50 years ago

Filmmaker to look at Grant

“It’s strictly a long shot, but we’ve got the country here for a good film,” Al Reinertson, Grant County Chamber of Commerce secretary-manager, said today.

Reinertson has been assembling photographs of Grant County scenes for a major Hollywood studio, which reportedly is interested in filming a story in Oregon.

The company said it wanted a two-story farmhouse with deciduous trees nearby and a view of a mountain peak in the distance as well as a typical “general store.”

Reinertson shot about eight rolls of film from automobile and today flew into the northernend of the county for photos of the Middle Fork area and in the region south of Strawberry Mountain.

The chamber official said Warren Merrill, a state development official based in Portland, made the request for photos. The bid went to several Oregon locations, Reinertson added.

Merrill is credited with obtaining Baker as a locale for a Paramount Studios film last year. The company Merrill is working with was not identified.

25 years ago

Boxing program scores a knockout

Although it’s been more than 50 years since his heyday in the ring, “Hurricane” Harry Dew is putting his mark on a new youth boxing program underway through the JETS Gymnastics program.

Beau Petterson, program director, said the goal of the new program is to teach youngsters the basic skills and fundamentals of boxing so they can enjoy the sport while all but eliminating any fear of injury.

The philosophy is reaping dividends and interest as the program has grown to 74 youths, including one girl, ranging in age from grade school through high school.

And the key to the program’s philosophy is Dew, now 88 and a resident of Prairie City, who more than 50 years ago enjoyed a light heavyweight amateur boxing career in Golden Gloves competition and even advanced to box in some professional matches.

Working out of the Yakima Valley, Wash. area, Dew said his ring career included about 35 bouts, and was not what he would term spectacular.

Although he never won a Golden Gloves championship in his 12 year career, he went on to develop and train a stable of young fighters, and hopes to pass along his knowledge and experience in the ring in training youth fighters.

Participants in the boxing program range in age from six to adult, and while other sports groups are separated by age, the boxing program is largely divided according to size, Petterson said.

Each of the three groups meet for one hour apiece on Saturday between noon and 3 p.m., and each hour-long session culminates in a main event match between the top two participants in that session. The bout is scored by other members of the class.

What makes the program different from other boxing programs is the philosophy behind what makes a good boxer.

The emphasis in the local program is on combination punches to the body rather than blows to an opponent’s head, and competitors are scored solely on their combinations and body punches.

Participants pay a $16 per month fee, and it’s hoped a similar program will begin in Baker City in March and in Prineville in May with a goal of having youth boxing tournaments.

10 years ago

Book signing time

Mt. Vernon resident write about his life experiences

Johnnie Bennett will sign copies of his new books, “Mafia, Cowboys and Cocktails,” from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, March 6, at Chester’s Thriftway in John Day.

Material for Bennett’s book was collected mainly from his experiences having a father in the Mafia, John “The Bat” Battaglia and a stepfather, Ronnie Raymond, who was a five-time national finalist on the pro rodeo circuit in the 1960s.

Bennett lived on ranches in Prineville and Paulina, where the family raised rodeo stock throughout the 1970s.

Before that, he lived in Los Angeles, where as a child actor, he was in a Snickers candy bar commercial and several movies. Later, he toured for 10 years as a professional musician with his band “Johnnie Bennett.” The band also performed at the ’62 Days celebration in Canyon City about 25 years ago.

Now a Mt. Vernon resident, Bennett bought the Mt. Vernon Motel and Trailer Park three years ago and has been leasing the Blue Mountain Lodge Motel for about nine months.

He has also had book signings for “Mafia, Cowboys and Cocktails” in Prineville and Bend in recent weeks.

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