Heppner gazette-times. (Heppner, Or.) 1925-current, June 17, 2015, Image 1

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    Busy week for fire crews
VOL. 134
NO. 21
8 Pages
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Fire season heats up with two grass fires, one
structure fire
By Andrea Di Salvo
It was a busy week
for fire crews in Morrow
County, with multiple fires
that herald an ominous start
to what promises to be a bad
fire season.
Late Wednesday night,
about 11:30 p.m., Ione,
Lexington and Heppner
fire crews responded to a
grass fire near the Ione gas
transmission plant on Pipe-
line Loop off of Gooseberry
Rd out of Ione. A double-
wide trailer in the vicinity
was initially reported as
threatened, but Ione Fire
Chief Virgil Morgan said
no structures were in real
Columbia Basin Elec-
tric crews were also on the
scene to provide aid and
check power poles. Morgan
said he did not believe any
power lines were damaged.
About 100 acres of grass-
land burned, he said.
Crews worked several
hours on the fire, which
Morgan said was partly a
waiting game.
“We kind of let it come
to us,” he said. “It was on a
steep hillside and not easily
Morgan said fire crews
put out the fire between 4
and 5 a.m., but stayed on
site until around 6 a.m.
mopping up and making
sure all the edges were out.
Then, Monday morn-
ing, all local crews were
called out again, this time
to a fire on Brenner Canyon
Rd. south of Ione.
The fire call came
shortly after 3 a.m., but
Morgan said they estimated
the fire had been burning
Morrow County, Heppner, Oregon
Post office bids Watkins Heppner, Ione pools splash
flowery farewell
into summer
wins Miss
High School
Ivy Sandford, a soph-
omore at Ione Commu-
nity High
School, has
earned the
crown for
Miss Or-
egon High
S c h o o l
Rodeo As- Ivy Sandford
2015-2016 at the State High
Local pools have started their 2015 summer season. See PAGE TWO for more information on School Rodeo Finals held
Heppner postal employee Barb Watkins received a flowery
farewell on her final day at work on Friday, June 12. Watkins,
60, has worked for the Heppner post office for 22 years, since
October of 1992. She says she started as a “casual” and then
worked her way through part time postal worker before finally
becoming a full-time clerk. Previous to that, she worked for
18 years at the Bank of Eastern Oregon. The Heppner native,
who graduated from Heppner High School in 1973, says she is
looking forward to retirement. “I’m looking forward to being a Ione and Heppner pools. –Photo by Megan Futter
grandmother this year for the first time,” she says. “That will
probably fill my time.” –Photo by David Sykes
Home lost in Biggs fire New bike racks extend welcome to
passing cyclists
has Heppner ties
Heppner’s Main Street addition is meant to be functional
and inviting
Connie Thurston, who works for TREO Ranches, sits amid
the rubble that used to be her home in Biggs Junction. –Con-
tributed photo
By Andrea Di Salvo
The owners of the
home lost in the Biggs Junc-
tion fire last week have ties
to Heppner, and Heppner
locals are banding together
to help the couple in their
time of need.
Sam and Connie Thur-
ston had to quickly evacu-
ate their home with their
granddaughter when winds
drove the fire through the
house they were renting.
The couple escaped with
their lives and the lives of
their dogs, but lost every-
thing but their car and the
clothes they were wearing
in the fire. They reportedly
did not have renters’ insur-
Sam at one time taught
in Heppner, and Connie
currently works for TREO
Ranches and TREO Bike
Tours as Safety Coordina-
tor and Human Resource
Person. The Gazette-Time
was unable to reach the
couple for an interview
Heppner grad honors
fallen linemen at
NASCAR event
Prior to the Drivin’ for Linemen 200 NASCAR race in St. Louis
MO June 13, Heppner graduate Tayler Hodges (far left front)
and other linemen climbed to the tops of poles and placed flags
on them to honor fallen linemen. -Contributed photo
Tayler Hodges, a 2008
graduate of Heppner High
School, participated in the
2015 Past and Present Line-
man event June 13 in St.
Louis, MO.
Hodges is the son of
local woman Deona Siex.
After graduating from HHS
he went on to graduate
from Northwest Lineman
College in Meridian, ID in
2010. He then took a job
with Mid-Plains Power,
By Andrea Di Salvo
More shamrocks will
be sprouting along Main
Street in Heppner in the
coming week, this time in
the form of green bicycle
racks that sport the town’s
favorite symbol.
Heppner City Manager
Kim Cutsforth said the city
purchased the unique bike
racks through local fabrica-
tor Jay Coil. They were de-
signed by Craig Gutierrez
and funded by a grant from
Good Shepherd Communi-
ty Health Foundation out of
Hermiston. The six planned
bike racks cost $2,000; they
will all be installed by next
week, Cutsforth said. All
the racks will be located
on Heppner’s Main Street.
Jay Gibbs, a local bik-
ing enthusiast who was part
of the development process
for the bike racks, says the
racks are part of a required
update to the management
plan of Heppner’s bike-
way, the Blue Mountain
Century Scenic Bikeway.
The 108-mile bikeway is
a scenic loop starting and
ending in Heppner; it fol-
lows the Blue Mountain
Scenic Byway east through
the Umatilla National For-
est to Highway 395, climb-
ing 3,280 feet followed by
a downhill run to Ukiah.
The route then heads north,
climbing through forest and
rangeland to Highway 74
and back to Heppner.
The bikeway, which is
not considered an easy ride,
attracts dedicated cyclists
from around the Northwest
and beyond. The Heppner
Chamber of Commerce
hosts an annual Blue Moun-
Local cycling enthusiast Jay Gibbs poses with his bike next to
one of the new bicycle racks that will soon dot Heppner’s Main
Street. –Contributed photo
tain Century Ride, planned
this year for Sept. 19-20,
Big time artist comes to small town venue
for down-home Fourth of July
James Otto to play at Ione’s Red, White and Blues festival
Grammy nominee and
Academy of Country Music
award winner James Otto
will be the featured artist
performing on the outdoor
amphitheater stage in Ione
this Fourth of July.
It might seem strange
to some that such a big
name would come to such a
small town. However, Otto
is a Northwest boy born in
Tacoma, WA and graduat-
ing from Benton City, WA
before moving to Nashville
to pursue his music career.
In 2008, Otto released
the album “Sunset Man,”
which contained the single,
“Just Got Started Loving
You.” The song went on to
become Billboard’s num-
ber-one single of the year.
He also received the CMA
Song of the Year Award for
“In Color,” which was also
nominated for a Grammy.
Otto, who has toured
with Reba McEntire, Toby
Keith, Trace Adkins and
ern Country Rock with
great passion and enthusi-
asm. A two-year Navy vet-
eran, he also brings a great
respect for our country and
our freedom—characteris-
tics quite appropriate for the
Fourth of July celebration
in Ione.
Otto will take the stage
at 8:30 p.m. on the Fourth.
As impressive as the
headliner is, though, that’s
Two-time ACM award winner only the cherry on top of
James Otto.
what promises to be an-
Shania Twain, plays his other sweet celebration this
own unique style of South- July 4.
The day starts early
with the Firecracker 5K
Run/Walk at 7 a.m. and a
Fireman’s Breakfast from
7:30-10:30 a.m. The pa-
rade, which starts at 1 p.m.,
will include vehicles from
the Blues Cruise car show.
Other events throughout
the day include children’s
games, volleyball and
three-on-three basketball
tournaments, and a talent
show at 3:30 p.m., which
is open to anyone who is
ALL Women’s
Clothing 30% OFF
Morrow County Grain Growers Green Feed & Seed
242 W. Linden Way, Heppner • 676-9422 • 989-8221 (MCGG main office)