Development Plan

The Cultural Development Plan
For Malheur County
Submitted to the Oregon Cultural Trust
Salem, Oregon

Revised – May 2008
Malheur County Cultural Coalition Planning Committee



Table of Contents

Summary of Achievements & Benchmarks

Planning Committee Members
Purpose & Priorities of the Plan
County Overview

Public Participation
Community Meetings

Malheur County Cultural Coalition Organization
Fiscal Management
Conflict of Interest

Grant Application Process
Requirements for Grant Applications
Application Form
Grant Award
Recovery of Grant Awards

Action Plan
Strategic Directives
Directive 1 – Marketing
Directive 2 – Maintain Current Investment
Directive 3 – Collaborate and Cooperate
Directive 4 –  Expand and Broaden Opportunities
Plan Review and Maintenance

Grant Guidelines
Grant Application


Since the inception of the Malheur Cultural Trust Coalition in Malheur County the coalition has assisted in two new art galleries, a summer arts program for youth, a new dance studio for youth, a new museum, an after-school performing art program, a historical building stabilization and historic mural, web site assistance for two art organizations and the coalition and a pottery workshop.  We have granted funds in the communities of Jordan Valley, Vale, Brogan, and Ontario.  We have attempted to work with Nyssa but they have not shown any interest.  We will be going to their Chamber of Commerce meeting to encourage their participation before the next grant round.  The benchmarks are all measured by number of participants, attendees or dollars and have lived up to our expectations.



Planning Committee Members
The Malheur County Court (board of commissioners) named a temporary committee to develop the county plan in response to 2001 Oregon legislation creating the Oregon Cultural Trust.

Purpose and Priorities
The permanent committee was charged with continuing with the goals laid down by the original committee, receiving and distributing funds from the Oregon Cultural Trust to qualified grantees in the arts, humanities and heritage disciplines. In addition to soliciting input from the community, continuing to update the cultural assets of the county.

Four key priorities or directives were identified relating to enhancing appreciation and awareness of cultural opportunities, investing in and preserving cultural sites and opportunities, strengthening the cultural disciplines in the county and expanding opportunities. We feel that these goals are still relevant in our county.  The identified strategies will:

Afford Malheur County residents and visitors the opportunity to enjoy a vibrant cultural life that engages citizens of all age groups from all parts of the county.

County Overview
Malheur County is Oregon’s second largest county, encompassing over 9,500 square miles. It is located 400 miles east of the state center of commerce and government. The proximity to Boise, Idaho – 55 miles away – aligns the county with Idaho commerce. Boise, as well as Nampa and Caldwell, Idaho, offer cultural opportunities. Malheur County can draw from this audience as well. Malheur County is the only Oregon county in the Mountain Time zone-another link to Idaho.

Agriculture drives the county economy and has been responsible for bringing the workers that provide the rich cultures of the residents. Basques came to herd the sheep, the Japanese Americans came during and after WWII and introduced row crop farming. Euro-Americans, many from Holland, came to build dairies and Mexican-Americans  families came from Mexico to work in the fields. The Hispanic population is 20 percent or more in Nyssa and is more than 15 percent county-wide.

There are no Native American tribes in Malheur County though the Piute Tribe (McDermitt) has land in the very southern part of the county. Their headquarters and community is across the border in Nevada. The Native Americans used Malheur County area as a hunting area and about 1870 to 1879 there was a reservation near Juntura. Old maps identify this as “Agency”. Sarah Winnemucca taught at the school there. The African-American population is less than one percent.

Beef and dairy cattle and sheep, as well as row crops such as sugar beets, mint, onions, potatoes, seed production-including flower and vegetable seeds, hay and grain are the major crops. Sugar beets, potatoes and onions are processed in the county. The county has no timber resources.

The Oregon Trail passed through Northern Malheur County. Willamette Valley settlers traveled through, often stopping a few days to rest and bathe in the hot springs at Vale. Other trails, military roads, stage roads, forts, gold fields, structures, former town sites and old homesteads tell stories of the settling the far eastern side of Oregon. Pioneer cemeteries and gravesites are scattered about the county. Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, son of Sacajawea is buried near Jordan Valley. Sarah Winnemucca spent time at the 1872 Stone House in Vale.

Today there are four incorporated communities in the northern part of the county­­­­­­ –Ontario, Nyssa, Vale and Adrian. The four communities are between 15 and 20 miles apart. There is considerable interaction between them. Jordan Valley, on the other hand, is approximately mid-county, a county that stretches 180 miles from the Snake River to the Nevada border. Other settlements include Harper, Ironside, Juntura, Brogan,Westfall and Arock. Ontario is the commercial center, while Vale is the county seat. Ontario is also the site of Snake River Correctional Institution, opened in 1991. The county population is 32,000.

The county has many wild and beautiful scenic attractions including Succor Creek and Leslie Gulch and well known man made attractions like Owyhee Dam with its large lake.  About 80% of the vast area is public land, managed by the Bureau of Land Management, headquartered in Vale.

Four Rivers Cultural Center, Ontario, was built in 1997 to recognize and appreciate the richness of the county, its land and its people, and to pay tribute to the Japanese-Americans who were interned during WWII. The Center’s mission is “dedicated to enhancing respect and appreciation for all cultures.” This mission is fulfilled by:

1.  Visiting school programs describing the content of the cultural museum
2.  Art shows of national recognized artists as well as local artists
3.  An annual County High School juried art show
4.  Mexican artists in residence who visit schools and present programs at the
5.  Speakers from historical societies
6.  Development of a Japanese/American Garden
7.  Co-sponsorship of the America’s Global Village Festival which emphasizes the cultures of our unique community and their traditions and heritage.
8.  On going exhibits of local and world wide historical interest as well as national exhibits and traveling exhibits from other Oregon Museums.

Treasure Valley Community College is located in Ontario and serves the entire county. The county library is also located in Ontario. Nyssa and Vale have community libraries and the county bookmobile serves the more rural areas, in cooperation with the school districts. All are a part of the Eastern Oregon library consortium, which makes publications available from any library in Oregon.

Malheur Education Service District coordinates and provides certain services and programs for the rural schools.

Public Participation

Survey and Community Meetings
The Cultural Coalition Planning Committee solicited public participation in the plan and the inventory through:

  • Newspaper articles and radio discussions;
  • Surveys taken in the Jordan Valley area and the Ontario area– which includes Arock, Danner, Vale, Nyssa, Adrian, Harper, Juntura, Ironside, Westfall, Brogan and Annex.;
  • Public meetings in Jordan Valley and Ontario;
  • Appearances at the Malheur Country Historical Society as well as meetings before the Stone House and Four Rivers Cultural Center boards.
  • Telephone, mail and personal contacts with the many organizations and individuals in the community interested in the areas of the plan. Particular efforts were made to contact all the Japanese-American and Hispanic ethnic groups.

Summary of Survey
Of those surveyed, we were able to get an overview of the existing cultural resources that are being met, those that need to be expanded and those that need to be developed.  The majority of those surveyed had lived in Malheur County for over 10 years and 80% were in the age group of 45 years or older.  70% of these attended cultural events from three to ten times a year in the county.  90% traveled outside of the county at least 50 miles or more for cultural events, 70% to arts and concerts and 60% to heritage activities and sites. 77% felt that cultural opportunities were very important.

80% Arts events such as exhibitions, galleries, concerts & participatory activities.
60% Heritage activities and exploration of historical sites or buildings.
20% Humanities such as literary readings, library programs, lectures, etc.
All those surveyed felt that it was very important to preserve historic sites and 50% did not feel the cultural events/opportunities specifically for children and families were being met.  These are listed in order of priority:
70% Heritage/historical activities and opportunities.
60% Humanities such as library programs, lectures, literary and poetry readings.
50% Arts such as music, dance, theater, literary, exhibitions.

Awareness of events were mixed – 80% learned by word of mouth, 70% by Posters and Newspapers, 50% listened to the local radio station.

The following is a list of cultural activities that the surveys deemed needed in the County, listed by priority.
1.    Festivals/Fairs

  •  Museum Programs & Exhibits

After School Arts programs

  •  Classes for art instruction
  •  Historic Programs
  •  Out door concerts
  •  Concerts
  •  Library programs
  •  Folkloric events
  •  Performing arts presentations

90% felt that cultural events enhance the quality of life for the county and are of great importance on the local economy.

The cultural resources in the community that need more financial support were:
An art center and after school activities including transportation home.

The survey asked the question, “What I would like to see most in the Malheur County Cultural Plan is” and the answers were:
“Cooperation and coordination of funds to limit benefit duplicates.”
“Gallery that would be all encompassing.”
“Gathering history of Adrian.”
“Getting more people involved – community taking ownership.”
Resources inventory
To organize the inventory, seven general category and subcategories were defined:

Visual Arts

Craftspeople, Fiber Arts, Galleries, Individual Artists, Organizations,Photographers,Public Art Locations, Art Shows, Murals

Heritage (historical)

Early forts, Historical Markers, Historical Sites Historical Structures, Oral History, Organizations, Pioneer Cemeteries, Railroads, Military Roads, Stage Roads, State Parks, Trails


Bookstores, College, Media, Schools

Local Industry

Agriculture, Medical, Mining


Authors, Essayists, Folk Life, Groups, Libraries, Poets, Publishers, Publications about Malheur County


Community Festivals, Ethnic Festivals, Fairs, Parades, Rodeos, Rock Shows

Performing Arts

Actors, Cultural Dances, Dance, Individual Musicians, Musical Groups, Music Stores, Organizations, Traditional Music, Jam Sessions

Information was gathered as a part of the community survey and public information process as well as contacts by committee members. The initial inventory includes well over 500 entries in the data base.

The group that provided the most material for the survey was the Malheur Country Historical Society, who has been preparing inventories of trails, cemeteries, post office sites, old town sites, for a number of years.

It is anticipated that maintaining this database will be one of the activities of the Malheur County Cultural Coalition Committee (MCCC) as the plan evolves. It is also anticipated that some of the information in this database will be made available on the web page to be developed.

Malheur County Cultural Coalition Organization
Malheur County Cultural Coalition (MCCC)

A permanent 10-person committee has been named from a list of interested persons participating in the planning process. This group will serve as an umbrella group responsible for selecting and monitoring projects funded with funds granted to Malheur County by the Oregon Cultural Trust.

Terms for MCCC committee members will be three years with the opportunity to be reappointed.  In order to provide a rotating membership, the initial members shall have varying terms of 1 year, 2 years and 3 years.  The group will also elect a chairperson and a secretary. Vacancies and subsequent appointments will be made by the MCCC.

Every effort will be made to maintain a balance between the disciplines, an ethnic mix, and the different areas of the county. Members of the planning committee are not precluded from serving on the MCCC committee. Youth members are encouraged to participate.

View our Board Members here.

The following activities have been identified as appropriate for MCCC. However, other activities may be undertaken as long as they support the mission and directives in the planning document.

  • Develop a budget based on estimated revenue
  • Issue the call for projects
  • Review, evaluate and rank the projects
  • Award funds
  • Negotiate contracts with awardees
  • Request and receive project reports
  • Prepare all required reports for the Oregon Cultural Trust
  • Publicize projects receiving awards
  • Report regularly to the Malheur County Court (board of commissioners)
  • Update and amend the county action plan as needed

MCCC may elect to undertake certain activities in the plan. Suggestions are:

  • Web site development and maintenance
  • Inventory maintenance
  • Hosting group meetings between disciplines

Grant funds may be used for any and all activities that support the strategies in the planning document, including plan maintenance.

MCCC may name committees as they find appropriate to carry out work.

Fiscal management
MCCC will contract with an existing organization for fiscal management. There are a number of existing organizations capable of this task for a small fee. A request for a proposal will be used to solicit interested organizations. The following have been identified as perhaps interested:
Malheur Historic Project, Four Rivers Cultural Center, Malheur Education Service District, Malheur County Administration, and Greater Eastern Oregon Development Corporation . There are other Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c) (3) organizations as well.

For 2005 – 2008
Fiscal Agent:  Malheur Historical Project
PO Box 413  Vale, OR 97918
MCCC Committee members will determine the date and frequency of meetings. However, it is recommended that meetings be regularly scheduled and at least quarterly. The spirit of the Oregon open meeting law is to be observed, meaning that public notice of the meetings is provided and minutes kept. The Web site is recommended for publishing this kind of notice.
Conflict of interest
As a general rule, MCCC committee members shall not personally apply for grants distributed by MCCC while they are serving. A conflict of interest, or an appearance of a conflict of interest, may exist even if a relative or organization with which the committee member is affiliated makes application. In such a case, the committee member must disclose this conflict and refrain from discussion and voting on the project.
Grant Application Process
Requirements of grant applicants:

  • Applicants must be incorporated non-profit organizations who have an Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c) (3) designation; or
  •  Individuals or unincorporated groups who present their proposal under the sponsorship of a tax-exempt organization or a local government;
  • The applicant must be a resident of Malheur County or maintain a registered headquarters in Malheur County;
  • The proposal fulfills one or more of the goals stated in the Malheur County Cultural Development action plan;
  • The proposal will result in a demonstratable benefit to the residents/visitors to Malheur County.
  • Benchmarks, both qualitative and quantitative, will need to be identified and annual reports submitted on the grants progress and impact on Malheur County.

All projects must demonstrate applicant support by match, either cash or in-kind. Priority points will be awarded to projects with 50% of the project cost provided in cash by the applicant. This cash match can be from any source, including other grant funds. In-kind match will be limited to 25% of the total cost of the project.
The MCCC committee will be encouraged to seek quality projects as opposed to making many small awards.  This will be determined by the amount of the Oregon Cultural Trust grant monies.
As a general rule, grants will not be made directly to a commercial enterprise. An exception might be strategies for marketing commercial enterprises that are part of a larger cultural tourism proposal aimed at stimulating the economic vitality of a community or area.
Application form
Prior to issuing a call for projects, the MCCC committee will develop an application form, which includes scoring points. Applicants may be required to make an oral presentation.
Grant awards
MCCC may, at their discretion, directly select proposals for cultural grant awards. The committee, however, may invite interdisciplinary panels to review applications and advise the MCCC on the grant awards.
All awards will include a contract or agreement stipulating the conditions of the award, the term to complete the project, required match and required documentation and reporting. MCCC may add additional requirements as appropriate. Each project will include public recognition that funds came in part from the MCCC and the Oregon Cultural Trust.
Recovery of Grant Awards
In the event of non-compliance with the conditions of the grant award, MCCC may recall the award and both expended and unexpended monies.
Action Plan
Building community support for the arts, heritage, and humanities in Malheur County.

Our Vision

Malheur County residents and visitors will be afforded the opportunity to enjoy a vibrant cultural life that engages citizens of all age groups from all parts of the county.

Strategic Directives for Project Funding
The strategic directives and the strategies that support each directive are to be the basis upon which applications for funding are prepared and awards made.


These need to be outcomes that can be achieved over a 10-year period.  Annual benchmarks will be needed to determine the impact of grant funds.
Quantitative benchmarks       
Each project application is to establish a baseline number from which to measure quantitative increases. For example, what has been the average attendance at the event? The project success will then be measured by an increase in this number. This increase can be expressed in a number or as a percentage increase.
Qualitative benchmarks
These benchmarks measure the quality of the program through stories and other personal narratives and anecdotes.
All benchmark tracking of the plan will be over a 5-year span from the completion of the initial grant award is made.


A broader range of residents and visitors who appreciate and take advantage of locally offered cultural programs and opportunities

Our challenge:             Though a wide array of cultural opportunities are offered around the county, many are poorly attended or are only supported by the same small group of people. There tends to be an emphasis on participating in and attending sporting activities, rather than attending cultural events.


Strategies Activities Measurement Benchmark
Create a larger, more diverse audience for cultural activities Marketing

  • Develop Community information sharing hub between disciplines
  • Coordinate marketing
  • Develop marketing fund resources
  • Explore new marketing techniques
  • Update/reprint current marketing material
  • Explore a “virtual co-op”
Track attendance figures at local eventsTrack increases in sales by artisans
Develop a youth audience
  • Subsidize attendance fees
  • Develop after school experiences
  • Initiate Artist in Residence/Historian/Author programs
  • Staff development to integrate cultural areas
  • Summer camps for youth
Track attendanceTrack the numbers of programs developed and the attendance at each
Develop experiences for mature audiences and families
  • Specialty “camps” for adults and families
  • Adult education (credit and non-credit) through TVCC and EOSU
  • “Brown Bag” classes/workshops
  • Encourage  formation of “study groups”
Track the numbers of programs developed and the attendance at each
Develop entrepreneurial opportunities
  • Develop an art
  • Scholarships to train crafts persons (saddle makers, silversmiths, etc.) to keep the craft alive
  • Hold juried arts/crafts shows
  • Encourage cooperative participation by different disciplines and organizations.
Track the numbers of new programs developed and the attendance at each



Maintain our investment in preserving and developing heritage sites and cultural opportunities and to maintain the opportunities offered in our k-12 through community college.

Our challenge:             The county-community has a number of historical sites and is developing festivals and cultural events. It is important to evaluate these events and to preserve and enhance these rather than starting new events if the current activities/sites are worthy. It is equally important to maintain programs in the local k-community college systems.

Strategies Activities Measurement Benchmark
Preserve the heritage sites in Malheur County.
  • Identity/inventory and prioritize sites and determine development or maintenance needs such as   signs,  upkeep/repairs,           brochures
  • Identify funding and labor resources
  • Undertake the maintenance and development projects
  • Assist through grant writing workshops, bring state and federal historical registration people to the area.
  • Encourage the forming of historical districts.
Track the number of sites needing and receiving preservation assistance
Continue and enhance the current and on-going historical site development.
  • Examples

Cemetery project
Trails and mapping                        projects

Complete the cemetery projectComplete the mapping project
Maintain and enhance the current arts (visual –performing) and humanities programs.
  • Programs/projects to allow K-12 and CC programs to continue
  • Programs/projects for non-profits
  • Assist current festivals to continue and expand
  • Provide opportunities for entrepreneurs.


Track the attendance at current festivalsTrack the state and local funding levels of programs in the local school districts and TVCCTrack entrepreneurial opportunities and success



Strengthen the various cultural disciplines in the county community by working together and supporting each other.

Our challenge:             Though Malheur County has a number of cultural opportunities and organizations, due to the size of the county and the sparse population, there has not been a history of the groups working together or sharing resources or of even having much knowledge about each other.

The county also has untapped cultural tourism opportunities.

Strategies Activities Measurement Benchmark
Open the doors between disciplines
  • Prepare inventory
  • Maintain this inventory
  • Meet together occasionally
  • Include Spanish

on web site

Track frequency of  inventory maintenanceTrack frequency of meetings
Share schedules and activity information with each other and the public
  • Develop and maintain community-wide information hub

Web site

Track “hits” to the web siteTrack brochures location and distribution information
Develop cultural tourism opportunities
  • Work with chambers and others to develop and market products
Track number of opportunities developedTrack partnerships


The cultural opportunities of the community will continually be expanded and developed. This includes opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Our challenge:             The rural nature of the county, as well as the small population, has made it difficult for arts, heritage and humanities groups to attract outside project funding. With the exception of monies donated to build Four Rivers Cultural Center, the county has yet to have a major benefactor “step up to the plate” to sponsor a project or program, other than the Oregon Cultural Trust..


Strategies Activities Measurement Benchmark
Expand resources – fiscal and human- by developing funding sources/resources
  • Share grant opportunity information
  •  Sponsor a community grant writing workshop
  •  Consider a joint grant writer
  • Take advantage of the county inmate work crews for certain construction and maintenance tasks
  • Develop a volunteer base
  • Collaborate on fund raising activities
Track success of grant preparation effortsTrack projects using inmate labor
Follow equitable re-grant policies
  • Assure that local grants address the directives of the plan
  • Encourage leveraging with matching and challenge grants
Annually evaluate the distribution and effectiveness (as measured by the benchmark set by the applicant)


Plan review and maintenance

The plan was reviewed at the end of the five full year of operation by the members of the Malheur County Cultural Coalition Committee. The focus of this review was on strategy and project clarification and/or application requirements.

Numerical benchmarks, based on the baseline data prepared as a part of the application process, will be inserted as appropriate.

At the end of the 10 years a planning committee, representative of each of the disciplines, will be named and charged with a public review and revision of the plan. This will include, at a minimum, community meetings. Other strategies to encourage public participation are recommended.