The Local News of Newberry Country


Smoke Alarm Saves Lives of La Pine Couple

By Andrea Hine, Contributing Writer

“Thirteen firefighters responded to the call — along with two fire engines, a medic unit, and four command and support personnel. Time on the scene totaled 2.5 hours,” recounted Fire Chief Mike Supkis.

“Early that morning, the home’s male occupant woke up to the sound of a smoke alarm in the hallway. Then he saw the fire, grabbed his wife and went out the back door. By the time our fire crews arrived a few minutes later, the house was engulfed by smoking flames and heat. The couple lost their belongings, but their lives were spared.”

Chief Supkis emphasized the lesson to be learned: “Smoke detectors are simple devices – but they save lives.”

The U.S. National Fire Protection Association estimates that nearly two-thirds of deaths from home fires occur in properties without working smoke detectors.

Great Times at La Pine Middle School Excitement in Science

By Payton Lae, Hannah Sechler LMS, 6th Grade

The last couple of weeks at La Pine Middle School, the 6th graders have been learning about fire ecology.

To start off the week we did stations with several different teachers. These stations included learning about how to measure the height of trees. We also had the opportunity to learn how to identify the tree type. Then the best station came and we got to work with an amazing artist, who taught us how to do watercolor. The main thing we got to create was a watercolor picture of our wetlands behind our school.

Some students in 6th grade wanted to learn how to sketch so La Pine Middle School had a special guest, who was a sketch artist who taught students how to draw items that they found outside. They drew things like pine cones, leaves, bushes, and many other things they found outside.

The 7th graders were lucky enough not have a fire fighter come and visit our school to teach us all about his job and what he does. To us this experience taught us the most about fire because they let us see the fire truck and tools. They even sprayed us with the fire hose all over us, which felt amazing since it was a hot day.

To get the community to understand, five  of the teachers at La Pine Middle School put together a trail cleanup day that everyone could go to. The cleanup went amazing and our trail looks much better than it did.

One of the best and funniest things we got to do was go on an all-day field trip to a burn site. At the field trip there were forest rangers that taught us about fire. We received a notebooks write all the information down. The forest rangers talked about wood moisture, wildlife, and botany. But most of all we got to put on prescribed burn equipment and talked about career pathways.

Our 6th grade science teacher (Mrs. Welsh) was able to get ahold of Bess who works at “Discover Your Forest.” Bess came into our classroom for 2 weeks and helped us understand a lot more about fire. Thanks to Discover Your Forest we get so many new opportunities.

The 6th graders had a choice to take pictures of the outdoors and submit them into a photo contest.  Our amazing teachers here at La Pine Middle School were the judges of who had the best photo. All of the photos were absolutely phenomenal and the teachers could not chose a favorite. The teachers even went as far as going to Costco and purchasing all of the pictures that were submitted and printed them out.

To end off our fire unit we had the choice to work with our friends to create a fire project that is going to be on display at our “Evening Fire Preparedness.”

For our project we are making a rap about what fire does to our community and how to prevent a fire. All of the projects are very interactive and fun.

Overall, these last couple of weeks have been super fun and a great learning experience. This fire unit was a great opportunity to have fun but learn at the same time. Also it was the funniest thing in 6th grade so far.

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Habitat Volunteers Brave Inclement Weather for Women Build Day

By Newberry News Staff

A day-long collective effort by volunteers on behalf of Habitat for Humanity of La Pine Sunriver contributed to the organization’s goal of building three homes this year in La Pine’s Newberry Woods, located on Skidgel Road off Burgess. Valerie Best (shown at center above enjoying a well-deserved lunch break) will be the site’s first homeowner.

More than 60 volunteers refused to let snow flurries and below-40-degree temperatures deter them from participating in Women Build Day last month in La Pine. This annual Habitat for Humanity event, held across the county since 1991, focuses on women coming together (although men are certainly welcome) to ”help families build strength, stability and independence.”

According to Dwane Krumme, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of La Pine/Sunriver, the intrepid group (60 percent from La Pine and 40 percent from Sunriver) spent the blustery day accomplishing tasks ranging from clearing property to burning brush, unloading trucks filled with lumber, and building fences.

“Those with no or little construction experience are teamed up with more seasoned volunteers,” he explained, “as safety is a top priority. Everyone is treated as part of the team, and respected for their contributions. We want volunteers to enjoy the experience so they’ll come back next year.”

“I hardly slept the night before,” admitted Steve Krebs, the in-house contractor who supervises all work on the build sites, “I always worry about getting everyone lined up with tasks and keeping them busy. But everything fell into place, and stayed running like a well-oiled machine.”

“How many people would be willing to give up their Saturday to sweat?” praised Dan Varcoe, Habitat for Humanity of La Pine Sunrivers’ Director of Volunteers. “These women and men, represent the heart of our communities.”

(The previous name of the long-established nonprofit, Newberry Habitat for Humanity, was recently changed to reflect a more direct connection to the communities it serves.)

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“I Love My Garbage Man” Assert Wilderness Customers

By Andrea Hine, Contributing Writer

Adam Carpenter (shown above), a 20-year Wilderness Garbage employee, drives one of the company’s three automated trucks (out of a fleet of 10). Typically servicing 420 customers a day, he once encountered a can on his route that had been loaded with two 90-pound bags of wet concrete. It was left behind.

The 5,700 customers who rely weekly on Wilderness Garbage might find it hard to fathom that some 30 years ago, locals went to the dump to dispose of their trash. “It was our entertainment,” recalled Corinne Martinez who, with her husband Gil, purchased the 300-customer operation in 1984. “We sold everything to come here, and looked like a displaced family from the Steinbeck novel ‘Grapes of Wrath.’ The two of us serviced the route ourselves, using one garbage truck and a pick-up with a dump box.”

Initially working out of their home, the couple also collected discarded newspapers from their customers – long before the concept of recycling became pervasive. “We would redeem them for our fun money,” Martinez said.

“Even though we didn’t start out with a plan for the business, Gil had been involved in a garbage operation before, and I was a 13-year Les Schwab veteran. So we both knew the importance of customer service.”

Susie Weller – who subsequently partnered with Corinne to open Twigs Gift Co. (which celebrated its 20-year anniversary in 2016) – was among Wilderness’ first employees. “I worked at the front desk, handling new accounts and accepting payments,” explained Weller. “But having been in the floral business here for 10 years, my greatest asset was knowing where all the streets were, as well as 87 percent of the customers.”

“All of us had been there in the trenches, and knew what was required,” Martinez added. “We understood that good customer service comes from the top – and made it a guiding principle. That’s as true now as when we started out.”

The company’s staff (including 10 drivers) reflect this priority, which extends to maintaining a “nice, clean image,” said one. “Long-term employees helped make our business successful,” Martinez emphasized, “and we treat them like important people. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today. I feel blessed.”

And just how customer-service oriented are they? “I love my garbage man is a common refrain,” noted Martinez. “I hear that wherever I go. They’re the best, and want to give 150 percent.”

“We pay attention to what’s going on along our route,” commented 20-year-veteran Adam Carpenter. “We’ll walk back down the driveway to get and return cans for the elderly. We regularly give dogs a treat, and will stop and chat for a few minutes with retirees or people we know might be lonely. Even kids come out running to say hello, and we get dozens of waves.

“One older couple didn’t put out their can for several weeks,” he continued. “It turns out that the husband had suffered a heart attack, and his wife came out to explain the situation so we wouldn’t be concerned.”

According to Martinez, another driver realized that “something is wrong here” when seeing a customer’s front door wide open. “He went inside the house to investigate, and found the occupant lying on the floor where he had fallen.”

The gratitude customers feel toward the “public face” of Wilderness is amply demonstrated at Christmas, when the long table in the employee lunchroom is covered with gifts. Stacks of holiday cards reach several feet in height.

“We receive cookies, cakes, brownies, hot cocoa mixes, crackers, cheese and summer sausage,” detailed Carpenter, “all of which is divided equally among us. One gentleman gave a $100 bill every year. This is a very generous community.

“Wilderness is a family-oriented company,” he added, “with really great people. They know we work hard, and take care of their employees. Just as we try to take care of our customers.”

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1st Street and Highway 97 Improvements Project

By Mary Huffman of BECON Civil Engineering & Land Surveying

Jacob Obrist, Public Works Manager, City of La Pine and Vic Russell of Vic Russell Construction discuss the improvements.

BECON Civil Engineering & Land Surveying is proud to be teamed with The City of La Pine and Vic Russell Construction for landscape and pedestrian improvements along 1st Street and Highway 97 in La Pine.  BECON serves as City Engineer for The City of La Pine and provided engineering services for this exciting project.  The improvements include new sidewalks, concrete pavers, trees, shrubs, sod, and irrigation.  The City also installed park benches (see below) to make this a wonderful place to relax and enjoy La Pine!