Sherman County eNews #321


  1. Letter to the Editor: Inclement Weather & Sherman County School
  2. Slick, snowy conditions may create dangerous travels in Oregon in the next few days
  3. Strong winds, snow and ice could trigger power outages in Columbia Gorge, Portland, and Willamette Valley
  4. Tri-County Hazardous Waste & Recycling Program Meeting, Dec. 14
  5. Pearl Harbor 75 Years Later, Dec. 7
  6. Sherman County Court Addresses Fiber Questions
  7. Links: Things to Think About & Things to Do

raindropDespite all of our accomplishments, we owe our existence to a six-inch layer of top soil and the fact that it rains. ~ Farm Equipment Association


1. Letter to the Editor: Inclement Weather & Sherman County School

December 7, 2016

Dear Sherman County School District Students, Parents, Families and Staff,

As weather forecasts are predicting and as temperatures drop, it is obvious that the winter season is upon us.  Although various types of emergencies may cause the closing, early dismissal, or delay of schools anytime of the year, the winter months always carry the increased likelihood of such occurrences.  As always, our top priority is the safety of our students and staff.  

Please understand that we make the decision to open, delay, or close school during inclement weather conditions based on an extremely thorough analysis of all relevant factors continuing until a final decision is made prior to 6:00 a.m.  These decisions are not always perfect and are often complicated by our varied elevations and unpredictable weather in our geographically diverse county.  With all of this being said, we completely understand that you as parents/guardians know what is best for your child.  If you believe your child would be safer at home during inclement weather conditions, we respect and understand that decision. 

If a school delay, early dismissal or closure occurs, I will communicate through our School Messenger system.  This method of communication has proven to be very effective.  Please remember that parents/guardians/staff can be prepared to receive prompt communication form the District by ensuring that phone numbers are up-to-date with school office staff.  You can do this by calling Sherman County School at 541-565-3500. In addition, closings and delays are also reported on local TV and Radio stations and on the web at

In the event we need to implement or alter certain bus routes, this will be communicated to you through the School Messenger system.  Oftentimes representatives from Mid-Columbia Bus Company will also personally contact certain families to communicate any alterations to transportation plans.

Lastly, the Sherman County School District is committed to maintaining open communication lines with the entire school community.  With this in mind, I want to remind everyone of Board Policy (EBCD) regarding ½ Day Friday Schedules and emergency closures.  If the District closes for a full day due to inclement weather or other emergency situations, the ½ Day Friday at the end of that week will automatically become a full day Friday unless there is a school closure on that particular Friday.  When there is a 2-hour delay, the ½ Day Friday at the end of the week will not be altered.  The reason behind this policy is that the Board believes students are better served by being in school as much as possible during the entire school year. 

As always, I encourage your feedback and participation in the life of the Sherman County School District.  I welcome your comments, feedback and questions.  Please give me a call at Sherman County School at 541-565-3500 or send me an email at


Wes Owens


2. Slick, snowy conditions may create dangerous travels in Oregon in the next few days

thermometer.degreesPotential ice, snow and freezing rain may make for hazardous traveling conditions in Northwest Oregon, Central Oregon and South Central Oregon.

ODOT does not recommend driving in these conditions.

Travelers need to use caution and observe a few rules for navigating hazardous weather conditions.

  • Get safely situated. Don’t wait until after a storm hits to get on the road. Get to your destination before conditions turn nasty and unsafe.
  • Travel smart. Consider waiting until a storm passes to get on your bike or in your car. Or work from home all day.
  • Look out for each other. If you must drive, remember people walking or biking are harder to see in a storm. If you’re biking or walking remember that cars don’t stop quickly on snow and ice.
  • Leave early. It’s smart to allow plenty of time to get where you’re going. In severe weather, closures and crashes can cause long delays.
  • Know before you go. Plan your route. Visit in advance to look at ODOT cameras and check conditions.
  • Don’t abandon your vehicle. It prevents us from clearing the road and emergency services from getting to the people who need them.
  • Beware of outages. If a storm knocks out power to traffic signals, treat intersections like an all-way stop. The driver who stops first goes first.
  • Watch for plows. ODOT sand trucks, plows and de-icer trucks can’t clear roads clogged with traffic. The more traffic stays off the road, the quicker roads can be treated. Stay at least three car lengths back. Everybody benefits the sooner they can get the road cleared.

In severe weather, ODOT deploys all available tools in its winter arsenal, including plows, sanders and deicers, as appropriate.

ODOT will closely monitor Interstate 84 through the Columbia River Gorge, where high winds are expected along with snow, ice and freezing rain. ODOT will close I-84 in the Gorge if conditions become unsafe.

Remember, driving on ice is never a safe choice. The safest thing to do is stay off the road.

3. Strong winds, snow and ice could trigger power outages in Columbia Gorge, Portland, and Willamette Valley

Check your Emergency Outage Kit, charge up mobile devices, avoid any downed lines, call 1-877-508-5088 to report outages and download app to stay up to date.

PORTLAND, Ore. –A strong winter storm forecast to hit the area Thursday morning is set to bring snow, ice and winds powerful enough to cause power outages in Portland, the Willamette Valley and the Columbia River Gorge. Pacific Power is urging its customers and the public to take precautions to stay safe and comfortable.

“This is the kind of damaging trifecta–snow, ice, wind–that put our customers at risk for outages,” said Curt Mansfield, vice president, operations. “One way we minimize interruptions to your electric service despite the storms is by paying close attention to trees near power lines. In 2016, we pruned 363,000 trees on 5,100 miles of lines investing more than $25 million to remove hazards and make the lines more resilient. Based on experience, we’ve anticipated and prepared for this weather and the outages that could occur by staging crews and equipment strategically so that we are able to deploy them where they are needed when the time comes.”

When outages occur, Pacific Power is prepared to keep customers informed of efforts to restore service and get them through an outage.

“We are ready to assist you whenever you need help with your electric needs,” said Barb Coughlin, vice president of customer service. “Before the storm arrives, please visit our website and download our mobile app to report power problems or get real time outage updates. We also have 250 agents on duty so that along with our automated systems we can handle 20,000 outage calls per hour to assist you.”

Download the Pacific Power app by going to

Every home should have an Emergency Outage Kit that includes the following:

* Flashlight
* Battery-operated radio and clock
* Extra batteries
* Non-perishable foods
* Manual can opener
* Bottled water
* Blankets

If a power outage occurs, Pacific Power encourages customers to first check their fuses and circuit breakers. If the power failure is not caused inside the home or business, customers should report the outage to Pacific Power at 1-877-508-5088.

To ease the inconvenience of power outages and assist crews in restoring power, Pacific Power suggests the following tips and safety precautions:

* Stay away from all downed power lines and utility lines. Even if the lines are not sparking, they could be energized and extremely dangerous. Call 911 and report the outage to Pacific Power at 1-877-508-5088.
* Don’t drive over downed power lines. In fact, unless necessary, don’t drive as roads will be hazardous.
* Turn on your porch light. After crews complete repairs, they patrol the area of the power failure to see if lights are on.
* Check on your neighbors, especially those who may need special assistance. Also, check with others who have electricity, to see if you can visit.
* Keep mobile devices charged so that may be used in an emergency. Before anything happens, download the Pacific Power app to your smart device so you can have information readily available.

Pacific Power also thanks customers in advance for their patience during power outages. Crews make every effort to keep outage durations to a minimum and to restore power safely and quickly.

Customers and media representatives can also track larger scale outages online. Outages affecting more than 500 customers are posted on the Pacific Power website as soon as information is available. Updates will be made as new information becomes available or at least hourly at

4. Tri-County Hazardous Waste & Recycling Program Meeting, Dec. 14

The Tri-County Hazardous Waste & Recycling Program’s Steering Committee will be meeting Wednesday December 14th, 2016 from 8:30-11:30 am at the Wasco County Planning Department, located at 2705 East 2nd Street in The Dalles, Oregon.

Representatives from the member agencies of the counties of Wasco, Sherman and Hood River, and the cities of The Dalles, Hood River, Cascade Locks, Mosier, Dufur and Maupin will hold their meeting to discuss approval of minutes, fiscal & progress reports, lead agency, budget, status of facilities, staffing, grants and other miscellaneous items.

The nine governments signed an intergovernmental agreement in November 2003 to build and operate two permanent household hazardous waste collection facilities in Hood River and The Dalles, and conduct satellite collection events throughout the region.  Wasco County is the lead agency.  The facilities and events collect hazardous wastes from households, businesses and institutions which are Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators, as well as pesticide wastes from farmers and ranchers.

For more information:  Call Tri-County Hazardous Waste & Recycling Program at (541) 506-2636.

5. Pearl Harbor 75 Years Later, Dec. 7 

American flag2In October 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared, “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.” This was a reiteration of his earlier assertion, “We are keeping out of the wars that are going on in Europe and in Asia. … Our opponents are seeking to frighten the country by telling people that the present administration is deliberately … drifting into war. You know better than that.”

Roosevelt campaigned on neutrality in 1940. Roosevelt assured his constituents, “I give … to the people of this country this most solemn assurance: There is no secret treaty, no secret obligation, no secret commitment, no secret understanding in any shape or form, direct or indirect, with any other government, or any other nation in any part of the world, to involve this nation in any war.”

Unfortunately, Germany’s Führer Adolf Hitler and Japan’s Prime Minister Hideki Tojo didn’t cooperate.

On December 7, 1941, 75 years ago today, 353 Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing 2,390 American servicemen and civilians and wounding 1,282. The attack sank or damaged eight battleships, three cruisers, three destroyers and one minelayer and destroyed 188 aircraft. It took four years and the full military-industrial capability of the United States to defeat Japan. There was no more devastating surprise attack on the United States until 9/11.

After the attack, Roosevelt stated: “December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. … Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory. … With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounded determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.”

Historian Victor Davis Hanson writes, “After Pearl Harbor, the United States went into a rearmament frenzy the likes of which had never been seen in history. America produced more airplanes and ships than all World War II powers combined. The U.S. military grew to 12 million soldiers. American military leadership in the Pacific — led by Admirals William Halsey Jr., Chester Nimitz and Raymond Spruance, along with Generals Curtis LeMay and Douglas MacArthur — proved far more skilled than their Japanese counterparts. And the American soldier, sailor, airman and Marine, after a bruising learning experience in early 1942, proved every bit as ferocious as veteran Japanese fighters.”

Much has happened since the 74th anniversary of this attack. In May, Barack Obama became the first American president to visit Hiroshima, where he offered a not-quite-apology for the U.S. having dropped two atomic bombs to end World War II. He also pushed again for a nuclear-free world. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will reciprocate by becoming the first Japanese leader to visit Pearl Harbor later this month while Obama vacations in Hawaii. Japan and the U.S. are, of course, now close allies, so in a way these visits put to rest old grievances. Let’s hope that’s truly what happens.

It is with honor and respect for those who died or suffered terrible injuries that Sunday morning that we should never again fall into the slumber that allowed such a tragedy as Pearl Harbor — or the attack on Sept. 11, 2001 — again.

6. Sherman County Court Addresses Fiber Questions

ShermanCoLogoRecently, articles have appeared in the local news discussing Frontier TeleNet and Sherman County’s fiber optic project. The fiber project is important, and Sherman County Court hopes to answer some of the questions that have been raised.

Who owns Frontier TeleNet?

Frontier TeleNet was originally formed by the county governments of Sherman, Gilliam, and Wheeler Counties, plus the North Central ESD.  The North Central ESD recently withdrew, so Frontier TeleNet is now owned jointly by the three county governments.

What is Frontier TeleNet?

Frontier TeleNet has served Sherman, Gilliam, and Wheeler counties for over 15 years. It is an entity created by the three counties in order to provide emergency services communications for all police, fire, ambulance, and 911 radio and Internet needs. At the time of its creation, no other entity would or could provide these services, so Frontier TeleNet built a system through grants and user fees to meet this need. At the same time Frontier TeleNet was building the system, it also recognized the need to provide high-speed Internet to the schools and residents in our highly rural and greatly underserved area. No other provider would make Internet service available to everyone, so Frontier TeleNet met that challenge and has been a provider of Broadband/Internet ever since.

What is the fiber project?

The fiber project is the burying of fiber lines in Sherman County to increase the capacity of the existing Internet system as well as to greatly enhance the reliability of our law enforcement and emergency service communications system.

Why did the Sherman County Court decide to start building an Internet fiber line though the County? 

For the past 15 years, Frontier TeleNet has used its wireless radio system to connect Sherman County to the Internet.  Frontier TeleNet’s wireless system provided the first high-speed Internet access for many businesses and residents, and, until this year, for our schools. It also was a key part of our 911 and public safety systems by     connecting the digital switch at Erskine to the Internet.

During the last two years, the speed of the Frontier TeleNet wireless system declined due to the increased streaming of videos and music. It recently became clear that Sherman County’s Internet requirements could be met only by greatly increasing the capacity of the system. The reliability of our emergency service communications system also needed to be increased. Burying a fiber line through the County achieves both objectives.

The initial purpose of the fiber project was to improve law enforcement and emergency services communications by hooking into the digital switch, which handles all communications for four separate counties. The added benefit of the fiber is that it can connect to government buildings, schools, homes, businesses, and can be utilized by any Internet provider.

Where will the new fiber line run and how will it be financed?

The fiber lines are being built in three phases.  The first phase is almost complete and runs from Wasco, through Moro, and to the digital switch at Erskine. This fiber line is buried close to the new school so it will be available if ever needed. The second phase runs from Erskine to Grass Valley, and both the first two phases should be         completed in 2016.  The third phase will run from Wasco to Rufus.

How is the fiber project being funded, and how much has been spent so far?

The first two phases of the project will be financed by using approximately $2 million of the SIP payments the county receives from the wind farms. The State of Oregon recognized the good work of the county and awarded a grant in the amount of $820,000.00 to help expand the project. These grant funds will pay for phase three from Wasco to Rufus, which is scheduled to be built next year. To date, Sherman County has spent $1,539,389 directly on the fiber project. Funds for the grant from the State of Oregon should be received in the spring of 2017.

Who will own the fiber lines?

Although Sherman County is paying to have the lines built, the county does not have the license needed to operate a fiber line.  Frontier TeleNet does have the needed license and the County Court decided Frontier TeleNet should be the entity that legally owns the access that Sherman County is guaranteed on the line.  Using Sherman County funds, Frontier TeleNet contracted with Windwave to have the lines built.  Windwave will be responsible for maintaining the lines and Frontier TeleNet will own 10 gigabits of capacity on the line plus four strands of fiber. The capacity that Frontier TeleNet owns on the fiber line should be more than adequate to provide the high-speed Internet access that Sherman County will need in the future.  Both Gilliam and Wheeler Counties are planning to build fiber lines that will also be owned and operated by Frontier TeleNet.

How will the new fiber line benefit Sherman County residents, and how will it be marketed?

When the construction of the fiber lines is completed, the next step will be making them available to Sherman County residents and businesses.  A fiber line is similar to a road, and the court wants the line to be available to all users at reasonable prices. One of the main responsibilities of Frontier TeleNet’s new Executive Director of Marketing will be to make sure this happens. Several Sherman County businesses have already expressed   interest in connecting to the fiber line. The increased bandwidth provided by the new line will allow additional Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to serve Sherman County residents and businesses—so our residents should soon have additional alternatives.

Most importantly, the fiber serves a critical role in Sherman County law enforcement and emergency communications. Fiber also creates the opportunity for a back-up 911 center in Sherman County, which will bring increased law enforcement and emergency services communication capabilities. Without this project, that opportunity would not exist.

Bringing fiber to Sherman County is incredibly important. Many questions about the marketing of the new fiber line are still being worked out, and ideas from the public are always welcome. If you have additional questions about the fiber project, please contact the Office of the County Court at 541-565-3416.

 – Sherman County Court

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

American flag2The Mystery of Seahorse Key’s Missing Bird Colony 

Preserving Grave Markers in Historic Cemeteries 

Date of Infamy: Pearl Harbor, December 7th

Pearl Harbor 75 Years Later