Resident has concerns about unlicensed vehicles on streets

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

The Burns City Council once again has a vacancy.

At the council meeting Wednesday, July 9, Mayor Craig LaFollette acknowledged a letter of resignation from Councilor Boyce LaForest. LaForest’s letter cited time restraints and work load as reasons for stepping down from the council seat.

LaForest said he would continue to serve for a limited time until a replacement can be appointed to the council.

During the citizens concerns portion of the meeting, Steve Ruzicka approached the council regarding unlicensed vehicles on the streets. He stated that driving is a privilege, and requirements include an operator license, license plate and insurance.

Ruzicka told the council he recently completed a defensive driving class where he was told one in five drivers are under the influence of drugs, alcohol or prescription medicine, another 20 percent of drivers are distracted by talking on cell phones, texting, laptops, pets, eating, etc., and another 20 percent of those behind the wheel are sleep-deprived.

He explained that he drives for the local Dial-A-Ride program, and that he is responsible for his passengers. Along with having to deal with drivers under the influence, distracted and/or sleep-deprived drivers, there are a number of vehicles on the streets that create a hazard, such as riding lawn mowers, golf carts, off-road vehicles and an unlicensed scooter. Ruzicka stated the vehicles are not licensed to be on the streets, and the operators don’t follow the laws of the roads. He said he had come to the council previously with the same concerns, yet nothing has been done.

“People say, ‘It’s Burns.’ I don’t know what that means,” Ruzicka said. “We’re an orderly society. And some people ask, ‘What harm does it do?’ Ask the kid who was killed on the bicycle last year. Those vehicles are hazards.”

He also questioned why bicyclists aren’t required to follow the rules of the road.

Burns resident Ron Carroll told the council that he has a concern about vehicles speeding in his neighborhood. “I think kids want to see how fast they can go down the street,” he said.

Councilor Terri Presley agreed that unlicensed vehicles and speeding are valid concerns, and added that the police are already busy every day. She suggested that maybe citizens could help out by reporting incidents to the police when they see them.

•••

Becky Cunningham told the council that Wayne Baron of 4R Recycling had recycling bins out on the street once again, and she gave the council a copy of a contract that she said Baron was providing to businesses.

Cunningham reminded the council that it had told Baron he was not allowed to place bins on the street to collect recycling material, yet he seemed to be operating without any regard to the council’s direction.

City Manager (CM) Kraig Cutsforth said he would check into the matter.

•••

CM Cutsforth reported the well for the fire suppression system at Burns airport had been dug and was producing clean water at 85 gallons per minute. The water tank had also been filled for testing, and the outside shell of the tank was to be installed over the next week’s time. “The entire thing should work out well.” Cutsforth said.

The cleaning up of nuisance properties is continuing, and Cutsforth said he had two residents come by city hall to express their appreciation of the clean-up efforts.

Fire Chief Scott Williamson stated that about 35 letters had been sent out to property owners asking them to clean up hazardous vegetation, and the process seems to be working.

Cutsforth met with the Department of Environmental Quality on several subjects, and is continuing to work on the issue of particulate matter exceeding allowable levels in the Burns/Hines area.

•••

In other business:

• the council approved a $100 donation to the Harney County Arts & Crafts  Association in support of the annual Quilt and Art Show;

• Cheryl Hancock asked for permission to close West D Street between North Broadway and Alvord from 4 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 7 for a block party in front of the Harney County Library. The council approved the request;

• Councilor Presley asked the council for permission to bring in an outside contractor to look at the roof on city hall to see what could be done to stop the leaks. She stated that if the city could do some of the repairs, it would save some money, and the council agreed.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 23, at city hall.


Quilts, Cars, & Coyotes

Posted on July 16th in News

 

The annual Quilt & Art Show was held Friday and Saturday, July 11 and 12, in Burns and Hines. Quilts of every style, color, and pattern, made by local residents, were on display at the Harney County Community Center and Chamber of Commerce, as well as 23 local businesses. The objective of the “Creature Competition” this year was to create a coyote (using any medium), and the art was auctioned at the community center. At the Burns Garage showroom, a quilt display accompanied an exhibition of antique cars. Other arts and crafts on display and for sale throughout the community included pottery, paintings, photography, and more. Several businesses in downtown Burns displayed merchandise on the sidewalks, which were decorated with chalk art and lined with quilt-themed flags. (Photos by STEVE HOWE)

Quilt Coyote3 web


County to look at leasing archive center

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

During the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Court (held July 2), discussion continued on the realignment of Local Workforce Investment Board (LWIB) boundaries, and the potential impact on county services provided through the Training and Employment Consortium (TEC). The court heard from the workforce policy advisor for the governor’s office, Agnes Balassa.

Balassa gave a brief background on the subject, including a history of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and The Oregon Consortium/Oregon Workforce Alliance (TOCOWA). The WIA provides funds to counties for services that help unemployed and underemployed people become employed. This includes training, job search assistance, and resume development, among other things. The WIA requires that counties join a local board that includes public and private representatives in order to receive funds. Currently, this is organized through TOCOWA.

In July of 2013, Governor Kitzhaber issued an executive order clarifying the role of LWIBs, and also invited counties to form new areas. Previously, there were seven boards statewide; that will grow to nine or 10. It is the role of county commissioners to select an area to join, choose board members to serve from their county, and possibly to serve on the board themselves, Balassa explained. Once a decision has been made to join an area, an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) must be formed to determine how the LWIB will operate.

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty stated his concerns about the large size of the proposed Eastern Region LWIB, the long period of time needed to set up the new consortium, and what effect it would have on TEC, the county’s current service provider.

Teri Simonis and Tonya Fox, representing TEC, presented recent successful outcomes from several of the programs that have been offered. Grasty stated that he wanted assurances that these services will continue upon joining the new LWIB. Balassa explained that, in terms of service provision, TEC should not be impacted by the changes. She said that TEC could be “grandfathered in” until the new LWIB is fully operational, and then, in accordance with federal law, Request for Proposals (RFPs) will have to be issued again regularly.

The court will consider a resolution to join the new area at the next county court meeting July 16.

•••

The court had a discussion regarding future use of the now vacant  Eugene D. Timms and Jeannette K. Hamby Computer Archive Center in Burns. It is likely that the county will lease the building for one dollar a year to market for economic development purposes.

•••

Grasty received a letter from Governor Kitzhaber responding to a letter he had sent in March regarding state agency decisions. The governor recognized Grasty’s concerns, and said that he would consider, in the next budget, ways to try to help local governments with funding assistance for federal plan reviews.

•••

The court heard from Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols about the July 1 Pioneer Hub advisory committee meeting. He explained that the group went over organizational expectations and structure. Nichols also noted that the Oregon Early Learning Council will meet in the area July 31, and the Oregon State Weed Board will meet here September  4-5.

•••

Grasty reported on his meeting with the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The council asked whether assistance was needed with federal policy processes. Grasty said he brought in a hand truck stacked four feet high with the text of the sage grouse plan. He said that he felt his message had been received.

•••

The court reviewed correspondence from:

• the Bureau of Land Management regarding the Glass Butte Communications Facilities Project. The court was invited to participate in consultation for the proposed construction of two additional communication facilities at the top of Glass Butte;

• the Forest Service, notifying the court of 30-day comment periods  for the Wolf Vegetation Management Plan and Aquatic Restoration Proposal on the Malheur National Forest;

• Grayback Forestry of John Day, announcing that it is hiring wildland firefighters and forestry thinning crew members, thanks to efforts of the Harney County Restoration Collaborative and Blue Mountains Forest Partners toward creating an abundance of forestry work on the Malheur National Forest;

• the Oregon Health Authority, giving  notification of approval to Symmetry Care as a community mental health program;

• the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, giving notice of a technical meeting July 10 concerning the proposed hydroelectric project at Warm Springs Dam;

• Eastern Oregon Counties Association, notifying them of the meeting being held August 1 in John Day.

•••

In other business, the court:

• reviewed Steens Mountain Advisory Council applications and recommended Stacy Davies for reappointment and Katherine Wilson for appointment;

• discussed the 10-year renewal on county landfill permits;

• heard from Barbara Cannady. She mentioned an upcoming meeting related to forest access, and thanked the court for posting the draft road inventory map in the courthouse foyer and on the website;

• heard from Herb Vloedman. He updated the court on the progress being made on new veteran recognition county entrance signs, and asked about a market study that was done for county employee salary increases several years ago;

• reviewed notices of water use requests – there were no objections;

• received a brief update on the sage grouse issue from Grasty.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the county court will be held Wednesday, July 16, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.


High Desert Youth Range Campers learning about rangeland plants during camp June 18-21. (Submitted photo)

High Desert Youth Range Campers learning about rangeland plants during camp June 18-21. (Submitted photo)

It’s not every day that high school students get to spend a portion of their summer break rubbing elbows with leading researchers in range ecology. However, 20 students from Idaho and Oregon are getting that opportunity and so much more. Students who participate in the High Desert Youth Range Camp (HDYRC) travel to Northern Great Basin Experimental Range, outside of Riley, for three-and-a-half days of hands-on, experiential learning.

Once camp is set up, students spend three of their days learning about soil health, rangeland botany, invasive plants, fire effects, fuel management, wildlife management, the ability to use grazing as a tool, and other issues that affect ecological balance in the sagebrush steppe. Students hike, learn field methods, and are quizzed on rangeland botany basics. HDYRC offers students, not only an in-depth look at rangeland ecology, but also an opportunity to appreciate the complex rangelands surrounding them. On Friday evening, the students compose and perform their own “Rangeland Rap,” using the new rangeland vocabulary they acquired during the week. Camp culminates on Saturday morning with a hike to the top of the butte (the landmark of this property), and students present their management plans to their peers and field experts. With successful completion of camp, students are eligible to receive two free college credits in field studies from Treasure Valley Community College.

In addition to earning college credits, the students have the opportunity to earn the “Top Camper” award, which is awarded to an Oregon high school student. The Top Camper receives an all-expense paid trip to the Society of Range Management annual conference, to represent the Pacific Northwest section in the High School Youth Forum (HSYF).

This year’s overall Top Camper chosen to attend the HSYF in Sacramento, Calif., in February 2015 is Cheyenne Young, a senior at Crook County High School in Prineville. The Trail Boss award recipient is Sydnee Shelman, a sophomore at Burns High School.

Campers from Oregon and Idaho at the High Desert Youth Range Camp, which was held June 18-21 at the Northern Great Basin Experimental Range, 40 miles west of Burns. (Submitted photo)

Campers from Oregon and Idaho at the High Desert Youth Range Camp, which was held June 18-21 at the Northern Great Basin Experimental Range, 40 miles west of Burns. (Submitted photo)

Harney County youth attending the camp along with Shelman were Jordan Daugherty, Braedan Emang, Brandon Bingham,  Hunter Freitag, Randi Johnson, Warren Clayton Johnson, Hannah Moore, Halle Robertson and Kendal Thompson.

The HDYRC is conducted with staff from Eastern Oregon Agriculture Research Center in Burns, USDA-Agriculture Research Service, Oregon State University, Treasure Valley Community College, The Nature Conservancy, and Harney County Watershed Council. HDYRC is held each year due to the generous sponsorship from a number of local ranches, watershed and weed districts, and livestock associations in Eastern Oregon.

If you’d like more information about the High Desert Youth Range Camp, please call Brenda Smith at 541-573-4084 or email her at brenda.smith@oregonstate.edu.


Warning stickers issued

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

The city of Burns is once again attempting to get residents to comply with city ordinances regarding cleaning up their properties.

At the Burns City Council meeting on June 25, City Manager Kraig Cutsforth reported he had met with the department heads individually to be more active on the enforcement of the codes pertaining to the cleaning up of properties in the community.

Cutsforth met with Fire Chief Scott Williamson regarding nuisance properties with grass causing fire hazards, and reported the majority of properties had been identified and had either complied or were in the process of bringing their property into compliance with city ordinance.

Noting that there were a number of vehicles and trailers in city right-of-ways, Cutsforth and Officer Robbie Tiller began issuing notices to residents in the northwest section of town if they were in violation of the ordinances and the law. Cutsforth reported  about 15 warning stickers were issued to vehicles or trailers that had either no plates or expired tags, and the owners were not home. They also visited with about another dozen residents that were home, and asked them to correct the violation.

Cutsforth and Tiller will continue with the program on a weekly basis until the entire city is covered, and then it will be a continuing effort to maintain the cleanup.

During the citizens concerns portion of the meeting, three residents were present to express their displeasure over the notifications issued by the city.

Jan Kolar, who lives on West D Street, told the council  they  had moved their trailer to the right-of-way to accommodate company, then they were away for a few days, and returned home to find a sticker on the trailer. Kolar stated that there were many residents who have trailers, RVs and four-wheelers parked on city right-of-ways, and  it had been that way for a number of years. “I’m not pleased to hear we have to maintain it (right-of-way), but not use it,”  Kolar said.

She added that she was told the city was going to widen the street, but didn’t know of any plans to actually do that.

Richard Yates, a resident on West E Street, told the council he had petitioned to have the easement deeded to him several years ago, but was told the city wouldn’t be widening the street and he could “go ahead and treat it as your own property.”

Richard Roy, a North Court resident, said the beautification idea is OK, but asked what is the intent or the goal of the current method of enforcement. “If there’s a big plan, OK, but we need to let people know. There’s a process on how to do this,” Roy said.

Councilor Jerry Woodfin asked if their was a precedence in dealing with the right-of-ways. He asked if a resident had a garden on the right-of-way, would they have to move it? And then questioned, “After the garden, or trailer, is moved, does the city clean it up?”

Officer Tiller explained that it is a “junk issue.” He said people can use the right-of-ways, they just can’t store their “junk” there. “If you have a vehicle that doesn’t have a wheel, get it moved,” Tiller said.

Cutsforth added that they were only issuing notifications to vehicles that had no tags or expired tags.

Mayor Craig LaFollette stated it was not the intent of the city to cause anyone grief, and added that only notifications were issued, not citations. He went on to say that a city councilor was one of those that received a notification as well.

“Just because ‘we’ve done it for a lot of years’ doesn’t make it OK. We’re trying to move ahead,” LaFollette said.

•••

Cutsforth stated the drilling for the well at the Burns airport had started, and the tests should be done at the end of the week. He explained that the location of the well had been moved back near the original location because of concerns for a neighbor’s well.

Councilor Terri Presley asked if there was an added cost to the city for having the well-digger move from one location to the other. Cutsforth said they had never started digging at the  first location, so there was no added charges.

•••

In other business:

• the council approved a request by the Harney County Opportunity Team to close East A Street on Sept. 13 for the Burns Brewfest;

• Presley said that she was under the impression that the city would not spend any more money on the airport except for what was absolutely essential to the operation of the airport, and asked why money was spent for a swamp cooler?

Airport manager Jeff Cotton stated that he donated the swamp cooler, and the cost was for a contractor to put it in.

Cutsforth noted that the swamp cooler was important because people who arrive late sometimes spend the night in the building, and it gets “unbearable” some times;

• Presley told the council she was following up on the nuisance property on West Johnson, and had talked to the bank about the property;

• the council approved the 2014-2015 budget in the amount of $7,379,296.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 9, at city hall.


Owners to be notified of violations

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

The Hines Common Council met for its regular meeting June 24. During the meeting, the council discussed the enforcement of the nuisance abatement ordinance.

Councilors discussed city ordinance 9.52.050 “Noxious vegetation.” The code states that property owners may not allow “weeds, grass, brush, or other noxious vegetation to exceed 10 inches in height after June 1.” Noxious vegetation is defined as any vegetation likely to become a health, fire, or traffic hazard.

The issue was brought to the council as a result of a citizen complaint about the lack of enforcement of this city code, causing concern about dry fuel sources and high fire danger this summer. City Administrator Joan Davies asked the council what its position was with regard to this issue.

A lengthy discussion ensued. It was established that 1) the city is liable if it does not enforce the code (i.e., in the event of a fire starting on an offending property and spreading to neighboring properties), 2) there is no code enforcement officer, nor funding allocated to pay for one, and 3) there is a process by which the city can enter a property, clean it up, and bill the property owner. The problem is that the cost incurred is not necessarily recoupable. Administrator Davies explained that many of these “nuisance” properties already have liens on them, affecting the likelihood of the city collecting on a lien.

Councilors Dick Baird and John Mims volunteered to trim weeds and help clean up. City-owned alleys and narrower strips of city-owned property will be first on the list, giving residents a chance to receive notices and comply with the code.

Mayor Nikki Morgan offered to take photos of the offending properties, and help office staff with generating and mailing extra notices. Those property owners will be notified of the violation and given until July 3 to get weeds, grass, brush, and noxious vegetation mowed or cut.

•••

Fire Chief Bob Spence reported that the Hines Volunteer Fire Department (HVFD) had received three calls since the last council meeting.

One was a call to Wright’s Point. A fire there had flared up for the third time and spread to 25 acres. HVFD firefighters spent seven hours at that location.

The second call reported a mattress on fire at mile marker 82 on Hwy. 20 west, and the third call reported a brush fire near West Loop Road. HVFD assisted Burns Tribal Fire Department and Burns Fire Department on the brush fire. In both instances, the fires were quickly extinguished.

Chief Spence also reported that he had responded to the first illegal burn. Administrator Davies stated that flyers have gone out notifying residents of the burn ban that went into effect June 20. Residents are reminded that open burning, wood pits, and burn barrels are not allowed. Only covered barbecues are permitted under the ban.

•••

During the weekend of June 21-22, HVFD firefighters attended a hazmat first responder class. The training was Friday through Monday, and three of the HVFD members attended all 20 hours, including a “table-top” exercise for responding to a hypothetical anthrax letter scenario. The training meets Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requirements, and is certified by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST).

•••

Chief Spence reported that Obsidian Days, held June 13-15, went well, but that participation was lower than usual. He thanked Hines City Hall for its work on the administrative side, and then presented a check to Mayor Morgan which included a $200 donation from HVFD for park beautification, and $190 in vendor payments toward electricity use. He said that left $500 in compensation for HVFD’s work at the event.

•••

Superintendent of Public Works Pedro Zabala gave a brief report from his department.

He thanked the Parole and Probation work crew for weeding in ditches around the city.

Zabala warned that there are a lot of rattlesnakes around town right now because they are attracted to water.

Baird told Zabala that the parks and the area around Circle Drive are “looking great.”

Councilor Dick Anderson added that he had spoken with local residents recently who told him that they had “never seen [the parks] look so good.”

•••

Administrator Davies gave the Hines Police Department (HPD) report in the absence of Chief Ryan DeLange, who was unable to attend the meeting. Chief DeLange’s report stated that HPD responded to multiple fights, domestic violence assaults, beer thefts, driving under the influence of intoxicants, drug possession, and sex abuse cases in just one week.

•••

Administrator Davies reported that $10,100 has been raised for the park fund in a little more than two years through refundable can and bottle donations, as well as the mayor’s donations of fees from the Hines Junket. She thanked the community for its generosity.

Davies advised the council of a recent meeting with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Harney County, and the city of Burns with regard to the monitoring of particulates in the air over the past year. DEQ is concerned about the number of times the maximum level has been exceeded. She learned about the monitoring process, and noted that both monitors are located in Burns. One monitor is located near Washington Park. A discussion ensued about whether this was a fair and accurate measure of air quality in Hines.

Davies said that monitors do take into account rangeland fires, but was not sure for what amount of time these were “credited” to the measurement after the fire has been contained. It may not count the days during which the undergrowth may still be smoldering.

Chief Spence noted that oil stoves (as a cleaner alternative to wood stoves that many residents use for heat) are not affordable for many people.

Zabala added that even oil stoves can contribute to the problem if they are not serviced regularly.

Davies noted that there was a wood stove replacement program in the past, but that it provided no compensation for those who did not qualify for assistance but were still unable to afford an oil stove.

Davies, Burns City Manager Kraig Cutsforth, as well as the Burns and Hines fire chiefs, will be meeting to discuss alternative sites for the monitors and what programs might be available for local residents.

•••

Administrator Davies had advised the council that Desert Riders, the local motorcycle club that usually gives away free hot dogs in Hines Park on July 4, had come in to cancel its reservation due to a lack of funds. Davies estimated that it would be $500 to pay for the food, and asked the council if it would be willing to sponsor the event while the club provided the labor.

Councilor Ron Williams, owner of TopLoc Asphalt, volunteered to donate $200 from his business. Anderson and Baird, owners of Jitters Revolution, matched that donation, pledging another $200 to the cause.

Davies asked the council if it would be willing to cover the additional approximately $100 needed. Baird made a motion that the city donate whatever amount above $400 was needed to pay for the hot dog feed. Councilor Hilda Allison seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.

In other business, the council:

• passed Resolution 2190, electing to receive state revenues for fiscal year 2014-15;

• passed Resolution 2191, adopting the 2014-15 budget in the total of $1,757,494, appropriating funds, and imposing and categorizing taxes at the permanent rate of 4.2922 per $1,000;

• decided to wait on approval of a lawn mower purchase until Zabala and crew were able to find the right model;

• approved accounts payable in the amount of $46,129.64.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the Hines Common Council will be held July 8 at 6:30 p.m. at city hall.


Flying Old Glory

Posted on July 2nd in News
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden presented Verna Pettyjohn with an American flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol, and she, in turn, donated it to the Band of Brothers and other Harney County veterans. It now has a place of honor in the H.C. Senior and Community Services Center. Back row (L-R): Guy McKay, Rob Connall, Paul Hyland, Pettyjohn, Bill Allen, Jim Litscher. Front: Angie Lamborn, Don McDermond. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden presented Verna Pettyjohn with an American flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol, and she, in turn, donated it to the Band of Brothers and other Harney County veterans. It now has a place of honor in the H.C. Senior and Community Services Center. Back row (L-R): Guy McKay, Rob Connall, Paul Hyland, Pettyjohn, Bill Allen, Jim Litscher. Front: Angie Lamborn, Don McDermond. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)


LWIB boundaries discussed

Posted on June 25th in News

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

During the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Court (held June 18), discussion centered on proposed new regional boundaries for Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIB) within The Oregon Consortium/Oregon Workforce Alliance (TOCOWA).

TOCOWA is a public/private partnership formed on behalf of 24 rural Oregon counties. The Oregon Consortium was originally formed in 1981. The Oregon Workforce Alliance is comprised of 48 members and was formed in 1999. The 24 counties are divided into regions, each having an LWIB.

Harney County belongs to TOCOWA. At a local level, this has resulted in the Training and Employment Consortium (TEC). TEC is a nonprofit managed in cooperation among six counties.

The proposed new “Eastern Region” LWIB includes eight counties: Baker, Grant, Harney, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa. This is because, in order to get Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds, a Local Workforce Investment Area must have a budget of at least $1 million.

Grasty said he is concerned because the county was not given the opportunity to provide input on the new boundaries, and also because of the large area that the LWIB would cover.

He asked, “What economic tie is there between Pendleton and Burns?”

Counties must file a request to be in a new Local Workforce Investment Area, signed by a Chief Local Elected Official (CLEO), which Grasty determines to mean the county commissioners.

“I think we’re going to have to do this, but I think we [should] continue at every opportunity to say that we do not want to mess up anything we have here,” said Grasty.

Grasty stated that he looked into the possibility of forming a group with Lake and Grant counties, but that it would take two years to put together.

“I honestly think we’re stuck. We’re going to have to do this or we’re not going to have the services, and I think that’s totally unfair to our community,” stated Grasty.

The court decided to postpone any decision until it has the chance to ask questions of Agness Balassa, the workforce policy advisor to the governor’s office. Balassa is scheduled to be at the next county court meeting on July 2.

•••

In unfinished business, discussion continued concerning the possibility of a surplus county land auction. Grasty recommended that commissioners take more time to look at the 13 parcels in the review process, unless they felt prepared to make a decision immediately. The commissioners asked Grasty about the expense of holding a land sale. Grasty explained that they have an efficient process in place and that the main cost would be advertising. Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols stated that he didn’t see any reason to wait on putting these properties up for public auction, and made a motion to approve the sale. Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously. The auction will be set for July.

•••

The court discussed a film project that is in the works to document the people and culture of the county.

Grasty, Kate Marsh, and Randy Fulton recently attended a nonprofit conference and presented the concept to various organizations. The idea was received enthusiastically.

The court discussed the appointment of a Film Project Advisory Committee. A list of names was discussed and agreed to by consensus.

•••

At 1:30 p.m., the budget hearing was opened for the 2014-15 budget, as approved by the budget committee. Grasty explained a few of the changes, specifically with regard to the senior and community transportation fund. Grant funds will be received for a new bus. Resolution 2014-05, appropriating these funds, carried unanimously. The hearing remained opened for public comment until 2:17 p.m.; no comments were received.

Runnels abstained from voting, declaring an actual conflict of interest for the record with regard to the district attorney’s department, the sheriff’s department, and the promotion portion of the general fund. Grasty moved to approve Resolution 2014-03, adopting the 2014-15 budget and making appropriations in the amount of $16,239,272. He noted that, in previous years, the motion included total dollars for the budget, but that this one only contained appropriations. The motion carried unanimously.

•••

The court heard from Mia Sheppard, Oregon field representative with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. She traveled to Harney County to brief Grasty on the resource management plan process with the Bureau of Land Management with regard to managing public lands for multiple uses.

Sara Jones, executive director for the High Desert Partnership (HDP), updated the court on the work of the Harney County Restoration Collaborative. The court approved signing the letter in support of HDP’s grant request to the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board. Jones thanked the court for its support on forest restoration projects.

•••

The court heard from Barbara Cannady. She requested that a draft copy of the road inventory map be placed in various locations around the county. Grasty noted that it was a good suggestion, but could not promise that it would happen. He stated that the draft copy is posted in the courthouse foyer and that a public hearing has been set for July 16 at 1:30 p.m.

Cannady requested that the court block out her property from the county road map until after litigation over her driveway concludes. Grasty said that, although it wasn’t an unreasonable request, it should be brought up at the public hearing on July 16.

•••

In other business, the court:

• signed the Intergovernmental Agreement between Harney and Grant counties for licensing, inspection, and enforcement of public facilities regulated by the Department of Human Services.

The agreement had been passed during the last meeting;

• reviewed, passed, and signed a court order for distribution of land sale money;

• passed Resolution 2014-04 in the matter of imposing and categorizing 2014-2015 taxes in the county at the rate of 4.5016 per $1,000.

Grasty explained that the budget committee had passed it as well;

• passed Resolutions 2014-06 and 2014-07, appropriating funds due to unexpected occurrence or condition in the Early Learning Council Hub fund and the building fund, respectively;

• reviewed correspondence from the Department of Revenue, Stacey Johnson, Harney County Jail Commander, Department of Environmental Quality, CenturyLink, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and the Bureau of Wildlife Management.

The Harney County Jail Commander requested someone to perform the annual jail inspection. Commissioner Runnels agreed to complete the inspection and report at the next court meeting;

• reviewed notices of water use requests. There were no objections to any;

• heard from Grasty that discussions with the insurance company continue regarding the bridge that was recently damaged by fire;

• approved Hammond Ranches application for approval to install a culvert and/or approach on Island Ranch Road;

• heard from Grasty that DCR Hay’s application for an approach to a county road has been dismissed because of a lack of authority to go through land not owned by them.

The court has requested an application from the landowner.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the county court will be held Wednesday, July 2, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.


Back (L-R): Mason Wulff, Cody King, Elizabeth Zamora, Tom Boyd, Connor Martin. Front (L-R): Dustin Thrall, Lizet Camacho Figueroa, Rachel Fenton, Kaiden Raif. Not pictured: Jackie Dowell. (Submitted photo)

Back (L-R): Mason Wulff, Cody King, Elizabeth Zamora, Tom Boyd, Connor Martin. Front (L-R): Dustin Thrall, Lizet Camacho Figueroa, Rachel Fenton, Kaiden Raif. Not pictured: Jackie Dowell. (Submitted photo)

Ten Slater Elementary School fifth-grade students have been selected to participate in the Junior National Young Leaders Conference (JrNYLC) in Washington, D.C.

The students selected for the trip are Mason Wulff, Dustin Thrall, Connor Martin, Jackie Dowell, Kaiden Raif, Cody King, Rachel Fenton, Elizabeth Zamora, Tom Boyd and Lizet Camacho Figueroa.

The JrNYLC is hosted by Envision, an independent, educational organization that is not affiliated with any political party or the federal government.

Envision hosts JrNYLC to offer mature, high-achieving fifth grade and middle school students the opportunity to learn about leadership by studying the leaders of the past and by focusing on social advocacy to make a positive impact in their schools and communities. Through an examination of different historical time periods and characteristics of leadership, students will gain a better understanding of what it takes to become an effective leader.

The conference is designed to be a challenging and interactive leadership program for the nation’s most promising fifth grade and middle school students. The theme of the conference is Voices of Leadership: Reflecting on the Past to Create the Future. Scholars will examine the concept of leadership in the context of historical events from America’s past.

Each day, students and their faculty advisors meet in Leadership Focus Groups to discuss important skills and attributes, such as character, goal setting and teamwork. The overall goal of JrNYLC is to enhance and develop these traits within each student. Within their  Leadership Focus Groups and throughout the conference, scholars interact with peers from across the nation and develop long-lasting friendships that will continue long after they return home.

They will discover historic locations, such as Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia, and explore the memorials and museums of the nation’s capital. They will lead and participate in exercises and activities designed to enhance critical thinking skills, promote problem solving within groups, and expose them to different ways of thinking.


As part of its ‘Fizz-Boom-Read’ summer reading program, the Harney County Library hosted the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) for a ‘React-O-Blast’ activity on Wednesday, June 18. The final experiment included a balloon bursting into a fireball. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

As part of its ‘Fizz-Boom-Read’ summer reading program, the Harney County Library hosted the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) for a ‘React-O-Blast’ activity on Wednesday, June 18. The final experiment included a balloon bursting into a fireball. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)


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