ONTARIO — The main fundraiser a local alumni’s annual scholarships for graduating seniors at Vale High School is this Saturday — and the event is almost sold out. According to Bobbi Buttice, a member of the Vale Alumni Association which holds the annual fundraiser through a Hall of Fame Banquet, said on Tuesday afternoon that there were only about 25 tickets left. Organizers are discouraging ticket sales at the door for multiple reasons, including COVID-19.
“We’re very lucky to be able to have this event this year,” Buttice said. “Up until a couple of week’s ago, it was touch and go” in regards to whether Oregonians would see Gov. Kate Brown mandate more shutdowns related to the pandemic.
Those nominated and selected to be honored for this year’s Hall of Fame are 1956 graduate Dottie Mendiola, 1970 graduate Doug Maag and the 1954 state football championship team. There will be 13 members of that team at the banquet on Saturday, Buttice said. While some of them still live in the local area, at least two are traveling from out of state — California and Utah, she said.
“They are so excited,” Buttice said, commenting that most were 85 years old.
She explained that the people who are being honored this year were selected to be honored in 2020, however that event was put on hold due to COVID. As such, “we’re carrying forward with the ones we were going to honor last year.”
The event will return to Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, where it was held in 2019 as it had outgrown its space in Vale. However, this year’s crowd is expected to be smaller, even though 375 tickets have been sold.
Buttice said some people have opted not to attend the banquet, instead purchasing a table as their donation.
Despite not having a banquet in 2020, the Vale Alumni Association was still able to raise money and give away $20,500 in scholarships, including from gaining funds from some people who had passed away.
Since it started doling out scholarships to Vale students in 2013, there have been 99 students who have benefited from an overall total of $94,550 in scholarships. In 2021, $20,500 was split among 14 students.
Information follows about the nominees.
Dottie Mendiola, who was born just 10 miles outside of Vale towards Harper, graduated Vale Union High School in 1956. She said in a phone interview with the Argus Wednesday that the nomination was out of left field for her.
“I didn’t think I was that special,” said Mendiola. “It’s quite an honor, I’ve been here all of my life. I didn’t realize I was doing anything different.”
But she has done different things, many of which involved working with food. Her food service began while she was still in school.
“I just fell into it, I guess; There was a woman from [Grove School] that thought we needed hot lunch, so she started the program for soup and sandwiches. I was in the seventh grade, and so I helped her serve the rest of the kids.”
Over the years, Mendiola has worked at several Vale businesses, including Stockman’s Cafe, The Cue, the Willowcreek Store and the Golden Slipper before she worked at Vale Elementary School for 28 years.
Mendiola recalled that Vale Union High School was seen as a big deal, as her graduating class was the first in its present facility. Otherwise, she said her school years were mostly uneventful
“It was just a regular life. We didn’t know any different,” she said.
According to the alumni association, Mendiola also served at Pioneers Picnics and St. Patrick’s Church dinners over periods of more than 50 years.
“I worked for 60 years with my sister-in-law at the church dinners, and I’ve been with the [American] Legion Auxiliary [Post 96] for 60 years. We used to have pheasant dinners for the pheasant hunters that came over.”
Her husband, Larry, was a barber in town for 50 years. The two met during his state highway crew service, and wed just two months before the flood of February 1957 hit Vale.
While Larry was in the Pioneer Place’s Assisted Living facility, Dottie observed how many newspapers were being sent to the landfill, and now redirects those to recycling centers every Sunday.
“There’s no big whoopee, but I recycle everything I can.”
She also takes magazines to the local laundromat.
“The recycle people don’t like magazines in their newspaper.”
Mendiola has worked at the Vale Food Pantry for four years and has been a member of the Vale Lions Club for 20 years, she said.
“It wasn’t a real exciting life, but it was nice. We had three good kids out of it.”
Their sons, Joe, Jeff and Jim, have in turn given them five grandchildren, she said.
Among Mendiola’s favorite cuisines are meat and potatoes, and Chinese food.
Gert Delong, who was an inductee into the 2019 Hall of Fame, nominated Maag for 2020. In her nomination form, she states that “the Vale Community is held together by family, faith, farmers and ranchers,” and that Maag exemplifies those four traits. She said there is no way to measure the contributions Maag’s farming and ranching businesses have brought to Vale, but that he is a “great asset” to the community.
“Jamieson Produce and Y1 Farms have put food on tables and given jobs to many for years,” Delong said.
Maag says he is very honored and elated to have been nominated, adding that the alumni group is great to be involved with, which he has ever since it started.
“It’s nice to see these kids take advantage and benefit from it, because these kids are going to be our leaders of tomorrow,” he said.
There are a lot of other deserving people, Maag said, and gave credit to his community and people around him for making him who he is.
“I am truly blessed to have a great family that supports me and a mom and dad who taught me how to work,” he said.
While his parents are no longer alive, Maag says he is glad for what they taught him, even when at times when he was younger and he didn’t agree with it.
“There’s a reason for it, and it made me who I am,” he said, adding that he had good teachers all through life, and that he hoped he took the right path most of the time.
Maag says he is blessed with a lot of great employees, who have been with him for 10 to 20 years, stating “they made this, not just me. I was just lucky to be where I was when I got started. Among his employees, his wife and children — and some grandchildren — are also involved in the family business, which includes a feedlot, farm and Jamieson Produce.
In a biography written by Frank Yraguen, it states that Maag was born in Jamieson, having grown up in a large family. After graduating high school, he attended Oregon State University, Treasure Valley Community college and Eastern Oregon University before returning to Vale and farming with his father.
Maag and his wife, Terrie, have been married for 47 years and in addition to two children have five grandchildren, with Terrie having kept books for their operations throughout their marriage.
Additionally, Jamieson Produce, a leading onion packing firm, arose during a depressed onion market when onions were traded for sorting equipment.
Maag is involved in his community, having served as a member of the Willowcreek School Board, the Amalgamated Sugar Company Board, the Oregon Beef Council and Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, as well as a faithful member of the St. Patrick’s Church mens club.
“Doug has always been willing to pitch in no matter what the endeavor may be and never asks anyone to do anything he wouldn’t do himself,” reads the biography.
1954 State Football Championship Team
The Vale Union High School 1954 football team is being honored for establishing a sports standard that has continued to live on throughout Vale High School. Vikings, 1954, left guard Paul Schaffeld nominated the team to be inducted at this year’s Hall of Fame Banquet. The 1954 team was the first football team from Vale High School to win a state championship, which has sparked the Vikings legacy. Including the 1954 season, Vale High School has appeared in 16 football state championship games while accumulating 12 state championships and four second-place finishes.
It all began when the 1954 state championship football team was able to defeat the, at the time, two time defending state champions, Crook County, in the state quarterfinal by the score of 13-12.
The Vikings advanced into the semifinals, where they came up against Coquille High School. The Vikings were able to defeat Coquille, in Coquille, by a score of 21-7. Leading into the state championship, where the Vikings came up against St. Helens, managing to come out with the victory, 14-7.
Another notable highlight of the 1954 team, the Vikings were able to win the Snake River Valley Championship over Ontario, 26-20.
The team was led by head coach Melvin ‘Dutch’ Kawaso. Kawaso was able to lead the Vikings to their first ever state title. Additionally, Coach Kawaso managed to lead the Vikings back to the state championship in the following 1955 season, where they were able to earn their second state title. In 1956, the Vikings fell a little short, but were able to fight their way back into the state championship in the 1957 season, where they were able to earn the schools third state title, according to Schaffeld.
He continued to mention that he believes that Vale had only lost two games in that four year stretch under Coach Kawaso.
Locals who attend the Vikings football games may notice some of Schaffeld’s family members are currently on the team, as well as other relatives from the 1954 team, over time.