Keadys uncover a few ‘artifacts’

by Samantha White

Burns Times-Herald

Forrest and Jen Keady  are busy refurbishing the former Masonic Lodge in Burns. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

Forrest and Jen Keady are busy refurbishing the former Masonic Lodge in Burns. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

“This has been a dream of mine forever,” Forrest Keady said over the cacophony of construction and amid the smell of sawdust.

Standing at the site of their future living room, Forrest and his wife, Jen, explained that they have been looking for a fixer-upper in the heart of downtown Burns since they moved back to the area with their sons, Travis, Jake and Will.

Jen said Forrest is a “big city boy” who likes listening to the sound of traffic. Forrest added that he’s always wanted to renovate the upper story of an industrial building to resemble the lofts found in metropolises like Manhattan.

“In moving back to Burns, we knew we wanted to take on a project like this,” Jen said, adding that they wanted a “two-story on Main Street,” and they liked the industrial loft concept.

After searching for more than a year, the Keadys closed the deal on the building that sits squarely at the intersection of West Washington Street and North Broadway Avenue (which is commonly referred to as “Main Street.”)

In addition to receiving warm beams of natural light, the building’s giant, 104-year-old windows provide a prominent view of downtown Burns, and their arched architecture adds to the building’s antique ambiance.

“The more we looked at it, the more we loved it,” Jen said regarding the building.

Forrest added that they were drawn to its location and character.


A bit of history

 This photo of the Masonic Lodge building was believed to have been taken in the 1920s. (Submitted photo)

This photo of the Masonic Lodge building was believed to have been taken in the 1920s. (Submitted photo)

Forrest, who has been researching its history extensively, said the building was built in 1910 as the Masonic Lodge. He added that, over the years, a number of businesses have occupied the building’s bottom story, including a dealership, drug store, hardware store, and, most recently, a quilt shop (Country Lane Quilts). He said it is also rumored that the bottom story was once a speakeasy, and there was a still upstairs that ran whiskey down to the bottom floor. Forrest said, in the past, part of the top floor was used for offices, while the other part served as the Masons’ meeting room. Known for their secrecy, the Masons only let approved members into that room.

In an effort to restore the building to its original design, Forrest has been working with current members of Robert Burns Masonic Lodge No. 97 to uncover some of the building’s history. The Masons provided the Keadys with the building’s original contract and blueprints, and Forrest is in the process of making copies of them.

The Keadys have found a few surprises in the renovation process. For example, they discovered that the building has a mezzanine that was not included in the building’s original blueprints. Forrest said he is not sure why this mysterious middle story was built or what it was used for. But Jen said she plans to use it for storage.

Forrest said the blue prints did include a skylight, which he uncovered during the renovation process. Other “uncovered treasures” include some old Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans and a “dirty magazine” that is probably from the 1950s. The building also contains a time capsule from 1910. Forrest said he knows where it is, but he hasn’t taken it out yet.


Elbow grease

The Keadys hope to restore the building to as close to its original design as possible, while ensuring that it functions as a living space for their family.

They are tackling the renovation on their own, with help from friends and Lee W. Davis Construction. Forrest has quite a bit of renovation experience, as he has remodeled about five homes to varying degrees.

“He is very good at demolition,” Jen said with a laugh, adding that the couple has enjoyed learning new skills from their friends.

Jen said Sue Kovar, who lives in the The Old Bakery building down the street, has been “a huge inspiration” and very helpful and encouraging.

The Keady children have also been very involved with the renovation.

“The boys are learning a lot,” Jen said.

Forrest said that, although the demolition phase seemed to take forever, it actually went faster than he thought it would, and they are “way ahead of schedule.”

However, it wasn’t exactly a piece of cake.

“The flooring has been brutal,” Forrest said, explaining that layers of carpet and tar paper had to be removed in order to reach the building’s original wood floors.

Another challenge was removing the building’s drop ceiling, which was a necessary step toward restoring the building to its original design.

Forrest said they are now starting to rebuild, and they are currently working on framing the bedrooms. He said they plan to move forward with the electrical and plumbing aspects of the renovation after they meet with the city to discuss their plans.

Jen said a picture, which she thinks was taken around 1920, shows that a series of small windows used to line the front of the building. She said she hopes to obtain a Diamonds in the Rough grant in order to replace them.

As part of the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office’s Preserving Oregon Grant Program, Diamonds in the Rough grants are used to restore and reconstruct the facades of buildings that have been heavily altered over the years. The goal is to restore them to their historic appearance and potentially qualify them for historic register designation.


Looking toward the future

If everything goes smoothly, the Keadys hope to inhabit the upstairs this summer.

In addition to providing a home for the Keady family, the building will house Family Eye Care of Harney County, which is Jen’s optometry practice. Jen said the practice will occupy about two-thirds of the bottom story, and the remaining third will be available for rent as a commercial space.

“Hopefully, with any luck, we will move my practice by the end of the year,” she said.

But if that doesn’t work out, Jen said her ultimate goal is to set up shop in the new location by 2015.


New life

Jen said she and her family want to be part of an ongoing effort to revitalize Main Street and “bring life back” to the buildings downtown.

She and Forrest joked that they are pushing all of their friends to buy property on North Broadway Avenue, and Forrest even offered to help them with demolition.

But the Keady family is still plenty busy with their own project. Although they’ve accomplished a lot already, they recognized that there is still a lot of work to do.

For now, Jen is encouraging everyone to “stay tuned.”

Historical society program to be held Feb. 20

by Karen Nitz

for the Burns Times-Herald

The Harney County keepsake pin. (Submitted photo)

The Harney County keepsake pin. (Submitted photo)

Imagine for a moment that you are standing in the middle of a wide, dusty street, haphazardly lined with a dozen or so wooden buildings, sagebrush and rocks. Loaded freight wagons lumber past in clouds of dust. Thirsty cowboys linger on the wooden porches of the post office and saloon while awaiting the next cattle drive. A scene in Burns much like this greeted the early settlers 125 years ago at the time that Harney County was born.

In celebration of the anniversary of the creation of our county in 1889, on Thursday, Feb. 20, the Harney County Historical Society (HCHS) will be taking a lighthearted look back at the battle for the county seat at its February gathering. A battle of words was waged over the merits of cities that were, cities that weren’t, and cities that might have been. Did you know that our county seat could have been located at Bird’s Nest or Silvies City? Following the lively debate, the second part of the Oregon Trail documentary that was shown last month will be continued, due to popular demand.

The program will take place at noon at the Burns Elks Lodge on Thursday, Feb. 20. It is free and open to the public. You do not need to be a historical society member to attend, but membership forms will be available if you wish to join. An optional $6 lunch will be served beginning at 11:30 a.m., and the program will follow at noon.

In commemoration of this special anniversary of the county, everyone who attends the gathering this month will receive a specially designed Harney County Historical Museum keepsake pin, featuring local iconic images of a homestead and windmill, backed by Steens Mountain, and framed by sagebrush. The historical society will also be giving away two individual yearly memberships to be drawn at random from all who attend. The winners may choose to keep the memberships for themselves or give them away as gift memberships

This month will also kick off a fundraising drawing for “A Window in Time,” a beautiful hand-made quilt, crafted by Linda Beck, featuring pioneer scenes and warm earth-tone colors. The quilt will be on display at this month’s historical society gathering. Tickets will be available for $1 each or 6 for $5 at the Harney County Chamber of Commerce, The Western History Room at the Harney County Library, from HCHS board members, and at the monthly gatherings on the third Thursday of each month. The drawing will be held during Pioneer Days weekend in June.

On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the official anniversary of the county, the Harney County Historical Museum will be holding a special pre-season open house with free admission to all from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you have not visited the museum in a while, or if you have not visited at all, take advantage of this opportunity to browse through the exhibits and old photographs. Later, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., during the special open house the same evening at the Harney County Courthouse, the historical society will feature a display of local historical publications which will be available for purchase.

In preparation for the open house at the museum, volunteers are needed on Saturday, Feb. 22, for a general work day. If you are interested in helping, please contact the museum at 541-573-5618. Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization and we are always looking for people who are willing to contribute as little as one afternoon a month to help us keep the doors open. Whatever your interests and talents, we need you! No previous experience or special knowledge is required — just an interest and some enthusiasm. Do you like to greet visitors, plan and arrange displays; perform living history, tinker with antiques, and putter with landscaping? There is something that everyone can do. If you would like more details about how you can help, email or Our new website is up and running at Give it a look and let us know what you would like to see on it. You can also find us on Facebook:

State of the County presented

Posted on February 12th in News


Representatives of various groups on hand for event

by Samantha White

Burns Times-Herald

Harney County School District No. 3 Superintendent Dr. Marilyn McBride uses a visual aid to explain accomplishments and goals of the district. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

Harney County School District No. 3 Superintendent Dr. Marilyn McBride uses a visual aid to explain accomplishments and goals of the district. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)


A variety of representatives from local organizations gathered at the Harney County Community Center Feb. 5 for the annual State of the County address. Each representative provided a brief summary concerning the challenges and accomplishments of their respective organizations and provided their projections for the future. A summary of each presentation is as follows:

High Desert Partnership/Harney County Restoration Collaborative

Sara Jones, executive director of the High Desert Partnership, explained that the partnership “works behind the scenes” to support collaborative efforts to resolve social, economic, and ecological challenges facing communities in Southeastern Oregon.

For example, the partnership was involved with  the successful completion of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP).

Another accomplishment was securing a grant for the Harney County Restoration Collaborative (HCRC).

The HCRC was developed to help coordinate forest health restoration efforts on the Emigrant Creek Ranger District on the Malheur National Forest. Jack Southworth said the collaborative has been busy addressing road management issues on the forest and working to develop a balanced plan that will meet the needs of hunters, industry and wildlife.

A public science forum will be held March 7 at the Harney County Community Center, and Dr. Jerry F. Franklin and Dr. K. Norman Johnson will present the science behind dry-side restoration of Eastern Oregon forests.

The partnership and collaborative are also developing an economic summit, to be held this fall, to highlight local resources and explore options for sustainable manufacturing of local forest products.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge 

Carla Burnside, refuge archaeologist, said the refuge recently completed its CCP (a comprehensive, 15-year plan) using a “very diverse” collaborative group. She noted that the High Desert Partnership was the force behind it, and said there weren’t any legal appeals after the plan was finalized, which is a major accomplishment.

Burnside also reported that the refuge has been receiving assistance from interns whose positions are funded by the Audubon Society of Portland. The refuge also has 15 full-time employees, and there are currently four vacant positions. Burnside said she is not sure when the vacant positions will be filled.

Burnside added that the refuge is planning a carp marking and recapture study that, if successful, will be the largest in the world.

Forest Service

Christy Cheyne, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) district ranger, said she is passionate about being involved in the community.

Cheyne said she’s been working with the HCRC on six large-scale projects.

She has also been working to secure Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program and Title II funds.

She added that the USFS hires “a tremendous amount” of local people, adding that 85 percent of the fire crew is made up of local hires. Cheyne said most USFS employees are active in the community, taking part in activities such as the Free Fishing Day and the John Scharff Migratory Bird Festival.

Cheyne said she is currently working on the Wolf Project, and a public meeting is scheduled for March 10 at 6 p.m. at the Harney County Senior and Community Services Center to discuss how roads could be impacted by the project.


Jeff Rose, associate district manager of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), reported that the Shooting Range fire, which was located near the city limits of Burns and Hines, was one of the most notable wildfires of last year’s season. In response to the fire, 71 Single  Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) plane missions were completed in a four-hour period, and the national BLM office later provided funding to build a SEAT base at the Burns Municipal Airport. Rose said he hopes the base will be completed by June.

In an effort to address damages caused by wildfires that burned in 2012, thousands of acres have been seeded, both from the air and on-the-ground, and several miles of fence line have been constructed or re-constructed.

Rose said, last year, 68 horses were adopted from the wild horse corrals in one weekend, and the horse that won the 2013 Mustang Million (a competition designed to provide incentives for people to adopt and train wild horses) was from Harney County. There are currently 650 horses in the wild horse corrals.

Rose said the BLM has been working with the Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Council and the Steens Mountain Advisory Council (SMAC). There are currently six vacancies on the SMAC, and anyone who is interested in either council should contact Rose or BLM Public Affairs Specialist Tara Martinak for more information.

Rose concluded his presentation by briefly discussing the draft Oregon Sub-Regional Greater Sage Grouse Resource Management Plan Amendment (RMPA)/Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Public comments regarding the RMPA/EIS are due Feb. 20.

Harney County School District 3

Dr. Marilyn McBride, superintendent of Harney County School District 3, reported that the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) recently rated Hines Middle School in the top 10 percent of Oregon schools. She also reported that Slater Grade School made marked improvements. However, McBride said the district really needs to concentrate on the special education population.

She added that there have been changes to the scope of the school district, explaining that, instead of focusing on kindergarten through 12th grade, the district must now target youth ages 0-20. She said the district needs to focus on preparing students for kindergarten and ensuring that high school students graduate and acquire college credits.

McBride said 45 college credits were earned at Burns High School last year, and “more and more” college credits are being earned by students while they are still in high school.

McBride said one of her goals is to hire another fourth-grade teacher, as there  are currently only two fourth-grade teachers, and there will be 63 fourth-grade students next year.

Other goals include adding a child developmental specialist who will focus on middle school students, and providing full-day kindergarten classes. McBride said she also wants the focus more on attendance, and she urged community members to assist with this effort.

Harney County School District UH1J

Gail Buermann, superintendent of Crane Elementary and Crane Union High schools, described Crane Elementary as a “vibrant place of learning,” and she reported that the school earned a level 4 on the ODE report card.

Buermann said there are currently 52 students enrolled in kindergarten through 8th grade. And there are three regular classroom teachers, a Title I teacher, and a special education teacher at the elementary school.

She said the school is working to provide a “seamless transition” between middle and high school and to help students get a “head start” on graduation. Other goals for Crane Elementary School include ensuring that students are reading by third grade and launching full-day kindergarten classes.

Buermann said Crane Union High School (CUHS) received a level 5 on the ODE report card, ranking it in the top 10 percent of schools in the state of Oregon. She added that 100 percent of CUHS’ seniors graduated in 2013, and all Crane seniors are on course to graduate in 2014. Buermann added that graduates are “meeting expectations that far exceed requirements from previous years.”

Buermann also reported that eligibility requirements for the Clemens scholarship have changed, leaving this year’s seniors “scrambling to make other plans to finance their college expenses.” However, she said the district is grateful for the “tremendous financial support” that the scholarship has provided to college-bound CUHS students.

One of the goals for CUHS is to give students the opportunity to earn college credits while they are still in high school.

Buermann said the biggest challenge facing the district is adjusting expenditures to match decreasing revenue.

Harney District Hospital

Harney District Hospital (HDH) Chief Executive Officer Jim Bishop reported that 11 new, full-time employees have been added to the hospital staff.

“I think that trend is going to continue,” he said regarding the hiring increase.

Bishop said this trend will have a huge impact on the county’s economy because these are well-paying jobs. He added that pay for HDH staff is comparable to that of staff working in other small, Oregon hospitals.

Bishop said HDH’s goal is to recruit “top-of-the-line” health-care professionals and retain good, skilled people. He added that the top two causes of turnover at the hospital are retirement and the inability of staff members’ spouses to obtain employment.

Bishop also reported that the hospital acquired  a clinic and physical therapy. He said acquisitions such as these are also becoming a trend in the health-care industry, as health care is becoming increasingly complicated and regulation-bound. Bishop said the acquisition allows HDH to handle the business and financial aspects of these practices, while allowing doctors and physicians to focus on providing healthcare.

Bishop said many patients are taking advantage of the hospital’s swing bed/rehabilitation services to recover from surgeries that they received in Bend. However, he said HDH would like to bring more specialists to the hospital so that patients can have their procedures performed locally.

Bishop said HDH is actively recruiting a new doctor and physician assistant.

He added that the hospital has been busy addressing health care reform, which will bring major changes to the way HDH operates. He explained that, in the past, the hospital was paid to treat sick individuals. Now, the focus has shifted to making the population healthier. Bishop said HDH is “making strides” toward this goal, and some of the effects will be immediate, while others will become evident years down the road.

Economic Development

Randy Fulton, Harney County Economic Development director, said he believes the Silvies Valley Ranch will be a “tremendous economic boom” to both Harney and Grant counties.

He added that he has been working with a company to establish a food-processing plant in Harney County for more than three years, explaining that the company is “slow and deliberate,” but “very successful.” Fulton said he plans to meet with the company in early March, and he hopes to learn when and where it will build, and how many people it will employ.

Harney County

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty was the final speaker of the evening, and he reminded those in attendance that Feb. 25 marks the county’s 125th anniversary.

Grasty said the county is currently developing its budget, and he does not expect any major changes. He added that he recently learned that the county will receive a Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payment this year, and said the county would face “significant issues” without it.

Grasty also reported that the county was recently awarded an Early Learning Council Hub, and he recognized Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols for his work with that effort.

Grasty added that the county is going to “step up” and do some road maintenance, explaining that a lot of maintenance had been deferred in the past.

Grasty said recruiting jobs continues to be a priority for the county, adding that Fulton and the Harney County Court have worked very hard to recruit the Pacific Natural Foods food-processing plant. Grasty said any rumors stating that he discouraged the plant are untrue.

Grasty said the county is facing some major challenges, and sage grouse management is among them. He explained that 1,100 jobs were lost in Harney County due to management decisions concerning the spotted owl, and he doesn’t want to see that happen again.

Grasty added that a public meeting will be held March 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the Harney County Community Center to address the USFS Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision, and he encouraged the community to attend. The plan will impact the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests.

Grasty said the county continues to address issues concerning FEMA flood insurance increases, and he announced that the county officially declared drought.

Grasty concluded his presentation by discussing the successes of various collaborative efforts throughout the county, including the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (to address sage grouse conservation), rural fire protection programs, and cooperative weed management efforts, among others.

“Nobody anywhere does it any better than we do. We are the answer. And you can make that ‘we’ as broad as you want to,” Grasty said.

He added that Harney County is “the best place” with “the best people,” and he urged the community to stay involved.



Beef producers sell an estimated 3.2 million pounds during PNI 


Representatives from the Pacific Northwest Initiative promotion team in Japan in 2013.  Plans for Phase II for 2014 are under development. (Submitted photo)

Representatives from the Pacific Northwest Initiative promotion team in Japan in 2013. Plans for Phase II for 2014 are under development. (Submitted photo)

One year ago, on Feb. 1, 2013, Japan eased restrictions on U.S. beef exports in a market access development that has been very positive for regional beef producers. Taking advantage of the opportunity to sell more beef to Japan, state producer groups including the Idaho Beef Council, the Oregon Beef Council, and the Washington State Beef Commission joined together to work on market expansion efforts. They developed a marketing plan with the assistance of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) with the help of their staff in Denver and Tokyo.

The joint program, the Pacific Northwest Initiative (PNI), was conducted in the late spring and early summer of 2013. The results were impressive.  A marketing campaign involving both grocery retail and food service sectors in Japan, facilitated through some very helpful Japanese importers and distributors, doubled the amount of U.S. beef entering the market during the promotion period. The beef came from exporters in the Pacific Northwest and has helped the bottom line for producers in the region. The total amount sold during the promotion period was estimated by USMEF at more than 3.2 million pounds.

Following the success of the 2013 Pacific Northwest Initiative, the three state beef councils reached out to producers for feedback. Greg Hanes from the USMEF spoke at an Oregon Beef Council meeting in December, and also to the attendees at the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association annual convention and also at their Cattlemen’s College. Cevin Jones, an Idaho Beef Council board member, who is also vice-chairman of the Federation of State Beef Councils, went to a meeting of the Washington State Beef Commission to talk directly with that group about the Pacific Northwest Initiative.  The three state groups sent representatives to Boise in January 2014 to review PNI results to date and to talk about a possible Phase II for the PNI project.

“This is a very exciting program, and it helps all producers to have increasing exports,” said Jones. “The results have been even better than we projected, and by working together, we are making a significant impact in the Japanese market.”

CCAA a result of collaborative efforts


A partnership effort among diverse interests in Eastern Oregon has resulted in a draft Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) to conserve Greater Sage Grouse and their habitats on private rangelands in Harney County. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) partnered with the Harney Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) and a steering committee comprised of local private landowners and representatives from Harney SWCD, Harney County Court, Oregon State University Extension, The Nature Conservancy, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, as well as numerous state and federal agencies to develop this agreement.

A CCAA is a voluntary agreement whereby landowners agree to manage their lands to remove or reduce threats to a species that may become listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In return, landowners receive assurances against additional regulatory requirements should that species ever be listed under the ESA. This CCAA provides landowners assurances that routine ranch and associated land management practices can continue in the event sage grouse is listed, while also identifying opportunities to provide additional benefits by reducing or removing existing threats to sage grouse.

“The Harney County Programmatic CCAA represents nearly three years of successful collaborative development efforts between the ranching community of Harney County, the Fish & Wildlife Service, and many other participating agencies,” said Tom Sharp, landowner and chair of the CCAA Steering Committee.

“The best way to conserve the sage grouse is to work with private landowners, who are primary stewards of the land,” said Paul Henson, state supervisor, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office.  “Working together, we can develop protections that will work towards keeping the sage grouse off the endangered species list. Strong partnership efforts have shown the greatest success in protecting species.”

Prior to settlement in the 19th century, sage grouse inhabited 13 Western states and three Canadian provinces. They have declined across their range due to a variety of causes, and now occur in 11 states and two Canadian provinces. The primary threat across their range is a loss of habitat due to increased surface disturbance and fragmentation of the landscape. Greater Sage Grouse were listed as a candidate species in 2010, but was precluded from being listed as threatened or endangered species at greater risk of extinction. The USFWS is scheduled to make a final listing decision in September of 2015.

In Oregon, sage grouse were once found in most grassland and sagebrush habitats east of the Cascades. European settlement and conversion of sagebrush steppe into agricultural production led to extirpation of the species in the Columbia Basin by the early part of the 1900s, but sagebrush rangelands have persisted, particularly in Southeast Oregon. Sage grouse populations have fluctuated markedly since the mid-1900s. Although Oregon sage grouse numbers have declined over the long term, over the last 30 years, a relatively stable population has been observed.

“Our goal is to ensure that the species is able to maintain its viability,” Henson said. “Our biologists and staff work closely with the public and other partners to save wildlife, improve habitat and preserve a future where the public can enjoy nature.” The CCAA between the USFWS and the SWCD covers over 1 million acres of private rangelands within the range of sage grouse in Harney County.

Landowners who voluntarily enroll in the CCAA will develop site-specific plans that will address threats to sage grouse and maintain or improve habitat on enrolled lands. Examples of activities that enrolled landowner may implement for sage grouse include juniper removal, invasive weed control, installing visual markers on fences that may pose a strike risk for sage grouse and retrofiting water troughs with escape ramps.

“This agreement provides farmers and ranchers within Harney County the best opportunity to proactively protect their private land use interests, while demonstrating their stewardship towards maintaining a healthy ecological system of rangelands, and hopefully contribute to a non-listing decision of the sage grouse by the Fish & Wildlife Service,” said Sharp. “Additionally, we welcome and encourage other counties within Oregon and other affected Western states to utilize this CCAA as a guiding template to help assist development efforts of CCAAs within other jurisdictions.”

For more information about Greater Sage Grouse, and to view the Federal Register notice and associated documents, visit Comments will be accepted on the CCAA and the associated Environmental Assessment until Feb. 14.

Behne comfortable with rural lifestyle

Kelly Behne joined Dr. Tom Fitzpatrick’s staff at the end of January. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

Kelly Behne joined Dr. Tom Fitzpatrick’s staff at the end of January. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

Visitors to the Mountain Sage Medical Clinic in Burns are bound to see a new face walking the hallway.

Physician Assistant Kelly Behne joined the staff near the end of January, and is looking forward to her new position.

Behne grew up and graduated from high school in the Coulee City, Wash. area, so she’s no stranger to the rural lifestyle.

Following high school, Behne attended Eastern Washington University in Cheney, earning a bachelor’s degree in outdoor recreation.

For the next 10 years or so, Behne worked as a  ski patrol member in Washington, and a trip leader for outdoor recreationists on the East Coast.

She then attended Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho, graduating from the two-year program with a master’s degree in physician assistant studies.

Behne said after graduation, she heard about the open position at Mountain Sage Medical Clinic from classmates, came to Burns for the interview, and got the job.

“Some of my classmates didn’t want to apply for the job because their ‘significant others’ weren’t too sure about moving to a rural area,” Behne said with a smile. “I like it. I’m looking forward to getting a horse again. I grew up on a farm and ranch, and I like the rural lifestyle and open spaces.”

Walden asks BLM for extension

Posted on January 29th in News

Supports bill for conservation efforts

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) announced Jan. 24, he has urged the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to extend their comment period for their draft proposal for sage grouse management.

“Many Oregonians have told me about the drastic impact this draft plan could have on rural communities throughout the west. They’ve also told me that complying with the deadline for comments is challenging due to the lack of availability of the document and complexity of the matter,” Walden wrote in a letter to BLM Deputy Director Neil Kornze.

“Extending the public comment period by 30 days would provide those wishing to provide comment the time they need to review the document and provide thorough comments. Local communities are most affected by the land management decisions, and residents deserve the opportunity to have their input incorporated into the final decisions,” Walden continued.

Community leaders supported Walden’s call for more input. “While it is absolutely necessary to complete the sage grouse DEIS/RMPA in a timely manner to prevent a listing, it is also an absolute that the public must have an adequate opportunity (and means) to review and comment on this massive document. Government today can and should be transparent. I applaud the congressman’s request to ensure good input to this process,” said Harney County Judge Steve Grasty.

The BLM has been holding public meetings on their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for sage grouse in Eastern Oregon communities, including Prineville, Burns, Ontario, Baker City, Lakeview, Jordan Valley, and Durkee. Many Oregonians have told Walden that they have arrived at these public meetings to find that there were only a few printed copies of the draft proposal available for the hundreds of local residents who attended.

The draft proposal consists of three volumes, and adds up to 1,120 pages. The document discusses six different alternative management plans examining how those plans would impact habitat, vegetation, other wildlife, wildfire management, grazing, recreation and mining. Downloading it online can take hours.

Last week, Walden supported a bill passed by Congress that would boost conservation efforts in an effort to prevent listing of the sage grouse as an endangered species.

Court discusses drought declaration

Posted on January 29th in News

County’s 125th anniversary

by Samantha White

Burns Times-Herald

During the public comment period of the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Court (held Jan. 22), Herb Vloedman addressed the court regarding the lack of snowpack that he observed in his travels around the state. Vloedman said conditions are dry in Harney County, and he encouraged the court to move forward with a drought declaration.

“We need to get it done as early as possible,” he said.

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty said he believed the county was already included in a national drought declaration, but it will benefit the county to obtain a declaration from the state of Oregon, as well.

Later in the meeting, Grasty suggested that the court prepare a drought declaration and write a letter to the governor.

Grasty said the county does not have resources available to help its citizens address drought conditions.

Ron Copeland, assistant county emergency management coordinator, was present to provide input concerning the declaration.


Verna Pettyjohn, Mildred Fine and Dale White attended the meeting to dedicate the Harney County Senior and Community Services Center’s new addition  and parking lot to the Harney County Court in appreciation of the court’s contributions to the project.

“It’s been a wonderful project,” Pettyjohn said, emphasizing the building’s importance to the community.

Pettyjohn also recognized a variety of other individuals who contributed to the success of the project, and stated that the building’s new heating system is very efficient.

White added, “I just want to say, ‘We appreciate your support with the project, but we really appreciate your ongoing support day-after-day, year-after-year.’ We have the best center because we have the best county court in the state of Oregon. I really believe that.”

Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols said he appreciated the recognition, but it is the people at the center who deserve the praise.

“It’s the folks working down there that make it exemplary — the staff and volunteers,” Nichols said.


Harney County Clerk Derrin (Dag) Robinson reminded the court that the county’s 125th anniversary will be on Feb. 25. Robinson said he will work with the court and community organizations to plan activities to recognize the anniversary.


In other business, the court:

• discussed ongoing issues concerning Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT). Grasty stressed the importance of these federal payments, which help local governments offset losses in property taxes due to non-taxable federal lands within their boundaries. Because many of the congressional bills that have been introduced now include PILT funding, Grasty said he is cautiously optimistic;

• received an update from Harney County Roads Supervisor Eric Drushella who discussed continued construction on Double 00 Road. Drushella said he is considering doing overlay on Hotchkiss Lane, part of Airport Lane and the road in front of Crane Union High School, as well as some chip seal work around Harney Valley;

• reviewed and adopted the Federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mileage reimbursement rate of $0.56 for calendar year 2014 for travel when personal vehicle use is required. In order to reflect true expense, the court agreed by consensus to the concept of reimbursing half the IRS mileage rate for travel when employees choose to use their personal vehicles. Grasty will prepare an order for the next county court meeting;

• opened bids for crushed rock at 11 a.m. The court received bids from Harney Rock & Paving Co. and ACW Rock & Ready-Mix.  With a bid of $268,560, Harney Rock & Paving Co. was the low bidder. And, upon recommendation from Drushella, the court agreed to award the bid to Harney Rock;

• received an update from Grasty concerning the sage grouse Resource Management Plan Amendment/Environmental Impact Statement.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the county court will be held Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.

Cattle truck rolls over on 395 S.

Posted on January 22nd in News


Area ranchers help round up cattle


Emergency responders on the scene of the crash. (Photo courtesy of Oregon State Police)

Emergency responders on the scene of the crash. (Photo courtesy of Oregon State Police)

One person was injured and approximately 10 cattle died as the result of a rollover traffic crash Wednesday, Jan. 15, involving a truck pulling a trailer loaded with cattle along Highway 395 about one mile north of Wagontire in Harney County.

According to Sergeant Brian Williams, on Jan. 15, at approximately 12:33 p.m., a Peterbilt truck pulling an enclosed semi-trailer loaded with cattle was traveling on Highway 395 near milepost 29. As the truck negotiated through a right curve, the load inside the trailer shifted, causing the truck and trailer to tip onto its left side, slide off the highway and come to rest in the ditch on the west side of the highway.

Driver James Eynetich, 63, from Ione, was not injured. Passenger Gayle Eynetich, 63, was injured and extricated by Hines Fire Department personnel. She was transported by ambulance to Harney District Hospital in Burns with non-life threatening injuries.

Emergency responders from Oregon State Police (OSP), Harney County Sheriff’s Office, Harney EMS, and Hines Fire Department came to the scene.

Sergeant Williams credited the work by firefighters and area ranch volunteers who came to the scene. Firefighters cut openings in the overturned trailer to get cows out, and cowboys on horseback helped round up loose cattle. The southbound lane was closed for about six hours while volunteers helped round up loose cattle. Approximately 10 cows were directly killed or had to be euthanized at the scene because of injuries sustained in the crash.

The total number of surviving cattle is not available at this time.

Coyote hunt spurs hearing

Posted on January 22nd in News


A large crowd gathered at the Harney County Courthouse Friday, Jan. 17, to attend a circuit court hearing regarding the Eighth Annual JMK Coyote Hunt scheduled for Jan. 18 and 19 in Crane. Harney County resident Louann Thompson, along with wildlife conservation organization Project Coyote and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, filed a lawsuit Thursday, Jan. 16, requesting a temporary restraining order to stop the contest. The plaintiffs stated that fear stemming from the hunt would prevent Thompson from enjoying the outdoors that weekend and that the event, which was to feature a Calcutta and $100 per person entry fee, would violate state gambling laws. Every available seat in the courtroom was occupied Jan. 17 (and spectators spilled into the hallway) when Judge William Cramer Jr. stated that, because he was not convinced that irreparable harm would occur if the contest continued, he would not be issuing the requested restraining order. Cramer made it clear that the crowd was not a factor in his decision. A status hearing is set for March 21 at 8:30 a.m. (Photo by Samantha White)

(Photo by Samantha White)

A large crowd gathered at the Harney County Courthouse Friday, Jan. 17, to attend a circuit court hearing regarding the Eighth Annual JMK Coyote Hunt scheduled for Jan. 18 and 19 in Crane. Harney County resident Louann Thompson, along with wildlife conservation organization Project Coyote and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, filed a lawsuit Thursday, Jan. 16, requesting a temporary restraining order to stop the contest.


The plaintiffs stated that fear stemming from the hunt would prevent Thompson from enjoying the outdoors that weekend and that the event, which was to feature a Calcutta and $100 per person entry fee, would violate state gambling laws. Every available seat in the courtroom was occupied Jan. 17 (and spectators spilled into the hallway) when Judge William Cramer Jr. stated that, because he was not convinced that irreparable harm would occur if the contest continued, he would not be issuing the requested restraining order.


Cramer made it clear that the crowd was not a factor in his decision. A status hearing is set for March 21 at 8:30 a.m.

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