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Thursday, February 25, 2021
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First COVID vaccination in Wheeler Co.

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.

Condon DMV will reopen for appointments March 4

The Condon DMV office will reopen March 4 for appointments after nearly a yearlong closure due to COVID-19.

The Condon office, located at 221 S. Oregon St., will be open the first Thursday of each month. Office hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a lunch closure from noon to 1 p.m.

You can make an appointment at DMV2U.Oregon.gov. Appointment slots for March 4 and April 1 have been added to DMV’s online appointment scheduler.

Nearly all 60 DMV offices across Oregon closed last March due to pandemic restrictions, with only a handful open for commercial driver license issuance. DMV offices began to reopen by appointment only in June 2020.

The Condon office remained closed because the building where it is located – the Gilliam County Courthouse – had been closed to the public since March 2020 to protect against spread of the virus.

With the reopening of the Condon office, all Oregon DMV offices except the one in Heppner are available for appointments. The Heppner office remains closed because the building where it is located is still closed due to the pandemic.

More information on accessing DMV services: https://www.oregon.gov/odot/dmv/pages/covid_alert.Aspx

DMV2U is open 24/7 and expanding

DMV has been expanding services available online at DMV2U.Oregon.gov. See if you can get the DMV service you need from the convenience of home, such as:

  • Renew your vehicle registration.
  • Replace a lost, stolen or damaged license, permit or ID card.
  • Change your address.
  • Make a payment if you get a letter from DMV about missing or insufficient payment.
  • Pay reinstatement fees.
  • Reprint a temporary license, permit or ID card.
  • Reprint a registration renewal receipt.
  • And more.

Three-month grace period

Oregon residents with a vehicle registration, permit or driver license expiring between Nov. 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021, have up to three months after their expiration date without being cited by law enforcement for an expired license or tags.


The Oregon State Police is requesting the public’s assistance to help identify the person(s) responsible for unlawfully shooting and killing a cow elk in Wheeler County. 

On Thursday, February 18, 2021 Oregon State Police Troopers discovered the remains of an unlawfully killed cow elk in the northern Fossil Unit, on USFS Road 25 near the 150 spur (Henry Creek area).  The kill was fresh and was believed to have been shot and taken at night, during the evening hours of February 17.  Additionally, an ATV or UTV was utilized to transport the elk upon Henry Creek Road traveling down to the junction with Kahler Basin Road, north of the town of Spray. 

If you have any information regarding this incident please contact Sr. Trooper Brian Jewett through the Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888 or 541-980-6081.

**Report Wildlife and Habitat Law Violators** Poaching wildlife and damaging habitats affects present and future generations of wildlife, impacts communities and the economy, and creates enforcement challenges.

The Oregon Hunters Association offers rewards to persons, through their T.I.P. fund, for information leading to the issuance of a citation to a person(s), or an arrest made of a person(s) for illegal possession, killing, or taking of bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, elk, deer, antelope, bear, cougar, wolf, furbearers and/or upland game birds and water fowl. T.I.P. rewards can also be paid for the illegal taking, netting, snagging, and/or dynamiting of game fish, and/or shell fish, and for the destruction of habitat.

In addition rewards may be paid for information leading to the issuance of a citation to a person(s), or an arrest made of a person(s) who have illegally obtained Oregon hunting/angling license or tags. People who “work” the system and falsely apply for resident license or tags are not legally hunting or angling and are considered poachers.


Bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose $1,000

Elk, deer, antelope $500

Bear, cougar, wolf $300

Habitat destruction $300

Illegally obtaining Oregon hunting or angling license or tags $200

Game fish, shell fish $100

Upland birds, waterfowl $100

Furbearers $100

Preference Points:

5 Points-Bighorn Sheep

5 Points-Rocky Mountain Goat

5 Points-Moose

5 Points-Wolf

4 Points-Elk

4 Points-Deer

4 Points-Antelope

4 Points-Bear

4 Points- Cougar

How to Report a Wildlife and/or Habitat Law Violation or Suspicious Activity: 

TIP Hotline: 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP(677)

TIP E-Mail: TIP@state.or.us (Monitored M-F 8:00AM – 5:00PM)Contact Info:
Public Information Officer
Oregon State Police

Renewable Energy Zone passes hurdle in Gilliam Co.

Avangrid Renewables approved solar and battery installation in Gilliam County. The project will not pay taxes for at least 3 years under new RRED Zone designation.

The Gilliam County Court adopted the proposed Rural Renewable Energy Development (RRED) zone in its session on January 6th. The special enterprise zone will establish incentives for renewable energy projects in Gilliam County worth up to $250 million. The RRED zone designation is good for 10 years.

A push to create the RRED zone came from Avangrid Renewables, a subsidiary of Iberdrola – one of the largest renewable energy companies in the world. Headquartered in Spain, the company has a net worth of $148 Billion.

Avangrid gave a presentation to the Gilliam County Court on November 17, saying that the RRED Zone was necessary to continue with the approved Montague Solar and Oregon Trail Solar projects on Shutler Flat.

The RRED Zone will exempt the projects’ builder, Avangrid Renewables, from paying property taxes to the county for at least three years. The company can apply for an additional two years of tax abatement with a maximum five-year exemption from paying property taxes to the county.

In the January 6th session of the Gilliam County Court, Commissioners Sherrie Wilkins and Pat Shannon voted in favor of the RRED designation but Gilliam County Judge Elizabeth Farrar-Campbell voted in opposition.

Judge Farrar-Campbell told the Times-Journal that “The RRED Zone is designed to incentivize investments that wouldn’t otherwise occur. Every indication is that Avangrid will be building Montague 2 regardless as they have already invested millions in permitting the project, lined up construction logistics, and even sold the energy to PGE. I could not, in good conscience, vote to strip our local taxing districts of millions of dollars of critical resources simply to improve Avangrid’s bottom line on the project.”

The RRED Zone designation has a cap of $250 million for development in the enterprise zone and is good for ten years. The two solar projects that are to be built by Avangrid will likely exceed $250 million of investment. Should another renewable energy project want to utilize the RRED zone in Gilliam County, the court would have to work with Business Oregon to extend the RRED zone designation.

Advocates for the solar projects pushed the county to adopt the RRED zone in a public meeting on December 17. Brian Walsh with Avangrid Renewables told participants that several states have created incentives to bring renewable energy projects to rural areas. Walsh said that there would be an immediate impact for the county as 250 construction workers would be in the area for the buildout of the solar projects. Walsh also pointed to the funds spent locally during the Montague Wind project in 2017 and said local businesses would once again benefit from the project.

Despite not paying property taxes for at least three years, the company would ultimately pay more than $20 million in taxes to the county over the lifetime of the project.

Still, the designation will keep much needed funds from reaching special districts in Gilliam County for 3 to 5 years. The South Gilliam County Health District would have received approximately $150,000 a year from taxes paid to the county by Avangrid. The North and South Cemetery Districts would have received approximately $25,000 a year.

Advocates say that three to five years of tax abatement is a small price to pay for a project that will ultimately pay approximately $1.5 million a year for 20 years.

Cascade Locks Earns $2.4 Million Federal Infrastructure Investment

Rows of electrical towers and power lines. Horizontal view

Federal resources for power supply improvements will help support business growth in Hood River County

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced the city of Cascade Locks has earned a $2.4 million federal investment to make power supply infrastructure improvements that will help support business growth in Hood River County.
The news follows a letter to the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) from Wyden and Merkley in support of the project to help Cascade Locks become more resilient to natural disasters by placing circuits underground, hardening a transmission line, and buying a new substation.
“This investment in Cascade Locks will have huge and positive long-term ripple effects for public safety, jobs and small business growth throughout the Gorge,” Wyden said. “I’m glad our work with the city to secure these resources for Hood River County has succeeded and will keep working to keep federal infrastructure investments flowing to rural communities throughout Oregon.”
“Now more than ever, as our communities continue working to get through the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis, we need to do all that we can to invest in a strong foundation for the future. That means ensuring that essential needs of Oregonians in every corner of our state are met,” said Merkley. “I’m pleased that this multi-million dollar investment is headed to Cascade Locks to make critical power supply upgrades, and will continue to do all that I can to ensure that our Gorge communities receive the support they need to thrive.”
The EDA estimates the $2.4 million federal investment wil create 66 jobs, save 82 jobs and leverage $22.2 million in private investment.

Obituary: Marjorie LaRue

Marjorie L. LaRue, 93, of Condon, died Monday, January 4, 2021 at Summit Springs Retirement Village in Condon. No service is planned at this time.

Marjorie was born on July 6, 1927 at Princeton, Idaho, the daughter of Glen and Mary Lienhard Ackerman. She was raised at Potlach, Idaho graduating from Potlach High School in 1945. Marjorie attended Lewiston Normal School for two years, receiving her teaching certificate. She taught school at Princeton Elementary School for five years.

On June 27, 1947 she married Princeton native, Floyd Manning LaRue. The couple moved to Condon in June of 1953 after purchasing a Richfield Oil Distributorship. Marjorie was a bookkeeper for the business until 1960. The Condon School District had a teacher shortage, and she went back to teaching elementary school until 1966.  Marjorie returned to the family business until the death of her husband in 1976. She then returned to her beloved school district in September of 1976 as a Librarian Aide and Librarian for the next 18 years, and also did some tutoring. Upon retirement from the School District, she worked at what is now the Bank of Eastern Oregon for 5 years.

Marjorie was active in Eastern Star and Rainbow Girls with daughters’ Sally and Greta. She was the treasure for the United Church of Christ in Condon for 25 years and taught Sunday School there for many years.  

Preceding her in death were her sisters: Dorothy Odelin and Wanda Bryngelson. She is survived by her children: Dannie F. LaRue and his wife Julie, Jay LaRue and his wife Gretchen, Sally LeBlanc and her husband Art, and Greta Salvo and her husband Carl. Marjorie has 11 grandchildren and 11 Great Grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to Summit Springs Village, PO Box 687, Condon, Oregon 97823, or Pioneer Memorial Hospice, PO Box 9, Heppner, Oregon 97836.

Sweeney Mortuary of Condon is in care of arrangements. You may sign the online condolence book at www.sweeneymortuary.com

Vaccine distribution update

The North Central Public Health District (NCPHD) plays an ongoing vital role in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine, and would like to share key information.

 Vaccines based on older age alone are not yet available
 Local distribution is in phases set by the state
 Phase 1a is the first phase, and has four groups
 Locally, Phase 1a/Group 1, is almost finished, and work in Phase 1a/Groups 2-4 has begun
 NCPHD is contacting entities in the four groups to offer vaccine clinics
 NCPHD serves three counties: Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam
 Vaccine demand far exceeds supply, so the public’s patience is appreciated
 Childcare, preschool and K-12 school staff will be the first group in Phase 1b
 Mid-Columbia Medical Center and One Community Health are also assisting in vaccinating those in Phase 1a

The health district is nearing completion of a comprehensive list of all the entities in its three-county service area that fall within the four groups of Phase 1a of the Oregon vaccine sequencing plan.
The health district is offering vaccine clinics to eligible individuals in the four groups. There are many hundreds of people in Phase 1a and it will take time to get through them. Thus far, NCPHD has been getting 100 doses of vaccine a week the last several weeks.

Counties may not be in the same phase due to population size and availability of the vaccine. The Sherman County Medical Clinic in Moro got its own vaccine supply and was able to proceed through Phase 1a quicker.
The state sequencing plan for Phase 1a includes the following groups relevant to our three-county service area:

Phase 1a, Group 1
 Hospitals (given vaccines directly by state)
 Urgent care clinics
 Skilled nursing and memory care facility workers and residents (given vaccines by pharmacies under federal program)
 Emergency medical service providers and other first responders including law enforcement, fire and ambulance crews

Phase 1a, Group 2
 Staff and residents in assisted living facilities and other residential facilities and group living/treatment (such as residential substance abuse and psychiatric treatment programs)
 Residents and staff in adult foster homes
 Age-eligible residents plus all staff in group homes for children or adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities
 Hospice programs
 Behavioral health mobile crisis care
 Secure transport
 Individuals working in correctional settings

Phase 1a, Group 3
 Home health care workers
 Parents and caregivers of medically fragile children or adults living at home
 Children who meet age requirement (18 for Moderna vaccine used by NCPHD) or adults who live at home and have a medical condition or disability
 Non-emergency medical transport staff

Phase 1a, Group 4
 All other outpatient care staff not in previous groups, including ambulatory surgery outpatient infusion centers, out-patient physical, oral/dental health, addiction, mental health, veterinary care, laboratory, pharmacy, phlebotomy services
 Chiropractic, naturopathic, massage and acupuncture providers
 School nurses
 Healthcare staff who provide direct COVID services including testing
 Blood donation staff
 Direct service providers to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and other high-risk populations
 Death care workers

Waste Management – Steady Despite Pandemic

Gilliam County’s largest employer, Waste Management, made a bold commitment in the early days of the COVID pandemic: to keep everyone employed. That pledge was not just for the Columbia Ridge and Chemical Waste Management sites that are located outside of Arlington and where 220 people work. It was for all Waste Management employees – the more than 44,000 who work for the Texas-based company around the country. 

Amazingly, not only has Waste Management retained their employees at Columbia Ridge eight months into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, but they have also hired new members to join their team and managed turnover. 

The company’s perseverance through 2020 has been a stabilizing force in Gilliam County, where the unemployment rate is virtually unchanged from pre-COVID levels and holds firm at 5.1%.

Waste Management employee Sarah Mastriona at the Columbia Ridge site near Arlington. Waste Management is the largest employer in Gilliam County, which has weathered the storm of COVID-19 better than most counties. (Photo courtesy of Waste Management)

Without terminations, layoffs or reduced hours due to the pandemic, Waste Management employees were able to provide for their families, maintain health insurance and exude a sense of normalcy that was sorely needed as unemployment rates hit record highs in the spring and summer. 

After the coronavirus landed in the United States, life as we knew it was upended. So too was the customer base for Waste Management. 

As states instituted stay-at-home orders, commercial and industrial waste nearly ground to a halt. Almost overnight, Waste Management found itself needing to recast schedules and assignments for employees and equipment, improve operational efficiencies and more proactively manage costs. 

“The challenge was immediate and intense in areas where our teams collect from businesses,” said Jackie Lang who is the Senior Area Manager for the Pacific Northwest. “Think about all the businesses that moved employees to home offices, and all the restaurants and schools that closed or reduced services.”

Many of Waste Management’s commercial and industrial customers no longer needed the same levels of service. The urban areas of Portland and Seattle, which contribute a significant amount of the waste that is deposited at Columbia Ridge, had some of the strictest lockdowns in the nation. 

A morning meeting during the COVID era at Waste Management’s Columbia Ridge site (Photo courtesy of Waste Management)

Instead of starting layoffs, which many companies began to do in April, Waste Management’s senior leadership leaned on the company’s expertise in logistics to meet the changing needs of its customers in this new era. 

Although hotels, bars and restaurants were closed, Waste Management knew that people needed their services more than ever. In fact, the amount of residential recycling and garbage increased in some parts of the country as people worked and schooled from home, shopped online and tackled home improvement projects.

Waste Management’s pivot to residential customers might seem like a no brainer but from a logistics standpoint it was an enormous undertaking.

Jackie Lang says that Waste Management teams moved quickly to understand the challenges. “All these changes impacted how we schedule drivers and route trucks,” Lang said. “It has been a monumental challenge to keep pace and adapt, to reschedule drivers and reroute trucks in different ways, again and again.” 

Decades of investment in logistics has been the guiding light for the company in these trying times. As changing demands for waste collection emerged, the company shifted workers to meet new needs on the collection and the post collection side of the business.

As routes and schedules were altered for drivers, so too were they altered at the disposal site. As shipments came by truck and by rail at new times, workers on the post-collection side at the Columbia Ridge site also had to adjust their hours and schedules. 

All of this unfolded as Oregon’s social distancing and sanitation protocols were introduced and then changed several times over.

Incredibly, Waste Management is emerging from 2020 stronger than ever and their commitment to the community has only grown this year. 

Early in the pandemic, Waste Management vowed to not to lay-off a single employee. More than 44,000 people work for the country in the U.S. and 220 at Columbia Ridge. (Waste Management)

In August, Waste Management made an annual commitment of $12,500 to the Condon and Arlington Chambers of Commerce for five years. Local leaders also continued to champion the county fair and support local youth with college scholarships. Looking forward, the company has also advocated for improved housing in the county so that more of their employees will be engrained in the community. 

In the midst of adversity, the company has shown leadership and a commitment to the people and institutions of Gilliam County. Doing so in the worst of times speaks volumes.

“Hot Licks” is back in Oregon, with original owner where she belongs

Bobby Byars 25 year quest to find his 1948 Anglia hotrod

When thinking of the great muscle cars and dragsters that are an iconic part of the American fabric, few people would think to include a 1948 cargo truck from England.

Those people have not seen “Hot Licks.”

In 1978, Bobby Byars, who was raised in Wasco and now resides outside of Fossil, purchased the 1948 Anglia, which was an English model of Ford, from a couple of guys in Portland.

“They found it sitting in a field,” Byars says of the car. “It was basically rusting away.”

The car was advertised in the Oregonian classified section and Byars went to take a look.

“I was looking for a van to buy and saw the ad. I was drawn to it as soon as I saw the car,” Byars reminisced.

Byars worked on the car and souped it up. He dropped the engine from his 1966 Corvette into the Anglia and pushed the English model Ford to 600 horsepower. Byars removed the back seats to make room for the engine and firewall.

Soon Bobby had it ready to race at the drag events in Woodburn.

It was 1979 and arriving in Woodburn to race the first time, Byars was told that he couldn’t compete because he didn’t have a helmet or fireproof suit. “I had a motorcycle helmet and a leather jacket and they said that was good enough,” he says with a laugh. “I didn’t know anything about this fireproof stuff.”

Bobby Byars at one of his first races. Byars removed the rear seats to make room for the big block Chevy engine and firewall. He wore a motorcycle helmet and leather jacket to his first race and said he “didn’t know anything about this fireproof stuff.”

Initially, Bobby says that people at the track were skeptical about the car. It did not fit the mold of a racecar. Those skeptics went quiet after watching Hot Licks race.

The vehicle soon became a crowd favorite.

Later in 1979, Bobby and Hot Licks were pitted against a dragster that was winning every race. Byars said that he beat the dragster and that the crowd went nuts. Soon, Hot Licks was the car to beat and had a cult following. “I beat everybody,” Byars says as he flips through newspaper clips in a scrapbook.

Bobby Byars races “Hot Licks” at the Woodburn Dragstrip in 1979. The Anglia truck was typically used for deliveries in the UK. Byars dropped the engine from his 1966 Corvette into the car and it became a crowd favorite.

Bobby became a fixture at the Woodburn drag strip and Hot Licks was the top gas racer for several years. Bobby joined the Woodburn Thrifty Auto Drag Team.

Soon, Byars began to look for even faster cars. He gravitated towards so-called “funny cars” that have fiberglass bodies and run on alcohol. He decided to sell Hot Licks and to upgrade to a funny car in 1984. Byars took Hot Licks to San Francisco and sold her to a friend of a friend.

After doing so, he began to regret it. So began a 36 year quest to find Hot Licks and to bring her home.

Occasionally, he would hear rumors. There were only 800 models of the Anglia manufactured and so it was very unique. Also, the name “Hot Licks” that was painted on the side of the vehicle in gold leaf paint endured and people knew of the car. Still, he didn’t know where it had ended up.

Beginning in the mid-90s, Byars says that he began an earnest search for Hot Licks with a dream of owning it again. He heard that it was in Arizona. With help from his daughter, he found the owner but was unable to pay the asking amount. Byars told the owner that if he was ever thinking of selling it, to give him a call. The owner never did so and sold the car.

Byars again lost track of the car and again searched for Hot Licks by scouring internet classifieds and racing websites.

Finally, Bobby tracked the car down. It was in Pennsylvania. The new owner had done additional upgrades to the car, including a new frame. But again, the car was sold before Bobby could get to it. Byars learned that the new owner was in Boca Raton, Florida and that he too had made additional upgrades to the vehicle. The car was then sold again in 2005 but Bobby couldn’t find it for several years.

One day, Bobby was poking around the internet “just having fun and looking at old cars.” Bobby says that he had saved some money up and was thinking of buying a hotrod. “And then, there was Hot Licks, for sale in New York.”

Bobby made contact with the owner, a man named Doug who lives in upstate New York. “He had been looking for me after he did research on Hot Licks,” Bobby said, clearly touched by this gesture. “He had spelled my name wrong – with an “E” in Byars. He found an obituary and thought I was dead.”

Doug and Bobby began talking on the phone and earlier this year, Bobby went to New York to get Hot Licks. Doug was happy that the car was back with its original owner after 36 years. The car was shipped to Bobby and arrived just before Thanksgiving.

Bobby Byars is reunited with Hot Licks after 36 years. The 1948 Anglia was owned by several people over the past three and a half decades, all of whom says Byars made upgrades to the vehicle. Now, the car has 800 horsepower and a 671 blower. (Times-Journal)

Byars says that the car has been significantly upgraded since he first purchased it. “Each owner did something to improve it,” he says.

The car still has the 454 Chevy engine but also has a 671 blower. With 800 horsepower, it may struggle to idle in a parade.

When asked if he will hotrod it again, Bobby says that he is looking forward to having the car in car shows, but with a coy smile he adds “it does like to go.”

Bobby Byars says he plans to have the Hot Licks emblem repainted in the original style using gold-leaf paint. (Times-Journal)

Byars, who says he has “always been a hotrodder,” was raised in the culture of fast cars. “My dad had a ’62 Ferrari,” he says with a wide smile. “He took me everywhere and did road races. I got to see Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney and all of those guys.”

1962 is an important year for Byars, and not just for the nostalgia of his father’s Ferrari. It was also in 1962 that he met Theresa. “She was my first crush,” Byars says. But soon after meeting, Theresa moved with her family to Montana.

Theresa later returned to Wasco and finished high school there. Bobby and Theresa would see each other at class reunions and soon, Bobby’s sister began tugging on Theresa’s sleeve. The couple was married three years ago.

Byars plans to spend his retirement at carshows with his wife, Theresa. He says it might be a challenge to enter Hot Licks into parades. “It does like to go,” he says.

The couple plans to spend their retirement travelling around to see their grandkids and great-grandkids, and to take them to car shows with Hot Licks.

“It was a miracle that we got together. It’s been one miracle after another,” Byars says.

Counties race to get grants to small businesses

State of Oregon pushes CARES Act funding to counties – gives little time to spend funds

On December 1st, the state committed to a baseline of $500,000 in unspent CARES Act funding for every county. Funding must be allocated for impacted businesses by the end of the year and counties have been given a fair amount of freedom in choosing how to distribute the funds.

The announcement gives businesses very little time to apply for the grant and counties little time to spend the funds.

Gilliam County has been allotted $516,773 for disbursement to small businesses. In the Dec. 2nd Gilliam County Court session, the court opted to contract with the Condon Chamber of Commerce, who has an established grant committee. The Condon Chamber will receive 10% of the funding to administer the program. Applications for the COVID-19 Relief Grant in Gilliam County are due by 5 PM on December 20th.

Wheeler County has been allotted $511,685. Applications are available on the Wheeler County website and are due by December 18th. Businesses are encouraged to apply and to contact Tami Stockton, in the Economic Development Dept. with any questions.

Sherman County has been allotted $515,615. Judge Joe Dabulskis said that the court had mailed the application to all businesses in Sherman County and that they are relying on word of mouth to reach everyone. Applications are due in Sherman County on the 21st of December. “We encourage businesses to put in,” said Judge Dabulskis.

Typically, rolling out such a large amount of funds would take several months. Now, counties have just a couple of weeks to expend much needed aid for businesses.

OSAA Adjusts 20-21 Calendar, pushes basketball start date to February

The Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) Executive Board has revised the Association’s calendar to start activities in February.  The OSAA Executive Board was hopeful that the state’s landscape was going to improve when it adopted the current calendar back in August, but that has not proven to be the case as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, county risk level metrics have changed and restrictions on prohibited activities have not been lifted by the Governor’s Office and Oregon Health Authority (OHA). 

In the revised calendar adopted today, Fall sports are moved to Season 2 and will begin in February with multiple activities permitted by state guidance.  This allows time for case counts to decrease in the new year and for counties to subsequently move out of the Extreme Risk category. 

Cross Country and Soccer, as outdoor sports, are permitted by the Governor’s Office and OHA in all counties. 

As an indoor activity, Volleyball is tied to the Governor’s County Risk Level Guidance and only allowed in those counties deemed as Lower, Moderate, or High Risk.  Full contact football remains on the Governor’s prohibited list of activities at this time.  Discussions around possibly moving Football later in the year were not supported at this time due to concerns expressed by the OSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC)  regarding the impact that a later contact football season would require modifications to the Fall 2021 football season.

Season 3 features the traditional Spring activities (Baseball, Softball, Golf, Tennis and Track & Field), all of which are permitted by state guidance as outdoor activities.  These will begin April 5 and extend into the third week in May. 

The sports calendar wraps up with Season 4 and traditional winter sports (Swimming, Basketball and Wrestling) beginning in mid-May and extending into late June.  The shift of wrestling and basketball to the end of the calendar provides the most runway for their prohibition to be lifted by the state.  The OSAA has been given no indication that a change will be made in this designation but remains hopeful that a change could occur prior to Season 4.  Swimming is currently allowed outdoors for all counties and indoors for those counties not in the Extreme Risk metric.

The activities schedule was revised to allow more time for school buildings to be accessible to their programs.  Activities like Choir and Band/Orchestra have been pushed back to the end of the school year to provide their programs the opportunity to rehearse in person if school district policy allows.  Cheerleading and Dance/Drill culminating weeks have also been adjusted to allow more time for facilities to open or have weather improve enough to move outdoors.

The Executive Board also voted to extend Season 1 through February 21, 2021 to allow training, workouts and even competitions to occur in those areas of the state that are allowed per the Governor’s Office, OHA guidance, and local school district policy.  The Board plans to revisit participation limitations for all seasons, out-of-season coaching policies for Season 2, 3, and 4, and the need for further decisions as a result of updated state guidance or changing risk level metrics at upcoming work sessions.

First COVID-19 fatality in Gilliam County

The first person to die from COVID-19 in Gilliam County was reported today by Gilliam County Court Judge Elizabeth Farrar.

In a PSA to media, a statement read “It is with great sadness that we report the death of a beloved Gilliam County resident to COVID-19. We extend our deepest sympathy to the family members, friends and all others affected by this tragic loss.”

Gilliam County was one of just a handful of counties in the state of Oregon that had avoided a fatality from the coronavirus.

The statement continued by saying “At this time of grief, we remind all to respect the privacy of those involved. We call upon the compassion, strength and determination of the people of Gilliam County as we resolve to remain united in our efforts to protect the health and well-being of all residents.”