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About Wallowa County chieftain. (Enterprise, Wallowa County, Or.) 1943-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 3, 2018)
ON THE MAT
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Schimmel Invite | Page A9
Issue No. 38
January 3, 2018
2017 IN REVIEW
Chieftain file photo
Elk feed at the Wenaha Wildlife Area near Troy. A tough winter in Wallowa County wreaked havoc for residents, but wildlife also suffered, from deer and elk whose food sources were buried
under snow and ice to cougars that had to forage in town.
A long-standing tradition at the Chieftain is to review the major news
stories for the previous year.
This year’s selection of the top story was simple. Mother Nature’s fury
was unfurled at Wallowa County residents in early 2017, making it the
worst winter in 40, 50 or 60 years, depending upon whom you asked.
Summer wasn’t a prize either as hot temps broiled the landscape
and smoke from wildfires stung the eyes of county residents. Despite
predictions of another horrible year, 2018 dawns with mild temps and
The No. 2 story — the continuing saga of wolves in the county — has
been in the top 10 for several years and will likely continue to be debated
We hope you enjoy reading our review of 2017 as much as we
enjoyed bringing it to you.
Year in Review was compiled by staff writers Kathleen Ellyn and Steve Tool.
Mother Nature takes her
It was the year of the Snowpocalypse
across the nation and Eastern Oregon did not
escape the record snow and cold temps.
The worst winter in more than a decade
took its toll.
President of Wheatland Insurance Kay
Hunkapillar reported 18 collapse claims and
21 water damage claims in Wallowa County
to her agency alone. Farmer’s Group Insur-
ance agent Les Bridges of Enterprise reported
six collapsed building claims.
Perhaps the most dramatic destruction was
the J. Herbert Bates Mill planer building in
Wallowa. The iconic building looked like it
had been hit by a tornado.
Frozen pipes, leaking roofs and long cold and
uncomfortable waits for overbooked plumbers
greeted residents. Cities sent out public works
employees to help dig up frozen lines and issued
water-use overage forgiveness, encouraging
folks to keep water trickling in all the sinks in
Repeated snowfalls dumped large quanti-
ties of snow, which would partially melt and
then more snow fell.
Ranchers, who had deliberately built their
hay and storage sheds with steel roofs so the
snow would slide off, were flummoxed by
Mother Nature’s fury. The consistency of the
snow combined with below freezing tempera-
tures of the unheated buildings created a situa-
tion where the snow stayed put.
See NATURE, Page A5
Measure 101: Everything you need to know Elks deliver 120
By Claire Withycombe
Special to the Wallowa County Chieftain
Wallowa County residents began receiving
booklets outlining the pros and
cons of Measure 101 in their
mail boxes as the year came to
On Jan. 23 they and Ore-
gon voters will have a chance to
weigh in on Measure 101, helping decide how
the state pays for its Medicaid program.
President Trump noted earlier this year that
“nobody knew that health care could be so com-
plicated” and this measure, which deals with
insurance premiums, managed care organiza-
tions and federally regulated hospital taxes, is
not an easy read.
Here are the basics:
Q. When do I need to understand this?
A. Ballots will be mailed to voters between
Jan. 3 and Jan. 9, according to the Secretary of
State’s Office. Ballots must be received by elec-
tions officials by 8 p.m. Jan. 23.
Q. Why is this on the ballot?
A. This summer, Democrats in the Oregon Leg-
islature pushed through a bill providing tempo-
rary funding for the state’s Medicaid system.
Three Republican lawmakers — State Reps.
Julie Parrish, of West Linn; Cedric Hayden,
of Roseburg; and Sal Esquivel, of Medford,
decided they wanted to refer parts of the law to
voters. They led a petition campaign to gather
signatures and are now urging voters to vote
See Q&A, Page A7
80 take part in Polar Plunge
By Kathleen Ellyn
Wallowa County Chieftain
It was “standing around” weather this year at the
Wallowa Lake Polar Plunge on the north end of the
lake Jan. 1. The temperature was a balmy 30 degrees,
the sun was out, the water was so still that the moun-
tains were perfectly mirrored. But one look at the faces
of folks running back out of the plunge was enough to
let you know what it felt like.
Alyssa Fitzwater, 26, of Oregon City, arrived to
look at the lake without knowing about the plunge
and within minutes had been talked into taking the dip
by early arrivers Leo Arena and Mike Ribich, both of
Enterprise and both going in for their third time.
She didn’t regret it, calling the experience “Amaz-
ing! That is a very fresh clean feeling.”
That’s the idea, with most Wallowa Countians
embracing both the “stupid fun” of the idea and the
“leave the past year behind” in the lake concept. An esti-
Kathleen Ellyn/Chieftain mated 80 people took the plunge this year, with a record
Among the crop of Polar Plungers at Wallowa Lake this number of youngsters demonstrating the ritual will go
year were a good crop of young folks.
on for many more years.
baskets of cheer
Families across the
county received food
in time for Christmas
By Paul Wahl
Wallowa County Chieftain
On the morning of Dec. 22, 2017, 120
Wallowa County families were greeted with
a knock on their door. Some of them were
still asleep, but everyone woke quickly at the
realization that their Christmas basket had
The baskets were filled with a variety of
goodies designed to brighten the holiday for
families in need.
Each box was carefully hand-decorated
by the Enterprise VFW Auxiliary. Inside was
a veritable grocery store. Potatoes, apples,
oranges, cranberry sauce, celery, onions, a vari-
ety of candy. Each family received a turkey.
“This is the first year we did not use
chicken as we had enough turkeys to go
around,” said Randy Morgan, coordinator of
the Christmas Basket Program for the Enter-
prise Elks Lodge. “Among the donations was
500 pounds of potatoes, so there were plenty.”
Also neatly tucked inside each box was a
$10 gift certificate to the Wallowa Commu-
nity Resale Store.
More than a dozen organizations partici-
pate, and around 90 volunteers donate time.
“It was truly a community effort,” added
Morgan, who also spearheaded the project
last year and several years in the mid-90s.
See BASKETS, Page A7