Pine Valley Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 1:40-3:40pm
Present: Liz McLellan, Larry & Celinda Miller, Steve White, Bill Schuhle, Bill Shields (arrived late), Mark Christianson, Ruai Gregory, Denise Christianson, Teresa Brown, Inga Thompson, Lisa Ochoa, Kathy Knight
Liz began the meeting with a reminder of the recently agreed-upon meeting norms for the benefit of the new folks present as well as the “old-timers.”
Finance Report. The financial report, which is available separately, was read and approved. Bill Shields was to present a cover letter for our $2,000 check to the Arts Council for our approval at this meeting, but wasn’t present so Liz asked if she & I might have permission to sign off on that letter between meetings if it looked good and there were no objections. Regarding the generous $3,500 donation from Gordon Janzck to fund the MainStreet Stage’s sound system, it was agreed that our normal fee of 1% for handling tax-deductible donations for our partners would be assessed on this transaction for the Hells Canyon Chamber.
Bandstand Update. Foundation anchor forms are in place awaiting pouring of concrete and actual construction is scheduled to begin next Wednesday, assuming a timely inspection sign-off. The beams that George Guarino has designed for the front structure of the bandstand were described as “beautiful” to no one’s surprise. The bandstand’s opening hurrah, which is being called “First Fandango”, is scheduled for June 8th beginning at noon.
New Member Progress. Liz reiterated the need for UCP to involve more people with long-time roots in the valley so that our decisions can reflect real needs and real expectations. Liz invited Inga Thompson, who was present, as well as Deanna Pennock and Terri Simmons who couldn’t yet make it. Denise has talked to several folks and found some resistance. She emphasized the need not only for ideas, but for history as the feedback she has gotten is that UCP seems to be doing things that have already been done. She’s talked with Yvonne Riggs, David & Linda Bird, and Carol Harris and encountered anger/disappointment with regard to UCP’s past. Liz acknowledged that and indicated that we’re now a new organization under new management. Teresa Brown said the talk she hears from old-timers is that UCP is trying to turn Halfway into a new Joseph. She emphasized that the reason our town is even still here is because of the families who, for generations, have run cattle and made a living at it and we need to respect that. Denise pointed out that we need to define what we mean when we say we want economic development. Steve White said that for the past eight years, UCP has done primarily nothing, so he wasn’t sure what the fear was. He suggested getting the word out as to what we’re about by putting minutes (or a summary) in the paper. Teresa suggested interfacing with the City Council as a good way to get the word out and better inform our decisions. Inga talked about the huge advantage of keeping the money made in the valley IN the valley and referenced a study from years ago that addressed this very issue and suggested this as a possible UCP “platform.” Denise suggested considering what one of us would do to integrate ourselves into the Lions Club or the Grange or the Fair Association and think “from the other side” what it would be like for new members joining us. There was discussion of the advantages of keeping local money local and re-circulating and Liz recommend “The Small-Mart Revolution” as a good book to read in that regard.
Eagle Creek Orchard Project. The orchard has lost approximately 90% of their crop to a killing frost and Liz has offered them her help with online fundraising (through Indiegogo.com) of $30,000 to help save the orchard through upgraded frost protection equipment to weather similar future events. Since this service is something she offers both personally and through UCP, she asked if we would like to receive credit for what she is doing there and there was unanimous agreement to that proposal. Liz invited anyone interested to “Like” the project on Facebook and, for more information on crowd funding, join her online networking/fundraising workgroup, again on Facebook.
Services Offered by UCP. Liz handed out an outline of UCP and its services which had been distributed at the Chamber’s community organization gathering several weeks ago. There was a question about using the term “umbrella” organization and Bill Schuhle suggested substituting “partner.” Ruai pointed out that technically we can only partner with other 501(c)(3)-qualified organizations. The way to legitimately support a project (under IRS rules), is to make it our own and if the project is a project of an individual, that individual needs to become a member of UCP. Liz and Ruai will work on getting clarity on this whole issue and bring that information back to the group.
Project Proposal Form. Liz offered the group a draft of a form to be used for gathering information from folks seeking project support from UCP and asked for input on the form. Steve suggested including something like “Project Champion” as an item to be filled in. Bill Schuhle said that he had filled out the form for the water project he was bringing to the meeting and agreed to send an electronic copy to all concerned so they could take a look at it.
Spartan Run Update. Larry Miller described the concept for those unfamiliar (an extreme obstacle course race). The purpose of putting on such a race in Pine Valley would be to bring people and income to the community. After talking with community members, he suggested the possibility of doing a relay race that involved a Spartan race segment and a horse race segment. If someone came in and put a race on, much of the income would probably leave the community. A locally-produced biathlon, as Larry suggested some time ago, would not have this issue.
Rodale Regeneration Project Update. Celinda spoke of the need for community interdependence, moving beyond differences and polarization. She read portions of a synopsis of the Rodale regeneration materials that she had put together, a major feature of this approach to community “development” being the discovery of, expansion of, and reliance on local resources and skills as opposed to the more common importation of external resources at far greater expense and with a concomitant reduction in a sense of self-reliance and community. The material available on this approach is extensive, but as a starting point, Bill Schuhle will send to the UCP mail list a copy of the full synopsis from which Celinda read. Liz asked whether Celinda saw the Rodale approach as something to be presented to the community or solely to be used as information for UCP’s internal discussion and way-finding. Celinda said she wished to start within UCP with the possibility of expansion to the larger community. It was agreed that, for the time being, the materials would be used to inform our internal discussions. Ruai offered that the upcoming Ford Family Leadership Development training being offered this fall in Halfway would dove-tail very nicely with the approach described in the Rodale materials. Denise commented positively on the information and concurred with the “begin internal, expand into external projects” approach to applying it.
Halfway Emergency Water System Proposal. On behalf of local resident Mike Beidler, who was unavailable to present due to pressing health issues, Bill Schuhle presented Mike’s intensely-researched water system proposal. Bill read Mike’s one-page description of the problem and potential solution. In a nutshell, there are several scenarios which could, possibly in the near future, result in our country’s electrical grid being put out of commission for an extended period of time. Since the City of Halfway’s water supply system is dependent on electrical pumps, if and when the diesel backup generators were to run out of fuel, the City would be without water. Mike is proposing the acquisition and storage of a complete gravity-fed system that, in such a situation, could be quickly installed to bring water to the City system from the Leep Spring up the west wall where the City originally got its water prior to switching to well water. Estimated cost is $25,000 and Mike is requesting of UCP funding for a grant writer to seek grant funding sufficient to implement such a backup plan. Teresa Brown, who is a Halfway City Council member, indicated there were issues with several governmental agencies regarding the implementation of such a plan. Liz indicated that UCP would work with the City in whatever capacity the City thought would be useful. Bill emphasized the “catastrophic” nature of the circumstances under which such a plan would be implemented and the zero likelihood that the DEQ or EPA would be around to give anyone a hard time about a survival plan. He indicated that Mayor Sheila Farwell saw no problem with a group of private citizens making such preparations on their own totally apart from the City. Denise mentioned the possibility of including mini-hydro power generation in the system and suggested any grant writer might want to look into those possibilities as well. Liz suggested the formation of an ad hoc committee to work with the City on this whole idea, saying the project needs a champion and people with time to work on it. She indicated a willingness to support such a project should Mike find interested people to help and a possible source of grant funding for which we could fund a grant writer.
Friends of Feline Ferals Proposal. Lisa Ochoa, owner-operator of Paloma’s Place animal sanctuary in Pine Valley (a 501c3 corporation), described the organization’s Friends of Feline Ferals (FoFF) project aimed at humanely reducing the homeless feral cat population in town and in the valley through the trap-neuter-return method which has been proven to be more effective and cost-effective than simple euthanasia. This technique, combined with care-givers who “adopt” a colony of ferals and make sure they have food and water, drastically reduces the spread of feline disease among the feral population as well as area pets. FoFF is looking for volunteers and for assistance with funding a grant writer to obtain grant funding for acquiring sufficient traps to do the trapping that needs to be done to address the problem. Liz offered help with social media fund raising and our likely support for a grant writer if an appropriate grant can be found. Inga Thompson indicated that Best Friends of Baker is closing down and has donated $95,000 to New Hope for Eastern Oregon. She suggested contacting them for possible funds. Liz offered assistance with social media fund raising and adding a FoFF project page to the UCP web site to indicate our partnership with FoFF. Denise indicated that farmers tend to have traps and they might be willing to lend them for the project. Bill Shields said some homeowners might be happy to pay for a trap in exchange for having their feral cat problem cleaned up. Steve offered that traps could possibly be built economically by interested locals.
Bylaws Discussion. This discussion, which was the final item on the agenda, was forgone due to time getting short and some folks having to leave. The meeting was adjourned at 3:40pm.
Our next regular meeting will be June 3, 2013, and will be held at the Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall at 1:30pm.
Bill Schuhle, Secretary/Treasurer