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home : current news : current news July 22, 2018

11/14/2017 11:53:00 AM
Donation of water rights honors Sokol
Cris Converse announced that she is zeroing out the $250,000 price of water rights to the City. photo by Sue Stafford
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Cris Converse announced that she is zeroing out the $250,000 price of water rights to the City. photo by Sue Stafford

By Sue Stafford

Dorro Sokol was the owner of Pine Meadow Ranch and a legend in Sisters. Her acceptance of civic responsibility and generous support of the community she loved was evident in her roles as rancher, pilot, Rotarian, rodeo supporter, and member of the City of Sisters Planning Commission, among many others.

In honor of her mother, Cris Converse announced to the Sisters City Council last Thursday night that the $250,000 sale price of quasi-municipal water rights that belonged to Pine Meadow Ranch, and were being sold to the City, is rescinded. In other words, Converse cancelled the $250,000 owed by the City to acquire the water rights, and instead gifted them to the community of Sisters.

The stunned silence in the chambers at the announcement, followed by spontaneous applause by everyone there, was a small measure of the import of this gift to the community.

As the population continues to grow in Sisters, a fourth ground-well will eventually need to be drilled. With the accession of these rights, Sisters won't have any concerns regarding water to meet the increased demand for decades to come.

The fact that the City will not need to expend the $250,000 to attain those water rights frees the money up to cover any number of other needs and projects.

Converse said those water rights account for 2.1 cubic feet/second of water, or 1,000 gallons an hour.

Public Works Director Paul Bertagna told those assembled, "That is the coolest thing I've ever seen someone do. Off-the-hook generosity. Well No. 4 will never again be referred to as No. 4, but something more like 'Dorro's Big Drink.'"

In making the announcement, Converse said, "This is for my mother." Sokol loved her ranch, and the mountains, and the community of Sisters and counted herself fortunate to live here every day.

Converse went on to say that not everyone can make a financial donation of that magnitude, but, she said, "I really believe, by all of us being responsible and involved, we can make a difference in our community."

Converse recalled first meeting Bertagna when he was a project manager at Public Works.

"We formed a common bond around our love of the community of Sisters."

Bertagna referred to Converse as one of his long-time closest friends. He remarked that every time someone has a glass of water, they will be saluting Dorro Sokol.

On behalf of the City Council, Council President Nancy Connolly expressed their gratitude.

"Thank you for thinking of your mom and honoring her this way," she said.

Converse and her two sisters recently sold Pine Meadow Ranch to The Roundhouse Foundation, which announced that the purchase will help preserve a unique part of Sisters history. The acquisition will also allow the foundation to continue fundamental partnerships that have developed over the last 15 years in the arts, conservation, ecology, and preservation.

In the immediate future, the foundation looks forward to maintaining the agricultural usage of the ranch, beginning the restoration of the historic elements on the property, and collaborating with local groups to better understand and enhance the Whychus Creek watershed, which surrounds the property.

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