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Dennis Rea works at the Neighbor to Neighbor Ministries woodlot Tuesday afternoon. Rea is the coordinator of the Neighbor to Neighbor wood program. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
No power lines run over this 1-1/2-acre lot on the north end of Umatilla Street.
The presence of a power line would be fitting symbolically, however, for the lot is a lifeline for some Grande Ronde Valley families each winter.
The site is the location of the Neighbor to Neighbor Ministries woodlot. Donated wood is deposited at the site throughout the year and then made available to the public one Saturday each month from mid-October through the end of winter.
“Some people tell us (the free wood) is their only source of heat,” said Dennis Rea, coordinator of the Neighbor to Neighbor Ministries wood program.
The woodlot will open again for wood pickups from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday. The lot will be opened for wood pickups at the same time the third Saturday of each month through March.
As many as 18 truck loads of wood are picked up by families in need on some Saturdays. Rea would not be surprised if close to that many people show up this weekend because of rising fuel prices and the cool temperatures the region has been experiencing.
“I am guessing that this Saturday we will be very busy,” Rea said on Tuesday afternoon.
Donna Fuhrman, program director for Neighbor to Neighbor, also expects the demand for wood to be high.
“We have been getting a lot of calls (asking about the wood),’’ Fuhrman said.
The Neighbor to Neighbor lot has close to 20 cords of wood ready to give out plus other wood that needs to be cut. Rea emphasized that more wood is always needed.
People are encouraged to bring only good burnable wood, not branches and leaves. Solid wood like fir and tamarack is preferred.
Uncut wood is also welcome. Volunteers will cut it .
“We’ll buck it up,” Rea said.
Rea said that six years ago when he started helping run the wood program there were dozens of 40-foot logs at the site. Logs he cut with his chainsaw.
“They kept me busy the first winter,” Rea said.
Neighbor to Neighbor has operated its woodlot on land provided free of charge by Billie Halliday of La Grande for about 10 years. Previously, the Neighbor to Neighbor woodlot was on land owned by the late Roy Leonard of Island City.