by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Thanks to a grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, the city of Burns will make more improvements at the Burns Cemetery.

At the Burns City Council meeting Wednesday, June 24, it was announced that the city had received a $5,300 grant to go toward creating a burial information center in the chapel at the cemetery. The match amount for the city is $7,300, which includes volunteer and employee time, brings the total cost of the project to $12,600.

Dick Day, a member of the cemetery committee, told the council the chapel will be repainted and maps, showing the sections and grave locations in the cemetery, will be placed inside. He added that city hall will also have a map of the cemetery and index so if someone comes in looking for information, city hall staff can provide it in an efficient manner.

Councilor Dan Hoke noted that Lois Taylor had spent numerous hours making sure grave locations were correct and creating a data base, and thanked her and the others for their work on the project.

Day, Taylor, Jackie Caizza and Jan Cupernall worked on the specifics and submitted the grant request to the state.


City Manager (CM) Dauna Wensenk reported they had received eight applications for the public works director position and there were six candidates that she would like to be interviewed for the position.

The council discussed possible dates to conduct interviews and decided to hold them Wednesday, July 8, beginning at 9 a.m.


Deputy Tax Collector Karen Zabala was present to discuss with the council  the foreclosure process regarding four properties in the city that had been designated as nuisances and dangerous buildings.

Zabala explained the redemption process and time lines for each location and identified the Oregon statutes that apply to the proceedings.

Later in the meeting, the council approved Resolution No. 15-608 ordering the nuisance at 730 South Egan to be abated, and the dangerous building at the same location to be removed.


CM Wensenk stated the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had contacted the city and had recognized they had underpaid the city $14,267.23 in rental payments from March 1, 2006, to Feb. 29, 2016 for the BLM facility at the Burns Municipal Airport. She explained their lease year begins in March and they will continue to the city the same amount they are currently paying through February 2016. After that date, the adjusted rental amounts will go into effect and will be paid on an annual basis.


Regarding the automated irrigation system at Triangle Park, CM Wensenk stated the city received one bid for the project. She stated there are only two licensed landscape companies in Harney County, and the bid received was from Paul Everett Bradley — Landscape Services in the amount of $18,499.

The council voted unanimously to accept the bid.


Harney County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chelsea Harrison told the council the Burns Paiute Tribe had established a strategic plan, and the plan included liquidating merchandise stored in the tribe’s building on North Broadway.

Harrison asked the council for permission to close off A Street next to the building July 10-11 so the merchandise can be moved into the street for the sale.

The council approved the request.


The council approved Resolution No. 15-605, allowing the city to apply for $50,000 from the state of Oregon to be used for street repair.

The work includes a chip sealing project on West Pierce Street and crack sealing Railroad and South Egan avenues.

The council approved Resolution No. 15-606, a resolution adopting the budget in the amount of $6,875,030, making appropriations and imposing and categorizing taxes.

The council also approved Resolution No. 15-607, setting the rates for water and sewer services provided by the city, pursuant to the water and sewer ordinance.

Mayor Craig LaFollette stated the city has a system in place that includes a table of scheduled rates created to keep the water and sewer fund solvent.

The resolution includes a 1 percent increase to water rates and a 3 percent increase to sewer rates.


In other business:

• the council approved an application from Burns Elks Lodge No. 1680 to hold a street dance, with beer garden, from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 4;

• the council reviewed a liquor license application from Jeff Evans of the Beer and Smoke Shop at 493 South Kearney. Mayor LaFollette said a letter from Police Chief Newt Skunkcap accompanied the application, and Skunkcap recommended denying the application.

During a discussion, Skunkcap stated Evans wasn’t truthful on some questions he answered during the process.

It was pointed out that even of the city denied the application, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission could still grant a license.

Councilor Hoke determined that alcohol wasn’t sold on the premises before Evans bought the business, so if the problems were taken care, Evans could then re-apply.

“I just want to give him a chance,” Hoke said.

The council voted to deny the application;

• Harrison reported the Seven Wonders of Harney County ad was on the back cover of the June issue of the Cascade A&E magazine, and presented a copy to each councilor.

She said that arts and entertainment have been in the top five of searches on the chamber’s website for the past two years, and the magazine is a great way to promote the local events in Central Oregon.

She also reminded those in attendance of the activities planned for the Fourth of July;

• CM Wensenk recommended that Dawn Crafts be appointed to the position of city clerk on July 1, and she hoped to have the position of accounts receivable/payroll clerk filled by Aug. 1;

• The council also reviewed  a request for refueling and de-icing fees at the airport from Airport Manager Jeff Cotton.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 8, at city hall.

Bishop reports on the state of the district

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Harney District Hospital (HDH) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jim Bishop began the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Health District Board of Directors (held June 24) with a presentation detailing the district’s history. The district is celebrating its 25-year anniversary July 1.

“Elected leaders and community volunteers looked to the future and did what’s right, instead of what’s easy,” Bishop said regarding the formation of the district. “Honestly, I think they were crazy or half crazy to think they could pull this off.”

He added that the district achieved all five of the top goals that were put forward when it was founded, and he encouraged the board to continue its efforts to ensure another 25 years of success.


Bishop, who is retiring after nearly 15 years of service, provided the board with his final State of the Harney County Health District report.

He reported that there are more than 180 full and part-time positions within the district, and employment will continue to rise. For example, two new family practice doctors and their support staff are being hired. Additionally, HDH Family Care clinic will add staff to increase outreach and expand hours of operation to six full days per week.  Behavioral health services will also be added to the clinic, and the district will add surgical staff as procedure numbers increase.

According to Bishop, employee surveys indicate that job satisfaction is above average. He added that employee wages and benefits exceed $1 million per month, adding significantly to the local economy.

Bishop observed slow declines in inpatient census, which he attributed to regulatory changes that promote shorter inpatient stays,  as well as efforts to promote population health and reduce readmissions. However, he stated that increases in outpatient procedures “more than offset” these small declines. He also noted that there’s been an increase in Medicaid-insured and Veterans Affairs patients.

Bishop also reported that the Paragon hospital information system was installed one year ago, and, although there have been some “bumps in the road,” overall performance has been good. In fact, HDH is one of less than 20 percent of hospitals in the United States that has achieved Meaningful Use II compliance. Meaningful use sets specific objectives for using certified electronic health record technology. Hospitals and eligible professionals must achieve these objectives to qualify for incentive programs. In addition to the expected reimbursement from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, HDH is qualified for a significant bonus.

Bishop wrote that, “In the 25 years of the health district’s existence, its financial health has never been better.”

He explained that, several years ago, the board and administration agreed to hold a minimum level of cash and use any excess to pay extra on the district’s higher interest, long-term debt. At least $800,000 in additional debt reduction is planned for this coming year.

Regarding the district’s future, Bishop stated that providers have embraced health care reforms, which move away from the historic procedure-based healthcare model to focus on wellness, prevention, health outcomes, and cost moderation. The district is achieving leadership in a number of areas, including patient-centered medical home status, care management, close coordination of care and follow up between HDH and the clinic, and adding behavioral health to the clinic. Bishop stated his belief that these efforts will continue to help the district obtain grants, receive fair compensation for services, and recruit and maintain providers and staff.

“I think the health district is well-positioned to move forward into this exciting and challenging future,” he concluded.


The board agreed to approve the 2015-2016 Workplan Goals, which include attracting and retaining high-quality employees, expanding services to address community needs, continuously improving district operations, strengthening the financial base, and developing excellence in reputation and service to the community.


The budget hearing was opened at the beginning of the board meeting, and  budget committee chair Fred Flippence recommended approving the budget with a 4 percent price increase.

HDH Chief Financial Officer Catherine White explained that a 5 percent increase was originally proposed, but the budget committee elected to reduce the increase to 4 percent in order to keep rates as low as possible for the community. She added that each percentage point affects the budget’s bottom line by $150,000.

Board secretary Susan Doverspike noted that Rite Aid is in the process of coming on board with the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which will bring  “a significant chunk of change” to the district that it’s not accustom to receiving.

She added that, prior to committing funds to the proposed clinic remodel, she’d like to pay down debt.

White said she’s working with the Bank of Eastern Oregon on lowering a loan’s interest rate from 6.75 percent to 4.5 percent, which would save approximately $600,000 over the 15 years remaining on the loan. She added that she needs the board’s approval to “get the ball rolling.”

The board agreed to authorize White to move forward with investigation to lower the interest rate.

Upon recommendation from White, the board also agreed to switch the  credit card vendor from Umpqua Bank to Bank of Eastern Oregon.

After closing the hearing, the board agreed to approve the budget for fiscal year 2015-2016, as presented.

Board member Ann Vloedman abstained from  voting to avoid a potential conflict, as her husband is a hospital employee.

The board also passed Resolution 2016-01 adopting the annual budget for fiscal year 2015-2016 in the total amount of $30,955,328, making appropriations, and imposing and categorizing a tax rate of $1.9314 per $1,000 of assessed value.


Board members Tim Smith and Preston Jannsen were recognized and thanked for their service on the board, as both of their terms are ending.

Both Smith and Jannsen thanked the board for the opportunity to serve. Smith also expressed his appreciation for HDH staff, especially White and Bishop.

Vloedman moved to wait another month and continue advertising efforts before filling the board’s vacant positions.

Doverspike seconded the motion, and board chair Dan Brown voted in favor of it. Smith and Jannsen abstained from voting, so the motion passed with two abstentions.


In other business, the board:

• is waiting to hear back from its attorney regarding the Harney County Health District Bylaws;

• learned from HDH Development Coordinator Denise Rose that an architecture company will be on site July 7 to look at the clinic and learn more about team-based care. However, the actual construction phase is not planned in this year’s budget;

• upon recommendation from HDH Human Resources Manager Sammie Masterson, approved Policy 915.HR.309 “Employee Vaccinations and TB Testing” and Policy 915.HR.201 “Drug Free Workplace;”

• received a report from  Clinic Manager Stacie Rothwell, stating that the clinic hired Richard Friday, a behaviorist who will start July 13. She also reported that the clinic began the process of re-attesting to the Oregon Health Authority for Primary Care Medical Home designation;

• approved policies 100.115 “Special Committees,” 100.120 “Removing Board Members,” and 100.125 “Strategic Planning” without changes;

• granted medical staff privileges to Luther Hemphill, certified registered nurse anesthetist (anesthesiology); Nicholas CB Branting, MD (radiology); Henry Elder, MD (psychology); and Dr. Heidi Vanyo (family practice);

• re-appointed Laura Schaben, MD (neurology) to medical staff.

The next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 22 in the hospital board conference room.

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

As of today, July 1, the Burns Times-Herald is under new ownership.

TGRF Media, owned by Randy Fulton and Terry Graham, has purchased the newspaper from Survival Media, LLC, who owned the paper since 2006.

Two of Graham’s sons, Jeff and Nolan, are moving to Harney County from the Portland area to assume duties at the paper. Jeff and his wife, Becky, have four sons, and Nolan and his wife, Brenda, have two sons and a daughter.

Ridin’ high

Posted on July 1st in News
Clint Johnson, a native of Harney County, was one of the competitors in the “Challenge of Champions” bull-riding competition on Saturday, June 27, at the Harney County Fairgrounds. For more photos, please see page 17. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

Clint Johnson, a native of Harney County, was one of the competitors in the “Challenge of Champions” bull-riding competition on Saturday, June 27, at the Harney County Fairgrounds. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

A crash involving two motorcycles and a pickup occurred on Highway 20 near Sage Hen rest area on Thursday. (Submitted photo)

A crash involving two motorcycles and a pickup occurred on Highway 20 near Sage Hen rest area on Thursday. (Submitted photo)

According to Oregon State Police (OSP) Sergeant Brian Williams, on June 18, at about 3:43 p.m., a 2009 Harley Davidson motorcycle, operated by Steven A. Gale, 71, of Montara, Calif., rear-ended another motorcycle on Highway 20 at milepost 114 (near Sage Hen rest area). The other motorcycle, a 2008 Harley Davidson, operated by Robert Resch, 65, of Half Moon Bay, Calif., lost control and crashed on the highway. Resch and his passenger, Janet Kluzik, 54, of Half Moon Bay, Calif., were both ejected.

After striking Resch’s motorcycle, Gale’s motorcycle veered into the path of a 2011 Ford F250 head-on. Gale was deceased upon arrival of emergency crews. The occupants of the F250, Richard Chernabaeff and Kristine Chernabaeff, both of Kerman, Calif., were not injured.

Resch was taken to Harney District Hospital for minor injuries. His passenger, Kluzik, was taken to Saint Charles Medical Center in Bend by air ambulance for serious injuries.

Preliminary information indicates Gale and Resch had been traveling together when they became separated. It appears Gale was traveling at a high rate of speed when he collided with Resch, who had just pulled out from Sage Hen rest area.

OSP was assisted at the scene by the Harney County Sheriff’s Office, Hines Police Department and the Oregon Department of Transportation. The investigation is still continuing and information will be released when it is available.

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Glen Allen Hudspeth

Glen Allen Hudspeth

On Tuesday, June 16, Glen Allen Hudspeth was found guilty by a 12-person Harney County Circuit Court jury of rape, sodomy and sexual abuse, and was remanded to custody pending sentencing on June 29.

The trial, which included two cases and 10 counts against Hudspeth, lasted 10 days, and the jury deliberated for two hours before coming back with guilty verdicts on all 10 counts.

In the first case, Hudspeth was found guilty of sodomy in the first degree (forcible compulsion), sodomy in the first degree (mental defect), sexual abuse in the first degree (forcible compulsion), sexual abuse in the first degree (mental defect), sexual abuse in the second degree, and sodomy in the third degree.

In the second case, Hudspeth was found guilty of rape in the first degree (forcible compulsion), rape in the first degree (mental defect), sexual abuse in the second degree and rape in the third degree.

On Dec. 31, 2013, the Harney County Sheriff’s Office conducted a criminal investigation into the sexual abuse of a 15-year-old female in rural Harney County.

Following the investigation, a warrant was issued for Hudspeth, who turned himself in to the Harney County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 6.

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

A group of concerned citizens, local government  officials, and agency representatives met Tuesday, June 16, at the Harney County Senior and Community Services Center to discuss forest access in relation to the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision. The relationship between the Forest Plan Revision and Travel Management Rule was also discussed during the meeting in an effort to clear up any confusion that the public might have concerning these processes.

Additionally, facilitator Jack Southworth hosted a round table discussion in which participants were given an opportunity to ask questions, provide comments, and share their greatest fears concerning forest access.

About the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision

The National Forest Management Act of 1976 requires every national forest or grassland that’s managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS) to develop and maintain an effective land management plan (also known as a forest plan) to guide future management of natural resources for a period of approximately 10 to 15 years.

However, plans for the Blue Mountains National Forests — which include the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman national forests — haven’t been revised since 1990.

Numerous public meetings, as well as meetings with local, state, and federal agencies and tribes, have been held since the revision process began in 2004. Finally, a draft Forest Plan Revision was released in 2014.

Unfortunately, however, Malheur National Forest Supervisor Steve Beverlin said, “The teacher in the class wouldn’t like the grade we got.”

He added that, of the more than 1,000 comments that were received regarding the proposed revision, the three primary points of contention were regarding access, the pace and scale of restoration, and grazing and other associated uses on the forest.

In an attempt to address these concerns, the USFS decided to take a step back and reengage the public by participating in meetings in affected communities throughout Oregon and Washington.

(Additional meetings will be held in Harney County to address the pace and scale of restoration, as well as grazing and other associated forest uses. A final meeting will provide a recap of all three topics.)

Separate, but connected

During the June 16 access meeting, USFS staff explained that the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision and travel management planning under the Travel Management Rule are both separate and interconnected processes.

Beverlin explained that, although they do not make site-specific or project-level decisions, forest plans “will set the stage for all the activities in the forest.” Thus, travel management planning must be consistent with relevant forest plans.

He added that travel management planning will not be completed on the Malheur National Forest until after the Forest Plan Revision is finished.

About the Travel Management Rule

Announced in 2005, the Travel Management Rule requires every national forest or grassland in the United States to identify and designate the roads, trails, and areas that are open to motor vehicle use.

Dennis Dougherty, Blue Mountain Revision Team recreation planner, explained that these regulations implement Executive Order 11644 “Use of Off-Road Vehicles on Public Lands” — which  was issued by former President Richard Nixon Feb. 8, 1972 — and the May 24, 1977 amendment (Executive Order 11989). These executive orders direct federal agencies to ensure that the use of off-road vehicles on public lands will be controlled and directed in order to protect resources, promote the safety of all users, and minimize conflicts among the various uses on those lands.

The Travel Management Rule is divided into subparts A, B and C.

Subpart A provides an analysis of what is needed to administer and maintain road systems within the forest. Although it is not a decision document, Subpart A will be used to inform future project-level decisions and planning efforts.

Subpart B requires each national forest or ranger district to designate the roads, trails and areas that are open to motor vehicles. The designation must include the class of vehicle and, if appropriate, the time of year for motor vehicle use. Once designation is complete, motor vehicle use off the designated system (or use that is inconsistent with the designations) will be prohibited. Designation decisions will be made locally, with public input and coordination with state, local, and tribal governments. Additionally, the designations will be shown on a motor vehicle use map that can be updated annually.

Subpart C designates the roads, trails, and areas for over-snow vehicle use and applies where snowfall is adequate for that use to occur.

In March 2015, Pacific Northwest Regional Forester Jim Peña asked Beverlin and Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Supervisor Tom Montoya to defer any additional work required under Subpart B of the Travel Management Rule until after the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision is complete. However, work on subparts A and C will continue.

The Umatilla National Forest already completed subpart A and B analysis.

Current road closures

Dan Haak, Oregon executive director of the Pacific Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association, asked why roads are being closed prior to travel management planning.

Mike Masterson said he likes to use public lands to hunt, fish and camp, and he fears road closures will prevent him from doing that.

Jon Reponen said he fears the last road to his property will be closed, and Gene Scrivner asked why roads are being closed without public input.

Beverlin replied that some roads have been closed in order to complete projects.

Emigrant Creek District Ranger Christy Cheyne added that project planning is a public process, and she encouraged interested individuals to contact her or Lori Bailey for maps detailing proposed closures.

“As we move forward with projects, I hope you’ll get a map and voice your concerns,” she said.

Public relations

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty said many have developed a trust issue with the USFS. He clarified that the issue is not with individual staff members, but the system as a whole.

Jennie Stearns said she fears “rules are being dictated by outsiders who haven’t got a clue.”

Haak and Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels both expressed concern that mandates from Washington, D.C. will negate the efforts of small focus groups, and Runnels asked whether more weight is given to comments from people who live in the affected areas.

Blue Mountain Revision Team Leader Sabrina Stadler said the Forest Plan Revision is not a voting process, comments are given the same consideration, and deciding officers look at “the greatest good.”

However, Beverlin said more weight is given to local comments because they are generally more specific and can be used to make specific modifications to the proposed revision.

“Name specific roads. We can use that,” he said. “We desire hearing from you to add weight, substance, and agreement to our alternatives.”

Stadler agreed, stating that a comment requesting to keep all of the roads open wouldn’t be specific enough. However, a comment requesting to keep a certain road open so that people can pick berries in the fall would be considered.

Scrivner urged USFS staff to continue participating in public meetings and increase public relations efforts.

“Road closure rings a bell that sets people off,” he said, adding that he’d like agency staff to write public relations pieces explaining the implications that individual projects will have on the roads.

Haak agreed, stating that meetings regarding specific road closures would garner significant public participation, but not a lot of people are willing to attend meetings concerning plans and projects. He added that he’d like to see more young people get involved, as they are the people who will be using the forest when the plans are implemented.

Regarding the proposed rules, regulations and road closures, Cindy Grasty asked, “Does anyone take the time to consider what this does to a community?”

Beverlin replied that the USFS is hiring more people like Regional Social Scientist Lis Grinspoon to provide social and economic analysis.

Grinspoon explained that social scientists gather as much information as they can regarding peoples’ values, attitudes and beliefs concerning the forest and then strive to find an alternative that provides the most comfort to the most people while remaining in compliance with laws and regulations. She explained that this can be especially difficult considering that the people within a community can have many different ideals.

Peace and quiet

Roy Sutcliffe and Karen Nitz both said they’d like to have quiet areas where they can get away from motorized vehicle traffic.

Masterson said he isn’t against having quiet areas, but he expressed concern that his older relatives won’t be able to access the areas that they’ve been visiting for years if roads are closed to motorized travel.

Bob Stearns expressed similar concerns, stating, “I’m at an age where if you close a road, I’m not getting there.”

Sutcliffe replied, “It’s a big playground. I think there’s enough use for all of us.”

Cheyne and Beverlin both said they’d like to discuss quiet area use.

The next steps

Beverlin said efforts to complete the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision will continue, as reengagment meetings are held throughout Oregon and Washington. The revision team will collect and sift through comments in an attempt to incorporate them into the revision’s proposed alternatives.

The public is encouraged to continue the conversation by contacting the revision team via email at or visiting the team’s website at Stadler can also be reached by calling 541-523-1264.

By Karen Nitz
for the Burns Times-Herald

Historical Society WEB“The mountains and prairies remember Eastern Oregon’s tumultuous beginnings, but history does not. Apart from the rush for gold, little has been written about the events leading to the settlement of Eastern Oregon between 1861 and 1869.”  Until now. Author Dianne Lesniak traces the military campaigns which initially promised to be not much more than a policing operation against an unorganized tribe of hunters and gatherers, but turned into an eight-year struggle against a skillful and relentless foe. The book, based almost entirely on primary sources, includes previously unpublished material. Lesniak laces the narrative with the soldiers’ stories before, during and after their service in Eastern Oregon.

The Harney County Historical Society invites you to attend a free program and book signing with Ms. Lesniak at noon on Thursday, June 25, at the Burns Elks Lodge. Please note this is a change from our regular program schedule. Books will be available for purchase at the event or you can purchase a copy beforehand at the Harney County Historical Museum.

The program is free and open to the public. You do not need to be a historical society member or Elks Lodge member to attend.  An optional $6 lunch is served by the Elks beginning at 11:45.

Learn more about local military and Native American history at the Harney County Historical Museum. The museum is open for the season Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.  Admission is $5/adult or $8/couple, $3/senior and .50/child. Admission is always free for all Harney County Historical Society members.

If you would like more information about the museum, would like to become a volunteer, or if you have research questions call 541-573-5618 or email

Find the Harney County Historical Museum on Facebook

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Retiring staff of HCSD No. 3 were recognized at the school board meeting Tuesday night. Back row (L-R): Sheila Cunningham, Terry Graham, Dave Mues, and Cindy Purdy. Front row (L-R): Dana Copenhaver, Ramona Revak, Anne Haak, and Anne Kness. Linda Bennett (not pictured) was also recognized. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

Retiring staff of HCSD No. 3 were recognized at the school board meeting Tuesday night. Back row (L-R): Sheila Cunningham, Terry Graham, Dave Mues, and Cindy Purdy. Front row (L-R): Dana Copenhaver, Ramona Revak, Ann Haak, and Anne Kness. Linda Bennett (not pictured) was also recognized. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

Hines Middle School (HMS) teacher Son Burns and Burns High School (BHS) paraprofessional Monica McCanna attended the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County School  District (HCSD) No. 3 board of directors (held June 9) to recognize the staff members who are retiring this year.

Burns asked, “How do I begin to thank the people who have given so much of themselves to our children, to our community’s kids?”

He and McCanna then presented the retirees with plaques, featuring their names, years of service, and the schools where they worked. The retirees also received gift certificates.


The board revisited its discussion concerning HMS’s athletic policy.

During the previous meeting (held May 12) Jen Keady addressed the board concerning charter school students’ ability to play HMS sports. After some discussion, HMS Principal Jerry Mayes said he’d meet with a group to write a policy that could be presented to the board.

During the June 9 meeting, Mayes suggested that charter school students be charged a $500 participation fee per sport, with a maximum fee of $1,500 for fall, winter, and spring sports participation.

Board chair Lori Cheek said, “That’s a lot of money,” and she asked whether the policy would apply to Suntex students.

Mayes said it wouldn’t because HCSD No. 3 contracts with Suntex Elementary School District.

Board vice chair Doug Gunderson said HCSD No. 3 receives $7,000 for each of the students that it enrolls, but it does not receive funding for charter school students. He added that the expense of providing sports programs exceeds $1,500 per student, and argued that the fees wouldn’t necessarily have to be paid by students’ parents.

“Put it on the charter school because they get the money for those kids,” he suggested.

“I don’t like it at all,” board member Ralph Dickenson said. “I think the charter part of it is too narrow.”

Dickenson asserted that, if fees are charged, they should be applied to all non-HMS students.

He added that, because students have to compete for spots on the teams, this policy could result in HMS students losing positions to students who don’t attend their school.

Dickenson also said that the proposed fees seemed like a penalty, adding that, “It doesn’t cost any more to offer [sports] to the kid that goes to charter school than an HMS student.”

“It is a penalty,” Gunderson replied. “We want them to be in our school.”

“I agree,” Dickenson said, adding that he thinks students who don’t attend HMS shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the school’s sports programs.

Board member Lisa King said the proposed policy doesn’t address behavioral issues. For example, she expressed concern that a student who was expelled from HMS could attend charter school, pay the fee, and be back on the team. She said this wouldn’t be fair to the other students.

Cheek replied that the Oregon School Activities Association has policies to prevent this from happening.

King said, “We hold our athletes in school to a higher standard, not just academically, but personally, as well,” and she asserted that the proposed policy goes against this philosophy.

She added that the district offers students many options for success, including access to online programs.

Cheek said, “Prineville has a charter school, and they are having absolute heck on this. It is hurting them because a lot of their really good athletes have gone to charter school, and they are rubbing it in the noses of the students who have to ‘walk the walk.’ I’m concerned, myself, about taking steps toward that. I believe that the education we provide by our staff in our schools is the best we have in Harney County.”

Board member Tara McLain made a motion to adopt a policy (similar to BHS’s) that states that students must be enrolled full time at HMS in order to participate in the school’s sports programs. However, interdistrict agreements would still be honored.

With the exception of Dickenson, the board agreed to adopt the policy that McLain proposed. Dickenson explained that he voted “no” because he didn’t want to include interdistrict agreements in the policy.

Superintendent Marilyn McBride said she’d draft a new policy in accordance with the board’s decision, and Cheek thanked Mayes for his efforts.


Mayes reported that Garr Van Orden accepted a position elsewhere and is no longer slated to teach drama and electives at HMS. Mayes suggested hiring former Crane Union High School teacher Hector Martinez to fill the vacancy and transferring Roger Martin from the Burns High Alternative School to fill an additional position for an electives instructor at HMS. The board agreed to approve the personnel hire and transfer.

The board also approved personnel hires for Mary Cade (pending Oregon licensure) and Shawna Cook for teaching positions at Slater Elementary School.

The district still needs to fill four teaching positions.


The board opened the budget hearing at the beginning of the meeting, and there was no public comment.

Before closing the hearing, Cheek commented that she’d like to have a librarian at Slater and hopes to discuss possible grant opportunities with Harney County Library Director Cheryl Hancock. Ramona Revak, a retiring Slater teacher, said a committee would be meeting to discuss the matter.

There being no further discussion, Cheek closed the budget hearing. The board then agreed to adopt the budget for fiscal year/school year 2015-2016 in the total amount of $13,388,658.


In other business, the board:

• appointed McBride as district clerk, chief administrative officer, and budget officer for 2015-2016;

• appointed McBride as school district agent dealing with federal and state government;

• appointed Beth O’Hanlon as business manager;

• authorized facsimile signatures for McBride and O’Hanlon for district checks;

• established fidelity bonds on McBride in the amount of $100,000;

• designated McBride and O’Hanlon as custodians of all district funds for HCSD No. 3 for 2015-2016;

• appointed HCSD No. 3 board of directors as the contract review board for 2015-2016;

• designated the Burns Times-Herald as the official newspaper for the district for 2015-2016;

• appointed Property and Casualty Coverage for Education as the district insurance company and Field-Waldo Insurance Agencies Inc. as the agent of record for 2015-2016;

• appointed Oster Professional Group CPA’s as district auditors;

• designated U.S. Bank, the Local Government Investment Pool, Bank of Eastern Oregon, Umpqua Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank as depositories;

• set certified sub rates for 2015-2016 at $173.76 per day/ $21.72 per hour;

• received reports from Mayes, McBride, Slater Principal Chandra Ferguson, BHS Principal Brandon Yant, and Ron Wassom (principal of the district’s alternative schools);

• accepted an $800 donation for Hilander Basketball Camp, and a $750 donation for BHS softball, from the Harney County treasurer;

• accepted a $200 donation for portable toilet service for BHS softball for April and May from William F. Foster Inc.;

• accepted a $75 donation from Coffee Pot Brand LLC (doing business as Sam’s Service) for BHS softball;

• agreed to enter into a lease with Umpqua Bank for new controls to make the boiler system at BHS more efficient;

• approved a contract with Mike’s Fence Center Inc. for fencing around the  BHS football field and rear section of the parking lot. The contract also includes removal of the existing, dilapidated fence;

• upon recommendation from Wassom, agreed to surplus a table saw;

• adopted the 2015-2016 board meeting calendar;

• re-appointed Cheek board chair and Gunderson vice chair;

• agreed to table the collective bargaining agreement discussion until the next board meeting;

• accepted the “Staff Complaints” policy with changes, as read;

approved contracts for administration and contract staff.

Because the school board agreed not to hold a meeting in July, the next meeting will be held Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. in the district office building.

BHS athletes receive awards

Posted on June 17th in News,Sports
Burns High School (BHS) athletes Austin Feist and Catherine Clemens accepted their awards at the Oregon Sports Awards ceremony June 11. (Submitted photos)

Burns High School (BHS) athletes Austin Feist and Catherine Clemens accepted their awards at the Oregon Sports Awards ceremony June 11. (Submitted photos)

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Catherine Clemens and Austin Feist of Burns High School received the Johnny Carpenter Class 4A-1A Prep Athletes of the Year awards Thursday, June 11, at the 63rd annual Oregon Sports Awards ceremony.

The Johnny Carpenter awards were the highest prep honors bestowed upon the recipients at the event held at Nike World headquarters in Beaverton, and it also marked the first time in the award’s history that athletes from the same school won it in the same year.

Gigi Stoll of Beaverton and Kellen Strahm of Sheldon received the Johnny Carpenter Class 6A-5A Prep Athletes of the Year awards.

ESPN SportsCenter anchor and University of Oregon alum, Neil Everett, hosted the event, which honored the best high school, college and professional Oregon athletes over the past year.





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