At Crooked River Ranch

It's customary in some quarters for local media to recap of the previous year's top news stories. They can be accessed in the Pioneer’s archives online for readers with a penchant for last year’s news. This column will concentrate on current news readers might not have seen yet and how it might impact Crooked River Ranch this coming year.

The year’s last Crooked River Ranch Board of Directors meeting on Dec. 16 kicked off with a review of law enforcement on the Ranch and what might be done to improve it. It was mainly presented to the board by Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins and his second in command, Capt. Marc Heckathorn.

Adkins explained that the northernmost communities in the county receive the most police coverage because they produce more calls for it than come from the Ranch, which Adkins characterized as having a relatively low crime rate.

The meeting minutes reflect, "He discussed options to increase patrols on the ranch, one being to pay for enhanced patrols as does Culver, Metolius and Camp Sherman. Other options would be to have volunteer reserve officers trained to patrol, which would take at least a year or more and submission of a ballot measure for a special law enforcement district similar to the Special Road District which would be funded through property tax dollars. This option could provide full-time coverage to the ranch. Sheriff Adkins listened to numerous suggestions and will implement some such as traffic stings and enlarging the patrol area of those deputies who are here delivering court documents."

Adkins is still researching the options and will report to the board at a future meeting when he has sorted out the most practical and affordable ones. From talking to Adkins after the meeting, the impression is it’s unlikely there will be a significant change. There is only so much increased police coverage can do to improve public safety without bankrupting the community treasury.

Next, Ranch Administrator Judy LaPora reported, "Progress has been made for opening the FlexInsured account which will provide FDIC coverage on all association funds," and she is pursuing opening another account at another bank for Ranch funds in excess of $250,000, so they can be covered, too.

LaPora also disclosed the Ranch’s policy for plowing roads in winter. "Due to the fragile road base, gravel roads are generally not plowed unless the underlying surface is sufficiently frozen as to prevent any damage to the base." She complimented the road department for clearing the roads efficiently during the snowfall earlier in the month.

Action involving the rezoning of some commercial property to private use is still being reviewed and will likely be the subject of a future Jefferson County Commission meeting which CRR Club and Maintenance Association President Ben Johnson said he would request be held at the Ranch.

There’s an opening on the Jefferson County Economic Development Advisory Board because the incumbent member, Phil Cochran, resigned. When contacted for his reason, Cochran declined to comment.

That advisory board represents an important county function for the Ranch and one on which the Ranch should have a competent member. From what is known about Cochran’s experience and talent, he qualified as such. When someone resigns from a committee without giving a reason it can have an adverse effect on recruiting a competent replacement.

The remainder of the meeting was devoted to housekeeping items such as making the Ranch employees' health insurance programs conform to the Affordable Care Act without increasing costs.

The Crooked River Ranch-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce has hired a new executive director who will start her duties Jan.1, according to the chamber vice president, Melonie Towell. Her name is Kathy Gangstead and she has many years of title and escrow experience as an officer with several Central Oregon companies and not-for-profit organizations.

Gangstead said she was looking forward to her new position. She thinks the chamber has some membership retaining and recruiting issues which she is eager to resolve.

The Ranch/Terrebonne chamber was formed in 1997 and plays an important role in Ranch business and governance, despite a somewhat contentious beginning starting off on its own instead of accepting the invitation to join the Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

The local chamber also hosted the first meeting of the seven other Central Oregon chambers several years back, which eventually evolved into an alliance that is still functioning.

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