County Judge looks back at the successes of 2010 and forward to new year
By Harney County
Judge Steven E. Grasty
The year 2010 brought many challenges to this county and our people.
The mountains of planning by state and federal agencies on a variety of topics made it difficult to participate on everything that affected us. This community and the elected officials all worked hard to be at the right meetings, and we did have some impact.
The success of all of us showing up to tell the Oregon Department of Energy’s Facility Siting Council what we did not want done to us is a memory that will stick with a lot of folks in Salem. It is also something that this community should be extremely proud of!
The sage grouse issue was pursued by many of us during this year and is a subject that will require continued scrutiny into 2011.
The county continues to be near the top of unemployment in the state. Together we all need to continue to focus on growing or attracting jobs. This will necessitate all of us listening for opportunities and finding ways to make them happen. The purchase of the LP building did bring a few new jobs into the community, and it certainly brought a landlord willing and interested in marketing the facility to new industry — we should expand on this.
And finally, 2010 challenged much of the county with a week of sub-zero readings and record snow fall like we have not seen in a couple of decades. Ted Marshall and the community lost a century old building that was an icon in the middle of Burns. Several other buildings have been compromised by this storm and will have to be repaired or replaced.
Even with these challenges we should be optimistic about 2011. Snow levels are up so stream flows ought to be adequate this year. There are already stories that many water holes in the south end of the county have filled with the rains received. The forecast for the stock market, housing industry and job creation nationally are all good.
A grass roots group has started a local effort to pull us all together and get focused on our opportunities. We should all participate in these meetings, which will be held on Jan 24 and Jan. 31 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Harney County Senior Center.
We do have strengths that the world needs to know about. Just to name a few, we have a great work force, three of the largest warehouse/manufacturing facilities in the state, all three available to attract or create jobs in, a forest full of products, clean air, a new hospital and much more.
Additionally, the opportunity associated with wind, solar and geothermal power is real. We have a new county commissioner and new folks on our two city councils. Take time to tell your elected officials what we should be doing, what we are doing right or wrong and give us the suggestions to resolve challenges and pursue these opportunities.
Working together we can make 2011 a success story.