Crook’s largest destination resort hits speed bump

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: March 31. 2007 5:00AM PST

PRINEVILLE – The largest destination resort proposed for Crook County so far has hit a snag, with the Crook County Planning Commission indefinitely postponing discussion on the plans.

Hidden Canyon, a RMG Developments project, filed an application last year to build a destination resort with 2,450 houses and 1,225 overnight units. The resort would cover more than 3,250 acres in Powell Butte.

The size of the development is one of the main issues holding up approval right now, Crook County Planning Director Bill Zelenka said. Hidden Canyon is significantly larger than the two resorts in the county that have already been approved – 2,100-acre Remington Ranch and 1,900-acre Brasada Ranch. The resort also covers a significant area of general deer winter range, a problem that was not involved with the first two resorts.

“Hidden Canyon has got a few more issues, and it’s probably being looked at a little closer, too, because of the size and the numbers,” Zelenka said.

He added that access to the resort would run through an area controlled by the federal Bureau of Land Management, which means that the developer will have to work out agreements with that agency about traffic impacts on the area’s wildlife and off-highway vehicle trails.

“BLM hasn’t said specifically what all the details are, but just that there are things that they have to do to review, and the reason it takes probably a little bit longer is when you’re dealing with federal agencies, they don’t move quite as quickly as local governments do,” he said.

In addition, more than 10 percent, or 450 acres, of Hidden Canyon’s land lies in general deer winter range, said Brian Ferry, district wildlife biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in Prineville. Ferry said his department has been meeting with Hidden Canyon representatives recently to try to find solutions to potential impacts on wildlife.

“We’ve been working with the resort to kind of identify what those impacts would be and the how do you avoid them – which would be ODFW’s preference – and if you can’t, how do you mitigate for them,” Ferry said.

He added that some golden eagle nests along the resort’s northern boundary are also being taken into account.

Ferry said that the Fish and Wildlife Department has been focusing on wildlife damage – animals’ effects on the resort’s buildings and landscaping. He said that mitigation efforts by the resort could include limiting land use in certain areas.

Remington Ranch, which the planning commission gave initial approval to in November, also had to negotiate access through BLM lands and work around an eagle’s nest, but it does not lie in deer winter range, Zelenka said. The entrances to Brasada Ranch are off of county roads.

Brian Bergler, Hidden Canyon’s vice president for corporate communications, said that developers are working on the “final details” of agreements with the federal and state agencies. Bend-based developer Dennis Pahlisch owns a majority stake in RMG Developments, the company behind the resort.

“It’s just moving along,” Bergler said. “We’re at that point where we’re just starting to get down to the final components.”

The third public hearing for Hidden Canyon was on Feb. 28, and the planning commission decided then to postpone further hearings and a decision until the resort could work out agreements with BLM and Fish and Wildlife. Zelenka said that the earliest date for the next public hearing would be in early May.

Zelenka, Bergler and Ferry all said they are optimistic that solutions will be found for Hidden Canyon’s obstacles. But Zelenka added that as Crook County’s 38,000-acre destination resort overlay zone continues to fill up, developers may face similar problems with access issues.

“As we get more and more, I suppose scrutiny is going to get tighter,” he said. He added that he expects another resort application to be filed soon, but would not identify the potential developer.

Ferry said that, despite the size of the resort zone, county planners in general avoided sensitive wildlife sites when they mapped the resort area.

“They made, I think, a very good-faith effort to try to zone and designate the area to avoid potential impacts to winter range. They tried to avoid impact to sensitive bird sites, and I think, by and large, they’ve done so,” he said. “That relieves me somewhat about what’s going to be happening with future destination resorts.”


Caregivers can be ‘hidden patients’

Tending to ailing loved ones takes emotional toll

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: March 31. 2007 5:00AM PST

PRINEVILLE – During the worst period of her husband’s illness in 2005, Peggy Lutz was sometimes unable to leave their house for more than two hours a week.

Lutz, 85, was the primary caregiver for her husband, Bob, who died of vascular dementia in December 2005 after a three-year sickness. She looked after Bob in their home 24 hours a day, with limited outside help, delivering his medications, moving him around the house in a wheelchair and acting as his “mind” as his dementia progressed.

She described caring for her husband full time as a process of “physical, emotional and mental destruction.”

Now, she has written a book about the experience, which she hopes will provide a window into the mind of a caregiver.

“How-to books are not what I needed at that time – I needed somebody to come beside me and say, ‘I know what’s going on in your mind right now,’ and that’s what I’ve done here,” she said.

Medical professionals say that caring for a family member with a serious illness or disability often takes physical, emotional and financial tolls. Both physicians’ and caregivers’ focus is usually on the patient, which can lead people to neglect their own health.

“We find that often the caregivers die before the people they’re caring for, just because of the stress, the isolation and not doing any self care,” said Patrick McCullough, a medical social worker at Pioneer Memorial Hospital who leads a support group for people taking care of dementia patients. “Caregiver burnout is pretty much when you just can’t do it anymore, physically, spiritually and emotionally, at the end.”

Emotional outlets

Lutz, who lives in Prineville and attended McCullough’s support group, said she experienced that burnout. There was one moment in particular that inspired the title for her self-published book, “I’m Too Tired to Cut the Rhubarb: Inside a caregiver’s head as she walks her husband’s final journey with him.”

One day in late July, she went to the window of her house and looked out at her rhubarb patch, which had become wildly overgrown. She said she felt overwhelmed by the thought of going outside to cut the plant.

“There were these huge leaves,” she said. “It was just one of my moments of total exhaustion when I just felt I couldn’t handle another problem. It was such a little thing, but it was so huge to me at the time.”

Her writing began as a way to release her thoughts during the time she was taking care of her husband, Lutz said. After he passed away, she shared the writing with some of the members of her support group, who said they had experienced similar emotions.

Lutz, a former 12th-grade English teacher, has also written and self-published two other books.

“The caregiver finally gets to thinking, ‘Well, whatever happens to me doesn’t matter anyway.’ It’s just an attitude of exhaustion and giving up, but you know you can’t quit, so you just kind of feel trapped,” she said. “That was such a saving thing for me that I could go in for 10 minutes and sit at the keyboard and write or talk at myself.”

After her husband died, Lutz said, she “felt numb.” Eventually, she realized that she had started the grieving process when she began writing her book, since it helped her to work through the emotions she was experiencing.

Peggy Coffman, who lives in Bend and cares for her husband, Ron, said writing has also helped her since his motorcycle accident last July. While he was in the hospital, she began sending out e-mails to friends and family about his condition.

The accident left Ron, 67, paralyzed from the chest down, and Peggy, 65, is now his primary caregiver. She quit her part-time job at her son’s optometry office in order to take care of Ron, a retired police officer.

“It’s a real lifestyle change – here we are retired and everything was going really great for us, (and now) all of our things we had planned on doing we had to cancel,” Peggy Coffman said. “I did have some anger issues, but I try not to let it get to me. I try to think pleasant thoughts and think, ‘This too shall pass.'”

After the accident, Peggy said, she was in charge of changing the drain for her husband’s wounds. She also moves him in and out of bed and helps him turn over during the night.

“It’s really hard to move those heavy legs,” she said. “You wouldn’t think they would be so heavy, but they are.”

Ron Coffman, who had another surgery in November for an ulcer on his back, said, “I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

Both said that they are often kept up late at night because of his pain.

“My heart goes out to her, though, in those situations, because I know she wants to help and there’s nothing I can tell her that will help,” Ron Coffman said. “So she’s frustrated, I’m frustrated.”

Jewel Kaupp, a nurse from St. Charles Medical Center-Bend’s Home Health service, said she is impressed by how well Peggy Coffman has “stepped up to the plate” in her caregiving role.

“It’s their partnership, their spirit, their sense of humor and their ability to problem-solve together,” Kaupp said. “When I look at them, I see one.”

Peggy Coffman has a variety of methods for staying on top of her tasks. For example, she recorded messages on her cell phone’s alarm system that remind her which medicine is needed at what time. She also sets timers, because her husband needs to change position every 15 minutes. But she said she never expected to be in this role.

“I’m not a nursing-type person – that’s not a job that I ever wanted to have,” she said. “But this is one of the things that I have to do, so I do it.”

She also has started cooking dinner again every night, which had been her husband’s arena since he retired.

Peggy and Ron Coffman said they hope he will recover enough to achieve some measure of independence. Ron Coffman said his first goal is to obtain a special driver’s license so he can go out more, and, in the long term, he hopes to walk again.

Peggy Coffman added that she is aware of some of the local support groups for people in her situation, but said she has not attended any.

“Actually I have so much support from my friends and family, I just haven’t felt the need to do anything,” she said.

McCullough at Pioneer Memorial said the support group there, which focuses on those caring for dementia patients, has been very successful. Many caregivers develop a feeling of isolation, he said, and a group can help rebuild relationships.

“It breaks through the isolation piece, and people don’t feel on their own,” he said. “They’ve gained back a social network that they’ve lost over the years of taking care of someone, and that’s the biggest danger.”

The financial burden

Lutz said she and her husband decided before he became sick that they would care for each other if one developed a medical problem.

“We agreed that whichever one of us went down first, the other would stay and care for,” she said. “That was our commitment to each other. It’s so comforting to know that I did everything the way he wanted it, and we agreed to.”

Besides that, she said, a full-time care facility would have cost about $6,000 a month. Part-time help in the home is also expensive, and Lutz said it was difficult to find someone available on an on-call basis.

Peggy Coffman said that her husband, Ron, is a “million-dollar baby” – the cost of his treatment has exceeded $1 million.

The professional caregiver who comes to their home every morning for two hours, at a cost of $20 per hour, is not covered by Medicare, she said. Because Ron already has a motorized wheelchair, Medicare also would not cover the cost of the manual wheelchair he needs in certain situations.

Becky Bryan, the executive director of Hospice of Redmond-Sisters, said it can be difficult to find in-home professional help when a person’s condition becomes severe.

“We have discovered that there are a lot of people that have taken out long-term care insurance and they haven’t read the fine print, and when it comes to needing caregiving in the home or in a facility, they’re not meeting the qualifications,” Bryan said. “It’s a financial burden.”

Phyllis Goss, a supervisor with Home Health at St. Charles, said her service tries to relieve some of the pressure on caregivers. Home Health nurses visited the Coffmans at home three times a week after Ron Coffman first got out of the hospital, and continue to monitor his recovery.

“We try to help it not to be so stressful for (the caregivers), to let them know there are resources,” Goss said. “When a caregiver is first faced with that challenge we’ll come more often and help to educate, and we don’t want to push people to do something that they’re not able to do safely.”

Dr. Michael Knower, medical director of Pioneer Memorial’s Home Health and Hospice Department, said that under Medicare’s hospice benefits the hospital can admit people for a five-day “respite” to give caregivers a break.

“Part of what we do is to keep an eye on the caregiver, make sure that the caregivers are doing OK – if they are not doing OK then we try to intervene and get them back on track,” Knower said. “We try to anticipate problems and step in and say, ‘Wait a minute, if you keep on doing what you’re doing the way you are doing it, you’re going to crash and burn.'”

‘Hidden patients’

Nationwide, there are about 6 million people providing long-term unpaid care for elderly disabled people, according to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine. They do everything from bathing patients to taking them to doctors’ appointments, preparing meals and changing diapers.

Knower said that taking care of a loved one can often be very fulfilling, but “it’s extracted at a considerable cost.”

“Often what we see is that it’s not during the period of active care, ’cause you’re running on adrenaline and you’re able to keep yourself going for them one way or another, but typically what we see during the year after the death of the patient is the caregivers’ health suffers,” Knower said. “Caregivers take a huge hit, and that doesn’t even get into the incidence of depression and other similar forms of stress and mental illness that crop up.”

Caregivers are sometimes described as “hidden patients,” because they often focus more on the medical condition of the family member than on their own well-being. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that, in the one-year period following the patient’s death, caregivers have a higher mortality rate than others in their age group.

The majority of caregivers are women, according to an article in the Archives of Internal Medicine, and are caring for either their parents or their spouses. Most of the roughly 15 people in Pioneer Memorial’s support group are children caring for elderly parents, McCullough said.

Susan Lanier, a Redmond resident, fell into that category when she was taking care of her parents, both of whom passed away in January.

“As soon as Dad died she went a week later – a broken heart I think,” Lanier said. “At the beginning I was taking care of Mom, and then Dad went downhill real fast; like in a week he was gone. It was kind of a shock to everyone.”

Now Lanier works for Medicaid as a professional caregiver in other people’s homes.

“I just love people and I love being able to help them out, doing what they need when they need it, and making good friends,” she said.

But she described caring for her parents in their last months as “heart-rending.”

“It was not easy, but I would do it again in a heartbeat because I loved them both so much,” she said. “It just kind of fell into my lap – my sisters and my brothers were all working and I just started going over there and taking care of them anyway … I had the time and I didn’t mind at all.”

Lutz, who is now planning to move from Prineville to McMinnville to be closer to her children, said she hopes that more attention will be paid to the people in the caregiving role.

“More people are really beginning to explore the underbelly of the hard side of caregiving,” she said. “This is not self-pity and it’s not ‘I, me, look at what I’ve done.’ It is the fact that this is a very tiring, stressful, destructive experience.”

Before she became a caregiver, Lutz led an active lifestyle. She racewalked 35 miles a week and participated in the Portland Marathon four times.

“One of the very difficult parts about being a caregiver for me what that I have always been extremely healthy,” she said. “I came into caregiving being so healthy, and that’s why I think I survived as well as I did. However it has taken me 10 months to come back to anywhere near what I would call pain-free normal.”

But she added that she is “in a good place now,” and the act of caring for her husband was ultimately rewarding.

“It’s a growing experience, and I think we all – when we go right to the very end, to the final whistle – we find a depth of ourselves that we hadn’t known before,” she said. “For some people that is very unsettling, but it was not for me. It was very fulfilling.”

Meetings, work hours prompt Prineville councilor to resign

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: March 30. 2007 5:00AM PST

Prineville City Councilor Tim Harris has announced his intention to resign, citing work-related conflicts.

He has been on the council since 2005, when he was first appointed to fill a vacant seat.

Harris, 33, said he has not yet sent a letter of resignation to the city, but plans to do so by early next week. He added that the resignation is effective immediately.

“I get up at 2:30 in the morning and (council meetings) have been going to 11 o’clock at night, and it was starting to kind of affect my job a little bit,” said Harris, who works in the headquarters of Les Schwab Tire Centers.

“I drive a semi, I drive a $500,000 piece of machinery, and (with) an hour or two hours of sleep, I didn’t feel safe.”

Harris said he started working a shift that requires him to be at work at 3 a.m. about eight months ago. When he was elected in November, he said, and he had some concerns about the hours, but the conflicts have worsened since the beginning of this year.

Prineville’s council meetings have been running long since a controversy broke out in late January about the elimination of Public Works Director Jim Mole’s position. That led to crowded meetings with residents berating the City Council and City Manager Robb Corbett.

Harris had acted as a go-between with the Public Works Department and voiced disagreement with the way some events were handled, but he said that did not play a large part in his decision to resign.

“I respect every councilor, everything they had to say, you know, I respect it, and I felt that I was well respected, too,” he said. “I didn’t necessarily agree with the direction the city was maybe heading, but it didn’t have too much influence on my decision.”

Mayor Mike Wendel said he understands Harris’ reasons for resigning, but added that Harris will be missed on the council.

“I appreciate the commitment that Tim has given to the community, the amount of hours and his dedication to this city,” Wendel said. “He’s definitely been an asset to the community, and I thank him for that.”

Wendel and Councilor Steve Uffelman said that as a young parent and Les Schwab employee, Harris brought an important perspective to the council.

“It’s unfortunate because Tim had a lot to offer to Prineville and he was committed to making the town the best he could,” Uffelman said. “I like his upfront approach to attempting to resolve problems or resolve issues.”

According to the city charter, vacant City Council positions are filled by appointment and approved by a majority vote of the remaining councilors. The appointee would begin work immediately and serve out the rest of Harris’ term, which expires Dec. 31, 2010. Prineville City Council positions are unpaid and last for four years.

Wendel said he hopes to spend some time recruiting a group of applicants from the community.

“My goal at this point would be to really search out and get out into the community, explain what the job is, the time commitment that it takes and everything about the position,” he said. “We are a very fast-growing community, we have a lot of things that are coming at us in the future, and it’s going to take a lot of time, and it’s going to take a big commitment from somebody.”

Prineville council approves city’s first plan for growth

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: March 28. 2007 5:00AM PST

PRINEVILLE – After months of debate and revision, the Prineville City Council unanimously adopted the city’s first comprehensive plan at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

Councilors and audience members reacted with applause and statements of “hallelujah.”

“Very exciting, very exciting,” Mayor Mike Wendel said just after the council approved the first reading of the ordinance passing the plan.

The City Council has been working on the comprehensive plan for more than a year and councilors have cited passing it as a top priority.

The plan lays out guidelines for future growth in the city – which has experienced a population boom in recent years – and emphasizes the development of “complete neighborhoods” with housing, shopping, schools and businesses within walking distance.

The comprehensive plan ordinance had been on the agenda for approval by the City Council at its last meeting March 13, but councilors wanted to allow Interim Planning Director Deborah McMahon time to respond to concerns from the Crook County Planning Department.

At the March 13 meeting, Crook County Planning Director Bill Zelenka said he wanted to make sure that the city’s comprehensive plan will honor earlier agreements with residents within the urban growth boundary about maintaining low-density housing areas.

McMahon and Zelenka said that negotiations between the county and city since the last council meeting resulted in the addition of some language to the text of the plan. The new sections say that development at the edges of the UGB would require master planning first. Councilors also passed a motion approving those changes.

“At this point I feel very confident that we have collaboratively worked with the county to resolve issues,” McMahon said.

Councilors approved the plan with little discussion, after months of back and forth with city planners and county officials. The city has operated under the county’s comprehensive plan since it was passed in 1978, but now will have a planning document specifically designed for the growth Prineville officials are anticipating in the future. The city’s plan, unlike the county’s, does not include specific ordinances for items like zoning, but rather offers general goals.

“I know it was frustrating to you to have us keep throwing it back in your laps, but I’m so glad we worked through that,” Councilor Betty Roppe said. “It makes me much more comfortable.”

Last year, several councilors said their goal was to pass the plan by the end of 2006, but that benchmark was not met. Senior Planner Devin Hearing said Tuesday that the extra time was needed to work through the concerns of different agencies.

“This has been a laborious process, but it’s the right process to address the questions brought up by the city and county,” Hearing said. “Sometimes it serves to drag it out.”

The next step now for the plan is review by the Crook County Court and the State Land Conservation and Development Commission. If the state agency finds any problems with the plan, it could come back to the city for further revision.

Crook looking to resort property tax revenue

Officials debate how 3 planned destination projects would benefit schools, other services

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: March 28. 2007 5:00AM PST

With thousands of multimillion-dollar homes in the works in its destination resort zone, Crook County is looking to reap the benefits in property tax revenues.

But resort homeowners will also benefit from the relatively low rate at which the county assesses property. The assessor’s office taxes property owners on 48 percent of market value, meaning that someone who pays $1 million for a new house would only be taxed on $480,000.

Even with the potential negative impacts to neighboring farms and roads, county officials say the main reason they approved a destination resort overlay zone more than four years ago was for the economic boost: diversifying the area’s economy and, secondarily, increasing the tax base.

“It doesn’t generate the dollars everyone thinks, but it certainly generates some significant dollars, and those dollars are spread out across every tax district in which the destination resort lies,” Crook County Judge Scott Cooper said.

Two resorts have already been approved for Crook County and a third is in the application process. Altogether, they could eventually add more than 3,850 houses and 1,925 overnight stay units in the Powell Butte area.

The county’s destination resort zone falls under a rate that taxes owners $12.3973 for every $1,000 of a home’s assessed value, according to the tax assessment summary for 2006-07. That means that someone whose house is assessed at $1 million would pay $12,397.30 a year in property taxes.

That money is mostly split between the county and the school district, with smaller percentages going to other local agencies.

The county assesses property at a low rate because of statewide ballot measures in the 1990s that imposed limits on property taxes.

Not everyone thinks that adding destination resorts is a boon for the existing citizens in a community.

Carol Macbeth, Central Oregon advocate with 1000 Friends of Oregon, said she thinks that buyers would be drawn to Prineville and Crook County whether the resorts were there or not.

“In a way it’s sucking revenue from the cities and giving it (to) the counties, because these same people who may want high-end homes in gated communities would be spending that money and the tax revenues would be going to the cities in the region,” Macbeth said.

Looking into the crystal ball

Although the county assessor’s office does not have long-term projections for the potential tax revenues from the destination resorts, several properties within Brasada Ranch are already on the tax rolls.

Brasada was the first destination resort approved for Crook County and has started construction on 12 of its eventual 600 homes. Some of the 300 overnight units are already renting on the 1,800-acre property, which developer Eagle Crest bought for about $6 million.

The county collected about $644,000 on a total of 319 lots in Brasada Ranch in the 2006-07 fiscal year, according to Chief Appraiser Brian Huber. Huber added that 55 of the lots were still owned by Brasada, which paid a total of $394,053 in taxes for the lots, golf course and sales building.

By comparison, Crook County took in $19.6 million overall in property taxes last year, according to the yearly summary.

Brett Hudson, Brasada Ranch’s project manager, said homes there will start at about $750,000. At Remington Ranch, a second resort in the Powell Butte area, house prices will average about $3 million to $4 million, Project Manager Chris Pippin said.

A third destination resort, Hidden Canyon, is under consideration by the Crook County Planning Commission. Developers for the Pahlisch Homes-owned resort could not be reached for comment.

Pippin said the tax bill for the 2,200 acres of undeveloped farmland Remington Ranch now sits on was a few thousand dollars a year before developers bought it. With 800 single-family residences and 400 overnight rental units planned, the property’s value “could be a couple hundred times what it was before we purchased the property,” he said.

“So if our property taxes were in the thousands of dollars, they could be hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I could expect them to go up from there,” he said.

Cooper said that developing the destination resort zone, which dictates where resorts can be built, was a strategy to improve the area’s economy, which has been in flux since the last of Prineville’s lumber mills shut down in 2001.

“We were very aware when we adopted (the overlay zone) that the presence of destination resorts is a powerful engine for bringing the attention of potential business relocations to our community,” Cooper said.

But he added that the property tax revenue will mostly benefit county offices such as the road department. The taxes would not significantly help the school district because more money generated locally ends up reducing the state’s contribution, he said.

“It helps the statewide pot but it doesn’t help local schools,” he said.

If the current tax rates for the destination resort zone continue, about 31 percent of the property tax collected from destination resorts would go to the county, according to the 2006-07 tax summary. Another 39 percent would go to the Crook County School District, and 13 percent would be for Crook County Fire and Rescue. The remaining 18 percent would be split up in small increments between items such as the county cemetery, Central Oregon Community College, library and school bonds, and Oregon State University’s Extension Service in Crook County.

Overnight guests at the resorts also pay a room tax, which is currently at about 9 percent, Cooper said. The room tax revenues primarily go toward the Crook County Fairgrounds, the A.R. Bowman Memorial Museum and the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce, he said.

County Assessor Tom Green said that it is difficult to make projections on how much tax the county could collect from resorts in the future.

“We don’t know necessarily when they’re going to come in, how fast they will sell – (there are) a lot of unknowns with it,” Green said. “As far as the actual dollars that are going to be coming in that are going to get divided, that’s a crystal ball thing; that’s pretty hazy right now.”

Adding value

In Deschutes County, whose destination resort market is much more mature, many resort properties are already on the tax rolls. Unlike in Crook County, the resorts are not all taxed at the same rate, but the rate for the Pronghorn resort is at $13.3804 per $1,000 of assessed value, according to the assessor’s office. Pronghorn lies close to the border with Crook County on the Powell Butte Highway.

Dave Lilley, deputy tax collector with Deschutes County, said that Pronghorn Investors LLC, the company that owns the high-end resort, is one of the top 10 taxpayers in the county. He added that the county collected about $750,000 in property taxes from the resort in the 2006-07 fiscal year.

Pippin, Remington Ranch’s project manager, said that destination resorts add value to land that would otherwise not offer much to the county. “Destination resorts are only sited in areas with extremely low-value farmland,” he said. “That is taking farmland that currently does not have a lot of value and is not generating a lot of tax, and turning it into the biggest tax-generating property in the county.”

Cooper added that most of the properties in destination resorts tend to be second homes, which reduces their impact on the surrounding area.

“I think that’s been the experience of every other destination resort in the area – the types of people that go to destination resorts don’t tend to need to call the sheriff for services, destination resorts don’t tend to burn down, they’re not there long enough to require ambulances, and they don’t have a lot of kids to send to schools,” he said.

But 1000 Friends of Oregon’s Macbeth disagreed, calling the depiction of destination resorts as cash cows for the county “disingenuous.”

“There’s a net loss when you build in rural areas – studies show that it costs more (in services),” she said. “People will be coming into the cities daily and using the library, and if they fell ill they’d be using ambulances and police, so they’re using city services anyway, but they’re not paying for them.”

She added that she thinks many destination resorts will look more like residential subdivisions, rather than “self-contained development(s) providing visitor-oriented accommodations and developed recreational facilities,” as described in the Crook County Comprehensive Plan.

“The percentage of people who are using them year-round increases every year, and eventually they will become full-time residences for many of them,” she said.

Pam Hardy, staff attorney for Central Oregon LandWatch, agreed, saying that many destination resorts “end up being nothing but rural subdivisions.”

“The real question … is what does it cost the taxpayers that put in the infrastructure for these resorts?” Hardy said. “Because only looking at the tax revenues is like looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. It’s only looking at the gross profits, not looking at the net profits.”

Area schools are building, teaching eco-friendliness

They’re incorporating such things as solar panels and natural lighting and teaching ‘sustainability’

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: March 27. 2007 5:00AM PST

PRINEVILLE – With energy costs on the rise, the Crook County School District is looking to go green with its next generation of school buildings.

The district is in the middle of an overall review of its school facilities, and officials say designing sustainable, energy-efficient buildings will be a priority in the future.

But Crook County is not the only Central Oregon school district making its schools more eco-friendly. The Oregon Department of Energy considers Sisters High School, which opened in 2003, a model for so-called “high-performance” schools. And some Bend-La Pine schools have incorporated natural lighting and solar panels to save on energy costs.

Jeff Landaker, the chairman of the Crook County School District facilities committee, said that sustainable schools will “without a doubt” figure into the recommendations the group makes to the school board later this year.

Landaker added that the facilities committee will probably finish its work this fall in anticipation of a school bond on the May 2008 ballot.
“It’s for the environment – it’s environmentally good – but secondly, you can see just the cost savings that pertain to that, which translates back into dollars in the classroom for the students,” he said.

Reducing the impact

High-performance schools are ones that incorporate good indoor air ventilation, natural daylight, high energy and water efficiency into its facilities. They also create the opportunity to use the facility as a teaching tool, according to the Oregon Department of Energy.

In its existing schools – which currently are all running out of room for additional students – Crook County has taken a number of measures recently to reduce energy costs. Superintendent Steve Swisher said the district has saved $200,000 a year since upgrading its heating and energy system a few years ago.

“Basically, it’s cost savings for the taxpayer in the long run, when you’re reducing your operating costs,” he said.

Swisher was superintendent of the Sisters School District when the new high school was being designed.

Scott Steele, the school’s architect, said it includes sustainable features such as a storm water and snow retention system, reflective glass to reduce heat gain, occupancy sensor lighting and locally manufactured stonework. He added that the need for less insulation and other materials saved the district $50,000 during construction.

“The buzz word is sustainability, but sustainability really incorporates common-sense design, common-sense use of regional materials, high-energy efficiency and then operational aspects, too. There’s even green cleaning products you can use when you flush them down the drain,” Steele said. “It is absolutely a no-brainer that long term it is in the best interest of the community and the children who are in that building to use sustainable practices.”

Steele said that many of the guidelines for sustainable building are set out by the Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design program, which is run by the U.S. Green Building Council. School architects and project managers can apply for LEED certification based on a ratings system that emphasizes good classroom acoustics, indoor air quality and efficiency.

LEED also has ratings guidelines for other projects. Buildings do not have to achieve certification to be considered high performance, however. For example, Sisters High School is not LEED certified, but meets many of the program’s criteria, Steele said.

Brandon Adams, schools program manager with the Oregon Department of Energy, said that improvements in air quality through better circulation and less use of chemical-heavy building materials can improve student health for conditions such as asthma and allergies. He also presented a study of over 21,000 students in Seattle, Fort Collins, Col., and Capistrano, Calif., showing that students whose schools had the most natural daylight performed 15 percent better on math and 13 percent better on reading tests when researchers controlled for other variables.

Adams added that “one of the coolest aspects” of high-performance schools is the potential for incorporating design features into the curriculum.

Students and teachers in the Bend-La Pine district have also been taking the lead in trying to reduce their schools’ environmental impact. Summit High School has installed solar panels. Becky Mallatt’s first-graders at La Pine Elementary School weigh their leftovers from breakfast and lunch every day so that they are more aware of how much they are wasting. Mallatt said that over the month she has been doing the program, the students’ lunch waste has dropped from about five pounds every day to under a pound.

“I think it’s important for them to think about the waste, that people are hungry in the world and we shouldn’t be just throwing food away,” she said. “If we can start them thinking about this now, then these habits will carry on as they get older.”

Students in Martha Carter’s leadership class at Sky View Middle School in Bend also came up with the idea of a cleanup crew to make sure classrooms are recycling properly. They then incorporated a “watt watchers” program, where teams check on empty rooms to make sure the lights are off and issue reminders or thank-you notes.

“It’s helping the janitors and hopefully setting a good example for other people,” said seventh-grader Courtney Eddleston, 12.

Costs and savings

Local architects, school officials and energy experts say the costs of building a high-performance school have dropped enough that districts should make back the extra investment within a few years.

Adams recently gave a presentation to Crook County’s design subcommittee on the benefits of building green schools. Adams said that eco-friendly construction can save school districts tens of thousands of dollars a year and should not require significantly more in capital investment.

“My goal here is to try to paint a picture for you of what a high-performance school is and how it can benefit the occupants,” Adams said at the meeting. “But I’d also like to (dispel) some myths about the perceived added costs associated with green or high-performance schools.”

He added that capital costs can increase by up to 5 percent during construction, but that money should be made up over the life of the school in energy savings, operating costs and student and teacher retention.

Adams pointed to the model of Sisters High School as a case study for high-performance schools in Central Oregon. That school has features to increase the amount of natural daylight inside the building, such as larger windows and solar shading.

“The staff likes to work in these environments, they like to see the natural daylight, in particular when you have views,” he said.

He added that the process of designing green schools should start early, preferably before the district goes out for a school bond.

Linda Bonotto, schools resource conservation coordinator with Bend-La Pine Schools, said she is working now to add green features to existing plans for three new schools in the district. The next time officials go out for a school bond, she said, they should start out with a high-performance design.

“Even if in the past it has been more expensive to build green schools, now what they’re finding out is it’s paying back much faster,” Bonotto said. “Everyone knows it’s the right thing to do, it’s just always been a matter of money, and now I think that’s an issue that should no longer be a driving factor.”

Bonotto said the new schools will include green materials that emit less gases and features to increase the natural daylight indoors.

“In Central Oregon, where we have 95 percent sunshine every day, we should be integrating solar panels and windows that capitalize on solar functions,” she said.

She added that she thinks school districts should be at the vanguard in designing environmentally friendly buildings.

“It’s the right thing to do – it’s what we should all be doing, particularly in schools, is modeling conservation,” she said. “I think as educators it’s just something we need to be doing. We need to be taking the lead.”

Prineville native stays close to home to teach

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: March 21. 2007 5:00AM PST

PRINEVILLE – Michelle Powers has wanted to be a teacher since she was “like 7 years old.”

And when she decided to start her teaching career, she didn’t look farther than Prineville, where she was born and raised.

Powers, 22, started working as an educational assistant at Cecil Sly Elementary School about two years ago, after hearing from a family friend about a job opening in the school’s reading program. Now she is a student teacher in a fourth-grade class while finishing the final semester of credits for her B.A. in Liberal Studies and Education.

“When I was a senior (in high school), like all seniors, all kids from a small town want to get out of there,” said Powers, who went to Prineville’s Crooked River Elementary School, Crook County Middle School and graduated from Crook County High School in 2002. “I can relate to what the kids are going through here.”

She added that she decided to stay in Prineville – from where she commuted to Oregon State University-Cascades Campus – toward the end of college.

“I liked the community and the schools here,” she said.

Powers has been student teaching part time since January and will be in the classroom full time starting in April. She will teach 2 1/2 hours a day on her own and be in charge for one three-week period.

So far, she has been helping out in the classroom and teaching a variety of subjects for about 1 1/2 hours each day, said Gretchen Stack, the teacher with whom Powers works. She also designed a language arts project about the Oregon Trail that combined reading and writing exercises.

Stack said she thinks Powers will be a “fantastic teacher.”

“I think that she has a distinct advantage because she’s worked as an educational assistant, so she’s familiar with working with children,” she said. “She knows to grab those quiet ones and keep them with her.”

She added that being from Prineville is also an advantage for Powers.

“It helps a lot,” Stack said. “She has knowledge of lots of the families and she has background with many, many people … it’s rather nice, because she has a little heads-up.”

Ashley Bond, one of Stack’s fourth-graders, said she thinks it’s “pretty cool” that Powers grew up in the area.

“She’s a really nice teacher,” Ashley, 9, said. “I just really hope she gets a job (here).”

Kila Moies, 9, agreed.

“It would actually be cool to have her as a substitute,” Kila said. “I’m hoping that it will be fun with her for the rest of the year because it’s been fun for her and it’s been fun for us, too.”

And Aaron Drake, 10, added that having Powers in the classroom has been very helpful.

“I think it’s nice that she’s putting her time and effort into working with us,” Aaron said.

Powers said that her first choice would be to find a teaching job in Prineville next year.

“(It helps the students) to see that people from here care about here and that they want to make a difference locally,” Powers said. “It’s not always about what’s outside, but it’s about what’s here, too.”