The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., February 22, 1906, page 1

Mass Meeting Endorses It
New County Could be Administered More Economically and With Greater Benefits to Taxpayers.

     In the mass meeting called Saturday afternoon for the purpose of forming a permanent organization to work toward the purpose of securing a new county in the western end of Wasco county was well attended and developed the fact that the movement had backing from unexpected sources. A vote taken to express the sentiment of the meeting as for or against it was unanimously in its favor. While there were some that were opposed to it, it could be clearly demonstrated that it would cause taxes to not be higher than they were under the administration of the present county, that there were many more who favored the proposition even if the taxes should be somewhat higher. The argument of the latter being that the increase in taxes would be offset by the revenue to be derived from the location of the county seat nearer at home and the saving of mileage and the increased valuation of property that would naturally ensue.
     By a full and free discussion of the question, however, it was demonstrated to the satisfaction of the great majority present that taxes would not be higher and were very likely to be lower. The creation of Sherman county was used as an illustration in this contention by several gentlemen who had lived in that part of Sherman county when it was cut off from the old county and assayed a government of its own. The deductions made were to the effect that if Sherman county with a smaller population and a much less valuation at the time of its creation than the proposed Cascades county would have, could and did administer its affairs more economically than Wasco county had done, there was no reason why the same thing could not be done in reference to the section to be known as Cascade county.
     The meeting was announced in the Glacier to be held in the Opera House at 2 o'clock and was called to order shortly after that time by J.L. Henderson, one of the Republican committeemen who had signed the call. The city and valley were about equally represented and the hall was well filled. Mr. Henderson in a few words stated that the meeting had been called to consider the matter of taking steps to create the new county and asked what action the gentleman present wished to take in the matter.
     F.W. Angus made a motion that Mr. Henderson be made chairman of the meeting, and as Mr. Henderson was temporarily acting in that capacity, H.F. Davidson put the motion after it had been properly seconded, and that gentleman was elected. G.B. Morton moved that D. McDonald be made secretary of the meeting and the motion prevailed.
     Chairman Henderson then stated that a committee consisting of P.S. Davidson, S.F. Fouts and N.C. Evans that had been appointed at a previous meeting to secure the statistics showing the cost of government of the new county, had finished its work and submitted the report and asked to be released from for their duty.
     The secretary was instructed to read the report, selecting those proportions of it which gave the information desired. It was substantially the same as the summary published in the last issue of the Glacier.
     Mr. Morton moved that the report be accepted and the committee discharged and the motion was second, but H.F. Davidson moved as an amendment that as the committee was familiar with the work in hand and had worked well in the cause, that it be continued and work in conjunction with the chairman and secretary of the Cascade County Association. Mr. Morton and his seconded having accepted the amendment, it was carried and the committee continued.
     A.I. Mason then moved that in order to get the sentiment of the meeting in regard to the matter in hand that it "be the sense of that body that the new county should be created."
     The chairman then said that before he put the motion he would like to have some expression of opinion on the question.
     Mr. Roberts said that he thought that was a step in the right direction and that it would be best not to take definite action to precipitately. That he was in favor of the new county if it could be shown that it was a good business proposition, and asked for information on the subject.
     P.S. Davidson, as chairman of the committee on statistics, then explained to the meeting how the figures submitted had been arrived at. Explaining that the estimates of salaries of the new county officials had been taken from the bill which was presented in the legislature by A.A. Jayne at its last session for the purpose of accomplishing the same end as was now in view. That the amounts were small, but that he thought that it was advisable to start the government of the proposed county modestly. That there were two items of expense that had been left out of the estimate. Namely, that of County Superintendent of Schools and County Treasurer. The former office had not been included owing to the moment now being made to consolidate the school districts in Hood River valley into one district. It would not be easy to estimate on a salary for this office under the circumstances, but even if it was added to the amount it would not very materially changed the estimate of 17½ mills with the running expenses of the county. As to the proposition of treasurer, he had had assurances that the office would be accepted by an officer of either of the banks for the use of the money with a nominal salary of $2 a year, or what never amount was necessary in order to have their bond accepted.
     "If," said Mr. Davidson, "the proposition to divide the county was a good one two years ago, it is doubly good now. With the enormous increase in our evaluation during the past year of $563,225 or 51 percent, as compared to the rest of the county with $761,500, or 21 percent, it is not chimerical or unreasonable to expect that it may reach $2,000,000 in like time. With the completion of the Mount Hood railroad and the two large lumber mills now in course of construction, to say nothing of the immense increase in the apple growing industry calling for the purchase and improvement of now idle lands, this valuation must increase rapidly. It can't go back -- it must go forward, and a county seat located at Hood River will add to the valuation of every dollar's worth of property in the proposed county."
     Mr. Mason called the attention of the meeting to the large amount of money spent every year in mileage in going to The Dalles and that which must necessarily be spent there after arriving and said that even if it was necessary to make the estimate higher than outlined by the committee it would be money well invested, but that he would like to hear from several gentleman who were present who had lived in Sherman county at the time it was created.
     Mr. Castner said he would like to ask where the line would be placed in case the new county was created and what the attitude of the Mosier residents were on the matter.
     Mr. Mason moved that a committee be appointed to confer with the Mosier people, but before the motion was a seconded Mr. Henderson asked H.F. Davidson to take the chair as he would like to say a few words.
     He then said that he had had a conference with a gentleman from The Dalles Saturday morning who was in a position to speak with some authority on this matter, and who had said that if the line was placed between here and Mosier that he didn't think there would be any opposition to the proposed new county at The Dalles. However, said Mr. Henderson if the Mosier people want to stay in Wasco county, let them do so. It was for them to decide. He stated that he had been in Portland for several weeks in the hospital and that during that time he had had considerable conversation on a division of the county with men who had come to see him, and thought the matter could be arranged with Multnomah county to take a portion of that county on this side of the Big Sandy River. The citizens of Multnomah county and Portland were very friendly to Hood River. They realized that it was in very close touch with them and that the county to the west of the mountains between here and Mosier was identically the same as their own; that their interests were identical and that he had no doubt whatever that the matter could be arranged. As to the matter of salaries he said that if the county was created he would be willing to serve as county judge for two years for nothing, apart from the actual expense incurred while in the performance of his duty, and he thought that there were other men in the community who would do the same thing. In concluding Mr. Henderson said that he would, on the day after the bill was signed creating the new county guarantee an increase of 20 percent on every acre of fruit land in Hood River valley.
     N.C. Evans, who was on the committee to secure statistics in regard to the cost of the new county two years ago when the bill for this purpose was introduced in the legislature, and was again on it this year, but who has since experienced a change of heart in regard to the matter, then read a statement which he had prepared subsequent to the first one which tended to show that the county could not be run for the amount as outlined by the committee, of which he was one. He endeavored to show that what had been done in Sherman county could not be done in this section of the county, but his argument was unconvincing, and was shot to pieces by Mr. Markham, who, taking Mr. Evans's figures as a basis showed that even his estimate could be used and the affairs of the new county administered for less than it was paying under the rule of Wasco county.
     Mr. MacDonald, who was formerly a resident of Sherman county, then said that he would like to say a word, and stated that in answer to the statement of Mr. Evans that the reason that Sherman county's roads didn't cost them as much as they had under the administration of Wasco county was that they didn't spend as much money on them. He would say that the authorities of Sherman county dismissed all the road supervisors and employed a county superintendent of roads at a salary. This official collected the taxes and attended to all the business in connection with the roads and effected a savings of more than $1,000 a year, which he turned over to the general fund because it wasn't needed. The doing away with the road supervisors, Mr. McDonald said, could not have been accomplished had they remained in Wasco county. Another statement of Mr. Evans that it cost less per capita tax to run Wasco county then it did Sherman county, Mr. McDonald said it was easily explained. The land in Sherman county, he said, is now about all deeded, and almost every resident there is a taxpayer and as a matter of fact it is costing them about twice as much per capita as it would be in Cascade county, where there is a very large proportion of children for the population and also a good many homesteaders who were not that present liable to tax, but will be. However, the valuation of Sherman county being greater in proportion to the population than it is here, and the cost per capita really being more, the tax levy is less. As to the building and maintenance of bridges, a matter which had been brought into the discussion, Mr. McDonald said that twenty bridges were built in Sherman county, where it would be necessary to build one here; that it had helped build the bridge over that Deschutes river and had spent $2,000 within a period of a little over two years in maintaining roads leading to this bridge. Sherman county had needed to pay off the immense indebtedness of Wasco county, had built a $10,000 court house, and yet when he was there about two years ago at this time of year to pay taxes on some property which he owned in that county, there was $14,000 in the treasury to pay the expenses of running the county for the ensuing year before one cent of the tax levy had been collected.
     J.O. Thompson, now a resident of this city, but who still has interests in Sherman county where he lived, was recognized by the chairman and said that he was in the part of Wasco county in 1891, at which time it was cut off and created into Sherman county. The population of this section at that time, Mr. Thompson said, was 1,950 people and the assessed valuation $210,000 and that less than half of the land in the new county was deeded. The Eastern Oregon Land company had all of the odd sections in a strip of land three miles long that ran the length of the county which was in litigation and on which no taxes were paid. Sherman county's part of the debt of Wasco county was $14,000, which it paid. It also helped to pay for the bridge over the Deschutes river and built two roads leading up to the bridge which cost the new county $7,000. A court house was constructed costing $10,000 and three road graders purchased at the expense of $1,800. "But," said Mr. Thompson, "at no time since Sherman county has been created has the tax levy exceeded that of Wasco county. The average for the past three years has been 15 mills and the county officials have always been paid as much or a little more than they could turn in any other capacity. "The valuation of property there, this gentleman said, was about one-sixth of its market value, and he exhibited a tax notice for a quarter section of 160 acres which showed that he was assessed this year on this piece of land about $20, including the poll tax, and produced evidence to show that the land was worth in the open market $6,400. Another tax receipt which he had received showed that city or town property was assessed on a fair basis equally as low as farm land.
     H.M. Abbott then spoke in favor of the movement, saying that there had been a full discussion of the question; that the consensus of opinion was four it and that he suggested that it now be put to a vote of the meeting.
     G.J. Gessling said that he was partly in favor of it, if the new county could be run within the limits of the estimate of the committee, well and good, but even if it should cost more he would still be in favor of it, as the benefits to be derived would outweigh the cost, and it should be done as a matter of public welfare.
     After some further discussion in which Mr. Roberts said he thought everyone was satisfied and pleased that a full and satisfactory talk had been on the question of county division, and which he was sure had borne good results, and after a plea by Mr. Staten who had come in late and had not heard the motion which was about to be put it, that it "be the sentiment of the meeting that the new county be created," it was unanimously carried.
     A motion was then made and carried endorsing the candidacy of A.A. Jayne for representative to introduce the bill if elected in the legislature.
     On motion J.L. Henderson and D. McDonald were elected permanent president and secretary of the Cascade County Association, which is subject to meet at the call of the president and secretary.
     The meeting then adjourned.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer