Author: paedwards

Sweet Lorane Community News – September 17, 2020

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
September 17, 2020
By Pat Edwards

Residents of Lorane, like most people in Oregon, are reeling from the burden that we are all carrying right now. The addition of the devastating wildfires to our COVID-19 concerns have made our load almost unbearable. The worry and fear that we are feeling for our neighbors whose lives and homes are directly impacted was made real to us in the Lorane area recently when a grassfire was discovered along Lorane Highway toward the top of the Conard (aka Fox Hollow) Hill, about 3 miles north of Gillespie Corners. Fortunately, it was discovered early, the recent strong winds were not present, and our local firefighters were on the scene quickly. It was contained and extinguished within a few hours. I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one who, upon hearing of the fire, began “just-in-case” preparations by packing our evacuation bags as soon as we heard. Our thanks and appreciation go out to everyone who made sure that we stayed safe.

Mike Plank with his wife Tracy (holding Calliope Stevens)

Sadly, the fires and other upheavals in our lives overshadowed the quiet passing of two of Lorane’s residents and one from Crow. Mike Plank suffered a cerebral stroke in late August and went into a coma. He quietly passed away on September 5, 2020, without regaining consciousness. I never had the pleasure of meeting Mike or his wife Tracy, but they were close friends and good neighbors of our grandson, Kevin Stevens, and his partner, Jazmine Bangs. They attended the Lorane Christian Church and were regulars at the Lorane Family Store. The Planks bought Nancy O’Hearn’s home on Old Lorane Road several years ago and have been spending their time remodeling it. He was a contractor by trade, and, besides Tracy, he left behind two daughters, Casey and Jenni, sons-in-law, Cory and Supa, and grandson, Blake. As a community, we were lucky to have Mike in our midst, and I know that he will be missed by those who had the opportunity to know the kind, caring person he was.

Bruce and Sharon Malcolm

Many in the community are mourning the death of our much-loved, Sharon Malcolm, who also died on September 5. Sharon has been fighting stage 4 stomach cancer since she was diagnosed earlier this year. Her daughter and son, Ashley, and James Malcolm arrived several months ago to stay with her and take care of her at the family home on Fire Road where she lived alone. Sharon’s husband, Bruce Malcolm, was killed in an equipment accident on their property in the summer of 2018.

Sharon was a successful realtor for Windermere Real Estate and was an active community member in Lorane since she and Bruce were married in 1977.

Ashley announced her mother’s death on the Lorane Facebook page: “Life can be so unfair sometimes. Today we lost one of the great ones and it doesn’t even seem real… (She was the) best kick-ass mom anyone could ever ask for. She was incredibly kind and caring, had the greenest thumb of anyone I’ve ever known; was a pool volleyball rockstar, tequila lover, jokester, card shark, and die-hard Oregon Duck Fan. Raise a glass for my mom Sharon today. She’d want everyone to celebrate her life...”

I considered Sharon a good friend and knew her to be an exceptional cook who kept a beautiful home and yard. It’s hard to believe that she’s gone.

On September 11, long-time Crow resident, Margeinea Bloom, peacefully passed in her sleep. Her daughter, Corinne Gording, commented, “I guess some of the best angels are taken on 9/11.” Margeinea served as the much-respected bookkeeper for the Crow-Applegate-Lorane School District for many years during the time when my husband Jim was on the board during the 1970s and 1980s. I remember Margeinea for her kindness and ability to make friends easily and I know that all of her loving family and friends are grieving her loss.

Jim and I send our sincere condolences to the families of these three people. Their absence will be felt by many.


Sweet Lorane Community News, September 10, 2020

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
September 10, 2020
By Pat Edwards

Oregon’s on fire. My heart and my mind are so focused on the terrible fires that are taking so many homes, businesses—and, most probably, the lives of our neighbors in Lane County— that it’s difficult to know how to express my thoughts and anguish… and fears.

People have awakened themselves to the fact that we are all in this together. Whether or not we are categorized for evacuation, we all carry the burden of what is happening. Each of us most likely knows others who have had to evacuate their homes, and many of us know some who have actually lost not only their homes, but so much more, as well.

One close friend and extended family member posted this sentiment on Facebook as she and her husband were leaving their home in the Mohawk Valley: “We are evacuating!! Level 2! God is good!… It’s just stuff!”

Another friend’s “significant other” who lives in the Sweet Home area, has had to evacuate his horses and pets… and himself… under Level 3, but he keeps trying to return to evacuate more of his life that he can’t bear to leave behind, saying “I’ve worked my whole life for what I have!” He’s no longer allowed to try.

The morning after the Holiday Farm Fire broke out near Blue River, we were informed that those fighting the fire in those early hours feared that the McKenzie High School was lost overnight. The fire was bearing down on it as they took measures to protect it as best they could. It became my focal point—my biggest connection to the area that was, and is, on fire. The thought that it had burned brought the horror of it all home to me and I cried for those I knew who were suffering. Memories of spending many many years in the stands at the tiny, old McKenzie gymnasium watching our kids from Crow High School—the Cougars—compete against the Eagles, flooded in. Added to them were the memories of our grandkids, as Cougars, playing the Eagles in their beautiful new gymnasium in which the Blue River community took so much pride.

For me, those “memory pictures” put a face on the reality of the horror being faced all over our state. Visualizing its loss and knowing that it could have easily been our community that was being destroyed brought more tears. Fortunately, we have since heard that the measures taken by those firefighters that morning were successful, and the school still stands. From what I’ve heard, however, few buildings in the town were as fortunate. I saw a photo of a beautiful church on fire in Blue River and the skeletons of cars and foundations of houses that mark where homes once stood. They bring the real horror of it all to life.

Right now, each of us must offer whatever we can—shelter, sanctuary and transportation for the evacuees and their pets and livestock; supplies and help for the firefighters on the front line; food, clothing, personal and household items, ice chests, bedding… Prayers. “There, but for the grace of God, go I…”

Weather forecasts predict that winds are now abating and there’s a possibility of rain early next week. If those happen, it will be a godsend, but… will it be in time to provide the much-needed help our brave men and women on the front lines need to gain control over these wildfires? The answer to that remains to be seen. In the meantime, we pray to whatever version of God we have chosen, help in whatever way we can, and work to help ensure this never happens again, if at all possible.

Thank you to all of those who are risking their lives and health by fighting these fires. In my opinion, you have already earned your place in heaven.

The Lorane Rural Fire Protection District: Keeping Our Community Safe and Solvent

The Lorane Rural Fire Protection District (RFPD) has recently announced the purchase of two new vehicles that will be serving the residents of Lorane and the surrounding area in emergencies. What’s even better is the fact that both trucks were purchased using capital reserves that were built up by prudent management. Despite overseeing a small district, Fire Chief, Tom Soward, Assistant Fire Chief, Jim Bailor, and the Board of Directors—President Berneda McDonald, Gary Lutman, Bob Drullinger, Jeri Porter, and Martin McClure—take pride in understanding their tax base—the wishes of their patrons—and were able to make the purchase of the trucks and cover the cost of outfitting them without asking for more monies from taxes.

#2518, the Wildland Ford F-350 Rescue rig

The new vehicles include a Wildland 2020 Ford F-350 rescue vehicle and a Wildland 2020 Ford F-450 brush rig with a cab chassis.

Number 2518, the F-350 rescue vehicle, with its club cab, can seat four responders comfortably, or five, if necessary, whereas its predecessor could only transport two. It is equipped with a canopy that holds medical supplies for the EMTs and other equipment that might be needed for car wrecks and medical responses.

#2513: The Wildland Ford F-450 Brush rig

Number 2513, the F-450 brush rig, is designed to be used for brush fires and has a hose reel that can be used for fires close to the road. It carries hoses, pumping equipment and a 300-gallon water tank on board.

Asst. Chief Jim Bailor has done most of the research, design and purchase work for the trucks, and the company that put together the rigs is going to name the designs of each “the Lorane Model” and will share them with other fire districts.

Besides the two new trucks, the Lorane RFPD bought a brand new, state-of-the-art vehicle extraction tool that can be used with motor vehicle accidents. According to board member, Martin McClure, it cuts vehicles up “super quick and quietly” compared to the tools they have used in the past. This vehicle extraction tool is battery-operated, so it can be grabbed off the truck and immediately put to work. There is no longer a need to hook it up and get it operational. It’s ready to go when someone needs to be extracted from a crushed vehicle.

With the addition of the new trucks, the Lorane RFPD fleet now includes seven vehicles—2 structure fire engines; 1 tender with a 3,000 gallon water tank; 1 command vehicle; and a second rescue rig. Of the two fire engines used for structure fires, the oldest is their dependable 20-year-old truck that was bought new. It carries a 1,000 gallon water tank to supplement the tender; the other was obtained from the Sheldon fire station in Eugene. Although used, it still had low mileage on it and will serve the district for many more years with its 500 gallon water tank.

The Lorane RFPD Board of Directors admiring their new rescue rig. (from left to right) Fire Cheif Tom Soward; Asst. Fire Chief Jim Bailor; President Berneda McDonald; Board Members, Bob Drullinger and Jeri Porter. Board Member Martin McClure took the photo and Gary Lutman was not on site.

The Lorane Fire Department averages about 100 fire and medical calls per year. Bailor estimated that 80% to 85% are for medical reasons; 10% are for motor vehicle accidents; and 5% to 10% are for fire calls. The department also provides mutual aid support to the South Lane Fire District (which includes Cottage Grove and Creswell) and the Lane Fire Authority which is currently made up of 16 fire stations that cover a service area of 282 square miles west, northwest, and southwest of Eugene, including the Fern Ridge area.

Lorane RFPD frequently joins with the Crow, Lorane Highway and the South Lane stations to train together in search and rescue, fire-fighting techniques and water shuttle exercises, among others. The water shuttle exercises take place at a pond on King Estate Winery property, north of Lorane, which supplies much of the water needed for emergency use.
The South Lane Fire District provides ambulance service for the Lorane area south of King Estate Winery. Any paramedic needs north of King Estate are handled by the Lane Fire Authority.

The Lorane RFPD currently has 2 paid staff members and 16 volunteers. As with most fire districts, volunteer recruits are always needed. They receive training and, once certified, they are put on call to respond to emergency situations, 24 hours a day. Lorane has had a long and rich history of volunteers dating from when the Lorane Volunteer Fire and Emergency Group was founded in June 1973.

In my book, From Sawdust and Cider to Wine (2006), I included a history of the Lorane Fire Department and the following is the portion dealing with the volunteers:

“The majority of Lorane Fire Department’s firefighters are volunteers. The only paid positions are the Fire Chief, the Assistant Chief and the accountant. Over half of the volunteers have emergency medical training as first responders, EMT or higher. The district tries to maintain between 15 to 20 volunteers, but the number fluctuates frequently due to people moving or conflicts with school, jobs or lifestyles. One of the programs that the Lorane department offers to pique the interest of future volunteers is a cadet program for 15-year olds. The cadets do not fight fires or respond to calls, but they do train with the firefighters. They learn the skills for fighting fires and rescues and once they turn 16, they can then begin participating officially.

“Lorane’s firefighters hold regular jobs or are students in high school or college. The reasons they volunteer cover a lot of territory. Most do it out of their desire to contribute to the community. In doing so, they know that they are helping others. Fighting fires and responding to medical or accident calls can also provide some with a needed “adventure-quotient.” These volunteers not only give to others, but gain much for themselves, as well, in the form of self-respect.

“Working alongside others with the same skills and objectives can also forge lifelong friendships. The volunteers’ dedication is evident by the many hours that each person spends in training and honing their skills.

Firefighters generally train two hours a week, and many train 150 hours a year. Trying to keep a full staff of volunteers from a rural community is a challenging task, so new volunteers are constantly being sought.”

Besides the cadet program for 15-year-olds, mentioned above, various larger fire districts in mostly urban areas, offer a residence program for certified volunteer firefighters and EMTs who are attending LCC’s paramedic program. They are offered free residence in dormitories that are set up at the station while they attend class and volunteer in the fire district. Lorane RFPD does not have a resident program, but it encourages high school students who are interested in a career as a paramedic or fire-fighter to enter the cadet program and serve their communities as many have done before them.

“In 1982, the Lorane community approved the establishment of a fire district by a vote of 125 to 56. The Lorane Rural Fire Department at that time covered 12-square miles and approximately 650 people in 218 dwellings. Shortly after the levy was approved, the Fire Board installed Joe Brewer as Chief and Bruce McDonald as Asst. Chief.

“At the time the district was established, it lowered the fire insurance rates in the district considerably. With the acquisition of more and better equipment, the insurance rate fell even more in 1985.

“The original fire hall was built entirely from volunteer help and donated materials, using no tax monies whatsoever. Bohemia and other local lumber companies donated the materials and cash, and the equipment was donated by Western Lane Forestry and Weyerhaeuser Co. The new building even housed a training center.”

We—the residents of Lorane—have much to be proud of in our fire department, its staff and volunteers. They are friends and neighbors, who care enough about our community to dedicate time and energy to our safety.

We owe them a debt of thanks and recognition for all that they do.