Pop the top on new brewery

Posted on January 15th in Feature Story

Family operation to feature local themes

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald


The “Migration Ale” made for a festive time. (Photo by Carley Roy)

The “Migration Ale” made for a festive time. (Photo by Carley Roy)

Last September, Cycle Oregon rolled into town, and quickly transformed downtown Burns into its own little hamlet. A tent-city went up, a stage was erected to provide entertainment, and vendors were stationed at every corner offering their wares.

Local resident Rick Roy watched the throngs of folks moving around and having a good time, and noticed that a great number of the Cycle Oregon participants, as well as local residents, were enjoying the refreshments being offered by Widmer Brewery. It was at that moment that Roy realized there were no local “brews” available, and an idea was born.
Roy began putting his plan of having a brewery in Burns into action. He built his own equipment, gathered ingredients, and   started the brewing process.
“It’s all-grain brewing, and only whole-leaf hops, from scratch,” Roy said. “We don’t use any extracts, pellets or hop oil.”
And with that, Steens Mountain Brewing Co. was born.


Brewing beer is nothing new for Roy, who said he and a friend used to brew a variety of beers when he lived in Colorado in the late 1990s. But Roy and his wife, Cammie, moved around a bit because of work, had children, and being a brewmaster was no longer a priority.

However, when they moved to Harney County, the topic of creating craft beers resurfaced.

“Cammie and I, and my in-laws, talked about having a brewery here, and we talked about it for five or six years because we didn’t think this place was ready for it yet. Then when I saw the block party during Cycle Oregon, I knew it was time,” Roy said.
The brewery
Roy stated that he hopes to have the brewery, at 150 W. Washington, open sometime in April or May, and it will be operated as a nano-brewery, meaning they would be brewing about 1,000 gallons a year.
The “anchor beer” will be the Migration Pale Ale, with other seasonal beers available throughout the year, in 12- and 22-ounce bottles. In keeping with a local theme, all beers will feature a Harney County landmark or event in their name, such as “Stinkingwater Stout,” “Lone Pine Lager,” “Alvord Amber,” “Steens Summer Ale,” “Carp Drool Nut Brown Ale,” and “Whorehouse Meadows Wheat.” The artwork on the beer labels is done by Roy’s 19-year-old daughter, Carley, and the labels also include a brief description or story about the beers’ names.

The brewery will be a family operation, with Cammie acting as the chief executive officer, Roy as the brewmaster, Carley and her brother, Kinnon, 17, apprentice brewers. To get the  younger children involved, Steens Mountain Brewing Co. will also be brewing root beer and sarsaparilla.
“Our son, Andrew, 22, is good with his hands, and will help out with the fabrication and other aspects of the operation,” Roy said.
The family grows their own hops in a half-acre garden next to the building, and the kids will help to tend the garden, as well as harvest and dry the hops.
“We’d like to use all local ingredients. The hops we grow, and then get local grains, like barley and wheat, if available,” Roy said. “And the water here is really good for brewing beer.”
Roy stressed the fact that the brewery would focus on the traditional beer styles.
“We’re not going to do anything crazy, like a dead chicken in there,” he said. “I had a good teacher, and we’re going to brew good, tasty beer.”
At the present time, Roy is working on perfecting the recipes, and is busy getting all the required licensing and paperwork in order.
Looking ahead
Roy said he will start by brewing small batches of different beers to make sure everything is going as planned, and go on the assumption that the beers will go over well in the community.
“The keys to brewing good beer are sanitation, organization and patience,” Roy said. “And we want to get it right.”
The brewery will have a rotating stock, with another batch always fermenting for the next round of bottling. The amount of beer brewed at one time will depend on the amount sold, and if needed, Roy can always brew a bigger batch.
“That would be a good problem to have,” he laughed.
The brewery will sell on-site, no consumption on the premises, and there’s a possibility of having a testing room.
Roy said they will have self-distribution of the beer, and they would do “custom” brewing for special events, such as weddings, reunions, etc.
“If we get enough lead time, we can make a special batch for a special occasion, including a custom label for the event, if that’s what they want,” he said.
While starting small, Roy does have an eye on the possibility of expansion. He noted that Alaskan Brewing Company is based in Juneau, and they distribute to 13 Western states.
“If they can get it to 13 states from Juneau, we can do the same from Burns,” he said.
Another inspiration for expansion came from two recent trips made by Roy. He first toured the Rogue Brewery in Newport, and commented that the brewery is not a fancy building, by any means.  Then, a week later, he traveled to Canterbury, N. H., a small village about the size of a city block. While in Canterbury, Roy stopped into a store, and spotted a bottle of brew from the local nano-brewery,  Canterbury AleWorks, sitting right next to a bottle of Rogue beer. That spurred him on to seeking out the small brewery and taking a tour.
“Rogue beer goes to 38 countries and all 50 states,” Roy said. “I’d like to go regional, because the best place for beer is closest to where it’s bottled, but if a brewery in Newport can do it, get their beer out to places like Canterbury, we can do it here.”
Steens Mountain Brewery Co. has its own Facebook page, and will also use Twitter to get the word out about its products. Kegs and a growler station are possibilities, as well.
Roy said, at some point, his idea includes opening a traditional pub on North Broadway. The pub would feature the local beers, several other micro-brews, Oregon-made wine and spirits and traditional Irish pub fare. It would be family-friendly, and a nice place for friends to gather for a drink and visit. The pub would also be a draw for the people who like to participate in the beer tours, traveling from town-to-town to experience the local brews.
“That’s a ways down the road, and the location would have to be right here,” Roy said, pointing to North Broadway. “There are vacant buildings that can be used to do this type of venture.”
While the brewery is a family venture for the Roys, it can also have an economic impact on the community as a whole.
“Some people are just waiting for some company to come in and create jobs. That’s one way to improve the economy. But they can also take the initiative and create their own opportunities,” Roy said. “A brewery, can draw people to the area, and lead to other local job opportunities, if all goes well.”
For now, the beer is brewing, and adults should be getting ready for a taste of a cold brew from Steens Mountain Brewing Co. this spring.

Registration for the celebration begins at 10 a.m. at the Harney County Senior and Community Services Center Saturday, June 8. A potluck will be held at noon, with the program to follow at 1 p.m.

Marge McRae

Queen Mother Marge McRae

Margret Mary Thies was born in the old hospital in Burns on August 31, 1925, to Gretta Louise Houghton Thies and Hermon G. Thies. She grew up in Burns, going to grade school and high school, and on to some college.

Marge had a dream as a small child.  She used to go to Logan Valley as a companion to Lenore Capps, whose parents surveyed for the government. She went with them for several years, and one day when they were ready to leave and Lenore’s father came to her and said, “Its’ time to go home,” she said, “Someday when I grow up, I want to come up here and build a great big barn so a bunch of kids can have a good time.”

Her dream was set in place. A few years later she got married to Howard Riley and learned how to hunt, fish, camp and ride horses.  She worked in the hay fields mowing hay all day,  and as the years went by, she graduated to cooking three meals a day for the hay crew.

On April 16, 1949, in Ontario, she and Howard had a baby girl named Sally Susanne. The little girl was the apple of the family’s’ eye because she was the only grandchild for the first 10 years. Living in Drewsey then, Marge worked in her flower garden and worked in the fields and cooked when she had to. She taught herself to do leather craft and started a 4-H Club, and as the years went by, she taught 4-H leather craft, sheep, and horse for 28 years. She even had a taxidermy class. She was a member of the Home Extension Club, too. On May 3, 1959, in Burns, she had a little boy, Timothy Frank. In the 60s she was involved in the Harney County Cowbells and served as president for two years.

She worked in Arts and Hobbies and the Flower Department at the fair for many, many years.

She married John Duncan McRae in April 1967, and moved to the “Mace Place” near the Island Ranch. She continued being a rancher’s wife, pushing the cattle on cattle drives from the Riverside Ranch to the Mace Place in the spring and fall.

In the 1960s, she received word that they were going to build a recreation camp in Logan Valley and she wanted to help build the lodge. It was suggested they sell 200 life-time memberships to request a loan from the government so they could get started on their project. Marge went to work selling 200 memberships. Everywhere she went that was all the two kids heard, “I’d like to sell you a lifetime membership for the Lake Creek Recreation Camp.” Years went by, but before long they had the membership completed. A $25,000 loan was obtained through FHA, and it would only cost $50,000 to complete the lodge.  They started in June  1966, and with shovel in hand, she did the ground breaking at Lake Creek with Roderick McKay from Harper, director of the Lake Creek Recreation Association, County Agent Ray Novotny of Burns and County Agent Bill Farrell of John Day looking on. As president of the association, she broke ground in preparation for construction of a new lodge building at the Lake Creek Campsite in Logan Valley. The site is located 20 miles east of Seneca. It started out by accommodating 4-H youth, Scouts, and church youth groups, and is open to adult organizations as well.

Marge was president of Lake Creek Youth Facility for many years. At their second meeting, she was quoted as saying, “It is you, as members, who will be making the decisions for this fabulous camp which will be a reality before very long.”

Edward Hines Lumber  Co. and Jim Tackman Construction did a lot of work and donating of time and lumber to build the lodge. Bill Foster was the construction supervisor of the lodge, and volunteers helped put on the roof and get the walls up before the snow started that winter. The Job Corps had 20 boys work on the roof to help get it done before winter.

Laddie Clark from Drewsey used his back hoe to fill in the drain field for the 2,500 gallon septic tanks. John McRae and Marge hauled a truck load of lumber from the Hines Mill to complete the interior of the lodge.

Soon they had pamphlets made and sent out to all three counties, Grant, Harney and Malheur. As time has gone by, many upgrades have been added, such as propane, kitchen appliances, an all-stainless steel kitchen, new bathrooms and cabins.

Today, Grant County and its hard working people are still working to keep Marge’s dream going. She kept a scrapbook of all the buildings and meetings for many years, and even painted the front of the scrapbook to look like the outside of the lodge. The scrapbook is at the Lake Creek Youth Facility if anyone wants to see it.

They had their 3rd annual fundraiser dinner and auction on Sept. 19, 2009, where the members of the Lake Creek Youth Facility dedicated the Fireplace Room to Marge to commemorate her dream and dedication.  This fall will be the 7th annual fundraiser and auction, and we hope Harney County will come.
Marge started working at the Burns Chamber of Commerce in 1980, and worked there for six years. She was Woman of the Year in 1992, and Grand Marshal of the Harney County Fair, Rodeo and Race Meet in 1998.

She was a member and president of the Sunrise Garden Club for many years. They put up $1,500 for the mating eagle sculpture at the senior center which sits in the front yard. They also put a stainless steel sculpture with iris in the entrance of the Harney District Hospital. Iris is the flower for Sunrise Garden Club.

Her life has been enjoying people, loving and teaching children, enjoying the outdoors, scenery and family.  Her dream is Lake Creek Youth Camp.

Bob Smyth

President Bob Smyth

It was on the 15th day of March 1934 that Robert “Bob” was born to John and Grace Smyth at the old Harney County Hospital on North Egan in Burns. He joined his siblings: Johnny, or “Cactus” as we always referred to him, his oldest brother, Blair Louise, his oldest sister, and brother Loris “Wart,” who was about 2 years old at that time.

The family moved to the bay area in California when Bob was very small and his father worked for Hayward County Water Works as a foreman on the Oakland Bay Bridge. They resided there for only a few years and returned to Oregon. Their dad didn’t really care for California very much. When they returned, his father built a house in Andrews on property they owned. It was home to them, as at one time his grandparents owned and operated businesses in both Fields and Andrews. A few years later, a younger sister, Carol Smyth-Sawyer was born.

In the early 1940s, the family moved to Burns and Bob started third grade at the old Burns Grammar School, which is now the Slater School gymnasium. He had some very wonderful teachers while growing up in Burns. Some that come to mind are Mrs. Alice Bennett, Miss Emmy, Mrs. Eleanor Briggs, Iva Case and Austa Carlon. There were, of course, many others who had a very positive influence on his life.

Shortly after moving to Burns, Bob’s father was very seriously burned while working on the construction of the Burns Airport. He was hospitalized for many months, and we were very lucky that he even survived.

After his father’s recovery, his folks leased the Coca-Cola Bottling works for about four years. It was during that time there was another addition to the family, a little sister, Yvonne Noel, was born.

After leaving the bottling works, his dad worked for Neil Smith in the plumbing business, not knowing that several years later he would be in the grocery business in that very same building that he had worked on.

When Bob was in the seventh grade, his folks borrowed money to start a grocery business. At that time, they were renting a home in Hines. A year later they moved back to Burns and lived in the house that the folks bought on East Jefferson. It remained the family home until his parents passed away.

On, or about, Bob’s 32nd birthday, his folks moved their family business, “Smyth’s Market,” from the building next to the Hilander Cafe to the McCulloch building located on the corner of Broadway and Monroe at the traffic light. It remained a family business until the mid-1970s.

After graduating from high school, Bob joined the Armed Services and was deployed overseas to Korea. On returning from Korea, he moved to Seattle and worked for Boeing Aircraft. It was while he was in Seattle that he met the love of his life, his wife, Loretta “Jeannie.” She happened to be living in the same apartment complex as him. They have been married 56 years this coming Oct. 19. Most of their married life has been spent in Oregon. Bob refers to it as time spent in the “Three B’s” — Burns, Baker City and Bend.

Bob attended Oregon Technical Institute and graduated in auto body and fender repair. He worked at this trade for about three years off and on, and found out it was not for him as he was too much of a perfectionist and it took speed.

He worked in the plywood factory at the Hines sawmill for a time. While there, he was contacted through the Junior Chamber of Commerce that they wanted him to take on a selling job. He was stunned, literally, because up until that time, he had been somewhat quiet and bashful, believe it or not! Anyway, he went to work for the non-foods division of Hudson House Grocery Company, working for them for a number of years until 1979. It was at that time he started his own business. He made a deal with United Groceries Inc., located in Bend, that he would peddle their  products for 7 percent of their gross sales. This was pretty good back then because the larger stores ordered five to six thousand dollars worth of merchandise in an order, and then by adding in the resources from the smaller markets, it was a pretty good income.

Bob and Jeannie were blessed with three wonderful sons. The oldest, Corey Robert, was born in Burns, and now resides in Maui, Hawaii, with his wife, Carolyn (“Trixie”). They have a daughter, Whitney, who is married to a young man from Maui, Kylan Shimakowa, and they are now living in Utah.

When Bob and Jeannie  were living in Baker, their second son, Charles (Chuck), was born in 1959. Chuck was married while working in Colorado, and he and his wife, Debbie, blessed them with a second granddaughter, Heather. She lives in Denver, Colo. Sadly, Chuck passed away in 2004.

When Bob and family moved from Baker back to Burns, they were blessed with the birth of their third son, Todd, in 1964. He lives and works in Snowmass, Colo., near Aspen.

When their three sons relocated to Colorado, Bob and Jeannie decided to move from their home in Bend to Colorado. In Colorado, Bob helped his sons in their businesses and worked in maintenance for Pitkin County.

At age 65, Bob said it was time to retire. He’d had enough of city, county and state government work and they moved back to Burns in 1999.

But if you know Bob, he just couldn’t stay idle, so he went to work for the Pony Express. It turned out to be a private business for basically 13 years and kept him plenty busy.

And so here he is! He’s probably left several things out and could have gone into more detail, but those of you who know him, remember him from the “get-go,” and also know he could “ramble on” forever, so we will end this now.

Maria Iturriaga with former Harney County Judge Dale White (left) and current judge Steve Grasty. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

Maria Iturriaga retires after 16 years as county clerk

By Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

On Oct. 21, 1961, Maria Iturriaga arrived in the United States with her mother and younger brother (Jose Rementeria). She was 13 years old.

The next day, she attended her first day of seventh grade at Burns Elementary School, which is now Slater Elementary School.

A Basque emigrant from Spain, Iturriaga did not know anything about the United States, and she didn’t speak any English.

Her father immigrated to the United States in 1954 and began working for the McLean ranches in Fields.

He later went to work for the Edward Hines Lumber Company, which is when he sent for his family.

Iturriaga said it was “very, very hard” to leave her native country and come to a foreign land. “All I could do was cry. I do not wish that on anybody, not even my worst enemy, if I had one,” she said.

However, she said she made life-long friends in middle school who helped her adjust to a new country.

On May 24, 1967, just a few days before she graduated from Burns Union High School, Iturriaga became a United States citizen. She said she remembers the date because it was her mother’s birthday.

After high school, Iturriaga attended Links Business College in Boise, Idaho, where she studied to become an executive secretary.

After a year of college, she returned to Harney County and went to work for the Burns Times-Herald. She then worked in the office at Harney County Hospital, which is where she met her husband, Claudio.
“He was also from the ‘Old Country,’” Iturriaga said.

The couple was married in 1969, and their son was born in 1970. Iturriaga stayed home to raise her son until 1983, which is when she started working for Harney County.

“I was a floater,” she said, describing her job duties.

From 1983 until 1988, Iturriaga worked in many offices and in many positions. She began working at the district attorney’s office, but worked in the treasurer’s office and for the department of mental health, as needed. She said she worked a few hours or a few days in one place and then moved to wherever else she was needed.

Iturriaga said she moved around so much that whenever she answered the phone, she had to stop and think, “Where am I today?”

She first ran for the county clerk position in 1996 when previous clerk, Dolores Swisher, retired. She said her decision to run was “just natural.”

“I was working [at the courthouse], and I knew the job,” Iturriaga said.

Iturriaga ran unopposed, but said she was “overjoyed” the first time she was elected.

Iturriaga has served as the county clerk for 16 years, running unopposed four times.

“The people in Harney County are great. They kept voting for me. I can’t begin to express my gratitude. My time in office has been really a pleasure,” she said.

Iturriaga said the highlight of her career was when she was elected the president of the Oregon Association of County Clerks (OACC). She was the first representative from Harney County to hold the office, serving as president of the association from 2009 until 2010.

According to its website, “The Association of County Clerks is comprised of clerks, recorders, elected officials, or any other officials preforming like duties and who are functioning as the elected or appointed county officials for a county government.” There can only be one voting member from each county at any time, but any deputy or assistant of a voting member can apply to be an associate member. Individuals can also be elected to honorary membership in the association.

Prior to being elected president, Iturriaga served as the secretary, treasurer and vice president of the association.

“I went on through the chairs,” she said.

In August 2010, Iturriaga worked with former Chief Deputy Clerk Derrin “Dag” Robinson to host the OACC Annual Conference in Harney County. Iturriaga said representatives from 34 of Oregon’s 36 counties were in attendance. She said in addition to county clerks, several deputy clerks attended, bringing the total number of people in attendance to about 195. The conference was also attended by vendors who came from as far away as New York City, N.Y. to sell their products.

Iturriaga said the conference was a “good boost” to the local economy, as those in attendance patronized local restaurants and motels.

“It’s a lot of work to put something like that on,” Iturriaga said, explaining that Harney County does not have a large events center.

Iturriaga said she liked “so many things” about being the Harney County clerk. She said staff refers to the county clerk’s office as the “happy office” because county clerks issue and record marriage licenses, property deeds and passports. She explained that people come to the office when they are getting married, buying a house, or taking a trip.

Staff in the county clerk’s office also announce the results of elections. “This can be happy or sad,” Iturriaga said, explaining that the county clerk delivers good news to candidates who win elections, but bad news to those that do not.

Iturriaga said her job has evolved over the years due to the implementation of new laws, especially those regarding elections. County clerks are very involved in the election process, and their duties extend far beyond announcing the results.

“We take elections very seriously, and I think we do a great job,” Iturriaga said. “I wish people would just come up and watch what we do so they would understand. There is no room for mistakes.”

Iturriaga said Oregon’s vote-by mail system requires county clerks to verify signatures on voters’ ballots, which is a lot of work. Votes are counted by a machine, which is accredited through a certification process.
“Certification of the machine is open to the public, but people rarely come to see our process,” Iturriaga said.

However, despite the demands of the job, Iturriaga said, “I don’t have very many complaints. I made many friends here. The people are wonderful.” She added that the county court always gave her everything that she needed in terms of her budget.

But after serving as the Harney County Clerk for more than a decade and a half, Iturriaga announced her retirement.

“I think it was time. I truly believe we should move over for the young people,” Iturriaga said. She added that her husband has been retired for a few years now.

Robinson was sworn in as the new Harney County Clerk Jan. 7.

“I leave the job in such good hands,” Iturriaga said. “Dag knows the job, and he will do great.” She added that she believes Robinson will also be elected the president of the OACC someday.

Iturriaga said her plans for retirement include some traveling. She and her husband are considering traveling to Arizona this winter, and they hope to make more frequent trips to San Diego, Calif., which is where their son lives. They are also considering traveling to Spain to visit with family.

But Iturriaga admits that she has mixed emotions about retiring.

“This is my family,” she said regarding courthouse staff. “I have been here a long time.”

Iturriaga said she was the third of three consecutive Harney County clerks who were “full-blooded Basque,” citing Avel Diaz and Dolores Swisher who served before her.

Yet, considering her metamorphosis from the 13-year-old girl who didn’t speak English, it may be hard to disagree with what Iturriaga said in a meeting of the county court, held Dec. 5.

“It has been quite a ride,” she said. “It is amazing for a little girl to come from the ‘Old Country’ and be county clerk.”

Reservation Day Oct. 13

Posted on October 10th in Feature Story

Celebration to include medicine games

By Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

The Burns Paiute Tribe will be hosting its 40th annual Reservation Day celebration Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Burns Paiute Reservation’s Gathering Center, 40 Pa Si Go’ Street.

The celebration commemorates the 40th anniversary of the day the Burns Paiute Reservation was established.

Some may be surprised to learn that the reservation was not established until 1972, especially when considering that the ancestors of tribal members inhabited Central and Eastern Oregon’s Great Basin for thousands of years.

According to “The History of the Wadatika Band of Northern Paiute,” a pamphlet distributed by the Burns Paiute Tribe, cattle workers began settling in Harney County in 1862, taking or buying homesteads to run huge herds of livestock over the land. Soon after their arrival, the cattle workers depleted or destroyed resources that were vital to the Northern Paiutes’ survival, prompting them to raid wagon trains and camps to acquire goods needed to survive and defend themselves.

The U.S. Army responded to the conflict by establishing military outposts. Camp Alvord was set up in 1864, and Fort Harney was established in 1867. In 1866, General Cook was appointed to squash the Northern Paiute resistance and force the Paiutes onto a reservation. Cook’s devastating campaign, along with a grueling winter, resulted in the death of over half the Northern Paiute population.

On Dec. 10, 1868, Paiute chiefs signed a treaty with the U.S. government, granting them a reservation in their homeland. The U.S. Army promised to protect the Paiutes from intruding settlers, and in exchange, the Paiutes promised to cease raids and hostilities toward settlers.

But the conflict did not end there. Over the next four years, several attempts were made to move and confine the Northern Paiute tribes to reservations outside of their aboriginal territory. Finally, 1,778,560 acres, taken from the larger Eastern Oregon area that was originally allocated, were set aside to establish the Malheur Reservation. The reservation was intended for all bands of American Indians in Eastern Oregon.

Unfortunately, the availability of funds and resources did not increase with the reservation’s growing population.

Additionally, stockmen and ranchers began running their livestock and even building homes on the reservation. The lack of rations, supplies and government support caused many on the reservation to leave, while others began to revolt. Paiutes joined 46 Bannocks in a series of raids that later came to be known as the Bannock Indian War.

Shortly afterward, all American Indians in the area were rounded up and held hostage at Fort Harney. In January 1879, over 500 Paiutes were loaded into wagons or ordered to walk, under heavily armed guards, to Fort Simcoe on the Yakama Reservation and Fort Vancouver in Washington State. Men were forced to walk shackled two-by-two in knee-deep snow, while the women and children rode in wagons. Another group of women and children were taken by wagon to Fort Boise in Idaho. The fate of yet another group remains unknown.

Within a few years, the Paiutes began returning to Eastern Oregon. Those choosing to make the journey, traveled in small groups or alone. They swam the Columbia River, holding onto their horses’ tails and walked long distances through the mountains.

Charlotte Roderique, vice chairperson of the Burns Paiute Tribal Council, said Paiutes who live in Burns today are descendants of Paiutes who ran away and journeyed home. She said her great-aunt told stories of having to hold onto logs to stay afloat, as she made her way across the Columbia River. Roderique said her family traveled at night to avoid detection and survived by eating roots and berries. She said she is amazed by the desire and drive that the Paiutes had to return home.

“We come from strong people and strong-willed people,” she said. “We still have that spirit.”

When the Paiutes returned, they were not allowed back on the Malheur Reservation because they were considered outlaws. They had to live off whatever they could find from hunting and gathering, and some quietly worked for local ranchers.

In 1882, the treaty that established the Malheur Reservation was terminated. Roderique said, when it was time to ratify the treaty, cattle barons who were interested in the land sent reports back to Washington, D.C., stating that no American Indians lived on the reservation. At the time, there were no American Indians living on the reservation because they were rounded up and forced to leave.

In 1883, the Malheur Reservation was made into public domain under the Homestead Act.

Many Paiute families who returned to the area camped in tule or gunnysack “wickiups” near Burns and Drewsey.

In 1928, the local Egan Land Company gave the Paiutes 10 acres of land outside Burns. The Paiutes cleaned the land, which was the old city dump, and drilled a well to prepare for houses. The Bureau of Indian Affairs built 20 two-bedroom homes, a small school and a community center on the land. A small, Catholic church was added in 1932.

The 10 acres are now home to the Old Camp Casino, and the church, which is now known as the Church of the Living Waters, was moved to the newer reservation (after it was established).

In 1935, the tribe purchased 760 acres with a loan provided by the National Industrial Recovery Act. The tribe repaid the loan by leasing the property’s small cultivatable farmland.

The Indian Reorganization Act was passed the following year, allowing for tribal elections, but the tribe’s constitution and bylaws were not written and approved until 1968. This formalized the current tribal government and made it operational. It also allowed the tribe to receive government contracts and grants.

Roderique, who started working for the tribe around 1967, said the tribe was not federally recognized until 1969. She said, until that point, the Burns Paiutes were not eligible for a lot of services that were available to other tribes. She said tribal meetings were still being conducted in the Paiute language, and her job was to translate meeting notes into English and type them. She said most of the elders at that time did not know how to type and did not have access to a high school education.

Roderique said she is very grateful for the generosity of the tribal elders who fought to gain tribal recognition, especially considering that many of them were not afforded the same opportunities as the younger generations.

On Oct. 13, 1972, former President Richard Nixon signed paperwork establishing the 760 acres that were purchased in 1935 and the 10 that were donated in 1928 as the Burns Paiute Reservation.

Roderique said the tribe received a lot of support from individuals, families, organizations and politicians in the community when working to get the title and trust to the reservation. She said the tribe could not have gotten the reservation without this political influence and support.

Roderique said Reservation Day is a way for tribal members to celebrate not only their reservation, but their heritage.
“Reservation Day, to me, is really about honoring the foresight and the skills of those who had the determination to get home,” she said.

The Reservation Day celebration will begin with a reception at 10 a.m. at the Gathering Center. The reception will begin with a traditional prayer offered by Tribal Elder Ella Capps. Next, Tu-Wa-kii Nobi, a local youth singing group, will sing the traditional flag song. Roderique explained that the flag song is similar to a pledge of allegiance, only in musical form. Lloyd Louie, a Tribal Elder and council member, will welcome guests to the celebration. Louie is a descendant of Captain Louie, a Paiute leader during the Bannock Indian War. A historical speaker will provide background information on the meaning and purpose of Reservation Day, and Senator Ted Ferrioli will be on hand to acknowledge the tribe and speak about the celebration. The reception will conclude with an open forum, allowing individuals to come forward and share stories.

After the reception, the first session of the powwow will take place at the Harney County Fairgrounds Memorial Building. Medicine games, also known as lacrosse, will also be held at the fairgrounds.

Roderique said a representative from the Seven Nations of Canada will participate in the games. She explained that medicine games originated in northeastern America and Canada, but spread to Eastern Oregon when they became intertribal. She said the ceremonial games will be conducted in the traditional way, beginning and ending in a prayer.

A free dinner of salmon, buffalo and beef will be served at 5 p.m at Rainbow Park at the Burns Paiute Reservation.

However, if the weather does not cooperate, the dinner will be moved to the Gathering Center.

The second session of the powwow will be held back at the Memorial Building at 7 p.m.

“Everyone is welcome to attend,” Roderique said. “This is a big milestone for us. Having the reservation status changed a lot of things for us.”

The Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op was started locally by Stephanie Volle and Miranda Wagner, who heard about the program from a friend in John Day. (Photo by HARMONY CUSHING)

82 locals took part in the last Bountiful Basket distribution on Aug. 11

By Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

For those wanting to save money on their grocery bill and eat healthier, the Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op (BBFC) is the perfect program.

BBFC is an all-volunteer, non-profit co-op designed to provide contributors with fresh fruit and vegetables every other week.

Local organizers Stephanie Volle and Miranda Wagner held the first distribution on July 28 and it was a rousing success with 64 contributors taking part. The next distribution, held on Aug. 11, had 82 contributors, meaning with the maximum cap set at 96, the local site had just about reached that in only two weeks time.

Getting started
Wagner said she heard about the Bountiful Baskets from friends in John Day and it piqued her interest, so she began looking into what it would take to get a site in Burns.

“We found out that a number of Burns people were driving to Canyon City every other week, so we thought it would be good to get it here,” Wagner said.

She eventually heard back from the co-op and around the end of May, she and Volle began getting it organized locally, which included getting a list of at least 30 people that would contribute. To assure that all sites operate consistently, they attended training at sites in Baker City and Canyon City during the distribution times. With that done, it was time to get the ball rolling in Harney County.
How it works
First of all, each contributor must set up an account online at the BBFC website. The contribution for a Conventional Basket is $15 and Certified Organic Baskets are $25. There is also a $3 fee for first-time contributors for the basket.

All orders are placed online between noon on Monday and 10 p.m. Tuesday, with the produce coming in the following Saturday. Orders are on a first-come, first-served basis, so once the maximum number, 96, is reached no more orders for that site are accepted.

Distributions are held every other week at the Burns site and contributors don’t have to participate every time.

Once the produce arrives, volunteers distribute the items equally between the baskets. As a rule, each basket will include 50 percent fruit and 50 percent vegetables. “We don’t know specifically what we are getting until the Friday night before,” Volle said. The value of the produce that each contributor receives is estimated at between $35 and $50.

The first baskets distributed in Burns included lettuce, potatoes, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, peaches, blueberries, mangoes and more. Both women agreed that not knowing what you’re going to receive is part of the fun. “When you get something you don’t normally buy, it forces you to be creative,” Wagner said. “You branch out to a bigger variety of produce that’s not always available.”

While the produce is distributed in baskets, each contributor needs to take along a sack, box or basket to take the produce home.

Because of the route the delivery truck takes, the produce arrives in town at 2:15 p.m. and can be picked up at 3:15 p.m. at Slater Elementary School. “Channon Rebeiro, the Food Service Director for the schools has been great to work with,” Volle said.

In addition to the produce basket, different add-ons are available such as breads, specialty packs and canning vegetables.

If a basket is not picked up, the food will be delivered to a local fire department.

Making it work
Wagner said they would like to get 10 to 15 volunteers to help out distributing the produce and cleaning up afterward each time. “It really is a fun, social time,” she noted. “People who have tried it once are committed.”
“This is really a benefit for the community,” Volle added. “The people who came in the first time were so excited and very appreciative for bringing the program to Burns.”

To remind people about getting their orders in or to just express an opinion, they have set up a Facebook page: HC Bountiful Baskets.

For more information visit www.bountifulbaskets.org or call Volle at 541-647-4139 or Wagner at 541-678-2056.

Steve Quam is biking across the United States to raise awareness for Parkinson’s disease. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

South Carolina man raises awareness for Parkinson’s disease

By Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

On April 15, Steve Quam, 66, pedaled away from Edisto Island, S.C., headed west. On Friday, Aug. 3, he arrived in Burns on his way to Newport, his final destination.

This is Quam’s second cross-country trip to raise awareness for Parkinson’s disease and in support of the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s.

Phinney is a former professional road bicycle racer whose career included  two stage victories in the Tour de France and a bronze medal in the 1984 Olympics. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 40 and five years later started the foundation.

Quam’s trips are the result of himself being diagnosed with the disease about four years ago. Quam said he has always been an avid bicyclist, (as well as a fan of Phinney), and like most riders, had the dream of riding from coast to coast. “I figured it was something I would do when I retired, but then when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and I realized that just having the vague dream wasn’t going to get it done,” he said. “I have benefited in a number of ways from the foundation and this is a way to give back.”

Quam’s itinerary depends on the lay of the land, as well as the distance between towns. One of the toughest stretches he encountered was the trip from Vale to Juntura. “Hills and headwinds are tough and that part had both,” Quam said. He took a rest the following day, only his fourth rest day of his ride, before heading out  again.

Along the way, Quam receives  support form churches and host families, which he appreciates.

When asked about the Burns to Bend leg, he stated it would be one of the biggest challenges. Quam’s son, Mikkel, who lives in Corvallis, and his girlfriend planned to head east and meet Quam somewhere along the way. They would then camp together for several days.

Quam said even though he is one of the slowest riders in his hometown, this shows that, “you don’t have to be anything special to go cross-country.” He also wants to inspire others afflicted with the disease to keep on living and doing the things they’ve always dreamed about.

The real highlight of the trip was when Quam passed through Boulder, Colo., and had a chance to meet Phinney. “He was an idol of mine before this ever happened, so you can imagine how I felt when he pumped up my tires and rode out with me for the day,” Quam said. “It was pretty special.”

Quam plans to reach Newport about the third week of August.

To track Quam’s progress or make a donation, visit: http://sqpd.us

Lisa and Nicholas Tiller operate their new shop. (Photo by NICHOLE BENTZ)

By Nichole Bentz
Burns Times-Herald

Desert Dream Thrift Store opened Wednesday, July 11, on main street. Desert Dream, however, is not an everyday thrift store; it is a nonprofit organization that supports and provides opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. Owner Lisa Tiller’s son Nicholas has autism, and this store has been a dream for Nicholas and others like him.

“My reason for opening the store is my son and others like him because there is nothing like this for people with developmental disabilities after high school,” said Tiller.

Working at the store with Nicholas are the high school life skills class and adults with development disabilities, and they will learn jobskills at Desert Dream year-round.

“Many people have helped me get the store started and I have recieved many gracious donations. I am excited to help contribute not only to people with developmental disabilities, but to the community, as well. This is going to be an awesome adventure,” said Tiller.

All items at Desert Dream are donated, and all donations are welcome.

There will be a grand opening Saturday, Aug. 11, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Refreshments will be provided, and there will be coupon drawings. Store hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Service to complement H.C. Food Bank

Volunteers at the Burns Christian Church food pantry include (L-R) Bette Erwin, Becky Brown, Evelyn Neasham and Denice Brown. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

By Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Seeing a need in the community, volunteers from the Burns Christian Church made the decision to organize a food pantry to help feed area residents.

Organizers, including Evelyn Neasham, Bette Erwin and Denice Brown, started putting the pantry together the first part of January and a month later, they were open to the community and have been growing ever since.

Neasham noted that in April alone, they received 1,600 pounds of food and gave out 1,500 pounds. The pantry has seen a 20 percent increase every month, with up to 51 families served in just 30 days time.

Donations, including monetary donations, come from individuals, the church, the community, and more recently, the Oregon Food Bank.

Brown said the food pantry is open to everyone. “If they’re willing to come in, we’re willing to give it to them,” she said.

Rather than have a bag or box of items ready to hand out, volunteers ask customers to look over a list of items and check those they can use. “People have different needs,” Neasham said. “It depends on their family size, ages and other factors. We don’t want to give them something they’re not going to use.”

The list includes canned foods, fresh produce, meat, infant supplies, dairy products, baked goods, personal care items and more.

Citizens can make a visit to the pantry twice every 30 days to receive supplies.

To complement the Harney County Food Bank, the pantry is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., meaning they are open when the county food bank is not.

With a growing demand, there is a need for more donations. “One day we had 15 families come in during the three hours we were open,” Brown said. “After the first 10, we were out of some things and it’s kind of hard to tell the people that came in later that we don’t have some items on their list.

“A donation of a sack of groceries may not seem like it could help much, but if everyone gave one it would be a lot.”
“It’s a way for the community to be helping the community,” Erwin added.

Neasham said that when she lived in the Redmond area, she became involved in helping people out, and that carried over when she moved to Harney County. To help stretch the limited budget, Neasham and Brown make good use of coupons. “We do the extreme couponing,” Neasham said. To prove her point, she produced a receipt for more than $130 worth of groceries that she got for free. “Not only did she get the groceries for free, she actually got about 40 cents back from that,” Brown said. They both agreed it takes some work using the coupons, but it’s well worth it.

Support for the pantry has also come from Wagner’s Furniture (which helped them get refrigerators), Thriftway and Safeway.

The three women agreed that despite the amount of time and effort, the project is gratifying. “You may feel exhausted at the end of the day, but then you look at what we’re doing and it’s a really great feeling realizing how many people we’ve helped,” Brown said. “Our goal is to serve the hungry of Harney County while maintaining their dignity.”

Donations to the food pantry may be made at the south entrance of the Burns Christian Church, 125 South Buena Vista in Burns.

‘Rat Camp’

Posted on May 16th in Feature Story

Diamond A Guides, owned and operated by Justin and Nikki Aamodt, has seen steady growth in the last 10 years

A raised platform provides stability, safety and a vantage point for those hunting sage rats with Diamond A Guides. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

By Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

What began as a bit of a joke between friends has since turned into a steady business, as well as an economic boost to the county.

Justin Aamodt said 10 years ago, he was visiting with a friend about damage done to irrigation equipment by people out shooting sage rats. “He had 21 bullet holes in his irrigation pipes from hunters and I told him maybe I should start doing guided rat hunts. We laughed about that,” Aamodt said.

A decade later, that moment of levity has turned into Diamond A Guides, owned and operated by Aamodt and his wife, Nikki.

“Rat Camp”
Starting out in a single-wide trailer on Quincy Road, the Aamodts began advertising their “sage rat tours.”
The first year they had 28 shooting days and that increased to 49 by the second year. “I thought if we could get to 100, we’d be doing all right,” Justin said.

He explained that “shooting days” are figured by the number of hunters each day. For instance, if there are five hunters that shoot for five days, that equates to 25 shooting days.

By early May of this year, the Aamodts had 825 shooting days on the books and Nikki anticipated that number growing to close to 1,000 by season’s end.

After five years of customer growth, the Aamodts worked out an agreement with Crystal Crane Hot Springs to use some of their facilities. A greenhouse was transformed into a kitchen and dining hall and wall tents were set up for those needing lodging. It wasn’t long before the site earned the name of “Rat Camp.” “You have deer camp and elk camp, well, this is Rat Camp,” Nikki said. She added that the folks at Crystal Crane Hot Springs have been ideal to work with.

For both comfort and safety, Justin constructed raised shooting platforms and fixed them to trailers. The platforms are transported to fields each day for the shoots and brought back in each night.

One key to their success has been working with landowners in the area. The Aamodts lease the land, which means the hunters are escorted to a specific field (no knocking on doors for permission) and have a safe place to shoot. “We have exclusive rights to be in the field, so anyone else would be trespassing,” Justin said. “And all the shooters are facing out in the platform, which is a real safety factor because you don’t have hunters walking around and possibly shooting in the direction of another hunter.”

The hunts start around the first part of April and usually end Memorial Day. “It kind of depends on the height of the alfalfa,” Justin said,

While there may be others that offer rat hunts, they’d be hard-pressed to match the amenities offered by Diamond A Guides.

Once reservations are made, Nikki makes sure to confirm the reservations before the guests arrive.

Available accommodations include a three-bedroom ranch house, cabins, RV hook-ups, wall tents (with wood floors, cots and heat) and even a tee-pee.

Guests can enjoy three home-cooked meals a day, complete with hors-d’oeuvres and desserts. When the shooters return from the afternoon hunt, they find buckets of ice, as well as lemon and lime slices in their lodging for refreshments.

“It really is all about customer service. And we have the ‘five-pound rule’ here. Nobody leaves until they’ve gained five pounds!” Nikki laughed.

People from all over the world come to hunt in Harney County because it’s an unparalleled experience. “The only thing that compares is shooting doves in Argentina,” Justin said. “They get more shooting at live animals here than any where else.”

As evidence of a positive experience, Diamond A Guides has a 92 percent return rate.

The Aamodts are no strangers to being guides or to being customer-service oriented.

Justin attended guide school in Montana in 1990 and then learned about the importance of customer service when he worked for Les Schwab.

Nikki’s father is the founder of Mah-Hah Outfitters in Fossil and “learned the ropes” while helping him. “We take care of everything we can control — good food, cleanliness, friendly atmosphere,” Nikki said. “There are things we can’t control, like the weather, but we do our best at that, too, like letting people who are coming know the weather forecasts.”

The Aamodts admit there is something unexpected that seems to pop up every year, but they take it in stride and keep moving forward.

The effects on the county’s economy is a step in the right direction.

The landowners not only get paid for leasing their land, they also don’t have to worry about expenses for damage to property. Another benefit is having less damage done to the alfalfa crop. “The sage rats are actually Belding’s ground squirrels and, according to Oregon State University, each squirrel can eat more than 14 pounds of alfalfa in three months’ time,” Justin said. “In a 200-acre field, there can be close to 10,000 squirrels. So you do the math, and that’s a lot of alfalfa.”

John Opie, whose dad, Don, leases land to the Aamodts, said having the hunters on their land is a big benefit. “Getting the rats killed is probably the best benefit, and they bring in some guys that don’t miss,” Opie said. “There’s a tremendous amount of destruction from the sage rats. What they don’t eat, they cover up with dirt or they destroy roots.”

Opie added that his family used to let anyone shoot, but dealing with the Aamodts works a lot better. “Dad gets a little bit of money for the lease, we can tell others not to trespass and we know who we’re dealing with. It’s nice to know if anything does happen, they’ll take care of it.”

Diamond A Guides also counts on local businesses for their supplies. “We do a lot of business with Thriftway, B&B Sporting Goods, Parr Lumber and Big R,” Nikki said.

There’s also money spent by guests at gas stations, restaurants, stores, shops and, for those who fly in, the airport.

“Landowners will get about $30,000 this year and the total amount coming in from the whole community’s support and businesses will be around $500,000. That’s just for an eight-week period,” Justin noted.

In addition, Diamond A Guides employs three people in the kitchen and five guides.

The business
With a bit of pride, Justin noted that they have never had any personal injury accidents in the 10 years they have been in business.

The Aamodts have also worked closely with Oregon State Police game wardens to ensure that all requirements are met. “They know what we’re doing and we work closely with them,” Justin said.

On days of inclement weather, guests may experience a trip to the Round Barn Visitor Center or to the Malheur Cave. “They may bring folks in on the rainy days and I appreciate that,” Dick Jenkins, owner of the visitor center said. “It’s not so much if we sell anything or not, but it’s a chance to explain the heritage and the way of life in Harney County.”

Diamond A Guides also offers coyote hunts and will be offering deer and elk hunts this fall.

“We started this to maybe make some extra money in the spring and it grew into something that’s good for the whole community,” Justin said.

“I think having people come back year after year says a lot,” Nikki said. “Paying attention to the details and giving people what they want is our customer service.”

Tagging carp

Posted on April 11th in Feature Story

After surgically implanting a radio tag, fisheries technician Kris Crowley revives a seven-pound carp before releasing it into Boca Lake. (Submitted photo)

Surgery has gone to the fishes at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

By Carla Burnside
for the Burns Times-Herald

Volunteers and staff at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have been braving the blustery spring weather to capture and implant radio tags in invasive common carp.

Twenty radio tags purchased by the Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation (OWHF) were surgically implanted in carp at Boca Lake on the refuge over the last few weeks. OWHF donated $4,000 for the purchase of the radio tags, which will last for two years. The Harney County Veterinary Clinic donated sterile sutures to be used during the surgical procedures. Each radio tag has a unique frequency, which allows tracking of individual carp movements. The carp are captured alive and anesthetized, have the radios surgically implanted in them and then are revived and released back into the lake.

The radio telemetry project is part of a larger Harney Basin study that will analyze the impacts of invasive carp on area wetlands. Invasive carp are bottom feeders and their activities cause mud to rise in the water column.

When this happens sunlight cannot filter down through the water to stimulate plant growth. Waterfowl and other native fish depend on abundant plant growth in wetlands for feeding, nesting and spawning. When carp populations become too large they literally eat themselves out of house and home by eliminating all plant growth and they turn lush wetlands into wastelands. This not only impacts resident birds and fish, but it has a significant impact on migratory birds passing through the Harney Basin on their way to northern nesting grounds. A reduction in quality wetlands elsewhere in the Pacific Flyway means that Harney Basin wetlands are nationally important for migratory birds.

Boca Lake carp were chosen for the study to provide a controlled research environment to determine carp movements and to explore potential capture techniques to remove large numbers of fish. Twice a month for two years refuge fisheries biologists will track each of the tagged fish to identify their location. GPS coordinates will be used to build maps of population densities, to determine if the carp have seasonal preferences for congregating, where they feed at different times of the year and where they are spawning. These maps will then be used to decide on methods to decrease the number of carp in wetlands and possibly to eliminate carp.
Research elsewhere in the Great Basin indicates that carp often come together in large groups in the winter. If this also occurs in the Harney Basin, it would make it easier to capture large numbers of carp. Researchers involved in the project include Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited, the University of Minnesota, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Harney Basin Soil and Water Conservation District, Malheur Wildlife Associates and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation has expressed interest in helping to raise private funds for carp control in the Harney Basin. The foundation was established in 1981 to receive money for and provide funding to beneficial fish, wildlife and habitat projects throughout Oregon. Over the last 30 years, the foundation has directed over $15 million dollars in monetary support to hundreds of fish and wildlife-related projects.

Whaddya Think?

Which is your favorite Sunday afternoon activity?
  • Watching football (35%)
  • Taking a walk/drive (20%)
  • Napping (18%)
  • Reading (14%)
  • Baking (9%)
  • Playing family games (4%)

85 total vote(s)

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