IronHorse Blog

Eclipse Madness

August 4th, 2017

If you haven’t heard about the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse making its way across the country on August 21st, congratulations! It’s the only thing all of us Central Oregonians seem to be talking about these days, as the date draws ever nearer.

And Prineville will have prime viewing of this rare astronomical event, as its location is within the path of totality. This means while other Oregon towns will be able to witness a partial eclipse, those of us in Prineville will experience a true total eclipse. With that, brings an influx of people to our region. Great for our economy? Probably. Hassle for those of us wanting to go about our regular business? Definitely. But how lucky are we to live here and have the opportunity to experience this without traveling from far off places to see it. And even though the eclipse will last just a few minutes, we’ll probably be talking about it for years to come. So stay safe (wear your eclipse glasses!) and make friends with someone who has ventured into our neck of the woods for this fun event. You may just find yourself enjoying Eclipse Day after all!

Posted by Valerie Yost at 12:12 am

New employment opportunities in Prineville

September 17th, 2014

Both Apple and Facebook have built facilities in Prineville in recent years, drawing a lot of new attention to the city. Now several companies are bringing new employment opportunities to Crook County. EnviroTech Services, a maker of chemical de-icing fluid, recently opened a manufacturing plant. Hillsboro Aviation started a flight school at the airport. Woodgrain Millwork, a local wood product manufacturer, is expanding. St. Charles Health System is building the new St. Charles Prineville hospital.

There are several reasons why these companies are choosing to bring and expand their business to Prineville. The climate in Central Oregon offers several advantages, there is affordable commercial property available for purchase, and the availability of water and power is a huge plus.

The City of Prineville is retooling its education system to try to train future workers as more technology-based companies move to the area. The C.O.C.C. Crook County Open Campus offers new server-maintenance classes, and the local high school has a technology club that is supported by volunteers. Superintendent Duane Yecha says they hope to have a full-blown career technical education program to teach students skills in maintenance and similar fields in the near future.

According to a study by ECONorthwest, the construction of the Facebook data center supported around $142.7 million in local economic activity, including $51.4 million in personal income and 1,081 jobs. For every 10 jobs Facebook creates directly, it also spins off an additional 14 indirect jobs elsewhere in the state.

Trend lines are heading in the right direction. Having major companies open facilities in Prineville has given local leaders confidence, and it has also attracted several companies to follow suit and look into bringing even more business to the area, which is good for the local economy – and the community.

Posted by Valerie Yost at 6:07 pm

Update on Barnes Butte Elementary School

August 20th, 2014

Taken from the Live Action Cam on August 20, 2014

If you’ve driven on Laughlin Road in the past few weeks, you’ve likely noticed that the extension of NE Combs Flat Road has been paved. The streets and all utilities have been extended all the way to Barnes Butte Elementary.


Landscaping and an entry monument sign are scheduled to be installed at the corner of NE Laughlin Road and NE Combs Flat Road early this fall. Designs are currently being reviewed.


Barnes Butte Elementary is under construction and is still progressing at a favorable pace. The school is still anticipated to be open for enrollment in the fall of 2015. You can see the Live Action Cam that has been set up at the school site to see the progress being made.

Posted by Valerie Yost at 11:11 pm

Prineville Teens Working to Preserve Forest

July 28th, 2014

By Kevin Sperl at the Central Oregonian. Crew Leader Cheryl Sumerlin (right) works with team members to secure aspen saplings in the Spears Meadow of the Ochocos.

West of Ochoco Summit, a team of Central Oregon Youth Conservation Corps (COYCC) teens were working to protect aspen saplings, and just east of Ochoco Summit, the Waterman Complex fire was burning. The five Prineville teens were far enough away from the intense smoke associated with the fire as they worked with team leader Cheryle Sumerlin, constructing cages for the young aspen trees. 2014 is a banner year for the corps as well as the Heart of Oregon, the sponsoring agency for the work crews.


Heart of Oregon received over $88,000 this year, which allowed the non-profit to hire more young people this year. They dispatched 82 teens, aged 16 through 18, in 16 work crews throughout the Ochoco and Deschutes National Forests and the Crooked River Grasslands. Of that group, 20 teens from Crook County are staffing four work crews in the Ochocos.


Each teen assisting through Heart of Oregon will earn about $2,500 for the eight-week commitment.


Several of the teens have never had jobs before especially jobs that require hard physical labor, so this program is also providing them with valuable work experience. Heart of Oregon youth crews and the United States Forest Service have been partners since 2002. The Forest Service not only loves the crews for their hard work, they also find value in the educations the teens receive about stewardship and restoration of the forests in Central Oregon.


Posted by Valerie Yost at 4:51 pm

Horsing Around at Crooked River Roundup

July 14th, 2014


The races started with a bang on Friday night at the 48th annual Crooked River Roundup Horse Races in Prineville. Friday was the third day of the four-day-long event, which ran from June 9-12. New additions to this year’s races included two seven by seven foot monster televisions that allowed for races to be reviewed and a betting class for novice race fans that took place before the races each night. The goal this year was to enhance the user experience.


The first race of the night, a 250-yard sprint, started the action off with a photo finish, with Joel Cool, Be the Man, and Enriques Miracle all gunning for the win. Joel Cool, ridden by Matthew Werner-Hagerty, edged out the other two horses. Werner-Hagerty had quite the night, claiming first place in four of the 10 races and placing in the top three in seven of the 10 races.


The excitement and energy continued throughout the night as the races got longer, increasing from 250 yards to five furlongs. A furlong is equal to one-eighth of a mile (about 220 yards). The term dates back at least to the time of the Anglo-Saxons, where it was commonly used as a fundamental unit of land measurement, but it has since become limited to the world of horse racing.

IMG_2441It was estimated that there were between 225 to 250 horses from California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho that gathered to compete in Prineville last week. Crowd attendance was estimated between 8,000 and 10,000 racing fans passing through the fairgrounds during the event. We sure had a blast on Friday night, and it seemed like everyone in attendance enjoyed the thrilling races, friendly wagers and community spirit that the races provided. Overall we won $9 and a $20 gift card to Wilco, who was the main sponsor that night. Not the biggest haul, but then again…what other event can provide this much entertainment for the evening AND win you a few bucks? If you missed the fun this year, we highly recommend attending next summer!


For the results of each night at the races, you can check out the Crooked River Roundup’s Facebook page.

Posted by Valerie Yost at 5:25 pm

Annual Splash-n-Dash Hosted on July 4

July 3rd, 2014

splash1This Independence Day will mark the annual Splash-n-Dash in Prineville. All of the proceeds raised from the event will go to the Crook County High School Track & Field and Cross Country Teams. Participants can swim, bike, kayak and run their way through the community.

splash2The event will kick off with a 500-yard swim at the Prineville pool, then move on to an 11-mile bike ride to Les Schwab Field. From there, competitors will paddle by kayak 1.75 miles down the Crooked River to the Crook County Library (if they are signed up for the quad-athlon), before concluding the race with a four-mile run around the back of the high school to Ochoco Creek Park.

Participants can sign up for the low key, triathlon  splash3, or quad-athlon (add kayak) races, either individually or with a team. The competition is broken up into a variety of teams and individual categories. Team categories include family, business, high school, middle school, mixed, all male, and all female. Individual categories include male and female groups broken into three age groups: 25 and under, 26-45, and 45 and older.

If you are interested in participating, you can get information about the rules here and the entry form here. You can also check out the Splash-n-Dash Facebook Page for more information regarding the event. The Facebook page has maps of each stage of the race. Entry forms can either be mailed or dropped off at the Crook County Chamber of Commerce. Registration is $30 per individual or $25 per team member.

Posted by Valerie Yost at 8:36 pm

69th Crooked River Roundup This Weekend

June 25th, 2014

CRR-Logo2bThe Crooked River Roundup is one of the oldest family entertainment events in Oregon. The first roundups in Prineville took place every year in October, beginning in 1916. During the two world wars, the roundups were suspended. Local ranchers banded together in 1944 to bring the roundup back to Prineville and their efforts were successful, with the Crooked River Roundup officially debuting in 1945. This year will be the 69th year of the event.

Locals gather each year to support local participants and volunteers, demonstrating Prineville’s ability to unite and celebrate its history. The Crooked River Roundup Rodeo draws a huge crowd every year, and it provides entertainment such as barrel racing, bull riding, and steer wrestling.

Each year the Roundup attempts to brainstorm ways to grow the event. This year, a crooked-river-roundup-bullpancake breakfast, an additional radio announcer, and NFR Barrel Man John Harrison are all new attractions. The pancake breakfast will take place on Saturday, June 28, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Bank of the Cascades. The cost will be $6 per plate. The money raised from the breakfast is going back into a local charity, according to Shawn Connolly, the rodeo chair for the Crooked River Roundup.

Marty Campbell, a professional announcer, will also be joining the event this year to help upgrade the quality of announcing for the viewers. A former rodeo participant himself, Campbell found his voice as a rodeo announcer and has announced the Northwest Intercollegiate Rodeo Finals since 2011, as well as other events such as the Oregon High School Rodeo Association State Finals and the North American Stock and Saddle Bronc Championship.

imagesThe new Barrel Man is anticipated to be a crowd-pleaser. He performs a variety of comedy acts that will entertain viewers. According to Campbell, Johnson “is actually a really good trick rider” and should be a huge hit this year.

Tickets for the Crooked River Roundup are on sale for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. All kids are free on Sunday under the age of 18. Discount tickets for pre-sale are available at Wilco Farm Stores, Prineville Men’s Wear and Fair Feed. You can also purchase box seats by calling the ticket office at (541) 447-4479. Visit the event’s Facebook page for more updates about the roundup.

Posted by Valerie Yost at 10:55 pm

Groundbreaking Ceremony for Barnes Butte Elementary

June 5th, 2014


The Crook County School District held a Groundbreaking Ceremony for Barnes Butte Elementary School on Monday, which is scheduled to open in September 2015. Barnes Butte Elementary is located in the IronHorse neighborhood along the future NE IronHorse Drive. It will accomodate approximately 700 students and replace two existing elementary schools. The new school will be about 73,000 square feet and has been designed to incorporate a pod configuration of classrooms, as well as a library with an integrated computer room, a music room, a full-size gym with a court surface, and a separate cafeteria.


Each classroom pod will surround a central “community room” that will provide an inviting feel and a more collaborative teaching environment. The seven classroom pods were named after geological sites, creeks and rivers in Crook County. The upper classroom pods are named Summit Prairie, Grizzly Mountain, and Lookout Mountain. The lower pods are named Crooked River, Ochoco Creek, McKay Creek, and Beaver Creek. The names Crooked River and Ochoco Creek were specifically chosen to incorporate names from the two schools that will eventually be closed.


There was a great crowd in attendance on Monday for the ceremony, with several school board members and civic leaders participating in the ceremony. City Councilor Dean Noyes spoke about the history of the Crook County School District. It has been 68 years since Crook County has built a new elementary school. The School Board Chair, Patti Norris, spoke about the history of bond and design phases of the new school, and the ceremony concluded with a construction update and hopes for the future of the new school by Principal Jim Bates.


image[2]A time capsule was also presented to Superintendent Dr. Duane Yecha, which will be enclosed into the school and retrieved at a future date determined by the school borad.


After the ceremony, kids were invited to sit on big rigs that were parked at the groundbreaking site. They were given special hardhats that were donated by IronHorse.

Posted by Valerie Yost at 11:07 pm

Prineville Hosting Star Party this Saturday

May 29th, 2014

Prineville Reservoir State Park will host their annual Star Party this Saturday. The event will begin at 1 p.m. and end at 11 p.m. The event is free and is open to all who are interested in attending.

Co-organized by the Oregon Observatory at Sunriver and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, this event attendees to observe the night skies. On Saturday, there will be an opportunity for attendees to observe Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. There will be several telescopes provided by local astronomers, as well as “Big Doug,” a 16-inch telescope housed in a permanent observatory in the park’s day use area. Big Doug will be open starting at 10 p.m. Through the telescopes, attendees will be able to see planets, galaxies, nebula and other deep sky phenomenon.

The Star Party will kick off with astronomy exhibits and activities for all ages in the day-use area. There will be several presentations throughout the afternoon and into the evening, including “Cosmological Communication” at 2 p.m. and “Prehistoric Stars: Prehistoric Oregon” at 4 p.m. At 3 p.m., John Foster, space artist and photographer, will lead the audience through an interactive space art session where the audience gets to assist him in creating a piece of art.

Evening exhibits will include activities for kids that focus on rocketry, astronomy and stargazing. There will be a talk on combating sky pollution at 7 p.m. and “More Earths than You Can Count” at 8 p.m. This talk will be done by Dr. Jan Dabrowski, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Marylhurst University. “A Guided Tour of the Night Sky,” a 30-minute orientation, will precede the viewing through Big Doug.

Prineville Reservoir State Park is located 16 miles southeast of Prineville on Southeast Juniper Canyon Road. If you’re planning on spending the night at the park, there are almost 100 campsites for RVs and tents that can be reserved through the Oregon State Parks website or by phone at 800-452-5687.


Posted by Valerie Yost at 8:05 pm

Dirt Moving

March 28th, 2014

Taylor NW_3.27.14
It’s a sight to see up at IronHorse these days. Taylor NW is currently doing the earthwork necessary to get the infrastructure and site ready so that construction on the new elementary school can begin. It’s an exciting first step for the Crook County School District’s $30 million project, scheduled to open Fall 2015.

Brooks Resources, the developer of IronHorse is also currently building a new road extension of Combs Flat that will provide direct access to the school and serve as the main entrance into the neighborhood. The work on this road is scheduled for completion in July.

The Crook County School District is currently seeking public input for the name of the new school. Suggestions will be accepted via their Facebook page through early April. We’re partial to IronHorse Elementary but we may be a little biased…

Posted by Valerie Yost at 6:26 pm