KWSO News for 1/6/20

About 175 people attended Senator Jeff Merkley’s town hall at the Madras Performing Arts Center on Saturday Jan. 4, 2020.  The Senator held town halls in Redmond and Prineville on the same day.  Senator Merkley talks about the Water Crisis in Warm Springs “Another issue that had come up was the Warm Springs Water System that had so many challenges with the failing Pressure reducing valves and shattered pipes. Working with Senator Wyden we’ve crafted a bill to try to help with water projects on Tribal reservations, that bills not completed yet, but we’re also trying to get funding that could be allocated to assist and there’s been some federal funds that have already come to Warm Springs already to assist them in that water project.” Prior to the town hall, Merkley met with members of local government including Warm Springs Tribal Council Members Wilson Wewa, Anita Jackson and Glendon Smith along with CTWS Governmental Affairs director Louie Pitt. Senator Merkley presented Dan O’Brien of the Jefferson County Cultural Coalition, a flag that flew over the US capitol, to recognize the coalition’s efforts to increase local participation in the arts and in celebrating the varied cultures & histories of Jefferson County.

Restaurant owners in Madras voice their concerns over a prepared food tax that will be voted on later this year.  As reported by the Bulletin a 5% prepared food tax is set to be voted on in a May special ballot that would generate approximately $990,000 a year to help address the deteriorating transportation system. Paul Rodby, owner of the Madras McDonald’s, said he worries the tax could keep travelers from stopping for food in the city. The transportation advisory committee said the money raised each year is nearly three times as much as a gas tax would generate and that it would be more sensitive to low-income residents because dining at restaurants is more of a choice than a necessity. Rodby disagrees with the impact on low -income residents. About 40% of sales at the Madras McDonald’s are value menu items, which are meals between $1 and $3. Madras would join two other cities in Oregon that have a prepared food tax. Ashland created its prepared food tax in 1993, and Yachats created its tax in 2008.

The decades-long quest of Chinook [CHUH-nook] tribal members to regain federal recognition gets another airing in court today. A U.S. District Court judge will hear oral arguments on competing requests from the tribe and the Interior Department for summary judgment on a lawsuit. Correspondent Tom Banse reports. ”The Chinook people are the original inhabitants around the mouth of the Columbia River. The U.S. Congress never ratified the treaty that the tribe and other coastal bands signed in 1851. Current Chinook tribal chairman Tony Johnson says the tribe is asking a federal judge for the right to reapply for federal recognition. Federal status opens the door to myriad government programs that could improve health care, education and job prospects. Tony Johnson: “This is a multi-generational fight for social justice that our community has been involved with. It just feels like the time is right to finally have the federal government address this issue.”  Johnson says the Chinook tribal community is heartened by the recent victory of a Montana tribe in a similar predicament. [The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa was federally recognized by an act of Congress signed a few days before Christmas.] I’m Tom Banse reporting.

In Local Sports: The Madras High School Lady Buffs were in Banks for a Tournament over the weekend.  On Friday they faced off against Banks and won 48-41. On Saturday they took on La Grande for the Championship and fell 57-48. The 56th Annual Men’s Indian Holiday Tournament started last Thursday, Warm Springs took the Championship with United Tribes grabbing runner up. 3rd Place went to Ish Gee Looksh and 4th Place to Coyote Creek.  Zach Aguilar on Warm Springs team got the MVP, Coyote Creek’s Marvin Frank was named Mr. Hustle, United Tribes Brandon Koehler got High Scorer and Coyote Creek’s Chuck Thomas grabbed Top Rebounder. Click on 56th Annual WSIMHB Tourney Results for a look at the Bracket and Results.