By Debbie Raney
Burns Times-Herald

It was an evening of laughter, tears, surprises and honor as the Harney County Chamber of Commerce hosted the 60th annual Awards Banquet.During the Harney County Chamber Awards Banquet on Jan. 27, Burns City Manager Don Munkers, second from left, and Bobby Jo Heany, third from left, interrupt emcee Bill Wilber, far left, in a spoof of the White House State Dinner party crashing scandal. More than 200 people attended the event, which honors local residents. (Photo by DEBBIE RANEY)

Joyce Moser and Bill Wilber acted as the banquet emcees, entertaining the 200-plus crowd and keeping the program moving smoothly.

The evening began with a “spoof” of the White House State Dinner party crashing event of November 2009, with Don Munkers and Bobbi Jo Heany harassing Wilber during his opening speech.

Columbia Energy Partners contributed to the success of the evening as a corporate sponsor, with Safeway floral department donating the rose corsages pinned on award recipients by Marge McRae.

Dinner was prepared by Francis Estep and friends, and served by members of the Hines Middle School and Burns High School bands. Blessing of the meal was performed by Leroy Cowart.

The table decorating awards were donated by Bella Java Bistro and Balloon Express. Winning the best overall table was Harney Arts and Education Foundation, with Payroll Services winning the best business representation table.

Music for the evening was provided by Nathan Ritches of Hilander Sound and Light.

Prior to the award presentation, outgoing chamber president Patty McNeil turned the gavel over to the 2010 president, Lyle Stratton.

All chamber board directors were also sworn into office.

To complete the evening, Moser led the group in singing “God Bless America.”

Below is a complete list of winners:

Grassman of the Year

Alfred and Carol Dunten,
Miler Ranch, Drewsey

Nominated by: Marty Suter
Award presented by: Fred Otley
Nomination: It is an honor to submit Miler Ranch, LLC for consideration of Harney County Chamber of Commerce Grassman of the Year award. Alfred Dunten and Carol Miler Dunten have demonstrated outstanding skill and knowledge in practicing sound management and care of rangeland, riparian and wildlife resources on their Drewsey ranch.

The Duntens are charged with managing grass on thousands of both public and deeded acres in the Malheur River watershed, along Stinkingwater Creek and the Malheur River. Historic events and uses have led to incision (down cutting) of many creeks in this region and the west in general, reducing the extent of flood plain and associated riparian vegetation. Extirpation of beaver began as early as the 1820s with occupation by the Hudson Bay Company in this region. The elimination of beaver altered hydrologic, nutrient and vegetation processes (Elmore and Kauffman 1994).

Settlement and often improper grazing or farming practices followed further contribution to riparian area degradation. Stream channels were often mechanically modified beginning around the 1930s for flood control, irrigation and increasing farmland. These modifications often straightened the channel, increasing erosive energy and further removed or eliminated stabilizing vegetation. The cumulative effect of these historical events and uses has led to incision and/or widening, resulting in loss of productivity, loss of water storage capacity, loss of habitat and impaired water quality in many steams.

However, Miler Ranch has implemented rotation grazing systems, off-stream water development, noxious weed treatment, fencing and additional grass seeding, which is rapidly reversing the practices of the past.

Despite the temptation to postpone conservation efforts due to the time and financial demands of a working ranch, the Duntens have shown exemplary stewardship and dedication to the health of the land they own and lease. This ability to look past the immediate gain and cooperate with neighbors and local government agencies demonstrates their dedication to sound resource management and good stewardship.

Miler Ranch truly exemplifies a legacy of proper grass management as noted by National Riparian Service team biologist Wayne Elmore and range ecologist Steve Leonard. “The Duntens are doing almost too good of a job managing their forage and leaving far too much grass in several areas of their operation.”

Man of the Year

Dr. John (Jack) L. Bauer,
Burns Dental Group

Nominated by: Burns Dental Group Staff
Award presented by: Fred Flippence
Nomination: Dr. John (Jack) Bauer came to Burns in August of 1977 after graduating from Oregon Health Sciences  University Dental School to help Dr. John Graham with emergency dental patients. Dr. Bauer was one of four dentists in Burns at that time. After deciding to make Harney County his home, he built a dental office on West Adams Street, south of the hospital. At present Dr. Jack Bauer, and his son, Dr. Matt Bauer are owners of Burns Dental Group.

Dr. Bauer had been the only dentist in Harney and Grant counties who would see the Oregon Health Plan patients. There have been 1,000 patients at any given time assigned to Dr. Bauer. Even though the reimbursement is low, he feels committed to helping this population since many dentists around the state will not see these patients.

He has also participated in the statewide Donated Dental Service program for patients who need help but do not qualify for the Oregon Health Plan.

Burns Dental Group was approved in 2001 to be a National Health Service Corp site for dentists to receive student loan repayment in exchange for service in the health professional shortage area.

Dr. Bauer has worked closely with Early Childhood Center to screen all their students for dental needs. He has also worked closely with the Public Health Office, doing WIC screenings and dental education.

During economic hard times, Dr. Bauer has been committed to his staff, making sure that everyone shares the hours and there are no layoffs. Dr. Bauer values his staff and provides good benefits, family wage jobs and positive working environment.

Dr. Bauer supports a high school work study program giving students an opportunity to explore dental careers.

OHSU School of Dental Hygiene used the office to pilot a dental hygiene student rotation in rural communities for several years. He was instrumental in getting dental students from OHSU dental school to rotate through rural and frontier dental offices. Burns Dental Group served as a mentor for a pilot program and now these rotations are part of the curriculum at the Dental School.

Dr. Bauer served on the State of Oregon Public Health Advisory Board and several subcommittees that focused on access to dental care. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Advantage Dental Community.

Over the years he has served on the Burns Planning Commission, the BLM Advisory Board, Kiwanis, Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Oregon Hunters Association.

He operates a 900-acre alfalfa hay farm and has been active in the Harney County Hay Growers. He worked with the local Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to open his land to a special youth deer hunt. He and his wife, Carolyn were honored as the Grassman of the Year in 2003.

Dr. Bauer has served his dental patients and operated two businesses in Harney County for over 32 years. He has worked hard to recruit other providers to the area. He has given much time and energy to the people of Harney County and to the State of Oregon. He believes in providing the citizens of Harney County with the best and most up-to-date dental equipment and services possible. He is committed to serving disabled and less fortunate dental patients and providing for his large staff.

Woman of the Year

Joyce Moser,
Operations Manager
Bank of Eastern Oregon

Nominated by: Sally Lovins
Award presented by: Nellie Franklin
Nomination: This lady was born in San Diego, Calif. On April 16, 1949, to Doris and Jim Gibson. She graduated in 1967 from Chula Vista High in Chula Vista, Calif. She later married Stan Moser in 1969 in Chula Vista.

On Sept. 27, 1970, the Southern California wildfires swept through their valley, burning everything. Before they evacuated, she made coffee for firefighters who were working very hard to save their home, but it perished.

On Feb. 3, 1973, their son, Chuck, was born and in 1974, they all moved to New Mexico. Shortly thereafter on May 3, 1975, they had a beautiful daughter, Amy.

They decided to move to Oregon in 1976, first living in Burns. In 1977, they moved to Tumalo, where Stan worked in logging and she raising the children.

In 1988, she and the children moved back to Burns to accept the job of operations manager with the First Interstate Bank of Oregon. In 1992, she became the Branch Manager of the bank, and then there were a few bank mergers — in 1996 Wells Fargo, then in 1997 Klamath First, and in 2003 Bank of Eastern Oregon.

This outstanding lady is very talented in art, where she has painted windows all over Burns. She is involved in the Four Square Church in Worship Team, singing and playing music, she also is secretary treasurer of the church board. She has been involved in the chamber of commerce for several years, including president and the annual banquet emcee. She has sung at the annual Hospice Memorial Service several years. She is a member of Kiwanis, serving as treasurer; is a on the Harney Partners for Kids and Families board; has emceed the annual Harney County Fair Parade for several years; volunteered for Friday’s Club; and is on the Harney County Health Advisory Board.

This lady is all of these things but most of all, she is witty, kind-hearted, always has a listening ear, and willing to help and never asks for a thing.

Senior Man of the Year

Bill Wilber
Nominated by: Senior Man committee
Award presented by: Fred Flippence
Introduction: This year’s recipient has given a lot of his time and energy to serve the interests of Harney County, by serving on many boards of organizations. In the past, he has been a vice president of the Harney County Chamber, president of the Valley Golf Club and board member of the Harney County budget board.

But, wait a minute, you are probably wondering “what has he done for us lately?”

He is currently a board member of the Southeast Regional Alliance, a member of Harney District Hospital physicians recruitment and retention team, member of the NW Farm Credit Advisory Board Ontario branch, wildlife committee chair for Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, president of Water for Life, member of the Harney County Stockgrowers, District One vice president of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and president of the Harney County Opportunity Team.

I would like to present to you this year’s Senior Man of the Year, my friend Bill Wilber.

Senior Woman of the Year

Helen McCart
Nominated by: Ann Vloedman, Irene Schulz
Award presented by: Ann Vloedman
Nomination: This woman is from one of the oldest families in our community, born in Harney Count in 1920. Her grandparents came to Harney County in 1887, moving from Blackfoot, Idaho. Her grandfather, Ray Smith, was a carpenter and built the Summit Hotel (now Whittier Apartments) and the Cottage Hotel (now site of Hilander Restaurant). He also built the Sage Country Inn.

Her parents, Beulah and Glenn Clemens started ranching in Harney County and this senior woman attended a country school by riding horseback.

In 1937, she was fair princess. She married Paul in 1941, and they had two sons Patrick and Michael. Her husband was in the civil service during World War II, and they moved to Portland, where he worked at Ross Island, repairing and re-equipping Russian ships that then sailed back to Russia with war goods. Paul worked at the radar base in Klamath Falls, then returned to Harney County to work on the radar base here.

After retiring from civil service, the couple took over her parent’s ranch, eventually retiring from there.

She served on the election board for 30 years, was a member of the Senior Center Board when the new facility was built, and as chairwoman she helped landscape the senior center site.

With her love and talent for restoring antiques, this woman went into business restoring for others.

She is a member of the Harney County Historical Society, helping clean the facility two times a year and also helps with the annual book sale to benefit the Historical Society. She can be found as a guide and consultant there during the tour months.

She prepared and served meals while Cycle Oregon was here in 2000, continues to help with cleaning the many pioneer cemeteries in Harney County, helps at the Elks preparing food baskets, works on the Tree of Joy, serves meals at the senior center, visits many shut-ins and transports people to the hospital and doctor for medical care.

She received the Presbyterian Women Honorary Membership Award for her support of the missions of the church. For her many contributions to the people of our community, for her willingness to always step in and help others, and for her cheerfulness and positive attitude in making our county a better place, we nominate Helen McCart as Senior Women of the Year.

Boss of the Year

Pamela Mather,
Hines City Administrator and Recorder
Nominated by: City of Hines Employees
Award presented by: Joyce Moser
Nomination: We would like to nominate our boss, Hines City Administrator Pamela Mather for Boss of the Year. We cannot express how special she is. She has been with the city for 29 years and is a very devoted employee.

She is always sensitive to her employees needs, realizing that we all spend more time at work than at home, so we have a very workable, family-type environment. It is important to her that everyone gets along and works well with each other as a team.

With all the years of knowledge in budgeting, Pam knows what it takes to make the city operate. At budget time she always meets with the department heads and makes sure she tries to get all their necessities in the budget.

Pam maintains a friendly, open-door policy. We always feel free to talk to her about anything; she never judges or belittles us. She is very devoted to the community and is at every youth and sporting event she can attend and encourages her employees to do so also.

A lot of thought goes into everything she does, and she spends many sleepless nights when she needs to counsel an employee or friend.
She has a calm spirit about her and knows what matters most in life, and has quite a sense of humor. Pam is always generous and loving to her family, and is a great friend to many. She is a very humble person and is truly a great asset to our community.

Although Pam is a very special friend to all of us here at Hines City Hall, we have the utmost respect for her as a boss.

Business Person of the Year

Mary Jo Davies,
Owner Anderson Valley Supply and rancher

Nominated by: Harney County Cattlewomen
Award presented by: Pat and Dale Martin
Nomination: Mary Jo Davies is not only a wife, mother, sister and daughter, but also a successful business woman. She has been a long-time Harney County resident, while giving countless hours to her community.

Mary Jo and her husband, Lou, run cattle on a ranch in Princeton. During the week, she also runs their feed and tack store, Anderson Valley Supply. She also has six children — three boys and three girls — and four grandchildren.

Mary Jo and Lou started their business small. First, they began selling a few supplies from their home. Eventually they bought a shop in Crane and increased their merchandise. They started from scratch and now have a flourishing business.

Initially Mary Jo focused on feed, fencing, panels and cattle supplies. Now, she sells tack, Montana Silversmith jewelry, purses, belts and much more. For those living out in the rural areas, it is convenient so they don’t have to travel to Burns.

Mary Jo is also involved in the ranch, riding, moving cows and haying when needed.

Besides her business, Mary Jo is also active in the community. She has always supported youth activities. She is involved with the Harney County Cattlewomen, for which she served as president. She is also part of the Oregon Beef Ambassador committee and District Vice President of the Oregon Cattlewomen.

For several years she served as a 4-H leader of the Crane Swine Club. This year, she is on the Crane FFA advisor board. Mary Jo has spent countless hours volunteering at the St. Thomas Catholic Church.

While Mary Jo is very involved in her business, the ranch and community service, she is also dedicated to her family. Family has always been a big part of her life. She enjoys spending time with them whenever possible, especially her grandchildren.

Distinguished Service of the Year

Jan Cupernall, “Volunteer Extraordinaire”
Nominated by: Carla Burnside
Award presented by: Fred Flippence
Nomination: Jan is an amazing woman and an incredible asset to our community. She is the driving force behind the day-to-day operations at the Harney County Historical Society, a community volunteer extraordinaire and an avid gardener.

Jan is on the Board of Directors for the Historical Society, but her biggest contribution to the society is her volunteer oversight of all the things that keep the museum open to the public. She devotes an incredible number of hours each week coordinating with other volunteers, organizing fund-raising events, recruiting new volunteers, answering community questions about the museum, acting as a docent and providing tours when local classes visit the museum, answering correspondence and looking for funding sources for the museum.

She recently wrote and received a grant that funded an audit of the museum by a museum professional. This audit has provided the museum with a new direction for preservation of artifacts and how the archives are organized. Jan also works closely with the other museum volunteers to make sure that they have everything they need to have a quality volunteer experience at the museum.

Jan also created a walking tour brochure of the historic buildings in the downtown area of Burns. This brochure is used during the bird festival to introduce visitors to the history of the area and is available year round through the chamber.

Jan serves in many other volunteer capacities within the community. She is a member of the Burns Cemetery Committee and has been on the Mayor’s Executive Cemetery Committee. She is also a board representative for Communities in Action, the Community Action Agency for both Harney and Malheur Counties. On this board Jan provides input on grants that are being written to provide funding assistance to both county senior centers, energy assistance programs and other funding opportunities for both counties.

She is on the board of directors for the Malheur Wildlife Associates — the Friends group for Malheur Refuge. In her position on this board Jan has been working with the refuge and local community to increase local participation in the group while working with members who live outside the local community.

Jan also volunteers at the chamber of commerce and has served in this capacity for a number of years. She answers phones and staffs the front desk when staff have commitments elsewhere. She assists with many of the activities associated with bird festival preparation, and she jumps in whenever asked to assist the chamber staff with other projects. All of these volunteer activities require an immense amount of personal time and commitment on Jan’s part and reflect Jan’s personal commitment to our community.

In her spare time, Jan is also a member of the local gardening clubs. She is always willing to work on gardening beautification projects within the community.

Educator of the Year

Barbara Maher, Crane Union High School
Nominated by: Pat Sharp, CUHS Superintendent and CUHS staff
Award presented by: Pat Sharp
Nomination: Barbara Maher teaches English language arts, yearbook and journalism at Crane Union High School. Barbara is our only English teacher, so she sees all of our students, and she teaches yearbook and journalism as elective classes. Barbara is a master teacher who approaches all aspects of her professional responsibilities with energy, commitment and compassion.

Joining the staff at Crane Union High School in 1994 after spending five years teaching in Jordan Valley, Barb has been a teacher leader in Harney County for the past 15 years. Students at Crane Union High School know that each year English will be one of their most challenging classes. Instruction in all of Barb’s classes meets the benchmark for high standards. While the expectation of high performance comes the extra work of motivation and helping students reach their potential.

When students need a little extra assistance to meet her high expectations, she is there to provide them support whether before school or evenings in study hall. Barb is often at school 12 hours a day to make sure she is meeting the needs of all of her students. And because writing is such an important part of  Barb’s curriculum, much of her weekend time is spent proofreading and evaluating student work.

Mrs. Maher is know throughout the state for her work as a yearbook and journalism teacher/advisor. Beginning in 1998 and each successive year, the Crane High School Mustang Yearbook and The Whirlwind student newspaper publication have received distinguishing rankings. These awards range from “honorable mention” to “silver crown” and “gold medal awards” and are issued by the National Scholastic Press Association. More importantly, yearbook and journalism classes teach students life skills such as meeting deadlines, soliciting advertising, narrative and informational writing, photography and working cooperatively to meet deadlines and publish a quality product for your community.

Barb can be found alongside her students at all extra-curricular sporting and special events taking pictures, collecting stats and generally “covering” the story so that it will be recorded and photographed and shared with all.

One of the most telling indicators of teacher success is what students say after they have left high school and are reflecting on their experiences from a different point of view. Each year since coming to Crane, I have heard directly or received phone calls from former students, especially those who are in college, wanting me to know how successful they are because of what they learned in their high school English classes. Most recently, last year’s valedictorian contacted Barb directly to say that he was able to skip basic freshman English class at Virginia Tech and go directly to an upper level writing class.

Barbara Maher is a top-notch professional educator. She models life-long learning and is passionate in her commitment to her students at Crane Union High School.

Young Farmer/Rancher of the Year

Shane Otley, Crane
Nominated by: Young Farmer Committee
Award presented by: Zach Sword
Introduction: This Harney County resident has been living and working on cattle ranches his entire life. From the age of 7 he operated equipment, fed cows in the winter, hayed extensively in the summers, roped and branded calves in the spring, moved and worked cattle and repaired fence.

He learned how to shoe horses and horsemanship skills from his grandfather. He rode and monitored the cattle on the summer range. All his hard work and dedication prepared him for cattle ownership and someday, owning a ranch of his own.

He graduated from Crane Union High School in 1994. He then attended and graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelor of science in general agriculture. He also minored in agricultural management.

He then moved to Baker City, where he worked for Mackenzie Ranches. There he met his future wife, Crystal. In 2003, they were married and moved to Crane, where he took the position of ranch manager for Coleman Creek Ranch. In 2005, they welcomed their daughter, Sierra, and in 2008 their daughter, Jacee.

Within the last few years he has started his own business. As the owner of Otley Land and Cattle, he has created extra value for his cattle by participating in age and source marketing options, creating herd health protocols that are practical and functional. He continues to invest in genetics that continue to improve his cattle pay-weights and productive base of his cow herd. Meanwhile, he has partnered with a neighbor to do custom haying. Also, doing custom farming on the side.

While working long hours he has found the time to be actively involved with his community. He is currently the chairperson of several committees of the Oregon Farm Bureau. He is also the chairperson of the High Desert Partnership and is the president of the County Weed Board. For the last eight years he has coached the Crane Junior High wrestling team with great success.

On behalf of myself, the Harney County Chamber of Commerce and a committee of past recipients of this award, I am proud to announce this year’s winner of Outstanding Young Farmer/Rancher of the Year for 2009, dedicated husband, father, rancher and farmer, and my good friend of over 20 years, Shane Otley.

Students of the Year

Crane Union High
School Student of the Year:
September O’Crowley

Presented by: Barbara Maher

Burns High School
Student of the Year:
Phillip Kness

Presented by: Ron Wassom

Criteria: Scholarship — opting for a high level challenging course of study. Service — willingness to render service to school and community. Leadership — responsible and dependable in both school and other organizations. Character — honest, friendly, neat, moral and ethical.



One Response to “A night to honor local residents”

  1. Allen Says:

    So ’twas another gathering of the winners, eh? Whilst all the insipid losers and other variety of couch potatoes stayed home crippled by the tax man, impeded by government, intimidated by law,, we can only find inspiration in a Letter To The Editor. Next year, I would second the nomination of Little Jack Horner, who sat in the corner eating his Christmas pie. While he may have been gripped by temporary insanity, he exemplifies the futility of so many of us. Asking not for much, contributing less. Only begging our pardon until his life passes uneventfully, unremarkably.


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