On Aug. 25 U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) wrote to the U.S. Forest Service to urge changes to the controversial Blue Mountains Forest Plan revision. At town hall meetings in Eastern Oregon this month, Walden heard strong concerns from local communities that their needs and wishes were ignored in this plan.

In a letter to Regional Forester Jim Peña, Walden wrote, “The federally managed forests that span throughout Eastern Oregon provide significant economic and cultural benefits to local communities. In addition to the economic value these forests hold, accessing and utilizing these lands is a way of life for area residents. However, these forests are in poor condition and dire need of proper management that will restore forest health, reduce catastrophic wildfire, and sustain the economies in these rural communities. Unfortunately, it seems that this plan falls short of meeting these needs of the forest and the communities.

“Over the past year, communities surrounded by the Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests have expressed deep concerns with the direction of this plan. At all of my recent town halls and other public meetings in these communities, I heard from a variety of constituents and local elected officials who have found that this plan not only fails to meet the needs of their communities, but also fails to achieve the desired conditions for the forest as well,” Walden continued.

In concluding the letter, Walden urged the agency to work with local communities to make changes to the plan, and invited the regional forester to Eastern Oregon to discuss the plan. “I hope that you will reassess the proposal and engage with these local communities to develop a plan that accurately reflects existing forest conditions and outlines objectives that will reach the needed environmental and economic outcomes. I look forward to having you join me on the ground in Eastern Oregon to discuss this plan and other issues on our national forests that so greatly impact Oregon’s rural communities,” Walden wrote.

Earlier this month, Walden heard strong opposition to the plan at town halls and other public meetings in Harney, Grant, Union, Umatilla, and Wallowa counties. For example, concerns have been voiced that the plan doesn’t provide adequate timber production for the region and fails to restore forest health by allowing active management on more land. Last month, the Eastern Oregon Counties Association unanimously rejected the proposed plan.

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Due to scheduling conflicts, the Harney County Court held its meeting on Thursday, Aug. 21.

During the meeting, the court discussed a letter that it received from Brent Fenty, executive director of Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), regarding the Oregon Desert Trail (ODT).

On Nov. 15, 2013, ONDA, in coordination with several conservation organizations, submitted a formal request to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to establish an 800-mile trail system across multiple counties in Central and Eastern Oregon. Spanning from the Oregon Badlands Wilderness in Central Oregon to Lake Owyhee State Park near the Oregon/Idaho border, the ODT crosses portions of Deschutes, Harney, Lake and Malheur counties.

On Jan. 8, 2014, representatives from all four affected counties wrote a letter to Fenty, BLM State Director Jerry Perez, and USFWS Pacific Region Director Robyn Thorson expressing concerns about the ODT proposal and requesting that ONDA convene public forums in Bend, Burns, Lakeview and Vale.

Fenty attended a Community Response Team meeting (held April 2 in Burns) to introduce Harney County residents to a proposal to designate the ODT as a National Recreation Trail.

After the presentation, some members of the public expressed concerns. Examples of these concerns included ONDA’s history of environmental litigation, how the trail designation might impact motorized-vehicle access, whether signs would be posted along the trail, the potential impact on rural search and rescue operations, the economic impact on nearby communities, and whether trail designation is truly necessary.

Fenty responded to some of these concerns in a letter dated Aug. 15.

During the Aug. 21 court meeting, Harney County Judge Steve Grasty requested that the county commissioners review the letter and consider how to respond to it.

If we simply accept this [letter], it may appear that we’re agreeing, and I don’t,” Grasty said. “I think they have missed some of the big issues that we asked about, and there may be some other points that we want to make in this.”

Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols said, “There is just nothing good — nothing good about this at all. It’s a ploy, and it’s a very well-conceived chess move.”

Nichols said he believed the trail designation would build a foundation for future regulation.

In his letter, Fenty addressed concerns regarding the development of land-use restrictions along the trail route by stating, “ONDA continues to work separately on conservation efforts, such as wilderness [designations] across Oregon’s high desert; however, the ODT proposal, and the associated National Recreation Trail concept, was not intended to be a change in land use designations along the route, and we welcome county and other stakeholder input on state designations or other management approaches that would be most appropriate for a trail of this type.”

Fenty went on to discuss the possibility of seeking an “Oregon Scenic Trail” or “Oregon Regional Trail” designation through the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, noting that a state designation may be a way to “highlight trails, as opposed to creating new regulatory criteria.”

However, Grasty said “We don’t support federal or state trail designation.”

Grasty added that he thinks ONDA should complete the full National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process at its own expense, adding that the organization may also need to obtain multiple land use permits. Grasty also stated that the trail is rarely used, and he questioned the necessity of the designation.

The court will attempt to meet with the other affected counties to formulate a joint response to the letter.


The proposed land exchange between the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) and Tree Top Ranches (located southeast of Crane) was also a topic of discussion during the meeting.

A public hearing will be held Tuesday, Sept. 30, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Harney County Community Center, 484 N. Broadway in Burns.

The hearing will provide an opportunity for DSL to inform the public about the proposed exchange and respond to concerns that were raised during the public comment period earlier this year.

“I’m pretty pleased they are going to have a public hearing,” Grasty said, acknowledging that the issue has raised controversy.

Grasty added that Tree Top Ranches is offering a tour of the land that would be affected by the proposed exchange, and he encouraged anyone who is concerned about the proposal to take the tour.

For more information regarding the proposed land exchange, visit: www.oregon.gov/dsl/LW/Pages/Tree-Top-Exchange.aspx.


In other business, the court:

• was informed by Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels that efforts to manage the wild horse population are ongoing.

Runnels said a wild horse sanctuary has been proposed, but he doesn’t know whether the idea will move forward;

• learned from Grasty that the BLM provided funding for a project to convert Harney County’s mining claim documents into a searchable database for mineral investigations and land use planning;

• discussed sage grouse. Grasty said the USFWS is accepting input concerning whether it should list sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

He said, up until this point, he’d been focusing on the BLM’s Resource Management Plan Amendment/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (RMPA/DEIS) and the state’s Sage Grouse Conservation Partnership (SageCon).

However, he is now looking to put together a meeting of local interest groups to determine how to respond, when to respond, and who should respond to the listing decision. Grasty added that he will try to engage other counties in this effort, as well;

• resumed its conversation concerning a map of roads within Harney County. Grasty said he had not received any additional comments since the previous meeting. He added that he plans to schedule an hour or two to “work through what we’ve heard and figure out where we’re going;”

• approved Resolution 2014-11 in the matter of confirming and declaring the Housing Authority of Malheur County to be the Regional Housing Authority for Malheur and Harney Counties, as the Housing Authority of Malheur County has operated as a regional housing authority for both Malheur and Harney counties since approximately 1977.

Runnels reported that Malheur County has already signed the joint resolution;

• appointed Leon Neuschwander, and re-appointed Wayne Evans, to the Harney County Planning Commission;

• received a copy of a letter that Ruth Danielsen wrote to the BLM concerning the denial of the application for grazing permit renewal for Hammond Ranches Inc.;

• learned from Nichols that the new landfill pit in Diamond has been dug.

He said, “DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality] was very helpful in that process.”

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the county court will be held Wednesday, Sept. 3, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.

Brewing up some fun

Posted on August 20th in News

Must purchase Platinum Package by Aug. 22

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald


Burns BrewFest will be held Saturday, Sept. 13 at the Arrowhead Plaza in downtown Burns. Festival packages are currently available for anyone wishing to participate in the taste testing. The deadline to purchase the Platinum Package, which includes a T-shirt with this logo, is Aug. 22. The Classic Package will be available as supplies last. (Submitted photo)

Burns BrewFest will be held Saturday, Sept. 13 at the Arrowhead Plaza in downtown Burns. Festival packages are currently available for anyone wishing to participate in the taste testing. The deadline to purchase the Platinum Package, which includes a T-shirt with this logo, is Aug. 22. The Classic Package will be available as supplies last. (Submitted photo)

The Harney County Opportunity Team (HCOT) is inviting everyone to come see what’s brewing at a new festival this fall.

Burns BrewFest is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 13 at the Arrowhead Plaza in downtown Burns. And with food, music and taste testing, participants will have ample opportunity to tap into a barrel of fun.


Putting the ‘fun’ in fundraiser

HCOT board member Patty McNeil said she’s never been to a brew festival before, but she thought it’d be a fun and unique way to raise money for the Arrowhead Plaza project.

Located at the corner of West A Street and North Broadway Avenue, the Arrowhead lot has been empty since the Arrowhead Hotel burned down in 1973.

The property’s previous owners, Bill and Ulaberl Allen, donated the lot to HCOT in 2011. Since then, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization has been working with community partners to transform the lot into a public plaza. Some long-term goals include adding an amphitheater, restrooms, pathways and art to the area.


Fun for everyone

McNeil said she started planning Burns BrewFest by conducting research and garnering inspiration from other beer festivals.

However, because of the small size of the community, she said she thinks Burns BrewFest will be unique.

With smaller crowds and ample parking, McNeil said she expects the festival to be comfortable for everyone.

She added that admission to the event is free, and anyone can come eat lunch and enjoy the music.

Available food vendors will include Smoking Pit Barbecue, R&R Cowboy Shack, and Figaro’s Pizza Pub.

McNeil added that shade tents, tables and chairs will be available for festival goers. However, seating will be limited so folks are encouraged to bring their own chairs.

The event’s soundtrack will be provided by RC DJ Music.


Breweries on tap

Burns’ own Steens Mountain Brewing Company will serve samples of its Lone Pine American India Pale Ale and McCoy Creek Scottish Ale.

Bigfoot Beverages will offer Atlas Cider, and McNeil said she also plans to have wine available.

Additionally, three Bend-based breweries have committed to commute to Burns for the festival. Deschutes Brewery will supply samples of its Fresh Squeezed IPA and Deschutes River Ale. GoodLife Brewing Company will offer its Sweet As, and 10 Barrel Brewing Company will tempt taste testers with its Apocalypse IPA.

John Day’s 1188 Brewing Company will be on hand to serve Desert Monk and Black Oak Instigator, and Redmond’s Wild Ride Brewing Company will pour its Cole’s Trickle Lager and Hopperhead IPA.

Last but not least, Payette Brewing Company, based in Boise, Idaho, will cross state lines to offer its Mutton Buster Brown Ale and Outlaw IPA.

Taste testers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite brew.

Although the festival is open to all ages, participants must be 21 or older to sample a swig, and tastes can only be taken from a Burns BrewFest beer stein.


Festival packages already available

In order to secure a stein, participants must purchase a package.

The $20 Classic Package includes:

• one, 15-ounce glass beer stein with the Burns BrewFest logo;

• eight tasting tokens; and

• admittance at 12 p.m.

The $40 Platinum Package includes:

• one, 15-ounce glass beer stein with the Burns BrewFest logo;

• one T-shirt with the Burns BrewFest logo (available in unisex and ladies’ cut);

• 12 tasting tokens; and

• advanced, 11 a.m. entrance for a “meet and greet” with the breweries.

Both packages are currently on sale at Figaro’s Pizza Pub, Reid’s Country Store, 4B Nursery and Floral, Harney County Chamber of Commerce, and Round Barn Visitor Center.

The deadline to purchase the Platinum Package is Friday, Aug. 22. 

McNeil said the deadline is necessary to ensure that customers receive the correct T-shirt size and cut.

Additional T-shirts will be available for purchase at the event, but organizers cannot ensure size and cut availability.

There is no deadline to purchase the Classic Package. However, McNeil is encouraging everyone to purchase their packages in advance, as only 210 BrewFest steins will be available to the public.

Additional tasting tokens can be purchased at the festival for $1 apiece. Each token is worth one, 4 ounce taste.

The festival will conclude at 7 p.m.


Stepping stones

McNeil said if this year’s festival is well attended, it could serve as a stepping stone toward the goal of establishing an annual event. She added that abundant public participation could also entice additional breweries (as well as vineyards and hard cider distributors) to partake in future festivals.

And speaking of stepping stones, McNeil said people can also purchase the bricks that will eventually be incorporated into the plaza’s pathways. She explained that the bricks can be engraved with business or family names or in memory of a loved one.


A community effort

McNeil concluded that several local sponsors have stepped up to support the Burns BrewFest, and she encouraged patrons to “get out and do some local shopping to support those who have supported us.”


Efforts to raise funds are ongoing

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Hilander football fans can feast their eyes on a new pair of goalposts at Corbett Memorial Field this fall. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

Hilander football fans can feast their eyes on a new pair of goalposts at Corbett Memorial Field this fall. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

This fall, when the Hilanders score a touchdown, it will be done in the shadows of new goalposts at Corbett Memorial Field.

The new goalposts, dedicated in memory of Mark L. Smith, are a result of donations and good timing.

Smith passed away Dec. 1, 2013, and was a fixture  on the sidelines for many years as a member of the chain gang during Hilander football games. After his death, donations in Smith’s memory could be made to the Burns High School Athletic fund, earmarked for new goal posts.

Then, last July, Cascade Athletic Supply in Medford contacted Randy Fulton of Burns, who had inquired earlier about getting new goalposts for the football field. Fulton was told that a set of goalposts were available at a discounted price, and that there would be no freight charge, which normally would have been a considerable amount.

The only catch was the goalposts needed to be ordered before the end of July to take advantage of the lower price and free freight. Although there wasn’t enough money in the Mark Smith fund yet, “friends of the football program,” with the approval of the Hilander Booster Club, couldn’t pass up the opportunity and went ahead and placed the order.

Faced with a total cost of $4,650, a “Gofundme.com” account was set up on Facebook, allowing Hilander fans to donate to the cause. As of last week, the Mark Smith fund had $1,500 and the Gofundme account sat at $1,750. Fulton said Cascade delayed the billing until October, and he’s confident they’ll have the money by then.

The goalposts have been set in place, thanks to the diligence and hard work of Rocky Wensenk and his crew, and are ready for the first Hilander score of the 2014 season.

While not as visible as the goalposts, a new sprinkler system was installed at the football field. The new system replaces a system installed in 1992 by Fulton and head football coach Terry Graham.

Harney County School District No. 3 budgeted for the new system, and it was installed this summer by Josh Kenyon Enterprises.

In addition to new goalposts, souvenir Hilander football programs are making their return this year. Representatives will be contacting area businesses to see if they would like to advertise in the program, and individuals may also be included.

The VIP parking spots at Corbett Memorial Field, overlooking the north end of the field, are for sale again this year, as well. Two of the five have already been sold. Anyone interested in being a sponsor for the program or purchasing a parking spot may contact Fulton at 541-589-3994.

Framing a space for art

Posted on August 13th in News

Local artist has a passion for presentation

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

Local artist Liz Voegtly stands in her downtown Burns apartment. Her flair for presentation and attention to detail is evident in her interior decorating as well as her art work. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

Local artist Liz Voegtly stands in her downtown Burns apartment. Her flair for presentation and attention to detail is evident in her interior decorating as well as her art work. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

When you’re looking at a painting, do you consider the frame around it as part of the composition? Does the positioning of a decorative object in your home affect your opinion of it?

For Liz Voegtly, presentation is an art unto itself. Whether it’s decorating her downtown Burns home, or framing one of her watercolor or collage pieces, she takes great care in the details of display.

Voegtly’s background as a draftsman, graphic designer, and database administrator for Motorola helps to explain her propensity for attention to detail.

She was born and raised in Tempe, Ariz. She and her husband, Carl, lived in Scottsdale for many years, both working for Motorola. Voegtly started as a draftsman for the company. She later got a degree in information technology, and became a database administrator there.

When her husband retired, the couple moved to Burns (where his parents were from originally and where he spent many of his summers). They bought the two downtown buildings that now house the Country Lane Quilts store and Moon Rise Books. The Voegtly family originally built the bookstore building, completing it in 1899. Its original function was as a hardware store. In the 1930s, the Voegtly family turned the second level into an apartment and offices for rent. They lived there until the 1950s. It was then converted into four apartments, which is what it was when Voegtly and her husband bought it in 2000.

In the past year-and-a-half, they have taken on a second level renovation, transforming the space into one apartment, including space for Voegtly’s art studio and gallery-style display space.

This is where Voegtly’s passion for presentation comes in. Over the years, she has amassed a collection of decorative items. She took these and organized them thematically around her home. There is a vineyard area with wine paraphernalia, game and movie walls, and a cooking and baking display near the kitchen. All of the objects are either attached directly to the walls or placed on shelves.

“This is my major art project,” said Voegtly.

“All the design ambition I have has been put into trying to figure out how to make this work,” she explained.

And it looks as if she is indeed making it work. Choosing rich, jewel-tone colors for paint and curtains, Voegtly has given the place a uniquely vibrant feel. She even plans to paint a trompe l’oeil (a realistic painting that creates an optical illusion) on one of the doors.


Creating conversation

Voegtly helps to foster the local art community by hosting “Art Therapy” at her home art studio. A group of up to six people get together and work on individual projects, while getting a chance to talk. Voegtly has a large collection of art supplies that are available to participants, in part thanks to a grant from the Harney County Arts & Crafts association. She said she wants people to be able to “dabble” in different crafts before committing to investing in them.

She also hopes to transform the expansive wall space in her high-ceilinged entry hallway into a gallery area showcasing Harney County artists, and would welcome donations for the display.


Traditional arts

In addition to interior design and decoration, another one of Voegtly’s specialties is the Ukrainian decorated egg. She used to get together with her mother and her mother’s friend, in an earlier incarnation of the “art therapy” group she holds today, and on one occasion, her mother’s friend brought the Ukrainian egg project to their group.

“I hated the first day,” said Voegtly.

But she grew to love the systematic, analytical nature of the work, spending hours practicing.

“It all made sense because I was a draftsman,” she explained.

Ukrainian decorated eggs (called pysanky in Ukrainian), are made using a wax-resist method (batik). Melted wax is applied to the shell of the egg in the desired pattern where it is meant to stay white in color. It is then dipped in yellow, and again selectively covered in wax to maintain the yellow areas. This is repeated with successively darker dyes until it is complete.

Voegtly said it is an interesting process because it requires thinking backward. It also is a craft that is steeped in tradition, originating in ancient times and synthesizing with Christian traditions. Various shapes and symbols have a multitude of meaning. For example, drops of color were used to indicate stars in the night sky, or sometimes tears of the Virgin Mary. Voegtly said that although those aren’t her cultural traditions, she likes to inform people about them in order to give deeper meaning to the art.

Working with only a six dollar art set for four years, she perfected her skills using all different sizes of eggs. Some of the larger pieces take 40 to 60 hours to complete. She gets inspired from patterns she sees and applies them to her projects. Voegtly has even taken on a custom order.

Voegtly’s other art work includes watercolor paintings, collage, pottery and framing. She learned these skills while taking community art classes in Scottsdale, and by participating in Amos Burk’s “Play With Clay” group locally. She mastered the art of framing to a point that she was assisting her instructor. She now owns a miter saw, and styles her own frames for her paintings.

Her watercolor, collage and pottery pieces have won awards at the Harney County Fair, including “Best of Show” for her collage picture of a “Georgian tree,” which was inspired by a photo from a magazine. When it comes to painting, realism is her preferred style, but she hopes to learn the impressionistic style. Some of her favorite artists, Monet and Renoir, are Impressionists.

If you are interested in attending the “Art Therapy” group you can reach Voegtly by email at lvoegtly@yahoo.com or call 541-589-0043. The group meets Tuesdays from noon to 4 p.m., but is currently on hold and won’t be starting up again until fall.

Court discusses livestock grazing

Posted on August 13th in News

Court rejects Blue Mountains National Forests RLMP/DEIS

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Denny Thomas and Brandon Baron attended the regular meeting of the Harney County Court (held Aug. 6) to discuss issues concerning livestock grazing and wildfire control.

Thomas asked what the court’s priorities are regarding these topics.

Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols said he’s been discussing these issues with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

“I’ve got say, the BLM in this district is very responsive to what needs to be done,” Nichols said.

However, he acknowledged that local staff have to act within the parameters of the federal agency.

Baron said, “While we may stand against some BLM policies, we will support the local office if they will stand with us.”

Nichols also mentioned that an Oregon Consensus project was started two years ago to help address these issues.

“We’ve made tremendous headway,” Nichols said regarding the project. However, he admitted that it’s a slow-moving process. “It takes time and patience and people putting everything aside to go to those meetings,” he said.

Baron asked how this progress jibes with research conducted by the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (EOARC) regarding grazing and fuel load.

Nichols replied that efforts are being made to incorporate that science. He added that groups like the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) are also involved, and they are beginning to understand that grazing can be used as a management tool.

“They are starting to understand their fallacy in some of their ways of looking at things,” Nichols said. “It takes a lot of time. But the process is very much worth it in the end because you work together collectively in a progressive, forward, beneficial manner.”

But Baron replied, “We’ve heard that whatever may be happening isn’t enough.” He added, “We’re at the point where everyone has agreed that the process isn’t working.”

Baron said a small group has been meeting to discuss forming a local grazing board that could make decisions based on EOARC research.

Nichols said the court didn’t disagree with what Baron was doing or his intent.

“We are trying to do the same thing,” he said.

He added that the “first, cheapest” thing you can do is increase the animal unit months (AUMs) that are allowed after a wildfire, but there are standards in place that prevent that. (An article published on the University of Arizona’s website defines one AUM as “the amount of forage required by an animal unit (AU) for one month, or the tenure of one AU for a one-month period.”

Nichols said, “Some changes will literally take an act of Congress.” He added, “We need a diverse group to make this happen.”

Baron replied that these changes would not require an act of Congress, but rather an act of the citizens.

“We’re going to throw open the gates,” he said. “If we have to, we’ll have a standoff…What we’re going to do is with cows and grass on real land with real people in Harney County. I think that’s the only way that things are going to happen here.”

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty replied, “If you get there, I won’t be there,” explaining that, if it comes to violence or a standoff, the court will not support it.

Addressing Baron, Nichols said, “I hear you. And, again, I don’t disagree with anything other than an out and out confrontation.”

Nichols then reiterated the importance of collaboration.

However, Baron replied that working with some of these environmentalist groups would be like befriending “the guy that’s beaten you up and stolen your lunch money.”

Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels said communities have been giving to special concerns since the spotted owl, and it’s time for these groups to start giving back. However, he reiterated that it will be a slow process.

Baron asked, “Do we have 10 years to fiddle around with this?”

Barbara Kull, who attended the meeting as a member of the public, agreed that action should be taken quickly.

Nichols said the court is willing to stand up, but it will do so respectfully and collaboratively.

Baron said his group would like to have a discussion with the BLM before anything is planned.

Grasty asked that the proposed grazing board form a mission statement and a list of standards. He explained that, if the board is diplomatic and collaborative, the court may be able to support it.

Grasty also asked the group to invite the court to its meetings.

“Let us know when the meetings are,” Grasty said. “We will attend if we are invited and try to put realism on the table.”

Grasty also noted that EOARC researchers should not be put in the middle of a conflict.


The court also discussed the United States Forest Service (USFS) Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision, which will impact the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests (collectively referred to as the Blue Mountains National Forests).

During a public meeting held March 18, Steve Beverlin, acting forest supervisor on the Malheur National Forest, explained that the National Forest Management Act of 1976 requires forest plans to be revised every 10 to 15 years. However, he said plans for the Blue Mountains National Forests haven’t been revised since 1990.

Numerous meetings have been held since 2004 to discuss the proposed revision, and public scoping began in March 2010. The USFS used comments gathered during that time to develop the Blue Mountains National Forests Proposed Revised Land Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (RLMP/DEIS). The RLMP/DEIS offered six alternatives, ranging from A to F, for revising the plan.

However, during its Aug. 6 meeting, the court agreed to sign Resolution 2014-10, rejecting all of the alternatives presented in the RLMP/DEIS.

The resolution states that, “The Harney County Court finds all alternatives to be unfounded and requests that the Forest Service step back and reassess the conditions on the ground and develop a range of alternatives that address the on the ground conditions focusing on the need to improve and protect the forests; to secure favorable conditions of water flows; and to furnish a continuous supply of timber.”

Grasty said the resolution basically states that, although the USFS has been working on the revision for 10 years, they should throw it away and start over. He added that nothing in the RLMP/DEIS benefits Harney County and said he believes most Eastern Oregon counties will sign similar resolutions.


The court resumed its discussion concerning a map of roads within the county.

A public hearing to discuss the map was opened during the previous county court meeting (held July 16).

After a great deal of discussion, the court agreed to leave the hearing open and continue accepting public comments concerning the map’s disclaimer, as well as requests to add or remove roads.

During the Aug. 6 meeting, Grasty recognized that additional written comments were submitted by Allen and Stephanie Farnsworth, as well as Barbara Cannady.

The court agreed to leave the hearing open until Oct. 15 and make a decision Nov. 5.

Grasty also suggested that the court set aside time during the afternoon of the next county court meeting (to be held Thursday, Aug. 21) to discuss the map and review any testimony received up to that point.


In other business, the court:

• met with Kathleen Johnson, executive director of Coalition of Local Health Officials, to discuss national accreditation for the Harney County Health Department;

• was addressed by Herb Vloedman who expressed concern about economic development in Harney County;

• was addressed by Cannady who said she was notified by CenturyLink that the company is discontinuing dial-up Internet service Aug. 15. Cannady said she will have to find an alternate provider, likely satellite, which will be much more expensive.

“That’s a huge issue,” Grasty said. “I’d love to follow up on that with you, if you want;”

• discussed ongoing efforts to replace the 4-H/FFA grandstands at the Harney County Fairgrounds with Karen Moon of the 4-H livestock committee. Moon requested that the court fund the cost of building permits for the new grandstands. Nichols moved to cover the costs in the amount of $1,375, Runnels seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously;

• recognized a resolution from the board of directors of the Harney County Senior and Community Services Center, which officially donates the center’s building addition to Harney County;

• ratified Resolution 2014-09 in the matter of requesting an emergency declaration for Harney County, which was deemed necessary in light of the situation with the Buzzard Complex wildfire;

• agreed that Runnels should pursue membership on the Community in Action board;

• received notice of a signal replacement and upgrades project on Highway 20/395 in Burns. The project will replace existing signals at the intersection of Hilander and Oregon avenues (near the high school) and the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Monroe Street. Construction is expected to take place between June 1 and Oct. 31, 2015;

• agreed to sign an order of sale of county property that has been acquired by Harney County by foreclosure of delinquent tax liens, exchange, devise, or gift;

• discussed Oregon Department of Forestry fire patrol costs. The court will send a letter of inquiry concerning the increase in these costs.

Due to scheduling conflicts, the next meeting of the county court will be held Thursday, Aug. 21, at 11 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.

Gifft receives 2014 NAEE award

Posted on August 13th in News

CUHS teacher selected as 2014 ‘Outstanding Young Member’

Bibiana Gifft, agricultural educator at Crane Union High School, has been selected as the 2014 Oregon winner of the Outstanding Young Member award given by the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE).

Outstanding Young Member award winners are agricultural educators who have been teaching for no more than six years and who have demonstrated significant progress toward establishing a successful agricultural education program. Applicants are judged on a variety of criteria, including teaching philosophy, effective classroom and experiential instruction, development of partnerships, and professional growth.

The Outstanding Young Member award was created to encourage early career agriculture teachers to both remain in the profession and become active members in their professional association. If selected as the Region 1 Outstanding Young Member award winner, Gifft will be recognized at the 2014 NAAE convention.

The NAAE Outstanding Young Member award program is sponsored by John Deere as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

NAAE is the professional organization in the United States for agricultural educators. It provides its nearly 8,000 members with professional networking and development opportunities, professional liability coverage, and extensive awards and recognition programs. The mission of NAAE is “professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy and service.” The NAAE headquarters are in Lexington, Ky.

Pickup crashes near Willow Flat

Posted on August 6th in News

Vehicle engulfed in flames

Harney County Sheriff Dave Glerup reported that on Wednesday, July 30, at approximately 6:23 p.m., the sheriff’s office responded to a single-vehicle crash on U.S. Forest Service 47 Road, milemarker 10, near Willow Flat.

The sheriff’s office and Oregon State Police responded and found the 2002 Ford F350 pickup engulfed in flames. The driver of the vehicle was identified as Richard Burton Willeford, 57, of Hines.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by the Harney County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of Oregon State Police.

The filing deadline for candidates wishing to run for council positions in both Burns and Hines is 5 p.m. Aug. 26. The following positions are up for election:

Burns Council Position 4, currently held by Linc Reed-Nickerson; Burns Council Position 5, currently held by Jerry Woodfin; Burns Council Position 6, currently held by Nona Popham.

Hines Council Position 4, currently held by Dick Baird; Hines Council Position 5, currently held by Tom Choate; Hines Council Position 6, currently held by Dick Anderson.

Candidates for council positions may pick up filing forms and petitions at Burns City Hall and/or Hines City Hall. Petitions for candidacy for Burns City Council require 11 signatures, and Hines Common Council requires seven signatures. Any registered voter in his or her respective city is eligible to sign petitions.

The only county office on the ballot will be county treasurer, in which Nellie Franklin is running unopposed. County Commissioner Pete Runnels was re-elected by majority vote in the primary in May.

Candidates wishing to file for Soil and Conservation District board must do so with the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

If you have changed either your residence or mailing address, you must update your registration in order to vote in the general election. Voters can do so online at www.oregonvotes.gov or in the county clerk’s office.

For any questions, please contact the Harney County Clerk’s office at 541-573-6641.

EOYCF plans new work crew program

Posted on August 6th in News

Expansion of Work Experience Program aims to promote vocational skills 

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

Eastern Oregon Youth Correctional Facility (EOYCF) held a public meeting last Thursday (July 31) at the Harney County Community Center. The purpose was to outline a plan to expand the Work Experience Program (WEP) to include work crews operating outside of the facility.

According to EOYCF Superintendent Doug Smith, the first phase of the plan would be to establish an on-site work crew. This crew would be assigned to jobs outside the perimeter of the facility walls, but would still be on the grounds of the facility.

In a later phase, Smith would like to see EOYCF  work with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) to create opportunities for juvenile offenders to work in various capacities, including clean-up projects and firefighting.

There are currently similar programs operating within the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) system. Brett Dunten, an instructor at RiverBend Youth Transition Camp in La Grande, was in attendance to describe the work crew program in place there, which includes a firefighting training program. He said there is also a construction training program – youth have worked for contractors and built a house for Habitat for Humanity. Works crews have done highway and park clean-up as well, he added.

Dunten explained that it is important for the youth to be able to come out of the facility with the skills needed to get a job.

“They’re all going to go back to the community, so we need to train them to be successful citizens,” he said.

Public comment at the meeting was overwhelmingly supportive of the proposed program. Some specific logistical concerns were raised, but in general, those in attendance expressed the view that the work crews would be beneficial to the youth offenders and to the community.

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty made reference to discussions held in 1996 before EOYCF opened. There was a lot of concern about the siting of the facility in the community, he said.

He explained that one of the things that helped lessen the concern was a promise to not let inmates outside the walls of the facility. EOYCF has stuck to that promise for the last 17 years, he said. For that reason, he said that in order for him and the Harney County Court to be in agreement with the idea of outside work crews, they would need to know that public opinion supports the change in policy.

“We really need to hear the people of this community say, ‘let’s do this, let’s try it’,” said Grasty.

Dale White, former Harney County Judge, said that it was time to move forward and that the new program would be beneficial in many ways.

“If you can teach them something that they can earn a living with, there’s opportunity for them to be good members of society,” said White.

Others in attendance made similar comments.


There were some concerns raised, however. Steve Ruzicka said that he worked for OYA for 27 years, and was at one point a work crew supervisor. He said that although he believes that the program would be beneficial for those involved, he knows from experience that there is always the risk of runaways.

“You can’t guarantee the public that they’re not going to run. That’s the only thing the public needs to know – that it may happen – and they should know what the plan is,” said Ruzicka.

Smith said the plan is included in the draft document detailing protocol for the proposed program. He said he agrees that there’s always a potential for runaways, but that the selection process for placement on the work crews helps to decrease that risk.

“The kids that we’re talking about specifically are Department of Corrections kids, and we’re talking about older kids, we’re talking about kids that have a lot to lose if they were to run,” explained Smith.

“We’re basically looking at about 12 kids potentially to be eligible for this,” he said.

“I’m not a Pollyanna by any stretch, I know this stuff could happen, but I guess I’m looking at the advantages versus the risk, and I do see the benefits,” Smith added.

Smith said another reason that the program is  important is that the state legislature has asked OYA to submit a 10-year plan. This is coming in the near future, and will determine which facilities remain open and at what capacity, Smith said. Six of  the 10 facilities across the state have a program like this already. Implementing it at EOYCF would help keep it competitive with these other facilities.

“If we don’t keep up and keep moving forward, we’re going to suffer,” said Smith.

He added that he sees the potential for adding more jobs at the facility with the implementation of this program.

Copies of a draft document detailing operating protocol for proposed work crews were distributed at the meeting. It described in detail the eligibility criteria, the selection process, and security and supervisory requirements for youth offenders on work crews. The following are highlights of the document, which is subject to modifications based on input EOYCF receives.




The requirements for eligibility of youth offenders to participate in a work crew include:

• Must be 17 years or older and have completed high school or GED;

• “Gold Tag” program status (highest level achieved  through a grading system evaluating work and education performance, behavior and treatment progress);

• Successful completion of core treatment goals;

• No history of escape from secure facilities.



• Superintendent approves youth offenders for on-site work crew;

• sensitive or high profile juvenile offenders and adult corrections offenders will need to be approved through the Agency Case Review (ACR) process;

• the Work Experience Program Coordinator is responsible for ensuring the approved outside work crew list is maintained in central control and with local law enforcement. The list will contain the youth offender’s name, date of birth, crime of conviction, alerts, photo, etc.


Security & Supervision

• Under no circumstances are youth offenders allowed to wear personal clothing during any work detail. All clothing worn during off site work crews will be easily identifiable as OYA property;

• prior to exiting the facility, the Control Officer will contact Harney County Sheriff’s Office and notify them that an OYA work crew will be outside the facility on the grounds;

• there will be a ratio of one work crew supervisor to four youth offenders;

• the work crew supervisor will have a radio and cell phone at all times. The cell phone will be password protected;

• in the event of an emergency, including escape, serious injury, or other medical emergency, the staff will call 911 on the cell phone and radio for assistance to central control immediately;

• in the event of an escape, staff will escort all remaining youth offenders into the intake areas of the facility and remain until they are properly identified and approved by the Officer of the Day to return to their living units.


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Sex Offenders

For a list of sex offenders in your area, call the Oregon State Police sex offenders hotline 503-378-3720