Sports participation for charter school students discussed

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Harney County School District (HCSD) No. 3 held a work session prior to its regularly-scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 12 to discuss educational options for Eastern Oregon Academy (EOA) youth.

EOA is a 24-hour residential youth facility for males ages 13 and older.

During the work session, HCSD No. 3 Superintendent Dr. Marilyn McBride said the Oregon Department of Education had been pushing the district to have a service agreement signed and negotiated with EOA management with a “tight time line.” She added that the department has since pulled back, but a management team is continuing its efforts to determine what can be done.

EOA youth currently attend classes in the district office building (former Lincoln Junior High School), and McBride said some of their behaviors have caused concern for the security and safety of staff and other students who use the building. She said examples include using inappropriate language, making threats, throwing objects (including desks), damaging property, and exhibiting inappropriate sexual behavior.

Ron Wassom (principal of EOA Alternative School, Eastern Oregon Youth Correctional Facility’s Monroe Alternative School, and Burns High Alternative School) said these behaviors are much more extreme than those exhibited by Burns High School (BHS) students. He added that law enforcement had to be called four times in two days.

Board vice chair Doug Gunderson said students would be expelled if they acted that way at BHS, but the district “can’t really do that with these kids.”

McBride said EOA youth need to be stabilized before education can begin, adding that behavior plans need to be developed and students’ reading and math levels need to be assessed. She explained that many youth enter EOA without any records concerning their educational history.

Wassom agreed, stating that it can take weeks for the records to come in, and some aren’t up-to-date when they arrive.

Board member Tara McLain asked how long the youth are at EOA before they begin classes, and Wassom replied that they start school the next day.

“These kids need somebody to look at the whole picture,” board chair Lori Cheek said. “They have to be able to sit for a while and be comfortable with where they are sleeping,” she added. “We’ve got to put more focus on what they need.”

McBride said EOA and district staff need to provide consistent rewards and consequences for students, and she suggested using Google Docs to record and share information concerning students’ behavior. She also encouraged the development of short and long-term goals for EOA students, suggested adding a quiet room/ “cool down space,” and encouraged EOA to provide an on-site counselor.

Wassom said funding was made available for an EOA employee to remain in the classroom full time and that the presence of this employee has made a difference in the students’ attitude, language, and work.

“We really appreciate that they’ve stepped up,” Wassom said regarding EOA staff.

McLain asked why students are no longer taught at the EOA facility.

Cheek replied that, “This was the only thing that the school district could come up with, and they did like having the gym.”

McLain also asked whether the district has to provide education for EOA youth.

“They are residents of our district,” McBride replied. “We do have an obligation to provide for them, just like any student that is in our district.”

However, she added that EOA can be thought of as a parent who can choose to enroll its students in online, private, or homeschool programs.

McBride added that the district and EOA have been touring facilities, including Washington School, to determine the advantages and disadvantages of holding classes at those sites. However, she said neither the district nor EOA can fund the overhead cost of operating the Washington School building, and board member Ralph Dickenson expressed concern about the school’s proximity to Washington Park.

McBride asked the board whether funding should be increased to address some of the safety concerns. McLain, Cheek and Gunderson replied that they don’t want to provide any additional funding.

Monica McCanna, who attended on behalf of classified employees, urged the board to do anything it can to protect staff.

Gunderson said he agreed with protecting staff, but he felt the money would be better spent serving other students.

McLain said she felt the funding should remain the same, and these students should be educated at the EOA facility.

Board member Lisa King commented that, “Having to call the cops is not bettering the students’ outlook on anything. It just flames the fire.”


During the public comment portion of the regular meeting, Jen Keady addressed the board concerning charter school students’ ability to play sports at Hines Middle School (HMS).

“I would appreciate a true conversation about how to make it happen,” she said.

Gunderson and Dickenson said they weren’t opposed to the idea. However, it requires a policy change. Gunderson and McLain both expressed that they would not like to change policy for high school students.

Regarding the middle school, Gunderson said he thought it should be up to the principal, and possibly the team, to decide.

HMS Principal Jerry Mayes said he’d like to meet as a group and discuss the ramifications.

“I’m fearful of adults abusing the policy,” he said. “I want our kids to be as successful as possible, but I don’t want to throw in loopholes where students jump ship and go into charter school after their sports season.”

Keady suggested that requirements for students’ grades apply regardless of whether they attended HMS or a charter school.

Mayes suggested that a group meet to write the policy, which can be presented to the board during its next meeting. He added that he’d like to engage Athletic Director Paula Toney in this effort.

Keady thanked the board for its consideration.


In other business:

• Slater Elementary School Principal Chandra Ferguson reported that Tears of Joy Theatre performed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for Slater students.

She added that Dr. Kevin Feldman and Dean Richards from Oregon Response to Instruction and Intervention, an organization that provides technical assistance to Oregon school districts, conducted learning walks at the end of April. She said both commented that they were very impressed with teachers’ increased use of engagement and instructional strategies.

Ferguson concluded by informing the board that Preschool Visitation Day is scheduled for May 21.

• Mayes reported that Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) assessment testing and schedules went as anticipated, but Smarter Balanced tests are taking longer than expected.

He thanked the BHS leadership class for hosting the Ronald McDonald fundraiser dance and Austin Feist for putting on a “fantastic career day” for HMS students.

Mayes also informed the board about a school-wide challenge to increase students’ attendance.


BHS Principal Brandon Yant reported that 18 new members were inducted into the Robert Burns Chapter of the National Honor Society, and the Burns FFA Chapter has 57 members.

He said Garrett Blackburn and Baylee Hanner each received Ron Mackenzie scholarships in the amount of $8,500, and Diana Camacho was awarded $3,000.

Yant also reported that Sam Ellibee placed first in the State Solo Competition, and Jon Caponetto placed second.

He said BHS completed its five-year accreditation review in mid-April, and the external review reinforced findings that the school was already aware of. He added that a Site Council Committee was formed to work on a school improvement plan.

• Wassom reported that a new ventilation system was installed in the vocational shops at Monroe Alternative School. He added that the school’s graduation ceremony is scheduled for Friday, June 12 at 10 a.m., and teacher Terry Graham will provide the commencement address.

• During the public comment period, McCanna encouraged board members to spend a day job shadowing a classified employee next year.

• The board accepted a $100 donation from TopLoc Asphalt Maintenance LLC for the senior prom; an $800 donation from Xi Delta Gamma for BHS softball; and a $2,000 donation from Golden Four Inc. for BHS football uniforms.

• The board approved personnel hires for Gordon Black (Monroe, mechanics); Erin Jenks (Slater, teaching); Amber Kohler (Slater, teaching); Taci Weil (Slater, special education); Nancy Moon (Slater, principal); Garr Van Orden (HMS, drama and electives); and Kathy Wassom (BHS, health, physical education, and senior project).

• The board accepted policies “Disposal of District Property,” “Emergency Drills,” and “Emergency Closures” with the changes that King read during the previous meeting. Upon recommendation from Dickenson, the board agreed to table “Staff Complaints” until it has more time for discussion.

• Cheek provided an update on the biomass heating project. She reported that the cooperative has been formed, and a project manager has been hired. Cheek and King volunteered to serve on the cooperative’s board.

The next regularly-scheduled school board meeting will be held Tuesday, June 9, at 7 p.m. in the district office building.

Automated sprinkler system considered

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Following a months-long hiring process, the Burns City Council voted to remove the “interim” tag from Dauna Wensenk’s title and appointed her city manager.

Mayor Craig LaFollette stated the search committee had received 16 applications for the position that had become vacant last November when the council voted to terminate the contract of Kraig Cutsforth.

The committee reviewed the applications and narrowed the search down to six applicants, two of whom accepted other employment before the interview process.

The final four candidates were then interviewed, using a standard set of questions, and then scored on their responses. The council then met in executive session to confirm the process with legal counsel, and based on the scoring system, the council appointed Wensenk to the position at their regular meeting Wednesday, May 13.

LaFollette explained that even though Wensenk didn’t meet the requirement of a four-year degree asked for in the initial job description, her knowledge and experience gained from having worked for the city for more than 30 years far outweighed that point.

LaFollette also thanked Councilor Terri Presley for having chaired the selection committee.

The council voted unanimously to appoint Wensenk to the city manager position, with Councilor Dennis Davis abstaining from voting because he had also put in for the position.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, former city manager Cutsforth said he was highly disappointed in the council’s decision.

He referred to correspondence he had sent to the council before the interview process, claiming 73 percent of the county’s population and 70 percent of the state’s population were locked out from applying because of the four-year degree requirement. “Then you made an exception to hire Dauna,” he said. “That doesn’t make it very fair.”


LaFollette asked Public Works Director Dave Cullens if he had any more information regarding a proposal to hire a seasonal employee to help with maintenance at the city parks.

Cullens stated it would cost more than what was budgeted for, and suggested, as an alternative, that the council consider installing automated sprinkler systems at the parks, noting that would save the public works crew a lot of time.

The council agreed by consensus to allow Cullens to put the sprinkler systems out for bid, and they would see it was a viable solution.

In a related matter, the council also agreed to begin a search for the public works director position, as Cullens will be retiring in the near future.


A public hearing was held at 6:15 p.m. to receive public input on the proposed text amendments to the Burns Comprehensive Plan/Zoning Ordinance and the updates to the regulations in the flood damage prevention ordinance.

Grant Young of the Department of Land Conservation and Development was in attendance to answer questions from the council. Young said the updates in the flood damage prevention ordinance were necessary to continue to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements to receive benefits in the event of a flood.

Young noted that the flood plain map had already been digitized, and all they needed were the ordinance updates.

Stuart Yekel expressed concern about a ditch that runs behind his business. He said the last time it flooded in town, the ditch backed up with water and flooded in the area of his business because the ditch was filled with debris. He has cleaned out the ditch near his business, but he wanted to know if the city had been cleaning out the ditch in other places.

LaFollette said he would check into it.

Presley reviewed the changes in the comp plan which included higher fences being allowed on the street side of a residence as long as visibility was not impaired by the fence, various fees, off-street parking and parking spaces.

The hearing was closed at 6:28 p.m.


Jackie Clements approached the council about her shared driveway on North Diamond.

She stated her residence shares a driveway with a neighboring residence, and the renters now in the adjacent house are blocking the driveway with their vehicles. The first two times it happened, the Clements asked them to move their vehicle and they complied, but since then, they have parked a vehicle in the driveway and left it.

Clements said city employees have spoken with the renters but nothing has happened, and she was asking the council to amend a city ordinance to keep the driveway open. “There are no laws to keep them from blocking the driveway, so they are. They have ample parking elsewhere. It just boils down to common courtesy,” Clements said.

The council directed Wensenk to do some more research on the situation.


In other business, the council:

• approved a $50 donation to the Kiwanis Club of Burns-Hines for the Fourth of July fireworks, and a $50 donation to the Burns High School Class of 2015 for the senior all-night party;

• approved drainage easement agreements with six residents;

• congratulated Fire Chief Scott Williamson on his completion of training that allows him to provide plan review input on water supply and access, and certifies him to perform inspections on Group B and Group M occupancies.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, at city hall.

Event sponsored by HCAEF and Chamber

Community leaders, arts leaders, politicians, and artists of all kinds will gather in Burns May 19-20 for the SE Oregon Symposium on the Arts and Economic Development to learn how Harney County can grow a strong economic base through emphasizing the arts and developing the proposed Performing Arts and Education Center.

Other regions of the state and country that have successfully grown their connection between the arts and the economy will be highlighted — including Marfa, Texas; Yamhill County, Oregon; and rural Montana.

Cosponsored by the Harney County Arts in Education Foundation and the Harney County Chamber of Commerce, the symposium is funded by local businesses and ranchers, Oregon foundations, generous individual donors, and local and state government agencies.

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty said, “This symposium provides an important opportunity for the community to come together to examine and promote a regional development strategy for Harney County and the surrounding area.”

The two-day symposium will feature public performances, interactive panel discussions, and educational presentations. The public is invited and encouraged to attend these free events.

An Evening to Celebrate the Arts

The Harney County Arts in Education Foundation will host An Evening to Celebrate the Arts Tuesday, May 19 at 7 p.m. at the Harney County Church of the Nazarene (311 Roe Davis in Hines).

Showcasing local youth in music, dance and art, this highly-anticipated, annual event brings together the performing and visual arts for an evening of celebration!

Four talented young musicians who excel in their instruments of choice will be featured this year. They are:

• Burns High School (BHS) senior Jon Caponetto (trombone);

• BHS sophomore Sam Ellibee (oboe);

• Rural Harney County home school student Mattie Herringshaw (piano); and

• BHS junior Nobuko Iwasa (trombone).

These youth are all Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) State Soloists and/or winners of the Sunriver Music Festival Young Artists Solo Competition.

They will be accompanied by Jean Shrader, professional accompanist and prominent musician from Bend.

The evening will also feature performances by professional musicians Megan Kartchner and Kyle Ruggles.

Kartchner is a Harney County resident and concert harpist, and Ruggles is a professional flutist who will return home to Burns to perform for the event.

Steens Mountain Ballet will also be featured during the performance part of the evening.

The captivating event will culminate with a reception and an art show by the Burns and Crane art departments. The show will feature wonderful works of art created by local students.

Additionally, local artist and teacher Connie Robbins will unveil a collaborative community art project. Robbins is designing a sculpture to represent all of the areas in music, dance, theatre, visual and written arts that combined to make Harney County and Southeast Oregon such an amazing place to explore. Youth and adults will be able to contribute to this sculpture, which will represent the entire region.

The event is free, but donations are appreciated.

For more information, call Debby Peckham at 541-573-2427.

A compelling conversation

Brian Wagner, community development coordinator for the Oregon Arts Commission, will facilitate a discussion concerning building connections between the arts and economic development in rural communities on Wednesday, May 20 from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Harney County Community Center (484 N. Broadway in Burns).

This portion of the symposium will include presenters Buck Johnston from Marfa, Texas; Rob Dailey, executive director of Chehalem Cultural Center; Cinda Holt, business development specialist from the Montana Arts Council; and local author Diane Rapaport.

Johnston started designing websites and new media applications in 1995. She likes to say she was born on the web. She designs sites for Chianti Foundation, the Big Bend Sentinel and many artists’ sites — helping shape how Marfa is perceived from the world at large. In 2008, she developed Johnston also formed a nonprofit, Design Marfa, and owns and operates her gallery and store called Wrong.

Dailey is the executive director for the Chehalem Cultural Center, a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to building community by celebrating their arts and heritage. He served as deputy and interim director of the Santa Fe Children’s Museum (N.M.) and was director of operations for the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, a nationally-recognized professional chamber choir.

Holt is the business development specialist for the Montana Arts Council. She’s also the program director for Building Arts Participation and the Art of Leadership Institute. Additionally, she served as development director for Missoula Children’s Theatre Inc., steering a multimillion dollar campaign that resulted in a state of the art auditorium and administrative headquarters for the company. Holt also served 10 years (1982-1991) as the managing director of the Sundance Film Festival.

Rapaport is the author of Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City, which was published by Johnson Books (Big Earth Publishing) in April 2014. This story tells how the town came back to life after mining abandoned it in 1953. Rapaport is also considered a pioneer of music business education, and she has a master’s degree in Renaissance literature from Cornell University.

The event is free, and breakfast and lunch will be provided. However, because seating is limited, registration is required by May 15.

Interested individuals can register online at or via phone at 541-573-2427 or 541-413-1974.

Telephone and Internet scams often target seniors

The Harney County Sheriff’s Office would like to inform the residents of Harney County of an increase in phone/email-generated scams that have been taking place in the area in recent weeks.

Some of the most commonly used scam are known as “sweepstakes/lottery” calls, in which the scammer contacts the victim and informs them they are the recipient of a large monetary prize, and the winner must pay a nominal fee via pre-paid credit card in order to collect their winnings. Popular sweepstakes, such as Publisher’s Clearing House, are being referenced in these calls.

One type of scam that is popular among scammers, and tends to target the senior citizen population, is one in which the scammer identifies himself/herself as law enforcement or other person of authority, informing the victim that a loved one has been arrested/detained in another city, state or country, and the victim must deposit bail money onto a pre-paid card to get the loved one out of trouble. With these types of calls, the victim may even be tricked into believing that they are actually talking to their loved one at some point in the call. The scammer will initiate the call and say something along the lines of, “Hi, Grandma. Do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer sounds most like, the scammer has established a fake identity without having any background research.

Unfortunately, during times of a loss, a victim becomes more vulnerable and an easy target. In one approach, the scammers read obituaries and call or attend the funeral service of a complete stranger to take advantage of the grieving widow or widower. Claiming the deceased had an outstanding debt with them, scammers will try to extort money from relatives to settle fake debts.

Health care/Medicare/health insurance fraud is also high among seniors. Every citizen older than 65 qualifies for Medicare, so there is rarely any need for a scam artist to research which private health insurance company older people have in order to scam them out of money. In these types of scams, scammers may pose as a Medicare representative to get seniors to give their personal information, or they will provide fake services at makeshift mobile clinics, then use the personal information provided to bill Medicare and pocket the money.

The Internet is another way that identities and personal information can be stolen. Common forms of Internet scams are pop-up windows that simulate virus-scanning software and will fool the victim into either downloading a fake anti-virus program, at a substantial cost, or an actual virus that will open up to the scammers whatever information is on the user’s computer. Also, a victim may receive an email that appears to be from a legitimate company or institution, asking them to update or verify their personal information.

The Harney County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind citizens, “If it seems too good to be true, it usually is,” and to protect yourself by not giving personal or financial information to these scammers or others like them, nor follow any instructions they might give on how to go about collecting prizes or helping loved ones. In the event that you become a victim/recipient of one or more of these types of fraud/scam calls, you are encouraged to contact the Oregon Financial Fraud Consumer Protection Section by calling 1-877-877-9392 to report the incident.

Police department obtains overtime grant

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

The Hines Common Council met for a public land use hearing at its regularly-scheduled meeting Tuesday, April 28. The land use hearing on Ordinance 309 (a flood damage prevention ordinance, with included zoning changes) was called to order first to gather public input and provide an opportunity for discussion.

Ordinance 309 had been discussed at previous meetings, but councilors elected to delay a vote in order to have more time for review. City Administrator Joan Davies explained at the regular meeting of the Hines Common Council on April 14 that all cities are now being required to pass flood ordinances in order to qualify for the National Flood Insurance Program, and that the ordinance had been reviewed by a citizen committee and was recommended for approval by the Hines Planning Commission.

At the April 28 public hearing, Davies reiterated that the ordinance establishes processes for flood damage prevention, and changes single-family residential zoning for six privately-owned properties, in cooperation with the property owners.

One person in attendance asked if her property was in the flood zone. Davies explained that the ordinance does not change any flood zoning designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and that a flood zone map could be obtained from the Harney County Planning Commission.

As there were no further comments or discussion, and no written testimony had been received, the public hearing was closed. Councilor Hilda Allison moved to approve the ordinance, and it was seconded by Councilor Ron Williams. The motion carried with five “ayes,” and Councilor Loren Emang not voting.


Ordinance 310, an amendment to the cottage development ordinance for the West Ridge II housing development, was also passed. The amendment clarifies the original intent of the planning commission, which was to require that a minimum of four cottages be built only when the development was first established, not each time a new cottage is proposed. Builders Pat Thompson and Ron Schirm were proposing to build two new cottages, and were in attendance to answer any questions.

Following the passage of the ordinance, Mayor Nikki Morgan advised the council that the clarification of the ordinance had caused a delay for the builders, and that they had requested a waiver of the 30-day waiting period normally required. Emang moved to waive the waiting period, it was seconded by Williams, and the motion carried unanimously.


Hines Police Chief Ryan DeLange told the council that he obtained a grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) in the amount of $3,000 to pay for police overtime in writing traffic citations for speeding. Davies pointed out that the hours can’t be worked until after July 1 (the start of the fiscal year), because there is no revenue or expenditure line specifically for speeding citation overtime, and the grant comes with a $750 matching requirement. DeLange said they will have no problem satisfying the match with in-kind work.

In other news, DeLange reported that his department received a number of theft calls recently, and there continues to be a problem with methamphetamine and heroin sales and usage in both Hines and Burns. He said the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently busted an exchange of one pound of methamphetamine behind a local gas station.

DeLange said he received a lot of information regarding the implementation of Measure 91 (allowing for the personal use and possession of recreational marijuana) at the recent Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference, but said there is a great deal of confusion surrounding it, as changes keep being made.


In unfinished business, the topic of utility rates was addressed. Morgan asked if there were any comments about the water base rate, and asked if the water rates committee met. Emang reported that it had, and they would meet again the following day. He said they are looking into flow rates and line sizes to help determine a billing scale. The committee is made up of Councilor Rod Bennett, Councilor Dick Baird, and Hines residents Darrel Smith and Bob Daniel, with Superintendent of Public Works Pedro Zabala participating.


In her regular report, Davies said she attended the last Harney County Air Quality Task Force meeting for the season. It will reconvene in September, and it aims to focus on air quality education at schools.

Davies said she also appeared before the Harney County Budget Committee to request $15,000 for the city’s annual budget, which is $5,000 more than the county usually contributes. The money would go to the city’s street fund. Committee members said they would advise her of a decision when they complete their own budget.

Davies advised the council that the cans and bottles fund for Hines Park was at $4,529.52 for the fiscal year.


Harney County Chamber of Commerce Director Chelsea Harrison was present to report on the free disposal day held at C&B Sanitary April 18. She said it was very successful, with a total of 48 loads dumped. She added that they may schedule it later in the year next year, however, to increase participation.

Harrison also reported on the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival in Honor of John Scharff. She said attendance was slightly down from last year, but participants booked more tours on average, which increased the time they spent in the county. She said the new owl and sage grouse tours were successful, and the youth art auction raised $900 for next year’s youth art program.

She said that six, 12-foot banners promoting the festival that were placed along Highway 20 at the Valley Golf Club disappeared, and they have not been recovered.


In other business, the council:

• approved business licenses for Hannaford Creations and Paul Everett Bradley Landscape Services;

• approved a donation of up to $250 each from the Hines Volunteer Fire Department (HVFD) and Hines Police Department to help pay for a chaplain training program for volunteer firefighter Bob Yunker at the Police/Firefighter Chaplaincy Academy in Seattle, Wash., May 16-23;

• approved a donation of $100 to the Burns High School senior class graduation party;

• discussed the utility worker job opening. Morgan said 14 applicants were interviewed, and that they are not ready to hire anyone yet, as background checks are still in progress;

• approved accounts payable for April 28 in the amount of $55,383.09.


The next meeting of the Hines Common Council will be held Tuesday, May 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Hines City Hall.

Raising funds for the fields

Posted on May 6th in News

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Front row, L-R, top two fundraisers and the bat winners: Kevin Peasley, Adam White. Back row, L-R, these three raised between $600 and $900 each: Masson Shaw, Matthew Drushella, Jaden Tiller. (Submitted photo)

Front row, L-R, top two fundraisers and the bat winners: Kevin Peasley, Adam White. Back row, L-R, these three raised between $600 and $900 each: Masson Shaw, Matthew Drushella, Jaden Tiller. (Submitted photo)

On Wednesday, April 29, Harney County Little League broke ground for the two new pressboxes to be built at the fields on West Pierce Street. The pressboxes are part of a number of improvements planned for the complex, including new fencing, warning tracks and additional fields.

On Saturday, April 25, Little League players took part in a 100-inning fundraising event to help pay for the improvements.

Darrell Williams and the Harney County Parole and Probation work crew have made a huge contribution, putting in more than 700 hours working on the projects at the fields.

The goal for Harney County Little League and other community members is to attract the All-Star Tournament to Harney County in 2016, as well as to provide an attractive complex for the community to enjoy for years to come.

Team sponsors, banner sponsors, and donors for this year’s Little League season are Les Schwab Tire Center, Burns Ford, Rise & Run Construction, A Parts Store, Ken Thomas Real Estate, Robbins Equipment, Downright Drilling, The Children’s Barn, Thriftway, The Book Parlor, Burns Electric, Ruthie’s – In His Image Photography, Big R, B&B Sporting Goods, McDonald’s, Joe Davis Construction, Glory Days, Bank of Eastern Oregon, Family Eyecare of Harney County, Burns Dental Group, 7-K Ranches, Rick and Becky Thein, Harney District Hospital EMS, Central Pastime, Eddie’s Fast Break, Burns Fuel Good, Chevron, Jiffy Electric, Umpqua Bank, Keep Kleen Car Wash, RJ’s Restaurant, Subway, Crane Store and Cafe, Adam Kemper Construction, Harney Pump and Irrigation, Balloon Express, Alan’s Repair, LaFollette’s Chapel, Reid’s Country Store, The Truck Shop, C & B Sanitary Service, Harney District Hospital, ACW Rock and Ready-Mix, Joseph’s Juniper Inc., Darrell Williams, and the Harney County Parole and Probation work crew.

The Harney County Little League board of directors, parents and other volunteers appreciate the tremendous support from the community for the county’s youth activities,  including those who donated to the success of the 100-inning game. They are looking forward to the continued growth at the Little League complex and its positive impact on youth and the community.

Two board members indicate resignation

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

A chief executive officer (CEO) offer letter and CEO employment agreement were approved for Daniel Grigg during the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Health District Board of Directors on April 22.

Grigg is set to replace current Harney District Hospital (HDH) CEO Jim Bishop, who will retire in August.

Board member Preston Jannsen chose to abstain from voting, and board member Tim Smith explained that an abstention is neither an affirmative nor negative vote.

Smith, board chair Dan Brown, and board members Ann Vloedman and Shana Withee offered affirmative votes.

The motion included  language that will allow the board to add key person disability insurance (which would protect the hospital financially in the event that the CEO can no longer work due to a disability) if it’s deemed necessary.

The board may also consider obtaining key person disability insurance for other key hospital employees.

Prior to approving the offer letter and employment agreement, the board agreed to move discussion concerning the CEO’s salary into public session.

Smith explained that discussion of salary must be part of public session, but other negotiated items, which are not subject to public meeting law, could remain in executive session.

HDH Chief Financial Officer Catherine White presented the salary negotiations to the board, explaining how the proposed salary compares to what CEOs in similar hospitals receive.

Brown said the proposed salary is slightly under the 50th percentile for hospitals of a similar size, budget, etc.

Bishop said the starting rate should be somewhere between the 25th and 50th percentile, adding that more experienced employees will be paid “more or less” at the 50th percentile.

“That’s kind of where I am,” he said.

The board agreed to approve the salary of $165,000 per year.


Brown stated that two board members indicated their intent to resign, and he asked the board for direction regarding accepting their resignations.

Smith suggested that the board wait until letters of resignation are received.


The board received a report from Clinic Manager Stacie Rothwell regarding HDH Family Care.

Rothwell reported that 1,716 patients were served in March, which was a new high for the clinic. She said the increase can be attributed in part to an influx of acute patients (patients with colds, flu, etc) and roughly 50-75 wild land firefighters who needed physicals by the end of May.

Rothwell also reported that Dr. Heidi Vanyo received her Oregon license, and the credentialing process has begun. Vanyo is expected to start July 1.

An additional physician will be coming to visit at the end of April. She will finish her residency training this summer and would be available to begin in early fall, should she decide to accept a position.

Dr. Henry Elder, a Canby-based psychiatrist, began seeing patients at the clinic via telemedicine April 13. Rothwell reported that the clinic hopes to add a behaviorist who would work directly with clinic providers and Dr. Elder to provide patient care. She added that there’s a list of patients who are waiting to see Dr. Elder, and the clinic anticipates that this will be a successful expansion of its services.

Rothwell also reported that, year-to-date, 557 patients have been served locally by specialists who traveled from Bend.

“It’s an amazing number of patients being seen,” Bishop said. “It’s saving people a trip across the desert.”

Vloedman said the community has responded well to the traveling providers, and Brown said he’s very impressed with the level of service.


The board continued its conversation concerning space planning at the clinic.

The lack of available space was a topic of discussion during the Feb. 25 board meeting, and a clinic space planning proposal was approved during the March 25 meeting.

Efforts are underway to form a subcommittee to oversee the project as it moves forward.


In other business, the board:

• learned from HDH Human Resources Manager Sammie Masterson that HDH Chief Operating Officer/ Chief Nursing Officer Barb Chambers will retire at the end of the month.

The board thanked Chambers for her service;

• received an update from Bishop concerning meaningful use.

At 98 percent compliance, Bishop said HDH is “doing extremely well” at meeting the requirements.

Meaningful use sets specific objectives for using certified electronic health record technology. Hospitals and eligible professionals must achieve these objectives to qualify for incentive programs.

White said meaningful use dollars will be received and used to pay down some of the hospital’s debt;

• learned from HDH Health Information Services Coordinator Toni Siegner that between 50 and 60 children attended the Reach Out and Read® Read and Romp, which was held April 18 at HDH to promote childhood literacy;

• reviewed policies 100.085 “Conflicts of Interest” and 100.090 “Board Retreats” and approved them without changes;

• reviewed policy 100.095 “Reimbursements of Board Member Expenses.”

Vloedman recommended that the sentence, “Board members shall also be reimbursed for their actual and reasonable travel and other expenses incurred in the performance of official district duties,” be amended to read, “Board members shall also be reimbursed for their actual and reasonable travel and other expenses incurred in the performance of official district duties and education and training.”

The board agreed to approve the policy as amended;

• received a report from Kelly Singhose, care manager.

Singhose reported that she works with patients’ primary care providers to develop a plan of care, which involves mental health and home health.  She explained that, in order to do this, she spends a lot of time visiting with patients, researching options, and reviewing patients’ medical histories.

“Most of my patients have several chronic diseases and multiple barriers to care including mental health, physical limitations, economic or social needs,” Singhose explained. “They likely need to see a specialist out of our community and support in our community.”

Singhose said she’s managed more than 200 patients in the last three months alone.

In her aforementioned report, Rothwell stated that the clinic would like to shift the number of staff Singhose supervises so she has more time to provide direct patient care.

The next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 27 in the hospital board conference room.

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

“An Evening with the Basques” will be held Saturday, May 9, at the Burns Elks Lodge, and this year’s event will include a special program for those in attendance.

Bedarra (Grass), an original screenplay based on a true story, by Douglas Copsey, will be read by local residents, and features actual history and dialogue by Harney County residents, both past and present.

Bedarra is the story of when the Taylor Grazing Act went into effect, and the cattle ranchers’ efforts to remove Basque sheepherders from public lands in the West, including Harney County.

It’s a chance to experience a time when the differences between the Basque culture and the ranching industry were in the national spotlight, and how the conflict played out from Washington, D.C. to Harney County to district court in Portland.

An authentic Basque dinner will be served from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m., followed by the reading of Bedarra. The public is encouraged to attend.

Court approves variance for hangar

Posted on April 22nd in News

Court continues biomass cooperative discussion

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

A public hearing was held during the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Court (held April 15) to review Nick Schott’s request for a flood plain development variance to construct an aircraft hangar at the Burns Municipal Airport.

Schott said he operates a crop dusting business and needs a place to store his airplane. He’s been renting an existing hangar at the airport, but the person who he rented from is expanding his business and no longer has room.

James and Wanda Goggin, who live next-door to the proposed site, attended the hearing to express their support for the hangar.

“I’ve got three words: Go for it,” J. Goggin said.

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty said a variance would be required to build the hangar because the proposed site is in the flood plain.

Current flood plain designations were established in the 1980s to give people the opportunity to obtain flood insurance. However, the court has been working to convince the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to change the designations, as they were not based in science and no base flood elevation (BFE) was established. Schott’s proposed building site is considered one foot below the BFE, even though this elevation has not been determined.

Grasty said a lidar flight was conducted to identify the location of the true flood plain.

He then warned Schott that he’ll have trouble selling the hangar if it remains in the flood plain after the re-mapping. Schott said he understood.

Next, Schott and the court engaged in a conversation concerning some of the flood proofing that will be required for the hangar.

Grasty then stated that the conditions for granting the variance were easily met.

“To me this is a no-brainer,” Grasty said. “But I want you protected.”

He added that the court would be granting something that FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program said it should rarely do.

But Airport Manager Jeff Cotton said others have expressed interest in building hangars at the airport.

This includes Keaton Molt, who attended the hearing to learn more about the process.

Grasty reiterated that the court is trying to get the flood plain re-mapped.

Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols added, “We hope to alleviate the problems so we can make the airport serve the public and be an economic benefit.”

The court agreed to approve the variance for Schott.


During the public comment period, Mary Ausmus addressed the court concerning the High Desert Biomass Cooperative
(HDBC), which will supply thermal heat energy to the Harney County Courthouse and Slater Elementary School.

Ausmus expressed concern about taxation, but Grasty assured her that the cooperative will only consist of voluntary participants. He added that, as of now, the cooperative is only made up of the court and Harney County School District (HCSD) No. 3, but others can choose to join later on.

Grasty explained that the courthouse needs to pay for a new heating system, and the school system needs to fund some necessary upgrades.

“This model is about finding a different way to finance it,” he said.

Ausmus also expressed concern regarding the job description for the HDBC project manager and asked whether the project manager would be picking his/her own board.

Grasty said he/she will not. He explained that the board will be formed to give direction to the project manager, and it will likely consist of a member from the court, school district, and possibly Symmetry Care (which has expressed interest in joining the cooperative), as well as members of the public.

“We want to have people who are a little bit cynical to ask the right questions,” he said.

Grasty added that an intensive amount of time will need to be put into the cooperative in the next 60 to 90 days in order to move ahead.

Later in the meeting, Grasty announced that the court would meet with HCSD No. 3 Board Chair Lori Cheek the following day (April 16) to continue the discussion.

At that time, Cheek announced that interviews for the project manager would be held April 17, and she and the court discussed how the position will be paid.

The court and Cheek then engaged in a lengthy conversation concerning the cooperative’s finances.

An additional meeting to discuss, and possibly take action on, the HDBC will be held Wednesday, April 22 at 9:30 a.m. in Grasty’s office at the courthouse.


AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Charlie Ewing attended the meeting to announce that his last day will be April 24.

Grasty said Ewing was instrumental in assisting with projects at the Harney County Health Department, including preparing for the triennial review, continuing and coordinating well water sampling, and updating the department’s technology.

“Those things wouldn’t have happened without you,” Grasty said. “Charlie, thanks so much.”


Candace Carpenter attended to discuss her application to purchase county-owned land.

During the previous county court meeting (held April 1), Grasty expressed concerns regarding the property’s location, relationship to low-density sage grouse habitat, and other land use implications, and he recommended that the court elect not to sell it. The court agreed to deny Carpenter’s application and refund the fee.

During the April 15 meeting, Carpenter explained that she planned to use the parcel to host a cattle drive for young adults who have disabilities.

Grasty said he saw some conflicts with this particular piece of property, but other parcels may be available.

Carpenter said she’d keep looking.

Nichols said Carpenter’s idea is admirable and suggested that she talk to ranchers regarding jobs that could be completed on their property.

Carpenter said that was a good idea.


In other business, the court:

• received an update from Grasty concerning sage grouse. Grasty said efforts to define “disturbance” are underway;

• agreed to sign an Order of Sale of County Owned Land for parcels identified as Assessors Account numbers 23559, 42587  and 59089.

The order directs the sheriff to sell the properties, which have already been approved for sale by the court;

• agreed to authorize Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels to sign a personal services contract with Evelyn Neasham for clerical assistance with the Local Community Advisory Council (LCAC) on behalf of the court.

Runnels explained that LCAC funds come from the Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization (EOCCO) and Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Inc. (GOBHI);

• acknowledged Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order determining a state of drought emergency in Harney County;

• received a letter from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concerning the lack of water that’s already being experienced in the 2015 irrigation season;

• received a copy of the timber sales that are being offered between April 1 and Sept. 30;

• briefly discussed the Rangeland Fire Protection Summit that will be held May 19-20 in Burns;

• reviewed the Schedule of Proposed Actions on the Malheur National Forest.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the county court will be held Wednesday, May 6, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.

by Burns Fire Chief Scott Williamson 
for the Burns Times-Herald

Unable to see through their helmet visors, the firefighters had to rely on following the hose to navigate the course. (Submitted photo)

Unable to see through their helmet visors, the firefighters had to rely on following the hose to navigate the course. (Submitted photo)

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

The most frightening three words that can be heard over the fire ground radio. Everyone who hears the call knows that what was a public emergency has now become an emergency for us. Something has gone wrong and one of our own needs help.

Firefighting is dangerous work. The conditions are harsh and life threatening, the visibility poor, and hazards are around every corner. Within an instant (and often without warning), a floor or ceiling can collapse, or a firefighter could get disorientated and lost within a building. Firefighters are the ones called to help, so who helps the firefighter when they get into trouble, and how do they call for that help? In the fire service, the standard call for help from fellow firefighters is the Mayday call.

For the April 13 training for the city of Burns, the city of Hines and Burns Paiute  volunteer fire departments, “Calling the Mayday: Hands on Training for Firefighters” was introduced, discussed and drilled to give firefighters better understanding of when and how to call the Mayday.

The course consisted of a lecture portion where Mayday conditions (or parameters) were discussed and videos were shown illustrating the importance of calling for help. Ego and pride often get in the way for a firefighter having to call for help and the delay in doing so is often the difference to avoid serious injury.

There were several obstacles along the course that the firefighters had to work their way through. (Submitted photo)

There were several obstacles along the course that the firefighters had to work their way through. (Submitted photo)

After the classroom portion, firefighters donned full personal protective gear, with breathing apparatus. Each member had their mask/face piece obscured, so visibility through the hands-on training portion was zero.

The drill itself was within the apparatus bay in the Burns Fire Department. Members crawled on their knees following a hose line. Several situations were presented while following the hose line,  including being trapped or lost, having something collapse on them, being snagged on wires, and falling through a floor or roof, with members having to call for a Mayday before being “rescued,” and then they continued. Some key takeaways were knowing when to call the Mayday, getting to radios/microphones/communications, communicating clearly, remaining calm, managing air, and working with equipment under stressful situations.

A big appreciation to the members at Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, who are certified to teach and train the course, and delivered a fantastic training.

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