The Local News of Newberry Country


“We’re Very, Very Happy Here,” Claim Grounded Café Partners

By Andrea Hine, Contributing Writer

Grounded Café, celebrating its one-year anniversary in La Pine, offers locally-made items ranging from “great coffee, both medium and dark roast from Java Kiss, to jams, jellies, salsa and barbeque sauce from L&S Gardens,” said Karen McCormack. Now featured are photographs by chef and partner Harold Johnson, who has been capturing Oregon’s landscapes with his camera and talents for more than 10 years.

“The most surprising aspect of our first year is how welcoming and supportive the whole community has been,” said owner Karen McCormack. “This has been true since day one.”

In an industry with daunting failure rates (as high as 60 percent in the first year of operation), Grounded Café is beating the odds. As partner Harry Johnson affirmed, “people here just want to see us succeed.

“Many small towns are closed off if residents don’t know you,” he continued. “It’s the opposite here. Everyone has been really nice.”

Admitting that his biggest challenge as chef has been “the small size of the kitchen,” Johnson nevertheless manages to create consistently patron-pleasing menu options. “The daily breakfast omelets and scrambles are always a good seller,” he noted. “And, although I personally don’t like avocados, they are also very popular in selections such our grilled turkey bacon sandwich with swiss cheese – which always sells out.”

Adds McCormack: “We have a great clam chowder, which is served every Friday with a grilled albacore tuna melt,” with avocado again making an appearance. “And we’ve become known for our homemade potato salad, biscuits and gravy, and hamburgers (made with grass-fed beef and special seasonings).”

The McCormack-Johnson partnership began at Palmer’s Café in Bend, and lasted 15 years – during which time Casey Johnson, at only 15 years of age, began waitressing there. “I considered it an opportunity,” she recounted, “just as I couldn’t pass up the chance to rejoin Karen and Harry as a partner. It’s nice to be working together again.

“Coming here also enabled me to rekindle previous friendships forged at Palmer’s – and build new ones,” continued Casey Johnson. “In addition to people who live close by, our customers include those who drive all the way down from Bend.”

“They miss us and Harry’s cooking,” McCormack noted, adding that “Casey is a wonderful woman and a wonderful addition.”

Defying the stereotype of a restaurant ruled by an autocratic chef, McCormack insists that “no one person here is boss – we discuss changes and new ideas together. If we don’t agree, we’re able to come to a compromise.” Compromise is not an option, however, in “our focus on executing orders in a timely manner, and on our excellent service.”

McCormack pointed out that “we encourage groups to meet here, and have added two large tables to facilitate such gatherings.” These include work sessions with city officials, birthday and breakfast parties.

“Based on what’s best for our customers, and what’s best for us, we’ve firmed up our hours of operation,” she said. Grounded Café is now open for breakfast and lunch from Wednesday through Saturday 8 a.m. –  2 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. “We’ve had a great turnout since reopening on Sunday, with a lot of support from church groups, for example.”

“We’re very, very happy here,” asserted the three partners, “both in the café and in the town. We want to thank everyone in the community.”

Grounded Cafe is located in the Aspen Alley Mall at 51470 U.S. 97. Tel: 514-241-0980.

“Don’t Expect Me to Be Predictable,” Warns Newest City Council Member

By Andrea Hine, Contributing Writer

La Pine’s newest City Council member, Craig Heaton, was on assignment all over the U.S. and parts of Europe while working for the company that provided “every single drop of liquid hydrogen for the space shuttle launches.”

Recently-appointed as a member of the City Council, Craig Heaton lived for many years in a West Virginia town “one-third the size of La Pine, with no traffic signals and only a grocery store and a post office.” So he knows the charms and challenges of a small community first-hand.

Heaton is equally familiar with the opposite extreme, having spent a decade in Southern California as the result of a job transfer. “Fifteen million other people live in the Los Angeles Basin – I thought I could, too.

“I’ve always kept my ears – and my options – open,” he said.

Heaton spent his 30-year career with Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. (an international corporation that sells gases and chemicals for industrial uses), where he specialized in plant construction, start-up work and operations. “Air Products provided every single drop of liquid hydrogen for the space shuttle launches,” noted the former Senior Instruments & Electrical Technician.

“I’ve worn a lot of different hats, and been on assignment all over the U.S. and parts of Europe,” Heaton recalled. “But I’ve still got all my fingers and toes, so I did something right.”

Most recently a resident of Springfield, Oregon (as his daughter is an air traffic controller at the Eugene Airport), Heaton saw the City Council position as “great learning opportunity. I wanted to understand what makes La Pine tick.

“La Pine is new and growing,” he commented. “The town is figuring out what it wants to be – and is off to a good start.” He compares it to many small communities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia that are “in a state of fiscal emergency, and have collectively lost hundreds of thousands of jobs – leaving this generation holding the bag for what previous generations had built.”

This situation “emphasizes the need for a town’s economy to be diversified, and not rely on one industry or one segment such as business for its health,” added Heaton. In his opinion, “infrastructure is the number one priority.”

He is emphatic that “although I’m now part of the City Council, I represent the public. Like other residents, I’m paying taxes and living here. And, to echo Mayor Dennis Scott, I’d like to see more public participation.

“Don’t expect me to be predictable,” Heaton warned. “I notice things that others don’t, and want to know the history behind what has already been done.” His probing has already yielded positive results: “Things are starting to gel for me.”

A ham radio enthusiast, Heaton – who “never thought I would move again” – is happy to be settled here. “Everyone is friendly, and responds when you say hello. In Southern California where I lived, people looked down at their feet and walked away. Plus, now I have time to go fishing.”


The Scourge of Homeowners, “Lead Based Paint”

Mark O’Connell, Contributing Writer

Generally, homes built before 1978 most likely have been painted with lead paint. Health problems can result from being exposed to lead-paint dust, especially children and pregnant women.

If you rent and have peeling, chipping paint, you should contact your landlord about repairing the painted surfaces.

If you are the owner of rental property, it is your responsibility to repair chipping or peeling lead based painted surfaces. If you don’t know, then it is important to assess this need & fix it when a new occupant moves in. The owner is responsible for all monitoring and maintenance activities.

Whether you are the person doing the repairs or you are hiring a worker or contractor, it is important to do the work properly so as not to create new risks for lead exposure.

What you should know about lead testing:

Children who may have been exposed to lead-based paint should have a blood lead test to see if they have elevated blood lead levels. All children one and two years of age, or who may have been exposed, should be tested. Other children under six years of age, or who may have been exposed, should be tested if their doctors think they are at risk.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that any contractor or worker who performs renovation in a pre-1978 apartment, school or facility (including private homes) must be trained and certified in EPA Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP).

Anyone who is paid to perform work that disturbs lead-based paint in homes, child-care facilities and pre-schools built before 1978 must be certified. This includes, but is not limited to, rental property owners, general contractors, residential painters and anyone else who is hired to do the painting.

As a homeowner, you can do the work yourself. But if you pay someone to do the work, they are subject to the EPA rule and are required to receive the proper training.

Q: Is there lead in houses in the greater La Pine Area?

A: Yes. Like I said, anything built before 1978, you must assume there is. As the date gets older, it is more likely.

1960 – 1978 24%

1940 – 1959 69%

Before 1940 87%

Q: Why should you be concerned about lead-based paint in your house?

A: The serious health risks of lead:

• It is very hazardous for your children.

• It Damages the brain, central nervous system, and kidneys. It can cause reading & learning difficulties, behavioral problems, hyperactivity and a general decrease in intelligence.

• Damage can be irreversible, affecting children throughout their life.

• It can Damage the fetus of a pregnant women.

• It can also cause the following to workers and other adults.

• High blood pressure.

• Loss of sex drive and/or capability and physical fatigue.

For further information please contact Mark O’Connell an EPA certified Painter, at  (541) 610-2360 or email See L & M Painting’s ad on this page.