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Protect our water:
   Just as California has had its eyes on the northwestern water resources, it appears that central Oregon counties may be coveting Crook County's water.
   The United States Geological Survey and the Oregon Water Resources Department recently completed a study of the groundwater resources in the Deschutes Basin. Buried on the 11th of 12 pages of bureaucratic double talk of a public review draft entitled "Ground Water Mitigation Strategy for the Deschutes Basin" the conclusion stated, "Other avenues of contingency planning such as the use of stored water from Prineville Reservoir will also be explored." As near as I could understand the mitigation strategy was to keep the Deschutes River running full.
   Crook County Judge Scott Cooper responded, "The court has been adamant about doing everything to not allow anyone to draw down our water." He continued, "This could shut off water to irrigators or recreationalists if that happens."
   Cooper added that it was funny that the only water mentioned in the draft of the report was the Prineville Reservoir, not any of the other large bodies of water like Pelton or Wickiup. Thankfully our County Court recognized a potential water grab and responded strongly.
   "Crook County Court believes the decision to single out the water retained within Crook County's borders as a solution to the need for additional water resources in neighboring Deschutes County smacks of arrogance akin to thirsty Californians lusting after the water of Oregon." Cooper wrote in protest.
   We agree with the Court's assessment and encourage all our elected officials and our citizens to work hard to protect this precious asset.
   Public comment on the draft report can be made to the Laura Snedaker at the Water Resources Department until Friday, April 27. Phone 503-378-8455 ext. 331 or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
   And while on the subject:
   In another water-related issue, Commissioner Mike McCabe has been doing a great job representing the county)s interest in the allocation study of Prineville Reservoir currently being conducted by the Bureau of Land Management. McCabe has been negotiating with an agreed-upon set of guidelines that include obtaining first-fill rights for irrigators, obtaining additional allocations for municipal and industrial uses (which would eventually be traded for well rights), and ensuring the allocation of adequate water supplies to protect the growing tourism and recreation industry dependent on Prineville Reservoir.
   Commissioner McCabe is also representing the county in a master-planning effort being conducted by the Bureau of Reclamation and Oregon State Parks for the Prineville Reservoir, which will be looking at issues such as how to develop the reservoir area to support additional tourism while still protecting the natural recourses in the area.
   We encourage the support of our County Court on these water matters.
   Eureka! A small gold mine?:
   The quarterly report is in and the interim staff operating Meadow Lakes Restaurant deserves a big pat on the back.
   When the last full-time operator of the facility pulled out roughly six months ago, the city manager decided not to seek out another professional. To keep the city's restaurant facility operating, he would use the talent and skills of the people already on the job. That included the waitresses, bartenders and cooks. To run the place, the golf course's greens keeper, Wayne VanMatre, and its office manager, Lori Ontko, would share in the manager's duties. Both were knowledgeable and capable, Henry Hartley told the city council, and he believed they could keep things running while a decision was made about finding a new operator.
   Now, with the first quarter financial report in hand, it is clear - VanMatre and Ontko are as skillful in the restaurant as they are doing the other half of their jobs.
   Not that the restaurant is making a lot of money for the city. Actually, it lost about $5,000 in January and slightly more than $2,000 in February. But it made a profit in March. VanMatre believes that the worst is over, at least until things slow down in the fall. "Now, our bad day was an extremely good day, a couple months ago," VanMatre explained.
   And as the summer season kicks in, things at the restaurant, riding on the back of the golf season, can only get better.
   The overall plan is not to seek a new operator for the restaurant, at least until the end of the fiscal year. The present situation will continue on a month-by-month basis, building a steady financial base. The expectation is that sooner or later, someone with a professional restaurant background and the means to make it work, will present the city with an offer to lease the operation and the city will once again step out of the picture.
   But until then, our hats are off to the staff that is making the restaurant at the golf course one of the bright spots in the city's municipal structure.
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