Rodeo City Inn could close for good

<p>The Umatilla County Board of Commissioners will decide Wednesday if the Rodeo City Inn near Pendleton is a designated a crime property that would effectivly shutter the business.</p>

The last days of the Rodeo City Inn could be on the horizon.

The Umatilla County Board of Commissioner’s will decide Wednesday if the 52-room inn at 74149 Barnhart Road, Pendleton, fits the definition of a crime property.

If the three-member board votes yes, the county will seek an order from circuit court to shut down operations at the inn.

The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office and Pendleton police have considered the inn a hive of criminal activity and hideout for offenders for years, and in 2012 the sheriff’s office started pushing to close the place. That didn’t materialize last year, but on April 11 the sheriffs’ office notified the inn’s owners and residents it would ask the county commissioners to close it.

The commissioners can declare a place a crime property if any of 16 crimes — drugs, harassment, weapons, assaults and theft among them — occur on the property three or more times in a 90-day period. The sheriff’s office reported it has responded to the inn more than 300 times this year and made nine arrests at the building since April 22, 2012 for assaults, domestic violence, criminal mischief and harassment. The sheriff’s office and Pendleton police also frequent the inn during the course of criminal investigations, including for theft and drugs.

Eli Stephens, chairman of the Pendleton Tea Party Patriots, owns property at 74141 Barnhart Road, next to the Rodeo City Inn. He said the inn has had four owners in nine years, and “the present ownership hasn’t gone downhill, it’s gone over a cliff.”

Dogs run wild at the inn and trash blows all over, he said, and a criminal element is a constant presence.

“I can’t think of good thing to say about it,” Stephens said.

Four years ago, Stephens said, seven men assaulted him at the inn, and several months ago workers and guests at the inn stole some of his property. On Thursday he called the sheriff’s office to arrest inn manager Drew Osias, who is brother of Raymond Osias.

Stephens said a rash of recent break-ins on his property prompted him to tighten the fence between the properties and notify Osias and his employees not to trespass. Osias, according to Stephens, claimed he needed access to a water well, so Stephens said he would allow someone “licensed and bonded” to act as Osias’ agent to work on his site.

Thursday morning Osias and Stephens exchanged words about the situation.

“He said he was going to go through me,” Stephens said, “and that didn’t work out too well for him.”

Stephens called the sheriff’s office, and a deputy book Osias into the Umatilla County Jail on a charge of harassment.

Osias wasn’t available for comment before deadline Monday, but last week he complained that if the county shuts down the inn, residents will be homeless and many will go to Pendleton, thus becoming a problem for the city.

Doug Olsen, attorney for Umatilla County, said if commissioners determine the inn is a crime property, he will put together the request to block its business. Once a judge approves it, the courts will notify the inn’s owners and managers about legal proceedings. Olsen said the goal is to either end the inn or get its owners to work out the problems.

The board of commissioners meets Wednesday at 9 a.m. in Room 114 of the Umatilla County Courthouse, Pendleton.

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Contact Phil Wright at pwright@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0833.

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