by: Submitted photo - Parrish Van Wert, community development director for Deer Ridge Correctional Institution, displays photos of the facility to Karen Minnis, speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives at the fair last week.

   Even during the Legislature's off-season, Rep. John Dallum, of The Dalles, keeps up his lobbying efforts for District 59, which covers Jefferson County.
   On Friday, July 28, Dallum brought the speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, Karen Minnis of Wood Village, with him to Madras to meet local residents and attend the Jefferson County Fair.
   Minnis, who represents East Multnomah County, was surprised and impressed with the progress made on city and county projects. "I've seen hope and optimism talking to the people in this community. Just walking through the community is impressive," she said, adding, "It's important that every area in Oregon thrives and does well."
   Traveling around the state and visiting with the people represented by the members of the House gives her better perspective for her position, Minnis said.
   "It puts it all in context. Once you say OK to a project, it's exciting to go out and see the progress, especially the Madras facility," she said, referring to the $191 million Deer Ridge Correctional Institution.
   "I think it will be a boon for the community," she said. "I don't think it would have happened if John Dallum hadn't been there; he kept it in front of our faces."
   After visiting with Parrish Van Wert, community development director for Deer Ridge, Minnis said she was pleased to see the evidence of its progress. "It's on time and under budget, and that's what we like to hear."
   Funding for prison operation was not allocated under the current budget, but both Minnis and Dallum expect that when the minimum facility is finished in December, it will be opened.
   "I can't believe it will be an issue," said Minnis.
   On Monday, after checking into the funding, Dallum said that the budget the governor will present has money for operations and maintenance, as well as start-up money, but "the exact dollar amount hasn't been determined."
   "It looks like they're going to be ready to open the doors before we even go into session (in January)," said Dallum. "I will call the leadership and ask them to put it on the emergency board agenda. They have the authority to authorize expenditures during the interim."
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