Court discusses Vehicle Use Agreement 

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

During the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Court, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 14 Manager Paul Woodworth was present to discuss the U.S. Highway 395 Vance Creek and Sheep Gulch culvert replacement projects and temporary highway closure scheduled to occur in November.

ODOT will be replacing two culverts under Highway 395 (between Burns and John Day) in November. The Sheep Gulch Culvert near mile post 6.1-C and the Vance Creek Culvert near mile post 11-C have been determined insufficient to handle water and debris flows anticipated due to erosion issues left after the Canyon Creek Complex fire that burned through the area in August and September. The U.S. Forest Service  (USFS) is estimating a 100 to 650 percent increase in water and debris flow along several creeks that drain off the mountainside into Canyon Creek and other local tributaries. The project will replace the culverts with new structures that are designed to accommodate the anticipated flows.

“It is critical to address these culverts now, before rain and spring snow melt,” Woodworth said in a news release. “If the existing culverts get plugged due to debris and excessive run-off, the highway could be washed out, resulting in a possible month-long highway closure. Our goal is to control timing and mitigate potential long-term impact due to a washout event.”

To facilitate the project, Highway 395 will be closed between mile post 2.5-C and 17-C for 10 days beginning Nov. 4. The closure will be followed by several days of single-lane travel controlled by pilot cars and flaggers, while crews continue the work. ODOT will work with local fire and emergency service providers and private property owners located between the two work sites to help accommodate critical needs as much as possible.

There is no local detour around the work sites for through traffic. Travelers will need to detour along U.S. Highway 26 to Vale, then back along U.S. Highway 20 to Burns or take other alternate routes that remain passable in winter.

Woodworth explained to the court that this was a continuation of the work ODOT has already done on Highway 395 as a result of the Canyon Creek Complex fire.

ODOT had to close the highway down for days due to the direct threat of the fire, and then for the threat of hazardous trees. He said he estimated that they removed a thousand hazard trees (trees that were currently or would in the future be dangerous to highway traffic). Using a numbering system in which a number was assigned to, and spray-painted on, each cut tree and its stump, ODOT made sure that trees cut on private property were available for property owners to claim, Woodworth explained.

Woodworth said the big issue now is increased water flows in Canyon Creek and all the tributaries that flow into it. Canyon Creek runs parallel to Highway 395 for about 10 miles. USFS analysis predicts flows in Canyon Creek could be at 300 percent of normal and in Vance Creek (a tributary of Canyon Creek) at 700 percent of normal, during a 10-year, 24-hour storm event (a storm event with a 10 percent chance of happening in any given year).

“But even the normal flows are projected to be higher – but not at flood stage,” said Woodworth.

This first phase of safeguarding the highway against the threat of flooding is taking care of the two culverts, Sheep Gulch and Vance Creek, that are at most risk for getting clogged with debris and potentially causing the road to be washed out, Woodworth explained. At Vance Creek, a five-foot diameter culvert will be replaced with one that is 20 feet in diameter.

Another topic Woodworth discussed was the traffic signal project at the intersection of Highway 20 and Hilander Boulevard in Burns. In order to complete the work, the intersection will be turned into a four-way stop for an expected 30 days.


Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Agent Shana Withee discussed with the court the Intergovernmental Agreement and Vehicle Use Agreement between OSU Extension Service and Harney County. The purpose of the agreements, which will expire June 30, 2017, is the provision of the delivery of OSU educational programs to the citizens of Harney County. Both agreements were passed unanimously.


In other business, the court:

• heard from Harney County Judge Steve Grasty regarding legislation that is providing monies to counties with greater sage grouse habitat in support of Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPAs) for the 2015-17 biennium. Grasty suggested that meetings be scheduled with county RFPAs to discuss the use of the funds;

• Grasty discussed the need for a new dedicated fund for state lottery dollars received by Harney County. The court unanimously approved Resolution No. 2015-13 in the matter of establishment of a dedicated fund for furthering economic development;

• reviewed correspondence from the Oregon Water Resources Department giving notice of the annual required water use report due by the end of this year;

• reviewed water use requests.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Court will be held Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.

From L-R: Chris Boyd, Mary Letham, and Sam Ellibee. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

From L-R: Chris Boyd, Mary Letham, and Sam Ellibee. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

Concert to be held Nov. 23

Three Burns High School band students have been selected to perform in the Gala Honor Band concert at the Western International Honor Band Clinic (WIBC) Nov. 20-23.

Mary Letham will be performing on clarinet with the Phoenix Band, Sam Ellibee, oboe, with the Thunderbird Band, and Chris Boyd, alto saxophone, with the Sunbird Band.

These students were selected on their outstanding musical merit through the WIBC audition process. More than 1,200 applicants apply, and 640 students are selected to perform in four honor bands at the gala concert. Students are chosen from throughout the United States and Australia.

The world-famous Canadian Brass will be part of the honor concerts and the WIBC event. Guest conductors for the bands are Johan deMeij (Holland), Dr. Mike Bankhead (Utah State University), Lowell Graham (University of Southern California), Fran Tracz (Kansas State University), and Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, the founder of American Band College.

Ms. Monroe, director of the Burns High School band, will also have the opportunity to perform on flute and piccolo with the Director’s Band during the WIBC event.

The WIBC Gala concert will be at noon Monday, Nov. 23. The groups are performing at the Double Tree Seattle Airport Convention Center. The public is invited to attend.

Head-on collision occurred just north of Winnemucca

On Monday, Oct. 19, at approximately 1:05 p.m., Nevada Highway Patrol troopers responded to a vehicle crash on US Highway 95, approximately 29 miles north of Winnemucca, Nev.

The preliminary investigation indicates that Steven Briggs, 24, from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, was driving a 2012 Chevy Malibu southbound on US 95 in the oncoming travel lane passing vehicles. JoAnn DeShong, 66, of Hines, was driving a 2013 Kia northbound on US 95 in her travel lane. Briggs’ Chevy Malibu hit the Kia head-on. According to Trooper Jim Stewart, it was raining at the time of the crash

DeShong died at the scene.

Three other passengers were also in the Kia: Blair DeShong, 73, of Hines, died at the scene; Clyde Wensenk, age unknown, of Burns, died at Renown Medical Center later that evening; Martha Wensenk, 62, of Burns, was transported to Renown Medical Center with serious injuries.

Briggs and his passenger, Dwayne Riggs, 40, from Greenacres, Wash., were also transported to Renown Medical Center with serious injuries.

Number of police calls prompt discussion

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

At their regularly-scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 13, the Hines Common Council addressed the number of calls the police have been receiving involving youth from Eastern Oregon Academy (EOA), and the options available to the council to try and alleviate the problem.

Councilor Dick Baird said a citizen who owns a business near EOA had talked to him about the recent break-ins and problems caused by EOA youth.

Hines Police Chief Ryan DeLange presented the council with a file folder full of reports his department had filled out involving EOA youth and added that the reports were just from the first of the year.

DeLange said the youth at EOA are either under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) or the Department of Human Services (DHS). He noted DHS refuses to change their policy in any manner that could help reduce the number of incidents. “They (EOA youth) are creating victims in our city daily,” DeLange said.

Councilor Hilda Allison acknowledged that EOA is abiding by all the state requirements, but there are still problems. She said she has noticed youth scouting cars at The Truck Stop, looking for keys left in the vehicles.

“Why does the city renew their business license, and who is accepting responsibility?” she asked.

Baird stated EOA employs quite a few people and the business is needed in the community. He said if the staff at  EOA is doing all they can and there are still problems, the city needs to get DHS staff to come to a meeting and answer the council’s questions.

“At the last meeting with DHS, I told him our case load had exploded,” DeLange said. “DHS refuses to do anything.”

DeLange explained that if one of the youths are charged with a crime, they are tried in the area of the state they came from, meaning the city has to pay for a local officer to travel to the trial.

“There are three options,” DeLange said. “Get DHS to comply, charge EOA for excessive calls or revoke their license.”

Allison said EOA is doing all they can, but added, “If you’re willing to take money to take these kids in, you have to be responsible for them. Our community doesn’t seem to be any safer.”

DeLange said dispatch has also had problems getting hold of an EOA supervisor at night when incidents occur. He agreed that there is no desire to shut the facility down, but  said the problem needs to be fixed.

“Fine them (EOA) for excessive calls or deny their business license, that’s the only leverage the city holds,” Allison said. “It’s up to them. It’s up to the bureaucracy to see how this comes out, but the safety of the community comes first. It’s 50 jobs we don’t want to lose, but it’s a cost to businesses that are being affected.”

The council agreed to contact DHS and invite them to attend the next meeting to address the concerns.


The council reviewed the proposed contract with the Harney County Veterinary Clinic for impounding dogs.

The contract includes increased fees for some impounds, and if the owner of the dog doesn’t pay the fee, the city would have to absorb the cost. It was pointed out that the possible increased costs to the city are not in the budget.

“If an owner doesn’t pay, the city shouldn’t be liable for the amount,” Baird said.

DeLange explained that when a dog is impounded, the owner has to go to city hall, pay the fee, then take the receipt out to the vet clinic to retrieve the dog. The vet clinic then bills the city. DeLange suggested that the vet clinic just bill the owner when he/she comes to pick up the dog. “Leave the city out of it,” DeLange said.

DeLange said he would talk to the vet clinic about changing the policy, and the council tabled the discussion and vote until their next meeting.


During his department head report, DeLange said he attended a conference regarding recreational marijuana and the amount of money cities could receive from sales. He said if cities opt out, they don’t receive any funds, but there is a bill being discussed that would allow cities to opt back in at a later time. He said nobody at the conference had all the answers because the laws keep changing.

DeLange reported that Officer Matt Githens had accepted a job with Harney County Corrections, so they would be short an officer for a while.

DeLange added that citizens should not call city hall if they need the police. They need to contact dispatch at 541-573-6156.


In other business:

• Fire Chief Bob Spence reported his department had responded to 10 calls in September and four in October so far, including two brush fires. He reminded residents that the conditions are still very dry and to be cautious with fire.

Spence added that there would be a mass casualty incident training on Saturday, Oct. 17, that would last about three hours;

• Maintenance Supervisor Jerry Lewellen told the council there was another water main break on South Newport, and he had received 17 new water meters;

• the council voted to make $100 donations to the Harney County Hospice Wine and Food Festival and the Kids Club of Harney County “Raise A Kid” campaign.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, at city hall.

High school staff request working intercom system

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Burns High School (BHS) teacher Jim Walker attended the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County School  District (HCSD) No. 3 Board of Directors on Oct. 13 to discuss the results of pretests that were administered to BHS sophomores at the beginning of the school year.

Walker reported that the students’ reading and grammar scores were “very low,” and, after conversing with parents and colleagues, he recommends offering a 10th grade remedial English course. Walker added that he taught a similar class in the past and has already developed a curriculum.

However, he said some of BHS’ course offerings would have to be altered in order to make room for the class, and he suggested prioritizing remedial English over personal finance and economics during the final trimester of the school year.

Board chair Lori Cheek questioned the efficiency and timing of offering the course at the end of the year.

“The last trimester is the only time that we can do it,” Walker replied, adding, “At least they [the students] would have an opportunity to have some review or have some remedial work.”

Cheek asked BHS Principal Brandon Yant whether the high school can offer the remedial course this year.

“I don’t think we can,” Yant replied, explaining that personal finance and economics are needed to fulfill curriculum requirements.

Cheek and board member Ralph Dickenson said they’d like the discussion to continue.


On behalf of BHS staff,  teacher Jimmy Zamora urged the board to install a “good, working intercom system.”

He explained that the high school is currently using its phone system for announcements, and it’s incapable of reaching all areas where staff and students are located. He expressed concern that this lapse in communication capabilities is a safety hazard, as emergency messages cannot be heard throughout the school, and he urged the board to prioritize the safety of students and staff.

Yant said an intercom system is at the top of his wish list. He added that improvements to the bells and phone system are also needed. He explained that announcements are not being heard in several classrooms, and some of the bells don’t work. He added that only one of the office’s seven phone jacks is functioning.

Yant said he believes the intercom and bells can be incorporated into a single system, but the phone system would have to be separate.

HCSD No. 3 Superintendent Dr. Marilyn McBride said there are many needs across the district that have to be carefully considered before a decision can be made.

“We want to move forward with some of the projects we feel are really important, but we want a process,” she said.


Upon recommendation from Slater Elementary School Principal Nancy Moon, the board agreed to offer Sarah Huckins a temporary fourth-grade teaching position at Slater for service beginning upon licensure through the remainder of this school year.

Huckins will be the class’ third teacher this school year.

Dickenson said, “Please tell me this isn’t just another warm body.”

Moon replied that this is not the case. In addition to listing her credentials, Moon said Huckins has volunteered at Slater and been engaged with the school’s staff.

“This is an emergency,” Cheek said. “We need to support this situation for the whole fourth grade, especially that class. Let’s help.”

Cheek also commended substitute teacher Wendy Bull for assisting in the interim.

The board also agreed to rescind its motion to hire Evan Franulovich for the fourth-grade teaching position, as he was unable to obtain his license.

Dickenson questioned the necessity of rescinding the motion, as it was made pending licensure.

McBride explained that Franulovich may receive his license at some point in the future.


Chad Boyd attended the meeting to provide an update on the BHS Site Council.

In his report, Yant explained that the council began a project to “improve and direct” the high school’s long-term vision and goals.

Boyd, who is a member of the council, said its mission is to “make education relevant,” explaining that the goal is to link high school education and career options. He outlined four core career paths, which include: attending a four-year college, attending a two-year professional program, joining the military, or entering the work force directly after graduating from high school. Through this model, education will be tailored to students’ chosen paths.

Boyd explained that this can be accomplished by providing adequate diversity in classes, high-level instruction, and counseling to support students’ career path options. He added that students and parents must also understand the school’s discipline matrix, and teachers must implement it effectively with strong support from administrative staff.

Boyd said another criterion for successful implementation of the model is aligning hiring to meet course offering needs. Additionally, he said staff and building administration should evaluate their progress annually and adapt as needed.

Boyd added that parent involvement is critical, explaining that parents should be a significant part of the career path discussion, which will begin when students are in 8th grade.

Yant added that students will evaluate their progress toward graduation and adjust their schedules to ensure that they’re on track.

The role of the school board and administration will be to support building administration and staff and empower and support implementation of the model.

“That’s a fancy way of saying, ‘It’s going to take some money,’” Boyd said, adding that funds may be garnered from nontraditional sources such as grants.

Boyd also emphasized the importance of community involvement, explaining that community members can act as mentors or provide technical training.

He concluded that this model will provide a framework for strategic decision making, increase empowerment, and curb nonproductive debate.

“Thank you. This is well laid out,” Cheek said.


In other business, the board:

• received reports from Yant, Moon, McBride, Hines Middle School Principal Jerry Mayes, Eastern Oregon Academy (EOA) and Monroe School Principal Ron Wassom, and Student Services Programs Director Chandra Ferguson;

• agreed to purchase a bus for $112,912;

• agreed to accept a bid from IntraLogic Solutions Inc. for a security system for BHS.

Board member Lisa King asked whether a new intercom system could be included with the security system, and Yant replied that an intercom system would have to be purchased separately;

• was entertained with musical performances by three EOA students.

In addition to enthusiastic applause, the performers received gift certificates to Dairy Queen;

• received a report from paraprofessional Monica McCanna regarding her trip to Washington, D.C. to represent classified staff. She said student nutrition and school safety were among the topics of discussion;

• approved Stefanie Haines for a volunteer head coaching position for the BHS dance team;

• was addressed by representatives from the high school’s art club regarding a proposal to raise funds for a mural project to be installed in the BHS hallways;

• took a virtual tour of the district’s new website;

• was encouraged to complete the Committee for Better Schools survey;

• accepted donations from Jett Blackburn Real Estate Inc. ($100), Dr. Leon and Susan Peilstick ($50), Robert and Janice Oswald ($40), Mary Ann Daniel ($20), and A.L. Brinkoetter & Daughters ($50) to the BHS band in memory of Deborah Smith;

• accepted the donation of a clarinet (valued at $200) from Brendan and Teri Cain to the BHS band;

• accepted a $1,467 donation from Zoetis Industry Support Program made on behalf of Harney County Veterinary Clinic ($175), Central Oregon Ranch Supply ($1,207), and Sage Country Veterinary Services PC ($85) to the BHS FFA;

• accepted a $1,000 donation from Nick Miller for BHS cross country;

• after some discussion,  agreed to table policy JHCDA “Prescription Medication;”

• accepted the second read on policies JECB “Admission of Nonresident Students,” KGB “Public Conduct on District Property,” and IK “Academic Achievement;”

• received an update from Cheek concerning the boiler project.

The next regularly-scheduled school board meeting will be held Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. in the district office building.

Flags placed around the community will be used to inform the public about air quality. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

Flags placed around the community will be used to inform the public about air quality. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

Green, yellow and red flags will indicate day’s air quality

The Harney County Air Quality Task Force continues to meet every quarter, in a local multi-agency effort to keep air quality below the maximum allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency for particulate density. At a meeting on Oct. 6, representatives from Hines, Burns, Burns Paiute Tribe, Harney County Senior and Community Services Center, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) met and outlined the continuation of the program through this winter.

Hines City Administrator Joan Davies showed the group the flags that will be used to help inform the public if outdoor burning will be allowed, or if an inversion prohibits a permit being issued. “Green” means you can call city hall for an outdoor burning permit. “Yellow” means that outdoor burning is restricted, at least for that day. A rare, extreme circumstance, such as a lengthy inversion or heavy layers of smoke, would prompt the “red” flag to appear. On such days, the healthy choice for the whole community is to use an alternative heat source (other than a woodstove), if available.

“That does not mean that anyone with just a woodstove should not build a fire or suffer in any way,” Davies reiterated. “It would just mean that we would all notice the heavy smoke, and our neighbors or family with respiratory problems would be suffering greatly. So, in the interest of not adding to the haze, anyone with an alternative heat source should consider using it. Common sense and self-preservation are the keys.”

The air quality index flags will hang in front of  Hines City Hall, near the traffic light at Highway 20 and Barnes Avenue. Harney County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chelsea Harrison said they will have one in front of the chamber office on North Broadway in Burns. Jason Fenton, Burns Paiute Indian Reservation (BPIR), said they had not yet located a spot for a flag to advise members of the BPIR. Burns City Manager Dauna Wensenk is considering a flag in front of Burns City Hall, and maybe one on West Monroe. They will be following up with public announcements.

BLM Range Con Casey O’Connor gave a short presentation about the summer’s fire season and provided information on how they measure fuel density on the range or in the forest. Valerie Mills, senior forecaster from the National Weather Service in Boise, Idaho, also spoke, and will be providing 35 years’ worth of invaluable air quality historical patterns, as well as helping local agencies with the current year.

Larry Calkins and Randy Jones of DEQ gave updates on what they are working on to benefit the local community, including the progress made on a predictive advisory call staffed by Eastern Oregon University students. They will be providing advice and materials for community and school education.


DEQ provided the following regarding air quality:

Woodburning 101

Smoke from woodburning stoves contains tiny particles that are so small the body’s natural defenses can’t prevent them from lodging deep into lungs. These tiny particles can damage and change the structure of lung tissue and can carry harmful toxins directly to the bloodstream. This can lead to serious respiratory problems, asthma attacks, heart problems and even premature death.

Certified woodstoves burn cleaner

Oregon was first in the nation to require new certified woodstoves to meet air pollution standards, and all new stoves are required to be certified by the EPA. You can tell if your stove is certified by looking on the back for a certification sticker from Oregon DEQ or EPA. Woodstoves that are not certified waste up to 60 percent of the wood burned in them. Certified stoves are much less polluting than older, non-certified stoves, reducing fine particles by 70 percent. Pellet stoves and oil or gas furnaces or stoves are even cleaner than certified stoves.

Replace your woodstove and save money

If you own an old, inefficient stove, replacing it with a newer, cleaner heating system will pay for itself through fuel savings.

Wood burning tips

• Burn only wood. No garbage, plastics, rubber, paint or oil, briquettes, paper, etc. Burning these items releases harmful chemicals into the air.

• Burn Wise Program from EPA: Emphasizes the importance of burning the correct wood.

• Build small, hot fires instead of large, smoldering ones.

• Don’t “bed the fire down” for the night. Holding a fire overnight is a fire hazard and can create serious indoor and outdoor air pollution problems.

• Open your damper if the smoke is dark. Dark smoke indicates more pollution is being produced, and fuel is being wasted.

• Keep your stove clean and well-maintained. Have your chimney checked and cleaned at least once a year.

Use seasoned wood

The best fuel for woodstoves is dry, “seasoned” wood. Seasoned wood has a moisture content of about 20 percent or less. It tends to be dark in color, cracked on the ends, light in weight and has bark that is easily broken or peeled.

Hammonds sentenced to five years

Posted on October 14th in News

Diamond residents convicted of arson

Dwight Lincoln Hammond Jr., 73, and his son, Steven Dwight Hammond, 46, both residents of Diamond, were sentenced to five years in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken for arsons they committed on federal lands.

A jury sitting in Pendleton found the Hammonds guilty of the arsons after a two-week trial in June 2012. The trial involved allegations that the Hammonds, owners of Hammond Ranches Inc., ignited a series of fires on lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), on which the Hammonds had grazing rights leased to them for their cattle operation.

The jury convicted both of the Hammonds of using fire to destroy federal property for a 2001 arson known as the Hardie-Hammond Fire, located in the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area. Witnesses at the trial, including a relative of the Hammonds, testified the arson occurred shortly after Steven Hammond and his hunting party illegally slaughtered several deer on BLM property. Jurors were told that Steven Hammond handed out “Strike Anywhere” matches with instructions that they be lit and dropped on the ground because they were going to “light up the whole country on fire.” One witness testified that he barely escaped the eight- to 10-foot high flames caused by the arson. The fire consumed 139 acres of public land and destroyed all evidence of the game violations. After committing the arson, Steven Hammond called the BLM office in Burns and claimed the fire was started on Hammond property to burn off invasive species and had inadvertently burned onto public lands. Dwight and Steven Hammond told one of their relatives to keep his mouth shut and that nobody needed to know about the fire.

The jury also convicted Steven Hammond of using fire to destroy federal property regarding a 2006 arson known as the Krumbo Butte Fire located in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area. An August lightning storm started numerous fires, and a burn ban was in effect while BLM firefighters fought those fires. Despite the ban, without permission or notification to BLM, Steven Hammond started several “back fires” in an attempt to save the ranch’s winter feed. The fires burned onto public land and were seen by BLM firefighters camped nearby. The firefighters took steps to ensure their safety and reported the arsons.

By law, arson on federal land carries a five-year mandatory minimum sentence. When the Hammonds were originally sentenced, they argued that the five-year mandatory minimum terms were unconstitutional. The trial court agreed and imposed sentences well below what the law required based upon the jury’s verdicts. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, upheld the federal law, reasoning that “given the seriousness of arson, a five-year sentence is not grossly disproportionate to the offense.” The court vacated the original, unlawful sentences and ordered that the Hammonds be resentenced “in compliance with the law.” In March 2015, the Supreme Court rejected the Hammonds’ petitions for certiorari. On Oct. 7, Chief Judge Aiken imposed five-year prison terms on each of the Hammonds, with credit for time they already served.

“We all know the devastating effects that are caused by wildfires. Fires intentionally and illegally set on public lands, even those in a remote area, threaten property and residents and endanger firefighters called to battle the blaze,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Billy Williams. “Congress sought to ensure that anyone who maliciously damages United States’ property by fire will serve at least five years in prison. These sentences are intended to be long enough to deter those like the Hammonds who disregard the law and place fire fighters and others in jeopardy.”

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank R. Papagni Jr., AnneMarie Sgarlata and Kelly Zusman handled the prosecution of this case.

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

The Bonneville Power Administration sponsored a multi-day tour of the Columbia River for middle and high school students, as well as elders and staff, from the Burns Paiute Tribe. (Submitted photo )

The Bonneville Power Administration sponsored a multi-day tour of the Columbia River for middle and high school students, as well as elders and staff, from the Burns Paiute Tribe. (Submitted photo )

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) selected the Burns Paiute Tribe (BPT) for a pilot program to bring middle and high school students on a multi-day tour of the Columbia River.

Youth from the BPT joined elders and staff on an educational field trip Aug. 18-21 to learn more about the Columbia River, salmon, and hydropower by tracing the river from the mouth near Astoria to the lowest dam (Bonneville Dam). The trip also offered youth an opportunity to visit, and learn more about, important sites in Paiute history, as well as discuss the importance of salmon and water with tribal elders. The youth, ranging from 6th to 12th graders, also learned about scientific principles and fish and wildlife species that are native to the Pacific Northwest.

About BPA

BPA is a federal, nonprofit agency that supplies about one-third of the electric power used in the Northwest.

Although it’s part of the U.S. Department of Energy, BPA is self funded, covering its costs by marketing wholesale electrical power from 31 federal hydro projects in the Columbia River Basin, one nonfederal nuclear plant, and several small nonfederal power plants.

Its service territory includes Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Western Montana, as well as small parts of Eastern Montana, California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

In addition to promoting energy efficiency, renewable resources, and new technologies, BPA funds regional efforts to protect and rebuild fish and wildlife populations that have been affected by hydroelectric power development in the Columbia River Basin.

Locally, BPA funds the Burns Paiute Tribe Natural Resources Department (NRD). Through this funding, the tribe manages approximately 8,000 acres of property on the Malheur River to benefit fish and wildlife, including implementing native fish restoration projects.

“They are a great partner in our mitigation efforts,” Marcy Foster, a tribal liaison for BPA, said regarding the NRD. “They manage their programs effectively and efficiently.”

Salmon were once an important food source 

Erica Maltz, NRD fisheries program manager, said BPT has been attempting to restore runs of salmon and steelhead to the Malheur River for a long time.

She explained that salmon and steelhead in the main stem of the Columbia River once traveled through the system to reach the tribe’s current properties and ancestral homeland. Once abundant in the Malheur River, these species were a historically-important food source for Paiute tribes.

According to BPT’s website, “The current tribal members are primarily the descendants of the Wadatika band of Paiute Indians that roamed in Central and Southern Oregon.”

The site states that, thousands of years ago, the northern Great Basin area (which is now desert) was probably a series of very large lakes, and the ancestors of the Burns Paiute people lived in caves near the shores. In addition to birds, deer, small animals, plants and seeds, fish — including a great deal of salmon — made up their diet.

As the climate slowly became drier and warmer, the Paiute people began migrating with the seasons in order to take advantage of the plants and animals in certain areas, including fishing for salmon during the salmon runs.

According to the NRD’s web page, it’s likely that runs of salmon and steelhead began to decline due to the construction of the Warm Springs Dam (near Juntura) in 1919 and the Agency Valley Dam (near Beulah) in 1935. Both are U.S. Bureau of Reclamation dams.

“In 1958, wild runs were eliminated entirely from all tributary and main stem habitat in the Middle and Upper Snake with the completion of the Brownlee hydroelectric dam [located on the Oregon-Idaho boarder],” the NRD page states. “Today, three hydroelectric dams operated by Idaho Power block anadromous fish species (i.e. fish that hatch in freshwater, but mature in the ocean) from returning to their natural grounds in tributaries such as the Malheur.”

Foster said that, although species in the Malheur River were mostly affected by the Snake River dams, Burns Paiute Tribe is helping BPA meet its obligations to mitigate for the Federal Columbia River Hydropower System.

About the trip

Foster said she and her coworker, Corrina Ikakoula, were contacted by Maltz and Kris Crowley, NRD fishery biologist, regarding the possibility of a field trip.

“We thought this was a great idea,” Foster said, adding that the NRD is a “special organization” that has been “very engaged with the youth.”

Foster and Ikakoula teamed up to provide suggestions for stops along the four-day trip, which was sponsored by BPA and supported by NRD and Tu-Wa-Kii Nobi (BPT’s youth center).

Day one

The travelers departed from Burns on the morning of Aug. 18, arriving at the Astoria Column (in the city of Astoria) that afternoon.

According to its website, the Astoria column, which stands 600 feet above sea level, “unleashes an unrivaled view” of the “mighty Columbia River.”

Tribal elders and BPT staff capitalized on the opportunity to discuss salmon life history, the Columbia River, and Paiute connections to the area.

Maltz said, “Basically, we were trying to get the kids to think about how the tribe is, and was historically, part of a very large watershed across the Pacific Northwest.”

After leaving the Astoria Column, the group made its way to Cannon Beach to enjoy some free time on the scenic Oregon Coast.

Day two

The following morning (Aug. 19), the travelers arrived at Fort Vancouver in Vancouver, Wash.

Charlotte Roderique, chair of the BPT’s Tribal Council, led a discussion concerning the history of the Paiute people in relationship to the area.

Located in Portland, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) was the next stop on the field trip.

At OMSI, the youth explored the Renewable Energy and Clever Together exhibits, as well as the Wind Power lab.

Foster said the exhibits and lab gave youth an introduction to how energy is produced.

The Renewable Energy exhibit explained how wind, water and sun support energy needs, while the Clever Together exhibit offered advice for saving energy everyday.

During the Wind Power lab, youth discussed the societal effects of obtaining, using, and managing waste of renewable and non-renewable resources. They also evaluated natural processes and human activities that affect global environmental change and possible solutions to problems. The youth also conducted a scientific investigation, learned about science principles, and discussed how engineers create inventions to address human needs and aspirations.

“The kids were so engaged. It was really amazing,” Foster said regarding the OMSI experience.

From OMSI, the group traveled to the Oregon Zoo, where they visited the Pacific Shores and Great Northwest Exhibits  to learn more about the wildlife of the Columbia River Basin.

Day three

On Aug. 20, the group traveled to Cascade Locks, one of the oldest towns on the Columbia River, where they boarded the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, a triple-deck riverboat, for a one-hour sightseeing cruise above Bonneville Dam.

They were later treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the dam, hosted by BPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps and Bureau of Reclamation are responsible for operating the dams.

In addition to learning more about how hydropower works, the youth were able to watch fish successfully pass through the system. They also learned about the types of restoration that hydropower revenue funds.

Next, the travelers toured the Bonneville Fish Hatchery with BPA and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff.

Built in 1909, the hatchery raises 6.6 million fall Chinook, 900,000 spring Chinook, 750,000 coho, 250,000 summer steelhead, and 60,000 winter steelhead.

While at the hatchery, youth had an opportunity to meet Herman the Sturgeon. Herman is approximately 10 feet long, weighs 425 pounds, and is more than 60 years old.

The next stop on the field trip was Celilo Falls.

BPT elders led a discussion concerning the site’s significance to the Paiute people.

Day four

The fourth day of the trip consisted of making the 251-mile bus trip back to Burns.

Fosters said she hopes everyone who participated in the field trip came away with a better understanding of how the hydropower system works, how BPA is working with tribal communities, and how BPA is helping fish successfully pass over the dam to reach the Columbia River and its tributaries.

On behalf of the youth, Elise Adams, BPT youth services coordinator, expressed her appreciation to BPA for the opportunity.

Pilot program may spawn future field trips

Foster said, “We think the pilot program was really successful,” adding that she hopes it will continue with other tribes.

“It seems likely,” she said. “We got a lot of positive feedback.”

In addition to educating them about fish, wildlife, and hydropower, Foster said the trip provided youth a unique opportunity to connect with elders and learn more about their tribal history and cultural values.

“We would continue to encourage tribal elders to attend. We think it adds a very rich layer to the whole experience,” she said.

A virtual tour

For additional photos and information regarding the field trip, you can find a video edited by 17-year-old Cheyenne First-Raised  on BPT’s Facebook page. 2015 BPT Columbia River Trip

Team looking for volunteers to have water wells tested

by Kathryn Burns and Rhett Landon
for the Burns Times-Herald

The Crane freshman physical science class, the Harney Rockers, are conducting a project in conjunction with the rural schools within the Harney Basin. This project is a STEM earth science activity that helps the Oregon Water Resources Department to create a geological map. This will help them understand aquifer recharge, discharge, and help improve current water levels in the Harney Basin.

If you think about it, our water resources here in Harney County, and frankly, all over the world, are the most important resources we have… not just for the continuation of life, but economically and in maintaining our way of life. As many of you know, drought already has had a pretty devastating effect on our land with wildland fires and the well permit restrictions. That is why our team feels this project is an important one in helping us to understand exactly what is going on, underground in the Harney Basin. How is/are our aquifer(s) recharged?  How can we improve our water reserves? What can we do to conserve water now?

Our team feels we will benefit from this experience in many ways. We are learning to responsibly conserve water, while learning the earth science components of the Harney Basin. To accomplish this goal, we created a driving question to help us investigate the problem. Our driving question is, “How does drought affect the aquifer(s) in the Harney Basin?”

In this project, we separated into eight different groups: project organizer, Elizabeth Jenkins; website developers, Brian Clark, Jacob Dunn and Zach Davis; ARC/GIS, Kathryn Burns and Rhett Landon; well log organizers, Casi Canady and Casey Otley; PowerPoint developers, Kassi Defenbaugh and Elizabeth Jenkens; photographers, Rhett Landon and Mathew Epling; newspaper, Kathryn Burns and Rhett Landon; project  managers, Connie Robbins and Gwen Haigh.

You can help us in this project by contacting us to volunteer your water well(s) for our team to test. If you have any questions, you may call Connie Robbins at 541-593-2641 ext. 233 or To see more information on this project, you can go to

Vision screening camera used to detect eye problems

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

The Elks Preschool Vision Screening Program held a free screening at the Early Childhood Center Sept. 29 and Oct. 1. (L-R)  Dick Fasteen (Elks volunteer), Cheryl Thornton (research assistant), Treva Spence, Robert Hornbeck, and Pete Cadena (Elks volunteers). (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

The Elks Preschool Vision Screening Program held a free screening at the Early Childhood Center Sept. 29 and Oct. 1. (L-R) Dick Fasteen (Elks volunteer), Cheryl Thornton (research assistant), Treva Spence, Robert Hornbeck, and Pete Cadena (Elks volunteers). (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

Vision problems in children can cause many problems, especially in the educational field. To help detect vision problems early, the Elks Children’s Eye Clinic Preschool Vision Screening Program at the Casey Eye Institute travels around the state screening low-income children  who do not otherwise have access to screening.

On  Tuesday, Sept. 29, and Thursday, Oct. 1, Cheryl Thornton, research assistant with the Elks Vision Screening Program, visited the Early Childhood Center to perform screenings on a number of Head Start registered students.

Thornton was assisted by local volunteers from Burns Elks Lodge No. 1680 in the screening process.

Using a high-tech vision screening camera, Thornton took a picture of each student’s eyes, and had an immediate result on the exam. Thornton said the camera uses an infrared beam that fixates on the eyes’ pupils and bounces off the back of the eyes giving the photographer immediate results. The measurements can be used to detect astigmatism, near- and far-sightedness, amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes) and blocked vision.

If a problem is detected, the child is referred to a licensed eye doctor.

The Elks Youth Eye Service, or EYES, was established in 1964, with the purpose of providing funding for the major project of the Oregon State Elks Association, the Elks Children’s Eye Clinic.

EYES provides the funding for the screenings, while the Casey Eye Institute at Oregon Health and Science Institute provides the manpower. Funds donated to the EYES foundation are never spent, but rather invested so the proceeds can be used to fund the Elks Children’s Eye Clinic, their state project.

According to the Casey Eye Institute website: “Nearly 15 percent of children between the ages of 3 and 5 have a vision problem that requires glasses. It’s best to screen children each year while their visual system is developing to avoid amblyopia and developmental delays. In Oregon, the legislature has mandated that all children entering public school for the first time show proof of a vision screening. Currently, this is an unfunded mandate.”

Because the state has not contributed to the mandate, the Elks Children’s Eye Clinic has become a key part in providing vision screening to preschool-aged children in Harney County and around the state.

Whaddya Think?

Which is your favorite Sunday afternoon activity?
  • Watching football (35%)
  • Taking a walk/drive (20%)
  • Napping (18%)
  • Reading (14%)
  • Baking (9%)
  • Playing family games (4%)

85 total vote(s)

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Destination Harney County

Destination Harney County 2012


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