Wasco County citizens file suit against NORCOR spending taxpayer dollars to detain non-citizens

THE DALLES, Ore.—A lawsuit filed today by several Oregon taxpayers is challenging the use of a publicly funded jail to detain non-citizens on behalf of the federal government. For the past 30 years, Oregon law has prohibited local law enforcement to engage in federal immigration enforcement. The Northern Oregon Regional Correction facility (NORCOR) is a public jail located in The Dalles and funded by Hood River, Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam counties. Since 2014, In addition to housing local inmates, NORCOR has been housing people the federal government wants detained for immigration purposes—even though Oregon law expressly prohibits using state or local public funds for federal immigration enforcement.

Note: scroll down for copy of lawsuit filed and exhibit 1 copy of the intergovernmental agreement with NORCOR and the US Marshalls Service.

“NORCOR officials have been violating Oregon law by using taxpayer money to detain people for federal immigration purposes,” said Jessica Campbell, Co-Director of the Rural Organizing Project, a statewide network of over 60 groups organizing for human dignity across Oregon. “This is not only a violation of the law, it’s a violation of the trust Oregonians have in their locally elected officials and their public institutions.”  Campbell and others, none of whom are directly involved in the lawsuit, have been advocating for NORCOR to end its program for immigration detention.

NORCOR, located in The Dalles, Oregon, is a public entity constructed in 1999 specifically to house inmates from the four counties that finance it. The construction of the NORCOR facility was financed by taxpayers under a General Obligation bond and more than half of the facility’s annual operating expenses are paid for by taxpayers, including roughly $2 million provided by Wasco County taxpayers.

In 2014, NORCOR officials contracted with the federal government to house people the federal government wants detained due to immigration issues, even though Oregon law has prohibited the use of state or local funds on federal immigration enforcement for three decades. Oregon Governor Kate Brown recently re-affirmed this principle when she declared Oregon a sanctuary state. By using Oregon resources for federal immigration in violation of Oregon law, the case contends that NORCOR is misusing taxpayer money.

“We applaud the courage of those who are challenging NORCOR’s use of local public funds and hope that NORCOR stops detaining people for federal immigration purposes,” said Andrea Williams, the Executive Director of Causa Oregon, a statewide immigrant rights organization. “We must uphold the integrity of Oregon’s 30 year-old law that limits our local resources from being used to enforce questionable federal immigration policies,” explained Williams, who is not involved in the lawsuit.

Lawyers for NORCOR will have an opportunity to respond to the lawsuit before the judge makes a decision.

Stephen W. Manning, a lawyer with Immigrant Law Group PC, and a member of the Innovation Law Lab, represents several of the taxpayer plaintiffs.

Here’s a copy of the suit as filed

Grass Valley will hold hearing on permit for hemp facility in former Grass Valley School

The City of Grass Valley City Council will conduct a public hearing beginning at 7:00 p.m. on August 7, 2017, in the Grass Valley Pavilion.

The purpose of the public hearing is to consider a Conditional Use Permit request on behalf of Aurora Gardens LLC. to operate a hemp processing and production facility on the former school site.

The property is the former School Facility located at 212 North Street in the City. It is described by the Sherman County Assessor’s Recorders as Tax Lot 100 of Assessor’s Map 2S-16E-26CD. The property is planned and zoned Residential – Agricultural (R-A).

Aurora Gardens is currently registered with Oregon Department of Agriculture for industrial hemp activities.

Both proponents and opponents of this issue will be given opportunity to submit written testimony or speak before the Commission. Failure to raise a specific issue during the local review process may preclude an appeal to the City Council or Land Use Board of Appeals based on this issue.

Staff report and other documentation will be available no later 7 days prior to the hearing. Written testimony should be submitted to City Administrator until 5:00 pm on day of hearing.

Jaime Herrera Beutler says no tolling targeting Washington drivers

U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler sent a letter to Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matthew Garrett stating her opposition to any tolling proposal by the State of Oregon that would unfairly target Washington commuters on Interstate Highways 5 and 205.

To read the letter, click on the headline above.

Goldendale City Council Monday, July 17, hearing on six-year road plan

Goldendale City Council meets tonight. Among other items on the agenda is a public hearmg on the six-year street plan. That plan calls for an overlay on Columbus from Broadway to Simcoe Drive in 2018, followed by reconstruction of West Byars from Mill to Columbus and North Mill from Broadway to the city limits both in 2019. To see the complete list, click on the title above.

New MCMC CEO meets the media

Dennis Knox, new CEO for Mid-Columbia Medical Center, met with media representatives from The Dalles, Hood River and Goldendale Friday. We asked him what he found when he came to town that pleasantly surprised him and what things might need the most work. He answered: “The caliber of our medical staff, the caliber of our advanced practitioners, the caliber of our employees is just overwhelmingly better than I could have epected. The thing that’s worse than expected was the financial systems. Financial systems here are just honestly not believable.”

Knox said he ended up getting the chief financial officer of his previous hospital to take a leave of absence and come to The Dalles to straighten things out. He also supplied a biography:

Dennis Knox Professional Biography


Dennis Knox is a 37-year healthcare veteran and is the President/CEO of Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles, OR. He has served the past 27 years as a Chief Executive Officer in for-profit and not-for-profit healthcare companies, which included operating multi-hospital sites. During his career he has been successful creating organizational cultures of performance, accountability and positive attitude throughout the hospital community and connecting quickly with all stakeholders to achieve improved and sustainable bottom-line results in highly competitive environments. He also has a proven track record of establishing cultures of high quality and safety that were fundamental in achieving a reputation of leading financial and regulatory turnarounds.

Prior to coming to Mid-Columbia Medical Center in May 2017, Dennis co-founded a nation-wide urgent care company called Urgent Point. His concentration was on the standardization of quality care and gaining economies of scale through scaling. Before that he served as the CEO of Antelope Valley Hospital (AVH) in Lancaster, CA. There he established himself as the senior advisor of an employee-driven Cultural Transformation Team to initiate quick wins throughout the organization resulting in improved morale and operational performance. The organization incorporated Behavioral Standards in all job descriptions, initiated engagement strategies based on employee survey feedback and was well on its way to achieving the goal to become the Employer and Hospital of Choice.

Prior to AVH, Dennis was CEO of Southwest Healthcare System located in Southern California. There, for the second time in his career, he led the total reformulation of an integrated and comprehensive Quality Program. The Quality Outcomes Division that was established was instrumental in raising CMS Core Measures from the 50th percentile to the 90th percentile as well as establishing a comprehensive culture of quality and patient safety with indoctrinating the Patient Safety and Quality Council.

In his position as CEO of Phoenix Baptist Hospital he established the Abrazo Institute on campus. This was a “company university” to provide education and training to new nurses in programs ranging from prerequisite courses to Master of Nursing degrees. It also offered courses in radiology and other allied health professions.

At the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System (MHHS) Dennis directed the establishment of the Memorial Hermann Continuing Care Corporation to create LTACHs and operate post-acute care services supporting the nine acute care facilities of the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System as well as to function independently of the System. This also included the start-up and of two long-term acute care hospitals and the integration of a nursing home, skilled nursing facility and Alzheimer’s Unit.

Mr. Knox is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and holds both a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Management Science from Duke University where he was a three-sport letterman in football, baseball and track.

Blue Zones Project The Dalles issues first report

PORTLAND, Ore. (July 14, 2017)—Just three months have passed since The Dalles was named one of three communities selected to be Oregon’s newest Blue Zones Project demonstration sites. In that time, the Blue Zones Project Oregon team has been busy with early initiative activities, such as conducting focus groups, assessing the ease of walking and biking in the area, recruiting volunteer leaders, and interviewing local staff candidates.

The Blue Zones Project initiative is a community-led effort to help make healthy choices easier in the places where people spend most of their time,” said Aaron Patnode, Executive Director of Blue Zones Project Oregon. “To do that well, we spend the first several months learning, listening, and connecting. We make it a priority to collaborate with the people and organizations that are already working to make the community a great place to be.”

Learning About the Community

During the week of May 22nd, the Blue Zones Project Oregon team hosted 15 focus groups and 19 interviews with individual community members. All together, the team talked with more than 120 people who shared insights on what they love about their community, and what they would like to see change to better support health and well-being.

On June 18th, the team was back in The Dalles to assess opportunities that would enhance the built environment to better support natural movement and social connection. The team, joined by Dan Burden, Director of Inspiration and Innovation at Blue Zones LLC, and Samantha Thomas, Built Environment Manager at Blue Zones LLC, met with city planners and transportation experts, as well as local walking and biking advocates.

Recruiting Leaders

Finalists for the four local staff positions have been identified. Once the hiring process is complete, staff will begin work in early August. Additionally, Blue Zones Project is building the local governance for the initiative and has begun to recruit volunteers from the community to serve on the Steering and Sector Committees. The committee positions are expected to be filled by early August. Once selected, more than 50 community volunteers will work together with local staff to lead the initiative.

Up Next

Later this summer, as part of the Blue Zones Project initiative, The Dalles will participate in the first of several annual surveys known as the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. The survey focuses on five elements of well-being: social, purpose, community, physical, and financial, and will serve as the baseline year-to-year measurement for the initiative.

In 2014, Cambia Health Foundation brought Blue Zones Project to Oregon in support of Oregon Healthiest State.

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About Blue Zones Project

Blue Zones Project® is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city’s environment, policy, and social networks. Established in 2010, Blue Zones Project is inspired by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author who identified five regions of the world—Blue Zones®—with the highest concentration of people living to 100 years or older. Blue Zones Project incorporates Buettner’s findings and works with cities to implement policies and programs that will move a community toward optimal health and well-being. Currently, 42 communities in nine states have joined Blue Zones Project, impacting more than 3.3 million Americans nationwide. The movement includes three beach cities in California; 15 cities in Iowa; Albert Lea, Minnesota; the city of Fort Worth; and communities in Southwest Florida, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Blue Zones Project is a division of Sharecare. For more information, visit bluezonesproject.com.

About Sharecare

Sharecare is the digital health company that helps people manage all their health in one place. The Sharecare platform provides each person—no matter where they are in their health journey—with a comprehensive and personalized health profile, where they can dynamically and easily connect to the information, evidence-based programs, and health professionals they need to live their healthiest, happiest, and most productive life. With award-winning and innovative frictionless technologies, scientifically validated clinical protocols, and best-in-class coaching tools, Sharecare helps providers, employers, and health care plans effectively scale outcomes-based health and wellness solutions across their entire populations. To learn more, visit www.sharecare.com.

About Cambia Health Foundation

Based in Portland, Ore., Cambia Health Foundation is the corporate foundation of Cambia Health Solutions, a total health solutions company dedicated to transforming the way people experience health care. Cambia Health Foundation is a 501(c)(3) grant-making organization that strategically invests in and partners with organizations regionally and nationally to advance palliative care quality, access and understanding; improve the mental and behavioral health of underserved children; and transform health care to a more person-focused and economically sustainable system. Learn more at cambiahealthfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter.

About Oregon Healthiest State

Oregon Healthiest State is a privately led, publicly supported partnership to assist Oregon communities in achieving better health outcomes. More than 70 percent of our health is influenced by our behaviors and surroundings, while just 30 percent is influenced by genetics and access to health care. That 70 percent is where Oregon Healthiest State focuses its attention. This cross-sector, statewide movement addresses health and well-being on all levels—physical, mental, emotional, social, financial, and sense of purpose. Oregon Healthiest State will work statewide through initiatives that align allies and resources to take on the state’s most pressing health issues; and at the local level through programs to help communities make healthy options abundant for everyone. Oregon Healthiest State’s goal is that by 2020, Oregonians are healthy, health equity increases, and Oregon is the healthiest state. For more information, visit ORhealthieststate.org

Team Mosier reveals Union Pacific offer

To see the offer as submitted by Union Pacific, click on the title.

Team Mosier, that consortium created last year by intergovernmental agreement to negotiate a settlement with Union Pacific following last year’s derailment oll spill and fire, has been negotiating with the railroad for nine months. Last night the group made public an offer sheet from Union Pacific. Some of the details include a $250,000 donation to the Mosier Fire District to purchase equipment, $500,000 to help fund the construciton of a future combined city hall/fire hall, $350,000 for Mosier School and $400,000 to be used at the Team Mosier discrestion, up to $350,000 for a dry hydrant and an easement to run under the railroad tracks to the water source. In addition, the railroad said it would donate several acres between Highway 30 and the railroad tracks and would build a fence between that property and the tracks. The mood was cautiously optimistic and Team Mosier agreed in general terms with the offer, subject to several clarifications before it would recommend acceptance to the fire board, school board and city council, all of whom would have to approve the deal.