Dr. Robert Boss of Asher Community Health Center is the first person in Wheeler County to receive the vaccine for COVID-19. Dr. Boss received the vaccination on January 4th. Residents at Haven House were also offered the vaccine today.
Ten vials, containing a total of 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine were delivered to the Wheeler Co. Public Health Department last week. The Moderna vaccine is a two-part vaccine, so a second inoculation will be required after 28 days.
Healthcare workers around the country are the first to receive the Moderna vaccine, which has shown a 94% effectivity rate. Emergency responders and staff at the Asher Clinic have been offered the inoculation.
After finishing with vaccinations at the clinic, staff from the Asher Clinic went to Haven House and offered the vaccine to residents of the facility.
The annual community cleanup, organized by the Condon Chamber of Commerce, was held today. The spring cleaning brought out school kids from the Condon Grade School and Condon High School. Several board members from the Condon Chamber and business owners also took part.
WASCO – The long-awaited Golden Hills Wind Project in Sherman County is breaking ground this spring, with developers optimistically projecting the first turbines to be commissioned by end of this year.
Avangrid Renewables held a meeting with farmers and landowners Tuesday, April 27, at the Wasco School Events Center. Dozens attended to hear a presentation, meet crew leaders, and ask any final questions before construction begins in earnest.
Brian Walsh, director of business development for Avangrid, said this project has been 20 years in the making and despite the many changes and challenges along the way, developers are excited to be finally breaking ground.
Walsh said crews currently are finishing with surveying the sites and staging equipment. They will begin cutting turbine access roads in a few weeks.
The Golden Hills development is a 200-megawatt project consisting of 51 wind turbines. The turbines slated for Golden Hills will be a bit different from those installed in nearby wind farms such as Hay Canyon and Klondike. For one thing, the output has increased dramatically with the newer turbines, from 1.5 or 2 megawatts to as much as 4.2 megawatts.
Another key difference is in the size of the towers.
There will be 10 of the GE 116 2.5 megawatt turbines, with a blade diameter of 380 feet. The hub height will be 279 feet, with the total height of the turbine measuring 493 feet from the ground to the tip of the blade in the 12 o’clock position. And there will be 41 of the Vestas V150 4.2 megawatt turbines, with a blade diameter of 492 feet and a hub height of 345 feet. The total height is a whopping 590 feet from the ground to the tip of the blade.
By contrast, the older turbines have blade diameter closer to 250 or 300 feet and a hub height of about 200 or 250 feet.
“These are some of the biggest land-based turbines in the United States,” Walsh said.
Because of the massive size of the new towers, the construction process will be a bit different in terms of how the turbines are assembled and raised.
One issue has been identifying safest routes in and out of the wind tower corridors. Developers plan to cut new temporary and permanent roads through wheat fields and scab lands, but tight corners and steep slopes keep proving to be a challenge.
Walsh said the crane needed to raise the towers must travel on relatively stable and level ground, unlike farm equipment, which handles the slopes and grades of the rolling hills of wheat country fairly well.
A great deal of time and effort has been put into mapping out the best routes for transporting the turbine blades — blades that will be much larger than those that have passed through the county in the past. The Vestas blades are nearly 245 feet in length and weigh 70 metric tons.
“Access roads must be large enough to accommodate such large turbines,” Walsh said. “(Our contractors are) finding ingenious ways to get the turbines to the sites.”
Some farmers at the meeting expressed concerns about truck traffic and congestion during the height of summer, with wheat harvest kicking off in July. Walsh said the crews are aware of the farming schedule and will be doing their best to alleviate any conflicts between farm equipment and construction equipment.
Others voiced concern about fire danger in summer, especially pre-harvest when the dry wheat can be two feet tall. Among the concerns are vehicles and construction equipment driving through or parking in unharvested wheat, not only for crop loss, but for fire risk.
Walsh said site managers will be especially vigilant about the risk of fire, with designated smoking areas for crews and strict guidelines for vehicle use on and around dry grass. Crews will also have blades and sprayers on site in the event a spark does lead to fire.
Farmers are prepared not only for land disturbance and crop loss due to construction during harvest, but also during seeding in September and October. Freshly seeded wheat ground can be easily torn up by large machinery moving turbines to the site. A plan is already in place to compensate farmers for crop loss as a result of construction, Walsh said.
One farmer was worried about the temporary roads. He pointed out that compaction in the soil from a temporary road isn’t something that will recover in a year, and that crop loss in that area may continue for years to come.
Walsh briefly touched on the Golden Hills project map, noting that the northern end of the project does still include certain corridors approved for turbines, although no towers are planned there as of yet. This is due to the extreme electrical output of the new turbines. The Bonneville Power Administration substation at John Day cannot accommodate any more than is currently promised by the Golden Hills project. That could change if BPA were to upgrade their substation, but for now the project is at capacity.
The Golden Hills project will cover a wide swath of Sherman County land north and northeast of Moro on both sides of Highway 97, ending just southwest of Wasco near Highway 206.
“With our deep roots in Oregon, we’re proud to continue adding clean energy capacity in the Pacific Northwest to serve the needs of our customers and build a clean and connected future,” said Morgan Pitts, communications manager for Avangrid.
FOSSIL – The Wheeler County Sheriff’s Office is once again seeking the public’s help as another bull has been found dead under mysterious circumstances. The bull was discovered in a remote area, south of the John Day River on April 30th.
Wheeler Co. Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremiah Holmes said that the bull had been “mutilated” and that foul-play is suspected in the crime.
Deputy Holmes would not give additional details about the bull that was discovered last week and would not provide the name of the owner as the investigation is ongoing.
Deputy Holmes would only say that while the bull was discovered on April 30th, it may have died up to 10 days prior.
Like other cattle that have been found mutilated in Central Oregon in recent years, the cause of death is unknown. Since the animal had been dead for several days, an autopsy was not possible.
Deputy Holmes did say that the public’s input and vigilance is needed at this time. Due to the violent and mysterious nature of the deaths, Deputy Holmes is urging people to not confront anyone they encounter or who seems suspicious. “If someone is willing to kill an animal like this, it isn’t a stretch to kill a human,” Deputy Holmes said. He is asking for anyone who sees anything out of the ordinary to call the Wheeler County Sheriff’s Office.
The dead bull in Wheeler County is the latest in a string of mysterious deaths in Central Oregon. Six cattle have been found dead and mutilated in Crook County since February 27th. Other cases have been reported in Deschutes County, Lake County and Wasco County in recent months.
Just nine months ago, in July of 2020, a Black Angus cow was found dead outside of Fossil at the ranch of David Hunt. It was missing its reproductive organs and tongue. In December of 2019, a bull belonging to Mr. Hunt was found dead under similar circumstances.
Deputy Holmes said that he hopes to see a task-force of Sheriff’s offices in the area to get more collaboration. The FBI office in Portland has said that they are not investigating the deaths at this time.
SPRAY – The future of education is a hot topic. In a recent survey, more than half of college graduates from 2015-present said that college was not worth the expense and did little to prepare them for a career.
“College isn’t for everyone,” says Spray School Superintendent Larry Johnson.
In 2019, Johnson and the Spray School sent out a survey to the parents and residents of Spray. “One result was clear: people wanted more voc ed classes,” Johnson says.
So, Superintendent Johnson arranged for five high schoolers from Spray to go to Fort Yukon in Alaska. In a two-week intensive course, the students visited a research facility at the Arctic Circle and also participated in a career and technical education program. It was a trip that would bring big changes to the Spray School.
While visiting the career training program in Alaska, Superintendent Johnson met Gerry Andrews and Jack Simpson. Both men had taught career technical education at high schools and community colleges in the Klondike State. Simpson had retired 10 years prior but continued to work as a consultant for CTE programs where he taught welding, small engine repair and fabrication. Andrews had worked as an Operations Engineer and had taught training programs for heavy equipment operations and diesel mechanic classes for unions and an Alaska apprenticeship program.
Superintendent Johnson says that he immediately hit it off with Andrews and Simpson. “I was talking about Spray and invited them to come,” Johnson says. “In all of my years in education, in my entire career, I haven’t run across many people like them.”
With COVID restrictions, students were not able to go to Alaska. Instead, Alaska came to them. In late March, Gerry Andrews and Jack Simpson arrived in Spray and began to create a vocational education program with Superintendent Johnson.
“They came on their own dime, volunteering their time,” Johnson says, still in apparent disbelief at what they were creating.
Gerry and Jack stayed at Johnson’s house and were deeply engaged in building a program for the Spray School.
“It was the first thing we talked about in the morning and the last thing we talked about at night,” Johnson says.
A Career and Technical Education (CTE) advisory committee was created, and ideas quickly snowballed into reality.
For years, the Spray School has relied on international students to help with low enrollment numbers. With the international exchange program on hold due to COVID restrictions, Superintendent Johnson, the Alaska transplants, and a group of dedicated staff began to transform the school’s dormitory, garage, and shop into a training facility.
Johnson marvels at the pace of development. “Two weeks ago, we had an empty shop,” Johnson says. “Now we have a welding and fabrication program.”
Using connections that Simpson and Andrews had built over the years, as well as some clever use of funds by Johnson, the men were able to secure the necessary equipment to start a CTE program. While the budget was bare bones, the welding machines, small engines and computer software programs that have come to Spray are brand new and are at the top of industry standards.
“The welding machines are the latest and greatest,” Johnson says. Incredibly, the school was able to secure the machines for just $1,300. The small engines are also brand new, coming from Honda and students are learning how to do small engine repair. The group worked with Central Welding, Harbor Freight and other industry leaders to secure tools and materials.
The program was immediately embraced by Spray’s students, many of whom have grown up on ranches where they can immediately apply these skills. The curriculum is regimented and follows national standards. Simpson and Andrews have brought a level of professionalism and expect students to be engaged in the curriculum.
Jack Simpson says that attention to detail is crucial in small engine repair and students are learning valuable skills. “If one little thing is slightly out of place, it won’t work,” he says. Students must be patient and pay close attention to their work.
Inside the dormitory, another student is learning how to operate a Caterpillar excavator. Using software provided by Caterpillar, the student uses two joysticks to practice excavation and loading on a computer simulation. Wearing a big smile, the student says he had been looking forward to the class all week.
To make a strong CTE program, the school also expanded its programming to offer more digital media courses. In the basement of the school, Rosie Day teaches digital art, photography, and videography. Day’s 7th and 8th grade students hover over computers and use Adobe Photoshop and Premiere to touchup photos and edit videos.
“They’re designing rodeo posters, have created music videos and documentaries,” Day says. “The younger kids are already getting into manual mode for photography.”
Originally from England, Day is an accomplished photographer and is eager to see the CTE program succeed. Day is being trained to learn welding and will get a certification to teach the welding program in the future.
Sustainability is the key issue in front the school and has been at the forefront of planning. Superintendent Johnson says that the team has made every effort to make a program that lasts.
Having seen many programs flounder in Alaska, Gerry Andrews and Jack Simpson believe they see the recipe for success in Spray. To start, the community wants to see the CTE program continue. In addition, the school has built partnerships with national brands and with a fabrication company based in Portland – the owner’s daughter attends the Spray School.
Still, the future is a bit uncertain. Superintendent Johnson is preparing to retire and will move back to Washington state this summer. Jack Simpson and Gerry Andrews have returned to Alaska.
As Gerry and Jack prepared to leave, students and faculty gathered with Superintendent Johnson in front of the gymnasium. Students held fabricated metal signs that read “Thank You Gerry and Jack”, and “Welcome to the Larry Johnson Welding Center.”
As the school prepares for the next superintendent, the signs will be a reminder of what was built in the most uncertain of times and the friendships that were forged. Rosie Day and other staff will continue to push the CTE program forward. In doing so, Spray’s school has shown what is possible, even with the smallest of budgets. But more importantly, Spray’s school has shown that with collaboration and community support – the needs of students can be met and education isn’t confined to a desk.
Condon group will gather in the City Park on May 6th at 10:45 AM
The United States has had over 140 National Days of Prayer proclaimed by Presidents and/or Congress throughout history. General George Washington initiated the national call to prayer in the 1770’s during the War for Independence. Following that call there followed sporadic calls by different Presidents to ask for God’s assistance during other crisis that befell our nation. During the Civil War, President Lincoln proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer. The last Thursday in November became the observed National Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer. President Truman later proclaimed July 4th,1952, not only to be Independence Day but also a day to observe and participate in a National Day of Prayer. Due to the diversity of the population of the peoples of The United States, he asked each person to observe the day as each one saw fit. In an effort to not distract the importance of the two days, President Reagan proclaimed the first Thursday in May to be observed as the National Day of Prayer.
This year the National Day of Prayer is Thursday, May 6th. The people of Condon and any others are invited to come and join in a time of united prayer for our country and its leadership at 10:45 A.M. at the concrete patio in the City Park.
David Darrell Lane Born May 27 1938 in Lyle, Washington the 3rd of 6 children to Harold and Laura Mae Lane. Died in Yuma Arizona January 27 2021. He attended Lyle school in Washington, Joseph G. Wilson, Chenowith Elementary, The Dalles Whittier, and The Dalles High School. In 1955 He joined the United States Air Force served 4 years as a radio radar repairman, stationed at Incirlik airbase near Adana Turkey. Touring Rome, Istanbul, Beirut, and Tripoli. Earning an honorable discharge in 1959. David moved back to The Dalles and got a job working for a car dealership for 6 years He met and married Johnetta Marie Jennings in 1959. In 1960 after 8 months, David became a widow and lost his first child. Johnetta became fatally ill with Paranitus while 4 & 1/2 months pregnant.
In 1961 he married Arlean Mae DeMoss and they had 2 sons. They moved to Portland OR. where he worked for Tektronix until 1976 then moved to Moro OR. where Arlean was born and raised. They decided to buy a store at Mid County Market and a restaurant Husky Hut until 1979. They had 2 more sons by that time as well. They divorced in 1982.
David moved to Beaverton and worked for Floating-Point Systems until its closure in 1986. He moved to Tonopah where he worked on the Testing Range and with the Stealth Fighter Plane. !992 he was transferred to Las Vegas Nev. where he went to work for Reynolds.
!993 he met Virginia Harlan and married in 1996. He became a widow in 2005. 2006 he moved back to Moro Or. to be closer to his sons and grandchildren.
He met Erma Bryan in The Dalles Oregon and they became inseparable. They went to Arizona for the winters. It was in Yuma where they were the happiest. They called it they’re “Happy Place” in the Senior community.
Survivors are his 3 sons Larry Lane, Kent OR., Gary/Lauri Lane and Mark/Dee Lane all of Moro Oregon. Brothers Chuck/Marvel Lane, Laverne Lane. Sister Louise/ Orville Schoen. Sister in Law Helen Lane. Life long friends Vada DeMoss and Richard Johnson.
Proceeding in death; his soulmate Erma Bryan. Wifes, Johnetta Arlean and Virginia. His son Steve David Lane, Great-granddaughter Brylee Cyde Reiten, His parents Harold and Laura Mae Lane, Sister Sandi Hall-Lane, Brother Richard (Dick) Lane.
Memorial Service to be held at the Wasco School Event Center 903 Barnet St. Wasco Oregon 1-4 PM Interment at 4:30 PM DeMoss Cemetery DeMoss Springs.
Memorial donations may be made to Home at Last Humane Society 200 River Rd. The Dalles Oregon 97058
CONDON – The Buckhorn Saloon, the area’s most ornate watering hole inside of historic Hotel Condon, is set to reopen on May 5th.
The Buckhorn Saloon has been closed for more than a year.
Derek Hiser and Jessica Van Voorhis have taken over management. Hiser and Von Voorhis moved to Condon last year. Jessica has significant experience in the restaurant and bar industry. She has been tending bar at the Condon Elk’s Lodge and prior to that worked at Portland Meadows. Hiser works in digital advertising and is excited for the opportunity to help bring more live entertainment to Condon.
The reopening Cinco De Mayo party will bring a festive atmosphere to Condon – something that locals and tourists are sure to appreciate.
The couple is excited to bring live music to the Buckhorn and have musicians lined up for each week in May.Hiser and Von Voorhis are bringing in musician Al Hare and music will start at 7 PM. Arlington native Zac Grooms of Brewer’s Grade will play on May 8th.
Derek and Jessica are excited for the opportunity and are searching for kitchen staff and servers as opening day approaches.
Condon’s Taylor Hardie is running down a dream. The 2013 graduate of Condon High School is moving to Nashville in hopes of playing guitar in the city’s famed recording studios and in the honky-tonks on Broadway.
Hardie is the son of Larry and Jackie Hardie of Condon. Taylor says that he picked up the guitar when he was in grade school.
“Kent Anderson taught me the basics when I was 7 or 8 and I’ve been playing ever since,” Taylor says.
Currently, Hardie lives in Lake Oswego and works as an IT Security Auditor for Deloitte, one of the world’s leading firms for auditing and consulting services. Hardie says that he will keep his job at Deloitte and will transfer to Nashville while he continues to improve as a guitar player and performer.
Taylor says that he has wanted to move to Nashville for several years. It is a dream that his wife, Talia has come to accept. “It took some time but about three years ago I talked her into it,” Taylor says with a smile.
Taylor and Talia met at a party while they were students at Oregon State. Talia is originally from Baltimore and the couple had planned to be married in Stevenson, Washington in 2020. Due to the global pandemic, their wedding was postponed – so the couple went to Las Vegas and were married by Elvis on July 3rd. It was a spontaneous act that is atypical for Hardie, who is normally disciplined in his life decisions.
The upcoming move to Nashville has been carefully planned and Taylor says that he and Talia have a five-year plan.
“I want to be as good as possible at guitar,” Hardie says. To do so, Taylor will need to devote considerable time to practicing and performing. In some ways, the pandemic has helped him to make more time for the guitar.
“I used to wake up at 5 AM to practice and then commute to work, then I would practice again at night” Hardie says. Working remotely has given him extra hours as his commute has been eliminated from his schedule.
Still, Taylor realizes that the amount of time needed to become an elite guitar player is substantial. Moving to Nashville, he believes, will help him to get the practice he needs and to be in a city that has music at its forefront. Hardie hopes that in five years he will be able to leave his job and to make a living as a musician.
With big changes coming soon, Hardie was in Condon last week and played open mic at the Liberty Theatre. Those in attendance and who watched on livestream got to see the young musician perform his original songs in the historic venue.
Hardie started by playing “Where I Come From,” a song for his hometown. He was comfortable on stage and casually played the acoustic guitar, leaving the electric in its case. Hannah Fatland joined him onstage for a few songs. “I used to work here when I was in grade school and high school,” he told the crowd. “Sad to see it go as a movie theater, but it makes for a nice music venue.”
With 46 cases of COVID-19 reported in the 14-day period ending April 17, Wasco County will move from the lower risk category two levels up to the high risk category, beginning Friday, April 23. It is one of six counties moving up two risk levels. Wasco County had previously dropped three risk levels in late February, from extreme risk of community spread to lower risk of community spread. As a county with 15,000- 30,000 population, risk is measured by the number of cases within a 14-day period. Lower risk is less than 30 cases over 14 days. Moderate risk is 30 to 44 cases, and high risk is 45 to 59 cases. The lower risk category allows 50 percent indoor seating capacity at restaurants and a midnight closure. The high risk category is 25 percent indoor capacity and an 11 p.m. closure. Faith institutions can have 75 percent in-person capacity at the lower risk category and 25 percent at high risk. Indoor gyms can have 50 percent capacity at lower risk and 25 percent at high risk. Grocery stores and other retail stores can have 75 percent capacity at lower risk and 50 percent at high risk.
Starting today, all Oregonians 16 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. On Friday, April 23, a Pfizer vaccine clinic for 16 and 17 year olds and their families is set at Wahtonka Field in The Dalles from 4-8 p.m.
The vaccine is safe, effective, and free.
Dubbed “Friday Night Lights!” the Pfizer event will feature music, free pizza, and prizes. The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine authorized for use in those 16 and older. North Central Public Health District also has the Moderna vaccine, which is authorized for those 18 and older.
The Pfizer event has 240 slots and they are likely to fill fast.
Wasco County has just 34 percent of the population vaccinated, and vaccination is the best tool to end the pandemic. The county is seeing a third surge in cases, and hopes are that increasing vaccination rates will blunt the effect of the surge. It is still important to wear a quality mask, keep distance, ensure indoor spaces are well ventilated, and avoid gatherings. (For more information, please visit COVID-19 Vaccine in Oregon, contact North Central Public Health District at (541) 506-2600, visit us on the web at www.ncphd.org or find us on Facebook.)
In their final game of the 2020-2021 football season, the Devil Dogs took the field Thursday against another co-op. This time it was against their neighbors to the South and East. The Wheeler county Rattlers (Spray, Mitchell and Wheeler High School).
Both the Devil Dogs and Rattlers come ready to battle but Condon/Sherman won by a touchdown 32-40.
In a hard-fought game that began with a Rattlers touchdown and saw many big plays, turnovers and defensive stands by both sides the stars of the game tonight were Francisco Sanchez of Condon and Will James of Sherman. Sanchez and James are both seniors, both were given the opportunity to present their mothers with roses before the game, and both of them capped off their high school football careers with victory.
Sanchez played on both sides of the ball, as a receiver on offense and as a safety/corner on defense. James again anchored the offensive line at center, and was a continual problem for the Rattlers when he was on the defensive line.
The Devil Dogs again saw major contributions from their young players, Talon Dark, Casey Nelson, Kole Martin, Eduardo Rubio in the backfield and Logan Barrett, Cade Vonborstel, and Luke Fritts on the line. Perhaps the most impressive thing to see this season has been the growth and development of this young core into a group of dedicated and skilled athletes on the gridiron.
As with all games this season the offense was run through Braden Carnine. Despite having all six members of the Rattler defense keying on Carnine he was still often too much to stop. Stats were not available at the time this story was written but in Carnine’s previous three games he rushed for 642 yards, passed for 137, and had another 62 receiving yards, for a total of 841 total yards and 11 touchdowns (averaging 280.3 yards and 3.7 touchdowns per game).
Thursday night, April 1, 2021, April fool’s day. In a day that saw countless jokes played—likely primarily on suspicious parents and sibling—also saw possibly the cruelest joke of all unfold. In what should have been a pivotal game to decide a playoff seed or berth, instead it was simply a final game. There was nothing on the line tother than bragging rights, and the ability to end the season on a win.
The Devil Dogs will next take the field for practice in 136 days, with their next game coming in a mere 153 days.
CONDON — Tonight the Condon Blue Devils celebrated their seniors and the last home game of the season. With roses for family members and the largest crowd of the season, the team could have gotten distracted. But that was not the case for this April Fools Day contest with the Ione Cardinals.
The Blue Devils were white hot, dominating the match and winning in straight sets (25-21, 25-18, 25-16).
Seniors McKenzie LaRue, Sidney Geer and Kiara Takagi were dominant. LaRue had her best game of the season, guarding the net and punishing the Cardinals with blocks, tips and spikes. LaRue also served well, reeling off 3 consecutive aces in the third game and tallying 4 aces in the match.
Condon also got strong play from Kyrsten Smith who served very well. Smith also found weaknesses in Ione’s defense with tips and solid play at the net.
Ione hung tough in the second set, battling back from a deficit to make the score 20-19 behind Grace Ogden’s serves. Ione’s Eva Martin also served well and the Cardinals had momentum. But Smith scored 3 straight points with her serves and a kill by LaRue dashed Ione’s hopes.
Kiara Takagi put on a clinic to start the 3rd set – reeling off solid serves and making digs as Condon jumped out to a 6-0 lead. But Ione battled back behind Ola Rietmann’s serves and Eva Martin’s kills.
Then, with the score 14-12, Kenzie LaRue went off – scoring three consecutive aces and then a big spike at the net. LaRue helped Condon regain the momentum – and extended the lead to 19-12.
A last run from Ione wasn’t enough. Three crisp serves from Takagi and a spike by LaRue sealed it for Condon 25-16.
The Blue Devils are now 6-1 and have 3 away games as they look to finish the season atop of the Big Sky League. On Saturday, Condon will travel to Dufur in a key matchup. Condon then plays Wheeler County on April 6th and then Sherman Co. on April 8th in Moro.
Ione has now lost 5 straight and will look to rebound against Griswold on the 6th and then will finish the season against Wheeler Co. on April 8th.
The Times-Journal is a family-owned newspaper serving Northcentral Oregon’s frontier counties of Gilliam, Sherman and Wheeler. We are located on Main Street in Condon, Oregon. Call us at (541) 384-2421.