Digging up the past

Posted on March 11th in News

New find thought to be more than 15,000 years old

Archaeologists recently discovered evidence suggesting one of the oldest known human occupations in the western United States near Rimrock Draw Rockshelter outside of Riley. (Photo courtesy University of Oregon Archaeological Field School)

Archaeologists recently discovered evidence suggesting one of the oldest known human occupations in the western United States near Rimrock Draw Rockshelter outside of Riley. (Photo courtesy University of Oregon Archaeological Field School)

Near the Rimrock Draw Rockshelter outside of Riley, archaeologists recently discovered evidence suggesting one of the oldest known human occupations in the Western United States.

Archaeologists with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the University of Oregon Archaeological Field School have been excavating at the Rimrock Draw Rockshelter since 2011. Their discoveries have included a number of stone projectile points and tooth enamel fragments likely belonging to a prehistoric camel (Camelops sp.) that became extinct approximately 13,000 years ago.

But what has the archaeological community most excited is a small stone tool found below a layer of volcanic ash.

Near the bottom of a 12-foot deposit, archaeologists discovered a layer of ash that was identified as volcanic ash from a Mt. St. Helens eruption about 15,800 years ago.

Beneath the layer of volcanic ash, archaeologists discovered a small orange agate tool believed to have been used for scraping animal hides, butchering, and possibly carving wood. A blood residue analysis of the tool revealed animal proteins consistent with bison, the most likely species being Bison antiquus, an extinct ancestor of the modern buffalo.

“The discovery of this tool below a layer of undisturbed ash that dates to 15,800 years old means that this tool is likely more than 15,800 years old, which would suggest the oldest human occupation west of the Rockies,” said Scott Thomas, BLM Burns District archaeologist.

This orange agate tool was believed to have been used for scraping animal hides, butchering, and possibly carving wood. (Photo courtesy University of Oregon Archaeological Field School)

This orange agate tool was believed to have been used for scraping animal hides, butchering, and possibly carving wood. (Photo courtesy University of Oregon Archaeological Field School)

Presently, Oregon’s Paisley Cave, also managed by the BLM, is considered home to the earliest known residents of North America based on human physical evidence. In 2008, a team of archaeologists, led by Dr. Dennis Jenkins with the University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History, discovered coprolites, dried feces, containing human DNA dated over 14,000 years old.

Dr. Patrick O’Grady, with the University of Oregon Archaeological Field School, has been directing the Rimrock Draw Rockshelter excavations since they began.

“When we had the volcanic ash identified, we were stunned because that would make this stone tool one of the oldest artifacts in North America. Given those circumstances and the laws of stratigraphy, this object should be older than the ash,” said O’Grady. “While we need more evidence before we can make an irrefutable claim, we plan to expand our excavation this summer and hopefully provide further evidence of artifacts found consistently underneath that layer of volcanic ash. That’s the next step.”

The University of Oregon Archaeological Field School, in partnership with the BLM and volunteers from the Oregon Archaeological Society, will be begin its fifth season this summer, offering students, researchers, and volunteers invaluable field experience.

Stan McDonald, BLM Oregon/Washington lead archaeologist, explained the potential this discovery has for the archaeological community.

“For years, many in the archaeological field assumed that the first humans in the western hemisphere were the Clovis people – dating to around 13,000 years ago. While a handful of archaeological sites older than Clovis cultures have been discovered in the past few decades, there is still considerable scrutiny of any finding that appears older,” McDonald explained. “With the recent findings at Rimrock Draw Shelter, we want to assemble indisputable evidence because these claims will be scrutinized by researchers. That said, the early discoveries are tantalizing.”

Steens signs discussion continues

Posted on March 11th in News

Legion assistance fund supports local vets

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Representing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Burns District Office, Rhonda Karges, Mandy DeCroo, and Dean Whitt attended the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Court (held March 4) to discuss a national directive to change signs within the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS).

According to the BLM’s  website, the NLCS includes 877 federally-recognized areas and approximately 30 million acres of National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Scenic and Historic Trails, and Conservation Lands of the California Desert.

During the previous county court meeting (held Feb. 18), the court expressed concern about how the directive could impact signs around Steens Mountain.

On March 4, Karges explained that the Burns district received instruction that all NLCS signs, brochures, Internet content, and kiosks should have the same “look and feel.”

DeCroo said she was asked to put together a sign plan that emphasizes consistency.

Karges reiterated that all NLCS signs would have to be uniform, adding that  changes could only be made to the signs’ line color and the graphics along the top.

DeCroo explained, “They’re trying to let you know that you’re in NLCS land, no matter where you are.”

Karges said members of the Steens Mountain Advisory Council (SMAC) were upset when they learned about the sign plan, explaining that they’ve been advocating for minimal signs all along.

Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols said tourists come to Harney County searching for a sense of adventure.

“They don’t want the generic,” he said.

DeCroo said current markers may include a routed piece of wood hanging in a tree or a juniper post placed in the ground.

Karges said she thinks signs that are more “rustic” and “unique” fit Harney County’s culture better.

DeCroo agreed stating, “The Steens is a unique place. It’s not a national monument and shouldn’t be treated as such.”

Nichols asked about the cost of the sign plan.

DeCroo replied that it’s going to be expensive, but Karges said the district will receive national funding for it.

Nichols said the BLM should focus on larger issues like managing wild horses, wildfires, and habitat.

“The bottom line is that there are bigger issues and better things to spend money on,” he said.

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty asked whether it’d be worth it to “push back” on the sign plan.

Whitt said some signs are weathered and need to be replaced.

The court agreed to write a letter supporting necessary sign maintenance and/or replacement, but advocating against a uniform format.

The Burns district will receive a copy of the letter.

Nichols thanked local BLM staff members, adding, “You guys have to do things sometimes that you just have to.”

Karges agreed, stating, “We try to find that balance. It’s really tough to do sometimes.”

Additional discussion included wild horse management, the county’s role as a cooperating or coordinating agency, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act, and Steens Mountain Running Camp.


Ron Copeland attended the meeting to discuss the American Legion Veterans Assistance Fund (AL VAF).

Copeland explained that the fund was generated from the $22,788.66 of insurance money that was issued when a van (which was used to transport Harney County veterans to and from the Veterans Affairs medical facility in Boise, Idaho) was wrecked and totaled. The van was donated by an anonymous Harney County veteran, and the insurance check was issued to the Harney County Court.

The court, along with three representatives from American Legion Post 63, signed a proposal to create the AL VAF Jan. 8, 2014. The money was deposited in a Bank of Eastern Oregon account Feb. 5, 2014.

Since then, the fund has been used to assist Harney County’s veterans. Examples include contributing toward veterans’ funeral and burial costs, purchasing firewood to heat a veteran’s home, and paying a veteran’s eye care bill.

A portion of the fund was also donated toward the Stand Down that was held during the 2014 Harney County Fair, Rodeo and Race Meet.

All veterans were offered free fair admission on Saturday, and a traveling dental van was set up to provide them with services. Barber Ron Jones offered free haircuts, and an attorney was present to provide free legal advice.

Copeland said several groups/individuals contributed to the success of the Stand Down, including the Burns Chapter of the Band of Brothers, the Harney County Veterans Service Office, Burns Elks Lodge No. 1680, Burns Electric, Fair Manager Don Slone, the Harney County Fair Board, and Veterans Service Offices from neighboring counties.

Copeland said organizers are planning another Stand Down this year, and they hope to offer more services.

The AL VAF was also used to help fund a writers workshop that will be held April 30 for veterans and their guests.

Organized by the Community Support Foundation of Harney County and the Writers Guild of Harney County, the free workshop is designed to help veterans tell their stories in print. Copeland explained that writing may be therapeutic for some veterans who are dealing with emotional issues.

Bob Welch, coauthor of Easy Company Soldier: The Legendary Battles of a Sergeant from World War II’s ‘Band of Brothers, will present the workshop.

In a report address to the court, Copeland wrote, “The AL VAF has made a significant, positive difference in the lives of many Harney County vets by providing financial assistance directly to the vets and their family members, and partnering with other Harney County organizations to provide services to Harney County vets.”

He added that the AL VAF balance was $20,523.66 as of Feb. 22, and efforts to provide financial and emotional support to Harney County’s veterans will continue.

Nichols thanked Copeland and everyone else who’s worked to honor Harney County’s veterans.


In other business, the court:

• accepted the lease between Harney County and  the Oregon Department of Administrative Services for the Eugene D. Timms and Jeannette K. Hamby Computer Archive Center;

• received an update from Grasty concerning the state of Oregon’s response to sage grouse management. The next meeting will be held in Burns near the end of March;

• authorized Grasty to sign a contract for information technology support services;

• discussed a shortfall in the 9-1-1 fund. The issue will be revisited during the next court meeting;

• discussed the National Association of Counties conference that Grasty and Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels attended in Washington, D.C.;

• upon recommendation from Harney County Roads Supervisor Eric Drushella, approved Kirk Davies’ application for a culvert and approach on Foley Drive;

• upon recommendation from Drushella, approved Erin Maupin’s application for an approach on Silver Creek Road;

• upon recommendation from Drushella, approved Kyle Kaino’s application to install a culvert on Embree Bridge Road;

• received an update from Grasty concerning the Oregon State Weed Board;

• discussed the insurance offer for replacement of the bridge that burned on Old Experiment Road last spring. The court will respond to the offer with the help of legal counsel.

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

by Mike Weber
for the Burns Times-Herald

Burns returned home from the state tournament with a trophy for the first time since 2009. (Photo by MIKE WEBER)

Burns returned home from the state tournament with a trophy for the first time since 2009. (Photo by MIKE WEBER)

The Burns Hilanders boys basketball team capped one of its best seasons in recent history with a fourth place trophy following a thrilling 48-47 double overtime win over the Western Mennonite Pioneers Saturday, March 7, in the OSAA/U.S. Bank/Les Schwab Tires Class 2A State Tournament at the Pendleton Convention Center.

Burns junior guard Trace Tiller (15 points) sank the game-winning free throw with 18.2 seconds left in the second four-minute overtime period to help provide the Hilanders (23-7) with the victory. Tiller grabbed a key rebound following a missed Pioneer shot and he was fouled immediately by the Pioneers. He then sank one-of-two from the line, giving Burns a 48-44 advantage. The Pioneers (20-10) sank a three-point field goal on their ensuing offensive possession for the final one-point margin.

Burns concluded a remarkably successful season (first at 2A level) as first-year coach Mick Miller led the Hilanders to the Wapiti League championship and their first state tourney appearance in six years.

“The kids gave it all they had while showing lots of heartfelt desire and they really played hard,” said Miller. “Western Mennonite is a very good team and they had the last shot of the first overtime and missed it, so they definitely had a good chance to win. It feels awesome to get the win. Everybody stepped up and made clutch shots and got key rebounds when we needed them, including Ty Hueckman, Trace Tiller, Austin Feist, Boyd Vinson and Zach McDonald, along with tough defense by Trey Recanzone. It was an all around team victory. This fulfills our goal of what we had at the beginning of the season. If we didn’t have to play Irrigon in our first game, then we might’ve had a little better trophy, but this is a very nice way to conclude our season, and it was a great year.”

Trace Tiller goes strong to the basket in the final quarter of the Hilanders’ playoff game with Oakridge. (Photo by MIKE WEBER)

Trace Tiller goes strong to the basket in the final quarter of the Hilanders’ playoff game with Oakridge. (Photo by MIKE WEBER)

Burns, ranked No. 9 prior to the three-day, eight-team event, had an extremely tough opening matchup versus the No. 1 ranked and defending state champion Irrigon Knights (27-1) in Thursday’s 1:30 p.m. quarterfinal at Pendleton High School.

Burns had the early momentum and took a 6-2 lead on a three-point field goal by Hueckman (16 pts.). Feist (10 pts., 10 rebounds), who earned the Moda Health Player-of-the-Game Award, scored on a jump shot in the lane midway through the first quarter for an 8-4 Hilanders advantage. The Columbia Basin Conference champion Knights then went on a 5-0 run to take a 9-8 lead and never trailed again while building a 20-15 margin after one quarter.

Irrigon scored the first three points of the second quarter to take a 23-15 advantage. The Hilanders responded with a 7-0 run, capped by Hueckman’s three-point field goal to make it 23-22, forcing an Irrigon timeout with three minutes, 12 seconds left in the quarter. The teams traded baskets as both scored on their offensive possessions and Irrigon led 27-26 at halftime.

Irrigon came out and played with a higher intensity level in the second half to take control. Leading 32-29 with 6:01 left in the third, Irrigon went on an 11-3 run to build a double-digit 43-32 lead with 2:24 remaining in the quarter. Burns, which wouldn’t get any closer again, trailed 47-35 after three. Irrigon’s momentum continued in the fourth as they dominated the final eight minutes, outscoring Burns 17-3 to pull away for a 64-38 win. With the win, Irrigon advanced to Friday’s semifinals and won 74-43 over Regis (22-7). Irrigon then won its second consecutive state title after a 65-53 win over Toledo (25-5) in Saturday’s championship game.

Burns senior Austin Feist hits a jumper from the side in the Hilanders’ win over Oakridge. (Photo by MIKE WEBER)

Burns senior Austin Feist hits a jumper from the side in the Hilanders’ win over Oakridge. (Photo by MIKE WEBER)

“We controlled the tempo in the first half, but they controlled the tempo in the second half,” said Miller. “Irrigon is a very good team and they’re the best team we’ve played all year. I just think they were in a little better shape than us. They’re very quick, which made it tough to defend them and they’re conditioning level seemed to be a little better than ours.”

Burns then had to quickly forget about the loss, since it had to play in Friday’s 9 a.m. consolation round game versus the Oakridge Warriors (22-5) in an elimination game in which the loser would conclude their season without a earning a prestigious trophy. Burns took control of a hard fought, close game with a dominating fourth quarter, outscoring Oakridge 15-2 for a 50-38 victory at the Pendleton Convention Center.

In a seesaw battle that was tied nine times and included 10 lead changes, Burns trailed 10-8 at the end of the opening quarter. Burns took its first lead of the game when Feist drove into the middle of the lane for a layup, making it 12-10 with 7:23 left in the quarter. The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the quarter, with Burns up 21-20 at halftime.

The two evenly matched teams continued their tough battle as both played with a sense of urgency as neither squad wanted to end its season. Oakridge, led by senior Gerry Snyder’s 19 points, outscored Burns 16-14 in the quarter to take a 36-35 lead going into the final period.

Ty Hueckman beats the defense down the floor for a lay-in against Oakridge. (Photo by MIKE WEBER)

Ty Hueckman beats the defense down the floor for a lay-in against Oakridge. (Photo by MIKE WEBER)

After each squad opened the fourth with a basket on their first possession, Oakridge remained ahead 38-37 with 5:53 left in the game. That marked the turning point of what had been a closely contested and tight game. Burns took control by crashing the boards to get a 47-31 total rebounding advantage over Oakridge. The Hilanders utilized a solid, aggressive man-to-man defense to thwart the Oakridge offense late in the game. Feist proved to be a thorn in the Warriors side as he ignited a 13-0 rally to help spearhead the victory.

A Feist outside jumper, followed by a pair of Taylor Klus free throws and Feist’s layup in the lane made it 45-38, forcing an Oakridge timeout with 2:25 left in the contest. After McDonald (four pts.) scored in the post, Tiller (four pts., nine rebs.) and Hueckman (nine pts.) both sank free throws after Warrior fouls to lift Burns in front at the end at 50-38.

“I didn’t want this to be my last game ever,” said Feist, who had a double-double with 24 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and three assists, while also earning another Moda Health Player-of-the-Game Award. “Our coach (Miller) helped us to get focused on forgetting about the Irrigon game and he just wanted us to concentrate on playing our best against Oakridge. I was just trying to do the best I could to help us get the win. I felt like I was able to drive to the hoop and finish strong there by scoring some points. Coach (Miller) told us that we had to play the best defense that we could play all year in the fourth quarter, which we did because they didn’t score much.”

The huge win guaranteed that Burns would earn a state tournament trophy for the first time since 2009, when they took sixth place in the Class 3A state tournament. Burns then would prepare for another big state tournament game just 24 hours later as they met the No. 8 ranked Pioneers in Saturday’s 10:45 a.m. fourth/sixth place trophy contest.

Sophomore Scott Davies lofts up a shot against a Western Mennonite defender. (Photo by MIKE WEBER)

Sophomore Scott Davies lofts up a shot against a Western Mennonite defender. (Photo by MIKE WEBER)

“Austin is a really special player who is averaging a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds a game,” said Miller. “He always plays his heart out because he hates to lose. It was real team effort in getting the win and I’m proud of all our guys. We played good team defense near the end, but we didn’t do to well earlier in the game. We were tired early in the game, mainly because I think we were still feeling the adverse effects of a tough loss to Irrigon the day before. We’ve achieved our goal now of getting a trophy and it will be nice playing again on Saturday.”

In another seesaw contest with numerous ties and lead changes, Burns jumped ahead 12-6 midway through the first quarter for its largest lead of the game after consecutive outside jumpers by Tiller, including a 3-pointer. The Pioneers, who took fourth place in 2014 and were in their 10th straight tournament, responded with a 6-0 run, knotting it 12-12 after one quarter.

The teams continued trading baskets as both developed a good offensive rhythm and a buzzer beater by Daniel Domes (six pts.) lifted the Pioneers in front 24-21 at halftime. Early in the third the sharpshooting Tiller fired in back-to-back three-pointers for a 29-29 deadlock midway through the quarter. The Pioneers Simeon Hess (10 pts.) sank a buzzer beater to give Western Mennonite a 34-32 lead after three.

Five deadlock scores followed in the fourth, but both teams had a chance to win in regulation time. Feist, who led Burns with 22 points, missed an outside jumper from the free throw line with 34 seconds left, giving the Pioneers a chance to win after they grabbed the rebound. The Pioneers then failed to get a shot off as they had a turnover on a traveling violation. Burns had another opportunity with a final possession, but a Feist shot bounced off the rim as the clock expired, with the score knotted at 42-42.

“It sure feels great to get fourth,” said Feist, who earned an OSAA First Team All-Tournament Award along with the Moda Health Player-of-the-Game Award. “I felt a little nervous when they (Pioneers) had their chances for a possible game winning shot. It sure feels good that we were able to pull out such a big win. I really thought that those shots I took at the end of regulation were going in.”

Each team had three possessions to try and get a possible winning basket in the first overtime, but neither team scored as it remained 42-42 at the end of the first overtime. Feist outjumped the Pioneers Jacobe DeJong in the center court tipoff to give Burns the first possession of double OT. A missed Burns shot provided the Pioneers with a chance to score with 3:34 left on the clock. The Pioneers then utilized a slowdown stall tactic while passing the ball around the perimeter of the court and patiently looking for a good shot.

Hueckman then made a key steal and he fired in a huge three-pointer, giving Burns a 45-42 lead with 1:35 remaining. The Pioneers then scored, making it 45-44 with 1:04 left.

“I had some trouble shooting earlier in the game, but I started feeling more confident later and as soon as I shot the ball, I knew that it was going in,” said Hueckman, who led Burns in rebounding with eight boards versus the Pioneers. “It was the biggest shot I’ve ever made in my basketball career. It’s a great feeling to get the fourth place trophy, which is much better than sixth. We felt confident as the season progressed that we would make it to Pendleton. We had higher expectations though, but this is great getting fourth.”

On the Hilanders ensuing possession, the Pioneers quickly fouled Burns junior guard Boyd Vinson, stopping the clock at 49.3 seconds. Vinson responded by calmly swishing two huge, high-pressure free throws, giving Burns a 47-44 lead. Tiller then grabbed a clutch rebound off a missed Pioneer shot, followed by his game-winning free throw with 18.2 seconds left.

“I just took some deep breaths to help me relax going to the line and I had confidence in myself and I knew that I could make them,” said Vinson, who scored a total of 10 points in the three state tournament games. “I just happened to be the one with the ball when they (Pioneers) fouled me. It didn’t bother me at all being in that position and they were definitely the biggest free throw shots of my career. It feels great to get fourth place, which is the second best finish ever for our team.”

For Burns, previously in the Class 3A level, it concludes a highly successful year in its first at 2A. It marked their first state playoff appearance since 2013 and their sixth postseason berth in the last eight years. The Hilanders last tournament appearance was in 2009 when they took sixth place. It marked the final game of their Burns High basketball career for seniors Feist and Jeff Davies.

March 5 Class 2A Quarterfinals
Irrigon 64, Burns 38
Burns 15 11 9 3 – 38
Irrigon 20 7 20 17 – 64
Irrigon (64) – Adrian Romero 14, Anthony Landeros 21, Fredy Vera 13, Ryan Reynolds 2, Zach Rice 7, AJ Timpy 7.
Burns (38) – Ty Hueckman 16, Trace Tiller 4, Austin Feist 10, Scott Davies 5, Boyd Vinson 3.

March 6 Consolation
Burns 50, Oakridge 38
Burns 8 13 14 15 – 50
Oakridge 10 10 16 2 – 38
Burns (50) – Feist 24, Zach McDonald 4, Hueckman 9, Tiller 4, Davies 2, Vinson 5, Taylor Klus 2.
Oakridge (38) – Gerry Snyder 19, Joel Snyder 9, Rex Gardner 2, Justin Moe 8.

March 7 Fourth Place
Burns 48, Western Mennonite 47
Burns 12 9 11 10 0 6 – 48
Western Mennonite 12 12 10 8 0 5 – 47
Burns (48) – Feist 22, Tiller 15, McDonald 3, Hueckman 5, Ty Reid 1, Vinson 2.
Western Mennonite (47) – Wyatt Roth 10, Alex Martinez 9, Colby Williams 10, Daniel Domes 6, Jacobe DeJong 2, Simeon Hess 10.

Gerald J. Crowley 1923-2015

Posted on March 11th in News

Gerald J. Crowley passed away Jan. 31 at the Partners in Care Hospice House in Bend.

Gerry was born April 30, 1923, in San Francisco, Calif., to Daniel J. and Margaret F. (Moriarty), the second of three living children. He spent his early childhood in Colusa, Calif., and grew up in San Francisco, attending St. Patrick minor seminary, and graduating from St. Ignatius High School in 1941. He was in the ROTC program at the University of San Francisco, majored in accounting, and graduated in 1947. During World War II, Gerry served in the Army in the 4172 Quartermaster Depot Co. in the Asiatic Pacific Theater as supply depot commander.

While working for Yosemite Park and Curry Co., Gerry met a vivacious Navy veteran from New York named Mary Pagliuca. Romance led to their marriage in San Francisco on Jan. 28, 1950. Gerry and his bride lived in West Covina, Calif., for 36 years. They raised three children while Gerry worked as an accountant, general manager, and insurance salesman. After an economic slowdown in the ’70s, he returned to school at Cal State Los Angeles and earned a teaching credential. He then taught for the Montebello School District for 16 years. He was active in his church parish and in the Charismatic Renewal Movement.

Gerry and Mary moved to Bend in 1989. They participated in the St. Francis of Assisi parish, attended prayer meetings, and Gerry helped lead retreats. He became a Eucharistic minister at St. Charles Medical Center and served for 25 years. He also volunteered for Interfaith Caregivers, and donated gallons of blood to the Red Cross. After his wife’s death in 2010 at Hospice House, he volunteered there for Partners in Care until shortly before his death.

Gerry loved to travel, hike, camp, ski, listen to music, swim, read, paint, garden, and meet people. His faith, optimism, generous spirit, curiosity, and energy kept him going as if he were a younger man. He survived a rollover accident shortly before his 90th birthday, and went on to celebrate his 90th in his hometown with his family.

Gerry is survived by daughters, Suzanne (Scott) Thomas of Burns, and Paula (Curtis) Hansen of Covina, Calif.; son, Dave (Marian) of Las Vegas, Nev.; and grandchildren, Monica, Adrian, Melanie, Lucas, Katie, Erica, and Ryan.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary; his infant daughter, Lisa; his brother and sisters; and an infant grandson.

There will be a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 14, at the historic St. Francis of Assisi Church at Franklin and Lava streets in Bend. A rosary will be said at 9:30 a.m. The reception following the funeral will be at Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, 300 NW Franklin Ave. (across from the church).

Autumn Funerals is in charge of arrangements, and can suggest where to donate in lieu of flowers.

Hines rates set to increase over six-month period

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

At the regular meeting of the Hines Common Council Feb. 24, the council discussed the need for the city to immediately raise base water rates, in order to be able to apply for loans or grants through the Infrastructure Finance Authority (IFA) for desperately-needed water and sewer improvement projects. Base rates will be raised gradually from the current $38 per two-month billing period to $92 by the July-August billing (adding $18 in March-April, $18 in May-June, and $18 in July-August).

City Administrator Joan Davies told the council that in applying for the funds to help pay for a Master Water Plan, she was informed by IFA that in order to qualify for loans or grants, the city must be charging a minimum base water rate. Davies explained that the rate is determined by taking the median income for Hines ($36,706, based on the 2010 U.S. Census), dividing it by 12 months, and taking 1.5 percent of that figure. This gives the rate of $45.88 per month, or $91.76 per two-month billing period. Davies said the city has been charging $19 per month since June 2010.

“It’s not a choice,” said Davies. “We have terrible things wrong with our water system that have got to be fixed. We have no money to do it with. So the only way we get money is through a loan, and we won’t get a loan unless we raise rates.”

Davies said that the IFA recommended making the increase in steps, in order to make the transition easier.

“But it’s not easier, if you have to reach that total before a loan will be approved. We have people who struggle at $19, and they are going to have to pay $46,” said Davies.

She said both water towers need to be fixed, lines need to be moved, and meters need to be replaced.

Superintendent of Public Works Pedro Zabala also stressed the need for improvements.

“Our water is very good. But if you don’t get these water lines in place, Hines will never grow and sustain industry,” he said.

Davies agreed, adding that the city would be unable to even maintain the lines without obtaining loans. She detailed a dire situation:

“We have fixed 24 holes and one active leak in the ground reservoir. The foundation of the elevated tower is deteriorating. It’s a mess inside – the water’s good, but it was built in 1928. We have lines crossing through private property without easements. We have a huge line going from the elevated tower to the King Street development, through private property, with no easement. That’s thousands in attorney fees, much less construction money.”


Zabala reported in detail on the dive team from Inland Potable that fixed a leak at the ground reservoir on the hill, and cleaned and applied epoxy to 24 rust nodules, which had the potential to leak. A portion of the video taken by the team was shown. He said that a small, active leak developed later, and that Inland Potable recommended that they come back in the fall to check the tower again.

Councilor Hilda Allison asked Zabala if the dive team felt good about the fixes they made. He said that they had just addressed the rust nodules, and that there was no way they could repair the damage to the bottom of the tank that occurred either in shipping or during the erection of the reservoir. Zabala and Councilor Loren Emang described a coating that could be applied to the bottom of the tank to remedy the situation, but the cost of the project had not been discussed. Both Zabala and Emang had talked to the Inland Potable divers, who described the tank as the “mobile home” of water tanks. They said it was not designed for long-term use, and was not a good choice because of its bolted seams.

Zabala reminded the council that he had sent out 56 water meter heads for repair or replacement in December. He said he still doesn’t have them back, because these types of meters are back-ordered at the company. While reading meters that day, he said that 50 to 60 more showed they had stopped working.


Davies reported on her discussions with a property owner about buying a lot that the maintenance crew needs to cross in order to access a sewer line for clean-outs. She said that the seller proposed a new idea: if the city agrees to clear brush from both of the lots the seller has for sale, he will give the city an easement for one year, as well as the right of first refusal to buy the lot for $25,000. The other condition given was that a ditch that had been diverted across the southernmost lot years ago be piped and backfilled to grade. It was the general consensus of the council that these terms would be the most logical way to go.

Davies also reported that she was hosting a meeting the next day with the Department of Environmental Quality and various local agencies in a continuation of efforts to educate the public on limiting outdoor burning and keeping smoke particulates at a level that does not violate the Environmental Protection Agency limits.

Davies said on Friday she would attend a 911 board meeting, along with  Hines Police Chief Ryan DeLange, to discuss dispatch costs for the city next year.

She advised the council that the cans and bottles fund for park improvements is now at $3,995.22.


Bob Seymour of Guyer  & Associates in Baker City, was in attendance to provide a summary of the 2013-14 financial audit of the city. The audit had been delayed because of fixed assets that had been valued incorrectly years ago. He presented the opinion of the audit, which was positive.

“It’s a clean opinion,” he said. “It means that the financial statements fairly reflect the financial position of the city of Hines.”


Chelsea Harrison, Harney County Chamber of Commerce director, was in attendance. She reported that registration for the John Scharff Bird Festival had been opened two weeks prior and that 125 people had already signed up. Harrison said two new tours had been added this year, and were already sold out. She said they have new flags with children’s art on them to advertise the festival. She said she plans on placing eight of them along the highway in front of the golf course, and wanted to be sure they would not be in the way of the city maintenance crew.


Becky Cunningham of Rimrock Recycling was in attendance to update the council on recent news, and to ask for a letter of support for a grant application. She said the recycling center sees between 32 and 50 cars per day, volunteers have donated more than 6,000 hours, and 220 tons of material have been processed and 51 refrigerators have been drained.

Cunningham said that because of the recent longshoreman’s union work slow-down at West Coast ports, they have been unable to ship out any material for the past few weeks. She said that they are continuing to stay open, with an all-volunteer staff.

“Hopefully in a month or two we’ll be back to shipping and back to having income,” said Cunningham.


In other business, the council:

• heard from Allison regarding the project to purchase the Oregon & Northwestern train engine that originally ran in Hines. She said that things have been delayed due to people’s busy schedules, but that at the next meeting on Tuesday, March 3, the group will refocus its efforts. Funds currently total almost $4,000, and around $70,000 will be needed to get the engine bought, transported and set up at Hines Park;

• approved travel expenses for Hines Police Department officers to attend Child Forensic Interview Training, with registration paid by the district attorney. The training is required for law enforcement officers to work on cases involving children;

• heard from Hines Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bob Spence that his department had responded to four 911 calls since the last meeting, and that three individuals had completed Part C of Winter Fire School, achieving their Firefighter I certifications;

• approved accounts payable for Jan. 27, Feb. 10 and Feb. 24, in the amounts of $9,803.25, $6,514.87 and $17,804.78, respectively. The council also approved the payment of $5,196.51 to Inland Potable for the service and repair of the water tower.

• passed Resolution 2195, funding workers’ compensation coverage for volunteers, an annual cost;

• passed Resolution 2196 instituting an annual loss prevention program;

• approved a franchise agreement with Charter Communications;

• appointed Davies as budget officer.

Basque historian to make cultural presentation

by Laurie O’Connor
for the Burns Times-Herald

Mural of Basque sheepherder, Ely, Nev. (Courtesy of the Ely Renaissance Society)

Mural of Basque sheepherder, Ely, Nev. (Courtesy of the Ely Renaissance Society)

Come join us for a festive evening of Basque history, music, food, and wine, on Thursday, March 12, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Harney County Library. The program is free and open to the public. David Lachiondo, Basque historian and accordionist, will discuss “The History of the Basque People in America,” accompanied by photos and his accordion. Harney County Library will provide tapas and Basque wines following his presentation.

Dave Lachiondo is the son and grandson of Basque immigrants to Idaho. Born in 1947, he is a career educator who has served as a teacher, guidance counselor, school and district administrator in Idaho’s public and parochial schools. He received his bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s College of California in 1969, his master’s in education from Idaho State University in 1973, and doctor of philosophy degree in education from the University of Idaho in 1985. He has served as an adjunct professor of education for the University of Idaho, as well as a special lecturer of Basque studies at Boise State University. He is presently the director of the Basque Studies Program at Boise State.

A traveling exhibit, titled Amerikanuak! Basques in the High Desert, will be on display at Harney County Library March 9-14.

Dave Lachiondo will be presenting on Basque history and culture. (Submitted photo)

Dave Lachiondo will be presenting on Basque history and culture. (Submitted photo)

This exhibit, created by the High Desert Museum in Bend, tells the story of Basques in the American West. It discusses many of the most important aspects of Basque culture, beginning with who the Basques are and where they come from.

The story of Basques in the High Desert is one with carved aspen trees, and “stone boys,” often times the only reminder that the hills were once roamed by those sheepherding men.  It tells of the Basque hotels where hearing a familiar language and eating a familiar food could make all the difference in the world to a Basque immigrant.  These boarding houses for Basques were a way to keep the language, Euskera, alive in a new and unfamiliar place.  The exhibit provides many images of Basques from the Basque country to America, to show where this group of people came from, and more importantly, the impact that they made upon the American West after their arrival.  Interpretive text accompanies these images to make their stories come alive.

Community art sculpture in the works

Posted on February 25th in News

All are invited to contribute pieces to the sculpture

by Connie Robbins
for the Burns Times-Herald

Art project webMy Crane Union High School art classes and I have been entrusted by the Harney County Arts in Education Foundation-performance arts center committee to create a sculpture to be on display during the Arts symposium events in late May. The sculpture is to represent our community coming together in support of the “arts.”

Purpose: The goal of this project is to show others the diversity, uniqueness and creativity of the people of our community…of Harney County.

The arts that I would like to represent include, but are not limited to:

• Performance arts: music; drama; dance.

• Visual arts: painting, drawing, etc.; sculpture (clay, metal, wood, etc.); fabric (weaving, quilting, etc.); crafts (bead work, jewelry, etc.)

• Photography

• Creative writing: poetry; stories, etc.

• Computer graphics

• Architecture

• Others I may have failed to mention?

The preliminary drawings of the plan I have for this sculpture are displayed. The sculpture will be designed for indoor use due to the nature of the project and desire to represent all art forms. I would like to give credit to my art classes for some of the ideas of this sculpture.

This is a preliminary drawing of what the sculpture may look like. People have been sketched in to give a sense of size of the sculpture (though not necessarily to scale). The tree represents a “juniper,” the shape of the tree representing “people.” These are adults coming together to support art education to children (uplifted on the shoulders of adults).  The “children” will hold branches extending up and out, emphasizing the artwork created by local community and artists which are the “leaves” of the tree. This will be a lighted sculpture from the inside (I hope).

What is needed?

What I am mostly looking for is “leaves” created by anyone in the county, young and old. These leaves can be made of any material, but limited to 4×6 inches. My goal is to have lots of art represented in these leaves and lots of them.

A leaf must reflect one of the listed-above arts by use of materials and/or design. The shape of the “leaf” is not important, but must stay within the 4×6 inch limit. Be aware that a wire will need to attach at the “base” of your leaf design for application to the sculpture. There is no limit to the number of leaves you create.

Please include a short paragraph explaining the inspiration or story that led to the creation of your leaf. Feel free to use this project as a way to express yourself creatively and/or honoring others, through poetry, etc. Be sure to also include your name and medium used, as well. If you are under 18, please include your age.

Each leaf will be photographed and put into an “album” with the information (paragraph) you wrote about your art leaf for others to enjoy and to experience the true nature of this sculpture.

I also need community members to create clay or wood relief carvings of faces. These faces are to represent emotions expressed by audiences and performers/artists while engaged in the arts of their choice. These will act as faces for the “people” on the trunk, therefore, they should be faces of children and adults, young and old. Faces should fit an area approximately 6×7 inches, though the size can fluctuate up to 8 inches. Please drill holes in the corners of the faces so they can be attached to the armature (tree trunk). These must be fired and preferably glazed. Colors of the glazing should represent the emotion exhibited. I will need about 10 adult and 10 children faces…though the exact count will not be known until the project is under way. If this is a project you would like to take on, please email me or call for more information.

All leaves (with paragraphs) and faces need to be at the Harney County Chamber of Commerce, 484 North Broadway Avenue in Burns by May 1.

Any questions, please contact: Connie Robbins, Crane Union High School,  541-493-2641 ex. 233, 541-413-1515 or robbinsc@harneyesd.k12.or.us

CEO recruitment efforts continue

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Harney District Hospital (HDH) Development Coordinator Denise Rose began the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Health District Board of Directors (held Jan. 28) by presenting a video.

She explained that the video, which was produced by Evan Franulovich of eFrog Productions LLC, will primarily be used for physician recruitment.

“We were thrilled by the results,” Rose said concerning the video.

“It’s very professional, and it hits all the right notes,” HDH Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jim Bishop added.

The video can be viewed on the hospital’s website at: http://www.harneydh.com/Image-Asset/assets/Harney%20District%20Hospital%20-%20ipad.mp4


Board chair Dan Brown provided an update concerning the CEO recruitment committee. The purpose of the committee is find a replacement for Bishop, who will retire in August.

Brown said 35 resumes  had been received, and initial candidate screening began via videoconferencing.

“The process appears to be going well,” Brown said regarding CEO recruitment efforts. “Qualified candidates find this an attractive opportunity. I think it’s a compliment to the hospital, and particularly, employees and administration.”

Eric Buckland is assisting with the recruitment efforts. However, Bishop said he and HDH Chief Financial Officer Catherine White recommend eliminating a few items from his proposed contract, as these duties could be completed by the board and/or committee.

The board agreed to have Bishop present a modification of the contract proposal to Buckland.

“I don’t anticipate this being a difficult discussion,” Bishop said.

Board member Shana Withee complimented the committee on its ability to recruit qualified candidates while saving money.


During the public comment period, Cecil Dick stated that Harney County’s rural communities should have been included in the recruitment video.

Dick also expressed concern about wait times in the emergency room.

He reported that, although they were told someone would be right with them, he and his wife waited several hours after checking in at the emergency room on Jan. 4. Dick acknowledged that the emergency room was busy that day, but said he felt someone should have checked on them. He added that his comment was not a complaint, but a suggestion for improving service.

Bishop apologized for the bad experience, and Rose ensured that their medical need was met. HDH Chief Operating Officer/ Chief Nursing Officer Barb Chambers said she would follow up, and Brown thanked Dick for his comments.


Clinic Manager Stacie Rothwell provided an update regarding HDH Family Care.

Rothwell reported that the clinic served 1,603 patients in December 2014, an increase of 409 patients from the previous month.

“We have been very busy with a lot of sick patients, but not the usual flu season traffic in the clinic to date,” Rothwell reported. “We are ready for flu season to start at any given time.”

She also reported that Dr. Heidi Vanyo was interviewed for a primary care physician position during the first week of January, and an offer was extended for her employment. If she accepts the offer, she will begin in May or June.

Rothwell said the clinic is in the process of obtaining credentialing for Dr. Henry Elder, a Canby-based psychiatrist, to provide services through videoconferencing.

Board member Tim Smith expressed concern regarding remote evaluation.

Rothwell replied that patients would be carefully selected for the service, adding that some may need to be referred to providers outside of Harney County for in-person assistance.

Bishop said the video conferencing services will be implemented on a trial basis.


Chambers reported that Dr. Jeffrey Mathisen, a general surgeon at HDH, is “making a huge impact” in the hospital’s surgical services.

She added that physical therapist Kris Sanders recently became certified in the “McKenzie Method” and can now offer this service to patients.

Chambers also reported that two, full-time nurses and an ultrasound technician have been added to the staff, and the first meeting of the patient advisory council went well.


In other business:

• Board secretary Susan Doverspike provided the finance committee report via email.

• The board discussed the quality and patient safety committee report.

Chambers said an “exceedingly low” number of medication errors were made, and she’s “very proud of that.” She explained that only about four errors were made in a one-year period.

• The board held its retreat Jan. 23 to work on strategic planning.

Board member Ann Vloedman said the board still needs to complete its self assessment. This will be discussed during the next board meeting.

• HDH Health Information Services Coordinator Toni Siegner said Amy Dobson is teaching a program to help pre-diabetic patients make lifestyle changes. She also reported that Kristen Gregg set up a children’s reading corner.

• White provided an overview of the profitability of the cataract surgery program.

• Rose updated the board regarding recruitment efforts and application statistics.

• HDH Human Resources Manager Sammie Masterson provided 2014 statistics concerning the average staff age (44.3 years) and longevity (6.5 years). The hospital’s doctors makeup the youngest age demographic (38.3 years).

• The board reviewed policies 100.040 “Duties of the Treasurer,” 100.045 “Duties of the Secretary,” and 100.050 “Duties of the Clerk” and approved them without changes.

• The board granted medical staff privileges to  Drs. Susana Samaniego, Meredith Baker and Brigit Hatch and Licensed Clinical Social Worker Chris Siegner.

The next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25 in the hospital board conference room.

Council considers airport fuel truck

Posted on February 18th in News

Plan approved to upgrade streetlights on North Broadway

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Looking to increase the amount of fuel storage at the Burns Municipal Airport, Airport Manager Jeff Cotton asked the city council for permission to apply for a fuel truck through the General Services Administration (GSA) program.

Cotton told the council at their regular meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 11, there were currently two vehicles available through GSA. One has a 2,500 gallon tank, and the other a 6,000 gallon tank.

Cotton said he would prefer to get the larger tank as that would allow him to have more fuel on site during fire season when demand is high, and he could also order a full load of fuel to be delivered to the airport, resulting in a lower price.

Cotton explained that while he can submit a request for the vehicles, there is no guarantee one will be awarded to the airport. There is no cost for the vehicle if one is awarded to the city, but the city would have to pay for getting the vehicle to the airport. The preferred vehicle is in Palmdale, Calif., so the only expense to the city would be getting someone to the truck and driving it back to Burns.

The council agreed to allow Cotton to put in for the vehicles, and if neither is awarded, to continue searching for a fuel truck through the GSA program.


Public Works Director Dave Cullens requested permission to use $6,544 from his budget to upgrade the streetlights on North Broadway. He said they would put in LED lights that provide better lighting while using less energy, and Oregon Trail Electric Co-op would help pay for a portion of the project. The LED lights would replace 16 of the lights currently being used.

The council approved the request.


Mayor Craig LaFollette stated in the absence of a city manager, everybody has stepped up to help get work done, and he thanked them. He then proposed additional pay for Interim City Manager/City Clerk Dauna Wensenk and Municipal Judge/Utilities Clerk Dawn Crafts. The proposal was for an additional $500 a month for Wensenk and an additional $100 a month for Crafts until the time a city manager is in place.

The council unanimously approved the proposal.


The council reviewed two donation requests, one from the Harney County Opportunity Team (HCOT) for the Arrowhead Plaza project, and the other from the Nadzitsaga Lacrosse Club.

Councilor Terri Presley stated when a donation request is made, she would like a representative from the group to attend the council meeting.

“It would be nice to have someone here to answer questions, if we have any. It’s a courtesy thing,” Presley said.

After some discussion, a motion was made to donate $100 to HCOT and $50 to Nadzitsaga. The motion passed on a 6-1, with Presley voting no.


In other business:

• the council approved Resolution 15-591 A, affecting changes to the 2014-2015 budget moving   funds from the water and sewer fund to the airport fund for the fire suppression project, and clarifying the well developed for the fire suppression project is the capital asset of the water and sewer fund;

• the council discussed Resolution No. 15-595 that establishes fees for medical marijuana dispensaries. Before approving the resolution, the council decided they needed clarification on the fee schedule, and tabled the discussion until they could talk with their legal counsel;

• Councilor Presley told the council the Capital Improvement Plan at the airport included putting up a structure to house snow removal equipment at a cost of $500,000. She explained that $450,000 would be Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funds, and the other $50,000 would be a local match. Presley explained that one of the conditions of using the funds to build  the structure was that the city then agreed to purchase new snow removal equipment within the next five years. She recommended the city take building the structure out of the plan for now, as there was no guarantee of getting grants to fund a new equipment purchase. The council agreed;

• the council appointed Wensenk budget officer for the 2015-2016 fiscal year;

• Burns Police Officer Robby Tiller reported that he and Blaze, the drug dog, passed the training held in Mountain Home, Idaho, and received their certification.

The next Burns Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, at city hall.

Sniffing out trouble

Posted on February 18th in News

Dogs are used in detection of illegal substances

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

Parker Hetherwick and “Monnty” (left), and Robby Tiller and “Blade” are the two certified drug detection dog and handler teams in Harney County law enforcement. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

Parker Hetherwick and “Monnty” (left), and Robby Tiller and “Blade” are the two certified drug detection dog and handler teams in Harney County law enforcement. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

Burns Police Department (BPD) officer Robby Tiller recently achieved his certification as a drug detection dog handler, working with Blade, his canine partner against crime.

Tiller has been an officer with BPD for two-and-a-half years, and has been working with Blade, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois, since last September. The two have been training for the certification exam since that time, and on Feb. 5, they scored 100 percent on the intensive, three-hour test.

Parker Hetherwick, deputy with the Harney County Sheriff’s Office, has been Tiller’s instructor throughout the process. Hetherwick has been with the sheriff’s office for eight months, and worked previously for the Burns Tribal Police for four-and-half years. He has worked with detection dogs for a number of years, and currently spends his days with a two-year-old black Czech Shepherd named Monnty.

Both Blade and Monnty are trained as drug detection dogs, and Monnty is “dual-purpose,” as he is also trained in apprehension and tracking. This means that he can chase or track and hold down someone who is attempting to evade law enforcement officers.

Tiller and Hetherwick both said that the dogs are great tools, and they wouldn’t be able to do a lot of their work without them. Hetherwick stressed that the dogs are used because of their special skills, which help keep the community safer.

“The intent is not to scare people. We use dogs because their sense of smell is 10 times more sensitive than humans,” Hetherwick said.

To explain, he suggested imagining you walked into a house where beef stew is being cooked. A person can smell the stew as a whole entity, while a dog would be able to smell the beef, carrots, and each of the various components.

Hetherwick said that dogs have an amazing ability to sniff out narcotics, even when they are packaged up and masked by other scents.

Passing the test

The certification is conducted by the Pacific Northwest Police Detection Dog Association. Tiller’s certifying exam was held in Mountain Home, Idaho, and involved detection testing in a variety of situations, including vehicles, various rooms in a building, and parcels and luggage.

Tiller said the test was stressful, but it was all about him and Blade working together as a team.

“It’s all about trusting the dog,” he said.

He added that it’s vital to be able to pick up on subtle signals that the dog gives, such as when sniffing becomes more rapid.

Maintaining the skills

Re-certification is required annually, and Tiller and Hetherwick have to log four hours per week of drug detection training with Blade and Monnty. Hetherwick must do an additional four hours per week of apprehension training with his dog.

When practicing apprehension drills, Tiller puts on a bite suit or sleeve, and Hetherwick gives the command to Monnty to pursue him. The dog bites and locks his jaw on Tiller, trying to hold him in place until Hetherwick gives the command to release him.

Canine crime fighters

Detection dog training starts early, at two months of age. Blade was originally procured from Adlerhorst International, Inc. in Riverside, Calif., an organization that specializes in police canine training. Drug dogs are trained in detection of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana. They learn to pursue a specific toy, and then are introduced to the scent of each drug when a packaged sample of it is inserted into the toy. Blade’s “go-to” item is a rubber ball, and Monnty’s is a rubber Kong toy.

Commands are given in a language other than English, in order to ensure that the dog only responds to its handler, and not the person being apprehended. Blade has been trained in German, while Monnty “speaks” only Czech.

Off the clock

The dogs live at home with their handlers and lead normal canine lives when they’re off duty. Hetherwick said Monnty fits right in with the family, and the only thing they have to watch out for is keeping him away from people food, so that he doesn’t become distracted by the smell of it during drug searches.

On duty

Tiller and Hetherwick are the only certified detection dog handlers in Harney County law enforcement. They are called with specific requests from all local law enforcement agencies when there is suspicion of the presence of illegal drugs. Their work shifts have been coordinated so that there is a dog available during every shift.

If one of the dogs alerts,  it gives probable cause for an immediate search in some cases, and in others probable cause to obtain a search warrant.

Tiller said that on the very same day of his certification, he made a traffic stop and recovered a full marijuana pipe.


With these two certified dog and handler law enforcement duos “sniffing out” trouble, the community can only become a safer, happier and healthier place to live.

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