Jefferson County next in line to turn 100


Madras High School is winding up its 100th year in June.

Like most high schools that have been around for decades, MHS has produced doctors, actors, professional athletes, civic and business leaders. But aside from shining stars, the school's biggest accomplishment is, year in and year out, producing citizens. Thousands and thousands entered its doors as kids and emerged as young adults, people who would go on to build the social fabrics and economies of this and other towns — and who continue to do so.

Madras High was forged in the great days of promise in 1912, months after not one but two rail lines had reached the community. Nothing fancy. The high school simply took a floor of the existing 10th Street schoolhouse. Not sure what Madras thought it was going to be at that time — Culver was so confident that it planned for a college in its original plat when it relocated westward to meet the railroad — but no doubt Madras felt big things were ahead.

And it was a pretty eventful century, wasn’t it?

One of the most exciting aspects of the school’s first 100 years was the bond levy vote in its 99th. This summer, work will commence that will bring a performing arts center and new football/track stadium, along with an array of other infrastructure and safety improvements.

The school will, in many ways, be transformed by what’s taking place over the next few months. MHS will start its second century in fine style, serving a community still unknowing but confident about its future.

Guess who’s turning 100 in 2014? Your county — the 1,791 square miles of timber, water, farmland, hills of sage, bunchgrass and juniper, and diverse, unique communities. Not sure how the county and those towns — Madras, Culver, Metolius, Crooked River Ranch and Warm Springs — will celebrate the centennial, but I hope they do.

One of the most famous (or infamous) historic events in the county’s century of existence happened early on: the governor naming of Culver as the first county seat, then the extensive votes between the three commissioners — William Boegli representing Culver, J.M. King Metolius and Roscoe Gard Madras — eventually determining to leave the seat in Culver, after King finally acquiesced that Metolius would never get the seat, so he voted for Culver.

Less than two years later, the entire county voted on where the seat would go. In protest over the legality of the process, Culver didn’t even submit themselves as a potential seat. Madras, with the largest population and an Agency Plains backing contingent, easily won out.

In the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 1917, a group of Madras people (many still bleary from a night of partying over the impending “raid”) went to Culver and (if you’re from Madras) obtained the county records — or (if you’re from Culver) stole them.

It only took Culver 50 or 75 years to get over that indignity. Well, mostly over it anyway. Maybe the two communities can find a way to finally laugh at the episode and establish a new, stronger, mutually beneficial partnership in the early part of the county’s next century. Heck, Culver High is allowing Madras High to use its football stadium this fall during the construction of the new stadium at MHS. That’s a good start.

But before all that warmhearted hatchet-burying, maybe the local Model T club could lead a re-enactment of the raid on Culver, maybe steal a keg of beer from the Round Butte Inn, or something.

Certainly one way to celebrate its first century, and that particular historical occurrence, would be for the county to hold a few commission meetings in Culver in 2014. Why not give a nod to history and our county’s first seat — while keeping a watchful eye on the records they’d bring with them, of course.