By Karen Nitz
for the Burns Times-Herald

Historical Society WEB“The mountains and prairies remember Eastern Oregon’s tumultuous beginnings, but history does not. Apart from the rush for gold, little has been written about the events leading to the settlement of Eastern Oregon between 1861 and 1869.”  Until now. Author Dianne Lesniak traces the military campaigns which initially promised to be not much more than a policing operation against an unorganized tribe of hunters and gatherers, but turned into an eight-year struggle against a skillful and relentless foe. The book, based almost entirely on primary sources, includes previously unpublished material. Lesniak laces the narrative with the soldiers’ stories before, during and after their service in Eastern Oregon.

The Harney County Historical Society invites you to attend a free program and book signing with Ms. Lesniak at noon on Thursday, June 25, at the Burns Elks Lodge. Please note this is a change from our regular program schedule. Books will be available for purchase at the event or you can purchase a copy beforehand at the Harney County Historical Museum.

The program is free and open to the public. You do not need to be a historical society member or Elks Lodge member to attend.  An optional $6 lunch is served by the Elks beginning at 11:45.

Learn more about local military and Native American history at the Harney County Historical Museum. The museum is open for the season Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.  Admission is $5/adult or $8/couple, $3/senior and .50/child. Admission is always free for all Harney County Historical Society members.

If you would like more information about the museum, would like to become a volunteer, or if you have research questions call 541-573-5618 or email

Find the Harney County Historical Museum on Facebook

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Retiring staff of HCSD No. 3 were recognized at the school board meeting Tuesday night. Back row (L-R): Sheila Cunningham, Terry Graham, Dave Mues, and Cindy Purdy. Front row (L-R): Dana Copenhaver, Ramona Revak, Anne Haak, and Anne Kness. Linda Bennett (not pictured) was also recognized. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

Retiring staff of HCSD No. 3 were recognized at the school board meeting Tuesday night. Back row (L-R): Sheila Cunningham, Terry Graham, Dave Mues, and Cindy Purdy. Front row (L-R): Dana Copenhaver, Ramona Revak, Ann Haak, and Anne Kness. Linda Bennett (not pictured) was also recognized. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

Hines Middle School (HMS) teacher Son Burns and Burns High School (BHS) paraprofessional Monica McCanna attended the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County School  District (HCSD) No. 3 board of directors (held June 9) to recognize the staff members who are retiring this year.

Burns asked, “How do I begin to thank the people who have given so much of themselves to our children, to our community’s kids?”

He and McCanna then presented the retirees with plaques, featuring their names, years of service, and the schools where they worked. The retirees also received gift certificates.


The board revisited its discussion concerning HMS’s athletic policy.

During the previous meeting (held May 12) Jen Keady addressed the board concerning charter school students’ ability to play HMS sports. After some discussion, HMS Principal Jerry Mayes said he’d meet with a group to write a policy that could be presented to the board.

During the June 9 meeting, Mayes suggested that charter school students be charged a $500 participation fee per sport, with a maximum fee of $1,500 for fall, winter, and spring sports participation.

Board chair Lori Cheek said, “That’s a lot of money,” and she asked whether the policy would apply to Suntex students.

Mayes said it wouldn’t because HCSD No. 3 contracts with Suntex Elementary School District.

Board vice chair Doug Gunderson said HCSD No. 3 receives $7,000 for each of the students that it enrolls, but it does not receive funding for charter school students. He added that the expense of providing sports programs exceeds $1,500 per student, and argued that the fees wouldn’t necessarily have to be paid by students’ parents.

“Put it on the charter school because they get the money for those kids,” he suggested.

“I don’t like it at all,” board member Ralph Dickenson said. “I think the charter part of it is too narrow.”

Dickenson asserted that, if fees are charged, they should be applied to all non-HMS students.

He added that, because students have to compete for spots on the teams, this policy could result in HMS students losing positions to students who don’t attend their school.

Dickenson also said that the proposed fees seemed like a penalty, adding that, “It doesn’t cost any more to offer [sports] to the kid that goes to charter school than an HMS student.”

“It is a penalty,” Gunderson replied. “We want them to be in our school.”

“I agree,” Dickenson said, adding that he thinks students who don’t attend HMS shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the school’s sports programs.

Board member Lisa King said the proposed policy doesn’t address behavioral issues. For example, she expressed concern that a student who was expelled from HMS could attend charter school, pay the fee, and be back on the team. She said this wouldn’t be fair to the other students.

Cheek replied that the Oregon School Activities Association has policies to prevent this from happening.

King said, “We hold our athletes in school to a higher standard, not just academically, but personally, as well,” and she asserted that the proposed policy goes against this philosophy.

She added that the district offers students many options for success, including access to online programs.

Cheek said, “Prineville has a charter school, and they are having absolute heck on this. It is hurting them because a lot of their really good athletes have gone to charter school, and they are rubbing it in the noses of the students who have to ‘walk the walk.’ I’m concerned, myself, about taking steps toward that. I believe that the education we provide by our staff in our schools is the best we have in Harney County.”

Board member Tara McLain made a motion to adopt a policy (similar to BHS’s) that states that students must be enrolled full time at HMS in order to participate in the school’s sports programs. However, interdistrict agreements would still be honored.

With the exception of Dickenson, the board agreed to adopt the policy that McLain proposed. Dickenson explained that he voted “no” because he didn’t want to include interdistrict agreements in the policy.

Superintendent Marilyn McBride said she’d draft a new policy in accordance with the board’s decision, and Cheek thanked Mayes for his efforts.


Mayes reported that Garr Van Orden accepted a position elsewhere and is no longer slated to teach drama and electives at HMS. Mayes suggested hiring former Crane Union High School teacher Hector Martinez to fill the vacancy and transferring Roger Martin from the Burns High Alternative School to fill an additional position for an electives instructor at HMS. The board agreed to approve the personnel hire and transfer.

The board also approved personnel hires for Mary Cade (pending Oregon licensure) and Shawna Cook for teaching positions at Slater Elementary School.

The district still needs to fill four teaching positions.


The board opened the budget hearing at the beginning of the meeting, and there was no public comment.

Before closing the hearing, Cheek commented that she’d like to have a librarian at Slater and hopes to discuss possible grant opportunities with Harney County Library Director Cheryl Hancock. Ramona Revak, a retiring Slater teacher, said a committee would be meeting to discuss the matter.

There being no further discussion, Cheek closed the budget hearing. The board then agreed to adopt the budget for fiscal year/school year 2015-2016 in the total amount of $13,388,658.


In other business, the board:

• appointed McBride as district clerk, chief administrative officer, and budget officer for 2015-2016;

• appointed McBride as school district agent dealing with federal and state government;

• appointed Beth O’Hanlon as business manager;

• authorized facsimile signatures for McBride and O’Hanlon for district checks;

• established fidelity bonds on McBride in the amount of $100,000;

• designated McBride and O’Hanlon as custodians of all district funds for HCSD No. 3 for 2015-2016;

• appointed HCSD No. 3 board of directors as the contract review board for 2015-2016;

• designated the Burns Times-Herald as the official newspaper for the district for 2015-2016;

• appointed Property and Casualty Coverage for Education as the district insurance company and Field-Waldo Insurance Agencies Inc. as the agent of record for 2015-2016;

• appointed Oster Professional Group CPA’s as district auditors;

• designated U.S. Bank, the Local Government Investment Pool, Bank of Eastern Oregon, Umpqua Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank as depositories;

• set certified sub rates for 2015-2016 at $173.76 per day/ $21.72 per hour;

• received reports from Mayes, McBride, Slater Principal Chandra Ferguson, BHS Principal Brandon Yant, and Ron Wassom (principal of the district’s alternative schools);

• accepted an $800 donation for Hilander Basketball Camp, and a $750 donation for BHS softball, from the Harney County treasurer;

• accepted a $200 donation for portable toilet service for BHS softball for April and May from William F. Foster Inc.;

• accepted a $75 donation from Coffee Pot Brand LLC (doing business as Sam’s Service) for BHS softball;

• agreed to enter into a lease with Umpqua Bank for new controls to make the boiler system at BHS more efficient;

• approved a contract with Mike’s Fence Center Inc. for fencing around the  BHS football field and rear section of the parking lot. The contract also includes removal of the existing, dilapidated fence;

• upon recommendation from Wassom, agreed to surplus a table saw;

• adopted the 2015-2016 board meeting calendar;

• re-appointed Cheek board chair and Gunderson vice chair;

• agreed to table the collective bargaining agreement discussion until the next board meeting;

• accepted the “Staff Complaints” policy with changes, as read;

approved contracts for administration and contract staff.

Because the school board agreed not to hold a meeting in July, the next meeting will be held Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. in the district office building.

BHS athletes receive awards

Posted on June 17th in News,Sports
Burns High School (BHS) athletes Austin Feist and Catherine Clemens accepted their awards at the Oregon Sports Awards ceremony June 11. (Submitted photos)

Burns High School (BHS) athletes Austin Feist and Catherine Clemens accepted their awards at the Oregon Sports Awards ceremony June 11. (Submitted photos)

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Catherine Clemens and Austin Feist of Burns High School received the Johnny Carpenter Class 4A-1A Prep Athletes of the Year awards Thursday, June 11, at the 63rd annual Oregon Sports Awards ceremony.

The Johnny Carpenter awards were the highest prep honors bestowed upon the recipients at the event held at Nike World headquarters in Beaverton, and it also marked the first time in the award’s history that athletes from the same school won it in the same year.

Gigi Stoll of Beaverton and Kellen Strahm of Sheldon received the Johnny Carpenter Class 6A-5A Prep Athletes of the Year awards.

ESPN SportsCenter anchor and University of Oregon alum, Neil Everett, hosted the event, which honored the best high school, college and professional Oregon athletes over the past year.





Donna Tackman is this year’s Pioneer Queen Mother. Tackman grew up homesteading in a three-room cabin. (Submitted photo)

Donna Tackman is this year’s Pioneer Queen Mother. Tackman grew up homesteading in a three-room cabin. (Submitted photo)

Family and early life

Donna Yvonne Carey was born in the old Burns hospital, which is an apartment building today, on May 1, 1928. Her father and mother were Forest Carey and Nellie Marie Moore.

Donna’s family was originally from England, but relocated to Independence, Mo. From there, her extended family (great-uncles, aunts and great-grandparents) followed a wagon train west.

Donna grew up in a home on the west side of a little valley called “Diamond Valley.” The home was built from the remains of the Camp Harney Fort. When they tore the fort down, the family got some of the lumber to build a three-room cabin, which was first started as a homestead on Riddle Mountain. Donna’s grandmother, Myrtle Barnes, later bought 80 acres in Diamond and moved the cabin there.

Donna grew up in that three-room cabin with her grandparents and mother (when she was between jobs helping somebody cook for big crews). There was a bedroom, a living room, and a kitchen.

Donna remarked, “I guess it was my teachers and my folks at home who raised me that influenced my life the most. That’s where you learned. Like Grandma taught me to sew, crochet, and cook.  And I just picked up things from my granddad by being with him and by doing things outside. And you know, during those times you learned survival habits and things to carry you on through to the next generation. That’s the way I look at it.”

Her earliest memory as a child was when she was about 2 or 3. She said she woke up one morning with something wet and soft on her face. It was winter, and it was cold, and the old cook stove was really cranking out the heat.  She looked over and found a little, black puppy that her granddad had brought home for her, and he was licking her face.

Donna also recalled the first time her granddad shoed her horse, Shorty.

“My horse bit him on the butt, so he learned to tie the head up, so he wouldn’t get bit,” she said.

Donna said her granddad, Art, was a little Swedish man, and she was with him all the time when he was working. For example, she  spent a lot of time helping him look for cows.

He would say, “Get to bed early tonight, girl, because we’re leaving early in the morning to look for cows!”

Regarding her granddad, Donna added, “He had quite a taste for apricot wine, just loved it. He’d go check on some cows some place in the valley. He’d come home, and my grandmother could look up the road and see him coming on his big old black horse. Well, he had stopped at the joint and she could see him swaying as he rode his horse. His biggest desire was to wrestle grandma to the ground. You couldn’t have made him mad if you wanted to. He was so happy with life at that point.”

Bare necessities

What Donna remembers most about growing up in Diamond was living off of what she described as the “bare necessities” during the tail end of the Depression.

She explained, “Everybody in the valley was in the same boat. There was no money. When I say ‘no money,’ that’s what I mean. There was no money. The neighbors traded tasks if they didn’t have a team.  All the machinery was drawn by horses. There were no power tractors or any such thing as that. So if you were short a pair of horses, and you needed to get so much work done, you traded that fellow for a pair of horses and he got so much hay in exchange for payment.”

She further explained, “When I tell the young people now that there was no money when I was a kid, they ask, ‘What did you do?’ Well, you just went to the old swimming pool and picked the leeches off of you when you got out of the water. You couldn’t hire me to do that now!”

Donna said, “My grandmother was a very honest person, strong-willed, but good. She would sew clothes for other families that needed help. She was always helping somebody and had just as little money as anybody else. She always seemed to manage to come up with a way to do something, fix something.”

She added, “My mother was a happy person. She did lots of cooking. And when she worked in the hay fields, she whistled.

School days

Donna went to grade school in Diamond and high school in Crane.

“School was fun back then because I was with the rest of the kids. All eight grades in one room,” she said, adding that, “All the kids rode horses to school.”

Two of Donna’s best childhood friends were Marianna Brown and Shirley Thompson.

She remarked, “Marianna Brown and her family moved to Diamond, as I remember, probably when she was pre-school. Then she started off at grade school there, and then somewhere along the way, the family moved away before she got into her teen years. We went through grade school together and still stayed in touch until her death.”

Three miles away, up the canyon, was where Shirley Thompson and her family lived. She was a year younger than Donna, and they have always been good friends. They went through all the schools together, grade school and high school, and they still stay in touch to this day.

Donna said, “I’ll never forget her family had lots of fruit trees and especially a Bing cherry tree. It had black cherries, and every fall, I would go visit Shirley and prop myself up in that cherry tree and eat cherries all day and vomit all night. I did that year after year and never did get smart. Living three miles from the nearest neighbor, I loved to go see Shirley, and didn’t always ask permission.”

Marriage, career and family life

Donna had five children by her first husband, Bill Winn. They lost their oldest child, Marie Alene, who passed away at a very young age of polio. She went on to raise her other four children, LaNeva, Bill, Judy, and Sherri.

Donna went to Boise Junior College for half a year, and spent a year at Central Oregon Community College. Then she took training as an LPN in Redmond.

After becoming a nurse, she worked 33 years at the Burns hospital.

She said, “I liked working with older people, and I was lucky enough to give a lot of the newborns their first bath. But after bathing several generations of babies, I thought it was time to let somebody else take over.”

After Donna retired from the Burns hospital, she went right across the street and started working for Harney County Home Health.

Some of the accomplishments she is most proud of in life are helping to pioneer the local Hospice program in 1992, receiving the 1995 Senior Woman of the Year award, and receiving the 2007 Harney Partners for Kids and Families Volunteer Award.

‘Try one more thing to make it better’

Donna said she hopes to be known for her willingness to help others.

“The most valuable thing I learned from my parents was to always do your part and be willing to help,” she said, adding, “I’m most proud of my years of nursing. I saw lots of happy things happen and lots of sad things. It was a time in my life that I felt like I grew up and realized the full value of life and what it takes to be a part of a community and a home.”

She added, “I always felt that I was a happy person. I giggled all the time, if you can imagine it. Giggle, giggle, giggle. I knew there were bad times, but it was just a part of life, and you just tried one more thing to make it better in some way. I guess that would be a good explanation for someone to remember me by. Try one more thing to make it better.”

Pioneer spirit

Donna noted, “I felt mighty honored when I was notified that I was selected as the Queen Mother this year. Then I recalled perhaps why I was selected, other than my birthday. My earliest family moved here in 1872, and was one of the first permanent families to live in the area and make Happy Valley their home. They homesteaded and eventually established a ranch. My great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother were all honored as Queen Mothers over the years.”

She reflected, “I feel like especially the early ladies really played an important part in helping to establish the Happy Valley and Diamond areas and communities. They were involved in the early meetings along with the men to help develop and govern the communities, playing an important role in the history of Harney County.”

She concluded, “They were true pioneers. It took everybody in the family to make a go of it. It still does, but it was a different side of life. It was complicated, no medical facilities. You would have to travel far distances to get your supplies for the year. You didn’t go back to the store every 45 minutes for a loaf of bread or a jar of jam. You made it or you did without it.”

Donna added, “To me, the 70s were really the end of an era. That’s the way I feel about Harney County. We were the last to get electricity, and then indoor plumbing. We would hear next year Diamond will get such and such, and sure enough, we would be a year behind everyplace else in the state. I guess you could say we were a part of the last frontier of the West.”


Larry Dunn is this year’s Pioneer President. By the age of 6, Dunn was wrangling horses for the hay crew. (Submitted photo)

This year’s Pioneer President, Larry Dunn, has a history that spans back generations of ranching in Harney County. His great-grandfather, William Dunn, who was born in Iowa in 1832 and died in Harney County in 1917, left Ohio at age 16 and went from the Mississippi River to New Orleans and continued to California via Cape Horn. In 1870, he owned a freighting business and was hauling freight for Doctor Hugh Glenn from Fort Bidwell to the P Ranch in French Glenn. William and his wife, Martha Dunn, settled in Harney County in 1885 on the Blitzen River. William and his son, William “Billy” Dunn, Larry’s grandfather, developed and operated the River Ranch near Sod House. Billy Dunn married Effie Hutchinson in 1899 and had seven children, including Samuel Dunn, Larry’s father.  Billy Dunn was a well-respected cattleman for 60 years in Harney County. Sam married Blanche Cooley, and together they continued ranching. Billy and Effie Dunn had what the Dunn family always called the “Home Place,” which was located along Sod House Lane. They raised a large family, and when the need to divide up the place came about, Larry’s father, Sam, and mother, Blanche, along with his sister, Mavis, and Larry took on the place in Mud Lake. Mud Lake is the land located between the Malheur and Harney Lakes.

Larry’s first job, at about age six, was wrangling the horses for the hay crew. At age 8, he was promoted to a horse-drawn rake. Soon, he was operating the power buck. He attended grade school at Sod House for most of the year, but for a few months each winter, his family took his grandfather, Billy, to San Diego for health reasons. This was the only real time he spent living outside of Harney County. During this time in a huge, strange school with hundreds of other children, he learned how to give and receive a black eye or two on the playground. During these few months out of the year in Southern California, he loved getting boxing lessons from his cousin, Lee Ramage, who actually fought Joe Louis for the world heavyweight championship.

The first movie he saw as a little boy was starring Hopalong Cassidy. Apparently he got pretty engrossed in the movie, because as it got into the heavy action part, he jumped out of his seat with his double cap guns drawn and yelled, “I’ll help you Hoppie!” and then put his cap guns to blazing, much to the embarrassment of his parents.

He attended Crane High School and was a competitor in football, wrestling and track. He was an outstanding wrestler. Back in those days, there was no school size classification. Small schools competed against large schools. He went to state three years, and one year he placed third at state in his weight division.

Larry spent a little time trying his hand in bareback riding on the rodeo circuit with, among others, Evan Osborne and Bob Paxton. He enjoyed those days, but did not find it very profitable. He would leave with a little money and a full tank of gas and would come home broke with an empty tank and a few buckles. He then realized it was time to dedicate his time to the ranch life.

Once out of high school, he married his high school sweetheart, Allene Catterson. After getting married, in the true pioneer spirit, he physically helped build his own home, where they lived and raised their family until the floods of the 1980s took the house away. Larry and Allene got married and went directly into running a large hay contracting business and crew. Back in those days, the crews necessary to put up hay were quite large. He was owner and boss of all of this at 18 years old and his recent bride did the cooking for this huge crew at 17 years old.

Over the years, Larry put up hay for many different people around Harney County. He also did a lot of work for people clearing ground or doing various dozer work with a Cat. Like a true pioneer, he always did his own mechanic work, welding and fabrication. His building and repairing skills have always been pretty amazing. For two years, in 1962 and 1963, Larry and Bob Sitz had a partnership where they put up the hay on the Bell A Ranch.

In 1956, Larry and Allene began purchasing the ranch from his parents.  Larry helped develop it, by building large canals, ditches, and of course, fences and buildings. Larry has always had the pioneering spirit with the desire to clear the land, plant it to grass, and make it productive for raising cattle. He also drilled numerous wells to increase the land’s productivity. It was his nature to continually work to develop and improve the place. Larry began crossbreeding his cattle around 1970 to get the advantages of hybrid vigor. Larry has always had an appreciation of a good ranch horse, and, over the years, he trained many for use on the ranch.

Larry and Allene relocated to Diamond after the floods of the 1980s because the Mud Lake Ranch was totally swept away. After several years of futile attempts to save the ranch from the flood, it was finally destroyed, under water. Everything was lost except the family themselves, a little of the equipment, and the pioneering spirit that cannot be broken. Larry, Allene, and two of the four children, Bryan and Renae, completely started over from scratch on the ranch in Diamond.

In Diamond, just as they always had, Larry and Allene worked side-by-side to achieve success. Starting over to completely rebuild a new ranch was a daunting endeavor, but they never complained. Like most ranching families, they each worked tirelessly to accomplish all that needed to get done.

Larry and Allene have four children, Mark, Brett, Bryan and Renae. As a result of a car accident, Allene passed away in 2010.

Larry continues to operate the Diamond Ranch with his son, Bryan, where they raise Red Angus cross cattle. He enjoys watching his grandchildren play sports and continue the ranching traditions as the sixth generation.

Over the years, Larry has always enjoyed talking and visiting with people. Like his father, Sam, and sister, Mavis, he has always enjoyed the social side of visiting, not only with family and friends, but strangers as well. Time just seems to fly by during a visit with Larry. Today’s trend of Facebook and email is just not quite the same as a visit with Larry.

Larry grew up in the traditional pioneer culture where people were usually always able to come up with solutions for differences or issues by working it out between themselves;  and where people always go an extra mile to be fair, by going more than half-way. You can be assured of one thing, if Larry Dunn gives you his word on something, you know that is the way it will be. He has firmly instilled this into his family’s upbringing.

He says, “If you cannot hold true to your word, then you are just not worth much.”

Being true to your word is a quality held by all pioneers in Harney County and more broadly within the people of Harney County.

HCWC hosts groundwater forum

Posted on June 3rd in News

Concerns raised regarding Harney Basin’s water levels

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

The Harney County Watershed Council (HCWC) hosted a Groundwater Forum Tuesday, May 26 at the Harney County Community Center. The purpose of the public meeting was to help water users in the Harney Basin understand the complexity of water usage and storage, as well as the application process for new irrigation wells for undeveloped land.

Facilitator Jack Southworth opened the meeting by introducing Oregon Water Resources Department (WRD) Director Tom Byler and WRD Groundwater Section Manager Ivan Gall.

Byler began by stating that he was impressed by the turnout, adding that it was a testament to the importance of water to the Harney Basin.

Byler explained that water is considered a public resource, and the WRD allocates rights to use it. He said, although the WRD tries to manage water resources so that they’ll be sustainable over time, the department is concerned about the sustainability of groundwater use in the Harney Basin.

Gall explained that the key criteria for issuing a new groundwater permit is ensuring that water is available and within the capacity of the resource; the proposed use will not injure other water rights; and reasonably stable groundwater levels are maintained. He said depletion below economic levels must also be prevented, explaining that this is the point at which the expense of obtaining groundwater is so high that the operation becomes economically inviable.

Gall examined the issuance of groundwater permits in Harney County from 1995 to 2015, observing that there was “tremendous development over a relatively small area.”

Groundwater levels decline in Harney Basin

Gall stated that water levels are declining in the Harney Basin because groundwater use is exceeding the availability of recharge to the aquifer system.

An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing rock that acts as a reservoir for groundwater. Although they’re capable of storing immense amounts of water, aquifers can dry up if people drain them faster than nature can refill them.

Gall said the amount of permits issued in the Harney Basin exceeds the amount of available recharge, causing water levels to decline. He added that about 30 percent of the permits that were issued haven’t been used yet.

“We’re probably at a point where we need to stop issuing [permits] for a while and do a detailed study to refine our estimates,” he said, adding that this will only apply to permits in the Harney Basin area, and domestic and stock wells will not be affected.

The study

Gall said the WRD is planning a 3-5 year basin groundwater study that will:

• provide more detailed geological mapping;

• locate wells and measure groundwater levels;

• investigate the interaction between surface and groundwater;

• utilize light detection and ranging (LIDAR) acquisition;

• estimate groundwater use; and

• refine recharge estimates and groundwater basin boundaries.

Gall said he and his staff would like to locate wells and collect data as quickly as possible.

Jim Shepherd said his wells are still very strong and asked whether the government will start charging individuals for the water they pump.

He said, “I don’t want to tell you what my well is pumping unless you threaten me with my water right.”

Gall replied that there is no intention to charge for water use, and water level declines don’t necessarily mean that wells are having problems today. He added that the goal is to stabilize water levels so there won’t be problems in the future.

“My guys aren’t interested in whether your well produces 10 gallons a minute or 100,” he said. “We want to know the volume of water pulled out each season.”

Gall explained that the WRD hopes to compare this data with recharge estimates to develop a water budget for the basin.

Additionally, Gall stressed that participation in the study is voluntary.

“If you don’t want us on your property, you don’t have to have us on your property,” he said.

Someone in the audience asked why the department waited so long to begin the study and start denying applications.

Gall replied that the WRD lacked the funding and staff needed to collect data and process information. However, he said he should have the resources needed to start the study now, and it’s already begun.

“Harney County is going to get a lot of attention because we know there is a problem here,” he said. “We have to shift resources to put out the fire. Feel free to contact your legislatures and let them know that groundwater is important. I’d appreciate it.”

Protecting senior users

Gall said senior users’ investments need to be protected, and the sustainability of future groundwater levels needs to be considered.

A couple of senior users stated that their wells have dropped significantly, and they felt new wells were to blame.

However, another audience member expressed concern that the WRD was making rules based on conjecture and said the needs of people who are starting out in the agriculture business are not being considered.

Gall replied that the WRD has enough data to make the decisions that its making.

“I can’t give exact numbers, but I can see trends,” he said.

New permits and extensions

A few audience members asked specific questions about whether their requests for permits or extensions will be denied.

Gall said he feels confident enough in his understanding of the situation that he doesn’t want to issue anymore permits in the Harney Basin. He added that, although the state is legally obligated to continue accepting applications, water masters can attempt to dissuade individuals from applying. He also suggested obtaining a temporary classification for basin groundwater that would allow the WRD to “tell folks up front that we don’t want to bother putting you through the application process” until the groundwater study is complete.

He added that people who’ve already submitted applications can stop the  process and get their money back (except for a $250 processing fee).

An audience member asked whether he’d still be able to get an extension, explaining that he’s been on a waiting list to have his well drilled for two months.

Acknowledging that well drillers have been in short supply, Gall said hardship and due diligence will be considered, and applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

He added that an option may be to cancel permits that people don’t think they’re going to use, and issue them to people who plan to use them.

An audience member noted that government agencies have applied for water permits and asked whether this conflicts with private interests.

Gall replied that state and federal agencies don’t receive special treatment, and they’re approved or denied like anyone else.

Multiple aquifers?

Several audience members expressed the belief that there’s more than one aquifer in the Harney Basin

Gall acknowledged that a lot of people don’t like the idea of the WRD thinking about the Harney Basin as one aquifer system, but said this mode of thinking will grant the department more flexibility, which may be helpful.

An audience member commented that it’s probably easier to think of all the aquifers as linked, but  cautioned that this approach will be harmful.

Updating basin rules

As part of his presentation, Gall also proposed updating basin rules in Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) 690-512.

Steven Doverspike asked who will write the rule changes and whether there will be a public review process.

Gall said it’s a public process, and a diverse group of stakeholders will be asked to provide input.

“That scares the hell out of me,” Shepherd said, expressing concern about the role that special interest groups might play in determining rules for the Harney Basin.

Byler said the WRD’s intent is to work with the community to gather information and help answer long-term questions.

“Rule making will be done in the community with the community,” he said.

However, he added that it is a public process, so people from around the state will have the opportunity to comment.

HCWC member Fred Otley said the collaborative process shouldn’t be missed, and he encouraged everyone to approach it from a positive, rather than negative, standpoint.

HCWC Coordinator Karen Moon said special interest groups were invited to participate in the collaborative process for the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan.

“Having them there made for extra-long meetings and more meetings,” Moon said, “but having them there at the meetings made the process faster because it stopped the lawsuits at the end of the process.”

HCWC seeks public participation

HCWC members Dustin Johnson and Chris Bates encouraged the public to remain engaged by attending and participating in HCWC meetings.

“The more people we have, the more ideas we will have come to us,” Bates said.

Master water plan will be put out for bids

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

The Hines Common Council met for its regular meeting Tuesday, May 26. During the meeting, the ad hoc committee working to formulate new water billing rates presented a proposal to the council.

Councilor Rod Bennett made the presentation on behalf of the water rates committee, which is made up of Bennett and Councilors Dick Baird and Loren Emang, along with residents Darrel Smith and Bob Daniels, and is advised by Superintendent of Public Works Pedro Zabala. Bennett said the group had met five times, and had been researching water rates in other cities. He said they decided that the  city of Burns was a comparable basis to go off of for setting rates in Hines.

The proposal sets water base rates according to water line size (three-quarters of an inch or less through four-inch lines). For lines three-quarters of an inch or less, base rates would stay at $19 per month for both residential and commercial properties. For lines measuring one to four inches, the proposed base rates would increase by between 13 and 49 percent (increasing as line sizes increase).

Additionally, the proposal would increase the water usage rate from $.0020 per cubic foot for all users to $.0021 per cubic foot for residential and multi-family accounts, and $.0031 per cubic foot for commercial and out-of-town accounts. It also includes a $5.85 charge per unit for multi-family, commercial and out-of-town accounts.

Heath Huffman, general manager of Rory & Ryan and Best Western Rory & Ryan Inns, asked if each hotel room in a hotel would be considered a unit. Bennett said, yes, they would.

“That is a 58 percent increase in the hotel’s utilities bill,” said Huffman.

“Right now, it’s very tough, because our occupancy is down and continues to go down,” he added.

Troy Clark, owner of Rory & Ryan and Best Western Rory & Ryan Inns, explained that his business has not fully recovered since the economic downturn of 2007, and that occupancy rates continue to decrease.

“We’ve compensated for that by raising rates, just to keep these hotels running. We have increased our rates over the years to the sum of $26. So if you add another $5.85 [per unit water charge] to that, we either have to eat that or pass it on to our consumers.”

He explained that this would further affect occupancy rates, as travelers are already frequently moving on to Bend or Ontario to get cheaper rates.

Councilor Ron Williams commented that it would be “devastating” to lose either of the hotels.

“I think we should be sitting down with the hotel owners,” said Williams, adding, “I think it needs to be worked out as a team effort.”

It was decided that Clark would attend a meeting of the water committee to further discuss the proposal.

The proposal would also set out-of-town water base rates 50 percent higher than in-city rates. For instance, currently, a four-inch line has a base rate of $178.50 per month. The newly proposed residential and commercial (in-city) rate would be $265.75, and the out-town-rate would be $398.63 per month.

Bob Stearns, of Highland Ranch Estates (which is on an out-of-town account), said that the increase would go against an original agreement made when that community was forced to go onto city water due to an issue with arsenic in its well.

“When we went with the city, it was agreed upon that we would pay the same rate as they do in town. And here you’ve got it 50 percent higher,” said Stearns.

“I don’t feel that 50 percent over everyone else is justified,” he added.

After further discussion, Bennett told the audience that the committee had discussed a number of ideas and was trying to make the system equitable.

No vote was held on the proposal.


City Administrator Joan Davies reminded the council that the city had received a $20,000 grant and been approved for a $30,000 loan at 1.76 percent interest in order to pursue a master water plan. She explained that the options were to put the project out for bids, or to directly appoint the city engineer.

Baird said that it came down to saving money.

“If we can save money by bidding it, we should be saving money,” he said.

Others on the council agreed, and the consensus was to direct Davies to put out the project for bid.


The council adjourned its regular meeting for the budget meeting. The oath of office was given to new members Bryce Mertz and Diane Rapaport (as they were unable to attend the prior meeting), and the minutes of the May 20 meeting were approved.

Davies delivered the budget message for the upcoming fiscal year 2015-16. She read aloud the written statement, which presented the proposed budget of $1,745,185 for review. In the statement, Davies reported that:

• The amount is $15,209 less than the 2014-15 budget, even though employee insurance, workers compensation, and retirement benefit costs have increased, and the 9-1-1 dispatch services cost has doubled;

• The budget includes the general fund (city hall, police, fire and parks departments), utilities fund (water and sewer departments), state tax street fund, and capital projects fund. This year for the first time, water and sewer revenues will be separated in order to truly reflect what services are costing the city to provide, and what revenue is collected as an offset, she said;

• The economic downturn and property tax limitations continue to restrict revenue. Davies said that while the council and city employees continually strive to become more efficient and reduce expenditures, the city faces budgetary choices at a time when demand for services continue and infrastructure needs are increased.

The statement, which was distributed to all in attendance along with the second draft of the budget document, detailed personnel expenses, tax revenues, debt service, and specifics of the general fund, utilities fund, and state tax street fund.

Time was allowed for public input and discussion, and no comments were received. A budget hearing will be held Tuesday, June 9 at 6:45 p.m. at Hines City Hall. Following approval of the proposed budget, a financial summary will be published in the Burns Times-Herald.


In other business, the council:

• heard a presentation from Mike Barry, Region 5 Local Agency Liaison with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) regarding street maintenance and the availability of ODOT grant monies to assist small cities;

• heard from Harney County Chamber of Commerce director Chelsea Harrison. Harrison reported that the Central Oregon magazine, Cascade Arts & Entertainment, would be featuring a full back-cover  page in June and online promotion through the summer for the “Seven Wonders of Harney County” campaign;

• approved business licenses for Corstone Contractors and Timber Ridge Apartments;

• approved a donation of $124.87 (the amount remaining in the donations account) to the Kiwanis  Club July 4 fireworks;

• approved registration and per diem costs for Hines Volunteer Fire Department Lt. Reinaldo Cooke to attend the “Fire and Leadership” training at Chemetka Community College Brooks Regional Training Center June 6-7;

• approved registration costs for Hines Police Chief Ryan DeLange to complete an online executive leadership program through the Western Community Policing Institute. The program will give him credit toward his Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) Executive Certificate;

• approved Resolution 2198, repealing Resolution 2197, which had been deemed by city auditors to be redundant and unnecessary, as the “capital projects” transfer and “police seatbelt overtime” grant had already been budgeted;

• approved accounts payable for April 30, May 12, and May 26 in the amounts of $676.63, $9,134.40, and $9,354.75 respectively.

The next meeting of the Hines Common Council will be held Tuesday, June 9, at 6:30 p.m. at Hines City Hall.

Remembering those who served

Posted on May 27th in News
American flags lined the fence in Hines Park Monday, in recognition of Memorial Day. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

American flags lined the fence in Hines Park Monday, in recognition of Memorial Day. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

The Special District Directors Election was held Tuesday, May 19.

There was only one contested race, and that was won by Mark J. Owens, who defeated Fred Maupin 166 votes to 106 for the Zone 1 position in the Crane Union High School District.

The complete unofficial results are as follows:

Burns-Hines School District No. 3

Position No. 4 — Julie Burri (unopposed), 65 votes.

Position No. 5 — Lori Cheek (unopposed), 521 votes.

Crane Union High School District

Zone 1 — Mark J. Owens, 166 votes; Fred Maupin, 106 votes.

Zone 2 — Dan Otley (unopposed), 248 votes.

Zone 4 — Mike Davis (unopposed), 214 votes.

Zone 5 — Jeff Dorroh (unopposed), 9 votes.

Harney Education Service District

Zone 2 — Bill Burstow (unopposed), 551 votes.

Zone 4 — Richard J. Jenkins (unopposed), 42 votes.

Zone 5 — Daniel F. Brown (unopposed), 32 votes.

Zone 6 — Kirk Davies (received the most write-ins), 4 votes.

High Desert Park and Recreation District

Position 1 — Scott Smyth (received the most write-ins), 8 votes.

Position 4 — Scott Smyth (received the most write-ins), 6 votes.

Position 5 — Eric Nichols (unopposed), 483 votes.

Harney District Hospital

Position 1 — Shana Withee (unopposed), 823 votes.

Position 3 — Amy Starbuck (unopposed), 800 votes.

Position 4 — Ann Vloedman (unopposed), 785 votes.

Position 5 — Susan K. Doverspike (unopposed), 797 votes.

Position 6 — Joy Stevens (unopposed), 696 votes.

Crane Elementary School District

Position 1 — Chris W. Venell (unopposed), 100 votes.

Position 2 — Kelli Rose (unopposed), 115 votes.

Pine Creek Elementary School District

Position 4 — Cyndee Hill (unopposed), 14 votes.

Position 5 — Dee Ann Miller (unopposed), 14 votes.

Diamond Elementary School District

Position 2 — Gretchen Nichols (unopposed), 20 votes.

Position 3 — Linda Taylor (unopposed), 19 votes.

Position 4 — Chase WJ Sherburn (unopposed), 20 votes.

Suntex Elementary School District

Position 1 — Jeremiah Puckett (received the most write-ins), 1 vote.

Position 4 — Jeff Maupin (unopposed), 15 votes.

Position 5 — Greg Hutchinson (unopposed), 12 votes.

Drewsey Elementary School District

Position 4 — Monte Dunten (received the most write-ins), 4 votes.

Position 5 — Jesse Krueger (unopposed), 34 votes.

Frenchglen Elementary School District

Position 1 — Andrew Shields (received the most write-ins), 5 votes.

Position 3 — Steve Hammond (unopposed), 16 votes.

Position 5 — Cynthia K. Lofts (unopposed), 14 votes.

Double O Elementary School District

Position 3 — Georgia Marshall (unopposed), 5 votes.

Position 4 — Lauren Brown (unopposed), 5 votes.

South Harney Elementary School District

Position 1 — No one received the most write-in votes.

Position 2 — Joseph R. Kingen (unopposed), 20 votes.

Position 3 — No one received the most write-in votes.

Position 5 — No one received the most write-in votes.

Position 6 — Charmaign Edwards (unopposed), 20 votes.

Position 7 — Rod Hoagland (unopposed), 20 votes.

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Director Kevin A. Lefohn opened the public conversation portion of the SE Oregon Symposium on the Arts and Economic Development (held Wednesday, May 20, at the Harney County Community Center) by introducing the individuals and organizations involved with the proposed Performing Arts and Education Center (PAEC).

Community leaders provide input

In the symposium program, Harney County Arts in Education Foundation (HCAEF) Executive Chair Jalin Bingham explained that the goal is to build a center that would serve as a hub for all artistic activities, provide a place for young people to learn and develop their talents, attract tourists, and retain the area’s youth.

During the symposium, Harney County Judge Steve Grasty said Harney County was once the wealthiest community in the state of Oregon, but now it’s “next to the bottom.” However, he complimented community members’ tenacity and thanked Debby Peckham and Linda Neale for steering the county in a different direction.

Peckham is founding advisor for the HCAEF Board of Directors and co-chair of the PAEC Board of Directors. Neale is chair of the PAEC Advisory Board, and she served as the symposium associate director.

Harney County Economic Development Director Randy Fulton echoed Grasty’s statements, adding that Ken and Debby Peckham “opened [his] eyes.”

During his tenure as economic development director, Fulton said he’s learned that:

• Harney County has a lot to offer businesses that are looking to expand;

• economic development takes a lot of time; and

• “We have to look outside the box.”

He added that the PAEC would provide jobs and become an educational asset to the community’s youth.

Although a significant amount of time has already been dedicated to the project, Fulton said many more hours will be needed to make the PAEC a success.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is not that bright, but it is there,” he said. “Based on the progress that I’ve seen over the last few years, this dream will come true.”

Wagner weighs in

Fulton was followed by symposium facilitator Brian Wagner, who manages the Oregon Arts Commission’s community development programs.

Wagner said he was impressed with the symposium’s turnout, adding that most of the people in attendance were Harney County residents who wanted to participate in the conversation.

He said he was very excited to learn about the PAEC building proposal and stressed the importance of ensuring that the project is successful for the  whole community.

Holt highlights the value of public will 

During her presentation, Cinda Holt shared what she’s learned about influencing public will and gaining participation in the arts.

Holt is the business development specialist for the Montana Arts Council, a reviewer for the National Endowment for the Arts Fast Track grants program, and a mentor/consultant for the Minneapolis-based ArtsLab. She’s also served as the development director for the Missoula Children’s Theatre (MCT)/MCT Center for the Performing Arts, managing director of Maurice Sendak’s The Night Kitchen (a national touring children’s theatre), and managing director of the Sundance Film Festival.

Holt said the will of the people is a central force in the success of a project, and PAEC advocates must learn to strategically promote the public value of the programs and services that the center would provide. She said the goal should be to reach as many citizens as possible, in as many places as possible, and affect them as positively as possible.

Holt added that PAEC advocates need to be able to answer the question, “What’s in it for me,” for everyone in the community. She said a good strategy for accomplishing this task is to ask community members what they value and then explained how the arts can be used to achieve desired outcomes.

She then provided examples of creative ideas that have been used to draw unlikely audiences to the arts. For example, she shared a story about a museum that attracted bikers who were on their way to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally by featuring a mechanical design exhibit.

Holt said arts advocates need to listen to the community, build new relationships, and mobilize public will. She added that the PAEC proposal isn’t about building a building, but creating a place that inspires individual creativity and engages the community.

Johnston offers an example from Texas

Buck Johnston, a website and new media applications designer, discussed the evolution of Marfa, Texas’ art scene.

She began by comparing Marfa to Harney County, explaining that both are isolated, sparsely-populated, high desert communities that lack urban sprawl and are in close proximity to ranches.

However, Marfa gained international fame and tourism when New York artist Donald Judd founded the The Chinati Foundation and started creating permanent, large-scale art installations in the area.

Today, Marfa hosts artists, writers and musicians from all over the world. It’s home to Crowley Theater, Ballroom Marfa, two film festivals, a thriving newspaper, and a popular public radio station. The tiny West Texas town, which has been the subject of National Public Radio and Vanity Fair stories, has become a tourist destination and a major center for Minimalist art.

However, Johnston said Marfa has had trouble responding to change with infrastructure. She said the city lacks an overall economic plan, as well as amenities like drugstores and dry cleaners. Marfa’s population is unable to support major industry. And, with increased tourism, the town is experiencing a housing shortage, as many locals have capitalized on the opportunity to rent their homes to tourists. Short on funding, Marfa’s public school system is also struggling.

Johnston said Design Marfa Symposium 2015, an architecture and design symposium that’s scheduled for this fall, will focus on Marfa’s future.

Dailey discusses Newberg’s Chehalem Cultural Center

Rob Dailey, executive director of the Chehalem Cultural Center, explained the process of establishing and sustaining a community culture and art center in Newberg, Ore.

Acknowledging that change was inevitable, Dailey said community members met in 2000 to discuss and attempt to influence Newberg’s future. Ultimately, they decided that building a cultural center would enable them to preserve the community’s most important assets.

Years later, a historic school — which had been used to educate generations of area residents — was restored and renovated to include a fine arts gallery and exhibition hall, three multipurpose arts studio classrooms, a state-of-the-art clay studio, a recording studio with four music practice studios, meeting space, and a 5,200-square-foot ballroom.

Dailey detailed the amount of effort that went into making the center a success, explaining that project proponents spent the first five or six years just talking about their ideas, holding forums, and touring the facility. He said the project gained support and credibility through a partnership with the Chehalem Park and Recreation District and when prominent Newberg families started contributing to the cause. The center also received federal funding and a grant from The Ford Family Foundation.

But there was still a lot of work to do after the Chehalem Cultural Center opened its doors in 2010. Dailey explained that 10 years of conversations and campaigns had to be synthesized into a feasible and sustainable mission that could be achieved through a specific set of goals. He said a significant amount of time has been spent determining what the center will offer on a daily basis, and new program proposals are only addressed during strategic meetings.

Rapaport references Jerome

Harney County resident and author of Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City, Diane Rapaport discussed how an unlikely alliance of hippies, “old timers,” business people, outlaws, and artists succeeded in reviving the city of Jerome, Ariz., which was on the brink of collapse after being was abandoned by the mining industry.

“Love, hope, and need became very powerful allies in bringing together uncommon people,” Rapaport said, explaining that the city’s long-time residents teamed up with newcomers to transform the city into a mecca for artists.

She said artists are good at business, adding that their work attracts tourists and generates income, benefiting the community as a whole. She explained that an artist might use the money that he/she earns from selling a painting to pay a plumber to fix his/her toilet.

Audience’s input

After their presentations, Holt, Johnston, Dailey and Rapaport returned to answer questions from the audience.

Rapaport kicked off the question and answer session by asking the other presenters how existing performing arts centers determined their maximum seating numbers.

Johnston and Dailey both live in communities where performing arts centers were created in existing buildings. So, for them, seating was limited by the size of the building.

Holt warned that losing an audience can be an unintended consequence of building a large, state-of-the-art theater. For example, she said 88 people used to crowd into a ski rental shack to watch Sundance films, but only about 35-40 people attended when the films were shown in an auditorium, and they were all people who are “comfortable in the world of theater.” Her advice for PAEC advocates was to “make [the center] your own.”

An audience member asked the presenters to discuss the difference between receiving support from people within and outside of the community.

Dailey stressed the importance of receiving support from community members, explaining that this gave the Chehalem Cultural Center credibility within the community. He added that, because philanthropists often back each other’s causes, the support of one family or organization can earn future endorsements.

However, he said, “A name can only take you so far,” adding that the center is legitimized by the work  that it does.

Johnston said public will was not a factor in Marfa, as “big personalities” moved to town with money from outside of the community. (Judd received funding from the Dia Art Foundation in New York.)

“They don’t give a damn in Texas,” she said with a laugh.

Rapaport said Jerome “grew organically” from artists who moved to the area to produce work, and she can’t remember anyone receiving large grants.

Harney County resident Sue Kovar noted that many of the centers that were discussed during the presentations were built in restored structures, and she asked why PAEC advocates are proposing a new building.

Johnston replied that the expense of restoring an old building could be triple the cost of building a new structure.

Three breakout sessions — Sustainable business models, Building public will, and Involving place and history in the evolution of a big idea — were held in the afternoon to provide audience members an additional opportunity to offer input.

Local talent on display

This portion of the symposium also featured writing presentations by Lorna Cagle, Lisa Wolf, and Peg Wallis (and her assistants). Janet Braymen and Joan Suther provided musical entertainment, and the Burns Paiute Powwow Club danced.

Join the conversation

For more information about the symposium, visit the PAEC Facebook page at You can join the conversation online by “liking” the page. You can also visit the PAEC website at

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