The Blue Mountain eagle. (John Day, Or.) 1972-current, November 15, 2017, Image 1

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

Blue Mountain
Grant County’s newspaper since 1868
• N O . 46
• 18 P AGES
• $1.00
911 dispatch
tax defeated
Ballot measure
didn’t address
voter concerns
By Richard Hanners
Blue Mountain Eagle
By Angel Carpenter
Blue Mountain Eagle
n the 11th hour of the 11th day
of the 11th month, citizens gath-
ered near the fl agpole at Prairie
City Park to honor veterans.
About 20 people attended
the Veterans Day ceremony presented by the
Prairie City American Legion Post 106.
Prairie City resident Janine Goodwin sang
the national anthem, and seven veterans par-
ticipated in the ceremony, presenting the fl ag
and performing a gun salute.
Tom McAuslan, a Navy veteran, offered a
prayer and gave a speech.
“We are gathered to honor those who have
served and are serving,” he said. “... We re-
member those who bear a greater burden;
may they fi nd peace. God bless America.”
Witnesses say they are concerned for their safety
Grant County Circuit Court Judge
William D. Cramer Jr. declined to signifi -
cantly reduce the bail for Thomas Joseph
Elliott, 55, John Day.
Elliott faces a manslaughter charge
connected with the shooting death of
Todd Alan Berry in the Dog Creek area
east of John Day on Aug. 24.
Voter opposition
“I think most people think
they pay too many fees and
taxes as it is,” Grant County
Judge Scott Myers said about
the results. “I also think they
believe it should be paid by
phone users, not just property
Comments posted on the
Blue Mountain Eagle Face-
book page indicated some
voters were concerned about
declining 911 dispatch service
if the John Day facility was
shut down and local emer-
gency calls were re-routed to
a regional 911 center, such as
Frontier Dispatch in Condon.
But others were concerned
about ever-rising taxes.
“For some of us, a ‘few’
dollars add up,” Ellen Warner
Bush wrote. “Taxes already
See 911, Page A18
Eagle photos/Angel Carpenter
Tom McAuslan (Navy) of Prairie City American
Legion Post 106 gives a speech on Veterans Day
at the Prairie City Park, honoring those who have
served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Elliott’s bail reduced to $500,000
Blue Mountain Eagle
Eagle file photo
A desk in the John Day
Dispatch Center. An option
tax to fill a funding gap for
the 911 dispatch center was
defeated in the election.
Dispatch center a
state mandate in 1989
TOP IMAGE: Prairie City American Legion Post 106 members give a gun salute on Veterans Day.
Lined up in the ceremony are Dick Thiede (Navy), Dale Duby (Marines), Terry Williams (Marines),
Ed Negus (Navy), Neale Ledgerwood (Army), LB Adams (Army) and Ab Bezona (Army). Tom
McAuslan (Navy) led the ceremony with a prayer and a speech to honor those who have served.
By Richard Hanners
Grant County voters turned
down a local option tax pro-
posal intended to fi ll a funding
gap for 911 dispatch by 1,503
to 1,194. Overall turnout was
about 52 percent of eligible
The goal of the ballot mea-
sure was to raise $208,916 per
year beginning in fi scal year
2019. The impact of the tax
was $38 on a $100,000 home.
The cost of running John
Day’s emergency commu-
nications center, which ser-
vices all of Grant County,
is $429,115 for the current
fi scal year, but the city will
only receive about $270,000
from the state’s 75 cent sur-
charge on monthly telephone
bills and $22,921 from Blue
Mountain Hospital and the
U.S. Forest Service, leaving a
defi cit of about $199,194.
The measure lost in all fi ve
county precincts, where voter
turnout ranged from 44 per-
cent of eligible voters in the
North Fork precinct to 53 per-
cent in the John Day Valley
precinct. Precincts are based
on local school districts,
Grant County Clerk Brenda
Percy said.
During a Nov. 9 hearing, Cramer
agreed to allow Elliott to have contact
with his wife, either in jail or if he is
able to post bail and is released pending
According to a grand jury indict-
ment, Elliott faces one count of fi rst-de-
gree manslaughter with a fi rearm and
one count of unlawful use of a weapon.
A murder charge fi led the day after
the shooting incident was dropped from
the grand jury indict-
ment. But Colin Benson,
an Oregon Department of
Justice attorney assigned
by Grant County District
Attorney Jim Carpenter
to prosecute the case, told
Cramer that depending
upon additional evidence
that could be forthcom-
ing, the case might be
brought back to the grand jury for more
serious charges.
See ELLIOTT, Page A18
Cost of joint
service intended
to be shared
By Richard Hanners
Blue Mountain Eagle
The joint 911 dispatch
center in Grant County was
organized in 1989 after the
state set a 1991 deadline for
all communities to establish
an emergency call center with
two dedicated 911 phone lines.
Emergency calls from
residents had been made to
local police departments and
then routed directly to offi -
cers’ homes, according to the
Eagle archives. Calls came
in at all hours of the day and
night. The state’s goal was to
establish a uniform emergen-
cy phone number for people
traveling around the state,
with calls answered by trained
But the cost of the
state-mandated system for
smaller communities exceed-
ed their share of the revenue
from a 3 percent excise tax
on telephone bills collected
at the time by the state. The
monthly cost for 911 service
for Seneca was more than the
community received from the
state over three months, Grant
County 911 Coordinator El-
vin Webb said at the time.
County and city offi cials
developed a plan for a single
dispatch center for the entire
county, with the excise tax
collected from rural county
residents used to cover what
the cities alone couldn’t af-
The new dispatch center
was set up in the John Day City
Hall building and managed by
the John Day police chief. By
June 1990, the John Day Emer-
gency Communications Center
See DISPATCH, Page A18
County court throws support for broadband
By Richard Hanners
Blue Mountain Eagle
Following an emotion-
al meeting Nov. 8, the Grant
County Court voted 2-1 to
move forward with a propos-
al to join with the city of John
Day in forming the Grant
County Digital Coalition and
providing broadband internet
access to local residents.
Commissioner Jim Ham-
sher, who opposed the court’s
vote for consensus, had con-
cerns about language in an
agreement binding the county
to the coalition and the need for
a market analysis.
John Day City Manager
Nick Green, who will bring
the agreement back to the court
at their next meeting, said he
hadn’t conducted a market
analysis but expected the task
force working on the proposal
would do so in the future.
Green said bringing broad-
band to the John Day area was
part of the city’s strategy for
growth. Limitations to down-
load and especially upload
speeds in the area stops many
businesses from moving here
and hampers economic devel-
opment, a point emphasized by
Scott Fairley, who came from
the Business Oregon offi ce in
Pendleton to support the pro-
“The issues and problems
you’re hearing now will only
get worse in the future,” Fairley
told the court. “Competition in
the future will grow more dif-
fi cult.”
In an emotional plea to the
court, Grant County Economic
Development Coordinator Sal-
ly Bartlett said the county need-
ed to embrace the 21st century.
“It hurts me to see Grant
County struggle because peo-
ple can’t agree,” she said.
“We’re so divided and can’t
move forward.”
Bartlett noted that the $1.8
million in state funding that
John Day will receive for con-
struction of a high-capacity fi -
ber cable from Burns to John
Day could be doubled by ob-
taining other grants and fund-
See COURT, Page A18
Eagle file photo
Grant County Judge Scott Myers speaks during a Grant
County Court meeting.