Sherman County eNews #114


  1. Sherman County Seeks to Encourage Rental Housing Development

  2. Chairs on Capitol green represent 762 lives lost to suicide in 2015

  3. Columbia Gorge Discovery Center Celebrates 20 Years with Free Admission

  4. Oregon Sen. Jeff Kruse: Time for Some Budget Reality

  5. History Tidbits: Wily Knighten, Sherman County School Superintendent

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

Sherman County Seeks to Encourage Rental Housing Development

ShermanCoLogoAfter hearing many stories of new employees hired by Sherman County businesses or organizations that would like to live in Sherman County but can’t find rental housing, Sherman County explored options to help spur the development of additional rental housing. A new incentive program will contribute up to $5,000 per new rental housing unit constructed as an incentive to developers. These funds would be given as a direct contribution upon completion of the development. This pilot program will be available to incentivize six new units in Sherman County on a first-come, first-served basis. More information about this incentive and an application is available on the County’s website here.

The County also offers low- or no-interest construction loans to developers of rental housing that do not qualify, or only partially qualify, for funding from a traditional housing lender. A developer could access both the loan program and incentive program. The County’s loan would be repaid within a short period when permanent mortgages provide the capital to repay the construction loan. This program is not to compete with private sector lending.

These programs are being offered in partnership with Mid-Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD), which also has unique loan funds set aside for the development of Attainable Housing, serving the middle housing market of 60-120% median family income. For more information about these programs, contact Jessica Metta, Sherman County’s Economic Development Coordinator with MCEDD, at 541-296-2266 or

2. Chairs on Capitol green represent 762 lives lost to suicide in 2015

SALEM — As the people of Oklahoma City observed the 22nd anniversary of the bombing of the federal building that claimed 168 lives Wednesday, Oregon commemorated the loss of many more to suicide.

Seven hundred sixty-two [762] white chairs stood empty on the Oregon Capitol green, representing the Oregonians who took their own lives in 2015.

As rain drifted down, lawmakers, advocates and loved ones of suicide victims urged Oregonians to seek help for mental health issues and abandon the stigmatization of depression.

“There is not one answer to this; it really belongs to everybody,” said Dr. Katrina Hedberg, state health officer. “For every one of these chairs, there is a story behind that, that involves all of us being involved in prevention.”

She encouraged reaching out to neighbors and building a sense of community, because social isolation is a risk factor for suicide.

Bend resident Rene Mitchell began sharing the story of her husband, Jason’s suicide to try to cast off the stigma she had felt was associated with it. She said she didn’t want her young daughters, who were 3 and 1 at the time of his death in 2010, to live with that stigma.

“We were all left asking a lot of questions, questions that could not be answered then and will never be answered,” Mitchell said. “…honestly, I was suffering from a great deal of shame, a great deal of guilt, manically asking myself the questions: What could I have done? Why didn’t I see signs? Is this my fault, and how will I ever survive this and raise my two daughters without the stigma of suicide?”

At least two bipartisan bills this legislative session address the problem of suicide by firearm.  House Bill 2526 by Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, and Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Beaverton, directs the Department of Justice to establish a firearm safety and suicide prevention education program and provide related education materials to gun dealers.

Another bill would provide a tool for families to block loved ones’ access to firearms if they posed a risk to themselves or others by creating an extreme risk protection order.

Republican Sen. Brian Boquist’s son, Seth Sprague, a 31-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, used a firearm to commit suicide Feb. 16, 2016. The tragedy spurred Boquist to work with Senate Majority Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, to design legislation that could help families intervene when a loved one threatens to take their own life. The bill is modeled after a measure voters approved last year in Washington.

Oregon has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation, including among veterans, Boquist said.

3. Columbia Gorge Discovery Center Celebrates 20 Years with Free Admission

THANKS FOR 20 YEARS! Columbia Gorge Discovery Center celebrates 20 years with free admission, Sunday, May 14, 2017.  Enjoy a Mother’s Day Brunch, 11-2, guided wildflower walks 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., Native American workshops, music. One day sale at Columbia River Trading Co. for 20% off everything. For information visit

4. Oregon Sen. Jeff Kruse: Time for Some Budget Reality

Oregon.Flat.poleAPRIL 21, 2017


We have now been presented with our third budget document.  The first was “The Governor’s Balanced Budget,” which has always been a document based on something other than reality.  In my 20 years in the legislature the Governor’s budget has always been nothing more than a political positioning document.  It has always included significant expansions in government and attempts to drive toward the need for additional taxes.  We have also received two budget proposals from the Democrat majority driving to the same conclusion.  They are peddling a false narrative that we have a $1.6 billion deficit and that new taxes are the only way we can reach a balanced budget.  It is not true, it’s a false choice. It is time for some reality.

The first problem is the very flawed way budgets are created.  Our budget model is called a “current service level budget.”  Simply stated what that means is we assume everything government is doing is wonderful and needs to be not only continued but also expanded.  With this flawed model, we never really question agencies as to either their attempts at finding efficiencies or actually justify the need for all of their personnel and programs.  With this flawed model the additional cost of government every two years is always in double digits and the projection for the next biennium is almost a 20% increase.  The per capita spending by government in Oregon is actually greater than it is in California, and to attempt to continue on this spending curve will be disastrous for our state.

The real starting point should be the fact Oregon will have at least an additional $1.5 billion to spend just based on the growth of the economy in the current tax structure.  This means we have an 8% increase in the budget before we even start.  One would think this would give us the needed flexibility to come into balance.  Admittedly there is the additional issue of covering the one time federal allocation for the Medicaid expansion population, but even that should be an issue we can resolve.  There is just no rational reason for us to be growing the cost of government by over $3 billion in a two-year period.  The massive increase in the cost of government over the last decade pales in comparison to this proposal.

There are other options rather than tax increases and it is time we actually started seriously looking at the alternatives.  The first component will be the hospital tax.  This is rather complicated as it goes into the very complicated matrix of Medicaid funding, but it could add an additional five to six hundred million to the state’s revenue, closing most of the gap in Medicaid funding.  Next we need to look at making government more efficient.  For example, having a hiring freeze on non-essential state employees would save approximately $750 million for the biennium. With just these two measures we have filled almost all the theoretical budget hole we are told we need to fill.  The rest could easily be accomplished by simply requiring state agencies to tighten their belts just a little bit.

I could give many examples of agencies that are continuing to expand at unreasonable rates, but for this purpose of this letter I will mention just one and that is the Department of Education.  This has become a bureaucracy over time that seems to serve only itself.  When you talk to school administrators and teachers you find the agency requirements add significantly to the cost of school districts and return very little of value.  This agency has hundreds of employees and a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars that many of us think would be better spent at the school district level.  The point here is our ability to adequately fund schools could be accomplished by reallocating this money from the state to districts. Money should be reaching students and teachers in the classroom, where it matters most.

When you add these examples to our proposals for some real PERS reforms it becomes very apparent our budget issues can easily be solved without the need for new taxes.  Proof that what we are proposing is a very real solution is the fact the Governor just announced she is doing a two-month hiring freeze.  Clearly her proposal accomplishes nothing and was only done for political reasons, but it does show there are real solutions available if the Democrat majority is willing to move away from their agenda of ever expanding government.

We probably won’t be getting into the real major budget issue for several weeks yet, but I think it is important to know there are other solutions and it is time they were considered.


Senator Jeff Kruse

email: I phone: 503-986-1701
address: 900 Court St NE, S-205, Salem, OR, 97301

5. History Tidbits: Wily Knighten, Sherman County School Superintendent

Sherman County Journal, August 20, 1964 —      

Editorial:     Wily Knighten.  It should not be forgotten that Wily Knighten, who was buried this week, was the man most responsible for the excellent school system in Sherman county today.  As school superintendent he labored diligently for rural school consolidation, for one high school for wider curricula.

He was an excellent teacher; his extra hour attention kept many a boy in school when he was discouraged with inability to grasp the problem of some subject.

In his youth Wily Knighten was a remarkable athlete, running in the early field meets, playing ball with the “town” team when a beardless youth.  He earned his way through college and did not play there.

But perhaps it will be as good citizen, public spirited citizen, that he will be most remembered.  Almost any enterprise of worth could enlist his aid; he was always helpful to fellow veterans, aided with all community planning, served on innumerable committees.  And he did the jobs he took competently and faithfully.

The county was fortunate to have had him as a citizen. ~G.L.F.

Obituary: Services In The Dalles Today For Wily Knighten.  Funeral services for Wily W. Knighten 72, longtime county superintendent of schools at Moro in Sherman County, who died Saturday at Community Memorial Hospital in Pendleton after a six months illness, were held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Smith Callaway Chapel. The Rev. Robert Hutchinson of Portland officiated, with Masonic services that followed.  Graveside rites were held at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.

Mr. Knighten had been a resident of Sherman county for 65 years, and was engaged in the teaching profession from 1922 until his retirement in 1959.  He was born June 23, 1892, at Grangeville, Idaho.  He grew up in Sherman county and joined the National Guard while a student at the University of Oregon in 1915.

In 1917 he was mustered into the regular Army and was discharged in 1919.  He was graduated from the University of Oregon in 1920.  Most of his work in education was in Sherman County where he was county superintendent of schools for 25 years.

Mr. Knighten was a past master of Sherman Lodge 143, A.F. & A.M.; past patron of Sherman Chapter 132, OES, and was a member of the American Legion Post in Moro.  The Dalles Barracks of World War 1 Veterans, the National Education Association and the Oregon Education Association.  He was a member of First Congregation Church in The Dalles.

He married Donalda MacGregor in 1925, and she survives together with a son, Wily W. Knighten, Jr., of Anchorage, Alaska; a daughter, Mrs. John J. Miller, of Bellevue, Wash.; two brothers, Bert of Harper, and John of Baker; three sisters, Mrs. Janie Venable, and Mrs. Grace Rutherford, both of Boise, Idaho, and Mrs. Lelia Serrurier, Eureka, California, and two grandchildren.

Active pallbearers were Hans Bardenhagen, George Wilson, Kenneth Sather, Kendrick Dunlap, Donald von Borstel and Lester Barnum.  The honorary pallbearers were Frank Brumbaugh, Earl Olds, Loy Cochran, Frank von Borstel, Theodore Johnston, Giles French, Sam and Charles Davis, Herman Peters, Paul Fraser, Vernon Miller and Harold Beckett.

Friends who wish may send contributions to the Wily W. Knighten College Scholarship Memorial Fund, care of Paul Fraser, of First National Bank, Sherman county branch.

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

Bird.Black.EnvelopeHang on to your wallets! It’s a sales tax, Oregonians!

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