Sunday, January 17, 2016

January 15, 2016 - Deschutes County Commissioners and Staff Special South County Presentation

Deschutes County Commissioners and Staff
Special South County Presentation
by Kathy Matthews of
“In the News for La Pine and Surrounding Communities”

On Friday, January 15, 2016, the La Pine Chamber of Commerce and the Sunriver Chamber of Commerce held their annual joint meeting and breakfast at Thousand Trails RV Resort off of Century Drive. 

Anne Gawith and Tony DeBone welcomed people to the meeting, which had been held during the fall in previous years.  There were close to 200 people in attendance; the largest number yet.

There is a lot of excitement and numerous plans for Southern Deschutes County in 2016.  This year, Deschutes County turns 100-years-old, the City of La Pine turns 10-years-old, the Newberry Crater Monument turns 25, and this will be the 40th year of La Pine’s Frontier Days Celebration.   

In place of announcements, the schedule of event sheet was handed out to highlight the fun:

The first speaker on the agenda was Todd Dunkelberg, Director of the Deschutes Public Library.

Todd told us that in 1998, the Deschutes Public Library separated from the county and became a special district with its own funding base.  There are libraries in La Pine, Sunriver, Sisters, Redmond and two in Bend.  The Deschutes Public Library offers the same service in all towns.

The strategic plan for the library in coming years includes:

·        People - Doubling the number of people that they serve,
·        Place - Double the amount of square footage over current space, because       over the next 30 years, 100,000 people are expected to move into DC.       
·        Platform – Connecting people with all library services

There are now early learning spaces at the libraries.  This brings in families, and in La Pine alone there has been a 10% increase in visits. 

Another thing that people may not realize is that the libraries in Deschutes County have a strong digital presence.  People can now download books to read on their phones or computers for free.  They also offer wireless printing for a small charge.

The DCL is very helpful to businesses.  They have a large database that businesses can use, including demographic information and reports.  You can schedule a local librarian for 90 minutes to show you how things work.

The DCL is also helpful to non-profit agencies.  They can help you find out where the funders are and how to write grants for your organization.

There is now a county law library, with access to the physical books as well as online info.

The next person to speak at the meeting was Bob Bryant of ODOT, who spoke about the Deschutes County Capital projects as well as other improvements of HWY 97 from the Columbia Gorge to the California Border.   Bob told us that eventually, there will be a four-lane divided highway with a concrete barrier from Sunriver to La Pine.  Below are some of the things that ODOT is working on over the next couple of years.

#1 – US 97/Wickiup Junction:  Work will resume on the overpass as soon as weather and the ground permit.  This project is costing $11 million dollars in construction costs, with a total amount being spent of $17 million.
To find out more about the project, you can check out these links:

#2 – US 97/Romaine Village-Lava Butte:  There are plans of a safety barrier all the way down, with an open space for accesss to the High Desert Museum.  This will be completed during the summer of 2016.

#3 – US97/South Century Dr. (USFS Boundary Rd):  Beginning in 2016, due to the high demand on this section of the highway, a four-lane separated section to La Pine will be worked on.  The cost of this project will be between 20-25 million dollars.

#4- US97 Bend to Spring Creek:  Variable speed limit signage will be put into place, like HWY 26 has over Mt. Hood.  The speed limit is legally 65 mph now, and some from out of town don’t take into consideration hazardous travel conditions.

#5 – US97 Sunriver Interchange: Scheduled for 2018, pavement  work and also work on the La Pine Streetscape.

#6 – US97 Corridor Freight Plan: Scheduled for 2016, planning will be continued for truck traffic.  Truck traffic is continuing to grow and there needs to be a lot more options for them to park up and down the HWY 97 corridor.

Chris Doty from the Deschutes County Road Department then talked to us for a few minutes. 

Chris’ big news was that the dirt road part of Huntington Rd in La Pine will be paved this year, and so will the Deer Run subdivision.  Turn lanes will also be installed.  The 1.8 million dollar project will begin this summer.

In addition to that, a $1 million dollar project will begin in 2016 for the more and more dangerous Burgess/Day Road/Pine Forest intersection.  The county will need to get easements for this, and that is where it might take some time to get everything done, but they are working on it.

Steve Renke of Deschutes County’s 9-1-1 District was the last speaker.  (Sheriff Shane Nelson was scheduled to talk, but was helping out in Harney County and was unable to attend.)

The Deschutes County 9-1-1 Service District  is replacing an end of life radio system this year.  They had hired a consulting firm to help with this and it was going to cost $13 million dollars.  Then they realized that the State of Oregon was doing the same thing and are now teaming up with them.  That cut the cost in half for the county, and now it will only be $6.5 million.  They have been saving up money for the replacement so that part is already to go, and the new system should be up and running by October of this year.

There will be a district levy on the ballot in May to save up for the next upgrade, which is anticipated in another 20 years.  If passed, it will amount to 6.32 cents more per $1,000. 

9-1-1 is currently working on having a dedicated phone operator and dedicated fire dispatcher.  As it is now, the one person on duty handles a lot of calls at the same time.

Tony DeBone let us know at this point that we can schedule a tour to see how everything works at 9-1-1 if we want to.

After that, there was a drawing for free crab feed tickets and that was about it. 

I do want to take the opportunity to thank our county commissioners, Tammy Baney, Tony De Bone and Al Unger for all of their dedicated hard work.  Also, thank you to all the people who work hard to keep our county a great place to live, and to the La Pine and Sunriver Chamber of Commerce’s.

I scanned the flyers that they gave us and have posted them below.

Thank you for reading "In the News".  Please make sure to check out the Facebook page that goes along with this blog.

Thank you to today's sponsor, La Pine Redi Mix and Matthews Construction:

Meetings and Background Info Re: New Federal Land Management Restrictions, Additions and Proposals

Facebook makes it so hard to find stuff later, when you post as often as I do.  This is my attempt to be able to find some articles later on.

I love to write and do research, but there is so much going on right now that I don't have time to write my own articles for the most part. I am giving you guys as much info as I can with news reports of other people's work so that you can become informed in the subjects that interest you. 

I haven't researched this deal very much yet, but in July 2015 the U.S. House of Rep. passed Greg Walden's bill to prevent new national monuments and creating new wilderness designations that would lock up millions of acres of land, and taking away property rights of current landowners. For example, in the case of Crater Lake, the federal government wants to vastly expand the wilderness area, which some say could make it so that Diamond Lake Resort would have to close down. 

Then, the issue came up again for the Ochoco Mountains National Wilderness, challenged by a group called Oregon Wild last fall. A few more meetings/hearings were held. I'm not sure that everybody in the Crooked River Ranch and Prineville area were aware of the meetings.. Last week, a final meeting was held, and the meeting location was changed to a smaller space at the last minute, leaving people not able to get in to speak. Many of those who did speak were very angry. Crook County Judge McCabe did a short video apologizing for the poor communication. 

So now, Greg Walden, is holding four meetings over the next few days to talk with people about this issue. 

In addition, lawyer KrisAnne Hall is holding two meetings in Burns at the fairgrounds, on Monday and Tuesday. She will also be in Prineville in April. 

So, for now,  I'll just post a bunch of  news links below for easier reference in the future.

Greg Walden
Greg Walden is headed to Central Oregon to meet with local residents concerned about new federal land management restrictions
BEND—Next week, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) will meet with Central Oregon residents who are very concerned about new federal land management restrictions in Deschutes and Crook counties. First, Walden will meet with Crooked River Ranch residents worried about increased fire risk due to new restrictions. Later, Walden will head to Prineville wheremany residents and forest access groups are opposed to a plan to create about 30,000 acres of new wilderness in the Ochoco National Forest. Walden has been a strong advocate of ensuring that local residents have a voice in how area federal lands are managed.
Walden will also participate in a roundtable discussion in Redmond with Mayor George Endicott and community leaders, as well as speak to a civics class at Bend Senior High School. Later on Tuesday, Walden will head to Medford and Grants Pass. A full schedule of events for Southern Oregon will be announced soon.
Monday, January 18, 2016
What: Wilderness and fire risk meeting with Crooked River Ranch residents
When: 11:00 am
Where: Crooked River Ranch Fire Station, 6971 SW Shad Road, Terrebonne

What: Ochoco Forest wilderness meeting
When: 1:30 pm
Where: Room 1868, 152 NW 4th St., Prineville

What: Roundtable with Mayor George Endicott
When: 3:30 pm
Where: Redmond Airport, 2522 SE Jesse Butler Circle, Redmond

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Deschutes County Commissioners Hold Meeting in La Pine about the Goal 11 Exception:

Goal 11 Exception Process 
for Southern Deschutes County
Board of County Commissioners Public Hearing 
at LPHS Auditorium
in La Pine, Oregon on January 6, 2016

by Kathy Matthews, of “In the News”, La Pine, Oregon:

Deschutes County Commissioners Tammy Baney, Al Unger and Tony DeBone

January 28, 2015:  UPDATE - The Exception Rule has passed.  Here is the link to The Bulletin article about the details. "Exception Rule Allowing Sewers Moves Forward"
On Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners received public input on a proposed exception to state land use requirements that would allow, but not require, sewer systems in rural areas outside of La Pine.  The land-use rule in this instance is Goal 11 and that is the reason for calling the process “Goal 11 Exception”.

This meeting was not about annexing neighborhoods into the city, nor about installing large pipe sewer systems.

The number of people at the meeting was very low.  Including county and state officials there were around 20 people in attendance.  Commissioners Tammy Baney, Al Unger and Tony DeBone were on the panel. This made it easy to exchange information, ask and answer questions and allowed ample time for everybody who wanted to to talk.

State land-use requirements normally prohibit new or expanded sewer systems in rural areas. However, exceptions are allowed when they help to protect public health.  In this instance, allowing property owners the option of connecting to small community cluster sewer systems will help to protect groundwater in southern Deschutes County.  It would be an alternative to needing to use the more expensive ATT systems.

If the exception to Goal 11 is ultimately passed, it will also allow some South County residents to build homes on lots that they own, but are currently unable to use due to the size of their lot and existing septic rules.

County Planner Peter Russell         

Some of the concerns expressed had to do with the wording of the Goal 11 Exception.  The potential for “health-hazard terminology” was strongly objected to by several people. Nobody wanted it to sound like the La Pine area had a problem with good groundwater, because we do have really good water. 

There seemed to be a lot of distrust from community members due to past dealings with Deschutes County and DEQ resulting from the studies done several years ago that required people to put in ATT systems instead of standard and sand filter systems.  It also seemed that community members were concerned that they would eventually be required to hook up to a large sewer system like the City of La Pine has.  They were reassured that was not the intent at all, and that in fact that wasn’t even what this meeting nor Goal 11 Exception was about.

One thing that was addressed was that property owners would not be able to “up-zone” and change land that is zoned for a single family dwelling to commercial. 

On a side note, it was brought up that the Orenco company, though they provide quality products, have too much influence over DEQ and the state of Oregon.  They are on the board of who approves acceptable systems for southern Deschutes County and are the only ones on the list who can provide systems for this area.  There is no competition, and that raises the prices of local septic systems.

Several people expressed concerns over how groundwater monitoring was done in Deschutes County.  It was brought up that because a few people may have bad wells due to their well sitting in the middle of a horse corral didn’t make it a basin-wide issue. Questions were asked about the effect of farming residue and golf course fertilizer run-off near the Little Deschutes River.  The suggestion was made that instead of DEQ doing the monitoring, that OSU would be allowed to do it as a third party.  OSU is very interested in becoming involved, but there is an issue of funding.

A question of cost was addressed.  Though the homeowners who choose to take advantage of a small cluster system would be footing the bill, the county is looking into grants and low-cost loans and funding services to help people install these types of systems if they wanted to.  At this point, it would really only initially apply to about 100 property owners in OWWI, who are not even able to build houses on their property.

One individual who spoke wants all of this put on the ballot and to the let people vote on it.  He also said that the Oregon Health Authority hasn’t been brought in on all of this and he is afraid that they would come and change the intention of the exception.  He felt that this was being rushed along, and that “the devil is in the details and this in a precedent setting event , and should not be addressed with a broad-stroke approach.”

Another person said that the Goal 11 Exception is overreaching and unwise, and that it draws reckless media attention, and that it could result in mandatory sewers in So. County.  She didn’t feel as if the data was credible and that it is not clear cut.  She wanted a research project set up that includes rigorous testing performed by OSU.

It was brought up by La Pine’s mayor that the Goal 11 Exception is really “just a tool to determine in future and is part of land-use laws and processes.”

Commissioner Baney stated that these meetings were for the community to tell the commissioners their concerns, and that the plan became refined each time there was a meeting.  She believes that everything should be able to be developed fairly within the law.

The meeting ended after it was agreed that the oral record is now closed.  The written record will be open for two weeks, until January 20, 2016.  At the next regularly scheduled Deschutes County Commissioners meeting on January 27th at 10:00, deliberation will begin to see if the Goal 11 Exception will be approved or not.

For questions about the Goal 11 Exception, please contact Peter Russell, Deschtues County Senior Transportation Planner at 541-383-6718 or Bob Bagett at DEQ at 541-278-4609.

Also, info from October's meeting has links to a lot more important information, if you want to check it out here: October 2015 Meeting at SHARC