Author: paedwards

Sweet Lorane Community News, July 2, 2020

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
July 2, 2020
By Pat Edwards

Fig082 Mitchell Store

Mitchell’s Lorane Service Station

Hattie and Bill Mitchell in front of Lorane Service Station

Bill and Hattie Mitchell

As many of you already know, Jim and I have owned the Lorane Family Store in Lorane for almost 43 years now. In 1926, Bill Mitchell and his wife Hattie bought the land on both sides of the road, where the store currently sits. Their home still sits across the street and in 1932, they sold the small parcel of land to Earl C. Herendeen, a cousin, where he put a small barbershop and service station. He only had it for two years, however, when he sold it back to Bill and Hattie in 1934. They added on to the barbershop building several times and established it as a grocery store that they ran as the Lorane Service Station until we bought it from them in December 1977 following Bill’s tragic death resulting from a robbery and his kidnapping from the store in 1969.

During the time following his death, his daughter, Estelle Mitchell Counts, ran the store for her mother and family until Hattie’s death in 1977. Ironically, the Mitchell family also had it for 43 years.

Old Lorane Family Store

The old store


The new Lorane Family Store

Jim and I have had the store on the market for the past 2 years because we are no longer able to run it ourselves and… it’s time. We will soon be handing the reins over to another family who we are in the process of selling it to. In one of my columns this month, I will introduce the new owners to you. We are so excited to see it passing from our hands to theirs, and I think the community of Lorane will be, too.

The Mitchells and the Edwards have seen many highs and lows occur that impacted not only the store, but the community, too. Some of the lows were quite memorable.  Don’t get me wrong… the good things, by far, outnumbered the bad, but this column will be more about the difficulties the Mitchell and Edwards families have had to face as store owners.

In 1973-1974, while the Mitchell’s still owned it, the world went through an oil crisis where the price of a barrel of oil increased 400%. In Lorane and elsewhere, gasoline was at a premium. Drivers of cars lined up at the gas pumps without knowing if the gas would run out before they got enough in their cars to get to work. Gas prices reached the unheard of price of $1 a gallon.

Bill Mitchell’s kidnapping and robbery of the Lorane Service Station was the most devastating crime that happened there, but Jim and I also had several break-ins during our tenure… the most dramatic being a stolen semi-truck cab that crashed into the front part of the store so that the crooks could attach a cable to our ATM machine inside and pull it out. It was found a few days later on Ham Road.

We were hoping to feel a sense of joy and relief, as well as nostalgia when we hand over the keys to the new owners in August, but this year’s COVID-19 pandemic has added stress and concern for the welfare of not only our customers, but our employees, as well. With our family’s help, we have been able to keep the shelves stocked with items that are needed locally to try and save community members from having to make frequent runs into town. Our daughter, Gloria, hung a clear plastic curtain from the ceiling in front of the counter to help contain any viral spread between customers and staff, and we have maintained distancing of at least 6 feet for those inside the store. All was running pretty smoothly until the increase in the numbers of active coronavirus cases in Oregon went up alarmingly, causing the state mandate that everyone must wear masks inside public spaces beginning July 1.

I admit that Jim and I did not plan well at the store. We figured that everyone would know they had to wear the masks, so we simply instructed our employees to require that anyone entering the store had a mask on. As it turned out, it proved to be a quite difficult day. Most of our customers were very obliging and came prepared with masks on. Some, who had forgotten about the mask mandate arrived, and bought some of the handmade cloth masks a local resident is selling, or we gave them a disposable mask to wear if they preferred. With a few others, however, our employees were met with anger and rudeness from people who refused to put on a mask. Some left; some others came in the store anyway and insisted that their items be rung up. When Jim and I brought in groceries from town that afternoon, our staff members were stressed as they told us about their day. We instructed them that they were to call us if there was further trouble, but fortunately it smoothed out by evening.

The way that our staff members were treated that day prompted me to send a message to the community that ended with these words… “Please… if you are upset by the mandate, don’t take it out on the women who are working so hard to help us keep the store open and stocked during this very difficult period. They are following our instructions and we are following the instructions given to us. Boycott the store if you must, but please realize that for us, it is a health issue… not a political one.” I think that this request should be shared here, too, as I understand these same issues are present in retail stores all over the county.

The next day, I went to the store and spent several hours there so that, as the co-owner, I would be available to deal with anyone who refused to wear a mask. Fortunately, while I was there, the few who arrived without a mask accepted the masks we offered them and put them on with the exception of one man who wouldn’t take it and returned to his truck and left. We have no problem with this type of action by those who do not wear masks. It is their right, as it is our right to refuse service to them. This is a mandate we must follow if we are to keep our business open and those who disagree with the mandate and don’t want to do business with us because of it are free to shop elsewhere.

Thank you for the tremendous amount of support being shown to us by the community of Lorane and so many more who understand our situation.

It’s going to be so bittersweet to hand over those keys soon… but it is time.

Sweet Lorane Community News, June 25, 2020

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
June 25, 2020
By Pat Edwards

Beginning 06-24-2020

Drivers coming to and leaving Lorane to the north will need to plan for a little extra time these days. The Lane County Territorial Highway Project has finally begun in earnest and Phase One—the realignment and straightening of the curves at Stony Point (also spelled “Stoney Point”), about 3 miles north of town, is expected to continue through the summer and into the fall.

The entire project involves the stretch of Territorial Highway lying between Gillespie Corners and the community of Lorane and will be done in four phases over the next 3 years. Stony Point is the most critical and urgent part of the project, so it comes first.

Historically, early roads in the area, built by the first white settlers, usually traversed the sides of foothills. This was done because of the better drain-off on the hillsides during wet weather. Since gravel was not used until later years, the dirt roads in the flat lands became quagmires during rainy periods and dusty in the summer.

The Stony Point section of Territorial Road took a different route before 1920. As the original road started to ascend, its route cut farther east and went through the properties at the top of the hill and came out just south of the entrance to Territorial Lane where it continued on to Lorane as it does today.

Stony Point’s current route, climbs the hill leading into Lorane and has been a series of sharp, sweeping curves. But for several decades now, the road bed on the, then, state-owned highway, began slipping in three places. ODOT would arrive on an increasingly frequent basis to fill it with more gravel and pavement which, in turn, would once again slip off into the field below. The road is narrow and there were no shoulders going around those curves. The fog lines are right on the edges of downhill drop-offs on the west side and steep banks border the east side of the road.

During the last 20 years or so, traffic has been increasing, due to the popularity of our local wineries and access to the shortcut to the southbound I-5 freeway. Territorial Highway has become a popular route for bicyclists, too, so when the State of Oregon agreed to trade the oversight of Territorial Highway to Lane County for Beltline Road in Eugene, the county put a priority on realigning the road for safety’s sake. A large grant was obtained for the project and June 2020 was set for it to begin.

According to Lane County’s Summer 2020 Project Update, Phase One will soften the sharp curves of Stony Point and widen the road with shoulders and guardrails. The road will be stabilized to prevent future landslides and a retaining wall will be installed across the largest slide area. Flexible mesh (geotextile) material will be used to reinforce the soil. The new road will be built on top of the reinforced soil and the retaining wall.
During the construction, one lane of gravel road will be open for “bi-directional” travel and flaggers, pilot cars and temporary traffic signals will be used as needed. Lane County advises that bicyclists use alternative routes as the work zone will be steep and hard to navigate on a bicycle.

The county is hoping that Phase One will be completed by late fall 2020 so that Phase Two, between Gillespie Corners (where Lorane Highway meets Territorial Highway) and Easy Acres Drive, can begin on time next spring or summer in 2021. That section will address the frequent flooding we have during rainy winters that goes over the road as well as softening the curves in that area where accidents are common.

Phase Three, scheduled for 2022, will take out some of the sharp curves between Easy Acres Drive and Hamm Road, at the north end of Stony Point, and all phases will widen the road considerably with generous shoulders.

The final phase will finish up between Stony Point, to the south, and Cottage Grove-Lorane Road in 2023.

For those of you traveling in our area, please be aware that construction will be on-going for quite some time and expect delays. And, most of all… please drive carefully. Help us keep our family, friends and neighbors safe during this time.

Sweet Lorane Community News, June 18, 2020

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
June 18, 2020
By Pat Edwards

This past week, a friend, Jane Hart, sent me a copy of an obituary out of Baker County, Oregon’s Hells Canyon Journal. It told of the passing of Randy Joseph, a former resident of Lorane who is remembered by many in the area for the beautiful woodwork and buildings he crafted around the area. He lived on Ham Road on a portion of the former 7-R Ranch which he later sold to Greg and Tracey Weiss where they raised and trained their wonderful Lippizan horses of the Coyote Ridge Dressage for many years. When Tracey and Greg built their dressage arena, replicating the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria, Randy was one of the three Lorane craftsman who contributed their special touches to the building.

Randy was an active participant in many Lorane projects and events while he lived here, including the 1987 Lorane Centennial where he organized a draft horse-pulling contest. He also brought his beautiful team and wagon to other events where he offered horse-drawn wagon rides. Others in the area remember him as a coach of many of the Lorane and Crow students.

Randy Joseph

Randy Joseph with his team of draft horses.

According to his obit, after leaving Lorane to live on his ranch in Baker County, he built one of the only locally-owned wind farms in the nation. He left a legacy of woodworking not only in Lane and Baker counties, but all over the U.S., as well.

An interesting note included in his obit that I personally did not know about Randy was that when he passed on May 27 this year at the age of 69, he had more than exceeded his own estimated life expectancy. Both his father and grandfather died at the age of 58, so when Randy’s 57th birthday rolled around in 2008, he celebrated what he called his “Last Birthday Party” with friends and family. We are all so glad that he beat the odds by a lot.
Our condolences go out to Randy’s wife Linda and their three adult children, Jenny, Loran (the current mayor of Baker City) and Wade.

I want to take the opportunity to share the sentiments of Lil Thompson, my good friend and the Lorane correspondent for the Cottage Grove Sentinel. She provides me with much of the school and community news that I use in my columns…

We’ve both noticed that the community of Lorane seems to be fairing well during these troubled times. The Lorane Deli has provided take-out breakfasts, lunches and dinners for those who have depended on them for meals even before the pandemic; the Lorane Christian Church has found ways of having drive-up services on Sundays and, under Phase 2, is now allowing parishioners to attend services either inside the church or remain in their cars to listen to the service on their car radios.

Thanks to the wonderful staff we have at the Lorane Family Store, we have been able to stay open and provide needed food items for those who don’t want to make unnecessary trips into town.

Even though we no longer have a school in Lorane, the administrators, teachers, and certified staff of the Crow-Applegate-Lorane School District #66 have made sure that students, from kindergarten to high school throughout the district, feel remembered and very special. They have organized parades, promotions, graduations and I was even told that the kindergarten teachers visited the homes of their students and had them literally jump out of kindergarten and into first grade.

Our local organizations—the Lorane Fire Department, the Lorane Grange, the Lorane Community Association, the Lorane Rebekahs and Lorane Eta Theta Rho Girls’ Club—are always on hand, too, to provide whatever is needed for all of us.

I know that I speak for the whole community when I say, “Thank you” to each of them for putting a positive spin on a difficult situation.