ISLAND CITY — A landmark Island City recreational vehicle parts and
equipment store that closed after its founder died in 2009 has been
born again, with new owners taking back the name and doing business as
Bulldog Enterprises, begun by Don Hamann in 1984, recently became
the property of Brad and Teala Sunderman, Union County natives who make
their home in Island City.
The business at 10020 Highway 82 has always been the place to find
RV components ranging from electrical sockets to plumbing hook-ups, to
windows and doors, to carpets and upholstery and more.
ELGIN — Bids for Phase II of the Elgin Opera House renovation
were opened at City Hall last Thursday, and the work was awarded to WC
Construction of Elgin.
PARTNERS Bob Wiles, left, and Dennis Cross of WC Construction in Elgin were awarded the Phase II renovation project by the City of Elgin this week. TRISH YERGES photo
The City received bids from four area contractors. WC Construction
came in with the lowest bid of $203,782; Wellens Farwell of Enterprise
bid $237,000; Sid Johnson & Co. of Baker City bid $269,479 and GCT
Land Management of La Grande had the highest bid of $404,586.
“We’re really excited to get a job in Elgin, especially on a
building like the opera house,” said Dennis Cross of Elgin-based WC
Construction. “We’re anxious to work with the city and improve the
building and make it a nice place to visit.”
With the City of La Grande contemplating a hike in the transient
room tax, there’s a ripple of discontent running through the local
TRAVELERS COULD BYPASS La Grande motels if the City of La Grande’s proposal to raise its transient room tax by 2 percent is adopted, believes Karl Swanson of the Royal Motor Inn. PHIL BULLOCK /The Observer
Public discussion on the proposal is coming up, but for now, some of
La Grande’s motel owners aren’t happy with the idea of bumping the tax
by 2 percent.
“I’m trying to keep the same rates I had three years ago,” said
Sushil Kamar, owner of the Quail Run Motor Inn at the east end of Adams
Avenue. “Believe it or not, if I raise my rates by one dollar, my
guests will stop coming.”
Zion Lutheran Church on Fourth Street and Marie Josephine, A
Mercantile Company, on Adams Avenue are making their third shipment of
“Soles4Souls” shoe shipment bound to Haiti.
shoes for Haiti: Kelly McGee, owner of Marie Josephine, A Mercantile, left, and Carole Halvorson of Zion Lutheran Church’s Women’s Group are teammates in an effort to collect shoes for Haiti earthquake victims. The shoes are being collected at McGee’s store, 1304 Adams Ave. Submitted photo
For the past few months, Kelly McGee, Marie Josephine’s proprietor,
has offered her store as the drop off point for new and used shoes
supporting the international “Soles4Souls” program.
Working with Zion Lutheran Church Women’s group and with member
Carole Halvorson, both helping to cover the cost of shipments, McGee
has collected more than 400 pounds of shoes in total.
Healthy foods in school cafeterias and possible new markets for
local family farms were topics at “Farm-to-School” workshops hosted in
Island City last Friday by Oregon Rural Action.
Andi Sexton, Oregon Rural Action’s Farm to School coordinator, delivers opening remarks during a program workshop Friday in Island City. Bill Rautenstrauch/ Observer photo
The grassroots citizens group is teaming with Union County Fit Kids
to make Farm-to-Schools a local reality. UC Fit Kids has laid some of
the groundwork, with help from community partners.
“The community is driving the action steps that will be implemented
over time,” Vickie Brogoitti of UC Fit Kids told a crowd of about 30
people turned out for the morning workshop.
A stranger in town visiting the Center for Human Development’s new
headquarters would have a hard time guessing the place used to be a
A sizable crowd turned out for Thursday’s open house at the new CHD building, 2301 Cove Ave. The health and social services agency moved into the building, formerly The Rock Bowling Alley and Fun Center, Feb. 1. CHRIS BAXTER/Observer photos
CHD, a private non-profit organization that provides Union County
residents with a a broad array of physical and mental health services,
is settled in at 2301 Cove Ave., former home of The Rock Bowling Alley
and Fun Center.
Beginning last August, the building was completely renovated,
partitioned to house various CHD departments including public health
services, home visiting services, environmental health, alcohol and
drug services, veterans services and developmental disabilities case
Al Steffler, the man in charge of keeping Oregon Public Broadcasting
and other local television and radio channels on the air the past 18
years, is retiring.
As OPB’s chief engineer in Northeast Oregon, Al Steffler’s job often requires travel to remote mountaintops in the dead of winter. Above, Steffler relaxes for a moment during a trip to the Mount Fanny transmitter. Submitted photo
No longer will he be braving rain, sleet, hail and snow to fix problems with transmitters on high lonesome mountaintops.
And that’s not all bad.
• November 1910 — the building that would later become the Liberty
Theatre opens as the Orpheum Theater. S.A. Gardinier and his wife
Madeline are the owners. The Gardiniers had purchased the theater
property earlier and then built the Orpheum.
The Gardiniers already owned La Grande’s Scenic Theater.
The Scenic, which opened in 1902, may have been La Grande’s first
film theater. Four other theaters opened in La Grande between 1902 and
November 1910, The Dime, The Electric, The Isis, The Pastime and The
Lyric. The Isis later became Sherry’s, The Colonial, and then the The
State Theater, according to La Grande historian and author Bob Bull.
The Liberty Theatre, first known as the Orpheum, was rated by some
as one of the top places to watch a show in Oregon when it opened in
On a day in 1948, crowds gathered in front of the Liberty Theatre for a local traffic safety program, and considered whether “Chicken Every Sunday” was a movie worth seeing. The Liberty closed in 1959. UNION COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE photo
“The finest vaudeville house in the Northwest, size of the town
considered...,’’ read a passage from a November 1910 article in The
Observer on the opening of the theater.
Its features included a ventilation system through which fresh air
was circulated in the building every six minutes, impressive lighting
and furnishings and a seating capacity of 633.
A ghost lurks in the building at 1010 Adams Ave., begging to be
brought back to life. If she could speak, she’d say something like: “I
was beautiful once, and I can be again.”
Doug Campbell, a volunteer in the La Grande Main Street Program, examines some equipment left over in the Liberty Theatre projection room. Campbell toured the building Saturday. DICK MASON /The Observer
The ghost in question is the old Liberty Theatre, born as the
Orpheum in 1910, featuring vaudeville acts and silent films, renamed
the Arcade in 1911, and finally becoming the Liberty in 1931.
Generations of Union County residents saw hundreds and hundreds of movies at the Liberty before it closed for good in 1959.