coaching the team and is in his 19th year of coaching overall.

Andy Lusco returns as defensive coordinator, and Casey Hallgarth is a new junior varsity assistant.

Joe Hittle and Brent Smith, working with the middle school team, also assist Miller when possible.

The 2A Prospectors face new opponents this year in the Wapiti League, up against some strong competition, Miller said.

“Burns will be tough, Enterprise is good, Imbler is tough, and Union/Cove has great numbers and will be much improved,” he said.

Always a rival, Burns joins the 2A ranks this year, moving down from 3A; and Imbler won the 1A state championship last year.

Grant Union graduated 17 seniors last school year, and many of them filled key positions to help lead the Pros to their 2013 state championship win over the Regis Rams.

Those 17 seniors endured tough seasons their first three years of high school, after going undefeated as seventh- and eighth-graders.

Returning to the team this year are some varsity players who are stepping up and playing hard, along with players from last year’s junior high and junior varsity teams. Those teams went undefeated in 2013.

“This year’s transition is tough,” Miller said. “But what a great lesson to show the freshman class – if you are committed and all stay together, you can accomplish the ultimate goal in high school football.”

While Grant Union has had a rough start to the season, Miller is keeping the focus on “execution and improvement.”

Pointing to the team’s strengths, he said, “They want to improve, they are tough, and they are fun to coach.”

“My hope for this team is to be running at full strength by the time league starts and reach their potential,” he said. “If we can do that, we can make it a tight race.”

Mustangs overpower Pros in Heppner Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:05:05 -0400 Angel Carpenter HEPPNER – The Grant Union Prospectors endured a 14-47 thumping by the Heppner Mustangs in nonleague football action last Friday.

The Mustangs seemed adept at finding the holes in the Prospector defense for touchdowns – rushing and passing.

Despite facing a 0-47 deficit at halftime, Grant Union kept fighting hard.

With the mercy rule in place and the clock ticking down, the Prospectors worked to keep the Mustangs at bay and find the goal line.

In the third quarter, Hayden Young caught a 10-yard pass from freshman quarterback Wade Reimers, and gained a total of 61 yards.

A few plays later, Leonard Radinovich rushed the ball in for Grant Union’s first touchdown.

Young added 2 points with a successful conversion.

In the fourth quarter, Young scored Grant Union’s final touchdown of the game.

The Prospectors went 2 of 10 on passes for 66 yards, had 26 rushes for 125 yards, and had four sacks in the game.

Commenting on Heppner’s performance, head coach Jason Miller said, “They’re a great team, good athletes, good line play – their quarterback is stellar.”

“We kept fighting even when it was ugly – I think we learned some things,” he added.

The team is preparing to host Stanfield at Three Flags Field at 7 p.m. Friday.

“We’ll just keep trying to perfect our blocking, tackling and execution,” Miller said.

2014 County Sports Schedule Tue, 16 Sep 2014 15:52:43 -0400 Football

Friday, Sept. 19 Grant Union vs. Stanfield John Day 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 19 Prairie City vs. Adrian Prairie City 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 19 Dayville/Monument @ Pine Eagle Baker City 1 p.m.


Wednesday, Sept. 17 Prairie City vs. Grant Union JV/JV2 Prairie City 5 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 18 Grant Union @ Cove Cove 5 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 19 Grant Union @ Baker Invitational Tourney Baker 9 a.m.

Friday, Sept. 19 Dayville/Monument vs. Burnt River Dayville 4 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 20 Dayville/Monument @ Echo Pilot Rock 11 a.m.

Saturday, Sept. 20 Prairie City @ Interleague Tourney Baker TBA

Cross Country

Saturday, Sept. 20 Grant Union at Hilton Half John Day 8 a.m.

Eagle on vacation Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:35:18 -0400

Seneca School Library goes public Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:52:50 -0400 SENECA – The newly reorganized Seneca School Library is now open to the public.

A grand opening of the Seneca Community Library will be from 3-6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, at the school. People are encouraged to stop buy, check out the changes and get a library card. Refreshments will be served.

The project was sparked in 2013 by the donation of over 500 hardcover books by Linda Pynes from the personal collection of her late husband Phil, who lived in Seneca and attended school there as a child.

According to school staff, Linda told them her late husband and his siblings spoke fondly of their time in Seneca. When faced with the task of sorting through his belongings, she decided an appropriate way to honor his memory would be to give back to the small community that had meant so much to him.

Current and former staff members set out on the task of weeding through and overhauling the school library and its materials, to make room for the new collection.

MaryEcho Kuhl joined the staff in January 2014, and began cataloging and shelving the collection, in addition to her instructional aide duties.

The result is a library that now houses a community collection open to the public, along with nonfiction, reference and fiction for younger readers.

Calendar copies of dates and times for the library’s open hours will be available at the grand opening.

What’s Happening Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:47:05 -0400 The deadline for What’s Happening items is 5 p.m. Friday. Call Cheryl at the Eagle, 541-575-0710.

• 6 p.m., Grant County Chamber of Commerce, 301 W. Main St.

Interested community members are invited to help plan an event to mark the 150th anniversary of the county’s formation.

• 6:30 p.m., St. Thomas Parish House, Canyon City

The Grant County Democrats will meet at the church’s parish house, 139 S. Washington St., Canyon City. Local Democrats are encouraged to attend. Call Mark Cerny, 541-542-2633.

• 4-7 p.m., Grant County Regional Airport

The Blue Mountains Forest Partners collaborative group will hold their monthly meeting. On the agenda: a presentation about existing conditions on the Magone Project. The public is welcome to attend. The Partners also plan to have a presentation on insect and disease infestations, with a focus on the pine beetle activity near the 13 Road, at 8 a.m. Friday, the location to be announced. For information, contact Vernita Ediger, 541-575-7525 or

• 6 p.m., Grant County Courthouse, Canyon City

The public is invited to a meeting of the Grant County Public Access Advisory Board, in the conference room of the Courthouse.

• 12:30 p.m., Valley View Assisted Living, John Day

The Ellis Tracy unit of the American Legion Auxiliary will hold a luncheon meeting at Valley View Assisted Living. Important plans will be discussed, so all members are urged to attend. Call 541-575-0076 for more information.

• 1-4 p.m., Diamond Hitch Mule Ranch, Kimberly

The fall field day is open to beekeepers of all levels of experience, as well as those curious about bees. The fall field day will focus on beehive strength, weight and winter preparation. There will be hive inspections, so those with extra equipment and/or bee veils are encouraged to bring them. A few extra veils will be available. Diamond Hitch Mule Ranch is on Highway 19 south of Kimberly, between milepost 107 and 108. Call 541-934-9101 or email

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

Gates open at 6 p.m., with the bronc riding action set for 7-9 p.m. There will be an “after party” in the Sale Barn following the event. Presale tickets are $8 for general admission, and $15 for VIP seating. At the gate prices are $10 and $20, as long as they are available. For more information, call the fair office at 541-575-1900.

• 6 p.m., Prairie City Community Hall

All are welcome to the event which will include readings by Kent Nelson, who has authored four novels and six story collections, in addition to 138 stories published in magazines. His novel, “Land That Moves, Land That Stands Still,” won the Colorado Book Award, and the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award for best novel. His new collection, “The Spirit Bird,” won the 2014 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Kent, who lives in Colorado, teaches at Colorado College and has taught numerous workshops. Wine and cheese will be available. Admission is $12.

• 6:30 p.m., Keerins Hall, Grant County Fairgrounds

The Grant County Stockgrowers will take input on a proposed county ordinance that would require “trich” testing for all bulls in the county. The public is invited to attend and discuss the proposal, which aims to blunt the threat of the serious bovine disease trichomoniasis.

• Noon-2 p.m., City Hall, Prairie City

All are welcome to an appreciation luncheon to honor Prairie City volunteers. Awards and prizes will be given out. Award nomination forms are available at City Hall. Call 541-820-3605 for more information.

• 7 p.m., John Day Church of the Nazarene

The alternative Christian rock group, “Cities Under Fire,” from Canada, will perform at the church, at 521 E. Main St., John Day. A $10 donation is requested.

• 1 p.m., Pine Creek Road

All are welcome to a celebration of the Pine Creek Community east of John Day being named the first Firewise Community in Eastern Oregon. Everyone will meet at the junction of Highway 26 and Pine Creek Road – County Road 54 – to see the placing of the official Firewise sign. A refreshment gathering will follow at Dave and Lana Abarr’s house on Quail Lane. For more information, call 541-575-2210 or 541-575-0262.

• 10 a.m., Grant County Industrial Park, John Day

The event, organized by Heart of Grant County, promotes awareness of services available to those who are survivors of violence and sexual abuse. The route is three laps around the industrial park, which is approximately three miles. Participants can choose to walk, run or dance, while along the way, volunteers at color stations will “shower” them with biodegradable color. The cost is $15 a person, which includes a T-shirt, or $30 per household family, up to three T-shirts. No charge for children 5 and under. Proceeds will go toward Heart’s emergency services and community outreach events. Volunteers are needed to help with the run. Registration forms are available at various locations, or call Heart at 541-575-4335 for more information.

Grant County seniors Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:46:46 -0400 JOHN DAY – On Sept. 8, we had spaghetti, garden salad and garlic bread, with punch bars for dessert. Ron Dowse and Billie Bullard greeted us at the desk.

Francis and Bonnie Kocis delivered 20 “meals on wheels” and 10 frozen meals to shut-ins. As usual, Veanne Weddle also helped deliver. Our servers were from Redeemer Lutheran Church. Buzz Gilmore led the flag salute, and Francis asked the blessing.

Veanne Weddle announced that both Marianne Morris and Don Porter were turning 78 on Sept. 9. Helen Bogart won the Len’s Drug certificate, and Marianne Morris won the free meal.

On Sept. 11, we had zucchini-ham casserole, beet salad and rolls, and for dessert, fresh fruit and cookies. The zucchini was furnished by Jim Maple, out of his garden. Eastern Oregon Realty furnished the entrée. At the desk were Margaret Glass and Bonnie Kocis.

Buz and Margaret Glass, and Veanne delivered 21 “meals on wheels” along with 10 frozen meals to shut-ins. Our servers were from the Cornerstone Christian Fellowship. Donna Johnson led the flag salute, and Pastor Levi Manitsas asked the blessing.

Veanne told the story of the freezer. Tuesday morning Judy came in and discovered the freezer was up to 30 degrees when it is normally between 0 and l0. She called the repairman who figured it was just on the defrost cycle so she watched it but to be on the safe side moved the food to other locations. Good thing she did because she came in Wednesday morning and it was 94 degrees. Anyway, it is now fixed and a huge “thank you” goes out to Tracy at Russell’s Custom Meats and Deli, and also to Carol Thompson from the Grubsteak for providing a place to store the food. Also thank you to Brandi. She really scrubbed the freezer from top to bottom while it was down and empty.

There will be an AARP Driver training course Oct. 11 at the Senior Center. There is a sign up sheet on the wall or call Ron at 541-575-4268.

Veanne put out a request for fresh tomatoes for the Sept. 18 meal so we can have them in our salad.

The hall was decorated to remember 9/11. There were also two vases of red, white and blue flowers, which were won by Jean Willey and Margaret Glass. Nancy Elliott-Wells won the Chester’s Thriftway certificate, and Karen Barrietua won the Valley View meal-for-two.

Thursday, Sept. 18, we’ll have lasagna, and the menu for Monday, Sept. 22 is taco salad. Yummy.

Psalm 25:21 “May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in You.”

PRAIRIE CITY – In addition to all the political letters and telephone calls, the first Christmas catalog for this season has arrived. And I couldn’t find a thing in it that I or anyone on my list needed. In the first place I have too many birthdays and anniversaries in the fall to think about Christmas presents.

Question of the day: Do you know how to jump start a Model A? This was an inquiry in the daily paper in one of the car columns. If you know, they would be glad to hear.

‘Twas a little chilly this morning, but the first frost came the next day. What happened to summer? Decided to remove the window fan from the studio/office window. The keys on the piano and computer were getting cool. Along with the operator. So that means that the transplanting of the grape vine is getting closer.

Our setup crew did their job, so that our volunteer servers could do theirs. Our crew on Sept. 10 had Fran Bunch, Julia Davis, Sandi Rennels and Jean Kline, with help from Joann Phippen and Linda Boyer.

Buzz Harris led the flag salute, and Bob Leonard asked the blessing.

Leone is visiting with family in Seoul, South Korea. Whoa – wonder if she took the Eagle?

Our dinner today was extremely filling. Grape juice, spaghetti and meat sauce, corn delight, glazed carrots, biscuits, and apple bars for dessert. With attending a potluck in the evening, I gained a pound on this day. But 1 didn’t have to cook!

The gift certificate donated by Prairie Hardware and Gifts was won by – me. Hey, these new numbers work good!

There were 68 names on the registration book.

The Blue Mountain Care Center ladies, Lorna and Kellyn, brought Dorothy Blasing and Floyd Morgan.

The Grange had their regular meeting today, also, after dinner.

The fire marshal’s inspection also was to determine the official safe occupancy of the building. Apparently, there is a complicated formula for that. We’re still waiting for that number.

The Choir Chime practices for the “Bene-fete” on Nov. 22 are coming along quite well. We had eight out of 10 members in attendance this morning. The two who were missing have excellent reasons: They have just had knee replacement surgeries. Get well soon Vonnie and Kim.

If you don’t have anything to do between 9:30 and 10:30 on Wednesday mornings, you are welcome to join us. I’m sure we could find an extra note for you.

Psalm. 33:3 “Play skillfully with a loud noise.”

FS awards next slate of work on Malheur Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:46:19 -0400 Scotta Callister JOHN DAY – The second task order of the 10-year-stewardship contract is good to go.

The Forest Service announced Friday it has awarded the task order, the next major piece in a decade of restoration work under way on the Malheur National Forest.

The task order is one of a series in the integrated resource stewardship contract, awarded last September to John Day-based Iron Triangle LLC, that specify where commercial harvest and integrated restoration activities will occur.

Officials lauded the contract for providing a predictable and sustainable volume of timber, adding jobs and bolstering the local economy, while tackling crucial restoration work on large areas of the forest.

“This contract is the outcome of many people working toward a common goal of balancing economic stability and ecological resilience,” said Steve Beverlin, Malheur National Forest deputy forest supervisor.

The new task order outlines work on nearly 27,000 acres of the Malheur.

Treatment areas include the Upper Pine analysis area on the Emigrant Creek Ranger District; and the Sugar project in the Soda Bear analysis area and the Tin and Cup projects in the Galena analysis area, on the Blue Mountain Ranger District.

The restoration activities include installation of a fish-passage culvert, aspen thinning and fencing, road maintenance activities including closure re-construction and construction, pre-commercial thinning, and grapple and hand-piling.

The commercial harvest includes the removal of 321,378 tons – some 53.57 million board feet – of saw log and biomass material.

“We are encouraged by the signing of the second task order as it allows for the continuation of a predictable timber supply and employment opportunities for the local economy,” said Russ Young, Iron Triangle owner.

Officials say the contract benefits ripple into the community through Iron Triangle and subcontractors, the Malheur Lumber mill in John Day, and other mills in the region. They tout indirect benefits to local businesses and schools, and a drop in the unemployment rate.

In addition, the Forest Service has ramped up its local staffing to support accelerated restoration program.

“We continue to work closely and collaboratively with so many of our partners and community members and want to thank everyone who helped bring the second task order to completion,” said Beverlin. “You all made it possible.”

He noted the forest staff is continuing to work with Blue Mountain Forest Partners, Harney County Restoration Collaborative, Grant and Harney counties, state officials, and other partners to analyze watersheds to determine the appropriate restoration activities to promote forest health and make them more resilient to wildfire.

As more task orders are issued, officials expect more certainty for local contractors, encouraging investment in the infrastructure needed for the full slate of restoration work on the Malheur – and other eastside forests.

Student art Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:46:17 -0400

Grant County Meetings Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:46:09 -0400 ONGOING

Grant County Library is open 1-5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-noon and 1-7 p.m. Tuesday; and 7-9 p.m. Thursday. The library is located at 507 S. Canyon Blvd., John Day.

Canyon Mountain Center offers meditation sittings from 5:30 to 6:10 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 511 Hillcrest, John Day. Call ahead, 541-932-2725.

Burns-Hines VA Clinic – Services for Grant County veterans. Immunizations, minor surgical procedures, blood pressure and diabetes monitoring, group therapy for combat PTSD, sobriety and other issues. Lab draws on Wednesdays. Nursing staff and therapy Monday through Friday. 541-573-3339.

Grant County Genealogical Society Research Center – Open 1-4 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. Parsonage building behind Historic Advent Church, West Main Street in John Day. 541-932-4718 or 541-575-2757.


11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. – TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), weigh-in, meeting. Bible Way Community Church, 401 W. Main St., John Day. 541-575-3812, 541-932-4592.

12 p.m. – Seniors Meal Program at the Strawberry Grange Hall, Prairie City.

12 p.m. – Women’s Support, by Heart of Grant County, for domestic violence survivors. Free lunch. 541-575-4335.

3:30 p.m. – Humbolt Elementary School Site Council, school library. 541-575-0454.

4 p.m. – Grant County Safe Communities Coalition, Outpost Restaurant, John Day. 541-575-3600.

5:30 p.m. – Grant County Law Enforcement Review Council, Grant County Courthouse Conference Room.

6 p.m.– Grant County Public Forest Commission, Squeeze-In Restaurant. 541-620-1949.

6 p.m. – Prairie City Community Association, held in the PCCA office in the former Methodist Church, 211 W. Sixth St., Prairie City.

7 p.m. – VFW 3597, 240 S. Canyon Blvd., John Day. 541-932-4113.

7:30 p.m. – Let Go Group of Alcoholics Anonymous, St. Elizabeth Catholic Parish Hall, John Day. 541-575-0114.

THURSDAY, Sept. 18

9 a.m.-7 p.m. – Family History Center open, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, John Day. Also open by appointment. 541-575-1817 or 541-575-0069.

10 a.m.-1 p.m. – Monument Food Pantry, food distribution, trailer west of the Senior Center. 541-934-9191.

Noon – Seniors Meal Program, John Day Senior Center, 142 N.E. Dayton St. 541-575-1825.

1:30 p.m. – Blue Mountain Hospital Caregivers’ Support Group, first-floor classroom at Blue Mountain Hospital, John Day. 541-575-0728, Ext. 248, or 541-820-3341.

4-7 p.m. – Blue Mountain Forest Partners, Juniper Room at the Forest Service’s supervisor’s office, 431 Patterson Bridge Rd., John Day.

5:30 p.m. – Friends of Kam Wah Chung & Company, Kam Wah Chung Interpretive Center, N.W. Canton St., John Day. 541-575-2800.

6 p.m. – “The Girlfriends” Women’s 12-step Recovery, John Day Church of the Nazarene. 541-620-0065.

6:30 a.m. – John Day/Canyon City Park and Rec. Board, Belshaw office.

7 p.m. – Blue Mountain Hospital, Board of Directors, Blue Mountain Hospital classroom, John Day.

7 p.m. – Prairie City Volunteer Fire Department, Fire Hall. 541-820-4360.

7 p.m. – American Legion Unit 77, Alec Gay Hall. Call Art Pereira, 541-575-1841.

FRIDAY, Sept 19

3-6 p.m. – United Methodist Church, weekly distribution of boxes of food, 126 N.W. Canton Street, John Day.

6 p.m. – Alcoholics Anonymous, open to nonmembers too, Long Creek Community Center. 541-421-3888.

7 p.m. – Whiskey Gulch Gang, Sel’s Brewery, Canyon City. 541-575-0329.

SATURDAY, Sept. 20

8:30 a.m.-noon – John Day Farmers Market, SW Brent St., John Day. Crafts, baked goods, produce, kids activities, entertainment, information booths. 541-932-2725.

9 a.m.-noon – Old recycling center in Prairie City, accepts glass for crushing.

12 p.m. – Oregon NORML-Eastside Chapter, Long Creek. Community Hall. 541-620-0768.

SUNDAY, Sept. 21

Fun Jam, musicians and listeners welcome for bluegrass, gospel and traditional country western music, Call for time and location, 541-575-1927.

MONDAY, Sept. 22

Noon – Seniors Meal Program, John Day Senior Center, 142 N.E. Dayton St. 541-575-1825.

6 p.m. – Mt. Vernon Volunteer Fire Department, 541-932-4688.

7:30 p.m. – Outlaw Group of Alcoholics Anonymous, Presbyterian Church in Mt. Vernon. 541-932-4844.

TUESDAY, Sept 23

6:30 p.m. – New Beginnings Recovery Group, Living Word Christian Center, Mt. Vernon. 541-932-4910.

10-11 a.m. – Story Hour and craft project, Grant County Library, for preschoolers 0-6 years old. 541-575-1992.

12 p.m. – Seniors Meal Program at the Monument Senior Center.

5:15 p.m. – Grant Education District ESD Board, 835 S. Canyon Blvd., John Day. 541-575-1349.

7 p.m. – John Day City Council, City Hall.

7 p.m. – Grant County Air Search, Grant County Regional Airport meeting room.

7 p.m. – Bingo, John Day Senior Center. Doors open at 6 p.m.

7:15 p.m. – Boy Scout Troop 898, John Day Elks Lodge, John Day. 541-575-2531.


9 a.m. – Grant County Court, courthouse, Canyon City.

9 a.m. – Shepherd’s Closet, open, with free clothing for all ages and coffee, at Prairie City Assembly of God. 541-820-3682.

9 a.m-1 p.m. – Grant County Food Bank Surplus Food Distribution, 530 E. Main St., John Day. People are asked to bring empty boxes. Call 541-575-0299.

Letter: Public demands a meeting with the FS Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:45:33 -0400 To the Editor:

For nearly a year the Forest Service has stalled on the request to hold a public meeting with those who use firewood in Grant County.

The County Court, Chamber of Commerce and Grant County Public Forest Commission have all endorsed a public meeting because of an outcry from citizens over the firewood restrictions and consequent citations that are issued to federal court in Pendleton. If letters to the editor are any indication, people in the county are generally fed up with the restrictions in the “terms and conditions” of the firewood permit.

After meeting with District Ranger Dave Halemeier and airing views that represented seven other senior citizens, six of them veterans, I was optimistic that the ranger had the authority to issue “permission” in writing that we could use an ATV and a method of loading firewood. I did not ask to be on a road, trail or area closed to their use. But Malheur Forest Deputy Supervisor Steve Beverlin comes up with this excuse to justify a refusal on something we did not ask!

Also it was reported the decision was based on “without hearing specifications on the kind of equipment that would be used.” Just great! He won’t meet with us to learn what reasonable method we want to use, but can deny that he is discriminating against us because he is going to treat everyone alike.

Doug Gochnour, the previous forest supervisor, said that ATVs could go 100 yards off road because that is about as far as most people camp from the roads. If we can go that far to camp using an ATV, then why can’t we bring firewood back to the road using one? On the one hand we’re told we can do something ,but a Forest Service cop will write a ticket because the firewood permit says anything besides a chainsaw, a chainsaw winch or bumper mounted winch is prohibited.

The only way this mess can be cleared up is a public meeting. The Forest Service knows full well the problems they have created and solutions need to be sorted out. It is obvious that the Forest Service and Deputy Supervisor Beverlin are incapable of making reasonable changes without input from the citizens of Grant County. We demand that the Forest Service meet with the public and quickly! If the Forest Service fails to cooperate, we will communicate the problems to higher authorities, congressmen, publications and talk shows for starters. That’s a promise!

Herb Brusman

John Day

Letter: Speak up for roads Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:45:29 -0400 To the Editor:

The Forest Service states they wish the public’s involvement with the Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision, yet why are they stonewalling the peoples request to participate?

As we have seen over the last several months, the USFS does not seem to truly want to engage with the people of Eastern Oregon on the plan revision, as proved by their lack of desire to hold formal comment meetings for those unable to submit written comments, or their unwillingness to address requests for notifications of meetings with public officials in regards to it.

As a member of Forest Access For All, I was appalled to find out through our group that our request for formal notice of all meetings with public officials in regards to the plan revision was stonewalled by Forest Service leadership since Aug. 17. I want to make sure everyone knows the unwillingness of the Forest Service to answer a simple request and let the people of Eastern Oregon attend meetings they hold with elected county and state officials attending.

The people of Eastern Oregon deserve to know what conversations are taking place and how it will affect their motorized access to our public lands. Notification should include date, time and list of invited attendees. It should not be such a difficult task to answer, especially when made to an agency that states they want to have a fully transparent system.

I would challenge Eastern Oregonians concerned about their motorized access to public lands in our region to contact the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Team and request the same as FAFA has requested above.

We deserve better than we are getting and it’s about time we start standing up for ourselves and demanding it. We were advised when attending the USFS meetings, our voices would be heard and there would be additional meetings to voice our concerns.

Terri and Dave Denton


From pot to potholes: Cities seek solutions Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:42:47 -0400 Scotta Callister JOHN DAY – The dialogue was spirited as about 20 elected officials and city representatives from several counties gathered to hash out priority needs last week at the Grant County Regional Airport.

The Sept. 10 event, a forum marking City Hall Week, touched on a range of issues – from taxation to transportation and roads – that the League of Oregon Cities is addressing in a slate of proposals for the next Legislature.

The city forum was hosted by the City of John Day and the League of Oregon Cities, and moderated by John Day Mayor Ron Lundbom. State Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, answered questions and offered his perspective on the chances for specific legislative efforts.

None of the issues sparked more frustration in the room than the loosening of marijuana laws. The state in 2013 set up a licensing system for medical marijuana dispensaries, but allowed local jurisdictions to adopt moratoriums on the businesses until next May. The idea was to allow time for more details to be worked out.

The League is proposing changes to clarify and enhance public safety and local control, with specific calls for expanded background checks for dispensary workers, safety regulations for hash oil and extract manufacturing, and clearer direction for cities on how to zone dispensaries.

John Day Police Chief Richard Gray spoke against any action that will increase people’s access to marijuana.

“It’s already accessible – If they want to buy it, they’re going to buy it,” he said.

He and others said marijuana already overburdens the local public safety agencies.

Gray said the drug takes a toll on youth, schools, and social services, and stretched police agencies are called into deal with the resulting problems.

Police find their hands are tied in many ways when it comes to marijuana, however, as the state law protects information about the growers and card-holders.

Gray questioned why, if the drug is grown for medical reasons, marijuana wouldn’t be distributed through pharmacies instead of dispensaries.

Officials asked if the League would back them up if they adopt total bans on dispensaries and then get sued.

Participants in the discussion said they expect Oregon to legalize recreational marijuana next.

Ferrioli, stressing he voted against decriminalization and the medical marijuana program, noted that “if it weren’t for Senate Republicans, there wouldn’t have been a moratorium for cities and counties to consider.”

He said the opponents of pot have a tough battle, with some 58 percent of the state polled in favor of legalization.

“The urban population thinks there’s nothing wrong with marijuana,” he said.

Ferrioli said he believes medical marijuana will disappear once the recreational use is legalized.

He said he and other legislators will try to help cities get the zoning tools they need to manage the issue.

He also said it would be better if Oregon could wait and watch other states’ experiences to see what lessons might be learned.

He said he hopes he never hears anyone cast recreational marijuana as a money-maker.

“There’s no way you can ever get enough revenue to pay for the impact on people’s lives,” he said. “There are better ways for our communities to raise money than peddling dope.”

Peter Hall, candidate for House District 60, was the lone voice on the other side of the issue, offering what he called the Libertarian perspective. He said “marijuana is for some people a very good medicine to have.”

Hall said pot is a concern but probably not as bad as alcohol, and the answer is to have strict limits and controls.

However, Francis Kocis blamed the state for allowing medical marijuana to run rampant, and leaving the local communities to deal with it.

On another law enforcement issue, city officials said they want to see better funding for 911 centers.

Ferrioli urged them to revisit what’s happening with the current 911 money. He blamed Democratic legislators for repeated raids on those funds to bolster other, more high-profile needs like education, saying “It’s for the kids.”

Baker City and John Day officials said they are subsidizing their 911 centers with city funds, transfers they can ill afford.

On transportation issues, Dave Holland, John Day public works director, questioned where small cities will come up with the money to at least maintain roads. He and other city officials said it’s increasingly difficult to keep pace as they grapple with deteriorating roads, shrinking funds and scant opportunity to increase revenue.

He suggested legislators also need to look at bicycle issues, noting cyclists are the only highway and road users who aren’t paying into the system. Motorists, ATV users, even boaters pay licensing fees and gas taxes, he said.

“There’s no money coming from them, although there’s a lot of money begins spent specifically on their behalf,” he said of cyclists.

Ferrioli noted that the Democratic urban areas continue to set priorities that aren’t in sync with the rural areas. He said not to expect any traction in the Legislature on bicycle taxation.

A League proposal to increase the statutory “Small City Allotment” could fare better. The proposal would boost the fund from $1 million to $5 million a year, split between the Oregon Department of Transportation and the cities’ share of the trust fund.

The amounts wouldn’t be significant to the larger jurisdictions, but would be a huge help to small cities, supporters said.

Other transportation proposals being considered by the league include an increase in the state gas tax of 5 cents per gallon, indexing the gas tax to the consumer price index, and an increase in license plate fees, with light trailers added to the taxable list.

Another issue, incorporating vehicle miles traveled in user fee calculations, drew no support in the room. It is seen as punitive for rural residents, who must drive more miles in to conduct routine business.

Propane blast destroys Mt. Vernon Motel Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:42:20 -0400 Angel Carpenter Scotta Callister MT. VERNON – Seven people lost their homes, and most lost all their belongings, in an explosion and fire last week at the Mt. Vernon Motel and RV Park.

Neighbors reported hearing a loud explosion and then seeing black smoke billowing from the residential motel at 195 Mountain Blvd., off U.S. Highway 26 in Mt. Vernon. The fire was reported about 10:30 a.m., and fire crews arriving on the scene saw flames shooting from the building.

Sheriff Glenn Palmer said the explosion literally lifted the roof from the old office area of the motel, and the roof caved into the structure.

Timothy Wayne Sherlock, 66, who lives at the residential motel, was severely burned in the incident. Neighbors and witnesses helped him on the scene. He was taken by Blue Mountain Hospital Ambulance to the John Day hospital and later flown to the Emanuel Hospital Burn Center in Portland.

Palmer said the motel’s absentee owners are John and Linda Bennett.

The fire consumed about 50 percent of the motel, with smoke and water damage throughout the rest of the apartments. It was termed a total loss.

Mt. Vernon Fire Chief Bill Cearns said his local crew received mutual aid from John Day, Prairie City and Canyon City volunteer fire departments – a total of 19 firefighters were on scene.

“They helped a lot,” he said. “It took a lot of manpower to get the fire out. We had two roofs that had a metal roof on top of that – you have to chase it down.”

He said they used a backhoe to pull a beam off to get to the fire.

Bob Dodson, who lived two doors down from Sherlock’s apartment, was home when the blast occurred. He also lost everything in the fire, but his thoughts were focused on his neighbor.

“I was in my room, in No. 6, and I heard a real bad explosion,” he said. “I thought a semi-truck left the road and hit the building. I looked out the screen door and watched all the glass in slow motion fly out to the parking lot.”

When Dodson went out to check on Sherlock in No. 8, he could hear him calling out.

“I couldn’t see him because the ceiling had fallen down,” he said. “The front door was blown – completely gone. When I got to the doorway going to his room, and I had to hold up the ceiling to help him get out the rest of the way. The ceiling had fallen on him, and he was burned.”

He said he worried that another neighbor in No. 7 was caught in the fire, but he learned she was OK – on her way to a doctor’s appointment.

Dodson said he got a phone call from Sherlock in the hospital last week.

“He’s going to be sore for awhile,” he said, adding the healing process is expected to be more than two or three months.

“We’re all rooting for him,” Dodson said. “It was an accident – he’s my buddy.”

The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office and Oregon State Police Arson Division were called in to help local authorities determine the cause of the fire.

Palmer said the investigation confirmed it was a propane accident. He said Sherlock had shampooed his carpet the day before and, while moving furniture, may have bumped a propane line. Investigators found a bend in the pipe and a small hole, which probably leaked slowly overnight, filling the room with gas.

“When he went to the kitchen and turned on the electric range, the apartment exploded,” Palmer said, noting the force of the blast buckled the kitchen range. He said the propane, being heavier than air, had filled the room from the floor level up, explaining the bad burns to Sherlock’s feet.

The explosion shook the neighbors.

“It was scary and loud, and scared my animals,” said Tami Ingersoll, who lives across the motel lot. “Before too much happened I was standing behind the trailer, and I prayed to God, ‘Don’t let those tanks explode’ – there were propane tanks behind the motel.”

She said she was glad people didn’t panic, noting that three bystanders came to Sherlock’s aid.

One put her flannel shirt under his feet, and another brought a blanket.

Ingersoll described Sherlock’s wounds as third-degree burns to the head, hands and feet.

“It was terrible,” she said. “Bob Dodson pulled him out; he’s a hero – everybody was a hero.”

The American Red Cross responded to help four people find shelter, providing a motel stay for one week, and five in all with food and clothing.

“That’s what Red Cross can do – assist with temporary shelter, food and clothing,” said Joan Bowling who is captain for the local chapter’s Disaster Action Team.

An account to help those displaced by the fire has been set up at Old West Federal Credit Union, and donation jars are being placed on counters of local businesses.

In addition, Mt. Vernon resident Ann Frost is collecting items, particularly linens and bedding, to help the residents get set up once they find new places to live.

“Some of these people lost everything,” she said, noting most are both elderly and on limited funds.

One woman had just spent her food stamps on groceries and managed to pay for new false teeth – all were lost in the fire.

People who want to donate items to help can call Frost, 541-932-4439, for information.