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Ranch board looks to improve communication

Crooked River Ranch Roundup


The Crooked River Ranch Club and Maintenance Association approved forming communications and publicity committees within the last couple of years after several town hall meetings were held to decide how to bring about improvement in those areas.

Despite the efforts of those committees, communications from the board of directors to homeowners association members continue to lag somewhat in timing and content. Highlights of monthly meetings are a case in point.

The Ranch website has a spot reserved for the posting of draft meeting highlights, which occur the first and third Mondays of each month as an HOA workshop and a regular board of directors meeting, respectively. It has been Pioneer practice for several years to report those highlights in the newspaper the following week.

Attendees at those meetings are sparse. Most Ranch members as well as media reporters do not attend them regularly. That’s a sore point with HOA board members because they take lack of attendance to be indicative of a lack of interest in Ranch governance by residents and the media.

That may be partially true, but there are other reasons, too. Changing demographics at Crooked River Ranch mean that the Ranch is no longer solely a retirement community, as it was during its formative years. There has been an influx of younger families with school-age children whose parents work in surrounding Central Oregon communities.

Those young couples don’t have the time to attend hour-long monthly meetings debating Ranch governance issues. They rely on the Ranch website, Telegraph newsletter, Phase Reps and local media to publish important Ranch news. That’s true of older folks, too. They came here mostly to escape the problems of urban sprawl and don’t really have in interest in getting involved in community governance matters again by attending meetings.

By contrast, when the HOA convenes town hall-type meetings with advance information about the issues to be decided and plenty of advance publicity, they usually are well-attended and involve active participation by attendees. That’s especially true if the issues involve their pocketbooks, roads or safety matters.

More Ranchers might be enticed to other meetings periodically if the reports of them from the HOA were more complete and timely and the website were kept up to date regularly. There was nary a mention of the recent Steel Stampede on the website. The motorcycle event is the most important revenue-producing event of the year, which draws people to the Ranch from a wide area of the Northwest and California. To not publicize it just doesn’t make sense.

There is little feedback on meeting summaries published in the Pioneer from readers either via "Letters to the Editor" or directly to the columnist. There’s no other way to gauge how many regular readers of those articles exist. Neither has anyone suggested what kind of Ranch news analysis would be desirable instead of or in addition to the meeting summaries.

The foregoing may explain why Ranch officials have to be emailed every month to either post the meeting highlights before Friday on the Ranch website spot reserved for them or email a copy of regular meeting highlights to media reporters so they can publish a summary of them during the week following the meeting.

So far, Ranch officials have resisted automatic posting of monthly meeting highlights. No explanation has been forthcoming why those highlights can’t be sent automatically to the media by Wednesday of the week they occur.

On the other hand, there have been improvements made in Ranch communications, including summaries of candidates running for the Ranch Fire Department Board of Directors in the upcoming May election. The summaries, along with pictures of the candidates, were published in the May issue of the Telegraph, the monthly Ranch newsletter.

The telegraph was emailed and posted on the Ranch website well before the ballots arrived by mail. Deschutes County has published a pamphlet B on its website that profiled candidates for the Redmond School District. The Bend Bulletin also published election candidate summaries for all three Central Oregon counties May 2.

The Pioneer published candidate summaries for two races in the upcoming election, but not races occurring at the Ranch. Jefferson County didn't send out any voter information with the ballots they mailed. Tony Green, spokesman for the Oregon Secretary of State's Office, said the state does not require a voter information pamphlet to be published for local elections.

Estimates of costs for voting pamphlets are between $300 and $500 per candidate or issue according to various county officials contacted. Nobody would speculate about the impact on voting in a partial vacuum of information about candidates’ positions and measures. Apparently full, timely pre-election disclosure to voters in county elections doesn’t warrant or attract sufficient public or private funds to make them happen. Democracy doesn’t come “on the cheap.”

Help may be on the way. Rancher Paulette Nordin has been chairman of the Ranch Phase Reps Committee for several years and has been instrumental in making that group a timely and informative source of Ranch news. Her application to become a member of the Ranch Publicity Committee was approved at the most recent HOA workshop on May 6. Hopefully, she will be able to help improve Ranch publicity and communications across its entire spectrum.

Fans Sisters event

On Thursday, May 23, Fans of the Deschutes Canyon area, will present “Tales of Northwest Raptors.” Naturalist and author Jim Anderson will relate his adventures studying golden eagles and other raptors for over 50 years and his concerns for their future.

This free event, held at the Belfry, 302 East Main St., in Sisters, will begin with free refreshments starting at 6 p.m. and Anderson’s program at 7 p.m. RSVP at www.fansofdseschutes.org, or call Cindy Murray at 541-771-FANS.

Visit the FANS Facebook page and website to find out more about their planned activities or become a member.



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