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Candidate forum May 5

By John Bowler
   CRR Correspondent
   The Crooked River Ranch Association Board conducts at least one open meeting per month to hear, deliberate and decide issues large and small which impact daily life on the Ranch.
   Of late issues seem more numerous and discussion of them taking longer because of increased input from a greater numbers of Ranchers.
   The most recent meeting, April 21, is an example. A partial list of issues discussed includes:
   1. Need for more revenue to address future needs.
   2. A Community Forum May 3, Ranch Chapel Family Center, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with lunch served. Purpose is to discuss tax and school attendance impact of the Redmond school bond to be voted on May 20 if it passes. Also its future implications for the roughly 500 Ranch school-age children. Parents of children are urged to attend and weigh in on this issue of critical importance to their children.
   3. 2008-2009 budget, reserves and revised fees passed along with a $16 annual dues increase. The board was also urged by the community manager to address future funding needs if the Ranch is to remain financially sound.
   4. A three- to five-year excess road material recovery and reuse project requiring cooperation of Special Road District and Ranch Road Maintenance Department proposed by the community manager.
   5. A motion for the board to request expansion of the Jefferson County Library District was defeated.
   6. An $11,805 expenditure was approved to irrigation improvement on the golf course.
   7. In the wake of the recent jury verdict of not guilty for alleged willful destruction of some Ranch juniper trees, an omnibus ban was adopted prohibiting anyone from depositing, removing, altering, using or disturbing Ranch property without approval in writing from the association board.
   The meeting adjourned at 9 p.m. More detailed minutes of board meetings are slated for posting at www.crookeddriverranch.com.
   Commission candidates
   Commissioner candidates were canvassed over the last two weeks to describe what important issues they think will face Ranchers in 2009 and why each is the best choice to deal with them. Their responses were:
   Bill Atherton commented that nonfarm residential development poses a threat. The number of commissioners needs to be increased to represent county areas outside Madras for commission votes on critical issues. The Ranch should have more control of community planning. His independence from support by special interests groups is important to deal with these matters.
   Bill Bellamy said county assistance is needed to develop an alternative exit. Police protection and code enforcement, so important to Ranchers, will be difficult to support at current level without more funding. Bellamy said his experience with the county budget and operations favor him as the candidate of choice.
   Wayne Fording would like to get to know more people at CRR and stay involved with the issues to provide the representation and leadership that Ranchers deserve. He would look into the alternative exit need and actively work with state and federal elected officials toward a solution. Two years of budget committee experience, including as chair this year, has taught him about county operations and equipped him to be an effective commissioner.
   Michael Goss wants more input from Ranchers about what they want from county government on issues: 1. If funding retreats which services should be cut and which maintained? 2. How does the county maintain level of services without raising taxes? 3. How would Commissioner Mike Ahern be replaced and by whom if he is elected state rep?
   Jim Hamm thinks that funding for County Public Works may be a major issue in 2009, at the Ranch and for the rest of the county. He would like to see access from the north to Crooked River Ranch, to improve public safety. As a part-time rancher and farmer, he feels he has the same concerns that Ranch residents have.
   Walt Ponsford thinks he demonstrated when he was a Commissioner that he listened to Ranch needs like the alternative exit and got involved to help fulfill them. He would do it again if elected.
   Ranchers can hear and learn more at the Candidates Forum Monday, May 5, Ranch Chapel Family Center, at 6:30 p.m. A meet-the-candidates social, with refreshments, follows the free event.