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Malheur County Sheriff Ron Mailea, a native of Jordan Valley, was appointed in 1987 to take the place of retiring Sheriff Robert Ingram. Mallea ran for the office in 1988 and was elected to a four year term.

Mallea joined the Malheur County Sheriff's Department as Resident Deputy of Jordan Valley in 1966, working under lngram, who was elected Sheriff in 1961. In1969, Mallea moved to Ontario, where he worked as a Deputy out of the Sheriff's Office in Vale. In 1970, he was appointed to the department's criminal investigation division. When the department was reorganized in 1982, Mallea was appointed Sergeant in charge of criminal investigations. He was named Undersheriff in 1985 by lngram.

Mallea's law enforcement career did not begin with the Malheur County Sheriff's Office. He worked for a year as a patrolman with the Burns Police Department from 1965 to 1966. Before joining the Burns department, he served with the Idaho Air National Guard.

Mallea was born on April 7, 1942. He was one of 22 graduates in 1960 from Jordan Valley High School.

The Malheur County Sheriff heads a department of 29, including nine full-time road deputies. Malheur County is the state's second largest county, covering close to 10,000 square miles.

Mallea and his wife, Cathy, have two daughters Cindy, a freshman at Treasure Valley Community College, and Amy, a junior at Ontario High School.

Malheur County

Henry C. Murray was appointed as the first Sheriff of Malheur County when the county was established on February 17, 1887. Formerly part of Baker County, Malheur County is the second largest county area-wise in Oregon, covering 9,926 square miles in southeastern Oregon. The county borders Nevada and Idaho. Vale is the county seat.

The name Malheur County bears first was given to the Malheur River by a party of French trappers who referred to it as "Rivier au Malheur," which means unfortunate river. The name stems from the fact that property and furs often were stolen from the river encampment of the Indians.

Malheur County is 94 percent rangeland and two-thirds of that area is controlled by the Federal Bureau of Land Management. The principal industries in the county are agriculture, livestock, food processing and recreation.

The Basques settled in the Jordan Valley area in the 1890s and primarily were engaged in sheep raising, although agriculture over the years has played a more dominant role in the economy of Malheur County. Today, the irrigated fields of the northeastern corner, known as Western Treasure Valley, are the center of intensive and diversified farming.

Some of the food processing plants in the area include a sugar beet and potato processing plants and mushroom processing.

Points of interest in Malheur County include Owyhee Lake, Snake River, Bully Creek Reservoir, Jordan Craters Lava Flow, Leslie Gulch and the Painted Canyon. The county also is known to rock collectors, who seek out the Rockhound Center.

Law enforcement got its start in the county after Henry C. Murray was appointed to serve as the first of 14 Sheriffs in the county. He served a two-year term and was succeeded by J. N. Fell, who served two consecutive two-year terms as Sheriff of Malheur County.

T. W. Halliday was elected to a two year term from 1894 to 1896 followed by Charles E. Boswel, who was Sheriff of Malheur County from 1896 to 1898. Before running for Sheriff, Boswel was a Deputy Sheriff in the county. After leaving the Sheriff's Office, he was elected as the second mayor of Vale in 1901.

Boswel owned a retail store in Vale in 1886 and also spent time as a stage driver from Ontario to Westfall along the Ontario-Burns stage route.

Julian D. Locey, a native of Oregon City, succeeded Boswell, serving as Sheriff from the time he was elected in 1898 until his death in June, 1901. Locey was a rancher in the Ironside area who also held a contract to carry mail from Huntington to Malheur City.

James E. Laurence, a Deputy under Sheriff Locey, was appointed to fill the vacancy when Locey died. A native of Washington County in Arkansas, Laurence was a cattle rancher who remained as Sheriff until 1906, when Robert Odell was elected to the position as head of law enforcement in Malheur County.


Odell, a native of Ukiah, Calif, first moved to Oregon in 1874. He served as Sheriff of the county until 1911. A few years after leaving the Sheriff's Office, he was hired as the Chief of Police in Ontario, Oregon. He was a rancher and a stockman from 1874 to 1920 in Crook and Malheur counties.

Daniel H. Kerfoot succeeded Odell, serving as Sheriff of Malheur County from 1911 to 1915. A native of Virginia, he also at one time was the Marshal of Ontario and worked as a Federal Prohibition Agent in Portland.

Benton James Brown served two, two-year terms as Sheriff of Malheur County from 1915 to 1919. A native of Arkansas, he moved to Oregon in the late 1800s. In 1923, he worked as a special agent for Union Pacific Railroad and in 1934, Brown was named Chief of Police in Nampa, Idaho.

H. Lee Noe succeeded Brown, serving as Sheriff of the county from 1919 to 1925. Noe was born in Monroe County in Iowa and moved to Oregon in 1908. Shortly after moving to Oregon, he was appointed Marshal of Ontario, serving six years. He then joined the Malheur County Sheriff's Department as a Deputy Sheriff for eight years before he was elected Sheriff. He also served as County Judge for six years and was appointed as a Captain with the Oregon State Police when it was first organized in the 1930s. He worked out of the Baker office.

The next three Sheriffs in line served 62 years among them. Charles W. Glenn succeeded Noe, serving as Sheriff of Malheur County from 1925 to 1949.

John C. Elfering was elected to three consecutive four-year terms following the 24 years spent in the office of Sheriff by Glenn. A native of Hanford, California, Elfering moved to Oregon in 1943 from the Los Angeles area, where he had been a Deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Office from 1936 to 1943. Prior to that, he operated a dairy farm in the Los Angeles area.

Elfering was a rancher when he first moved to Oregon before running for Sheriff in the 1948 election, taking office on Jan. 1, 1949.

Robert G. Ingram topped Elfering's term in office when he served as Sheriff of Malheur County from 1961 to 1987. A native of Ontario, Ingram served as Chief of Police in Vale in 1948. After leaving the Sheriff' s Office, he was elected Mayor of Vale.

Mallea was appointed Sheriff of Malheur County in 1986 and elected to a four-year term in 1990.


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