▶️ 3 unique Central Oregon wrestling stories on state title weekend

Friday was the first day for 5A and 6A wrestlers across Oregon to compete in the state wrestling championship in Portland.

“You just got to be mentally tough; you gotta prepare yourself, fuel your body right,” said Redmond senior Joey Downing.

“I just try to stay as calm as I could throughout last night and making sure I got the rest that I needed, said Mountain View senior Jackson Potts.

“I keep telling myself, you know, I am here for great things. I’m here to do great things,” said Bend High junior Eric Larwin.

“Mentally, I’m getting in the headspace to believe that I will win no matter what, and I’ll come out ahead and I’ll come out on top,” said Bend High freshman Leif Larwin.

RELATED: Three different journeys, two-day state wrestling championship, one goal

Four Central Oregon wrestlers from three different High Desert wrestling programs are competing at this two-day tournament.

The Redmond Panthers are looking for a unique achievement. A team with no returning title holders is trying to become back-to-back champs.

“We are that team that people need to watch out for,” said Downing. “We’re underdogs. We have kids unseeded or low seeds that are beating some good guys right now. So, it doesn’t matter who you are wrestling from Redmond; we are coming for you.”

Downing is after his first state title in his final year of competition.

“Looking forward to it,” he said. “I have two matches left for high school, forever, so gotta stay focused, keep preparing myself properly and get ready for those challenges.”

Potts is a returning state champion.

“I definitely know what it takes to get it done, so just staying with what I know and believing that I can do it again, Potts said.

Jackson and his father, Dan Potts, are hoping for one grand finale as they both say goodbye to the years they’ve spent with the Mountain View program.

“Excited, honestly,” he said. “Just ready for it to get rolling again. Got it done today, ready to get it done tomorrow.”

The Larwin Brothers from Bend High are set want to come home as sibling state champions.

“You know, it is super cool to be in the semifinals with your brother,” Eric said. “We are both state placers no matter what now, which is super cool. Placing at state is a really big deal regardless of where you place at, but this has been a dream of mine to win this tournament since I was a little kid and I know Leif and I have the same aspirations and goals, and we are going to show up and we are going to do that.”

“We’re on track to win as of right now, and the matches will just keep getting tougher, and I’m excited for that,” said Leif. “The state of Oregon is going to know who the Larwin brothers are when we are done here.”

The championship matches are Saturday.

5A Boys Team Scores 

  1. Thurston  121.0
  2. Dallas  110.5
  3. Canby  87.0
  4. Redmond  82.5
  5. Crater  81.0
  6. Mountain View  75.5
  7. Hillsboro  41.0
  8. Silverton  38.0
  9. Bend  37.0
  10. Lebanon  34.0

5A/6A Girls scores 

  1. Thurston  52.0
  2. North Salem  33.0
  3. Redmond  32.0
  4. Forest Grove  31.5
  5. Dallas  31.0

4A Boys

  1. Sweet Home  225.0
  2. Crook County 184.5
  3. La Grande  145.5
  4. Cascade  122.5
  5. Tillamook  80.0

3A Boys 

  1. Harrisburg  210.0
  2. Burns  118.0
  3. La Pine 115.5
  4. Banks 112.5
  5. Vale  51.0

4A/3A/2A/1A Girls

  1. La Grande  76.0
  2. Crook County  63.0
  3. Harrisburg  58.0
  4. Vale  56.0
  5. Oakridge  49.0

 

Crook County Greater Idaho Movement ballot measure filed for May election

Crook County voters will get the chance on their May primary ballot to tell county leaders whether they want to become part of Idaho.

Ballot Measure 7-86 was filed on Wednesday. It asks voters “Should Crook County represent that its citizens support efforts to move the Idaho state border to include Crook County?

It will be the latest county to vote on whether to consider joining the Greater Idaho Movement, which would move the Idaho border to include Eastern and most of Central Oregon. It’s an effort by those dissatisfied with lawmakers in Salem who hope to live under Idaho’s more conservative government. Bend and Sisters would not be included in the move.

The ballot measure is simply to learn whether voters want to make the move. Passage would not automatically mean it would happen. Such a move would require the approval of both state legislatures and Congress.

RELATED: Idaho House votes in favor of talking to Oregon about moving border

RELATED: Breese-Iverson expresses willingness to look at Greater Idaho Movement

Voters in 12 Oregon counties have already told their county leaders they approve of looking to move the border. A narrow majority of voters — 50.9% — approved Jefferson County’s measure in 2020. Baker, Grant, Harney, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Union, Wheeler and Wallowa county voters passed similar measures.

The Idaho House of Representatives passed a resolution in 2023, saying it is open to having a dialogue with Oregon’s legislature on moving the border.

Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson, R-Prineville met with Idaho officials last October. She stated then that while she was not sure of the Greater Idaho movement was the way to go, she was “willing to turn over all the rocks possible, for the land and people I love.”

Norman Williams, a professor of constitutional law at Willamette University, has estimated that the Idaho-Oregon border move cost Idaho somewhere in the range of $18 billion to $20 billion. Those behind the movement have disputed those numbers, claiming the cost would be negotiated between the two states. It also says that “Oregon should want to cut their losses because they subsidize eastern Oregon.”

▶️ Bentz seeks actual costs of wolf reintroduction on Oregon cattle ranchers

There have been nearly 500 confirmed kills of livestock animals since gray wolves returned to Oregon nearly 30 years ago. Oregon 2nd District Congressman Cliff Bentz held a listening session Thursday in Prineville to learn the direct and indirect costs to cattle ranchers.

There have been five confirmed kills of livestock by wolves in Crook County. Because gray wolves west of Highway 395 are still listed as endangered species, there’s not much ranchers can do about it.

East of Highway 395, where the wolves are no longer listed as endangered, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife actively manages the apex predators and allows ranchers to kill wolves that attack livestock.

“The cattle are going to where ever they can get to be safe. You are having to deal with that,” said Shawn Samuels. “Our guys are out working, doing their best riding the range. We’ve got to ride the range a whole lot more than before. We can only cover 50-60 miles a day.”

Bentz asked ranchers to quantify their losses.

Not just the number cattle killed by wolves, but also the losses of production and revenue due to lower pregnancy rates, and lower weights of cows running for their lives.

“We’ve had so many ranchers come in and tell us about animals they’ve lost,” said Crook County Judge Seth Crawford. “They are seeing animals not being able to be managed by dogs. They are seeing lower pregnancy rates, lower weight. It’s something that’s really hurting the cattle industry in Crook County. For the congressman to come here and listen to our concerns is very helpful.”

During an upcoming hearing in Washington D.C., Bentz intends to demonstrate how much wolves are actually costing ranchers in Oregon.

“The numbers I’m looking for are how many cows are lost, how many calves are lost but more to the point: How the psychological impact on your herd drives down birth rates, and the cost of having to hire people to ride around your herd on tens of thousands of acres to try to make sure wolves don’t kill your crop.”

Bentz believes rural Oregon cattle ranchers are shouldering an unfair burden of the cost of reintroducing wolves. He wants all endangered species act protections for wolves removed so they can be managed by state wildlife agencies.

Click here to view Oregon’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.

▶️ Lady Buffs defeat Crook Co. on senior night to win Tri-Valley League title

It was simple when it came to the stakes of Tuesday night’s game between the Madras girls basketball team hosting Crook County.

The team that wins is the Tri-Valley League champions.

Madras took an early 7-o lead to start the game, but Crook County took a 29-19 lead at the half.

The White Buffs held the Cowgirls to four points in the third quarter to help secure the 53-45 second-half comeback.

RELATED: Madras boys, Crook Co. girls hoops stay on top in Tri-Valley Conference

RELATED: Summit basketball stays on top of IMC, Ridgeview boys upset Wolfpack

The Lady Buffs host a playoff game on Saturday; the time and opponent are still to be announced.

Crook County also made the postseason despite the loss to the Madras.

Who and Where they play is expected to be announced soon.

▶️Ex-Prineville PD chief retaliated against whistleblower, $1.5M lawsuit claims

A former employee of the Prineville Police Department is suing the city and former Police Chief Larry Seymour for $1.5 million. She claims she was wrongfully retaliated against after blowing the whistle on Seymour and a police captain over their treatment of an injured officer.

Seymour and Capt. Robert Gray resigned last month after being placed on administrative leave for six months during an investigation. The city has never stated the exact nature of the probe.

According to the lawsuit, plaintiff Nikki Hepworth was the Administrative Services Manager and a former employee of the year.

The lawsuit claims that officer Lindsey Ward was injured on the job. The law firm representing Hepworth — Johnson, Johnson, Lucas & Middleton — said Ward’s injury came from a use of force incident.

RELATED: Prineville police chief, captain placed on administrative leave

RELATED: Prineville police chief, captain resign after 6-month leave, investigation

Ward was told by her doctor to go on light duty. Hepworth claims that Seymour and Gray could be heard “commenting disparagingly that they would make Officer Ward’s light duty as hard as possible and punish her for taking it.”  The attorneys say that it’s against Oregon law to discriminate against someone for using the workers compensation system.

According to Hepworth, Seymour had Ward washing walls, windows and detailing police vehicles. 

At one point, when city Human Resources Manager Darla Rhoden saw Ward washing walls, she asked Hepworth why that was happening. Hepworth told Rhoden about Seymour and Gray’s alleged comments and about punishing Ward, the lawsuit states.

Hepworth claims Seymour got angry that she had disclosed to Rhoden what was happening after Rhoden had observed it. 

Seymour later allegedly told Hepworth her job duties would now include watching Ward to make sure the was doing what she was told. Just before that conversation, Rhoden said Ward was not allowed to do physical labor like the tasks she had been assigned, according to the lawsuit.

Hepworth allegedly went to City Manager Steve Forrester to report Seymour’s “bullying, harassment, and abuse of authority.” Forrester eventually disclosed the conversation to Seymour after Hepworth asked him not to, according to the lawsuit.

Hepworth claimed that Seymour and Forrester had both tried to get her to resign at various points, but she refused.  When asked by Forrester if an investigation warranted, Hepworth agreed. She was then placed her on administrative leave during that investigation, the lawsuit claims.

After a third-party investigation ended in July 2023, Seymour and Gray were placed on administrative leave. Lt. Shane Wilson was made interim chief. 

That investigation uncovered “untruthfulness” by Seymour and Gray, according to the lawsuit and that a second investigation to “verify the wrongdoing” was launched. 

The second investigation ended in November, but Seymour and Gray remained on leave. Both of them negotiated resignations in January, the lawsuit states. Seymour’s photo remains on the police department website.

Hepworth was told to return to work by Feb. 5, but she declined. The lawsuit claims Forrester knew that interim Chief Wilson would make life “intolerable” for Hepworth because Wilson was loyal to Seymour.

The city provided this statement in response to the lawsuit:

“The city is aware of the allegations raised in the lawsuit and will be addressing them in accordance with the legal process. The city does not comment on pending litigation.

The City of Prineville would like to thank the community for its patience over the previous months as we conducted thorough investigations regarding the Prineville Police Department concerning internal operations. While the city cannot currently disclose specific details about these investigations, we are focused on creating and maintaining a professional workplace conducive to the well-being of all employees while prioritizing the safety and well-being of the community.

In early January, the city retained Jim Band, a respected leader in law enforcement with an impressive 25-year career, including ten years as a police chief in Oregon. Mr. Band is actively involved in reviewing the Police Department’s policies and protocols, providing suggestions for improvement, and contributing to assessing areas where positive changes can be made. Additionally, he will play an active role in the search for a new police chief to lead the department.”

Prineville Police whistleblower complaint

Jefferson County School District 509J closed, others delayed

Due to the snow and icy road conditions, some schools are closed or delayed Friday, Feb. 16. 

JEFFERSON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT 509J: CLOSED

REDMOND SCHOOL DISTRICT: 2-HOUR DELAY 

CULVER SCHOOL DISTRICT: 2-HOUR DELAY 

SISTERS SCHOOL DISTRICT: CLOSED

No other schools have announced closures or delays as of 5:30 a.m.

▶️ The Mount Emily Shay #1 arrives at Oregon Rail Heritage Center

The Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation announced today that the Mount Emily Shay #1 traveled to its new home, the Oregon Rail Heritage Center.

RELATED: Historic locomotive in Prineville moving to Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation

RELATED: Historic Mount Emily Shay steam engine loaded up for move from Prineville

You can read the full release from the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation below:

The historic steam logging locomotive Mount Emily Shay #1 traveled by BNSF Railroad on a flatcar to its new home at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, arriving in the early hours of February 15, 2024.

The hundred-year-old locomotive had been in the care of the Oregon Historical Society (OHS) for more than six decades when, in 2022, OHS chose to transfer the Shay to the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation to be its permanent owner.

“We are grateful to OHS and thrilled to be the new operators of the Mount Emily Shay #1,” said Rick Franklin, president of the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation. “We look forward to entertaining and educating Oregonians of all ages on excursions powered by this grand old lady of Oregon railroading history.”

The Mount Emily Shay #1 was built 100 years ago by the Lima Locomotive Works in Ohio from a design by Ephraim Shay. Shays were geared workhorses of the timber and mining industries. After five years with the Independence Logging Company in Aberdeen, Washington, the Shay was sold to the new Mount Emily Lumber Company in LaGrande, Oregon.

In 1955, the lumber company shut its rail operations and donated the Mount Emily Shay #1 to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, then located in Washington Park. OMSI concluded the locomotive was too big for the Vista Ridge tunnel and, in 1958, donated the engine to the Oregon Historical Society.

It went on long-term loan to the state of West Virginia in 1971 before returning to Oregon in 1994, with the City of Prineville Railway serving as the borrower/caretaker/operator of the locomotive. When the City of Prineville requested an end to the loan agreement, and since OHS is not equipped to house nor operate a locomotive, the organization sought a new steward. A request for proposals was released in April 2022, and the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation was selected to be the new owner of the Mount Emily Shay on September 1, 2022.

OHS Deputy Museum Director Nicole Yasuhara says of the transfer, “The Oregon Historical Society sincerely appreciates the support of the City of Prineville in stewarding and operating the Mount Emily Shay for decades. We are thrilled that the Mount Emily Shay will have a new, permanent home at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, where it will be on view and used for excursions, balancing preservation and access to this important piece of Oregon history.”

“The City of Prineville Railway is pleased that the Mount Emily Shay #1 will have the best care and find new fans at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center,” said Matt Wiederholt, Prineville Railway operations manager.

Before entering service in Portland, the locomotive will undergo a boiler inspection. When ready, the Mount Emily Shay #1 will pull excursions along the Willamette River. It will be the centerpiece of a new exhibit focused on railroading and the logging industry in Oregon and the Northwest.

New addition to Bowman Museum projected to open mid-March

 

A new addition to the Bowman Museum in Prineville is on track to open mid-March.

This new expansion is called the “Belknap Exhibit Center” and it’s meant to resemble a house that once stood in its place.

The original home was owned by Dr. Horace Belknap. Part of the exhibit will showcase the rural doctors of Crook County.

Another showcase includes memorabilia of Crook County’s pioneer queens.

There is still work to be done, a projected opening date is set for Mar. 16.

RELATED: Stay alert for malware, bitcoin scams: A Crook County woman’s story

RELATED: CCSO: Prineville suspect attempted to hit police car at high-speed during chase

 

▶️ Crook County Judge Seth Crawford files for third term

 

Crook County Judge Seth Crawford has decided to run for a third term.

He announced his campaign for re-election this week.

He has served as a Crook County Judge twice for a total of eight years.

RELATED: Stay alert for malware, bitcoin scams: A Crook County woman’s story

RELATED: CCSO: Prineville suspect attempted to hit police car at high-speed during chase

The only other person running against Crawford as of Feb. 13 is Monty Kurtz.

Both of their names will appear on the May ballot.

 

▶️ Ten MX13 motocross riders place 1st at Arenacross Nationals

The 2024 Arenacross National racing competition is now in the books, but for one group of Central Oregon riders, their path to that competition faced some pushback.

After years of work with the county and noise complaints from neighbors during an open hearing last year, Justin Homan and his MX13 practice track were officially approved.

“Homan MX13 helps us a lot, and we’re lucky we live so close to his facility that we can just go there like after school or whenever he does ride days like Saturday, Sunday type deals,” said 14-year-old Jace Hamrick.

After working towards permits and coaching certificates, the dream of county-approved classes in his backyard became a reality in October. Kids say they are reaping the benefits.

“That made me go from like not being able to do anything really safely to now if I’m going to do something, I know how to do it safely and in a controlled like manner and everything like that,” said 17-year-old rider Zach Francies.

RELATED: 500 top riders compete in the 2024 Northwest Arenacross Nationals

RELATED: Freestyle motocross event raises money for Redmond Senior Center

RELATED: Get Outside: Dirt biking with Homan MX-13 Schools

Last weekend was the perfect opportunity to test those safety skills as 500 riders participated in the dangerous Northwest Arenacross Nationals held at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond.

“It makes it like harder, like more, it’s more of a chance like past people. And I feel like that’s always fun because it’s just different,” said 12-year-old MX13 rider Hadlie Hamrick.

More experienced riders are seeing the transformation from a fun backyard course to an approved business.

“It’s more professional,” said a 19-year-old MX13 rider Shor Miller. “Everything’s done digitally to sign up and pay. So that’s nice, and I think we’re allowed to have 20 people or however many. So, it’s a pretty good crew to have out there.”

Of those 500 riders who participated in all, 30 Central Oregonians from La Pine to Prineville trained through MX13, with ten riders placing first in a third-place professional race.