75 years ago

Prairie City has daylight bank robbery; lone bandit gets $1,600 as the manager and his wife are held at gunpoint

The Prairie City branch of the Grant County Bank was held up in broad daylight Wednesday by a lone bandit who made his getaway with $1,680.00 in currency and silver taken from the cash drawer. The robber walked into the bank at 1:15 p.m., pointed a revolver at the manager, D. J. Hughes and Mrs. Hughes who is temporarily assisting at the bank, and announced, “This is a stickup.” He ordered Hughes and his wife to stand in a corner while he loaded his pockets with money from the counter and with which he contented himself when, upon demanding keys to the safe he was told by Hughes that the safe was closed and under a time lock.

The bandit had apparently planned the robbery, as he knew his way about the bank and before scooping up the money he stepped into a back room and took a Craig rifle, which Hughes kept there.

As he departed from the bank he warned Mr. and Mrs. Hughes, “I’ll shoot if you attempt to follow me.” He made his getaway in a Buick sedan heading south on Blue Mt. Springs Road. Two Prairie City men took after the bandit in a car and were in hot pursuit for a considerable distance but he finally gave them the slip.

The local state police officer and sheriff immediately started on the bandit’s trail and all roads in the vicinity were blocked. Other officers were called to assist in the chase and, about 3 p.m. Thursday morning, the car in which the bandit made his getaway was found abandoned on the Logan Valley-Bear Valley forest road in the timber near the Parrish Cabin about 13 miles east of Seneca. A coat, which is believed to have been the gunman’s, was found near the car. The car, according to Sheriff Hazeltine, was stolen from Vancouver, Washington, and had Oregon license plates, which had been taken from a Chevrolet whose owner lives at Wasco. The sheriff, as we go to press, states that officers are still on the job and that fresh tracks, believed to be those of the robber were found in the Parrish cabin vicinity Thursday afternoon.

The bandit was described as about 45 years of age, five feet ten inches tall, slender build, dark complexion and was wearing dark clothes.

E. T. Way, cashier of the Grant County Bank, states that the loss is entirely covered by insurance.

A representative of the Burns Detective agency arrived Thursday to investigate the robbery and Mr. Way states that FBI officers are also working on the case. This is the second Grant County Bank robbery, the first one having been in the main bank at John Day in 1937 when three bandits kidnapped the assistant cashier, Oscar Hoverson, forced him to open the bank, slugged him and left him locked in the vault after taking about $3500.00. However, this hold-up was unsuccessful, as money was recovered and all three of the bandits were captured after several days’ chase.

50 years ago

Stolen pickup worse for wear

A pickup stolen from Baker about two weeks ago was recovered Friday evening — in smashed condition some 400 feet below Highway 395 South between milepost 12 and 13 south of John Day.

Sheriff Tom Negus said the vehicle had been taken from Weber Volkswagen, Baker. San Juan Lumber Company reported the truck off the road to authorities.

Later investigation revealed that someone else had seen it about a week earlier in the same location, and that sometime before this it had been seen in operation in the same vicinity, Negus said.

The 1961 Chevrolet was a total loss. The investigation is continuing.

25 years ago

Palmer hits hole-in-one at Diamondback

Orin Palmer of John Day unleashed his driver to score a hole in one on the 236 yard eighth hole at the John Day Golf Club to set the pace for the 1994 Fall Diamondback Golf Tourney held last weekend.

In the special event, three out of four best ball play, the first place winning team included: Tom Kendall of Spokane, Washington; Gary Johnson of Portland; Maurice Thorne of Gresham; and Spencer Dahl of Redmond.

The second place team included: Dave Hydes of John Day; John Thornson of Redmond; Larry Whitney of Burns; and Ray Lichtenwald of Portland.

In the low gross score competition, George Walker of Portland captured top honors with a 137 followed by Monte Simmons, John Day, 143; Will Moschetti, Madras, 144; and Troy Phillips, Baker City, 145.

Three tied with scores of 129 in the low net competition. They were Kendall, Lee Mahoney of Princeton and Virgil Maupin of Vale. Fourth place went to Whitney who posted a net 130.

In the ladies four gal scramble, low gross honors were captured by Betty Palmer of John Day followed by Kathy McKinnon, John Day; Judy Bannon, Redmond; and Claudia Hanhi, John Day.

In the ladies special event, low net team, the winning team included: Cheri Rasmussen of Silverton; Wanda Regan of Portland; Helen Frazier of Prairie City; and Izzy Negus of John Day.

10 years ago

Great start in Prairie: Upperclassmen setting positive tone at school

The start to the 2009 school year at Prairie City School was outstanding, officials said.

“If the rest of the year can go like the first two weeks, we’re going to be happy campers,” Superintendent David Kerr said.

He attributes a good deal of the successful start to the older students in the district.

“The upperclassmen are setting a positive tone,” Kerr said.

He added that it has also energized the school staff.

Among those setting a good example for the younger students has been the Prairie City football team. According to Athletic Director Ryan Gerry, the team needed new helmets because of new rules, and has taken on the task of fundraising to pay for them.

Gerry said the team is raffling off a cord of wood. Tickets can be purchased from any Panther player.

This year the school has 10 seniors in a total K-12 total enrollment of 148 students.

Kerr said enrollment at the start of the year was similar to the numbers from last June. While holding steady now, Kerr has seen a trend of dropping numbers over the years.

“Like a lot of schools, we have seen steady decline for the past decade,” he said.

One district goal is to increase high school test scores. Kerr said testing is always high stakes, and because of new graduation requirements it is becoming more important at the high school level.

Beginning with the class of 2012, Oregon high school students are required to pass statewide assessment tests in order to graduate. The tests are designed to check students’ proficiency in essential skills. Starting this year, which will be the sophomore year for the class of 2012, the students will have three opportunities per year to take the test.

He said the district has had high test scores on the elementary and middle school levels.

Financially, Kerr said school funding is a constantly moving target and is often difficult to understand.

“Fortunately, like many schools in Oregon, we are in OK shape,” Kerr said. “Compared to the financial debt and obligations Prairie City has endured for many years, we may be in better financial shape now than we have been for some time. We just don’t have a cushion for surprise expenses.”

In a message to parents and students, Kerr noted that the school cut a half-time teacher, maintenance costs and four days off the calendar year.

“Depending on what the state does with funding issues, this year will determine how we look into the future,” he said.

Prairie City School will have a new face in the classroom this year, with John Day native William Colson hired to teach math.

Kerr said Colson, who taught last year at Burnt River, is very personable and has the ability to connect with the kids.

“He brings a classroom presence that the kids are comfortable with,” he said.

One highlight for students at the school is a science trip planned for the end of the school year. Seventh- to 10th-graders will go on the trip.

“They will be doing hands-on learning and experiments starting in the canopy of the rain forest and than moving down through the river systems and on out to the ocean,” science teacher Erika Watson said.

Students will earn a high school credit upon completion of the program.

“They will get to swim with the manatees and lots of other close up hands-on projects,” Watson said.

The participating students have already been raising money for the trip. In August, students and parents went to Longview Ranch in Kimberly and picked rocks. More fundraisers are planned for the rest of the school year.

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