Economic summit to be held Oct. 8-9

Posted on September 24th in News

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

The Harney County Restoration Collaborative (HCRC), in collaboration with the High Desert Partnership (HDP), will host the Harney County Small Diameter Tree Economic Summit October 8 and 9 at the Harney County Community Center in Burns.

The summit is a continuation of the forest restoration work being done through the collaborative efforts of HCRC. Founded in 2008, the mission of the group is “to restore healthy and resilient forests” while providing “social and economic benefits to the community.”

 

Background

Due to highly successful fire suppression policy in the Malheur National Forest in past years, the region has become overgrown and prone to fire and insect infestation. HCRC has worked to restore more than 100,000 acres of public forest land since its inception, as approved by the National Environmental Policy Act.

In the restoration process, small diameter trees and “biomass” (tree limbs, tree tops, brush, and other forest vegetation) are reduced in order to prevent the occurrence of catastrophic fire and insect damage. The challenge then becomes what to do with this material.

With a mission to provide “social and economic benefits to the community,” and a capacity funding grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, HCRC organized the upcoming summit to promote local industry surrounding small diameter and biomass material.

According to HDP Executive Director Sara Jones, the summit will be a starting point for organizing a community network and support for forest contractors and manufacturing in Harney County. The objectives of the summit include:

• presenting data on the quantity and quality of available materials;

• exploring economic opportunities and utilization of the materials;

• and discussing the business development needs associated with the small diameter tree processing industry.

 

Featured Speakers

Speakers will include United States Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management officials, forestry business representatives and others.

Andrew Haden, president of Wisewood, Inc., a Portland-based biomass energy company, is slated to speak on the second day of the summit. He will present information about the new project being explored that would use wood chips sourced directly from land in Harney County to heat Slater Elementary School, Burns High School, the Harney County Courthouse and Sheriff’s Office, and Eastern Oregon Youth Correctional Facility.

Another speaker is Rusty Dramm, interim program manager at the Forest Products Marketing Unit of Forest Products Laboratory. He will speak about innovations in the use of “woody biomass,” including nanotechnology, cross-laminated timber, and biochar soil amendments. Biochar is biomass heated in a low or no oxygen environment. It can be used to increase soil fertility and agricultural productivity, and also is a form of carbon sequestration that could mitigate climate change.

The keynote address will be given by Steve Beverlin, deputy forest supervisor with the USFS. He will provide an overview of the ecologic and economic opportunities of utilizing small diameter trees.

Nine other presentations are scheduled, as well as a breakout session and group discussion time. The full agenda can be viewed online at www.highdesertpartnership.org.

 

If You Go

The summit will take place Wednesday, October 8, from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Thursday, Oct. 9, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Harney County Community Center in downtown Burns.

Anyone is welcome to attend the summit. Due to space limitations, please RSVP to Sara Jones at hdpdirector@gmail.com or 316-322-5394 by Friday, October 3.


by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Members of the Citizens Working Group attended the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Court (held Sept. 17) to propose an ordinance pertaining to public land closures.

Kenny Bentz explained that the group would like to see the court pass an ordinance that is very similar to Grant County’s Ordinance 2013-01, which was signed by all Grant County Court members and the Grant County sheriff May 22, 2013.

Borrowing language from the Grant County ordinance, the Citizens Working Group proposed an ordinance that would state:

“Whereas, the safety and well-being of Harney County citizens and the custom and culture of Harney County are closely tied to the public lands within the boundary of Harney County; and 

Whereas, the roads, trails, stock driveways, and by-ways over and across these public lands have customarily been utilized unrestricted by Harney County residents for search and rescue, fire protection, firewood gathering, access for hunting and fishing, livestock management, logging activities, mining, recreational uses and general welfare.

Therefore, be it hereby ordained that for the safety and well-being of Harney County citizens all roads, trails, stock driveways and by-ways over and across public lands within the boundary of Harney County Oregon shall remain open as historically and customarily utilized consistent with the Harney County plans and policies, unless otherwise authorized for closure by the Harney County Court and Harney County sheriff.”

Jim Sproul, co-chair of Grant County’s Public Access Advisory Board, explained that Ordinance 2013-01 was written to ensure people have access to public lands. He added that the ordinance was written with local, cultural knowledge and that the Public Access Advisory Board was created to advise the Grant County Court on access decisions.

Sproul said federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and United States Forest Service, have followed the ordinance.

“It seems to be working,” he said.

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty said there isn’t anything that the local government could do that would give it authority over federal and state law.

Sproul explained that the ordinance doesn’t limit the federal government. Instead, it requires agency staff to concur with county government.

“Our broader goal is to have them ask us,” he said.

Bentz asserted that passing a similar ordinance in Harney County would give county officials more say regarding access to public lands.

Grasty said having an ordinance makes sense.

However, he added that, “Choosing the words is going to be really important.”

He explained that the court’s legal counsel reviewed Grant County’s ordinance “word-for-word” when it went into effect and found that some of it may not be necessary for, or applicable to, Harney County.

He said, “I have heard from counsel that we already have these laws in place.”

He added that the court has regular communication with local agency staff.

“I can’t say they listen to us every time, but I can’t say a month goes by where we don’t have a federal agency in here talking to us,” Grasty said. He added, “We can’t deny that a fair number of federal employees here today are long-time Harney County families, and they are just as much a part of this community as everyone else is.”

Bentz said, “I have nothing against local BLM staff, nothing. Those folks are local people too. But decisions come from Washington, D.C.” He asked, “How do we fix that?”

Grasty said he wished he had the answer to that question.

Citizens Working Group member Brandon Baron said he thinks a lot of agency staff would support the ordinance, “but they are reluctant to voice that opinion because of their boss.”

He added that local office staff can change, and having an ordinance in place would give agency staff “something to conform to.”

Grasty said the county is currently in the middle of a “very contentious” road map process, and he suggested addressing the ordinance after the hearing concerning a map of roads within Harney County closes.

“I don’t want anyone to tell us that [we passed this ordinance] so the outcome  of the map would be different,” Grasty said.

He explained that the biggest debate concerning the map has been about access to private land.

Sproul said Grant County’s ordinance only pertains to public land.

However, Grasty asserted that it’s impossible to travel the length of most roads within Harney County without alternating between private and public ownership. He agreed to sit down with group members to demonstrate and work through some actual examples.

Grasty also invited the group to discuss the proposed ordinance with Barbara Cannady, stating that she might have a different perspective.

Cannady said she agreed with everything Sproul did regarding public lands.

The court agreed to address the ordinance after the map hearing closes.

“Correctly worded to work down here, I think this [ordinance] could be a benefit, without a doubt,” Grasty said.

•••

The court received a letter from Andrea Davies concerning the map of roads within Harney County.

Davies wrote, “I would like to see a distinction between private and public roads and accesses on the map. All landowners should have the right to remove any roads, trails, salt roads, etc. that are not for public usage. I really believe Ms. Cannady is correct on this one.”

The court will continue to receive comments concerning the map until the hearing closes on Oct. 15.

•••

The court resumed its discussion concerning an Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) speed zone investigation that was recently conducted on Egan Road.

Harney County Roads Supervisor Eric Drushella said he received word that the south zone (from Culp Lane to the south boundary of the Harney County Fairgrounds) will be set at 35 mph, instead of the 45 mph limit that was recommended in ODOT Region 5 Traffic Investigator Rich Heinemann’s report.

•••

The court agreed to sign a quitclaim deed, releasing the road right-of-way reservation that the county holds on a piece of ground owned by Jeff and Sherri Hussey near East Steens Road.

The Husseys have elected to donate the parcel to the federal government and receive a tax deduction.

•••

In other business, the court:

• was addressed by Mary Ausmus regarding the letter Cannady submitted during the previous meeting (held Sept. 3).

Ausmus asked why Cannady was discussing her personal trial with the county court.

“I’m getting a little weary of my tax dollars being used for a private problem,” she said.

Cannady replied that the letter discusses an issue concerning the map of roads within Harney County;

• was addressed by Herb Vloedman concerning a fire hazard along the nature trail.

Grasty said he’d explore the possibility of posting signs, stating that smoking is prohibited on the trail.

Grasty also thanked Vloedman for his efforts in obtaining veterans recognition signs;

• received a letter from Jennifer Williams, requesting a donation to help defray the cost of bringing Kevin Pearce to Burns Sept. 29. Pearce will help educate the community about brain injuries.

Grasty said he’d look at public health funding;

• signed five bargain and sale deeds for county-owned properties that were purchased during the  county land sale auction;

• approved signing an order of appointment in the matter of appointing a pool of members for the Harney County Board of Property Tax Appeals.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the county court will be held Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.


Licenses issued ‘with modifications or amendments’

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

After two meetings to listen to public input, the Burns City Council voted to issue business licenses, with modifications or amendments, to two individuals to operate medical marijuana dispensaries.

The council approved the licenses at its meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 10, by a 3-1 vote. Councilors Boyce LaForest, Terri Presley and Nona Popham voted yes, and Jerry Woodfin cast the lone nay vote. Mayor Craig LaFollette and Councilor Dan Hoke were excused from the meeting, and Linc Reed-Nickerson submitted his resignation from the council earlier in the day.

Before the vote, City Manager (CM) Kraig Cutsforth said the councilors had several choices to look at. He said they could modify the ordinance to allow the licenses with conditions; they could do nothing with the ordinance and deny the licenses, and then defend the decision in court; they could remove “federal” from the ordinance; or they could write a new section of the ordinance.

“It’s your decision,” Cutsforth said.

LaForest stated that it was not a “black and white issue,” or a matter of being for or against a dispensary. He said he did a lot of research and listened to both sides before reaching his decision. Factored into his decision was the cost of litigation should the council deny the licenses, public opinion, and the small chance of the federal government getting involved in legal issues.

The council approved the motion to grant the business licenses pending business license ordinance modifications, saying the modifications would allow the council to have more control.

During the citizens concerns portion of the meeting, several folks wanted to know why the city didn’t place a moratorium on dispensaries to allow more time to delve into the issue.

Bev LaFollette stated that, although she doesn’t live in Burns, she does have a business in town and she has concerns about where the dispensaries may be located.

Dave Smerski asked if the city had insurance for litigation, and Cutsforth told him it did not, and funds to fight litigation would have to come out of reserves.

Rob Paramore said he owns a business in Burns, and he wasn’t happy with the council’s decision. “You put the concern of a lawsuit over the concerns of citizens,” he said.

Grant Gunderson told the council he was disappointed in the council’s decision and the unintended consequences that may come from it.

Mark Christie said he was in law enforcement for three decades and called the decision a “travesty.” He added that the decision  has negatively affected the livability of the community. “I feel bad for the officers in the city and county. You better start hiring more police officers to deal with the situation you created here tonight,” he said.

LaForest told the audience that litigation was not the only or primary factor in the decision. “It makes us less liable and gives us more control,” La Forest said.

Popham said she heard from citizens on both sides of the issue and that made for a difficult decision. “We can control it by modifying the ordinance, and there are people here who wanted it,” she said.

The council agreed to hold a public meeting to discuss what modifications will be made to the business license ordinance before issuing the licenses.

•••

At the start of the meeting, Presley, who was acting chairman, read the letter of resignation from Reed-Nickerson. It stated that he would be taking an extended vacation, beginning Oct. 30, and the resignation was effective immediately.

Questions regarding Reed-Nickerson’s status as a Burns resident also came up during the citizens concerns.

LaFollette said Reed-Nickerson had told her that her opinion on the dispensary didn’t matter because she wasn’t a resident of Burns, so she looked into his residency and found he hadn’t lived within the city limits for about a year.

Paramore stated that Reed-Nickerson hadn’t lived in Burns since last October. “Why is he still on the council? he asked. “That upsets me. He’s been able to make decisions without living in Burns. I donated my services for four years, doing high school sports on the radio for zero compensation, and for him to say we have no say upsets me.”

Gunderson said he was appalled that a councilor lied about his residency and falsified information.

•••

At the Aug. 27 meeting, the council tabled a decision on whether to allow Megan Deiter to keep a horse on her 1/2-acre lot on East E Street, and discussed it again at the Sept. 10 meeting.

Cutsforth said the horse is considered a comfort animal and not a service animal, which doesn’t allow for any special circumstances in making a decision.

Cutsforth stated he read over the city’s ordinance regulating livestock several times, and spoke with a person who was on the council at the time it was approved to find out the intent. The ordinance was implemented Jan. 1, 1998, with the intent to diminish keeping of livestock in the city. Cutsforth said no livestock permit had been issued since then, and he recommended not issuing a permit.

LaForest stated that the council would not be in violation of the ordinance if they did issue a new permit.

“But you’d be opening a floodgate,” Cutsforth said.

After some discussion, LaForest made a motion to “open the floodgate and allow Megan Deiter to keep the horse on her property.”

The motion passed 3-1, with Woodfin voting against.

•••

In other business:

• Officer Robbie Tiller reported the police department was looking into the possibility of adding a canine unit. The council asked the department to come up with a cost analysis and other statistics and make a presentation to the council;

• Cutsforth stated the fire suppression system was completed at Burns airport, which should allow the moratorium to be lifted. He added that he met with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) officials regarding the flood plain issue. He said that it’s a slow process, but the base flood elevation (BFE) should be established soon. “It’s probably not as much a decrease as we would like,” he said.

Cutsforth was also to meet with Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) officials to discuss the city exceeding the particulate matter for air quality. If the city exceeds the maximum too often, DEQ may ban all burning in the city, including burn barrels and wood stoves. A committee will be formed to develop a plan.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24.


Directive a result of complaint regarding transfer of student records

On Sept. 9, Emily Nazarov, executive director of the Oregon State Board of Education, directed Harney County School District (HCSD) No. 3 to submit a corrective action plan to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) by Dec. 8 or face the possibility of having state school funds withheld.

The directive was in response to an appeal filed by Silvies River Charter School Principal Katie Baltzor alleging violations of Division 22 standards against HCSD No. 3.

In a letter to Baltzor and HCSD No. 3 Superintendent Dr. Marilyn McBride, Nazarov stated upon her initial review of the appeal, that Baltzor had alleged facts, which if true, would be a violation of OAR 581-022-1941 (failure to comply with complaint procedures).

The issue began on Feb. 19, when Baltzor filed a written complaint with McBride alleging McBride failed to follow the provisions in ORS 339.260 and OAR 581-021-0255 regarding the transfer of student records.

Nazarov summed up the facts as follows:

On Feb. 24, McBride provided a written response to the complaint. McBride set forth the legal and factual basis for the district’s handling of the student records and explained how record requests would be handled in the future.

On March 5, Baltzor appealed McBride’s decision by filing a step 4 complaint with the Harney County school board. On March 20, the Harney County school board convened for a special meeting to address Baltzor’s complaint. The Feb. 19 complaint to McBride, McBride’s Feb. 24 response, and the March 5 complaint to the board were all read into the record. The minutes do not report any substantive discussion of the complaint. Baltzor asked when she could expect a response from the board. According to the board minutes, the board chair explained that the board would respond in some manner, possibly through an attorney, in its own time.

On April 7, Baltzor filed her appeal with ODE. Baltzor alleged the Harney County complaint policy is in violation of OAR 581-022-1941 because it does not contain timelines for each step or an overall timeline for the entire process.

On April 8, then Harney County School Board Chair Ralph Dickenson issued a final letter on Ms. Baltzor’s complaint. In that letter, Mr. Dickerson informed Ms. Baltzor that the board determined no hearing was required to decide the matter, stated that the board denied the complaint, and set forth the legal and factual basis for the denial.

Baltzor then supplemented her appeal to ODE on April 17, by forwarding a copy of the letter from Mr. Dickenson.

In her analysis, Nazarov wrote, “OAR 581-022-1941 requires districts to ‘establish a process for the prompt resolution of a complaint by a person who resides in the district or by any parent or guardian of a student who attends school in the school district.’ The process must be in writing and state clearly who within the school district has the responsibility for responding to the complaint.

The complaint process must specify a time period during which the complaint will be addressed and a final decision will be issued. If the complaint procedure has multiple steps, the procedure must establish the time period for each step as well as the overall time period for completing the procedure. The purpose of requiring the district to establish timelines for processing the complaint is to ensure complaints move through the system and are resolved in a timely manner.

Based on my review of the record and investigation, I find that the District’s policy does not comply with OAR 581-022-1941 in that it does not include timelines for each step or for the overall procedure.”

Nazarov concluded that HCSD No. 3 does not meet the minimum standards for a complaint process as required by OAR 581-022-1941, and the district is deemed “deficient” under ORS 327.103(1).

Nazarov wrote that the district must submit a corrective action plan, approved by the school board, to ODE by Dec. 8. Upon approval of the plan, the district will be categorized as a “conditionally standard school.”

Upon successful implementation of the plan, the district will be re-established as a “standard school.” If the plan is not fully implemented by the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, state school funds may be withheld.

If the district fails to submit a corrective action plan, the district will be categorized as a “non-standard school,” and by law, the deputy superintendent of education must withhold state school funds.


BLM planning to use aerial attack on invasive species

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Jim Campbell, Harney County Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) coordinator, attended the regular-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Court (held Sept. 3) to discuss noxious weed eradication efforts.

Campbell explained that recent wildfires may provide an opportunity to gain control over Medusahead rye (Taeniatherum caput-medusae), as studies show the best control of the noxious weed was accomplished by treating infested acres with a pre-emergent herbicide during the fall immediately following a fire and prior to the emergence of annual grasses.

Campbell said the fires “set you up to do some good,” but he warned that Medusahead will “blow up on a much larger scale” if it is left unchecked after a fire. As a winter annual (a plant that germinates in the fall and lives through the winter), Medusahead is able to out compete perennials because it is the first plant species to take over after a fire.

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty asked what a Medusahead infestation would mean for wildlife and “other critters.”

Campbell replied, “You might as well pave [infested land] and put a Walmart out there.”

He explained that Medusahead is both inedible and inhabitable.

Campbell said the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is planning to treat thousands of acres with aerial herbicide spray using fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

“If the BLM pulls this off, it’s going to be unprecedented,” Campbell said.

Private landowners and operators who were affected by the Buzzard Complex Fire are being encouraged to assess their ability to treat Medusahead this fall, as an opportunity exists for them to participate in a group aerial herbicide spray.

Interested landowners can contact CWMA staff at 541-589-4314.

•••

District Attorney Tim Colahan attended the meeting to discuss an order in the matter of appointing the Harney County Supervising Authority, Harney County Local Parole Board, and a hearings officer for Harney County.

The order appoints Harney County Sheriff Dave Glerup and Harney County Community Corrections as the Harney County Supervising Authority.

The order also appoints Glerup, along with John Copenhaver and Hilda Allison, to two-year terms on the Harney County Local Parole Board.

Under the order, Colahan will act as legal counsel to the board, which is responsible for the following functions:

• approval and signing of all parole orders;

• hearing and arbitration of appeals of decisions by the Harney County Hearings Officer;

• adjudication of all parole revocations where the intended sanction is 91 days or more in the Harney County Jail; and

• review of all sanctions imposed in local control cases.

Harney County Community Corrections will be responsible for all remaining parole board functions.

The order also appoints Lt. Will Benson of Baker County Community Corrections as the hearings officer for Harney County. Benson will hear appeals of sanctions imposed by the Harney County Community Corrections where the sanction or revocation is contested or the allegation is contested.

The order also continues placement of the Harney County Community Corrections Department under Glerup’s supervision.

Grasty said the court made the decision to place the department under the supervision of the county sheriff.

“That was our decision, and it could be rescinded,” he said. “There are no issues today whatsoever, but I want us all to recognize that we are not giving up the ability to take control.”

The court agreed to approve the signing of the order.

•••

Discussion resumed regarding a letter from Brent Fenty, executive director of Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), regarding the Oregon Desert Trail.

Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels said, “I read through it, and no where does it talk about our request for not designating the trail.”

Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols added that, although the letter acknowledges the BLM’s multiple use mandate, it states that lands may be managed for livestock grazing.

“I thought it was kind of humorous that they were using the word ‘may’ in there,” Nichols said. “It leaves the door open and kind of shows you where they’re headed.”

Grasty said the letter failed to address county comprehensive land use. He added that he thinks ONDA should complete the full National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process at its own expense.

The court agreed to discuss the matter further in an afternoon work session.

Grasty added that he’d like to get other counties involved in drafting a response to ONDA.

•••

In other business, the court:

• was addressed during the public comment period by Sharon N. Cairns-Chaddick concerning wild horses and burros.

She stated, “A lot of people back East need wild horses to sooth their souls and see the beauty of our public lands.”

She added, “We should welcome them with open arms because they bring money to our state;”

• received a letter from Barbara Cannady concerning the circuit court case of Gary Marshall et. al. vs. Barbara Cannady et. al.

In part, the letter stated that Howard Palmer testified that AE Brown Road “was never formally accepted by the Harney County Commissioners, which means it was never legalized.”

She added that this issue is “an element of dispute for the proposed road identification map for Harney County;”

• was addressed during the public comment period by Barbara Kull concerning United Nations Agenda 21;

• briefly discussed a map of roads within Harney County. Grasty said, other than the letter submitted by Cannady, he had not received any additional information on that issue;

• discussed the state’s Sage Grouse Conservation Partnership (SageCon). Grasty said SageCon has yet to provide a legal definition of “disturbance” or show what modeling will be used to determine the amount of disturbance that currently exists;

• discussed the road right-of-way reservation that the county holds on a piece of ground owned by Jeff and Sherri Hussey near East Steens Road.

The Husseys have elected to donate the parcel to the federal government and receive a tax deduction.

In a letter written to Grasty, Rhonda Karges, Andrews / Steens Field Manager for the Burns BLM, stated, “To ensure we can get approval from the solicitor on the preliminary title report, BLM is asking Harney County to release the road reservation record on the deed in 1955.”

Grasty recommended that Colahan prepare a quitclaim deed for the court to consider.

The court agreed to resume discussion concerning this issue during its next meeting;

• reviewed an Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) speed zone investigation that was recently conducted on Egan Road.

Rich Heinemann, ODOT Region 5 Traffic Investigator, stated that his report recommends 35 mph in the north zone (from Grant Street to Culp Lane) and 45 mph in the south zone (from Culp Lane to the south boundary of the Harney County Fairgrounds).

“We’ve got an argument to make with them,” Grasty said, explaining that he believes the south zone should be 35 mph.

Harney County Roads Supervisor Eric Drushella  agreed, stating that it should be 35 mph “at least until they get past the fairgrounds;”

• received a letter from the Vale BLM regarding renewal of grazing permits;

• received a letter from the Lakeview BLM concerning expanding its existing integrated weed management program to make ten additional herbicides available for treatment and allowing herbicides to be used to treat all non-native invasive plants across the resource area;

• learned from Grasty that Teresa Raaf announced her resignation from Forest Supervisor of the Malheur National Forest.

Raaf accepted the position as Director of State and Private Forestry for Regions 6 and 10 and will be reporting to Portland Nov. 2.

“I understand why she made this decision, but I’m sad to see her go,” Grasty said.

He added that the court will have to build a new relationship with the next forest supervisor;

• upon recommendation from Drushella, accepted a bid from McCallum Rock Drilling Inc. for a drilling and blasting project;

• discussed the Greater Eastern Oregon Development Corporation’s economic strategy.

Grasty said he believes the strategy is completely focused on the northern counties, and he thinks there should be two strategies — one for the north and one for the south.

“I’m going to push back  very hard that this has to be redone,” Grasty said.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the county court will be held Wednesday, Sept. 17, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.


The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Burns District, will host a celebration at Page Springs Campground on Friday, Sept. 12, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

The anniversary celebration at Page Springs Campground starts at 9 a.m. with a one-mile walk along the Blitzen River Trail to the Page Springs Weir. Interpretive presentations and discussions, light trail maintenance and repairing a water crossing are on the agenda for interested volunteers. A picnic lunch will be provided to those in attendance.

Everyone is encouraged to attend and celebrate the Steens Mountain Wilderness during this commemorative event. Volunteers must provide their own transportation to Page Springs Campground.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act on Sept. 3, 1964, and over the past 50 years, Congress has added over 100 million acres to this unique land preservation system.  The 170,000-acre Steens Mountain Wilderness was dedicated in October 2000 and comprises some of the wildest and most remote land in Oregon.

For more information about this 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act celebration, contact Tom Wilcox, Outdoor Recreation Planner, at 541-573-4534.


The Department of State Lands (DSL) will hold a public informational meeting on the proposed land exchange between DSL and Tree Top Ranches, southeast of Crane on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

The meeting will be held from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the Harney County Community Center, 484 N. Broadway in Burns.

The meeting is an opportunity for DSL to inform the public on the land exchange, respond to concerns raised during the public comment period earlier this year, and receive additional comments. The agency will make a final recommendation to the State Land Board at a later date.

The meeting will be held in a facility that is accessible for persons with disabilities. If you need assistance to participate in the meeting due to a disability, please notify Sheena Miltenberger, 541-388-6072, at least two working days prior to the meeting.

Additional information: http://www.oregon.gov/dsl/LW/Pages/Tree-Top-Exchange.aspx.


Debbie Raney’s new book celebrates the ranching lifestyle. (Submitted photo)

Debbie Raney’s new book celebrates the ranching lifestyle. (Submitted photo)

The life of a rancher is a life full of laughter, love and beauty. It can also be a life full of challenges, tears and a lot of dust. Debbie Raney has lived this life for more than 50 years in Eastern Oregon’s high desert, with 30-plus of those years as a ranchwife.

Hair on Barbed Wire is a collection of her poetry, stories and photographs that celebrate the commitment ranchers and their families have to the land and their livelihood. Beginning with an insight into the scars and callouses on a ranchwife’s hands, and ending with a tribute to those who share her love for ranching, Raney gives a unique perspective into the experiences only those who have “been there, done that” could know.

Copies of Hair on Barbed Wire are available at the Round Barn Visitor Center, Oard’s Gallery and Museum and from Raney at: debbieraney@rocketmail.com.

Book signings are being planned for the near future at the Harney County Library and at the Round Barn Visitors Center.

About the author

Debbie Raney has spent her entire life in the agricultural industry. She grew up on her family ranches in the Eastern Oregon communities of Frenchglen and Diamond. She and her husband now raise beef cattle on their ranch in Harney County. They have two daughters who live on the ranch and four grandchildren to carry on the family tradition. Raney has published freelance articles and photographs in several agricultural publications, and she worked as editor for the Burns Times-Herald for several years.

 


Family business will be open year-round

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

Heath and LaurelLynne Sewell own Sewell’s Taxidermy. Since 2010, Sewell’s has set up a seasonal drop station in Harney County. A permanent location was opened Aug. 13. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

Heath and LaurelLynne Sewell own Sewell’s Taxidermy. Since 2010, Sewell’s has set up a seasonal drop station in Harney County. A permanent location was opened Aug. 13. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

After four years of serving Harney County hunters with a temporary drop station during antelope season, Heath and LaurelLynne Sewell, owners of Sewell’s Taxidermy, have opened a permanent location in Burns. They are looking forward to serving customers year-round, and making their home in the area.

This is the second location for Sewell’s Taxidermy. Both hailing from the Willamette Valley, Heath and LaurelLynne opened the first location in Lebanon in 2002. They built up a successful full-time business there, and in 2010 began traveling to Harney County annually to set up a drop station.

The purchase of the building at 1301 Hines Boulevard (previously Donna’s Auto Glass), established a permanent Harney County home for the business. Sewell’s Taxidermy officially opened in Burns on Aug. 13.

 

A Lifelong Craft

Heath Sewell knew from an early age what he wanted to do with his life. Although he grew up in a populated, suburban area, he loved hunting and outdoor recreation. He would visit his grandparents often, and enjoyed hunting with his grandfather. After visiting a taxidermy shop for the first time as a youth, he knew it was a craft he wanted to learn. Heath was even quoted in his high school yearbook proclaiming that he would become a taxidermist.

After attending school at the Missoula Valley  School of Taxidermy in Thompson Falls, Mont., he moved to Prineville and apprenticed with McLagan’s Taxidermy.

Sewell’s Lebanon location opened 12 years ago, in the garage of Heath’s grandparents’ house. Starting as only a part-time occupation, by 2007 it had evolved into a full-time career.

 

A Range of Services

Sewell’s Taxidermy specializes in big and small game. They do not take birds or fish.

Taxidermy involves a lengthy and detailed process. From August through around December, carcasses are collected and skinned. The hides are dried and then sent to a tanner. Sewell’s uses a tannery close to their Lebanon location, said LaurelLynne. Using a local tanner ensures better quality, and they have been happy to be able to support the community there, she added.

December through August is mounting season. Tanned hides are stretched and sewed onto a mold. After a few days of drying, antlers or horns are attached, glass eyes are inserted, and the facial features are finished by puttying and painting with an airbrush.

In addition to the standard taxidermy service, Heath creates a wide range of wildlife home decor, including antler artwork. He once made a special-order 10-foot antler chandelier.

 

A Place To Call Home

LaurelLynne cited a great hunting region, an established customer base, and a warm and welcoming community as the reasons they decided to open the second location and to relocate to Harney County. LaurelLynne said that they feel like they fit in well with the small-town values in this area.

The couple decided to purchase the building at 1301 Hines Boulevard because it was in great shape, in a good location and had ample parking, LaurelLynne said.

Heath will be operating the Burns location while LaurelLynne manages the Lebanon business for the time being. Eventually, another taxidermist will take on management of day-to-day operations at the original location, and the couple and their four children plan to make Harney County their permanent home.

•••

Sewell’s will be open year-round at their new location, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and weekends by appointment. But, says LaurelLynne, if you need to drop off a carcass at any time, just give them a call at 541-979-4778. They will also continue to keep the temporary drop station in Hines open during antelope season.

You can follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sewellstaxidermyburns to get more information and receive updates.


Find whimsy at Bedknobs & Broomsticks

Posted on September 3rd in News

Antique and gift shop opens in downtown Burns

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Bedknobs & Broomsticks opened in downtown Burns Aug. 18. Owner Kristy Cronin (right) and partners Robin Stoner and Paul Kohler are applying their creative efforts toward making a unique place for art, holiday decor, and much more. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

Bedknobs & Broomsticks opened in downtown Burns Aug. 18. Owner Kristy Cronin (right) and partners Robin Stoner and Paul Kohler are applying their creative efforts toward making a unique place for art, holiday decor, and much more. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

Owner Kristy Cronin said she wants Bedknobs & Broomsticks to be “a very magical, fun place that just has a little bit of everything for everybody.”

Located at 77 W. Washington St. in Burns, the antique and gift shop sits sandwiched between Rhojo’s and the law office of Martin E. Thompson Jr.

Bedknobs & Broomsticks began business Monday, Aug. 18. However, regular business hours are Tuesdays through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cronin said the shop’s alliterative name was taken from the title of an animated Disney movie.

“It’s such a cute movie, and it inspired me,” Cronin said, explaining that she hopes the shop will offer a similar sense of whimsy.

 

About Cronin

Cronin grew up in Bend, but she and her family visited Harney County frequently throughout her childhood because her father had a booth at the fair. She said her mother loved the area and enjoyed receiving “handmade goodies” from the local ladies.

Cronin moved to Harney County in the early 1980s when she met her husband. The couple originally resided in Drewsey.

“It’s a cute, little, sweet town,” Cronin said regarding Drewsey. “There are old men and goats out there, but you don’t know which is the other,” she added with a laugh.

Cronin, who now lives in Burns, accumulated a lot of experience working with the public through careers in the restaurant and social services industries. However, she said she found her calling when she started working for Bonnie Angleton at Ribbons & Roses Unlimited.

“I’ve never worked at such a fun place in all my life,” Cronin said. “It’s been wonderful to help Bonnie down there. Her and [her husband], Bill, are absolutely good people and characters on top of it.”

Cronin said Angleton inspired and encouraged her to open her own retail store.

 

Creating a family business

Cronin, who said she wants to be self-sufficient “more than anything in the world,” worked toward the goal of opening Bedknobs & Broomsticks for about three years.

“We did this without borrowing a dime,” she said. “We decided to put our heart and soul into it.”

She explained that her house was “loaded” with her mother and grandmother’s antiques, and she wanted to open a shop to sell some of them. She added that she also wanted to provide a venue for local artists to sell their creations year-round.

“I think our specialty is going to be the fact that we have local artists and artisans and quite a few homemade, fun items that I think people will enjoy,”  Cronin said.

She added that the shop will also serve as an artistic outlet for her and her family.

“My whole family is very creative,” she said. “We just decided to use the creative effort toward the store. That’s what inspired us to do it from the beginning.”

Cronin is selling her homemade scarves and potpourri. Her daughter, Leilani, and son, John, will also add their art to the inventory.

Cronin’s other son, Paul Kohler, is a partner in the business, and the mother and son team will collaborate on a couple of creative crafts to stock the store’s shelves. For example, they plan to re-purpose old doors and construct their own line of themed cabinets, which should be available for sale by next spring or summer.

“My son is an awesome designer,” Cronin said. She added that he was “hugely instrumental” in getting the shop up and running.

Robin Stoner is another partner in the Bedknobs & Broomsticks business. Although they aren’t technically related, Cronin said she and Stoner “adopted each other.”

She added that, “Robin will show up on your front porch when you are in most need. She’ll stop in the middle of a project to help you with yours.”

Cronin said designing the store with Stoner has been the most enjoyable thing about owning the business so far.

Stoner is selling her own lines of jewelery and decorative boxes in the shop. Her mother’s art, jewelery, photographs and paintings are also included in the store’s inventory.

Cronin said she expects Bedknobs & Broomsticks to evolve as new merchandise is added.

In addition to art and antiques, she hopes to sell everything from candles and incense to “man cave” items, such as swords. She added that body jewelery has already been a popularly-purchased product. And with orders coming in from Ohio Wholesale Inc. and Victorian Trading Company, customers can expect to see a slew of new items on the store’s shelves.

 

For the fun of it

The shop will also serve as a site for celebratory events.

For example, one of Cronin’s goals is to make Bedknobs & Broomsticks “Halloween Headquarters” this fall. Employees will gear up for the holiday by dawning festive garb throughout the month of October. The shop is also hosting a Halloween party, and everyone is invited to stop in and share a spooky ghost story.

Cronin said she’s equally enthusiastic about Christmas, and she’s already planning fun festivities for the upcoming holiday season.

She also plans to hold Victorian-style tea parties.

“We want to get the public involved,” Cronin explained, adding that she’ll find “any old excuse” to host a gathering.

 

Rolling with the punches

When it comes to owning her own business, Cronin said she decided to just “roll with the punches” and enjoy it.

“We hope it will be fun for everyone involved,” she said.

Her advice to other entrepreneurs is: “Don’t let the economy frighten you. Do what you’re going to do.”


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