Photo by Jesse Burkhardt
Ben Mundie (left), reclamationist for the Oregon Department of Geology & Mineral Industries, presents a marble plaque, also pictured below, to landowners Charles and Irene Kornegay, who won the state agency’s 2016 “Good Neighbor Award” for their efforts to restore the rock quarry they operate.
As of Friday, July 28, 2017
Charles and Irene Kornegay, who own the Five Mile Quarry about seven miles southwest of The Dalles, have won recognition from the Oregon Department of Geology & Mineral Industries for their efforts to restore rock quarry lands that had been inappropriately mined.
The Kornegays won the “Good Neighbor Award” for 2016 for the way they have managed the 10-acre quarry on Five Mile Road, which they purchased in 2003.
According to Ben Mundie, a state reclamationist for Geology, the Kornegays land had been mined for gravel and aggregate for nearly 25 years by different owners, and their efforts to improve the way the mining is conducted have been very impressive.
Charles Kornegay said he appreciates the advice and support he and his wife received from the state and Wasco County officials.
“It’s all good now, but you have to have somebody like Ben (Mundie) show up with knowledge. People have to realize there are good reasons for these regulations.”
Mundie said of the situation: “There had been mining across property lines into an adjoining property owner’s land, and a previous operator had encroached on a setback. They came in and started repairs almost immediately and re-established that setback. And they took immediate steps to rectify the property line problem.”
Specifically, the award goes to operators “unselfishly working with neighbors and the community in a spirit of cooperation to reflect a positive image of the mining industry,” and “development of cooperative projects which benefit the environment and the community.”
According to the Geology narrative describing the reasons why the Kornegays won the award, the site was first permitted as a rock quarry in 1996.
In 2006, a survey of the property line was conducted and it was discovered that a fence line that had been assumed as the property boundary was not the true boundary line. As a result, mining activity from a previous operator had encroached upon a neighbor’s property. Further, another former operator had encroached upon a 100-foot setback between mine operations and Five Mile Creek. The Kornegays worked to restore the 100-foot setback as well as to accurately adjust the property line boundary. Irene said it took about two years to get the property back to standards.
Irene said they wanted to make sure they were doing the right thing with the regulations and with their neighbors when they took over the mining operation.
“Our attitude was, ‘let’s do it; just tell us what to do,’” she said, adding that while the recognition and award are nice, they were just trying to follow the rules.
“The work we did was just what we were supposed to do,” she said. “I didn’t really think we would be recognized for it. We moved out there, and we believe in helping the environment and protecting our creeks. We’re just a little bit of tree huggers.”
The Kornegays are relatively new to the gravel mining industry. Charles had a 30-year career as an art teacher at The Dalles High School, while Irene worked for 16 years at the Goldendale Aluminum plant until it closed. Both are now retired.
“This community has been really good to us,” Charles said. “It is a great place to raise children.”
“We’ve been married 52 years,” added Irene.
Charles said the mining operation is at the far end of their property.
“It really is a beautiful setting,” he said.
Mundie added that the Kornegays’ gravel mining operation fills a vital need, as the rock from their quarry is often used in local road building projects. “They are providing resources that are a benefit for the entire community,” he said.