Bob Belloni Ranch, Inc. was founded by, and is named in honor of, Robert Clinton Belloni (April 4, 1919 – November 3, 1999). Robert C. Belloni was a judge with the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. He served as Chief Judge from 1971 to 1976.
Robert C. Belloni was born, raised, and graduated from the high school in Myrtle Point, Oregon. His father worked on a ranch, and later, with a transportation company, and his mother taught school. He received a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Oregon in 1941. After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and achieved the rank of lieutenant and served from 1942 to 1946 during World War II in the South Pacific. He had planned to go to medical school after the war, but changed his mind while serving as an officer in charge of a war medical facility. He returned to the University of Oregon following the war, entered law school, and passed the bar in 1951. In that year, he returned to Coquille and later Myrtle Point to practice law in Oregon. From 1951 to 1957, Robert C. Belloni chaired the Democratic Party in Coos County, was elected and served on the city council, and as Mayor of Myrtle Point, while practicing law. In 1957, Robert C. Belloni was elected and served as a judge on the Oregon Circuit Court in Coos and Curry Counties between 1957 and 1967. Judge Belloni helped write the first juvenile code for the State of Oregon and started the Oregon Juvenile Judges Association. He would serve as president during those formative years.
After World War II, the system of county judges across Oregon was eliminated, and the circuit court received the work of probate and juvenile cases. Judge Belloni worked hard with delinquent youth, attempting to find solutions for them. Youth returned home or were commitment to the State of Oregon to receive correctional services at the MacLaren School for Boys. Judge Belloni was troubled with those choices and relied heavily on meetings with families within his chambers to turn youth from delinquency. In 1963, Douglas County funded a community based residential program for boys named the Pitchford Boys Ranch, the first of its kind. The State of Oregon under the leadership of Governor Tom McCall saw the success and potential cost savings and rallied support for additional programs around the state. Judge Belloni understood that the state would help counties start programs like it. Coos County began planning in January of 1967 to establish a program to be modeled after the Pitchford Boys Ranch. Just a month later, Robert C. Belloni would be appointed to the federal district court by President Lyndon B. Johnson on February 21, 1967, to a seat vacated by William G. East. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on April 4, 1967, and received his commission on the same day.
With the departure of Judge Belloni for the federal courtroom for the district of Oregon in Portland, Judge James A. Norman continued to serve in Juvenile Court for Coos and Curry counties and shepherded the effort started by Judge Belloni to establish a program for boys. In June of 1967, the ground was cleared to begin construction of the new 16 bed facility. Because of Judge Belloni’s and Judge Norman’s herald for support, local service clubs, individuals, foundations, and businesses donated financial resources, materials, and volunteer labor to construct the buildings. Those that contributed to the Ranch were US Bank, Coos Bay Lions, Longshoreman Local 12 ILWU, 932 Electrical Workers, Carpenters & Laborers Union, Georgia Pacific Foundation, Coos Bay District of Lumber & Sawmill Workers, Ken Ford of Douglas Fir Plywood Company, George Ulett, Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation, Marshfield Bargain House, and Industrial Steel & Supply.
On October 1, 1968, the Judge Robert C. Belloni Boys Forest Ranch opened as a youth residential program of Coos County. Judge Robert C. Belloni would return to the program to be the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremonies.
A Juvenile Counselor with the Coos County Juvenile Department, Sam Roth would be assigned by the Juvenile Department Director as the first Ranch Director. In addition, the county employed two full-time counselors, two part-time cooks, two part-time night personnel, and one part-time secretary to serve at the ranch. The ranch operated with 16 boys that spent their time in public school, lived in a structured environment, received counseling, and worked chores taking care of the chickens, pigs, and a bull that were on the grounds. The registered bull was a gift from Senator Wayne Morse. Mr. & Mrs. H.K. “Pete” Peterson of North Bend provided the materials and build the fence to contain the bull.
Three years after opening, on September 17, 1971, the Judge Robert C. Belloni Boys Forest Ranch was incorporated as Bob Belloni Ranch, a 501c(3) organization, in order to get matching funds from state and federal governments, and foundational and private donations. The nonprofit would operate the Boys Ranch. The buildings and land remained with Coos County. The first meeting of the Board of Directors was held at the courthouse at 3:00 pm on September 22, 1971 with Don Dills, A.J. Pi Moore, Verlin Herman, Myron Spady, A.P. Stinchfield, Roy Fietz, and Frank Rema. A.P. Stinchfield was elected Chairman, Myron Spady was elected as Secretary, and Roy Fietz was elected as Treasurer. A.P. Stinchfield would serve as Chairman till 1975. Roy would serve as the Treasurer for the Board of Directors for 30 years. In the first few years, Wineva Johnson would be recruited to serve on the Board of Directors.
As Bob Belloni Ranch developed, Robert C. Belloni would serve as the chief judge in federal district court from 1971-1976, and assume senior status on April 4, 1984.
Bob Belloni Ranch, Inc. struggled financially as a not-for-profit, having 4 directors in just 8 years. As the first director, Sam Roth operated the Belloni Boys Ranch as a Coos County program and transitioned the organization to a nonprofit becoming the Executive Director. As a newly established nonprofit corporation, Bob Belloni Ranch continued to rely on support from local business, organizations and donors. The Coos Bay/North Bend Soroptimist Club, headed at the time by Wineva Johnson, actively supported the work with the boys. Wineva was very concerned about young women and saw Bob Belloni Ranch as an answer to many issues facing them. Because of her involvement with the Board of Directors and standing with Soroptimist International, the Belloni Girls Ranch would be established. In 1974, Soroptimist International purchased a 5 bedroom, 3-bath home through a combination of federal grants, and local donations from businesses and individuals to establish the Bob Belloni Girls Ranch. In 1977, Soroptimist International sold the property to Bob Belloni Ranch, Inc.
During this time of expansion, tragedy struck on January 12, 1975, when the Boys Ranch burned to the ground. The director’s home at the Boys Ranch was not damaged. No one was injured.
Just three days after the fire, Wineva Johnson would become the Chair of the Board of Directors. She would continue as the Chair until her death in 1999. In 1989, Wineva would create an educational endowment to provide supplemental funding to assist graduates from the Boys and Girls Ranches with their post-secondary educational interest. The endowment would be known as the Wineva Johnson Education Fund. In addition to her dedicated service to Bob Belloni Ranch, Wineva would also chair the Oregon State Juvenile Services Commission, and serve on the Oregon Children’s Services Advisory committee, and was a consultant to the National Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Agency. In 2000, the Bob Belloni Girls Ranch was renamed as the Wineva Johnson Center for Girls to honor her. Wineva’s family and the local Soroptimist International club are still actively involved in the success of the program.
A short time later, Sam Roth would leave employment to pursue other interest after serving Bob Belloni Ranch, Inc. for it’s first 7 years. Since 1978, Sam has served the citizens of Coos County as a real estate broker with Century 21 in Coos Bay.
Bernard Kane was hired that same year as Executive Director. Since the Belloni Girls Ranch was the only operating program at the time, Bernie moved his office to the garage of the Girls Ranch to direct operations, while living at the Boys Ranch during reconstruction. In 1976 under the leadership of Bernie Kane, the Belloni Girls Ranch became known as the Horizon Project to reflect the vision of the girls working together for success. The Belloni Boys Ranch reopened that same year.
The Board of Directors would make a change in leadership, with Pat Melius becoming the Executive Director in 1977. In 1977, the name of the girls program was changed back to the Bob Belloni Girls Ranch.
In that same year, Judy Chapman joined the staff of the Bob Belloni Girls Ranch working online with the girls as a Resident Counselor. In 1982, Judy would become the Program Director managing all operations of the Bob Belloni Girls Ranch, and later in 2000, when the ranch would be know as the Wineva Johnson Center for Girls. Judy would be joined in 1985 by Christine Etters, who would serve the girls as the Treatment Coordinator and Adolescent Family Treatment Specialist for the next 23 years providing therapeutic counseling and skill building to meet the individual needs of each girl. Because of her leadership and dedication to the program, Judy was recognized by Soroptimist International as a Woman of Distinction in 1992. In 30 years of service, Judy developed the program into one of the premier girls residential programs in the State of Oregon until she passed in 2007. Christine would retire the following year.
Also in 1977, Coos County and the Services to Children and Families approached Bob Belloni Ranch about operating their assessment, evaluation, and shelter facility in Coos Bay which was established in 1974. The Board and Pat Melius agreed and opened services to the Bob Belloni Shelter Care that year. Much like the Boys Ranch, the building and properties would stay in the ownership of Coos County. Upon acquiring the program, Pat relocated his office and began working out of the administration wing at Belloni Shelter Care. In the following year, Pat approached the Coos Bay School District with the proposal to partner to provide a public school educational classroom in the former home at the Bob Belloni Boys Ranch to serve the youth of the Boys and Girls Ranches. In establishing the “Belloni On-Campus” classroom, Bob Belloni Ranch would provide the building, utilities, food service, janitorial, and transportation, while the Coos Bay School District provided the staff, curriculum, equipment, and supplies. Later in 1987, the Belloni On Campus building was expanded and remodeled. Pat Melius left employment in 1979 to pursue a career with a state agency.
In 1979, Gary Hansen was hired as the Executive Director to further develop the programs in behavioral rehabilitation using cognitive behavioral theory within a social learning model. All facility beds were purchased with service contracts with the State of Oregon for youth that were delinquent or dependent. Gary stabilized the funding, further developed the buildings and services to youth, built lasting collaborative partnerships throughout the south coast and the State of Oregon, and recruited key staff that would lead the organization into the future. Gary would approach the Coos Bay School District to contract with Alternative Youth Activities to provide a half-day, year-round school classroom at the Shelter Care. Because placements at shelter then generally lasted a few days, weeks, maybe a month, the focus would be keeping youth in the habit of attending school and strengthening core skills like math, reading, and learning basic facts of history, science, and geography.
In 1994, Gary Hansen established two community based programs that would primarily serve the southern Oregon Coast.
Youth Investment was established to provide shelter, counseling, and mediation for families struggling with an out of control teen with the goal of reducing juvenile crime. Because of the shelter component of Youth Investment, the program moved into the administration wing at the Shelter Care employing up to 2 Master level therapist, and a secretary with funding provided by the Coos County Commission on Children and Families. Referrals to the program would generally come from Judge Paula Bechtel courtroom for youth being cited for truancy from school.
In addition to Youth Investment, the Independent Living Program was established in partnership with the Department of Human Services to provide transitional services to current and former permanent foster youth to build independent living skills, and transition them from state care. Sharilyn Brown would become the Program Director of Independent Living. She would develop and lead the program for 13 years until 2007 when she would leave employment to pursue other interest. Grant Gill would be promoted to the Program Director position, after serving with Sharilyn for 7 years. Grant would serve as Program Director for the next 5 years and would later leave employment to work with similar youth at the local community college. In 2014, the Independent Living Program would expand services beyond Coos and Curry counties by opening an office at the Umpqua Business Center located at 522 SW Washington in Roseburg to serve foster youth in Douglas county.
In 1995, Federal Judge Robert C. Belloni retired to San Mateo, CA after serving 38 years on the bench and later died in 1999.
Additionally in 1995, the State of Oregon would establish the Oregon Youth Authority to protect the public and reduce crime by holding youth offenders accountable for their behavior. The Oregon Youth Authority would contract out to private providers for behavioral rehabilitation services. The Oregon Youth Authority and their private providers have become national leaders in using evidence-based, effective treatment practices to prevent youth offenders from committing additional crimes and to teach them pro-social behaviors with the goal to help youth offenders lead crime-free lives and become productive members of their communities.
In 1998, the State of Oregon contracted with Bob Belloni Ranch, Inc. to provide behavioral rehabilitation services at the Boys and Girls Ranches. Roger Langlie was hired by Gary Hansen as the Program Director of the Belloni Boys Ranch. Gary Hansen, Judy Chapman, and Roger Langlie would transition and developed the programs to become evidence-based, gender-specific with effective behavioral rehabilitation practices. Additionally that year, Gary Hansen expanded the Belloni Boys Ranch by adding an administrative/counseling building between the school and care facility, and remodeling and expanding the commercial kitchen and storage through a Community Block Grant.
In 1998, Roger Langlie would promote Lori Sullivan from a Resident Counselor position that she had held since 1992, to be the Residential Care Supervisor, the on-site manager position in charge of the daily care of the youth. Through her leadership in behavioral rehabilitation services, the Boys Ranch has developed into the premier behavioral rehabilitation program for boys in Oregon. Lori Sullivan continues to serve as the on-site manager of the Belloni Boys Ranch.
In 1999, Jenny Howland was hired by Gary Hansen to direct the Belloni Shelter Care as Program Director. Jenny would promote Theresa Haworth from a Resident Counselor position to the Residential Care Supervisor in 2005. Jenny and Theresa developed the Shelter Care program and established it as a leading shelter program in the State of Oregon through challenging years of uncertain funding by diversifying referral and funding sources. Because of a need to become more efficient in operations in 2007, Jenny would be promoted to the position of Program Director for all residential programs, with each Residential Care Supervisors managing their assigned program on-site. In 2013, Theresa would become the Residential Care Supervisor for both the Belloni Shelter Care and the Wineva Johnson Center for Girls. Theresa Haworth would leave in 2016 as Residential Care Supervisor after 17 years of service to pursue a career with the Oregon Youth Authority.
In 2005, upon the retirement of Gary Hansen after 27 years of service, Roger Langlie was hired to be Executive Director after serving from 1998 to 2001 as the Program Director of the Bob Belloni Boys Ranch, and from 2001 to 2005 as the Director of the Curry County Juvenile Department. Under their leadership, Bob Belloni Ranch, Inc. received awards for its excellence of service to youth and families, such as the Agency of the Year Award given by the Oregon Alliance of Children’s Programs (formerly known as the Oregon Child and Youth Care Association), the Judge Richard Barron Service Award presented by the Coos County Commission on Children and Families, and the Robert Yantis Community Service Award.
After a few years of retirement in Coos Bay, Gary Hansen would join the Board of Directors and continue his service to the organization. Vicki Solomon joined the Board of Directors in 2005 just before Roger Langlie was hired and has served as the Chair of the Board of Directors since. As a member and past president of the Soroptimist International Club in Coos Bay/North Bend, Vicki has followed in the footsteps of Wineva Johnson in leading the organization.
In 2006, Roger Langlie relocated Belloni Administration and the Independent Living program from the Anderson Plaza at 650 W. Anderson to the Hall Building at 320 Central Avenue in Coos Bay.
In 2008, Roger Langlie persuaded Coos County to deed the Bob Belloni Boys Ranch and the Bob Belloni Shelter Care properties to Bob Belloni Ranch, Inc. Since that time, major remodeling and renovations have been made at all three residential facilities which have included dorm expansion, floor and counter replacement, roof replacement, improvements to heating, water and sewer systems, car/van replacement, challenge course construction, and bathroom and kitchen remodels. Besides updating the facilities and the transportation fleet through capital improvement projects, Roger would also update the foundational governing documents, employment policies and operational procedures, and introduce and develop technology, and expand services and funding sources. Roger served in his position till December 2018, resigning to move to a similar position in a child-caring organization in his home state of Arkansas.
In 2009, the Youth Investment program would cease operation due to the lack of adequate funding from the Oregon Commission on Children and Families of Coos County. The funding would be prioritized for prevention programs for younger children. In 2012, the Oregon Legislature dismantled the Oregon Commission on Children and Families in all counties.
In October of 2018, Bob Belloni Ranch would reorganize the organization by closing the Bob Belloni Shelter Care and Assessment Center in order to re-purpose to better align with changing youth needs and program adjustments within the Oregon Youth Authority and the Department of Human Services of the State of Oregon. As part of the reorganization, the Wineva Johnson Center for Girls would relocate to the facility formerly occupied by the Bob Belloni Shelter Care and Assessment Center at 62754 Karl Road in Coos Bay.
Thujee Lhendup was named the Interim Executive Director following Roger’s departure from the organization. He came to Belloni Ranch in 2017, working with community programs and human resource development. Thujee moved from an interim to regular, full-time position in May 2019.