Tip of the hat, kick in the pants

Residences leveled by the Camp Fire line a cul-de-sac in Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Thursday the wildfire that destroyed the town of Paradise is now 40 percent contained, up from 30 percent Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

A tip of the hat to firefighters putting out the blazes plaguing California, the deadliest in the U.S. in more than a century.

And a tip of the hat to those helping in other ways.

Two fires, one in the northern part of the state and another near Los Angeles, have tormented those communities for weeks.

More than 50 people have died and hundreds are still unaccounted for as of this writing. More than 7,000 buildings have been destroyed. They’re still uncontained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The stories are heartbreaking and terrifying. Families forced to flee through corridors of burning trees, with traffic backed up on the one road out of town. Many who did escape will return to find their homes destroyed.

While fire crews from other states — including the Hermiston-based Umatilla County Fire District 1 — arrive to help protect lives and properties, others have pitched in to financially support those who are on the run and have lost everything.

Here are a couple of ways you can help:

• The American Red Cross manages shelters for people with nowhere else to go, and they run an online registry for people to locate and contact friends and relatives. Donations can be made on the American Red Cross website, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word CAWILDFIRES to 90999 to donate $10 quickly.

• The California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund will step into action once the fires are put out, helping rebuild homes and offering health assistance. Donate at www.calfund.org.

• The Humane Society of Ventura County is providing a place for pets displaced by the Los Angeles-area fires as their owners look for their own place to stay. Donate at www.hsvc.org.

There are many other groups doing good work, but be careful where you send your money in time of emergency. Some people will take advantage of a disaster for their own personal gain.

A tip of the hat to Casey Beard, the first general manager of the Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon Night Show, who has set the bar high.

Round-Up and Happy Canyon are dynamic events, in many ways tied to the past but always in need of fresh ideas and new directions. That’s not an easy balance, and working with two volunteers boards of two unique events surely takes some careful diplomacy.

But Beard, who this week announced his pending May retirement, was clearly the right man for the job when the position was created in 2014. He has brought leadership, marketing sense and rodeo credibility to boost the events into their second century.

It was more than just some good ideas on paper. Through added vendors in the stadium, diverse ticketing options and a new approach to marketing, the Round-Up has flourished, exceeding ticket sales expectations.

The rodeo and night show have never been as widely known or as easily accessible.

He’s maximized the investment of the board, the volunteers and the community, and his work will pay dividends for years to come.

We wish the board the best of luck in finding the right person to fill those boots.

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