Ranch Matters CRR

A freelance news gathering service

Part of an award winning journalism team
Providing an interactive investigative news site designed to inform & elicit communication focusing on matters impacting Crooked River Ranch matters & beyond

SUNDOWNING

11/19/21, 4:42 PM

SUNDOWNING

At our last Board of Directors meeting (11/15/21), Ranch Director/Treasure Jerry Cooper commented on the Special Road District (SRD) Minutes regarding the Sundown Canyon Road project/proposal. Cooper stated, “By reading the TEXT-they’re (Ranch Water Company) Fighting Back.”

Ranch President Bill Burt explained, “The Water Company doesn’t want to move the vault” and added the water Company has been given time by the SRD to explore other options.

 

Cooper, apparently not happy with Burt’s explanations said, “Are we going to look into legal action?” Burt answered, “It could come to that I suppose.” Burt reminded Cooper that the Ranch doesn’t “have any skin in the game.”

Cooper retorted, “We do,well, the people down at the BOTTOM there deserve our attention…”

Burt answered, “Absolutely” and explained how “pressure can be applied here and there…

 

VP Carl Harbour agreed and said, “…Sundown Canyon deserves to be, ultimately brought up to the same road conditions…minimum County standards…”

Director Randy Peterson weighed in and stated, “The 26 feet they say the road needs go be, the width of it, is kind of a safety issue-especially in that area.” He added, “Anytime you have a safety label attached to anything like that it should become a priority…”

“SKIN IN THE GAME”?

As reported, the following day, Ranch Matters met with CRR Water Company General Manager Frank Day regarding Director Cooper’s remarks.

Day responded, “Unfortunately those are comments from Director Jerry Cooper. However, I do appreciate President Bill Burt staying neutral and supporting the process. I feel we’re working very well with the SRD and will find an option that works for both parties.”

Manager Day explained the process involving the difficult terrain issues facing the project parties, costs to move the water vault-“75K” and legal issues. Day further explained lines of authority and how Jefferson County via their Codes and Statutes could be interjected into the equation.

LINES OF AUTHORITY

According to Jefferson County Public Works Director Matt Powlison, the SRD operates autonomously and with little oversight from the County. However, the County is the “principal road authority” and he cited a section from the Special Road

District Guidebook used by Deschutes County. Section VI, Road Maintenance Responsibilities states, “The responsibility and authority for various road functions in unincorporated areas of the county are divided between Deschutes County and its road districts. As the principal road authority, Deschutes County retains the exclusive authority to: grant permits to public and private utilities to place utility facilities in County right-of-way; establish and enforce regulations to limit encroachments in the public right-of-way and order their removal; establish weight limits; issue gate or stock guard permits and abate road hazards under ORS 368.251-368.281. Road districts have no police powers.”

Powlison told us to substitute Jefferson County when the above referenced Deschutes County because he follows the exact same guidelines.

When asked about the Sundown Canyon Road project, Powlison stated: “The widening of Sundown Canyon Road is the key problem.” He said, “Why now and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” He added, “There are lots of narrow roads across the County.”

Powlison is aware of the issues surrounding this project and said he checked with Alexa Gassner, Jefferson County’s Counsel and she explained to him, how the County could get involved along with discussing potential undefined legal liability issues. He added, “We want this problem solved at the lowest level possible.” However, “If things ramped up, especially legally speaking, County Counsel would be forced to get involved along with the County Commission who have the ultimate say-authority.”

The impacted parties have conveyed their concerns related to the potential undefined liability issues facing them individually and or collectively. Ranch Matters left phone messages and stopped by Ms. Gassner’s office hoping to get some legal explanation related to the liability matter. As of publication we have received no response.

We also had an opportunity to talk with SRD Chairperson Sue Haley.

Ms. Haley was asked about the Sundown Canyon Road project. According to Haley, “Jordan (Ranch Road Supervisor Jordan Jones) started rebuilding the road and was the first one to ask Frank Day (Ranch Water Company General Manager) to move the Vault and then Frank refused-that’s how the SRD became involved.” Further, “The Ranch has received lots of complaints about Sundown Canyon and that’s what led to Jordan working to rebuild it in the first place. However, he’s trying to bring all the roads up to County standard, but this one just got bumped up because he had so many resident complaints.”

Haley said they surveyed the area and “His (Frank Day’s) Vault is sitting almost right in the middle of the right-of-way, so it makes it very difficult for us to get the width we need…”

Haley believes the Ranch requested their help “Because we’re the road authority and we can ask the Water Company to move the Vault. The Ranch can’t ask or make the Water Company move the Vault so that’s why the SRD got involved.” “We’re the ultimate authority, but we work together with the Ranch Road Department.”

“Jordan or Judy (Ranch Manager Judy Lapora) they come to us, if they think we need to be involved. Mainly, the SRD, takes care of the paved roads and Jordan takes care of the gravel roads.”

Regarding money matters, Haley stated, “The Water Company wants us to share, in the cost of whatever happens with the Vault, but, we’re not going to.” “The SRD is not going to contribute to that factor.” “Frank Day said it’s going to cost 75K, but I don’t believe that. He’s making it a whole lot more complicated then it needs to be.”

Ms. Haley’s response to Director Cooper’s remarks about “legal action: “The SRD, as you know, doesn’t have the funding to hire a lawyer and quickly added, “I think we got, kinda got put in the middle of it.”

Chairperson Haley ended stating: “At this point, I feel we don’t have any solutions.”

Ranch Matters Staff