Marijuana ordinances discussed

Posted on September 2nd in News

City attorney fields questions from council

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

During its regularly-scheduled meeting on Aug. 26, the Burns City Council reviewed and discussed two draft ordinances that would prohibit marijuana establishments in the city, and ban early sales of recreational marijuana by medical marijuana dispensaries.

Jeremy Green, the city’s attorney, telephoned in to the meeting to present the ordinances and answer questions from the council. Green said he had prepared the two ordinances in order to “put the wheels in motion” and facilitate discussion. He said there was no need to adopt them that night, but that he would be looking for feedback in order to move forward for the next couple of meetings.

Green presented the first draft ordinance, which would prohibit six types of marijuana establishments within the limits of the city, and declare an emergency (removing the standard period of 30 days between the passage of the ordinance and its effective date).

The prerequisite to the proposed ordinance is Oregon House Bill 3400 (HB 3400), which was signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown on June 30. HB 3400 contains a “local option” that allows county and city governments, in counties where no less than 55 percent of voters opposed Measure 91, the right to adopt ordinances prohibiting any one (or more) of the six categories of state-licensed or registered marijuana businesses. These include medical marijuana processors, medical marijuana dispensaries, retail marijuana producers, retail marijuana processors, retail marijuana wholesalers, and retail marijuana retailers. The opt-out ordinance must be adopted no later than 180 days after the effective date of the act (Dec. 27, 2015).

Green said the emergency declaration was included because it is “theoretically possible” that a dispensary could initiate the application process prior to the ordinance going into effect.

He noted that the ordinance would prohibit all that HB 3400 allows to be prohibited, and reminded the council that it would not address marijuana growers (growing for personal or medical cardholder use), or the personal use of marijuana.

Before moving on to present the second ordinance, Green asked for comments or questions from the council.

Councilor Terri Presley brought up the time, place, and manner restrictions (TPMs) the council had placed on medical marijuana dispensaries last year.

“Could those same types of restrictions be placed on retail sales?” Presley asked.

Green responded, yes, the city has the ability to adopt TPMs on sales of recreational marijuana.

“I think that’s something to look at,” she said, adding that she didn’t want to see recreational marijuana sales “widespread,” or combined with a medical marijuana dispensary, and that it could be limited to one shop.

“If we opt out, what does it take to opt in?” asked Councilor Dan Hoke.

“A repeal of the ordinance, from my perspective,” Green responded.

Hoke commented that from what he has read on the subject, regulations for retail marijuana sales are still being determined by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC).

“We don’t even have what OLCC is going to determine as reasonable restrictions on recreational marijuana yet,” he said, but added that the deadlines for opting out are clear.

“I guess what I’m saying to the council is, if we opt out, and we find that OLCC puts reasonable restrictions in place, we can opt back in.”

Hoke said one of the concerns is not receiving tax revenue, but said he didn’t think it would be a significant amount.

“So, we could opt out now, look at putting some TPMs in place, wait until OLCC puts restrictions in place, and then revisit the issue,” said Presley.

“I think the idea would be that the opt-out would serve as a de facto moratorium, to provide the city an opportunity to adopt TPMs as they relate to recreational marijuana, and then to repeal the opt-out ordinance,” Green said.

“There are other cities that are approaching it exactly that way,” he added.

Councilor Dennis Davis weighed in:

“I’m afraid that if we adopt the ordinance, hoping that we’ll be able to retract it later, we may not be able to get the toothpaste back in the tube,” he said, explaining that he thought the council might be “a bit more restricted” in reversing the decision later on.

Hoke commented that there are a lot of variables with regard to the OLCC regulations, but there are less variables involved in opting out.

“Who knows what the OLCC is going to implement as far as regulation?” he said. “That’s why I’m of the opinion of opting out. We should let things filter through, and if the council should choose to revisit it, it could.”

Green added a caveat:

“I cannot tell you with any level of certainty,” he said, “as to whether or not if you opt out, and then opt back in, if it will compromise your ability to collect your percentage share of the taxes that the state will otherwise collect with respect to recreational [marijuana] sales.”

He said in his opinion, the city should be entitled to its share if it opts back in, but he can’t guarantee it. He noted that he knows of two or three cities considering an opt-out ordinance as a de facto moratorium.

“They’re weighing whether or not to do it that way, for fear that they may miss out on the tax revenue,” he said. “But I will also tell you that my suspicion is that the tax revenue that the city of Burns may receive from [recreational] sales may not be all that significant.”

Green also reminded councilors that they didn’t necessarily need to make a decision themselves.

“You can refer an ordinance of this nature to your electors if you decide to do so,” he said. Davis commented on Green’s statement:

“The worry I have with handing it out to the electorate, is that it would not be a decision of pragmatism, or empirical evidence, but strictly speaking, a legislation of hatred. They don’t want marijuana, they hate marijuana, and they will legislate it out of existence, simply out of hatred. I think that is a very slippery slope, in both process and precedence, if we as stewards of the city, allow, or even become involved in, those types of activities in which we can propagate the evolution of hatred legislation,” he said.

Councilor Charity Robey responded:

“But as stewards of the city, isn’t it our obligation to hear the people’s opinions? We already know the outcome of [the vote on Measure 91] in this county. I don’t think it’s a hatred – I think if they don’t want it here, they don’t want it here,” she said.

Green presented the second draft ordinance, which would ban early sales of recreational marijuana by medical marijuana dispensaries. Oregon Senate Bill 460 (SB 460), which was signed into law on July 28, authorizes early sales of “limited marijuana retail product” to anyone 21 years of age or older by medical marijuana dispensaries from Oct. 1, 2015 through Dec. 31, 2016. This includes marijuana seeds, dried marijuana leaves and flowers, and marijuana plants that are not flowering.

Pursuant to Section 2 of SB 460, a city may adopt an ordinance prohibiting these early sales of limited marijuana retail product by medical marijuana dispensaries, with no requirement for referral to a general election (in counties where no less than 55 percent of voters opposed Measure 91.) The prohibiting ordinance must be adopted prior to Oct. 1.

Mayor Craig LaFollette said that meant it would need to be voted on at one of next two meetings in September.

“I’d like a little more time on the first one, but I do think we need to ban  the early sales [by medical marijuana dispensaries,]” Presley said.

“We can certainly put both of these ordinances on the agenda for the next meeting, and have discussion,” LaFollette said.

Green said he would finalize the ordinances for the next meeting’s agenda, but said that the council would still be able to make changes to them at that point. There also would be the option to hold off on a vote and table them.

•••

During public comment, Hines Common Council member Hilda Allison spoke about a deer problem in both cities.

“It has gotten to the point in the city of Hines where these deer are very ill – they’re sick and dying – it’s just a terrible situation.”

Allison said she found out the deer are the responsibility of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), and in order to get the animals under control, the only solution is to euthanize them.

She said she has been told that the cities need to join forces and put together a petition to the “upper levels” of the ODFW in order to get something done.

“I know it’s very controversial…some people love the deer, some don’t. But in this instance they’ve become a safety hazard, and they’re just very sick,” Allison said.

•••

In other business, the council:

• heard from City Manager Dauna Wensenk that the street lights on Monroe Street that were hit are on order and would be put in as soon as they arrive;

• approved Resolution No. 15-614, imposing a lien for nuisance and dangerous building abatement at 730 S. Egan Ave.;

• supported the renewals of liquor licenses as recommended by Burns Police Department Chief Newt Skunkcap.

The next meeting of the Burns City Council is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 6 p.m. at Burns City Hall.


Utility rate concerns identified

Posted on September 2nd in News

Deer problem in city discussed

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

After discussing possible utility rate increases for several months, the Hines Common Council was prepared to vote on the proposed resolution at its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 25.

However, City Administrator (CA) Joan Davies told the council she had received correspondence from the city engineer and the city attorney regarding the resolution, and stated the action item had been taken off the agenda.

City Engineer Doug Ferguson submitted a letter to the city that contained nine points of concern:

1) The water system must be self-sustaining and at the present time, it is not.

2) Water rates must satisfy both the short- and long-term needs.

3) Water rates must be assessed in a fair and equitable manner.

4) The current low base rates and usage rate encourage excessive water use, which exacerbates the problem.

5) The city absolutely has to get ALL water consumption metered, as soon as it possibly can.

6) We have started on the Water System Master Plan, which shows many issues at play here. It will not be finished by February, as the council hoped.

7) We hope to present a reasonable and defensible rate structure by the next regular meeting.

8) You are operating as well as anyone can, given the issues, which can be corrected.

9) At this point, the city needs a temporary, and probably emergency, solution to getting sufficient money to operate the system.

The council reviewed current water rates and noted the discrepancies in what is paid by residents, and discussed what could be described as “fair and equitable.”

Councilor Loren Emang said the different amounts paid by water users is not fair at the present time, so an “across-the-board” increase wouldn’t be fair either.

Councilor Rod Bennett commented that to get the water fund to the sustainable amount with an across-the-board increase, the single-family dwellings would bear the brunt of the increase. “Subsidized housing pays just $1.38 per apartment. That’s not fair,” he said.

Councilor Hilda Allison said the committee set up to come up with new water rates had done a good job, and suggested the council invite the attorney to meet with them to understand what the council  perceives as “fair and equitable.”

•••

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Allison said Chuck and Marti Boatman were in attendance to discuss the number of deer in town and their health. Allison said she shared the Boatmans’ concerns, and said something needs to be done.

“These animals are sick,” Allison said. “Euthanize is probably the wrong word to use here, but something needs to be done.”

Mr. Boatman said the deer are the responsibility of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), and he suggested that the council write letters or emails and/or make calls to the head office every other day “until they get tired of hearing about it.” He added the local ODFW employees can’t do anything about the deer population without word from their superiors.

“The animals are sick. They’re wormy, and they’re not getting the nutrition they need. These deer are urbanized. You can’t transplant them, you can’t eat their meat. The only thing you can do is nuke them and bury them” he said.

Boatman added there is also a danger to children walking to school if they happen to get between a doe and her fawn(s). He said dogs have been stomped on by deer, and he even had a doe charge him. He said there are also a number of reports of deer dying in yards, getting hit by vehicles and they bring predators, such as coyotes, into town.

Allison pointed out that residents are feeding the deer human food, and said that’s not good for the deer.

“If anybody is caught feeding the deer, maybe they ought to be socked with a heavy fine,” Boatman said.

“I don’t know what the solution is, but the city council is where it hinges to put pressure on the higher-ups so it would trickle down,” Boatman added.

Allison said Burns has the same problem and she volunteered to attend the Burns City Council meeting the following night to propose the two cities draft a petition to send to ODFW.

•••

The council reviewed four business license applications and approved one, from Trevor Burt for Burt’s Custom fabrication at 201 Hotchkiss Lane.

Edward Nice had applied for a license for Burns One Stop, an auto repair shop, at 105 SE Circle Drive, the site of the old hotel in Hines, and the license was denied by the council.

Larry King of Oregon Road Builders paid for a business license, but when CA Davies checked on the CCB (Construction Contractors Board) license, she discovered King’s license was suspended because he didn’t have insurance on file. Davies said she called King and he told her he would provide proof of insurance the following day, but that didn’t happen. Davies was then informed that work being done at the Shell Station in Hines was being performed by Road Maintenance, licensed under Jack Mullins, (not Oregon Road Builders as she had previously believed). However, Road Maintenance  didn’t have a Hines business license.

Davies then sent a cease and desist letter to King and Mullins, delivered by the police, stating they were to stop paving in Hines until they were able to show a valid CCB license for King, and Mullins obtained a Hines business license.

Mullins did apply for a business license, but the council denied the applications for King and Mullins.

Frank Schmidt was in attendance and said he was upset that King had been issued a business license. Schmidt said his mother had been approached by King to pave her driveway, and by the time he arrived at the house, they had already taken off all the gravel. When Schmidt was told what the cost would be, he told them to get off the property.

CA Davies corrected Schmidt, telling him the city didn’t issue the license at the time King paid for it, that had to be done by the council.

Schmidt said the city should have mechanisms in place to make sure businesses do have a license before offering to perform work, as most scams have to do with home improvement work.

Councilor Dick Baird stated the contractors showed up at his house, he asked to see their business license and requested a quote in writing. When they couldn’t produce a business license, he told them they were required to have one, and they should go to city hall to get one. Baird said the contractor did fill out an application and he assumed it was OK. Baird added that he checked out the work they had done in the area and it looked good, and he stated he was happy with their work. He also conceded some customers might have been over-charged, but that is why they should always get it in writing.

Following the discussion, the council denied the applications for both King and Mullins.

•••

In other business:

• CA Davies reported the city received a letter from a resident stating that he had been chased by dogs while riding his bike, and he wanted the city to remind residents about not letting dogs run free. He said he will carry pepper spray in the future to protect himself.

Police Chief Ryan DeLange stated there have been a lot of dog-at-large complaints this year in both Burns and Hines;

• the city received one sealed bid for seal-coating on SW Circle Drive, and that was from TopLoc in the amount of $30,295. The council approved the bid, with Councilor Ron Williams abstaining from the vote because he owns TopLoc;

• the council approved advertising for bids on crack-sealing on several city streets. Williams once again abstained from voting.

• Public Works Supervisor Jerry Lewellen reported his department had discovered 34 more bad water meters and sent them in for replacements. He added they did get nine meters back.

Lewellen said because of the dry weather, the overflow lagoon is getting dry so he is keeping an eye on it. If it dries up, the lining could crack, causing leaks. He suggested the city look into getting the former Snow Mountain Pine well on-line with the city to pump water into the overflow lagoon in the dry years;

• the council discussed replacing the water fountain at the city park that was damaged by a vehicle. Baird said a water fountain was removed from the Brothers rest area when work was done there, and the city might be able to locate that fountain and put it to use. Davies said she would look into it;

• the council voted to allow DeLange to attend a two-day joint sheriffs/police chiefs conference Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, and the city would pay for meals and the $95 conference fee. DeLange said he hopes to find out more about the recreational marijuana laws while at the conference.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, at city hall.


PIT project held in Malheur National Forest

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

The Passport in Time (PIT) program flag flies, with the archaeological testing site in the background. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

The Passport in Time (PIT) program flag flies, with the archaeological testing site in the background. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

Thousands of years ago, people were regularly visiting – and making tools at – an upland Silvies River site in what is now the Malheur National Forest (MNF).

That’s what archaeological surveys and testing, conducted by MNF archaeology staff and volunteers with the Passport in Time (PIT) program, have indicated.

“This beautiful location, nestled among willows and large Ponderosa pine, may have been a customary stop for early inhabitants as they moved within the forest,” said Pete Cadena, district archaeologist on the Emigrant Creek Ranger District of MNF.

Recently, United States Forest Service (USFS) professionals discovered “a relatively old American Indian spear point estimated to be seven to eight thousand years old,” said Don Hann, archaeologist and heritage program manager at MNF.

PIT volunteers helped staff archaeologists complete archaeological testing at the site this past week, Aug. 17-21, and the information learned will contribute to a better understanding of how the local area was used in the past, said Hann.

The PIT program

PIT is a volunteer program through the USFS. Participants can apply for a variety of archaeological and historic preservation projects in locations around the country. Once selected, they spend one week working with USFS officials and learning about the local area and subject matter.

Cadena described PIT as an “extraordinary program,” and he praised work done by volunteers.

Volunteers at MNF are most often retirees and university students. They receive a “passport” and a PIT passport number. Each time the volunteers help on a project, the project leader stamps the volunteers’ passports and documents their hours.

The process

Cadena said there are usually two PIT projects per year on MNF. One involves lab work with previously-collected artifacts, and the other is field work.

Last week’s project was the latter. Ten volunteers and five archaeology technicians participated throughout the five days, uncovering evidence of a prehistoric toolmaking site.

The week began with a general project overview, as well as safety reminders about staying hydrated and taking breaks during the work. Following that, the group spent a few hours conducting an initial survey, which involves walking across the site in a line, scanning the surface for debitage (rock flakes resulting from the manufacture of stone tools) and other artifacts and placing pin flags at those locations.

The survey continues with shovel test probes. Several spots are selected to examine the subsurface content of the site. Each probe is 50 centimeters by 50 centimeters (about 20 inches by 20 inches) square, and is carefully tested. As each test unit is dug further down, the volunteers and technicians carefully examine the upturned soil, looking for debitage or partial or complete tools. The soil is then placed into buckets and hauled over to one-eighth-inch wire mesh sifting screens, where others work to scour the dirt for smaller flakes remaining.

For every 10 centimeters of depth, a report is filed by one of the archaeological technicians. They note on a grid where larger items were found, soil types encountered, and a variety of other information. The process is repeated until they hit “sterile” soil – the point at which they stop finding the artifacts – or the information needed is acquired.

All collected flakes are bagged and labeled. Cadena said the next step is to start typing them. Obsidian flakes make up the majority of what is found on MNF. They are measured and divided into three categories – primary, secondary, and tertiary. These categories indicate the amount of cortex (the original, rough outer surface of the obsidian) present on the flake – from primary with the most to tertiary with none.

Cadena said this categorization indicates what stages in the manufacturing of projectile points were completed on the site. Primary flakes are those that are taken off first when carving a point. Secondary flakes result as the process progresses, and tertiary flakes are the product of the finishing stages.

If there are an even number of flakes found in each category, it can be inferred that people were starting and finishing tools at the site. That appears to be the case at this site, Cadena explained. A wide range of flakes were found.

Volunteer value

Cadena said everything that’s found is archived, and a final report is written. This provides a baseline of information for those wanting to do further research on this site in the future.

“The reality is, 10 years from now, 20 years from now, somebody could utilize this information even more, so the work [done by the PIT project participants] will just keep going for years and years,” he said.

And Cadena would know. He did his graduate research on MNF. He said the site he studied had five or six PIT projects conducted on it, and that data allowed him to formulate his question and pursue his research.

“For a graduate student, that’s pretty awesome, because you usually don’t get all of that support. In this case, I was able to have my own site and look at data – all because of years and years of PIT volunteers’ hard work,” Cadena said.

But it’s not just the professionals who find value in the projects.

Rick and Mary Gant of the Richland, Wash., area are no strangers to the PIT program. But up until now, they had only done historic preservation projects.

“This is our first adventure in archaeology,” said Rick.

He noted that a complete Elko point had been found during the week.

“It’s pretty humbling, when you find something that was created for hunting a couple thousand years ago, and nobody’s seen it since,” he said.

“It’s been very interesting,” Mary said. She added that in the future she’d like to try other archaeology projects looking at different historical periods. In terms of the work tasks, she said she preferred the digging to the sifting, as she didn’t feel as confident in identifying the smaller pieces to pick out.

“I like to learn new things, but I also want to feel like I’m doing something useful,” she said.

Mary, a retired computer programmer, said she and Rick have not only personally enjoyed participating in PIT projects, but see a bigger meaning behind that participation.

“For years, we have backpacked and done a lot on Forest Service lands, and we felt [volunteering with PIT] was a way to kind of give back a little for all the enjoyment we’ve had,” she said.

Jim Goertzen, a retired counselor from St. Helena, Calif., came to this year’s MNF PIT project with 11 archaeology projects already under his belt. He said he has participated in between one and three projects per summer for the last six years since his retirement. Most were located in California, but PIT has also taken him to Nevada and Arizona. He said there weren’t as many projects offered in his home state this year, so he came to Oregon.

“The projects are a lot of fun, and you get to meet a lot of fun people,” Goertzen said.

He added that he’s enjoyed learning about the ingenuity of prehistoric peoples in the manufacturing of stone tools.

“I just have nothing but respect for them,” he said.

Goertzen said he’s always had a strong interest in history, and after retiring, he thought about going back to school. However, he didn’t want to sit in a classroom – he preferred hands-on experiences. So after reading an article about PIT in American Archaeology magazine, he went for it.

“Here I’m surrounded by university-trained people, and I’m getting way more from them than I would in a classroom in six months. In one week’s time, I’m getting more than 40 hours of classroom time, as far as I’m concerned. It’s really good,” said Goertzen.

On Thursday, volunteers took a break and made a trip to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and at the end of the day on Friday, Cadena provided instruction on using an atlatl, or spear-thrower.

This year was special because it marked the 25th anniversary of the PIT program, and volunteers went home with commemorative pins.

Get involved

The PIT program offers a number of opportunities to volunteers. According to its website, this includes: “archaeological survey and excavation, rock art restoration, archival research, historic structure restoration, oral history gathering, and analysis and curation of artifacts.”

For more information, or to apply for any PIT project around the country, visit www.passportintime.com.


Assistance available for planning efforts

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Jim Rue, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) director, and Jon Jinings, DLCD community services specialist, attended the Harney County Court meeting on Thursday, Aug. 20 to discuss Goal 5, a broad statewide planning goal that covers more than a dozen resources, including wildlife habitats, historic places, and aggregate (gravel).

Originally adopted in 1974, Goal 5 and related Oregon Administrative Rules describe how cities and counties are to plan and zone land to conserve resources listed in the goal.

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty said the court has been discussing whether to complete the Goal 5 process for a while. Although some pieces have been updated, it’s been decades since the county has completed the Goal 5 process entirely.

Grasty said the decision is partially driven by the sage grouse administrative rule that the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) adopted July 24. The rule establishes a procedure for considering development proposals on lands identified as significant sage grouse habitat.

“I think we got the sage grouse administrative rule wrong,” Grasty said. “If there is a reason to do [Goal 5 planning] it’s the potential of advantage for the people who live here.”

Jinings said that, although the county would have to demonstrate that it can provide an equivalent level of sage grouse protection, the Goal 5 process might allow it to “provide those protections in a different way that feels better — feels more right to Harney County.”

Rue agreed that Goal 5 planning could give the county more flexibility.

He said, “If you write it, you write it specific to the county and the needs of the county, which are different from the state, potentially, and are potentially different from adjoining counties.”

However, Rue warned that the county may find Goal 5 planning expensive, labor intensive, and politically difficult.

Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols asked whether Harney County’s people could be listed as a significant resource in the goal.

Grasty added, “We think people are a significant resource. To protect them, we are going to protect 100 percent of their property. The state rule now says we can only protect 3 percent of their property. The rest is out of bounds.”

He explained that the LCDC rule limits direct impacts from human-caused disturbance to no more than 3 percent of any core area of sage grouse habitat.

Rue replied that this would only apply to uses beyond agriculture and forestry.

However, Nichols explained that many agriculture businesses are required to diversify in order to support their operations.

Rue replied, “As long as there is a direct connection to crops being grown on the land, it’s outright permitted.”

“There is no prohibition on someone making an application for anything,” Jinings added. “There will be things that are harder to justify based on the way the rule operates, but there is a whole menu of things that don’t require consideration at all.”

However, Grasty said he feared that the “conservation community” would litigate some of these decisions.

Additionally, he asked whether habitat mapping could be reevaluated if new studies are conducted.

Jinings said he thought a different mapping arrangement could be considered, but it would have to be backed by substantial evidence and completed by people who have “the right credentials to make those calls.”

He added, “At this point, I don’t think we should take any ideas off the table,” explaining that he’s willing to work with the county to come up with creative solutions.

Rue added that financial and technical assistance would be available for the county to assist with Goal 5 planning.

Grasty said that, if the county decides to engage in the Goal 5 process, it’d focus on more than just sage grouse. He explained that the county’s people, culture and customs would need to be counted among its significant resources.

“Our job is to protect the people in the place, not to protect the birds,” he said.

Grasty concluded that the court will need to decide whether it makes sense to take on the Goal 5 process. And, if so, the court will need to decide how much of the process it can afford to complete.

“You’ve got the hard task of deciding whether or not to pursue [Goal 5],” Rue said.

Grasty thanked Rue and Jinings for working with the court.

•••

The court agreed to appoint new members and ratify current members serving on the Local Community Advisory Council (LCAC).

Subsequently, Grasty mentioned that the county’s public health and home health and hospice programs “have become incredibly expensive,” and the county may want to consider contracting them out to other entities.

“If we keep funding these programs at the level that we are, we will be cutting something else,” he said.

Nichols said, “The community may be happy spending those funds.” However, he added that, “it’s a pretty necessary discussion if the budgetary needs are what they are.”

Grasty said, “I don’t like us even having to have this conversation, but I think we have to.” He added, “If we do this, we have to make sure that we do it strategically and in a manner that makes sense to the community.”

He suggested holding open houses to engage the community in the discussion. He said he’d also like to involve the LCAC and asked to include the conversation on the council’s next meeting agenda.

•••

The court also discussed Intergovernmental Agreement 5119 between Harney County and the state of Oregon for correctional services.

Grasty also complimented Community Corrections Director Lodi Presley for the work she’s doing.

“She’s flat making a difference,” he said.

Grasty said Presley has been looking at options to secure transitional housing for people who’ve been recently released from prison, explaining that the county has been paying for them to stay in hotel rooms, which is not cost effective. Hotel staff have also expressed that they will not house sex offenders.

Grasty said the tenants would have to meet certain stipulations in order to live in the county’s transitional housing. For example, they’d be obligated to keep the house clean and maintained. They’d also have to abstain from drug and alcohol use, among other requirements.

Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels suggested putting some of these people to work at Rimrock Recycling.

“I think that’s a great idea,” Grasty replied, adding that they’d have the opportunity to learn work skills and earn money to pay restitution.

Ultimately, the court agreed to postpone signing the agreement until they can review the document more carefully.

•••

Veterans Service Officer Guy McKay attended the meeting to provide an update on veterans services.

McKay reported that he’s enjoyed working with Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Cameron Smith.

McKay also reported that, last year, he used a portion of program funding to advertise veterans services, and the response was incredible. He garnered more than 100 new clients.

This year, McKay said he’d like to use some program funding to hire a part-time receptionist who can help him manage his appointments, as he hopes to add another 100 clients in the next 18 months.

McKay also announced that veterans will receive free admission to the Harney County Fair, Rodeo and Race Meet on Saturday, Sept. 12.

“You’ve done a great job, and we appreciate it,” Grasty told McKay.

•••

In other business, the court:

• upon recommendation from Harney County Watershed Council (HCWC) Coordinator Karen Moon, appointed Rachel Beaubian, Susan Ramsey and Pat Sharp to the HCWC;

• approved an application from Tree Top Ranches to name a road on their private property Brown Ranch Lane;

• discussed a letter from Harney County Weed Control Supervisor Jim Campbell regarding Medusahead treatments. Grasty said he believed there was plenty of room in the budget to provide the treatments, but said the budget may need to be revisited in the future;

• received a letter from Kimberly Lindsay, Grant County Health Department administrator, stating that Community Counseling Solutions (doing business as Grant County Health Department) decided to terminate its contract with Harney County for drinking water services. Lindsay explained that Ray Huff is retiring Aug. 31, and the department has been unable to recruit and retain certified personnel to replace him. As a result, Grant County will return its drinking water program back to the state. Grasty said Harney County will need to do the same;

• received a letter from Susan Christensen of the Department of Environmental Quality regarding a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event to be held in Burns Oct. 3;

• learned from Grasty that there was a jet fuel spill on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land near Coleman Creek. No one was injured, and a BLM hazmat crew was able to clean up and contain the spill;

• learned from Harney County Roads Supervisor Eric Drushella that the Oregon Department of Transportation agreed with the court’s suggestion to set the speed zone on Stanclift Lane from Foley Drive to Eben Ray Lane to 35 mph.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the county court will be held Wednesday, Sept. 2, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.


Harney County Dollars for Scholars would like to announce fall scholarships available for Harney County students who have completed at least one year of college.

The scholarships available are as follows:

• The Alycia Jenkins Memorial Ag Scholarship, started with a donation from Wilbur-Ellis Company. Founded in 1921, Wilbur Ellis is a leading international marketer and distributor of agricultural products, animal feed and specialty chemicals and ingredients. This scholarship is for students majoring in agriculture.

• Richard Hotchkiss Memorial Scholarship for agriculture students who have attained at least junior  status.

• Marion Lashbaugh Memorial Scholarship for female students attending Oregon State University.

• Helen Figg Memorial Scholarship for students majoring in school counseling or teaching.

• Olive Bridge Fund Scholarship for teaching majors or majors in the health sciences.

• Harney County Dollars for Scholars scholarships are available for all majors.

The deadline for applying for these scholarships is Sept. 30, 2015.

To complete an application, students need to access the Dollars for Scholars website and complete an online profile to see if they are eligible. The website may be accessed by searching for Harney County Dollars for Scholars, and selecting the “Students and Parents” tab.

If students have questions or are having difficulty with the website, please call Debbie at 541-573-3956 or email darntz@centurytel.net.


City’s lien on bowling alley property discussed 

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

A discussion of whether the city of Burns should “opt out” of allowing certain types of marijuana businesses was a main agenda item at the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Burns City Council on Wednesday, Aug. 12.

The council heard from the city’s attorney, Jeremy Green, about two bills signed into law this summer pertaining to marijuana sales in the state.

Green, telephoning in to the meeting, first explained Oregon House Bill 3400 (HB 3400), and the modifications it makes to Measure 91 (the 2014 ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana in the state).

HB 3400 was signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown on June 30. It contains a “local option” that allows county and city governments, in counties where no less than 55 percent of voters opposed Measure 91, the right to adopt ordinances prohibiting any one (or more) of the six categories of state-licensed or registered marijuana business. These businesses include medical marijuana processors, medical marijuana dispensaries, retail marijuana producers, retail marijuana processors, retail marijuana wholesalers, and retail marijuana retailers. The opt out ordinance must be adopted no later that 180 days after the effective date of the act (Dec. 27, 2015).

Green noted that Harney County voted against Measure 91 by more than 65 percent, so the city council could pursue the ordinance if so desired. He reminded the council that such an ordinance would not address marijuana growers (growing for personal or medical cardholder use), or the personal use of marijuana.

Green then explained Oregon Senate Bill 460 (SB 460), which was signed into law on July 28. SB 460 authorizes early sales of recreational marijuana by medical marijuana dispensaries. From Oct. 1, 2015 through Dec. 31, 2016, medical marijuana dispensaries may sell “limited marijuana retail product” to anyone 21 years of age or older. This includes marijuana seeds, dried marijuana leaves and flowers, and marijuana plants that are not flowering.

Pursuant to Section 2 of SB 460, a city may adopt an ordinance prohibiting these early sales of limited marijuana retail product by medical marijuana dispensaries, with no requirement for referral to a general election. The prohibiting ordinance must be adopted prior to Oct. 1.

Councilor Terri Presley asked Green who would be overseeing marijuana sales? Green said the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) will monitor recreational marijuana sales, and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) controls medical marijuana.

Councilor Dan Hoke asked what considerations should be made with regard to opting out, other than not being able to collect taxes?

Green said that because growers are not included in the prohibition ordinance, additional regulations on that activity could be considered, although they may face legal challenge.

Presley asked if the city could pick which categories of marijuana business to opt out of with the ordinance? Green replied, yes, the city could choose to ban any number or all of them.

The consensus of the council was to have Green draft an ordinance and to discuss it at the next council meeting on Aug. 26, and then to hold a vote in September.

During public comment,  Dr. Tom Fitzpatrick stated support for an opt out ordinance:

“I think it’s important to address the total ban option we have. I’m glad it was brought up…I think it’s important that this particular council address it like you’re doing.”

Kim Rollins said the economic issues need to be considered. He noted that marijuana will still be legal in Oregon even if the city adopts a ban on the businesses, and people will go elsewhere to spend their money. He also said that taxes from marijuana could help support mental health and substance abuse programs.

“I also think it’s important to address what has been brought before you. I think it’s also very important that you not overlook the things that are not being discussed – one being the economic situation in Harney County,” said Rollins. He added, “By 2018, the legal marijuana business in the United States will be at $10 billion. Why would these cities or this county pass up that money?”

•••

Regarding the medical marijuana dispensary currently operating in Burns, Green stated:

“As of now, you should know that despite our efforts for the past three or four months, we still do not have a completed application for our existing [medical marijuana] dispensary operator. We have given this dispensary operator multiple opportunities to comply.”

He said the operator has paid the application fee, but the application remains incomplete.

“It may ultimately result in pulling the plug on the business,” Green added.

He said that if the prohibiting ordinance is adopted, it will either result in revocation of the dispensary’s right to operate, or it may be grandfathered in. If it is the latter, the dispensary would still be subject to the time, place and manner restrictions that the city has already imposed, and no other dispensaries would be allowed to be located within the limits of the city.

Green said because of legal implications, he would want to discuss further details in an executive session.

The council agreed to schedule an executive session with Green prior to the next regularly-scheduled council meeting on Aug. 26.

•••

Green also addressed the topic of city’s lien on the former bowling alley property.

He said it is up to the city to decide if they want to pursue the foreclosure lien on the property. The city has held a junior lien on it since 2009. The senior lien holder foreclosed in the spring of 2013, but failed to provide proper notice of the foreclosure proceedings, Green said. Therefore, the city can challenge those proceedings by initiating its own. He said that it could be done through the city ordinance, through a statutory process, or through a judicial process.

Mayor Craig LaFollette said he would like more information on the legal costs and risks of pursuing the lien.

Green said his law partner, Mark Reinecke (who had been involved in the issue previously), would produce a memorandum that summarizes the issues and identifies the risks of pursuing the various options for the next meeting.

•••

Burns Fire Department Chief Scott Williamson announced that the department had received a grant  in the amount of $9,988 from the Oregon Volunteer Firefighters Association to purchase a variety of equipment and gear.

LaFollette took the opportunity to recognize Williamson’s achievement of the title of Company Inspector on the Oregon Fire and Life Safety Competency Recognition levels. He presented him with a certificate from the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal. A company inspector “performs basic fire safety inspections in one and two story business and mercantile occupancies with no high-piled or rack storage.”

“It allows me to go in and work with business owners to make sure their establishments are safe for the public,” said Williamson. He added that he is continuing to work up through the levels.

“My goal is to eventually get to the fourth level, which is ‘Fire Marshal’,” said Williamson.

LaFollette thanked him for his hard work.

•••

City Manager (CM) Dauna Wensenk reported that the airport taxiway rehabilitation project bid came in unexpectedly high, and that there would be a re-bid in November. She said she has talked to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about possible grant monies.

CM Wensenk also reported that Betsy Johnson, Oregon state senator from the 16th district, flew in to Burns Tuesday for a visit, and she gave her a tour of the city.

•••

Public Works Director Dave Cullens introduced Pedro Zabala, who will be replacing him starting Sept. 1. He reported that they have been busy clearing brush.

•••

In other business, the council:

• approved Resolution No. 15-612, accepting certain identified revenues from the Harney County Circuit Court for additional overtime from a recent court trial to be added back to a budget line for that officer;

• approved resolution No. 15-613, authorizing the second payment on the loan from the LID fund to the water/sewer fund to cover the city’s portion of the Burns Municipal Airport fire suppression project;

• heard from Councilor Dan Hoke regarding the Burns Cemetery. The cemetery manager has been ill and unable to work. The cemetery committee will be working to keep up on maintenance. Hoke said that any help from the community would be welcomed. To volunteer, please contact Dick Day at 541-573-7481.

The next meeting of the Burns City Council will be held Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 6 p.m. at Burns City Hall.


Michael Robinson was last seen on July 29

On Aug. 4, the Harney County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a vehicle that was parked along Highway 20 mile marker 102 near Riley.

After the deputy conducted a vehicle registration check, it returned to a missing person from Bend. After contacting Bend Police Department, they advised that a Michael Robinson, 23, was missing. The last known contact was on July 29. Robinson is said to have a black lab with him that goes by the name “Charlie.” Charlie is said to be wearing a maroon collar and an American flag bandana.

The Harney County Sheriff’s Office did a foot search near the vehicle on Aug. 4, but nothing suggested the whereabouts of Robinson. The next day, Aug. 5, the Harney County Search and Rescue deployed two Polaris Rangers and four personnel which conducted a wider search of the surrounding area. Again, nothing was located to suggest the whereabouts of Robinson. On Aug. 7, the Harney County Sheriff’s Office conducted an aerial search of the area and again, nothing suggested the whereabouts of Robinson.

Robinson is described as six feet tall, 160 pounds, with blue eyes and blonde hair. Last clothing description was described as a white t-shirt and blue jeans. The Harney County Sheriff’s Office is asking if seen, please call the Harney County Sheriff’s Office at 541-573-6028 or Bend Police Department at 541-322-2960.


Theft at Riley Store investigated

Posted on August 19th in News

Any information should be reported to Sheriff’s Office

On Aug. 6, the Harney County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation into a theft complaint at the Riley Store. The investigation yielded the following description: a single black male, in his early to mid-20s, approximately 5’5” to 5’8”, 140-to-150 pounds, with no shirt and wearing green BDU style pants. The suspect was driving a silver or light blue 4-door sedan. A temporary sticker was in the driver’s side rear window. No plates were visible. The vehicle was said to be smoking and possibly in poor mechanical shape. The vehicle may have left heading west on Highway 20.

Any information regarding the whereabouts of the suspect or the vehicle should be directed to the Harney County Sheriff’s Office at 541-573-6156.


Speed zone on Stanclift Lane discussed

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

During the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Court held Wednesday, Aug. 5, the court heard from Brenda Smith, executive director of the High Desert Partnership.

Smith gave a presentation on the 2015 High Desert Youth Range Camp, held June 17-20 at the Northern Great Basin Experimental Range near Riley. Twenty-four high school student participants from around the region learned about soils, plants, and wildlife, among other things, and were able to talk with ranchers and range and wildlife scientists.

Smith said that numerous positive comments were received, and she thanked the court for the two scholarships that the county funded. She also reported that one of the Harney County participants, Tyler Thomas, was named “top camper.” Thomas will attend the Society for Range Management High School Youth Forum at the annual conference in February 2016, in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols praised the program:

“It’s an excellent program. It brings these young people into our community so they start to see the value of rangelands, which is one of the last remaining resource values we have,” he said.

•••

Harney County Roads Supervisor Eric Drushella and the court discussed the results of a speed zone investigation that had been conducted on Stanclift Lane from Foley Drive to Eben Ray Lane by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). ODOT recommended that the speed be set at 40 mph. The court concluded that 35 mph would be safer for the area, and it was agreed that Drushella would respond to ODOT with justifications for this speed recommendation, and report back at the next meeting.

•••

The court heard from Nichols and Karen Moon, Harney County Watershed Council coordinator, regarding the water rights rulemaking process going on relative to the Harney Basin.

Nichols reported that the local advisory committee had held its second meeting. He commented that the whole process was too hurried, and that there hasn’t been enough time to review information.

Nichols added that they want to keep the focus on the administrative rule amendments that have been proposed, and also to get more people and organizations involved collaboratively in the process. He presented the court with a map of the Harney Basin/Greater Harney Valley Area from the Oregon Water Resources Department, and it was discussed.

•••

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty gave a brief update on sage grouse news.

He said the two administrative rules pertaining to development in sage grouse habitat from the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) and the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) are now in place. The United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) is expected to determine whether sage grouse should be proposed for an Endangered Species Act listing or removed from the candidate list in September 2015.

“We put in comments on everything that we could on the federal level, so now it’s wait and see what happens in September,” said Grasty.

•••

Grasty briefly discussed the Decision Notice, Finding of No Significant Impact, and Forest Plan Amendment No. 79 for the Wolf Vegetation Management Project Environmental Assessment. The document was made available for the commissioners to review.

•••

In other business, the court:

• approved the appointment of Lisa Howe to the Harney County Library Advisory Board, with a term to expire June 30, 2019;

• reviewed correspondence from the Bureau of Land Management, Burns District – an Environmental Assessment, Finding of No Significant Impact and Decision Record for the South Steens Herd Management Area Population Management Plan;

• reviewed correspondence from Shana Withee, county leader for 4-H youth development and family community health, requesting $2,000 for the Harney County 4-H Camp;

• reviewed correspondence from the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, regarding the distribution of funds to counties;

• briefly discussed the August 2015 Employment Department Labor Trends report;

• reviewed and signed the 2015 Fund Exchange Agreement between Harney County and ODOT;

• reviewed water use requests;

• agreed by consensus to reschedule the next county court meeting to Thursday, Aug. 20, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.


 

 

 

A lightning-caused fire located approximately six miles southeast of Crane (in the Alder Creek area) was quickly doused Tuesday by two large air tankers out of Redmond, one DC-10 air tanker out of Moses Lake, Wash., seven single-engine air tankers, two helicopters, two bulldozers, two water tenders, and several fire engines. The fire was most active to the southeast and was pushing up to Crane-Venator Road, but was held on that border throughout the evening. The total burned was approximately 1,045 acres. (Photo by JEFF GRAHAM)

A lightning-caused fire located approximately six miles southeast of Crane (in the Alder Creek area) was quickly doused Tuesday by two large air tankers out of Redmond, one DC-10 air tanker out of Moses Lake, Wash., seven single-engine air tankers, two helicopters, two bulldozers, two water tenders, and several fire engines. The fire was most active to the southeast and was pushing up to Crane-Venator Road, but was held on that border throughout the evening. The total burned was approximately 1,045 acres. (Photo by JEFF GRAHAM)


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