Eldridge served in South Pacific

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Kenny Eldridge at the WWII Memorial in Salem. (Submitted photo)

Kenny Eldridge at the WWII Memorial in Salem. (Submitted photo)

Kenny Eldridge arrived at the Burns Times-Herald office for an interview on Thursday afternoon (June 12). He was dressed in blue jeans and a button-up shirt, and he was wearing a cap that identified him as a World War II veteran.

After introductions and a bit of small talk, Eldridge reached into the pocket of his blue jeans and pulled out a pocketknife. Attached to the knife was a magnet, which he removed and stuck to his forearm.

The 90-year-old explained that a piece of shrapnel, which has been lodged in his right arm since September 1944, was keeping the magnet in place. The shrapnel provides an unpleasant reminder of Eldridge’s service in the second world war.

Fortunately, however, Eldridge was among the hundreds of World War II veterans who gathered near the Oregon State Capitol June 6 (the 70th anniversary of D-Day) to be honored with a much more suitable memorial.


Oregon World War II Memorial dedicated

The veterans were among the thousands of people who gathered at Willson Park in Salem for the dedication of the new Oregon World War II Memorial.

Weighing in at 20 tons, the 33-foot-tall granite pillar was erected to recognize the service and sacrifice of the approximately 152,000 Oregonians who served during the war.

And a black granite wall, containing the names of the 3,771 Oregonians who were killed in action during the war, stands near the pillar.

Eldridge described the people named on the wall as “the real heroes.”


Giving the ‘ultimate sacrifice’

Lewis H. May is among those who are listed on the wall.

Before serving in the U.S. Army, May worked at Burns Garage and roomed with his friend, Cyc Presley.

May was sent to the European Theater and was among the more than 160,000 Allied troops who landed along the beaches of Normandy, France to fight Nazi Germany on D-Day (June 6, 1944).

About a month later (July 7, 1944), May “gave the ultimate sacrifice,” presumably in the dense hedge groves while pushing inland. He now rests in the American cemetery in Normandy.

Presley later traveled to France to visit May’s grave site. He was accompanied by his family, including his son-in-law, Charlie Schmidt, who is an adjutant for the American Legion Harney County Post No. 63.

“When you walk the beaches of Normandy now, it’s so peaceful,” Schmidt said. “But a long time ago, there were days when it was hell.”


Eldridge’s story

Unlike May, who served in the European Theater and fought the Nazis, Eldridge served in the South Pacific Theater, fighting Japanese forces.

His three-part story was published in the Burns Times-Herald Dec. 4, 11 and 18, 2013 as part of Silent Warriors, a quarterly series of veterans’ stories that Megan Fitzpatrick compiled for her senior project.

Eldridge was drafted into the U.S. Army Nov. 27, 1943, and he began active service Dec. 18, 1943.

He received basic training at Camp Roberts in California. And on June 8, 1944, he was shipped out to New Guinea.

Although he was from California, Eldridge was assigned to the Alabama National Guards 31st Division, 167th Infantry Regiment, Company “B” second platoon, 2nd squad. This division was known as the Dixie division. And Eldridge was appointed the first scout of the patrol.

Eldridge’s friend, Everett L. Farquhar (nicknamed “Zeke”) was also made a first scout.

“They made us first scouts as soon as we were attached to their outfit,” Eldridge wrote in his autobiographical account. “If there was a dangerous mission or patrol that came up, one of us, as first scouts, lead out first for that patrol.”

Eldridge was part of the group that spearheaded the landing on Moratai Island, pushing inland until reaching a village where the Japanese set up a temporary camp.

During this time, a knee mortar hit the riffle that Eldridge was holding between his legs. The riffle was destroyed, but Eldridge’s life was spared.

And a second mortar hit between Eldridge’s legs, as he scrambled toward a tree.

With the exception of two soldiers, everyone in Eldridge’s platoon was injured or killed during the mortar attack. Luckily, Eldridge’s friend, Zeke, was one of the two who were not injured.

Fragments from both mortars, as well as ones that hit some of the other soldiers directly, were embedded throughout Eldridge’s body.

“I believe I had 28 wounds from my eyes to my lower legs,” Eldridge wrote. “I had some of these fragments removed later at sick calls over in the islands that were bothering me; when I bent my legs and arms, they pulled tight against my skin.”

Eldridge had other pieces of shrapnel removed later in life. Yet some pieces, like the one in his right arm, remain lodged in his body.

After Moratai was secured, Eldridge’s group spearheaded the landing on Mindanao Island.

While on the island, Eldridge was first scout on a mission to retrieve a walkie-talkie radio that was left behind by a platoon leader during a battle the previous day.

“We, the U.S., could not afford to let the enemy listen in on our walkie-talkie radios,” Eldridge explained.

While attempting to recover the radio, Eldridge spotted a booby trap. And in the events that followed, he was hit by concussion by friendly artillery shells that landed short of their targets.

“I remember flying up in the air. But I don’t remember coming back down,” Eldridge wrote.

His knees and elbows were also burned by phosphorus, which was set off to notify a pilot of their position. The pilot was directing the artillery from the air.

Eventually, word was received that the Japanese surrendered, and the war was over.

“This day was the happiest day for us since the war began,” Eldridge wrote.

He had spent 329 days on front-line combat.

After the war, Eldridge helped clean up Mindanao Island and waited to go home.

Part of his duties were to dig up the shallow graves and carry the dead back out.

“I still have nightmares about this, and I can still smell the smell,” Eldridge wrote. “Sometimes it makes me sick to my stomach, then I cry the rest of the night.”

Finally, a troop ship came in for the group, and Eldridge was sent back to the United States.

Unfortunately, by the time the ship docked in California, Eldridge contracted malaria and had to  be transported to a military hospital for treatment.

He stayed in the hospital until he was released, and was then sent to Fort McArthur, Calif. for discharge a few days later.

After the service, Eldridge resumed working for Douglas Aircraft Company in California, which was the job that he held before he was drafted.

Eldridge worked for the company for 18 years, eventually earning a supervisory position. While working, he also attended night school.

Eldridge moved to Harney County in 1993, stating, “God sent us here.”

He began writing an autobiographical account of his military service when he was in his 80s.

“I have started this story many times and messed up, rewrote pages, then started over,” Eldridge wrote at the beginning of his account. “I have scrapped and burned more pages than I have written.”

He added, “Since the war, I have tried the best I know how to not say one word about it, thinking that one day I could forget it all…I think in my own mind that if I am around other people, they will downgrade me because of what happened to me in the war.”


A lasting legacy

However, Eldridge eventually started to share his story. And he now emphasizes the importance of teaching younger generations about the war.

“The kids have got to learn about it, and the teachers have got to know about it, so they can tell the kids,” Eldridge said.

Schmidt agreed, stating, “Us young kids need to hear those stories that these men and women have.”

Schmidt, who attended the memorial dedication with his wife, Linda, said the ceremony may be the final recognition that some World War II veterans will receive for their service (as most are 90 years old or older). However, he added that the Oregon World War II Memorial will serve as a reminder of the sacrifices made by the servicemen and women of the “Greatest Generation” for many generations to come.


A welcome home party

Eldridge said the dedication ceremony made him feel “at home.”

He added that even traveling to the ceremony was special.

Eldridge and his wife rode over to Salem with some friends in a caravan of vehicles that were escorted from Central Oregon by a group from the Oregon Veterans Motorcycles Association.

Eldridge said he learned about the caravan from Lyle Hicks who owns Jake’s Diner in Bend. (Eldridge travels from Burns to Bend almost every week to attend Central Oregon Band of Brothers meetings, which are held at the diner.)

The caravan was not required to obey regular traffic laws.

“We went through red lights and everything,” Eldridge explained.

He added that, when the caravan reached Sisters, the veterans were greeted by school children of various ages who lined the sides of the streets, waving American flags.

“Flags were flying everywhere,” Eldridge said. “It started with big kids and went down to little kids…all up and down that road.”

Eldridge said it felt like “a welcome home party,” adding that he received no such celebration when he returned from the South Pacific almost 70 years ago.

Public meeting to be held June 21

Market“The first market day of the Harney County Farmers Market’s seventh year will be Saturday, July 5, at the Hines City Park from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” said Fred and Linda Pelroy, co-market managers. The market runs into October, and generally ends with participation in the annual chili cook-off event in Burns, which is set for Saturday, October 18.

According to the Pelroys, “Fresh produce expected to be offered at the market will include various herbs, Swiss chard, onions, beet greens, rhubarb, different kinds of lettuce, and maybe even a few early tomatoes.” Typically, a wider range of produce items will be available as the growing season progresses, with early-season vegetables available first, and greenhouse growers bringing the greatest variety of produce initially.

In addition to the very fresh and tasty Harney County grown produce, market vendors are expected to offer quality craft items, including bird houses, various kinds of jewelry, pottery, artwork, photography, and hand crafted soaps, hand creams, etc. Other local products, like farm-fresh eggs and some great baked goods, should also be available at the market.  As the market season progresses, other vendors join in the fun.

The Pelroys remind market shoppers that a number of vendors will be participating in the Farm Direct Nutrition Program (FDNP) in 2014 and will accept the appropriate vouchers from eligible seniors and families participating in WIC (Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children). Note: Vendors interested in getting the required training for these programs should contact Cindy Clarke at 541-977-4561.

People who wish to participate in the market or who have questions should call the 541-589-2933 or e-mail hcorfm@live.com   Note: The daily market fee for vendors will remain at $2; cost for the full season will remain at $25, and the student (18 or under) fees will be $1 per market day.   Required vendor application forms will be available at the market table each market day.

Please note:  a public meeting will be held at the Hines City Park at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 21, to answer questions,  give suggestions, and for an opportunity for vendors to sign up for the 2014 market.

New England native making his third cross-country journey

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Steve Laskey spent a rest day in Burns on his way to Maine. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

Steve Laskey spent a rest day in Burns on his way to Maine. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

On May 21, Steve Laskey, 52, hopped aboard his bicycle in Spokane, Wash., and began a journey that will take him to the contiguous 48 states, ending in Maine sometime around Thanksgiving.

Laskey is bicycling solo around the country to raise funds for Make-A-Wish, and he is no stranger to long tours. In 1995, Laskey rode from California to his home state of Massachusetts, a distance of about 3,600 miles, and in 2008, Laskey biked from Alaska to Florida, covering about 5,000 miles.

Laskey said his current tour will be his longest one yet, about 7,500, and will probably be his last long ride.

Laskey’s ride south from Spokane on his way to California brought him to Burns, where he spent a rest day on June 4, his 15th day of travel. “I ride six days a week, and try to average 50 miles a day. It just depends on how tough the route is that day,” Laskey said.

Laskey’s planned route will take him in a snake-like pattern from north-to-south and then south-to-north toward his goal of “touching” 48 states. He camps along the way, carrying everything he needs on his bicycle. “Fully loaded, I’m carrying about 100 pounds,” Laskey said. “The one thing I’m concerned about is water while I’m going across the desert country. I can carry a week’s worth of food with me, but there’s no way I can take along a week’s worth of water.”

As a solution to the water concern, Laskey is hoping to find “water holes” along the way before he heads out along his planned route, or possibly even arrange water drops.

Laskey said his love for biking began when he was about 6 years old and he would ride to the country store. “Then, I started taking day trips, then week-long trips, and they just kept getting longer and longer,” he said.

Laskey noted that he loves the physical challenge, but it’s important to go slow to prevent injuries. He’s already crossed a 5,300-foot summit on this trip, and said when he’s riding over the mountains, he might go just a tenth of a mile before he takes a break because of the weight of the bike. “Then I’ll go another tenth and rest again. When I start to feel the burn in the legs, I know it’s time to rest a little,” he said.

Traveling solo may sound like a lonely way to go, but Laskey said it’s pretty much the opposite. “I meet people every day, and so far the trip has been excellent,” Laskey said.

He also travels with a laptop and a GPS so he can update his travels on his website BIKESURVIVORUSA.COM

For those wishing to make a donation, they can visit Laskey’s website and click on the “Donate” button.

Pioneer Day — June 14

Posted on June 11th in News

Queen Mother Doris Yriarte

Queen Mother Doris Yriarte

Queen Mother Doris Yriarte

My grandfather, Isaac Newton Hughet, and wife, Lillie Pfordt Hughet, settled in the Warm Springs Valley, now known as the Double O Valley, in 1889.

My father, Louis M. Hughet, was one of six boys and four girls born to Isaac Newton and Lillie Pfordt Hughet. The boys were Albert, Glen, Louis, Leonard, George and Leo Hughet. The four girls were Mildred, Esther, Stella and Gertrude Hughet.

I was born Feb. 19, 1928, to Louis M. and Myrthelene McPheeters Hughet in Burns, and the third child. My brother, Louis Milton Hughet Jr., was the oldest, born May 10, 1925. My sister, Helen Louise Hughet, was born March 19, 1926, and then my youngest sister, Elizabeth (Beth) Hughet was born Nov. 20, 1930; thus being the children of Louis M. Hughet Sr. and Myrthelene Hughet.

Before marrying Louis Hughet, my mother, Myrthelene McPheeters, taught school at the Peterson place while staying with Pete and Dolly Obiague. She told me she rode a horse or drove a buggy from the Obiagues to teach school. Upon marrying Louis, they started a ranch with only a white milk cow and her calf. My dad had to work for Bill Hanley and Pete Obiague to make ends meet, and was away from home much of the time to support his fledgling ranch business and feed his family.

During my childhood, my father taught me how to trap muskrats, skin, and take care of the hides. I had to run the trap line each day before breakfast. The muskrat hides were sold to a fur buyer, named Lanfear, for a $1 to $1.50 each. This extra money was important to pay their bills and buy flour, sugar and beans, which supplemented the occasional deer, antelope and wild pig meat my father killed.

Some childhood memories include: (1) riding my horse bareback one mile to school. My dad would not let me ride with a saddle until I was 12 years old for fear I would get my foot caught in the stirrup and get drug to death. (2) Watching a hound dog, named Bingo, chase coyotes and kill them. One day, while watching Bingo chase a coyote across the field, five other coyotes lay in wait to ambush and kill him. Upon having this encounter, Bingo barely outran them, snapping at his behind, back to the house. (3) Getting drug by a colt I was breaking in because a young neighbor kid spooked him while I was trying to get on. He ran under a clothes line, hitting me under the chin and knocking me off, catching my foot in the stirrup, dragging me through the greasewood, and into a meadow. I remember the meadow felt good compared to the greasewood, and decided to turn over, which released my foot from the stirrup, saving my life. Mom caught, and held him so I could get back on. The colt was ruined, and would buck with me off and on all day when I rode him. (4) During one winter day, my sister, Beth, and I wanted to ride a horse called Belgium. We were told we could, but stay off the ice. We headed straight for the ice, and the horse’s legs went every direction. I don’t know how he kept from breaking a leg. We got a darned good spanking for this shenanigan. (5) Working hard was a requirement for me, my brothers and sisters. One had no choice but to do their share in order to survive as a family.

Mom and Dad bought a house in Burns  when I was in the eighth grade. I went to school from eighth grade through high school in Burns. Upon graduation from high school in 1946, I went to work for the US National Bank as a bookkeeper, and for Al Brown as an accountant. I met Louis Alfonso Yriarte this same year, and we were married on Aug. 18, 1946. Our first child, Harland, was born July 28, 1948, and our second son, Charles, was born Dec. 3, 1949.

Like my mother and father, both of us had to work outside jobs in order to make a living. He worked two jobs, the railroad and the sawmill. My father wanted us to move back to the ranch in a partnership with my brother. When we moved from Burns to the ranch in 1948, we still had to do odd jobs, including fence building for the refuge and working for my father for $125 a month for three years. The partnership was dissolved after three years and in 1953, my father gave us some property to begin our base ranch. Over time, and when we could afford to, we continued to purchase additional acres to enhance our ranch at the Double O and on Steens Mountain.

During the flooding of Harney and Malheur lakes in 1984, our home was flooded and we had to move to our current location and build a new home. This new home is at the same location where I attended grade school as a child. In 2013, we had to move my husband to a care facility in Eugene, and I currently live at home at the Double O.

President Alfred Dunten

President Alfred Dunten

President Alfred Dunten

Turen Alfred “Al” Dunten comes from a long line of pioneers. Al’s paternal great-grandmother, Martha (Williams) Dunten, migrated to Oregon with her family on the Oregon Trail in 1853. His maternal great-grandparents, Bill and Sally Ward, and most of Sally’s siblings and their families, moved to and settled near what is now known as Van, about 21 miles northwest of Drewsey in 1882, in what was then still Grant County. The Ward children were all born at Van from 1883 through 1897. Al’s maternal grandmother, Frankie (Ward) Miller was born in 1888, about six months before Harney County was formed.

Al was born April 17, 1934, at the home of Harry and Emma Muller Clark, about 10 miles west of Drewsey, on the banks of the Middle Fork of the Malheur River to Turen J. Dunten (better known in his community as T. J.) and Wilma Della Miller Dunten. He has a sister, Helen Jeanette Sargent, who is a nurse living in Baker City, and a brother, Ray, who has retired from NRCS and lives in Ontario. His youngest sister was lost in a car/truck accident the night of her  high school graduation in 1966.

Alfred and his parents lived in the City Hotel owned and operated by his great-grandma Hamilton in Drewsey for the first year of his life.

In 1935, T.J. purchased  the family ranch about six miles west Drewsey in Kimball Flat, where Al grew up and, except for a few adventures elsewhere, has called home for the past 79 years.

He went to school in one-room Kimball Flat School for his first through eighth grades. His first teacher was Miss Horn. Mrs. Farrier, his second grade teacher, was so impressed with Al’s musical ability, as she taught him violin, that she promoted him to third  grade that year which made him a young graduate from Crane  Union High School in 1951. This curly-haired towhead soon became “Curly” to his friends. The kids in the area rode horses, walked, or rode bikes to school and spent recesses playing baseball, on their knees grading roads on the sand hill nearby, and riding sleds and toboggans down the steep sleigh track in winter.

Al attended Crane Union High School from Sept. 1947 to May 18, 1951. He participated in  football, basketball, and baseball  throughout high school. When track was added to the program in his senior year, Al placed third in both the 440 and 880 at the state track meet.

One high school escapade he recalls was a “steer riding” at the Crane railroad stockyards when the boys used the steers left by Hills to be shipped on the train the next morning as bucking stock for a little night steer riding “rodeo”, hoping Hills would never find out.

After high school, Al helped his dad on the ranch, doing custom farming, building livestock reservoirs with a cat and dozer, planting grain and stacking hay among other things. He helped Harold Fine cut small fir poles to be used as hay-buck teeth to sell to big ranches in the south end of Harney County, which did not reap the riches they had anticipated, but was an adventure.

Soon, Al joined Red Dunbar in trying a hand at bareback bronc riding and moved on to saddle bronc riding around the Northwest for a few years winning some championship buckles along the way. He enrolled in college in pre-veterinary at the College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho, in 1956. When he ran out of money after fall term in 1957, he came home and rode colts for Dan Opie at Lawen for the winter until “Uncle Sam” drafted him in March of 1958. He spent two years in the Army in classified communications.

After training at Fort Ord, Calif., and Fort Gordon, Ga., he spent one year in Korea, returning home in March 1960. He became reacquainted with the bratty little neighbor girl who had often begged him for a ride home from school on the handlebars of his bike, and he and Carol Anne Miler were married on June 17, 1961, after her graduation from Boise Junior College.  Their son, Turen Alfred Jr. (Tad), was born May 16, 1962, and their daughter, Cheryl Anne, was born July 18, 1963. After working for neighboring ranches for three years, Al and his family moved back to Kimball Flat to help Carol’s dad and build their own cattle business, which they still run today.


County road map stirs discussion

Posted on June 11th in News

Efforts continue to document roads

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Discussion concerning the road inventory map continued during the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Court (held June 4).

During the May 7 meeting, Travis Williams provided an update concerning continued efforts to document existing roads within Harney County.

Williams explained that he’d been working with local agricultural producers to document roads that were historically and are currently being used for economic operation.

And Harney County Judge Steve Grasty said, “The purpose of this [map] is just to say, ‘This is a road system within Harney County that we know about today.’ And maybe we can protect it.”

During the June 4 meeting, Grasty expressed frustration concerning some of the letters to the editor that were published in the Burns Times-Herald concerning the road inventory map.

For example, in a letter published May 21, Barbara Cannady wrote that, “Applied to private property, this map creates a record that would remove the ability of the landowners to change [road] use, and would have to be challenged/defended in future legal fights.” She added, “The effect is a tool whereby the county can callously seize lands for public use without compensation, or removal from tax levy.”

And, in a letter published June 4, William Neilson asserted that, “All those ranch and farm tracks you use on, across, or to your properties, currently just noted as dotted lines on BLM [Bureau of Land Management] maps, might soon become ‘Public Rights of Way,’ even if there isn’t, and never has been any public right of way over them.”

“Letters to the editor said this is an effort for the county to take roads,” Grasty said during the meeting. He added, “That was never the intention.”

Grasty emphasized that the intent of the map is not to address road ownership, but simply to identify that the roads exist.

“There are folks who think this becomes part of the county road system,” Grasty said. “It absolutely does not.”

Harney County Roads Supervisor Eric Drushella agreed, stating, “We are not adding roads to the roads department.”

Grasty said the road identification process could assist efforts to prevent road closures. He added that, recently, the court has been in the middle of a “serious debate” with the BLM and Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) in an effort to prevent road closures on Steens Mountain.

Grasty also stated that the map was completed at the request of Harney County citizens, adding that several local ranchers have encouraged him to continue with this effort.

Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols suggested consulting with legal counsel to develop a new title for the map’s legend.

The court agreed that the legend should be carefully worded to address concerns that have been raised regarding personal property rights.

The court will schedule a hearing to further explain the purpose of the map, and Grasty said a copy of the map will be posted in the courthouse foyer.


The court also reviewed a request from Harney County Assessor Ted Tiller and District Attorney Tim Colahan concerning the cancellation of uncollectible personal property taxes in the amount of $1,348.19.

During the previous meeting (held May 21), Tiller explained that some of the uncollectible taxes are from mobile homes that were abandoned by their owners or the parties responsible for them.

And, in a letter written to the court, Tiller described the mobile homes as “unlivable.”

Uncollectible personal property taxes were also accrued by a commercial, portable coffee shop that was moved out of the county in 2011.

Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels made a motion to sign a court order to cancel these uncollectible taxes. Nichols seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.


The court also reviewed two applications for approaches from a county road.

Kenny Bentz applied for an approach two-and-a-half miles south of Buchanan on the west side of the Crane Buchanan Road.

Nichols moved to approve the approach. Runnels seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.

The court also reviewed an application from DCR Hay Company LLC.

Drushella said the requested approach appears to be on an adjacent property, and he suggested that the court discuss the application with DCR Hay before approving it.


The court received an invitation to attend the Beatys Butte Working Group meeting and field trip June 5-6 in Lakeview.

According to the text of the invitation, the Beatys Butte Working Group was jointly sponsored by the Beatys Butte Grazing Association and ONDA to address various public land management issues on the 500,000-acre Beatys Butte Common Allotment (located between Hart Mountain and Sheldon National Wildlife Refuges).

“I think you need to be able to say more than, ‘It’s my opinion. I can’t speak for the court,” Grasty said to Runnels (who later attended the meeting on behalf of the court). “I think you [should] walk in and draw the line in the sand.”

Grasty suggested developing a position paper, expressing the court’s collective opinion concerning the issues that were to be discussed during the meeting.

The court reviewed a position paper that was drafted by Grasty and discussed talking points for the meeting.


In other business, the court:

• was addressed during the public comment period by Herb Vloedman who reported that the veterans’ recognition signs, which will be placed at the county line entries, are in the works.

Vloedman also posed a question concerning net job growth in relation to the economic development budget.

Grasty suggested that Vloedman bring that question up at the next Harney County Community Response Team meeting.

He said, “That’s a perfect place to ask that question;”

• was addressed by Susan Bush during the public comment period regarding water levels.

Bush expressed concern that water is becoming poisoned from being at lower levels.

Having no authority over wells, the court encouraged Bush to attend Harney County Watershed Council meetings, which are held the third Tuesday of every month at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center;

• briefly discussed Meadowlands roads;

• was addressed during the public comment period by Barbara Kull concerning property rights;

• approved an Out-of-District Service Delivery Agreement contract with Treasure Valley Community College for 2013-2014;

• briefly discussed sage grouse.

Grasty said Harney County’s pushback convinced the state to start looking at sage grouse management county-by-county.

He added that Paul Henson, state supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, agreed with this strategy;

• reviewed an updated list of county-owned properties.

The court will set a date for public auction of some of these parcels;

• reviewed a purchase order from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for rock hauled into the Frenchglen Landfill.

The court agreed to put the funds in the closure fund;

• reviewed the 2014-2015 Maintenance Assistance Program Allocation Certification Agreement with the State Marine Board.

The agreement provides for funding, which will be used to provide restrooms maintenance at several reservoirs in Harney County;

• agreed to write a letter of support for the Harney County Opportunity Team’s Arrowhead Plaza project;

• recessed at 11:44 a.m. and reconvened at 1:30 p.m. for a budget committee meeting.

There being no public comment on the proposed budget, budget committee member Terri Hellbusch moved to approve the 2014-2015 budget in the amount of $29,045,166.

Nichols seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.

Runnels moved to levy the permanent tax rate of 4.5016.

Hellbusch seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.

A hearing to adopt the 2014-2015 budget will be held June 18 at 1:30 p.m.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the county court will be held Wednesday, June 18, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.

Design meant to echo a woman’s womb

Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Members of the class learning how to make cradleboards hold an older one (left) and one of the cradleboards being built in class. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

Members of the class learning how to make cradleboards hold an older one (left) and one of the cradleboards being built in class. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

“Teaching this class has been such a big honor for me, and I think the reason why is knowing that cradleboard making is going to be passed down, and that’s really important to me,” Sara Barton said.

In an effort to help preserve and nurture the tradition, Barton has been teaching a cradleboard-making class at the Gathering Center (which is located on the Burns Paiute Reservation) since January. 

About cradleboards

Cradleboards are traditional, protective carriers that were used by various Native American tribes to transport children ranging in age from infancy to 2.

Styles of cradleboards varied from tribe-to-tribe,  as did the traditions and customs concerning their use.

Traditional Northern Paiute cradleboards were made from small, willow sticks that were woven together with split willow strings and attached to a long, oval frame made of heavy willow. The board was then covered with buckskin or canvas that laced up in the front to hold the child in place. 

Barton said cradleboards were designed to echo the “warmth and security” of a mother’s womb, and she compared them to modern-day swaddling blankets.

A shade, made of very fine willows woven together, was attached to the top of the cradleboard to keep light out of the baby’s eyes and protect him/her if the board tipped over. The shade was decorated with a pattern in yarn that identified the baby’s gender, and a blanket could be draped over the shade while the baby slept.

A tie, fastened to the side of the board, fit over the mother’s forehead or around her shoulders, allowing her to carry the baby on her back while she completed tasks or chores.

Barton explained that cradleboards basically allowed the baby to be with the mother all the time. And she stressed the importance of that closeness toward the baby’s happiness and wellbeing.

Three different sizes of cradleboards were used to carry children as they grew from infants to toddlers. And Barton said some children would try to crawl back into their cradleboards even after they outgrew them because the boards offered a sense of security.

Barton said families are still using cradleboards to carry children during powwows and gatherings.  But most modern mothers carry the cradleboards in their arms, instead of on their backs.

“It’s amazing how many young mothers you see using the cradleboards,” Barton said.

A ‘dying art’

But, locally, knowledge of cradleboard construction was diminishing.

Barton learned the craft from Burns Paiute Tribal Elder Minerva Soucie. And, when Soucie passed away, Barton and 96-year-old Tribal Elder Rena Beers were among an increasingly-diminishing number of tribe members who mastered the cultural tradition.

Recognizing that the craft was on the verge of extinction, Tracy Kennedy, who coordinates youth prevention programs and juvenile services for the Burns Paiute Tribe, applied for a grant through the Harney County Cultural Coalition to nurture the “dying art.”

In the grant application, Kennedy wrote that, “Traditional Northern Paiute cradleboard techniques have been passed down through face-to-face interaction over many generations. Sadly, the practice is in danger of being lost, as only a handful of people currently maintain the knowledge to pass onto future generations. At most, the Burns Paiute Tribe has only four traditional cradleboard masters, one of which is willing to share her teachings to carry on this incredible artistry.”

Kennedy applied for the grant in November 2013 and received $1,100 in funding the following month.

Because she was eager to share the knowledge that she acquired from Soucie, Barton said she was “more than happy” when Kennedy asked her to teach a six-month cradleboard class.

About the class

The cradleboard class got under way in January 2014, when participants learned how to identify and gather the proper willows.

The willows were selected from various locations, including the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. And they had to be picked during the winter because that’s when it’s easiest to remove the bark.

In February, students focused on cleaning and scraping the willows, which were later used for the cradleboards’ backing and shade.

Weaving began in March, as participants began constructing cradleboard frames. And canvas material was fitted around the frames in April.

Barton explained that the class used canvas instead of buckskin because  it’s less expensive and an easier material to learn with.

The class began attaching willow shades to the covered frames in May. And, by the time the class concluded on June 2, many students finished their cradleboards by adding fringes and beadwork to the sides and back.

Although the formal class concluded, Barton said she plans to continue coaching participants who have yet to complete their projects.

“Some have finished, and some haven’t. And that’s OK,” Barton said. “I want to see this continue and not discourage anybody by setting a time limit on it.”

Barton explained that cradleboard making is “a process,” adding that, “There’s a lot to remember.”

However, she said, “It’s all enjoyable for me.”

Barton emphasized the importance of maintaining a positive attitude during all phases of the project. In fact, she said she won’t even gather materials if she’s angry or upset.

“I don’t want to put that into my work,” she explained.

Preserving the tradition

Kennedy said that, although not everyone will complete a cradleboard, as many as 70 different tribe members have been involved in some phase of the cradleboard-making process.

And, in some cases, multiple generations took the class together.

For example, Shelley Richards crafted a cradleboard with her grandson, Truston Snapp.

Regarding Snapp, Barton said, “My heart soars when I see what he has accomplished.”

Barton said it’s difficult to describe how much teaching the class has meant to her.

“It brought a sense of happiness,” she said. “People were talking and smiling. It’s so healing for me to see what the cradleboard class brought out. It was very special.”

She added, “One thing that I found that was so interesting about doing this class was that I was hearing stories from different students about how their moms or their grandmothers can remember family members making cradleboards. The stories were just coming down, and it was fascinating.”

CCAA part of ongoing effort 

Ranchers, agency members and others met on Steens Mountain to sign the CCAA. (Submitted photo)

Ranchers, agency members and others met on Steens Mountain to sign the CCAA. (Submitted photo)

On May 21, in rural Eastern Oregon, one of the largest land conservation agreements in the state to protect greater sage grouse was signed.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Harney Soil and Water Conservation District, (HSWCD) and Eastern Oregon ranchers entered into a landmark agreement as part of an ongoing effort to provide sage grouse habitat protection. This agreement, The Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA), allows landowners to voluntarily agree to manage their lands to remove or reduce threats to a species. In return, landowners received assurances against additional regulatory requirements should that species ever be listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  

Stacy Davies, manager of Roaring Springs Ranch, said the CCAA gives landowners an opportunity to maintain grazing and other traditional agricultural uses on their land, and protects those uses should an ESA listing occur.  

“Landowners in Eastern Oregon are highly concerned about the cultural, social and economic impacts of our rural way of life by the potential listing of greater sage grouse under the ESA,” said Carol Dunten, HSWCD chairwoman and private landowner. “The Harney County CCAA was created by a diverse group of stakeholders working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a proactive voluntary private land management plan that provides greater sage grouse habitat conservation. Based on the initial interest in enrollment, this plan will demonstrate agriculture’s commitment to protect the species.”

More than 30 landowners have already committed, covering 250,000 acres.  Oregon’s six other sage grouse counties are following Harney’s model, meaning all the state’s habitat on private land would be covered by a CCAA before the listing decisions, according to Fish and Wildlife’s Oregon State Supervisor Paul Henson, though what impact that has depends on how many people sign up.

Greater sage grouse currently occur in 11 states and two Canadian provinces, with loss and fragmentation of habitat the primary threat across its range.  In Oregon, greater sage grouse were once found in most sagebrush habitats east of the Cascades.  Greater sage grouse were listed as a candidate species in 2010. The Service is scheduled to make a listing decision in September 2015.

Products shipped all over the world

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Anna Huber produces her line of soaps in her home. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

Anna Huber produces her line of soaps in her home. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

When you walk into Anna Huber’s home in Burns, your olfactory receptors are immediately embraced by an array of alluring aromas, ranging from the delicate, floral fragrance of freshly-cut lilacs to the warm, spicy scents of cinnamon and clove.

That’s because her kitchen doubles as her workshop, where she handcrafts her all-natural, artisan soaps and spa products.


A family trade

Anna learned the art of soap making from her mother-in-law, Linda Huber, who pioneered the process through trial and error.

“She had to start from scratch, teaching herself how to make homemade soap,” Anna said regarding Linda.

When Anna first started dating her husband, Ryan Huber, he gave her a bar of Linda’s soap as a gift. And from that point on, Anna was hooked.

“Once I started using her soaps, I became addicted. I never went back to buying soap from the store because it [Linda’s soap] made such a difference in my skin,” Anna explained.

When her in-laws later decided to move to Mexico, Anna said she started to panic because she couldn’t find soap that she liked as much as Linda’s.

But, luckily, Linda agreed to share her soap-making secrets before she made the move.

“She taught me the whole process of how she made soap,” Anna said, adding that Linda also handed over her “soap bible,” a three-ring binder containing all of her recipes.

But it took a while for Anna to get the hang of it.

“The first few batches I made were terrible,” she said with a laugh. “I was giving [bars] away just to get rid of them.”

But she continued to improve. And, eventually, she started getting creative, formulating her own recipes and scent combinations.


Chemistry in the kitchen

Soap making could be considered both an art and a science.

Anna explained that each batch of soap has to be carefully calculated, and ingredients must be measured meticulously.

“You really have to play chemist in the kitchen,” she said. “Anything that you add into [your batch] has to be calculated into your recipe.”

She added, “I try to pack the most all-natural, moisturizing materials into one batch of soap that I can.”

Examples of Anna’s ingredients include coconut, olive, argan, avocado, macadamia nut, palm and castor oils. She also uses shea and cocoa butter, as well as lemon peels, coffee grounds, oatmeal, dried mint leaves, coconut milk, distilled lilac water, tea, sea salt, and a number of other natural products.

“Each soap is a little different,” she said, explaining that different bars require different ingredients.

Some examples of her existing bars include Spring Lilac, Rich Arabian Spice, and Beach Breezes.

And she continues to concoct new recipes.

When asked how she comes up with ideas for new bars, Anna replied, “I’ll just think, ‘What sounds really good to me? What’s a soap that I would  want?’”

Anna also creates custom orders for individuals who request specific scent and ingredient combinations through her Internet-based business.

Although she primarily specializes in soap, she’s also created products such as body butters, perfumes, room and linen sprays, body scrubs, bath salts, and aromatherapy oils at the request of her customers.



Anna sells her soap  and spa products through Etsy, a website that allows individuals to set up personal shops and sell items to customers around the world. Her shop, AnnasNaturals, can be accessed online at www.etsy.com/shop/AnnasNaturals.

Anna opened her shop in September 2013, after a friend encouraged her to sell the soap that she’d been making and giving away to family and friends.

“The first week I opened, I had a sale every day,” she said. “It was really cool and exciting and kind of nerve-racking,” she added, explaining that, with more than 400 soap-based businesses on Etsy, she didn’t expect such a quick customer response.

Anna said that, since she’s opened up shop, she’s shipped soap to customers “from all over the world,” including New York, Florida, France and Germany. And recent guests of Portland’s Benson Hotel may have bathed with bars of her Mint Chocolate Chip soap.

But Anna, who grew up and attended school in Harney County, said she loves local orders.

In fact, she offers discounts to local customers, including $1 off the price of a bar of soap. She also waives the shipping fee and offers same-day delivery to customers in the Burns-Hines area.

However, same-day delivery is only available for soap that is currently in her inventory. She explained that custom orders take more time because it takes three to four weeks for soap to cure.

Locals can order online through Anna’s Etsy site or by messaging her on Facebook.


Five-star service

Anna said she would like to maintain her Etsy shop’s current five-star rating by providing quality products and customer service.

“Not only are customers  getting a top-quality bar of soap, but I really pride myself on the appearance of them too,” she said, explaining that the bars come “beautifully wrapped in ribbon and labeled with a business card.”

She added, “I always want people to be happy.”

Topics range from wild horses to health care

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

Senator Ron Wyden presents Verna Pettyjohn with an American flag. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

Senator Ron Wyden presents Verna Pettyjohn with an American flag. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) paid a visit to Harney County on Saturday, May 24, and stopped at the Harney County Senior and Community Services Center in Burns for his 704th “town hall” meeting. Residents gathered to ask questions and make comments on a wide variety of issues.

First on the senator’s agenda was to recognize local resident Verna Pettyjohn’s instrumental role in the newly completed renovation of the senior center. She was awarded the  Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (OTEC)’s Peggi Timm Civic Leadership Award. Wyden presented her with an American flag that had been flown over the U.S. capitol.

Next, Wyden began the discussion by noting several recent news items. First, he praised the recent signing of the greater sage grouse Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA), commenting that it was a good model and a “win-win” for the county. He recognized Stacy Davies and Colby Marshall for their work on the agreement.

Secondly, he announced the one-year extension of funding for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) through the passage of the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013.

Finally, he noted upcoming bipartisan fire legislation, recently endorsed by President Obama, that would bring changes to how large wildfire suppression is funded. According to Wyden’s website, it would  mean that the largest fires (roughly 1 percent) would be treated as natural disasters and would, therefore, be paid for out of the disaster fund, freeing up money for land management agencies to use for prevention.

“What this would say is we’ll no longer rob the prevention fund when these big fires break out,” Wyden explained.

Wyden then opened the floor for questions and comments from the audience. Issues ranged all the way from healthcare to wild horses.


Land and wildlife management

Following Wyden’s acknowledgement and praise of the greater sage grouse CCAA, the focus of discussion shifted to another animal: the wild horse. It was noted that there are similar agreements in the works for this issue as well, and Wyden again expressed his support of the concept:

“I think Harney County is on the right side of history with these kinds of agreements that produce collaboration rather than confrontation,” he said.

Stacy Davies, representing Roaring Springs Ranch, updated the senator on the current situation with wild horses, explaining that there are nearly 50,000 horses in holding facilities (nationwide). He noted that these animals are responsible for major reductions in AUMs (animal unit months) which, he explained, are quickly driving ranchers out of business.

Senator Wyden acknowledged the sense of urgency, and stated that he would convey the gravity of the situation to the appropriate federal agencies.


A concern was raised about the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA)’s proposed Oregon Desert Trail and whether it would affect landowners. The organization has indicated that it is seeking federal designation for the trail.

Wyden was aware of the project, but did not have enough information at the time to speak in detail about its status. But he did state generally his stance with regard to these situations:

“My policy, with respect to natural resources, is I don’t come out for anything until we’ve given everybody a chance to try to work together and to find common ground,” explained Wyden.



The healthcare discussion began with a concern  from the audience expressed over the recent allegations against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“I can’t find much that is more, just awful, than the idea of falsifying records with respect to services for veterans,” said Wyden. “That’s not what America is all about.”

Wyden noted that veterans’ healthcare has long been underfunded, and that the current scandal has made things all the worse.


Another concern expressed was about the general lack of healthcare providers in rural areas, like Harney County. Wyden recognized the issue and explained that there are multiple parts to the solution.

One strategy would be getting more nurses, physician assistants, and others  to rural areas in order to stretch the resources that currently exist.

Secondly, he noted his focus on promoting telehealth and digital medicine, and the importance of connecting rural medical professionals with doctors around the state.

Of course, he said, the ultimate goal would be to get more doctors to rural areas. He explained that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provided for some loan forgiveness for doctors who choose to go to rural areas, but that is only a start.


The ACA was mentioned on several occasions, and on that topic the senator emphasized his bipartisan record on voting for and developing healthcare bills, and also made it clear that there are issues that remain unresolved with the healthcare law.

“Obviously, there’s a lot to do. We’re all very, very troubled by what happened with Cover Oregon, and the state’s website,” explained Wyden, stating that he, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), have asked for a federal investigation into that issue.


Gun rights

A member of the audience asked Senator Wyden about his support of a United Nations treaty regulating the international arms trade, and expressed concern about Second Amendment rights. Wyden explained that he could not find anything in the language of the bill that would limit the right to bear arms, and that he supports the Second Amendment.

“I have read it, and re-read it, and read it again, and I can’t find anything in [the bill] that does damage to the Second Amendment. What it does do,” Wyden explained, “is it keeps us from selling weapons to terrorists, which is what the agreement is all about.”

Wyden arranged to have the text of the bill sent to the concerned parties to have them highlight what language they found objectionable.


Economic development

Pete Runnels thanked Wyden for his work on promoting a stewardship contract that kept Malheur Lumber open in Grant County, and hoped that the economic benefits “trickled down” to Harney County.

“We’re going to try to make that the model for the whole east side — that’s in my Eastside bill,” said Wyden, referring to his Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection, and Jobs Act bill.

“The cut is up, the litigation is down,” said Wyden.


An audience member asked Wyden to comment on the problem of rural poverty.

He touted educational funding, forestry, transportation, and agriculture as pieces of the solution.

“We do a lot of things well in our state, but what we do best is grow things, so we ought to encourage people to grow things…and then ship them somewhere,” said Wyden. “A lot of these countries around the world really would like our products. We just have to clear out some of the trade barriers.”


Political polarization

Toward the latter half of the meeting, a comment was made about the character of leadership in Congress. Wyden took the opportunity to emphasize the importance he places on bipartisanship:

“If there’s one thing I want to do,” he said, “one thing above all else in my time in public service, it is to be part of the effort to break this partisanship and polarization.”


Other topics included the conflict of free speech and political correctness, government spending and healthcare costs, and making Medicare more easily navigable for seniors.


Unsafe access spurs fundraising efforts

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

With the existing structure (and “infamous” ladder) behind them, Dave Doman’s CUHS construction class is hard at work laying the concrete forms for the new concession stand at Crane’s Valentine Field. Donations of cash, supplies, and labor toward the completion of the project are accepted. (Submitted photo)

With the existing structure (and “infamous” ladder) behind them, Dave Doman’s CUHS construction class is hard at work laying the concrete forms for the new concession stand at Crane’s Valentine Field. Donations of cash, supplies, and labor toward the completion of the project are accepted. (Submitted photo)

It was the rickety old wooden ladder that really got people to “step up.”

A team of Harney County residents, working with the Ford Institute Leadership Program (FILP), have made it their mission to assist the Crane Mustang Booster Club with the replacement of the old concession stand at Crane’s Valentine Field, including the unsafe access to the crow’s nest.

FILP came to Burns last fall to gather a cohort of 21 local participants, including seven youth members. The program was built through the partnership of the Ford Family Foundation and Rural Development Initiatives (RDI).

According to its website, FILP is “based on the belief that vital rural communities develop from a broad base of knowledgeable, skilled and motivated leaders, a diversity of effective organizations, and productive collaborations among organizations.” The program provides training classes, assistance grants, and other resources.

Classes consist of 48 hours of training over four sessions and address a variety of concepts focused on community development and leadership. In order to apply these concepts to a real-world situation, each cohort selects and takes on a project as a group.

Previous cohorts in the area have taken on improvement projects including the Hines skate park, Hines City Park pavilion space, and the area outside the Harney County Library. In this fourth leadership class, participants wanted to extend efforts to another part of Harney County.

When Crane Union High School (CUHS) students (and FILP participants) Mary and Maddie Dorroh showed their group photos of the existing concession stand and the “infamous” wooden ladder, support for the proposed project grew quickly.

Visitors to Valentine Field know the concession stand well: announcers call out track events and broadcast football action from the crow’s nest, and food and drink are sold below. Many people have expressed their amazement at the booster club’s ability to serve good food in such a basic shelter.

FILP participants, working with the booster club and Mr. Dave Doman’s construction class at CUHS, will initially work toward building a solid structure, including a sturdy, secure staircase to the crow’s nest. Then, as funding allows, electricity, water, bathrooms, and landscaping will be added. Expenses include labor, permits, and materials.

That’s where the “Brand The Stand” campaign comes in. Ranches, families, individuals, and businesses are encouraged to donate $100 to have their brand and name (or just name) engraved on boards to be permanently displayed on the new concession stand. Youth from the Eastern Oregon Youth Correctional Facility (EOYCF) have volunteered to help with engraving names. Donations of cash, building supplies, and labor will be accepted. Needed building supplies include lumber, nails, siding, roofing, doors, windows, and tools.

The group’s first fundraiser at Crane Play Day May 1 raised $2,100, qualifying them to apply for a $5,000 matching grant from the Ford Family Foundation. Two more fundraisers are planned, one at CUHS graduation on May 30, and the other at the Ranch Rodeo on July 12. Board branding will take place on site at the Ranch Rodeo event. As of May 15, $3,400 of the $7,000 needed in cash donations had been raised.

Donations may be sent at any time to: Crane Mustang Booster Club/Crane Concession, P.O. Box 866, Crane OR 97732. If donors would like to use their brand, boards will be provided. Donations are tax deductible, and receipts are available. For more information, contact Gary Marshall at 541-493-2494, or Cindy Lofts at 541-589-1965.

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