Prescribed burns vital in Oregon, but the only federal training is in Florida

Prescribed burns are something many of us are familiar with — setting the forest on fire to protect it and lessen the impact of wildfires

It’s a common forest management tool all over the west, but the only federal training center for this complex work is more than 2,000 miles away — in Florida. Efforts are underway to change that.

Prescribed burns are considered valuable tools by many land managers. But they can also be a prescription for disaster. Last year, a Forest Service burn in New Mexico blew up into the biggest wildfire in that state’s history. It burned for five months. 340,000 acres, 900 homes and outbuildings destroyed. The agency canceled all prescribed burns for 90 days. 

Fifteen years ago, it happened near Camp Sherman — the Wizard Fire. On September 25, 2008, fire lookouts in the Black Butte Tower spotted a plume of smoke to the north where Forest Service crews had set a fire the day before.

“It became clear that there was a gap in patrol and that the fire had escaped,” said Jim Cornelius, the editor of The Nugget Newspaper in Sisters.

His readers were not happy.

“They were pretty furious about it,” Cornelius said. “And the letters to the editor that we received were pretty hot.”

One person wrote, “A prescribed burn in September near Wizard Falls, the notorious River and Camp Sherman? Are you kidding?”

Another writer referred to the blatant stupidity of seemingly forest experts. “I am outraged.”

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Camp Sherman Store owner Roger White and his staff had a front-row seat as the Wizard Fire burned 1,800 acres at a cost of more than $4 million. Campgrounds were evacuated and residents were warned to be ready.

“Everybody’s concerned about it because, you know, you never know. What are we going to take first? Where are we going to take it? You know, that’s where we were at one point,” White said.

It’s complicated, challenging work with hundreds of variables to consider at every step.

“There’s so much planning and preparation and mobilizing of resources and communication that takes place before you even light the torch,” said Emily Curtis of Discover Your Forest.

It doesn’t go wrong often. The U.S. Forest Service reports a success rate of 99.84%. They lose control of about seven per year out of roughly 4,500.

Most prescribed burns take place on state and private land that total nearly 10 million acres a year.

John Bailey, an Oregon State forestry professor specializing in prescribed burning, says training the appropriate workforce to meet future challenges will be important.

“All the Western states realize with climate change and the number of people and ignitions and folks being impacted by wildfire and the amazing amount of fuel we have on the landscape, the need to do thinning and prescribed burning like this kind of location that, yeah, we have to do this work. And part of it is going to be just workforce development,” Bailey said.

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And the only federal training site specifically for this job is the National Interagency Prescribed Fire Training Center in Tallahassee, Florida. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and other Western lawmakers would like to change that. They have proposed legislation, the Wildfire Emergency Act, that includes money for a similar facility somewhere in the west.

“This is where God put the trees. And I will be telling those people in Florida the same thing,” Wyden said.

The Pacific Northwest region of the Forest Service does send people to Tallahassee, Florida, to train in prescribed burning. Last year, there were seven. This year, so far, just four. 

But there are other opportunities closer to home to learn how to set the forest on fire and do it right. Trex is a two-week program run by the Nature Conservancy. With federal support, they take place all over the country. 

At a recent one in Deschutes County, there were classroom sessions on mapping, communications, tactics and outdoor lessons with people from government agencies, private contractors, tribes, and universities from all over the Northwest and Canada taking part.

“A lot of these people are going to go out there, wherever they’re from or if they’re from around here, and utilize a lot of the information that they’re learning this season and into the future,” said Ariel Cowan, Oregon State University Regional Fire Specialist.

Then they go burn the forest — and do it very carefully. For those touched by the Wizard Fire, there can’t be too much of this kind of education. And a federal training facility in the west just seems to make sense.

“It seems to me that if you’re going to use prescribed fire as a management tool that you should be training your personnel to the highest standard possible. And if that means investing in a training center, that’s what you need to do,” Cornelius said.

After all, very few people remember the 99.8% of prescribed Forest Service burns that go right.

Very few forget the ones that go wrong. 

▶️ A goodbye and thank you from Allen Schauffler

Central Oregon Daily News anchor, reporter and mentor Allen Schauffler has signed off, ending a career that’s taken him from Bend to San Luis Obispo to Seattle to world destinations and back to Central Oregon again. He wanted to leave this goodbye and thank you to viewers and colleagues.

After 35 years in this business, it is time to retire. Maybe it will even work this time.

My first and most important thank you is to my wife and life partner, Cynthia. Without your love, constant support and remarkable adaptability none of this would have been possible.

Broadcast journalism is a team sport and I have been lucky to work with so many talented and dedicated people.

>>> Have you checked out Central Oregon Daily News on YouTube? Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

RELATED: ‘Rare’ golf club sends anchor on hunt for the history of ‘Shotgun Willie’

RELATED: Rubbish Roads: Junk litters every quiet country mile

Thank you, especially, to all the photographers, videographers, photojournalists — whatever you call yourselves. You are the infantry in this army and I am proud and honored to march with you. Here at Central Oregon Daily News, we have some of the best I’ve ever worked with.

Assignment editors, writers, producers, directors, board ops, webmasters, engineering wizards, sat-truck drivers — yes, even news directors! Thank you for all your help and patience over the years.
As for co-anchors, here goes and I hope I don’t leave anyone out: Thank you Lynn, Jeanette, Marianne, Susannah, Julie, Carolyn, Lori, Jean, Joyce, Shannon, Margaret, Samantha, Emily, Heather, Genevieve and of course Rob and Allen. It was a pleasure sitting at your elbow. Thank you for cleaning up all my on-air messes.

Advertisers and sales force, thank you for embracing the product and keeping the news segments from crashing into each other. Bill and Betty Fenske, thank you for always keeping me on track.

And to all of you out there watching? None of this happens — none of this matters without you. Thank you for watching and, of course, thank you for making the switch!

This has been a remarkable place to end a career. You are lucky to have Central Oregon Daily News. This place is different. Unicorn different. It is a very special place and a very special news product. Enjoy.

Cheers and love! I’ll see you down the road.

For context, the Bill and Betty Fenske that Allen references is a fictional couple — but they are an important part of telling the story. For example, if a story talks about a measurement of distance and that measurement is kilometers, Allen might tell the person writing that story “Bill and Betty live in a place that uses miles, not kilometers.”


▶️ ‘Rare’ golf club sends anchor on hunt for the history of ‘Shotgun Willie’

(Editor’s note: This originally was published in July 2021. We’re re-publishing it in honor of Allen Schauffler’s retirement.)

Eight years ago I went on an Eastern Oregon road trip with my wife and in-laws.

We visited Steens Mountain, The Alvord Desert, and the Round Barn.

We stopped one day for a quick nine holes of golf at Valley Golf Club in Hines.

And in my rental set, there was “Shotgun Willie”, a graphite-shafted, metal-headed driver with the added inscriptions “Doctor of Distance” and “Jumbo Weapon.”

Despite that colorful self-promotion “Willie” did me no favors on the course that day and I left him behind.

But I didn’t forget about him and often shared pictures of the lad with golfing buddies for a good laugh.

A few years later, on a freelance assignment in the area, I stopped by Valley GC for a visit, and poking around in maintenance by the first tee I found him again.

It was sort of a sad reunion: he was just another old club in a barrel inside a falling-down shed.

So I went into the clubhouse and offered to buy Willie and give him a better life.

But the nice lady behind the counter said she just worked there and really didn’t have the authority to see a used golf club to a stranger.

So I left my name and number and asked her to call if anything changed.

Not expecting to turn up much, I started researching “Shotgun Willie.”

I found out it’s the title track on a 1973 Willie Nelson album. Also the name of a notorious Denver-area strip club, now closed and bankrupt.

I Googled up a set of “Willies” auctioned online for the Broward County, Florida first tee program.

So no, not much in the way of actual information about the club.

And then the call came in from Valley GC that Shotgun Willie was mine.

That meant another trek to Hines where I named my price and walked off with the “Jumbo Weapon” for three bucks.

Research resumed.

Looking closely at the “World Tour Maximum Game Improvement Graphite” shaft with the “Low Torque” and the “Lifetime Warranty”  showed me it was produced by a company called “Lion USA.”

Which turns out to be Lion Gold, Inc., a Central Oregon clubmaker from 1989 to 2007 when owner Kim Cole pulled the plug.

Kim has passed on but I found his wife Eileen living just a few miles from our studio.

She was absolutely delightful but declined to comment when I dropped by carrying her graphite-shafted, metal-headed son.

A peel and stick label led me down another path to Stan Jaye at an Eagle Crest address, quite likely the last golfer to own Willie.

Stan died 10 years ago but I tracked down his son in Bend who tells me Stan was an avid golfer who would play with anybody, anywhere, as long as they kept moving on the course.

And I found a Cascade Mountain connection; Stan’s ashes were scattered over Middle Sister, a perfect resting place for any golfer.

The Mountain’s other name is “Hope.”

But ultimately this was another “no comment” and another layer of mystery.

Stan’s son says his dad was a lefty, making him a 180-degree bad fit for the “Jumbo Weapon.”

So there the search ends and I guess it’s just Willie and me and all those ghosts now.

I’ll keep him in my golf bag, always in reach and I’ll let him out to play once in a while – whenever my ailing tee-game needs a prescription from “The Doctor of Distance.”

▶️ Rubbish Roads: Junk litters every quiet country mile

(Editor’s note: This originally was published in June 2020. We’re re-publishing it in honor of Allen Schauffler’s retirement.)

I walk my dogs almost every day and I’m always amazed at the junk I see tossed out on the side of the road.

So I decided to conduct a simple experiment and find out how much trash could be out there along Crook, Jefferson and Deschutes County roads.

I picked a section of S.W. Houston Lake Road, about five miles north of the Powell Butte store. Houston Lake Road runs through farm and ranch country. It isn’t the busiest stretch of road in our region and it’s not the quietest.

Turns out it’s a peaceful, two-lane, stretched-out trash heap.

Donning safety vest, knee pads, gloves, hard-hat, and grabbing one of those extensions, pistol-grip trash-picking tools, I mark out my mile with start and finish lines drawn in the roadside gravel and get to work.

It isn’t easy and it isn’t quick.

I put in five solid hours of walking, picking, grabbing, grubbing on my hands and knees, jumping across water-filled ditches, hauling my bucket and filling trash bags, poking through barbed wire fences and picking up everything I can find that doesn’t belong out there.

And whose job is it to pick up all this junk?

Across the state of Oregon, it is a mostly volunteer job; it’s up to you and me and whoever counties and cities and the state can convince to go out there and get it done.

Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson Counties all have “adopt-a-road” or “adopt-a-highway” programs. Individuals or businesses or non-profit groups pick sections of roadway and conduct cleanup sweeps at least twice a year.

Nobody tracks how much they pick up, or what it is that’s being tossed out onto public land.

A spokesperson for the Deschutes County roads department estimates the 132 volunteer teams pick up “about 500 large bags of trash” a year.

It’s not weighted, sorted, or recycled: it all goes straight to the dump.

Same with the garbage the volunteer jail-inmate crews pick up. The Sergeant in charge tells us the Deschutes county crew bagged up more than 25 tons of trash in 2019. Lots of cigarette butts, the inmates tell us, and lots of plastic. But again, it’s not sorted; not weighted; not recycled.. it just goes straight to the dump.

Back to Houston Lake road now and my growing pile of trash-bags, filled with an amazingly varied collection of junk – 66 pounds of it.

I take the time to dump it out, sort it, and find out what the people who drive here think is worth throwing out the window or off the tractor.

There are cigarette butts, fast-food cartons, paper and plastic cups, glass bottles, aluminum cans, plastic single-serve drink bottles, shotgun shells, a sock, a partially used package of “emergency contraceptive” still in the drug-store bag, a cell-phone cover, lots of blue twine used to tie up hay-bales, a couple of farm-machine oil-filters, chunks of wood, ceramic tile, odd bits of metal and plastic and glass, car-parts, disintegrating cardboard boxes.

It’s disgusting.

And confirming what I’ve observed over the last few years of dog-walking, lots and lots of light-beer containers, Coors and Kokanee mostly.

I pick out the recyclables because I just hate throwing away money, but the rest is going where it belongs, to the nearest dump.

Now let’s top some math and I admit there is nothing very scientific about these calculations; I really don’t know if the poundage picked up in my “country mile” is representative of all other country miles in the tri-county area but it’s the only number I have to work with.

Crook, Jefferson and Deschutes counties are responsible for maintaining for 1,634 miles of roads; not city streets, not state highways.

Simple multiplication tells us there could be 107,844 pounds or about 54 tons of garbage, sitting out there at any given time.

Not on Houston Lake road, though. We figure it’s now the cleanest country mile in the High Desert.

▶️ Jim Belushi mixes weed business with show business in Southern Oregon

(Editor’s note: This originally aired in February 2022. Allen Schauffler says it’s one his favorite stories at Central Oregon Daily News and we’re re-publishing it to celebrate his retirement.)

Yes, he’s a farmer now, a marijuana farmer in Southern Oregon.

But Jim Belushi hasn’t exactly cut all ties with show business.

He stars in his Discovery-Plus reality show, “Growing Belushi.”

It features plotlines based on growing and marketing cannabis products around the Northwest and beyond, with plenty of skit-comedy shenanigans thrown in.

Belushi and his cousin Chris, his managing partner on the farm (and co-star) talked with us about the challenges and the fun of mixing show-business and weed-business in Eagle Point, Oregon.

▶️ Chasing Magic: Jim Belushi finds happiness on Eagle Point cannabis farm


▶️ Educated cows, GPS join forces for wildfire land management on High Desert

REDMOND, Ore. — A new research project by Oregon State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture explores the unique combination of global positioning satellites, mobile cell towers, and educated cattle wearing shock collars. The study aims to revolutionize rangeland management and wildfire prevention in the Pacific Northwest.

Within the sagebrush sea east of Bend, on the northern edge of the Great Basin, you will find plenty of peace and quiet. Until collaring day, when the cows receive necklaces that track their movements and teach important behaviors.

“There’s a foreign object around their neck, and they don’t know what to do,” said Chad Boyd, research leader, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center. “Most of them kind of run and buck a little.”

>>> Have you checked out Central Oregon Daily News on YouTube? Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

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Each cow underwent a training process receiving audible warnings, learning to avoid specific directions of travel. If they persisted in those directions, they would receive mild electrical stimulation.

The collars worn by the cows use radio frequency to communicate with a base station, which transmits data via cellular antennas to the cloud. This innovative system, connected to mobile cell towers and GPS, enables the creation of virtual fences that researchers can adjust.

“We don’t have to rely on hard fences to keep them in that area,” Boyd said. “We can actually create fences anywhere we want on the landscape using virtual fence technology.”

Afterward, the cows enter training to familiarize themselves with the audible cues and learn to respect the electric jolt. Once trained, they become valuable assets in managing wildfires.

“Our challenge is to show how that can be done in an ecologically responsible way and a strategic way,” Boyd said.

A 300-acre plot, abundant in native and invasive grass species and prone to fast-burning fires, was chosen for the study.

By strategic placement, the cattle create firebreaks by eating up the dried grasses in remote and vulnerable areas. These safe zones can serve as bases for firefighters and help prevent wildfire spread.

Researchers are still learning about the effectiveness of virtual fencing and the optimal buffer zones for audio and electrical cues in different landscapes. However, potential applications extend far beyond rangeland management.

“Virtual fence is one more tool in the toolbox for those land managers,” said Dr. David Bohnert, director, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, Oregon State University.

Chad Boyd says he believes the study has a lot of room for growth.

While the project is in its early stages, initial results and future projections are promising. As virtual fence technology advances, it may revolutionize how livestock is managed and contribute to environmental sustainability in Eastern Oregon and beyond.

▶️ ‘He was a Sisters bull’: The story of Red Rock, the Hall of Fame rodeo bull

(Editor’s note: This story was first published in June 8, 2022)

Plenty has happened at the Sisters Rodeo over the last 82 years, but maybe the biggest single event was the day the late, legendary bull rider Lane Frost rode Red Rock.

Or did he? There’s some lingering controversy.

Sisters Rodeo President Curt Kallberg took us into the new “Red Rock Corrall” to tell the story. 

Named for Red Rock, of course. 1,750 pounds of Brahman-Hereford mix. A Hall of Famer.

Red Rock came out of the chute 309 times, Curt said.

“Nobody could ever ride him.”

He was a national rodeo star and a local legend.
“He was a Sisters bull. He lived a big part of his life here. He was owned by a Sisters stock contractor,” Curt said.
Lane Frost and Red Rock
Born out east in Mitchell, Oregon. He was orphaned and raised by dairy cows.
“He was two years old when he was purchased out of the Madras livestock auction,” Curt said. 
“And he was named after a butte there. A big, red, cinder butte,” Curt said, adding that one of the owners didn’t really want to name him Red Rock.
“His hip number was 007, but he was a secret agent without a doubt.”
An agent with a license to buck. He retired, undefeated, in 1987.
“And you talk to the bullriders who rode him at that time — Charlie Sampson, world champions — one right after another said they never been thrown to the ground so hard,” Curt said. 

He was also a pussy cat when he didn’t have a cowboy on his back — and a bit of a show-off.

“You could put a young kid on his back he would just stand there. He liked that kind of attention,” Curt said. “When he would buck off a cowboy, he would mainly often just circle the arena like “pretty good, huh folks?'”

After he retired, promoters had an idea: Pair Red Rock with young stud bullriding champion Lane Frost and take the show on the road.

It was dubbed the Battle of the Champions.

“That would be the world champion bullrider against the great Red Rock that was retired undefeated. So they decided to put a seven event schedule together and buck him seven more times,” Curt said.

Lane Frost and Red Rock

One of the stops was, of course, the Sisters Rodeo. Curt was there.

“It was like a heavyweight fight,” Curt said. “They say he rode him eight seconds in Sisters. Some people said it was close. He was coming off at eight, but they did score him. And they said if (Red Rock) hadn’t been hauled eight hours in a trailer from Livermore, California, (Lane) never would have ridden him.”

The two champs were both inducted into the PRCA Hall of Fame and were actually pals outside of the arena.

And they made for a great box office team. Their battle was a key part in the 1994 biopic “Eight Seconds” with Luke Perry starring as Lane Frost.

Frost died a year after his 4-3 series win over Red Rock. He was killed while riding at a rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

At Frost’s memorial during the national rodeo finals that year, they brought back Red Rock to, in a way, pay his respects.



▶️ Camp Sherman Store and its unique history up for sale

What can you get for $2.2 million these days? How about a piece of local history and a little slice of paradise with a river view, cold beer and sandwiches made to order.

It’s the Camp Sherman Store

It seems like it has always been there, nestled in the ponderosas on the banks of the Metolius River. You drive across a bridge and into another world.

“You turn into here and you just let it go. It’s just happy,” said co-owner Kathy White. “It’s the river. It’s the trees. It’s just a little oasis. You don’t even know it’s down here.”

>>> Have you checked out Central Oregon Daily News on YouTube? Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

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It’s the only general store in a town of just 281 year-round residents and a store that draws thousands of out-of-town visitors every year, especially during the summer.

It’s the only place to come gas up. It has several old-style gas pumps, but only one actually works.


The only place to grab that cold six pack, get some penny candy for the kids and buy half-price clothes off the rack on the back deck. You can pick up a souvenir coffee mug or a stuffed animal trout or a deli sandwich which is made to order and passed out the window to the picnic area.

Oh, and fishing gear.

“Anybody who flyfishes in Oregon knows this place. So it’s not about name recognition. Everybody knows this place,” said flyfisher Steve Dangaran.

“People here are very, I don’t know, they’re just family. They come in. We talk. We’ve watched their kids grow up. We’ve seen grandbabies being born and they all want to come here and share that with us,” Kathy said.

The people — like Carl Eikenberry, a visitor from the valley who just keeps coming back.

“It’s a special place and it reminds me of the good old days!” Carl said.

“People like Mitch Martin, the sandwich queen. She sent in a resume 26 years ago. She’d never been here before and wasn’t living anywhere close.

“Arizona? Montana? I don’t remember. It was a long time ago” she laughs, “It’s wonderful. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.”


Regulars Sue and Richard Bassett and their dog Bella.

“It’s heaven,” Sue said.

“Yeah, it is for us,” Richard said.

Bella has dietary challenges, so there’s a bag of special kibble with her name on it behind the counter. It’s that kind of place.

Locals have account books on the shelf so they can pick up what they need and pay up when they can. It’s that kind of place.

It’s the only business Roger and Kathy White have ever owned and it’s been good. But according to Roger: “It’s about time. And it’s not like we’re running out. It just gets better every year.”

And what would you get for $2.2 million in Camp Sherman?

“We’ve got five acres, two cabins, two big outbuildings, four employee housing, house, post office, store,” Kathy said.


Plus all the inventory and a lease from the Forest Service who owns the land.

When we asked the guys browsing for fishing gear if they were interested in buying, we got some emphatic and tentative bites.

“Yes, I would, actually,” said employee and fishmaster Eric Gunson.

“If I was 45 and had the means,” said flyfisher Mike Zanon.

“If you want to be part of something that is just very unique and rare and hard to find, maybe anywhere on the west coast. This is really special. But your heart has to be in it,” said flyfisher Eric Smith.

There’s plenty of heart to be found in this place — if you can find the cash to make it yours.

▶️ Baby Nigerian Dwarf goats raised in Terrebonne. That’s it. That’s the story.

We live in some pretty crazy times, and sometimes we could all use a break. So if you’re exhausted by foreign wars and domestic politics, the screeching of the far-right and far-left, fires and drought and climate change and the winter that just wouldn’t end — this is your story.

At the Hassaninia Heritage Farm in Terrebonne, they’re raising baby goats.

Baby Nigerian Dwarf goats.

On the day we visited, we were told the oldest is probably four weeks old.

There’s a lot to love — their cute faces, tiny noses and little tails. But chief goat wrangler Selah Hassaninia says they are something else, too.

“Escape artists. Like you can’t keep these guys in anything,” Selah said.

>>> Central Oregon Daily News is on YouTube. Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

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That’s why, for this story, they had to be corralled on a trampoline with a net around it.

“They can be annoying sometimes, like they eat your hair a lot. They pull on your shirt and eat your clothes,” Selah said.

These goats are pedigreed with the American Dairy Goat Association.

“It basically tells you who their mother and father is and their grandparents,” Selah said.

There are dozens. And Selah knows them by name.

There’s Honey. And Carnation. And Flash. And Stella. And Cold Brew.

Also Tulip, Sunflower, Fancy Fudge, Betty White and Foxy Brown.

You will find Peace here. As in a goat named Peace — just six days old when we were there recording.

Never fear. None of these goats will end up on anyone’s dinner table. These are show goats. They’ll be shown off at the fair and sold to other goat breeders from 4-H. And Selah and her family will enjoy fresh milk and goat cheese.

Of course, we had to get the goat’s-eye perspective for this story. So we put a GoPro on the back of one of these kids.

A GoatPro.


Now for full disclosure. Selah’s dad is Ramin, who works at Central Oregon Daily News.

And just so this story has a shred of actual news value, the American Dairy Association National Show will be held at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond July 14-21.

▶️ Bend veteran is leading effort for National Medal of Honor Highway

If you see a sign on a major Oregon highway honoring veterans, their families, any kind of significant military service or sacrifice, Dick Tobiason put it there. Maybe not in person with a shovel and cement, but the longtime Bend resident and his Bend Heroes Foundation made it happen.

Now, he’s closer to making something even bigger happen. This session, Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on Tuesday introduced bipartisan legislation that would designate U.S. Highway 20 as the National Medal of Honor Highway.

That bill is Dick Tobiason’s doing. Highway 20 runs from Newport, Oregon to Boston, Massachusetts. Tobiason has already led the push to create 12 separate State Medal of Honor highways in the states through which it runs. And long ago, he made a promise to his friend Bob Maxwell — a recently deceased MOH recipient — that he would work to make the national highway designation a reality.

>>> Have you checked out Central Oregon Daily News on YouTube? Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

RELATED: Bend veteran’s effort to name highway for Gold Star families passes legislature

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Central Oregon Daily’s Allen Schauffler sat down with Tobiason to find out how it all came together. You can watch that in the video above.

In the video below, Tobiason tells the story of MOH recipient and Oregonian Elmer Fryar.