Sherman County eNews #319


  1. All County Prayer Meeting, Dec. 7

  2. Frontier Digital Network Special Emergency Board Meeting, Dec. 6

  3. Sherman County Robotics Team Advances to State Tournament

  4. Russell Jess Geiser 1948-2016

  5. Biggs Service District Water System Improvement Project

  6. Oregon’s Child & Dependent Care Credits Change for 2017

  7. Links: Things to Think About & Things to Do

“You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” ~ Dr. Seuss

1. All County Prayer Meeting, Dec. 7

Please join us this Wednesday evening (Dec 7) at 6:30 for the All County Prayer meeting at the Wasco Methodist Church. Refreshments and social time at 6:30, prayer from 7:00 to 8:30. We all have so much to be thankful for, but so much to pray about also. Join us if you can! I’m sure you will be blessed! We hope to see you there.

2. Frontier Digital Network Special Emergency Board Meeting, Dec. 6


Special Emergency Meeting

December 6th 9:00 AM

North Central ESD (Small Conference Room)


The agenda includes discussion and consideration of approval for SIEC grant opportunity and Motorola Console Patching Contract.

3. Sherman County Robotics Team Advances to State Tournament

teamworkManyHandsOn Saturday, Dec. 3, twenty teams of  students aged 9 to 14 from schools all around the Gorge showed off their robotic talents at The Dalles Middle School, including Hillbilly Tech Support from Sherman County Elementary coached by Andrew Pflaum. Teams worked over the past several months as part of the international robotics competition known as FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) to compete in the local qualifying tournaments.  

At the Gorge FLL qualifying tournaments, teams demonstrated their robot’s capabilities on the competition table, were interviewed by a robot design panel, presented their Animal Allies research project and were assessed on teamwork skills. The teams impressed the judges, referees and tournament volunteers with their knowledge and teamwork.

After a full day of competition, Hillbilly Tech Support was recognized for their strong balanced performance in all four evaluation categories with an invitation to advance to the Intel Oregon FIRST LEGO League 2016 Championship Tournament on January 14 or 15, 2017 at Liberty High School. Congratulations to the team!

The Gorge qualifying tournaments are held locally by the Gorge Technology Alliance (GTA) with support from Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program, North Wasco County School District 21, Hood River County School District, Hood River County Education Foundation and White Salmon Valley Education Foundation. Local event sponsors include Boeing, Google and Insitu. Google also provides significant funding to support the Columbia Gorge robotics teams through Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program. For more information, contact Jessica Metta, Tournament Director with the Gorge Tech Alliance at 541-296-2266.

4. Russell Jess Geiser 1948-2016

flower.rose.starRussell Jess Geiser grew up in Moro, Oregon where he went steady with every girl in his first grade class—though mostly not at the same time. He was born on June 7th, 1948 and lived in Sherman County through high school and a few years beyond, though his family moved to The Dalles when he was a senior in high school. He served in the Army for two years, mostly in Alaska.

Russ worked in gas stations, eventually leasing one in Portland. He moved with a friend to Pocatello, Idaho in the late 70s to work for the railroad repairing train cars.  He was eventually transferred to Hermiston, Oregon, where he retired on disability from the railroad. He was fond of cars, buying a ‘73 Mach 1 Mustang in Arizona, and enduring a long drive home when it kept overheating. He restored and then sold it. Russ was also fond of women and bars, not taking guff from anyone.

He is survived by his mother, Otilia “Tillie” Vann of The Dalles, and his sister, Gloria Geiser, of Portland, Oregon. He passed on November 22 in Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, WA, from acute respiratory failure after a bout with pneumonia.

A potluck Celebration of Life is planned for December 11 from 12:00 – 4:00 pm at the Sherman County Senior Center in Moro, Oregon. People are invited to bring pictures as well as memories to share. Rather than flowers, friends are encouraged to contribute to Russell’s favorite charity, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, in his name. Please sign the online condolence book at

5. Biggs Service District Water System Improvement Project

ShermanCoLogoThe Biggs Service District was created in 1991. The purpose of the District is to furnish essential services to the Biggs area. Sherman County Court meets acting as the Biggs Service District Board of Directors. Judge Thompson serves as the chair of the board, and Commissioner Smith and Commissioner McCoy serve as members of the decision making body for the District. The Board of Directors is separate from County Court.

What is the water system improvement project?

The water system improvement project entails a complete municipal water system for Biggs, including supply, storage, distribution, and metering. The project includes a new 400,000 gallon storage reservoir, a new water supply well with the potential for a back-up supply source, a twelve-inch waterline large enough to provide fire flow capacities, and service lines to each building. Fire hydrants will be located to provide significantly improved fire protection.

Why is the project necessary?

Currently, the water supply in Biggs comes from two privately-owned wells and one spring. The current system is a public health risk, as no regular testing is done. If the water project is not pursued, North Central Public Health District will likely require other action. In the event of a positive E. coli test, individual business owners would be responsible for covering the fees associated with finding a new water source and/or reconstructing a well. The new water system will be designed to municipal standards, and there will be no contamination from shallow water or runoff. The system will be centrally chlorinated and controlled, which will provide improved health protection.

What are other benefits of the water project?

The current water source does not provide adequate flow for fire protection. The water project will considerably improve fire flow, up to 2,000 gallons per minute. The project also brings a higher likelihood of new development and existing business expansion in Biggs, as building permits can more easily be granted due to a water system being in place. The system will be professionally designed and operated with a certified operator. Lastly, the new water system will be able to provide reliable water service even when the power is out.

Where will the reservoir and well site be located?

The reservoir and well will be located behind Jack’s Mini Mart. The Biggs Service District has entered into an agreement with Pat and Lori Beers to secure the well and reservoir site. Access to the site will be on Terry and Teri Sanderson’s property, and an agreement is in place for this access.

When will the project start?

Design engineering for the project began in the fall of 2015. Easement and land acquisitions have already been acquired. Preparation for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding application and the Environmental Report are underway. All documents will be finished mid-December and ready to submit to USDA. The USDA will process the application and distribute funds. It is possible the funds won’t be received in time to start construction in 2017. The earliest funds could be awarded is February or March of 2017, though it is possible they could be awarded much later in the year. The project is anticipated to be ready to bid when funding arrives.

Who will operate the new system?

The county currently contracts with CH2M Hill to operate the existing sewer system in Biggs for an annual fee of $79,000. The county is exploring several other options, including creating a position for a Biggs Service District System Operator and contracting with other cities in the county to provide services.

What will the water project cost?

The project will cost approximately $2.1 million. The current funding scenario includes $512,100 from Sherman County, $1,100,000 loaned from USDA, and a $500,000 grant from USDA, totaling $2,112,100. All USDA funding documents will be submitted in December, and if a favorable funding package is awarded, the project can move forward.

Will rates go up?

The combined water and sewer bills (in terms of Equivalent Dwelling Units) will be approximately $50/month. Each user’s monthly bill would be based on metered water use. This cost offers a significantly improved system with a system operator, fire protection, the opportunity for economic growth, consistent water supply, and improved health protection. Monthly water rates will cover all testing, maintenance, and debt for the project.

What are the next steps for the project?

The Biggs Service District Board of Directors presented the project to Biggs business owners on June 29, 2016, to get approval for moving forward with the project. There was a majority of consensus from business owners, and the consensus of all those present at the meeting was to move forward with the project. An additional public hearing will be held December 6, 2016, authorizing Biggs Service District to provide water in addition to sewer to Biggs Junction. Next project steps include finalizing the partition, conducting site test pits, completing the access roadwork, and completing the design.

Progress on the water project will continue to be made available in Sherman County Court minutes. If you have questions, please contact the Office of the County Court at 541-565-3416 or

– Sherman County Court

 6. Oregon’s Child & Dependent Care Credits Change for 2017 Filing

children.cartoonSalem, Ore.–When taxpayers start filing their personal income tax returns in January, they may find that they’re eligible for the new Working Family Household and Dependent Care (WFHDC) Credit.

“This new credit is geared toward helping low- to moderate-income families pay for the care of their dependents while they’re working or looking for work,” said Megan Denison, Policy and Systems Unit manager at the Oregon Department of Revenue. The credit brings together benefits previously offered under Oregon’s Working Family Child Care and Child and Dependent Care credits, and replaces both credits starting in tax year 2016.

To qualify for this new credit, the taxpayer must have earned income during the year, and their adjusted gross income (AGI) must be less than the limit for their household size. The taxpayer must also have qualifying household or dependent care expenses. Qualifying expenses are expenses paid for the care of a dependent child under age 13, a disabled spouse, or a disabled person who the taxpayer could claim as a dependent.

To help prevent tax credit fraud and ensure the credit is reaching its intended recipients, anyone who knowingly claims this credit falsely or assists someone else in doing so can be charged with a penalty of up to 25 percent of the credit amount claimed.

“This is important information for tax preparers,” Denison said. “If you have clients claiming this credit, remember to review their supporting documentation to make sure they’re eligible, so you don’t end up being penalized. And as a courtesy to your client, please remind them of the potential penalty.”

For more information on the WFHDC credit, including additional details on eligibility and supporting documentation requirements, visit and look under “Popular Topics.”

7. Links: Things to Think About & Things to Do 

bird.eagle1U.S. Small Business Administration

“I get to carry the culture for a little while, and then I’ll hand it off.”
—Ch´ais-koowu-tla´a T´ak dein taan, Ta´ax´ hit
(Teri Rofkar, Tlingit Raven Clan)

9 Months Of Pregnancy In One Amazing 4-Minute Clip

Charity Watch: Top Rated Charities 

Packers Hall of Famers Rivera and Ruettgers to be featured alumni this week
Ken Ruettgers, a first-round draft pick in 1985, played 12 years for the Packers (1985-96) and was a fixture at left tackle for more than a decade. Anchoring a line that helped establish a new championship era for the team, he was a dominant pass blocker for the likes of Don Majkowski and Brett Favre. Ruettgers authored a career that was among the longest for an offensive lineman in team history, appearing in 156 career games, with 140 starts. He earned team offensive MVP honors in 1989, and was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2014. 

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