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Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot

Posted by: | January 9, 2011 | No Comment |

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot . . . a military term that appropriately describes how I feel looking back on the year 2010 at COARC. We attempted to fill our open research position held by Brian Duggan with Ramesh Sagali, OSU Honeybee Health researcher. In his short time at OSU he has a strong, proven track record with important research in central Oregon and we saw him as a valuable asset. This request was denied last spring despite extensive discussions over several months with our College of Agricultural Sciences representative, beekeeping industry and COARC Advisory Council. We wish him the best as he interviews for a tenure track position on campus. Given the economic conditions there are understandably no plans by the CAS to fill this position.

We successfully negotiated an extensive minefield last winter to fill the potato variety development position at Powell Butt previously held by Steve James. Fahrettin is a high quality person with all the characteristics for success. Even the CAS Dean publicly cited his high credentials and the skills he brought to the position. This spring and summer we had to repeatedly defended Powell Butte’s role in the variety development program against ongoing sniper fire, to be tripped up by evil gremlins that are sending Fahrettin to Hermiston in June.

To quote George Strait, “Well, that’s just great . . . just what I needed . . . the icing on the cake . . . she’s leaving.” That aptly describes the two recent announcements that Deb Walker (office manager) and Rich Affeldt are leaving COARC. Rich is going to leave his position at the end of February to follow a lifelong dream of farming. He will become farm manager for Agency Farms and farm with Dean Brooks who recently lost his son to pancreatic cancer. Deb successfully beat out the competition for a high level position on campus as Special Assistant to the Vice President of Research, and will start her new position the first of January. We give our best to both of them as they pursue these interesting, new opportunities.

So, it feels like a rough year for a guy whose fun comes from moving an organization forward. I often think back to my stated goal while interviewing for the superintendent position of “putting COARC on a trajectory for success into the future.” This year I feel more like the captain of a boat that keeps springing new leaks, and is now largely submerged. I guess the only thing left is to start bailing . . . duct tape or bubblegum anyone?

Both Rich and Deb’s replacement positions have been submitted to campus for approval. It will be difficult to find replacements of the same quality that these two brought to their jobs and the respect they generated for COARC. We will do a national search for Rich’s position through mid February and plan to conduct interviews in March, with a new person on board the first of May. Deb’s position will move forward more quickly, and should be filled sometime in February. Leta Morton, who retired as office manager last year, has graciously agreed to temporarily fill the position in the interim. What a God sent!

Looking forward to 2011 reminds me of a conversation at Dad’s in Prineville back in the early days of garbanzo production. Growers had been complaining about yields throughout harvest that was now mostly complete. Greg Merit came in from combining his last field, sat down and said, “I decided I am going to grow garbanzos again next year!” The others looked at him in wonder and said, “Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot?” His reply, “I decided it can’t be this bad two years in a row!”

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