By John Bowler

   CRR Correspondent
   A Jefferson County Commissioners Candidate Forum, sponsored by the Madras Pioneer and the Crooked River Ranch/Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce, originally scheduled for Thursday, April 24, has been rescheduled.
   The forum will be held Monday, May 5, at 6:30 p.m. at the Family Center of the Ranch Chapel.
   The primary reason for the change is that no reservations had been received by Monday, April 14, for food and drinks which were to be available at the original date. As a result, it was assumed this was an inconvenient date and/or time for attendees, or publicity about it was insufficient. Also, not every candidate was available that date.
   All six candidates have said they will participate at the new date and time on May 5. The first part of the forum will include brief presentations by each candidate, followed by questions from the audience.
   No food is planned but an informal beverage social to meet the candidates will cap the event. No reservations are required, attendance is free, and all Jefferson County registered voters are invited.
   Prior to the forum, each candidate will be canvassed on what main issues they think will confront Ranchers in 2009 and why each thinks he is the best candidate to deal with them. A summary of candidate responses will be published before May 5.
   Senate candidates visit
   Three candidates vying for the U.S. Senate seat of Sen. Gordon Smith, up for grabs in November, presented their credentials for representing Oregonians to about 35 Ranch voters at the Big Dog Saloon Sunday, during a Central Oregon tour.
   The three candidates, who spoke briefly and answered questions, were: Democrats Candy Neville and Steve Novick, plus Independent John Frohnmayer.
   The event was sponsored by the CRR Democratic Party precinct organized by county vice chairman Fran Davis assisted by precinct member Gloria Olson, and Smith was invited to attend.
   County Commissioner Mike Ahern, himself a candidate for state representative in November, moderated the event and acknowledged the presence in the audience of Wayne Fording, Republican candidate in the upcoming May 20 vote for the Jefferson County Commission spot held by incumbent Bill Bellamy.
   Novick said he thought Oregon's elected senator should be someone who would not be fearful of challenging the nation's status quo in the future and those in authority controlling it.
   Frohnmayer said Independents like him represent the best option for voters who want another voice in government besides Democrats and Republicans. He said he would make some needed changes in governing the U.S.
   Neville expressed awe at the desert beauty of CRR and Central Oregon and said she longs for government to return to America's traditional values of integrity, security and honesty to which she attributes high priority.
   In the question and answer portion, all three candidates denounced water boarding as an immoral and illegal torture inconsistent with long held traditional American values.
   Big Dog owner Randy Knight said he was ignoring traditional saloon strictures to avoid the subject of politics, saying he thought it was a "worthy community service" to host such events as Sunday's forum "as long as it's kept civil."
   The Big Dog will again host a watch of election returns on the eve of the May 20 primary.
   Cowboy furnishings event
   If all things cowboy are your passion, this coming weekend's Ranch City and Cowboy Creations and Western D‚cor Show on Saturday and Sunday, April 19 and 20, at the Ranch Administration Building is the place you can indulge.
   Sponsored by Ranchers Wendy and Rick Hendrikson, it will feature cowboy furniture, and other handmade creations for sale by 11 local Western theme vendors, open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
   This larger event follows a well-received earlier event in February. Call 788-5166 for more information.
   Budget proposed
   Ranch Budget Committee chair, Bill Fullhart, said the 2008/2009 Ranch budget proposal of his committee is complete and on its way to the Ranch Association Board. It will be presented at the monthly board meeting April 21 for final review and implementation by the board.
   The proposed budget incorporates a modest dues increase tied to federal cost of living guidelines, a policy adopted several years ago to avoid Rancher shock with periodic large "catch-up" dues increases, he said.
   The committee deleted increases to golf fees and golf cart rentals to help keep the Ranch course competitive with other Central Oregon courses as requested by golf pro Pat Huffer.
   Allocations for road materials have been increased to support road improvement programs.
   Fullhart credited an understandable powerpoint presentation on the budget at the recent public hearing as going a long way to smoothing the process of finalizing this year's budget.
   He praised the efforts of committee member Marilynne Keyser and community manager Aaron Palmquist for putting that presentation together.
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