Legislators find time for 'lighter' side of politics
By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- Forget the budget crisis, Reedsport wants to be named chainsaw carving capital of Oregon.
Lawmakers took time out from grappling with the state budget in a recent hearing to consider a lighter resolution and to hone their sarcasm.
"This is fraught with political peril," Rep. Mike Schaufler, D-Happy Valley, said Feb. 23 in a hearing on the chainsaw resolution. "I see great polarization in this piece of legislation."
Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio, wanted to know why the resolution's sponsor, House Co-Speaker Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, didn't think beyond Oregon's borders.
Why not designate Reedsport the chainsaw carving capital of the world? she asked.
Rep. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, wanted to wait and see how redistricting goes before he cast a vote.
"I can imagine folks in Wallowa County in (the artist community) Joseph ... might be a little concerned," Jenson said.
Jenson later overcame his apprehension. He and the rest of the committee on Feb. 28 supported the House Concurrent Resolution 4, sending it to the House floor with a do-pass recommendation.
All kidding aside, Joe Mirvis, event coordinator for the Reedsport Chamber of Commerce, said designating Reedsport the chainsaw carving capital of Oregon will be a boost to the Oregon Divisional Chainsaw Sculpting Championship, held there each year.
"This recognition will have immense value to the event and to the economy of the Oregon Coast," Mirvis said.
The annual event is the largest chainsaw carving show in the world, Mirvis said.
Each year it attracts upwards of 6,000 visitors and 50 of the world's best chainsaw carvers.
Lawmakers also in a recent hearing considered the weighty issue of whether to name the Happy Canyon Indian Pageant and Wild West Show as the official state outdoor pageant and Wild West show.
Jenson was less apprehensive about supporting this resolution: He, along with fellow Pendleton Republican Sen. Dave Nelson, and Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, are sponsoring Senate Concurrent Resolution 2.
The show, held as part of the Pendleton Roundup, will celebrate its 95th anniversary this September. It bills itself as the "longest running outdoor pageant and Wild West show in the United States."
Lawmakers also this session are considering whether to designate the border collie as Oregon's official state dog.
The success of Senate Concurrent Resolution 3, which is sponsored by Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, could hinge on the importance lawmakers place on the fact Oregon has hosted three national sheepdog trials and one national cattle dog trial in recent years.
The border collie is commonly used by farmers and ranchers to move sheep and cattle.
The resolution is assigned to the Senate General Government Consumer and Small Business Protection Committee.