At their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 14, the Hines Common Council approved a business license for High Desert Transformations LLC, owned by Christopher Boyce and David Lee.
Boyce said the LLC is a house renovation business in Terrebonne, but he is also a medical marijuana grower. Boyce said his wife has breast cancer and doctors prescribed marijuana to improve her appetite during cancer treatments. During that time, Boyce received his medical marijuana license so he could grow plants instead of having to spend money for the products, and his wife began to make edible marijuana products for other women with cancer in Deschutes County.
“My business partner and I have been all over the state looking for the best place to set up a recreational marijuana business and we believe that is in Hines,” Boyce said.
Boyce told the council they have made an offer on a two-acre property in the Lottery Lane area to use for the grow operation.
Boyce stated they would put up a shop that would have indoor grow rooms as well as two 20’ x 100’ greenhouses. He then explained how the harvesting cycles would work, and what security measures would be put in place. Boyce added that at this time, they have no plans to sell any marijuana in the local area but are aiming for the Portland market.
Councilor Diane Rapaport asked Boyce why they wouldn’t sell to a local dispensary?
Boyce said it was something he hadn’t considered before, but he is open to suggestions from the council.
There is also the possibility of expanding the business and Boyce said they would, to the best of their ability, hire locally, frequent local businesses as much as possible, and “just be a good neighbor.”
The council also asked about the amount of water usage for the business?
Boyce said he didn’t have those figures, but he could provide the council with estimates on both initial use and maximum use by mid-January.
The motion to approve the business license was approved unanimously.
The council discussed the possible influx of people coming into the area for the solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017.
It was pointed out that the eclipse will occur during the middle of fire season, bow hunting will be open, and the amount of traffic in the area could triple in numbers.
It was reported motels and campsites all over the state are filling up fast and because the John Day area is in the path of totality, there is a good chance “eclipsers” will stay in Harney County and travel to the best areas to experience the eclipse on the day of the event.
Councilor Loren Emang stated the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) in the Baker City area is already making preparations on how to handle the expected increase of travelers, and he would like to see some conversation from ODOT in Harney County.
It was agreed the department heads at the city and county levels should schedule a meeting to discuss a “game plan.”
City Administrator Judy Erwin reported she would be attending the Valley Golf Club board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 14, to find out more about their financial situation.
Erwin told the council the state had collected $54 million in taxes from marijuana sales by the end of November and it was suggested to her to write to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the governor, Senator Ron Wyden, and the Department of Revenue and request a portion of those funds be released to the state’s Common School Fund to help offset the shortfall in the state’s budget.
Training for elected officials to cover public meeting laws and legislative changes, and hosted by the League of Oregon Cities, will be held Feb. 2 in Redmond and March 30 in Ontario.
Erwin attended an air quality meeting on Dec. 2 regarding the Red Flag program that was started last year. Erwin said information about the program would be included in residents’ water bills, and they discussed putting information on businesses’ reader boards and presenting education on the program in the schools. She added that the Department of Environmental Quality is working on an article for the newspaper.
The city of Hines Lighting Contest was scheduled for Dec. 19, and the top three winners would receive prizes from Oregon Trail Electric and C & B Sanitary.
The Hines Planning Commission will be meeting Jan. 9, and the city is still in need of commission members. If interested, contact city hall at 541-573-2251.
Hines Police Chief Ryan DeLange asked the council to allow the police reserve program to be put back into place.
“The reserve program is vital to the police department,” DeLange said. “We’re undermanned and I need help.”
DeLange stated there will always by liability issues, but the program works well. He said the reserve officers are trained and spend most of their time as volunteers.
Mayor Nikki Morgan asked DeLange to work up a plan, meet with City Administrator Erwin and Citycounty Insurance Services, and report back to the council.
In other business:
• Acting Public Works Superintendent Jerry Lewellen reported his department had been getting the snow plow and road grader ready for snow, including putting a new hydraulic hose on the plow and new batteries in the grader.
Lewellen said his department repaired a water line break in the Peter French area, and they are conducting flow tests on the fire hydrants;
• In his report, Chief DeLange said theft cases are up, and Officer Roxane Ellis had been busy handling the sex abuse cases. He said Officer Marc Novak was doing well at the police training academy and will have a two-week break beginning Dec. 23.
DeLange said Officer Ellis helped out with “Operation Christmas,” and asked Hines resident Robert Beers to explain what the program entailed. Beers said his son had been raising money, mostly by collecting cans and bottles, and had collected about $2,000.
On a certain night, random vehicles were pulled over and the drivers were presented with money or cards. The funds were also used to fill tags on the Trees of Joy.
“He’s put about a third of the money back into the community already,” Beers said.
DeLange stated during the Christmas parade, there was a protester holding a sign that contained inappropriate language. Delange said the person has the right to protest, but he was going to check into the statutes and see if there is anything that can be done about the language so it doesn’t happen again;
• Councilor Rapaport asked if the council and the county court communicated well with each other because a citizen felt the towns were being left out because of an “agricultural-centered county court.” It was pointed out that the current county court is made up of two members who previously operated businesses in town, and the third is an agricultural producer.
Mayor Morgan added that the county is primarily based in agriculture, and the court is responsible for the entire county.
The newly-elected councilors, Beers and Raymond V. Breshears, will be sworn in at the next council meeting which will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, at city hall.