March 20, 2007

March 21, 2007

  • Crews have been busy cleaning up the former Pacific Power substation site in Redmond over the past week. The substation was relocated to make way for the incoming highway reroute and the hazardous materials -- mostly asbestos-contaminated -- are being removed before road crews move in. Soil testing for PCBs will also be done and any contaminated soil removed.
  • There are at least two people to vote for in each open seat in the upcoming Redmond School Board election but few takers for open positions on local special district boards. Paul Rodby, business owner and longtime community volunteer, will be running against incumbent and board chair Tim Carpenter. Retired postmaster William Layton is up against retired teacher Jim Erickson, who was appointed to his seat last year. The other contested races in the area are the Crooked River Special Road District, which has six people vying for two positions, and the CRR Rural Fire Protection District, which has two newcomers trying for position five.

Editorial -- Don't ax, do tell

Redmond’s looking a little less green nowadays. Of course, at this time of year green is a precious commodity anyway, unless you count the gray-green of the weedy junipers. But this last year has seen an alarming number of trees going under the ax – real trees that actually provide shade and a tranquil ambience.

Just two weeks ago Redmond lost the row of towering cottonwoods on the grassy swath between Fred Meyer and Highway 97. Once bordering the creek-like canal, giving the area a pocket-park air, the trees had to give way to the flood of road construction underway. When all is said and done that area will be ground zero for the reconnection of 5th/6th streets with Canal Boulevard. Just across the highway the former Ray Johnson Park site has been nearly stripped of trees to make way for the Highway 97 reroute.

All of these road projects are good things for Redmond and the region in general – no argument. But it seems a shame that they, and the myriad of commercial and residential developments underway, have to come at the expense of the one thing that every desert city needs more of – trees.

It seems that Redmond’s non-native trees fall into two categories: those planted in the last 20 years in newer neighborhoods and downtown streets, and more substantial trees planted in the middle of the last century or before. There don’t seem to be a lot of midlife trees in town and the older ones appear to be hitting the dirt in alarming numbers.

It’s unlikely that our town will stop its escalating growth anytime soon, so wishing that less office buildings, roadways, and homes are built to save some trees is wasted effort. But there’s no reason we can’t be more proactive in replacing all the trees dying for progress.

Would it be so crazy to require every business that takes out a mature tree or two to replant just as many or more after construction is done? How about developers who cut 10 old aspens for a new subdivision? Make ‘em plant 20 more when they are through.

On the other side of the Cascades where water -- and wetlands -- are plentiful the buzzword is mitigation. Every landowner with 20 acres of marsh or even a low spot in their backyard that fills with water every winter is required to compensate for any damage they do in the name of development. If they want to fill that boggy spot in their yard, for instance, they are required to build or enhance a wetland elsewhere.

Over there wetlands are considered vital environmental habitat and imperative for drainage from the overabundance of water that comes from the skies or flooding creeks. Here, trees are the key to temperature control, fighting air pollution, and overall quality of life.

Of course, a new zeal in tree planting in Redmond isn’t going to help most of us much. By the time they reach maturity we may be gone or living elsewhere. But our children will thank us and our grandchildren and all those who come later and wonder at how wise we were to keep Redmond green.

Skaters and bikers conflict in Redmond park

Redmond's skate park often ranks in the Top 5 in the northwest

The Redmond City Council took action to ban bikes from the Redmond skate park last week, following a number of complaints from skaters and conflicts between skaters and BMX riders.

The emergency ordinance, approved at the council's Tuesday evening meeting, will allow police to issue citations of up to $100 to anyone caught riding a bike at the skate park. Although bikes have been officially banned from the park since it opened in 2001, there was no city law giving police the authority to enforce it.

According to police chief Jim Soules, officers have ordered a small handful of BMX riders to leave the park on multiple occasions, only to have them return later. Soules said last Thursday he expected repeat offenders would be cited; Friday morning, police issued their first citations to unauthorized BMX riders.

"That park was developed and designed to be just one thing, and that's a skate park - not a bicycle riding park," Soules said. "This is just cleaning up something that maybe should have been done a long time ago, to clearly state that this is a skate park and no other uses of it are allowed."

Skaters contacted Friday afternoon at the park said they were pleased to hear that bike riders are no officially unwelcome. Twelve-year old Nick Donovan said the bikers tended to be older than the skaters and often arrived at the park in packs, taking over the park from the slower-moving skaters. On a few occasions, he's seen people riding motorized scooters in the skate park.

Zach Rice, 13, said he doesn't have any problems with the BMX riders himself, but he's seen more than a few occasions where bikers and skaters clashed. "There's been like two fights or close to fights in the last week or so between skaters and bikers," he said. Aside from the personality conflicts between skaters and bikers, skaters say the bikers have damaged the park by grinding their pedals and pegs against the concrete.

"They suck. I'm glad they're out; they just tear up the concrete," said 21-year-old skater Andrew Johnson of Bend. Local BMX riders have been working to diffuse the tension between the two groups by circulating a petition asking the city to build a second park for their use.

Eric Helie, owner of Trinity Bikes, has collected more than 100 signatures on the petitions at his shop on Highland Avenue. Helie said he thinks the city's decision to ban bikes at the skate park goes too far, suggesting the number of bikers or skaters unable to peacefully coexist - and the physical damage bikers do to the park - is fairly small.

"There's always going to be negative kids, on both ends," Helie said. "But I think for the amount of riders that were in there, at least the kids that come in to our shop quite a bit, they go down there and there's a respect. If they see kids skating around in there, they'll stop riding."

Helie said he's not as active in the effort to lobby the city for a BMX park as he once was, though he's tried to stay in regular contact with officials from the city's parks department to keep the issue alive. Chief Soules said he feels a dedicated BMX park would be the best solution for all involved, and encouraged the bicyclists to keep working with city officials.

--Scott Hammers

March 13, 2007

March 14, 2007

  • Four area churches that offered a short-term family homeless shelter this winter found no takers. The three weeks of February that Redmond Community, Assembly of God, Community Presbyterian and Zion Lutheran churches pooled resources to provide a warm place to sleep and meals no one took them up on their offer. The limited hours and days the shelter would be open was decided to be the main culprit and the churches have since decided to concentrate their efforts on sponsoring homeless families in church-financed homes and apartments, a program that includes mentoring the families in managing finances, home upkeep and parenting.

  • Redmond High School took its season-opening baseball game 23-13 in a non-league win over Crook County. The team will begin Central Valley Conference play next week when it travels to Salem to battle McNary March 21.

  • A new park is just around the corner for Redmond area folks, to be built in the Dry Canyon just south of Highland Avenue. Construction will begin in earnest on the city's replacement for the former Ray Johnson Park (which had to yield to road construction) this spring. Ball field grasses will likely need to wait until 2008 for play, but the parking areas, sidewalks, restrooms and softball fields are going in this year. An amphitheater is still slated for the park, constructed by Redmond Rotary, but its completion date is not set.

Art/Walk/Explore downtown Redmond

"Do These Wings Make Me Look Fat?" by Tina Harris

Inspiration for Redmond’s art and downtown exploration event came, oddly enough, from a small room with bad lighting. Artist and real estate developer Rozy Arno was fed up with working on her paintings at home and decided to set up her studio in a downtown building she co-owns.

Within weeks she was joined by three other artists – painters Tracy Thille and Sue Smith, photographer Tina Harris – who were seeking studio space, and The Loft was born.
When the building begins its planned renovations the artist’s collective will have to move but for now the artists are excited about having work space and a place to show their creations.

So excited, in fact, that they decided to put together a monthly event that will expose the public to the art, entertainment, and shopping opportunities downtown.
Nearly 20 business have signed on to stay open for this ‘third Friday’ event, which Arno has christened AWE (art/walk/explore).

“Realistically Redmond doesn’t have enough art right now for just an art walk – we had to have more,” she explains. “We’ll have music, theater, wine tasting, and lots of stores open to explore.” Both the artist’s collective and the art walk have come together in a short number of weeks, Arno says, and could have never happened without the help of others.

Redmond Art/Walk/Explore
March 16, 5-8 p.m.

Historic Redmond Church: music by Bellavia and Creston Rogerson & Dennis Plant, wine tasting, art show, theatrical readings
High Desert Gallery: Oregon artist Kimry Jelen
Britz Beads: artist Gilbert Shepard and new ‘vintage’ beaded jewelry
Underdog Coffee: music, art, coffee tasting
Santiago’s Mate: music, mate tasting
Slipmat Science: music by DJs Lyfe and Oblion
The Loft: multiple artists, music and theatrical performance
Housing Works: Redmond High School art show
Simply Sofas: theatrical performances by COLT
Open late: Utopia Salon, The Goldsmith, Piper Lilly, LS Metalworks, Britz Beads and Jewelry, Mt. Custom Framing, Ford Cleaners, Mustard Seed Café, Local Grounds Café.

Letters to the editor

Thanks to our community
We are overwhelmed by the amazing support from our community. Your support and prayers have all been heartfelt. Your donations and contributions have been gracious. We are so very thankful for everything and most of all the love and support of our community. We especially want to thank Donna Torcom for all her hard work. We would also like to thank Pam Mayo, Papas Pizza in Redmond, Dave Hamilton Motors, the entire community of Redmond, and the staff and associates at Wal-Mart in Redmond.
Michael would personally like to thank the entire staff and students at Redmond High School for the very special graduation ceremony and commencements. And a very special thank you to the Sparrow Club.Today Michael is stable. He has just finished his five days of chemotherapy and is resting at home. Please keep in touch. You can e-mail Michael at
Thank you so much. God bless you all.
The McDaniel family
Measure 37 causing regrets
Powell Butte is and always has been strictly an agricultural community. The sign as you enter sums it up, “Good crops, good stock, good neighbors.” All of that is being threatened with the resorts that have already been approved and now with the proposal my neighbor has put before the county.
Being proposed is a planned unit development to be built upon their remaining 125 acres of farmland. This nightmare stems from Measure 37, a law I knew nothing about until receiving the notice in the mail from the county. You learn fast when your entire livelihood and lifestyle are being threatened.
Oregon has land use laws which regulate the use of farmland, waterways and forests. Those land use laws allow farmers and ranchers to go about their business without threat of land development to surround and overtake them. Measure 37 wipes all that out. For instance, my neighbor has filed a request that they be allowed the planned unit development or be compensated $10 million by Crook County. Even though this is an overblown figure that has no basis, the county, in fear of this threat, will no doubt allow the proposal through.
Measure 37 is such a deceiving law. It is one that most people did not understand clearly when put before the voters.
The fact is, they (my neighbors) have become greedy and don’t care about the irreversible negative affects this would have on their neighbors, schools, water and environment in general. They will not live long enough to care about these real concerns. We have put down roots here since the 1980s. The easy answer to some would be to move, but it’s not so easy.
Please research Measure 37 and help to abolish it for the good of Oregon. After all, agriculture is the second leading industry in Oregon.
Carla Bridges
Powell Butte
RDP needs to step up to the plate
Many downtown business people have been patiently waiting for the Redmond Downtown Partnership (RDP) to show not only the business community, but the community as a whole just exactly what their purpose is.
To this point, after 16 months, the RDP, a taxpayer supported organization, has done nothing to validate its existence, let alone for the city to continue to fund it.
To date, the executive director’s door has been a revolving door. Its membership has dwindled, the board of directors is imperialistic and inaccessible, and its current executive director was a member of this same board who has put RDP in the position that it is today.
Yet the City of Redmond and the original interim board gave this organization all the tools it needed for the “roadmap to success.” Evidently, this board has taken a wrong turn.
It is time for the stakeholders in downtown to wrest control of the RDP. I think it is clear that this board just can’t quite “cut the mustard.”
The RDP’s purpose is to help the city implement the Downtown Action Plan. One of the missions that this organization was to perform was business retention and recruitment. What policies and procedures are in place that will ensure parity amongst tenants and landlords, present and future? There are also board members that serve on DURAC, which is the funding entity to the RDP. Quite frankly, this is not right and is leading to many questions downtown.
In my view and the view of many downtown, this board is incapable of performing the duties outlined by the Downtown Action Plan. If the organization is to continue, it has to put people on it that are less concerned about their resumes and more concerned about results.
In closing, the one ingredient that is missing for a successful downtown is the merchant, present and future.
Duane Gilbert
Downtown Redmond business owner

March 6, 2007

March 7, 2007

It appears Redmond's healthy water system has been a victim of its own success. With infrequent repairs needed, the city's maintenance budget for aging pipes and other infrastructure has been frequently cut to allow funds for more urgent projects. Now the city is considering raising water rates more than its usual 3 percent a year to allow build-up of funds for gradual replacement of the oldest sections of water pipe, some now more than 75 years old. City officials are considering a 5 percent hike, which would begin with the new fiscal year.

Redmond received a new market this month when La Conchinita Contenta (The Happy Piglet) opened on Sixth Street downtown. The store will have a full meat counter, tortilla factory, bakery and deli, in addition to grocery items tailored towards the Hispanic market.

The annual Redmond History Walk, slated for June 23 this year, has selected a theme for 2007. 'Redmond Project Blue Book' will highlight the community's more-than-usual number of UFO sightings and reports of extraterrestrial encounters. Project Blue Book was the U.S. military's official investigative program into UFO reports. The event will explore the serious -- collecting UFO first-person narratives and holding a science fiction art show -- and the silly, such as kids crafting Star Trek communicators out of duct tape.

Letters to the editor

TOPIC: Redmond School District

Manage growth, then schools

In his letter last week Mr. Layton gave several good reasons for not supporting a school bond. Building a high school south of the city when major growth is to the north also seems impractical. I vowed years back not to support any tax increase until school impact fees are enacted. How often have any of us heard any city, county, school board, or teacher union member promote school impact fees, or anything to unburden property owners? If we hear anything, it's the "talking points" of the developers' lobbyists. This is no surprise since the school district's supervisor is a director of the Chamber of Commerce. The chamber is an organization dedicated to promoting the growth and the profits of its members who are mainly developers and realtors. This should be a concern to all taxpayers.

Over the years it's also apparent that the school board thinks that the opinions of people without children in schools shouldn't count. The shame is that most people in this category have successfully raised children and have experienced many school issues. Professional supervisors are affected in their roles by non-professional school board members as well as development interests in the chamber that use public schools as marketing attractions at our expense. We saw this type of problem recently in Sisters. The result is usually throwing out the professional.
The blame for overcrowding is on the shoulders of all the public officials who have done
nothing to intelligently manage growth.
-- Frank D. Smith

Business as usual

As we read about an expected Redmond school bond for 2008, the only thing that appears to have changed is that we now have a new school superintendent who appears prepared to listen to the people in her school district and likely to show better judgment than her predecessors.

Rather than repeat myself on the issue of system development charges (SDCs) for schools, I’ll refer readers to for a collection of articles on the subject.

Except for expansion of the city limits with the last annexation/hostile takeover of some properties and a couple of new faces on the city council and the school board "business as usual" appears to remain the mantra.

New developments have been approved, but despite earlier criticism no steps were taken to ensure that land would be reserved for the schools that will inevitably be needed. At least one politician, and probably others, has suggested we should build schools on the edge of cities where land is cheaper to keep the costs of new schools down. Not surprisingly, this perceived wisdom was unaccompanied by advice about paying for the added cost of transporting children, not to mention lessening the absurdity of students commuting long distances to and from school, especially those in elementary grades.

Prior to the last school bond, after suggestions were given to the school board that multi-story buildings are less expensive to build and maintain than single-story, the board promised to build multi-storied schools but reneged on that promise by only building one with two stories and sticking with their preferred single-story design for the other. Perhaps, the school board will enlighten us as to what they plan for new schools in the future and explain why we should believe them.
--Bill Bodden

Sunday Drive: Living ghost towns

Grass Valley church

Kent, Oregon

It seems I’m woefully undereducated about ghost towns. As a Westerner I thought the term ‘ghost town’ meant a cluster of abandoned shacks in an out-of-the-way place. In actuality, ghost towns are rated by their attributes -- ranging from barren ground with a few glass bottles in the dirt to preserved historic towns.

Using that qualification Central Oregon has at least three Class D ghost towns (a small resident population with many abandoned buildings), all in very in-the-way locations: right on Highway 97.

The farthest a field, some 90 miles north of Redmond, is Grass Valley. Incorporated more than 100 years ago, Grass Valley is probably more fairly rated as a Class D+ ghost town, somewhere between a true D and a Class E (busy historic community, yet still much smaller than in its boom years).

With about 165 residents and a handful of viable businesses, Grass Valley would be hard-pressed to say it has a ‘busy historic community’ because the majority of the older buildings are vacant or abandoned. But it does have a diner, a gas station, a small market and an elementary school. Yet it is definitely much smaller than it was in its prime. The town is littered with visible reminders of the days when the wheat farming community must have been bustling with people and commerce.

High on the hill overlooking town is the former school building, boarded up but still showing its last coat of pastel paint on its stucco walls. A stone’s throw away sits an old church building that according to the Oregon Historical Society has been empty for at least 45 years. The dry desert climate has been more than kind to the church, which despite its lack of windows still has most of its finely-crafted interior board-and-batten woodwork in place and more white paint than bare wood on the exterior. The church is dangerously close to being overrun with trees that have since taken over its grassy site but is clearly visible from the highway and – from a distance – looks nearly inhabitable.

A block or two off the main street someone has lined a field with vintage tractors and farm trucks. A faded sign declares it to be the “Horses to Horsepower Museum”. The prettiest spot in town is a little creekside park dominated by huge old cottonwoods and an old grange building. The Grass Valley Market is located in a beautiful old brick building screaming for renovation and down the block an antique/collectibles shop is open for business but looking for a new owner.

Six miles south of Grass Valley lies the bonafide Class D ghost town of Kent, with nary a commercial building left open (save a tiny post office and Baptist church). The biggest viable things in Kent are the pair of grain elevators, a grand modern steel structure next to a mammoth wood tower constructed of crude two-by-sixes notched together.
What everyone remembers about Kent, however, is the classic gas station/diner with “EAT” in huge white letters now barely discernible on its roof. The pair of battered gas pumps out front are frozen in a time when fuel was 67 cents a gallon and Orange Crush was a contender in the soda pop world.

Kent is an unincorporated town, with a best guess of 20-plus residents. For every manufactured or stick-built home Kent must have two abandoned buildings, some dating back to the early part of the last century.

Closest to Redmond and better known as a ghost town -- due to its persistent self-promotion -- is Shaniko. Once a thriving city centered on wool production and distribution, the town was gradually drained of vitality after the railroad extended the line into Redmond and Bend in 1911. Shaniko was incorporated around the same time as Grass Valley and shows its history in the humongous sheep ‘shed’ (easily the biggest building in town) and proliferation of abandoned wood buildings, many of them moved in the city center for better tourist viewing.

Shaniko has about the same small number of year-round residents as Kent but is markedly different in other ways. The Shaniko Hotel has been renovated and many of the buildings lining the town’s wooden sidewalks have retail businesses catering to the tourist crowd and are open at least occasionally. The entire town can be viewed on foot, in a few hours or a day, depending on your hunger for picturesque old shacks and farm equipment.

Central Oregon has more ghost towns, some a mere bump in the landscape, others at least a few buildings. But the Highway 97 ghost towns are especially good for Sunday Drive, none being too far from a snack, a bathroom or a fill-up for the trip home.

-- Leslie Pugmire Hole