Supper Club: City Club Regional Forum

For this week’s Supper Club, Donna Britt attended the City Club regional forum at Eagle Crest in Redmond, titled: Growth’s Impact on our Communities. The speakers included local city managers and a mayor from Bend, Redmond, La Pine, Prineville, Sisters and Madras.

Moderator Scott Aycock with the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council set the stage with some impressive statistics. Since 1990, Central Oregon has grown 122 percent. By 2025, there will be another 37,000 people here. By 2040, another 113,000 and the population is expected to double with another 250,000 people by 2065.

How are the diverse communities in our region planning for this growth and what are some of the challenges they are facing? This was the conversation at the City Club forum and some highlights of that conversation make up this week’s Supper Club.

Thanks to City Club for inviting us to their regional forum and thanks to all of the city managers for their input. 

A special thanks to our Supper Club sponsors, Selco Community Credit Union, for giving us the time and resources to talk about the issues that impact our region every Tuesday night on Central Oregon Daily.

Hundreds of Trees to be Cut Down Along Highway 20

An effort to clear Highway 20 of weeds and shrubbery along the roadway ended up having unintended consequences, and now, several hundred ponderosa pine trees are scheduled to be taken down north of Sisters in the fall. Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has the story.

The Forest Service is taking public comments on the tree removal project. You can make a comment via e-mail to the forest service or you can talk to the Sisters Ranger District’s environmental planner at 541-549-7735. Comments will be taken for the next 30 days.

Wildhaven Preserve May Become Part of Deschutes National Forest

The Wildhaven Preserve north of Sisters is currently managed by the Nature Conservancy could soon be under new management as part of the Deschutes National Forest.

The Nature Conservancy has confirmed talks with the Forest Service. Catherine MacDonald, the Nature Conservancy’s director of policy and external affairs, said they were excited by the Forest Service’s idea to use the land for environmental education – specifically children’s programs.

However new management could mean more human encroachment on what is currently 160-acres of wilderness.

 

The land is home to elk, deer and wild turkey and, with no hunting allowed on the preserve, those animals only have to worry about natural predators like bear, cougar, coyotes, bobcats and lynx.

This change concerns Mark and Leslyn Grape, who have been caretakers of the Wildhaven Preserve for 20 years. The Grapes said their biggest concern is allowing hunters back on to the land.

Mark Grape said he has had unsavory interactions with hunters and has found skinned or mutilated animal carcasses left on the property.

“Not everyone who comes into the outdoors comes with an open heart,” said Mark Grape.

The Grapes said the land has also maintained natural grasses and boasts old growth juniper trees – some up to 1,250 years old – which are important habitat for local wildlife.

The Grapes added that this isn’t what the land was meant for when it was donated to the Nature Conservancy by Gil and Vivian Staender. The couple who hoped it would be shared with the public but maintained as a natural environment.

This change hits home for the Grapes, who have maintained the land while living in the historic cabin built by the Staenders. The Grapes were told they need to be out by June 18.

“It totally breaks out heart,” said Mark Grape.

The Nature Conservancy has said nothing is final but talks with the Forest Servie will continue next Monday.

New Meetings Announce for Sisters Visioning Project

Sisters Country Horizons Launches Next Phase of Public Engagement

The meetings are a continuation of public engagement activities that began with interviews of community leaders in February and March and an online community survey launched in March and running through the end of April.

About a dozen meetings will be conducted in and around the city of Sisters as well as more rural areas of Sisters Country. Meetings are free and open to the public.

• Thursday, April 12, 6:30-8 p.m., Sisters Camp Sherman Fire District
• Tuesday, April 17, 9:30-11 a.m., Sisters Library, Library Meeting Room
• Tuesday, April 24, 2:30-4 p.m., Sisters Library, Library Meeting Room
• Thursday, April 26, 5:30-7 p.m., Sisters Park & Recreation District
• Wednesday, May 2, 6:30-8 p.m., Sisters City Hall, Council Chambers (in conjunction
with Sisters VFW)
• Wednesday, May 2, 6:30-8 p.m., Plainview, Sisters Church of the Nazarene
• Thursday, May 3, 3-4:30 p.m., Aspen Lakes, Brand 33 Lodge
• Wednesday, May 8, 6:30-8 p.m., Tollgate Community Center

Several additional meetings, including a meeting with members of Sisters’ Latino community, are in the process of being scheduled.

Every community meeting will last approximately 90 minutes and engage participants in a series of questions similar to those used in the interviews and online survey. Due to the large number of venues, the meetings should be smaller in their attendance numbers with more opportunity for comment.

For more information visit the Sisters Country Horizons website at www.sistershorizons.org or email info@sistershorizons.org. You can also like the project at www.facebook.com/sistershorizons/.

The Great Outdoors: Forest Thinning for Fire Prevention

Preventing wildfires is a year-round job, even when it’s not fire season yet. In this week’s Great Outdoors, Brian Jennings takes us to the Deschutes National Forest outside Sisters for a look at one of their fire prevention programs.

A special thanks to our Great Outdoors sponsor, Parr Lumber, for giving us the time and resources to explore the lakes, rivers and mountains across our beautiful state every Wednesday night on Central Oregon Daily.

Sisters Launches Survey on Growth

The city of Sisters is launching a new project called “Sisters Country Horizon”, and they want community and visitor input as they try to envision and grow the area.

Despite a rough summer for the small town, with major tourist attractions like the Sisters Folk Festival being cancelled due to wildfires, the city is looking ahead. On Thursday Sisters launched a new survey for citizens and visitors asking what they envision for the small town as it continues to grow. 

Sisters residents said they are hoping for something to bring tourists into town during the winter months and more affordable housing for residents as the small town continues to grow.

The results of the survey will be released at community forums in June. To take the survey and give your input, head online to www.sistershorizons.org

Affordable Housing Projects Break Ground

The communities of La Pine and Sisters are about to get two new housing options. 
Central Oregon Daily’s Austin Reed was at both of the groundbreaking ceremonies for the new townhomes on Tuesday and has the details on who will be eligible to rent them.

Property Management will take applications for the properties about two to three months before completion which is expected to be next Spring in 2019.

DOJ Puts Pressure on Sanctuary Cities

On Wednesday 23 jurisdictions, including Oregon State, received letters from the U.S. Department of Justice asking for documents to prove that they are cooperating with immigration authorities and threatening to pull public safety grants.

The letters are part of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ promised crackdown on sanctuary cities and states.

“I continue to urge all jurisdictions under review to reconsider policies that place the safety of their communities and their residents at risk,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a press release from the DOJ (Department of Justice). “Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law. We have seen too many examples of the threat to public safety represented by jurisdictions that actively thwart the federal government’s immigration enforcement—enough is enough.”

The letter sent to Michael Schmidt, the Executive Director of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission,  warned that the DOJ could use subpoena power to force them to provide documents showing they aren’t withholding information about the immigration status of people in custody.

Similar letters were sent to cities like Chicago, New York, Denver and Los Angeles, and the states of Illinois and California. DOJ officials said the 23 jurisdictions have been previously warned they need to provide information about their policies to be receive grants.

According to the DOJ website, jurisdictions who refuse to turnover documents, or whose policies are deemed counter to federal immigration laws, may be forced to return federal grant dollars from a 2016 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant and may be deemed ineligible for a 2017 Byrne Grant.

The Byrne Justice Assistance Grant is a memorial grant and is the leading source of federal justice funding for state and local jurisdictions. The grant provides states, tribes and local governments across the U.S. with funding for target community specific law enforcement needs.

Oregon was allocated $3,099,650 through the grant for 2016.

Sanctuary cities, counties, and states are jurisdictions with laws, ordinances, regulations, resolutions or policies that prohibited local law enforcement agencies from complying with ICE detainers and denying ICE access to interview incarcerated undocumented immigrants.

In Oregon this means an undocumented immigrant that has committed a crime in a sanctuary jurisdiction would be penalized for that crime but would not be detained due to their undocumented status. It also means local and state law enforcement will not assist immigration officials in locating or apprehending people due to their undocumented status.

Relying on local law enforcement to detain undocumented immigrants is the primary tool used by ICE to gain custody for deportations.

In response to the letter, Oregon Governor Kate Brown said in tweet, “Oregon will not be bullied by a Trump Administration that’s focused on diving our country. Oregon’s laws are in place to uphold the civil rights of all Oregonians. The federal government cannot, under the US Constitution, force state law enforcement officers to implement its policies.”

Here’s is the full letter written to Oregon from the DOJ:

Dear Director Schmidt:

Thank you for your response to our November 15, 2017, letter regarding your jurisdiction’s compliance with 8 U.S.C. § 1373, a federal law with which your jurisdiction must comply as an eligibility requirement for receiving Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) funding from the Department of Justice (Department or DOJ). After reviewing your response, the Department remains concerned that your jurisdiction’s laws, policies, or practices may violate section 1373, or, at a minimum, that they may be interpreted or applied in a manner inconsistent with section 1373.

In light of these concerns, the Department is requesting certain documents as described below. This request is made consistent with 2 CFR § 200.336, as adopted by Department regulation 2 CFR § 2800.101. In your FY 2016 Byrne JAG award, you agreed to the following (listed as special condition #23):

[The recipient agrees to] cooperate with [the Bureau of Justice Assistance (“BJA”)] and [Office of the Chief Financial Officer (“OCFO”)] on all grant monitoring requests…. The recipient [also] agrees to provide to BJA and OCFO all documentation necessary to complete monitoring tasks, including documentation related to any subawards made under this award. Further, the recipient agrees to abide by reasonable deadlines set by BJA and OCFO for providing the requested documents. Failure to cooperate with BJA’s/OCFO’s grant monitoring activities may result in sanctions affecting the recipient’s DOJ awards, including but not limited to withholdings and/or other restrictions on the recipient’s access to grant funds; referral to the Office of the Inspector General for audit review; designation of the recipient as a DOJ High Risk grantee; or termination of an award(s).

Please respond to the below request by providing to Chris Casto, BJA, at Chris.Casto@usdoj.gov by no later than February 23, 2018, all responsive documents, consistent with the instructions in Attachment A.

Documents Requested: All documents reflecting any orders, directives, instructions, or guidance to your law enforcement employees (including, but not limited to, police officers, correctional officers, and contract employees), whether formal or informal, that were distributed, produced, and/or in effect during the relevant timeframe, regarding whether and how these employees may, or may not, communicate with the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and/or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or their agents, whether directly or indirectly.

BJA will review your submissions and seek additional information, if necessary. The Department fully anticipates your complete cooperation in this matter. Should you fail to respond in a complete and timely manner, the Department will subpoena these documents in accordance with 34 U.S.C. §§ 10225, 10221, 10230, 10151 – 10158, 10102(a)(6), 10110, and 10110 note.

These materials are critical to our ongoing review. Should the Department determine your jurisdiction is out of compliance with section 1373, the Department may, as detailed in your award documents, seek return of your FY 2016 grant funds, require additional conditions for receipt of any FY 2017 Byrne JAG funding for which you have applied, and/or deem you ineligible for FY 2017 Byrne JAG funds.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this request. We look forward to working through this matter with you. Any specific questions concerning this request can be sent to directly to Tracey Trautman, BJA Deputy Director, at Tracey.Trautman@usdoj.gov or call (202) 305-1491.”

War Stories: Tom Barrier

One out of every seven Central Oregonians is a veteran. In our weekly War Stories series, we tell the stories of Central Oregon war veterans, some who made it back from their war and some who didn’t. This week, War Stories producer, Warren Shultz introduces us to a Vietnam war veteran now living in Sisters named Tom Barrier.

Thanks to Tom for sharing his story and a special thanks to Gary Gruner Chevrolet Buick GMC for sponsoring War Stories and giving us the time and resources to tell the stories of Central Oregon’s war veterans every Monday night on Central Oregon Daily.

Don’t Feed the Deer

Feeding local wildlife could be leading to their domestication and can attract predators like coyotes and cougars into more residential areas. Central Oregon Daily’s Brian Jennings sits down with local wildlife experts to discuss the issues that arise when humans start feeing local deer.