East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, July 27, 2019, WEEKEND EDITION, Page A9, Image 9

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Saturday, July 27, 2019
Summit: Health services expected to
see the biggest economic growth
Continued from Page A1
looked at various industries in
the region and projected where
they would be through 2027.
The department predicts that
there will be 7,500 jobs added
to the economy during that
time, and nearly nine out of 10
of those jobs will come from
the private sector. Health ser-
vices was expected to see the
biggest increase, followed by
transportation, warehousing,
and utilities. Other growth
industries include construc-
tion, manufacturing, and lei-
sure and hospitality.
“Is that growth outra-
geous?” Rich said. “It’s actu-
ally a little tame.”
He then flipped to a slide
that showed that many of the
anticipated growth industries
had shown more dramatic
growth from 2007 to now
than their future projections.
Eastern Oregon has come
a long way from the reces-
sion, when unemployment
peaked at 7.9% and more
than a third of the region’s
unemployed were without
work long term. Unemploy-
ment has now fallen to 5.1%
and long-term unemploy-
ment has been cut in half.
With the economy recov-
ered, representatives from
the lumber and drone indus-
try highlighted their fields.
Lindsay Warness, the
safety and environmen-
tal manager for Woodgrain
Millwork, a Fruitland, Idaho,
wood products manufacturer
that recently bought lum-
ber mills in Pilot Rock and
La Grande, said she thought
Woodgrain could play a role
in the projected growth in the
manufacturing sector.
“It’s dirty work, but there’s
a lot of satisfaction and we
get a lot done at the end of the
day,” she said.
Warness said the North-
east Oregon timber industry
has been hit hard by envi-
ronmental regulations, losing
1,800 jobs since 1997.
While the state’s employ-
ment department didn’t
anticipate much growth
in the region’s tech indus-
try, Ken Bisconer, the West
Coast director of flight oper-
ations for PAE ISR, a Vir-
ginia-based defense con-
tractor that tests its Resolute
Eagle drone at the Pendleton
Unmanned Aerial Systems
Range, was optimistic that
PAE and its growing work-
force would prove the projec-
tion wrong.
Bisconer said most of the
people he works worth are
ex-military, but he’d like to
recruit more people outside
the armed forces by training
students in high school and
Blue Mountain Community
“It’s a job you can hang
your hat on,” he said. “It’s a
retirement job.”
Bisconer estimated that
his employees contribute a
total of $80,000 to $100,000
to Pendleton per month, and
they could continue to do so
as PAE prepares to bid on
several nine- and 10-figure
government contracts.
One area of the Eastern
Oregon economy that isn’t
seeing growth is the number
of young and middle-aged
“As a share of the work-
force, we’re seeing a loss of
the 45- to 54-year-olds in
Eastern Oregon. That corre-
sponds with changes in pop-
ulation as well,” Rich said.
“We’re seeing older age
groups work longer, but we’re
seeing a drop in the younger
age groups.”
While Rich said his pre-
sentation just scratched the
surface of the data at the
employment department’s
disposal, he made his pitch in
front of an influential crowd.
In addition to government
officials and business lead-
ers, the audience eventually
swelled to include several
legislators, the Oregon state
treasurer, and former con-
gressional candidate Jamie
Staff photo by Ben Lonergan
Two campers participate in an acting and movement game during a breakout session Thursday morning.
Camp: Residents welcome drama with open hearts
Continued from Page A1
tion for this weekend’s per-
formance. The plays give
students the opportunity to
work with fellow actors of
different ages.
Unlike other theater
camps, Flagg says that she
stresses the importance of
giving every kid an import-
ant role rather than having
younger kids play parts of
the scenery or rocks.
“The teaching that I do
in Pendleton teaches the
importance of stepping up
for themselves and taking
risks,” Flagg said. “You
need to be able to take the
focus and give it to others;
it is not theater just for the
Youths attending the
camp seem to resonate well
with the teaching style that
Flagg emphasizes. Many of
the campers attend the camp
year after year to learn new
ideas and skills as well as
work on their confidence on
the stage. Maddie Thomp-
son, 17, has been attend-
ing the camp for nine years
and credits it with much of
her confidence and public
speaking ability.
“One of my first years
here I was playing a lion
and I couldn’t speak up,
let alone be loud and roar
on stage,” Thompson said.
“The people here sup-
ported me and allowed me
to reach outside my com-
fort zone and from there I
have just skyrocketed to a
leadership position where
I can be comfortable yell-
ing on stage and play-
ing whatever character is
While Thompson is now
part of the camp’s leader-
ship structure in a newly
founded “leadership ensem-
ble” that helps to support
younger campers, the same
experiences are echoed by
those in their first years at
the camp. Kaitlyn Shaver, 8,
showed up on the first day
of camp with no prior the-
ater experience.
“When you experience
that, it is like something
that you want to know for
the rest of your life,” said
Shaver. “It was something
that I heard about and just
really wanted to try.”
The groups of campers
will put their theater skills
on display Saturday during
an original compilation of
seven short acts entitled
“The Forgiveness Plays”
that were written, rehearsed
and directed throughout the
week of camp.
East Oregonian
SNAP: In an attempt
to close a loophole,
thousands of Oregonians
could lose benefits
Continued from Page A1
tance to Needy Families
program and SNAP —
Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program.
How many of those res-
idents would no longer be
eligible, however, is not
State officials are try-
ing to come up with an
estimate, said Heather
Miles, an operations and
policy analyst for the
Department of Human
Service’s Self-Sufficiency
“We’re trying to work
on county-level data as
much as we can, because
we know how important
that’s going to be for local
areas,” Miles said.
Department said that the
rule would close “a loop-
hole” that enables people
receiving only minimal
benefits from the Tempo-
rary Assistance for Needy
Families program to be
for food stamps without
undergoing further checks
on their income or assets.
U.S. Secretary of Agri-
culture Sonny Perdue
called it a “loophole.”
“Too often, states have
misused this flexibility
without restraint,” U.S.
Secretary of Agriculture
Sonny Perdue said in a
statement. “That is why
we are changing the rules,
preventing abuse of a crit-
ical safety net system, so
those who need food assis-
tance the most are the only
ones who receive it.”
Trump administration
officials estimate 3.1 mil-
lion people nationwide
could lose benefits under
If the rule is adopted,
those on TANF would
have to apply separately
for SNAP. The federal
about 3 million peo-
ple would not otherwise
meet the requirements for
SNAP. That would result
in a net savings of about
$9.4 billion over five years.
According to DHS fig-
ures as of 2017, around
911,000 people in Oregon
were part of the SNAP pro-
gram and almost 100,000
were receiving benefits
through TANF. Eligibility
is determined by factors
including monthly income
and number of dependent
children. According to
Oregon statistics, in June
of this year about 15,100
Umatilla County residents
received SNAP benefits
— that’s about 18.7% of
county residents.
In Morrow County,
about 2,600 residents
received SNAP benefits
during June — 21.9% of
the county’s population.
enth-highest rate among
Oregon’s 36 counties.
SNAP benefits to Uma-
tilla County residents
totaled about $1.65 mil-
lion during June 2019, and
Morrow County residents
received about $276,000,
according to state records.
Miles said the federal
proposal would change the
income eligibility thresh-
old for Oregon residents
from the current 185% of
the federal poverty level,
to 130%.
An Oregon family of
three currently qualifies
for SNAP benefits if its
monthly income is less
than $3,288, Miles said.
The proposed change
would drop that limit, for a
family of three, to $2,252
per month.
The maximum monthly
SNAP benefit is $505 for
a family of three, Miles
Although state offi-
cials are still analyzing
data to derive an estimate
for how many Oregonians
might lose SNAP benefits,
Miles said it’s likely that
counties with higher per-
centages of older residents
would be more affected,
That’s in part because
the federal proposal would
mean some SNAP recipi-
ents, including elderly res-
idents, would no longer be
automatically eligible as
they are now, Miles said.
Oregon is one of 43
states that qualifies some
residents for SNAP ben-
efits, without requir-
ing them to verify their
income and expenses, for
certain reasons, includ-
ing if they also qualify for
another federal program
— Temporary Assis-
tance for Needy Families
That’s known as a “cat-
egorical eligibility,” Miles
If the federal govern-
ment stops allowing Ore-
gon to use the categorical
eligibility process, resi-
dents would have to go
through a longer process,
which would be more
expensive to the state, to
apply for SNAP benefits,
she said.
According to state
records, of the 15,101
Umatilla County residents
who received SNAP ben-
efits in June, 1,719 are
older than 60 and 1,747 are
younger than 5.
The figures for Mor-
row County are 253 recipi-
ents older than 60, and 327
younger than 5.
Power: Base wholesale rate will remain at $35.62 per megawatt-hour
Continued from Page A1
be changes to your retail
rate,” said Maryam Habibi,
a public affairs specialist
for BPA.
Habibi said that retail
rates are determined by
local utilities, and while the
average cost will remain
flat, some products will
experience a rate change.
Flattening the base
power rate was made pos-
sible by reductions totaling
$66 million in projected
program costs.
Last year, the BPA’s Inte-
grative Program Review
accrued $56 million in sav-
ings, in part due to a $30
million annual reduction to
Fish and Wildlife program
The administration iden-
tified another $10 million
savings from the decom-
missioning of nuclear proj-
ects in Washington.
There is an increasing
chance, however, that the
average rate could rise by
1.5% — below the rate of
inflation — in the future
due to a surcharge that
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File
The Bonneville Power Administration, which provides wholesale power to Umatilla Electric Company, Hermiston Energy Ser-
vices, Pacific Power and other area utilities, has reported that the average wholesale base power cost will remain flat for the
2020-21 fiscal year.
will initiate if the BPA has
less than 60 days worth of
money for both its power
and transmission lines.
“When BPA makes a
change in their rates, it
becomes one of the many
factors that go into figur-
ing out our rates,” said Tom
Gaunt, a spokesman for
Pacific Power. “Any BPA
rate (change) should not
have any major effect on
people who get their power
from us.”
Pacific Power rates
are determined by state
Starting Oct.1, with
interim federal approval,
BPA’s average transmission
rate will increase by 3.6%,
which was lower than ini-
tial estimates.
Earlier this week, the
Seattle Times reported
that BPA had raised its
rates by 30% over the last
nine years, and that some
regional public utility
executives are consider-
ing other producers as con-
tracts expire in 2028.
tion with our customers
and partners throughout
the region, we have worked
hard to bend the cost curve
and keep base power rates
flat,” BPA Administrator
Elliot Mainzer said in a
recent press release.
Both Umatilla Electric
Cooperative and Hermis-
ton Energy Services were
unavailable for comment
prior to publication.