Hundreds of local manufacturing and wood products industry jobs have
vanished in the current recession, and nobody knows if they’re ever
DELICATE WORK: Students Matthew Collins (right) and Jennifer Dockweiler practice the fine art of splicing fiber optic cable. Looking on are classmates Matt Hall (left) and Ady Ayatullah. The Observer/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH
For many dislocated workers, the answer to the problem of
unemployment lies in learning something new. A group of about 20 people
had a chance to do just that recently when Training and Employment
Consortium hosted a hands-on class in fiber optic technology.
Armed with new knowledge — and a certificate of completion — the
students have a shot at getting a job in a high-growth, high-demand
industry, said Lynn Trice, TEC’s workforce development supervisor.
With the economy in one of the worst downturns in recent memory, the
opening of a new solar products manufacturer with headquarters in
Enterprise and manufacturing facilities in La Grande is welcome news.
Louis Perry, left and Jonathan Monschke came up with the idea to design and build aluminum or steel structures for holding solar units. The raised units leave space underneath, which can be used for any number of secondary purposes. Submitted photo
Sun Storage, a new, renewable energy company started by two Joseph
natives, will manufacture solar arrays, which come in pre-engineered
packages. What makes the product unique is that the arrays are elevated
for better solar access, and so that the ground space below can still
Partners Louis Perry and Jonathan Monschke have been working on
prototypes and developing the business model for more than a year. They
officially launched the company at the recent Northwest Solar Expo
trade show in Portland.
Bronson Lumber Co., 10514 North McAlister in Island City, will hold its grand re-opening celebration Friday and Saturday.
After a devastating fire in September of last year, Bronson’s built
a new, 10,000-square-foot store at the site. Features include an
updated electrical and plumbing department, tool crib, molding
department, paint department and a new warehouse.
The company also opened the Bronson’s builder’s exchange center, an information hub for local builders and contractors.
Union County is poised to seize the transmission equipment owned by
Almega Cable, a Texas-based company that provides cable television
service to residents in Cove and North Powder.
subject to seizure: Transmission equipment owned by Almega Cable will be taken by Union County if a tax debt owed by the company isn’t paid by May 11. Submitted photo
Assessor Linda Hill said this week that Almega is five years behind
in local property taxes. She said she has no choice but to shut power
off to the transmission station, take the equipment and sell it at
It isn’t known how many customers Almega serves in the area. It is
certain that they will be left without service unless Almega pays up by
the May 11 deadline.
The City of La Grande Main Street Program is looking for downtown
building owners interested in doing a renovation or restoration project
The city has up to $14,167 in grants to assist, according to Community and Economic Development Director Charlie Mitchell.
“While we have a limited amount of funding right now, we anticipate
launching our own local facade grant program this summer, meaning that
we’ll have funding to do many more downtown building renovation
projects in the near future,” Mitchell said.
Sometime after the official start March 20, signs of spring slowly
start popping up one at a time. In La Grande, one of the surest signs
is the annual kickoff of the farmers market.
CONVERTED ANTIQUE: La Grande resident Ken Bruce, center, bought and restored an antique two-wheeled cart, then donated it the Union County Chamber of Commerce to display at local events. The cart will be set up as an information center at the La Grande Farmers Market this year. Others in the picture include farmers market members Karl Sutton, Kathleen Evergreen and Randy Moore (left), and, (right) farmers market member Darci Jones, Rona Lindsey of the chamber and Janet Rose Marie, farmers market manager. The Observer/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH
Preparations for another year are pretty much complete, so mark
Saturday, May 16, on your calendar. That day, the market returns for
The market is many things, but mainly it’s a chance to buy local
produce from local growers, said Janet Rose Marie, a La Grande resident
who is stepping in as manager this year.
The Oregon Main Street Program, a program provided by Oregon
Economic and Community Development Department, has awarded a grant of
$6,667 to the City of La Grande’s Main Street program for facade and
building improvements within the downtown revitalization area.
A total of $100,000 in awards has been given to 11 Oregon Main
Street communities that were selected into the program on September 26,
The award is intended to help La Grande address some of the most
important priorities in its downtown that will help preserve heritage
assets, stimulate the local economy, encourage additional public or
private reinvestment and help implement local work plans.
attractive historic district: Historic architecture along a “walkable” downtown is listed is a business strength in a recent Northeast Oregon Economic Development assessment. Photo/AMBER GLAZE
A little cooperation will go a long way toward improving economic
development for the city of Union, according to a report released
recently by the Northeast Oregon Economic Development District.
The report, written for NEOEDD by Portland-based downtown
development specialist Vicki Dugger, says that citizens need to be more
united if they are to take advantage of the city’s many strengths.
And since the report appeared last month, people do seem to be
working together in fresh and constructive ways, said Lisa Dawson,
executive director of NEOEDD.
As construction crews add major upgrades to the Pendleton Grain
Growers shipping facility at Alicel, local agriculture is in for a big
MEN AT WORK: Workers from Swaggert Brothers Construction were busy last week on the new silos being built at the Pendleton Grain Growers Alicel shipping facility. The project, which also includes extension of the rail siding, got under way in January and is expected to be complete in July. The Observer/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH
Crews have already begun work on two new silos that have the
capacity for storing 755,000 bushels of grain. In addition, the rail
spur at the facility will be extended a quarter-mile, making room for
Backers of the project say loading time will be cut in half,
efficiency will be vastly improved and local grain producers will
realize savings on their shipping costs.
A group of Eastern Oregon legislators have teamed up to promote the
second annual Entrepreneur Day at Eastern Oregon University April 24.
The event will be held at EOU’s Badgley Hall, One University Blvd,
in La Grande. It runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes a special
awards ceremony luncheon.
The day is designed to help existing small business owners and those
who want to start a new business venture, said state Rep. Greg Smith,