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The Observer paper 04/29/16

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Real People

REAL PEOPLE: Former teacher, family, friends celebrate full life

Neva Neill celebrates her 100th birthday Saturday surrounded by family, including great-niece Kim Hilton, friends and former students. The wall of birthday cards celebrating the centenarian were sent from people all over the country. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
The oldest resident at Grande Ronde Retirement Residence turned 100 years old on Saturday, and naturally a celebration ensued in honor of this centenarian. 

Neva Neill has seen and accomplished many things in her long life. Surrounded by family, friends and students from decades past, Neill blew out her three candles in the large room with nothing but standing room only.

REAL PEOPLE: Finding a new passion in life

Leather designer Amanda Waller of Diamond A Cowboy is custom designing and assembling serapes for next year’s Cheney Rodeo parade. (Trish Yerges/For The Observer)
This year’s Elgin Stampede royalty court and their mounts never looked more fashionable than when they were outfitted with designer leather by artist Amanda Waller. 

Waller won the bid to create the royalty court clothing and gear, including color-coordinated chaps and belts as well as tack with stylish colored inlays in a stamped croc pattern and pink fringe on their horses’ breastcollars for the theme “Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night.”

REAL PEOPLE: Working for a brighter future

Agricultural science and technology teacher Chelcee Mansfield, center, works with junior Shania Loyd, left, and sophomore Alexis Fleury in the greenhouse at Union High School. (Kelly Black photo)
One thing Chelcee Mansfield has learned — no two days are ever the same.

Mansfield, the agricultural science and technology teacher at Union High School, can teach tractor driving one day, meat evaluation the next, all while squeezing in some discussions about welding arcs and world hunger. All of it adds up to one thing — just another day for Mansfield. 

A spirit of volunteerism: Former teacher gives back to community during retirement

For Evelyn Spikes, retirement has opened doors for volunteering. (Trish Yerges photo)
For many, retirement is a time for well-earned relaxation, self-indulgent pursuits and entertainment. However, for retired English teacher Evelyn Spikes, Elgin’s 2014 Woman of the Year, retirement offers her additional ways to volunteer, something she recommends to all retirees. 

Keeping the spirit of Irish music alive

Local musicians including David Arnold, Bailey Penninger, Margo Mack, Carla Arnold, Beth Gilmore, Michael Snider (front), Teresa Penninger, Fred Behrens and Wes Penninger (back) play a reel during a session at Bear Mountain Pizza. (BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH photo)

Irish music takes center stage once a month 

The third Thursday night of the month, pretty much like clockwork, musicians come through the door at Bear Mountain Pizza, packing fiddles, flutes, banjos, guitars and mandolins, and an upright bass or two.

REAL PEOPLE: Visits work to improve morale

Boettcher, left, visits with veterans during a weekly visitation recently. Boettcher hopes that other posts and clubs in the area will get involved visiting veterans. (Kelly Black photo)
Each week, VFW Post 4060 group meets with veterans in the area 

Butch Boettcher holds the position of surgeon at VFW Post 4060 in Union.

REAL PEOPLE: Community center director making dreams a reality

Amanda Welch and her 9-month-old son, Quinn, make use of good weather earlier this month to enjoy the new playground equipment at the Tom McDowell Park in Elgin. Welch wrote the grant application to get the park equipment purchased and installed, a two-year project from start to end. (Trish Yerges photo)
ELGIN — Amanda Welch is the busy director of the Elgin Community Center, booking the meeting room and overseeing all summer pool activities and swimming lessons.

But during the pool’s off-season, she’s just as busy brainstorming her next big project for the new year. 

REAL PEOPLE: You're never too old to start program

Read more...The Portland metro area has about a million people.

The Cove metro area has about 1,000.

REAL PEOPLE: Swart looks back on a life of work and volunteerism

JOSEPH — A quick glance back on the 80 years of Don Swart and one recurring theme can’t be missed: the man likes to work. Retired for more than a decade from running the county’s weekly paper, Swart historically has had a hand in a variety of causes.

Swart spent 40 years with the Wallowa County Chieftain, after his father-in-law, Gwen Coffin, asked him to come work for him at the Chieftain for a summer. 

REAL PEOPLE: Gorham experienced transformation of Guard

Duty spanned 27 years and two Iraq deployments 

The easiest method to measure the breadth of Todd Gorham’s career in the Oregon Army National Guard is to focus on the world as it stood when he joined and what it looked like when he turned in his gear for the last time.

REAL PEOPLE: North Powder girl doesnt let obstacle define her

Adelynn Klundby of North Powder, right, participated in basketball for the first time this season. (Courtesy photo)
NORTH POWDER — Children are amazingly resilient, able to overcome difficult obstacles and thrive. 

REAL PEOPLE: Blue Mountain Saddle Sisters share an interest in friendship and their horses

Members of the Blue Mountain Saddle Sister, from left, Marilyn Bowen, Martha Buchanan, Windsome Wells, Char Hampton, Traci Hoadley and Kathi Wright, stop for a photo during a ride on the Lake Creek Trail Head near Tolgate last year. Courtesy photo.
The sliding stop was impressive. But what caught Martha Buchanan’s eye was that the rider was an older woman.

REAL PEOPLE: Familys personal adoption story worth sharing

Growing up, Sharilyn Martin knew a story of adoption and acceptance.

REAL PEOPLE: Virginia McLaughlin - Enjoying dancing, gardening at 90

ISLAND CITY — Virginia McLaughlin of Island City is as good at waltzing through the noon hour as she is at staying a two step ahead of Father Time.

At age 90 McLaughlin enjoys few things more than doing the waltz during midday dance sessions at the Union County Senior Center.

“I like the rhythm of the dance. I feel like a swan gliding over water,’’ McLaughlin said.

A swan who moves better than people many years her junior.

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