Roppe: Leading lady
Betty Roppe first arrived in Crook County in 1984.
Having spent the previous 12 years working as a clinic administrator in Monmouth and Independence, she had come with her husband, Jim, to the community, hoping but not expecting to find a similar job at her new home.
Turns out she had moved to the right community at the right time. A similar job had come open in Prineville, and she managed to get the hire.
"I was really pleased to be a part of the Prineville Medical Clinic," she recalls.
Fast forward 34 years and Roppe found herself on stage at the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce's annual banquet, accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Chamber gives the award to a person who possesses outstanding merit and has contributed significantly to the community over a long period of years.
"I am really honored to be chosen," she said. "I think it is wonderful."
Roppe didn't just start a new job when she came to Crook County in the mid-80s. She started volunteering – for a lot of different organizations. Because of her connection to the medical clinic, she joined the Prineville Hospital Foundation. Participation in a community arts program later segued into her working with the Crook County Foundation. She worked with people who launched the Humane Society of the Ochocos and spent time volunteering at one of their thrift stores. Her volunteer efforts have extended to young children through her involvement with Crook County Kids Club and as a member of the local school facilities committee that helped spearhead construction of a new elementary school. She even volunteers at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, where she is a member and has served as the fiscal manager.
Why does she enjoy volunteering and participating in so many organizations and efforts?
"I think it is giving back to the community," she said. "I feel like the community has been very good to us."
Roppe spent most of her first two decades in Crook County living in Powell Butte. But in 2002, she moved into Prineville, opening up yet another window for civic service.
"That allowed me to serve for six years as a (Prineville) City Councilor and eight years as the mayor," she said. "I have just found it so rewarding to work with the City of Prineville and everything involved with the City of Prineville."
During her tenure as councilor and then mayor, Roppe has joined other committees and organized efforts aimed at improving the Prineville community. These include the Ochoco Forest Collaborative, a group she co-convenes to help open local forestland for more timber harvest, the city's Downtown Revitalization Committee, and a state-based Energy Facilities Siting Committee.
As much as she enjoys all of her civic engagements, at age 79, Roppe is planning to scale back in the coming years. Her mayoral term concludes at the end of this year, and she is not seeking re-election. She also intends to slowly back away from her Kids Club work "because I think younger people have a reason to get involved."
However, she is not content to unplug completely. She wants to stay active in the Ochoco Forest Collaborative and remain involved in downtown revitalization and recreational development of the City's recently acquired Barnes Butte property.
"I am getting older and so I am wanting to scale back some, but I don't want to stop completely," she said.
Roppe has three stepsons and two sons and two daughters of her own, as well as 13 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, all of whom keep her motivated to keep volunteering and making a difference.
"I want to try to keep our country civil with each other, and I want our forests to still be standing when my grandchildren and great-grandchildren want to use them," she said, "so I have lot of reason to be involved."