The chief executive officer of Grande Ronde Hospital is the longest serving hospital CEO in Oregon.
Grande Ronde Hospital marked the official opening of its new Regional Medical Center on Fourth Street in May, 2009. The 13,557-square-foot clinic is targeted to eventually employ 70 people. Observer file photo
Jim Mattes recently completed his 25th year as CEO of Grande Ronde Hospital.
Although he actually began working for GRH on a part-time basis in
early September 1983, Mattes’ first official day at the helm was Jan.
1, 1984 — the date he considers his anniversary date.
|Union County Tourism is scrambling to find a way to save the “fish
trains” that have been a part of the Wallowa-Union Railroad’s excursion
schedule the past five years.
In 2009 the fish train transported 328 anglers, yielding $20,220 in ticket revenues, or an average of $3,370 per excursion. BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH/The Observer
The excursions run along the Wallowa River between Minam and Rondowa
on weekends during the steelhead season. They transport anglers to
fishing holes, drop them off, then pick them up and return them to the
Minam Motel later in the day.
The railroad has partnered in the excursions with the Minam Motel, a
business situated at the confluence of the Wallowa and Minam Rivers in
Wallowa County, right beside the track.
With a new law governing cell phone use in vehicles set to take
effect in Oregon Jan. 1, people are visiting their wireless stores in
larger than usual numbers.
LOCAL DEALERS SAY hands-free devices with Bluetooth wireless technology are popular sellers as the deadline for Oregon’s new cell phone law approaches. Paul West of Eastern Oregon Satellite and Wireless shows off a visor-mounted unit. Both products allow drivers to talk on cell phones while keeping hands on the wheel. BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH photo
Local dealers report they’re doing brisk business in hands-free
devices, an upcoming requirement for any Oregonian who wants to talk on
the phone while behind the wheel.
“There’s been quite a jump in sales, because of the holidays and
also because of the law,” said Tyler Brown, general manager at Beyond
Wireless on Adams Avenue in downtown La Grande.
At Christmas time, toys are a good business to be in. Maybe the
best. Just ask Dave Campbell, owner of the Hobby Habit on Fir Street in
Among several downtown merchants taking part in an informal survey
this week about holiday season sales, Campbell was the most upbeat.
“Business has been phenomenal,” he said. “It’s been busy since
Thanksgiving, with a whole lot of folks coming in. It’s been a good
About 20 Union County youngsters received free eye exams recently, thanks to a program at the Walmart eye clinic.
Reading the eye chart during her recent exam by Dr. Nathan Frank of the Walmart eye clinic is Rylee Clark, an 8-year-old student from Central Elementary. The clinic donated about 20 free exams to local school chldren. BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH/The Observer
Optometrist Nathan Frank said he and his staff arranged to donate
the exams after hearing about a similar program at the clinic at the
Hermiston Walmart store.
“It was just an idea we had. We’re giving kids who might not have
the opportunity for an exam the chance to come in and get checked,”
ENTERPRISE — The Northeast Oregon Economic Development
District is applying for more than $1 million from the U.S. Department
of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program.
The grant would leverage private dollars to improve weatherization
in Wallowa County homes. The funds are not income-dependent and can be
used for private residences, either owner-occupied or rental units.
The Wallowa County Board of Commissioners gave the district
permission to apply for the grant on the condition, if awarded, the
grant will not hold the county liable for any financial responsibility.
The grant encourages the applicant to have the support of a consortium
of local governments, however the funds would go directly to the
district to implement the grant. The district is also meeting with the
municipalities of the county to ask for their buy in.
Here’s some good news for people who rely on Community Connection’s
buses and vans for transportation: services reduced earlier this year
will be restored soon.
Community Connection buses and vans will be running more frequently thanks to grant funding from the state Jobs and Training Act and Special Transportation Operations Fund. Observer file photo
Community Connection, a non-profit social services agency, operates
fixed-route and on-call paratransit services locally. Last April,
budget constraints forced the agency to cut back.
But with $169,000 in grants from the state Jobs and Training Act and
the Special Transportation Operations Fund, the agency will be able
resume a schedule much like the one it ran before.
UNION — The newly formed South County Health District takes a
giant step forward this month, expanding its Union Family Health Clinic
to include dental services.
North Powder-area dentist Dr. Joel Bender will be the man in charge of the Union Family Health Center’s dental clinic. It is expected to open later this month. BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH / The Observer
Dr. Joel Bender, a North Powder-area dentist with a background in
public health, will work three days a week at the clinic. Bender said
Monday he is eager to begin his new job.
“In private practice, you’re focused on just your own patients.
Here, the focus will be on the community. I look forward to that,” he
Don’s Jewelry, a well established retail business in La Grande’s downtown, will shut its doors by the end of the year.
Don McClure says he will close his Adams Avenue jewelry store following a final sale this month. A second Don’s Jewelry location in Baker City will remain in business. BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH/The Observer
Owner Don McClure said he is closing the store he has operated at
1216 Adams Ave. since the late-1990s for a variety of reasons,
including sluggish sales during the current economic downturn.
McClure’s Baker City jewelry store will remain open. He said running two stores at once proved too much.
Every boy’s got his favorite toy. For Howard Butts, it’s an electric meter that runs backwards when the sun shines.
Green energy enthusiast Howard Butts recently installed an array of photovoltaic panels atop one of his outbuildings. The panels generate about 1,900 watts of electricity at peak times. Observer photo/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH
Butts, a rural Summerville resident known for his involvement in
green energy, finds great joy watching his meter spin in reverse,
recording his energy savings.
Money saved on a power bill isn’t the issue, though. After all, his
recently-installed photovoltaic system that makes energy from the sun
will only save him about $200 a year.