Yellow star thistle is one of the noxious weeds that has invaded Northeastern Oregonís canyon country. Mark Porter photo
by Katy Nesbitt/The Observer
Use of herbicides on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest will be limited this field season due to a decision handed down in Portland’s U.S. District Court.
Judge Michael Simon agreed with the League of Wilderness Defenders that the forest’s 2010 treatment plan did not adequately consider the cumulative impacts of herbicides in newly identified treatment areas.
The decision does allow the continued use of herbicides on lands identified in the 1992 and 1994 environmental assessments, including the use of the newly approved herbicides for a total of 10 allowable chemicals.
In addition, eight of the 10 approved herbicides may still be used on approximately 840 additional acres on 150 sites, not mapped under the plan, which includes high priority Early Detection/Rapid Response sites discovered and mapped after the 2008 mapping relied upon in the decision.
Jon St. Germaine resignation to be effective June 30 for medical reasons
by Dick Mason/The Observer
UNION — The Union School District will soon be searching for a new superintendent.
The school board accepted a letter of resignation from Superintendent Jon St. Germaine Tuesday night. St. Germaine said in his letter that he will resign for medical reasons on June 30.
St. Germaine has been on medical leave since mid February and said this morning he will remain on medical leave for the remainder of the school year. He said that during this time he will be available to assist the school district if needed.
Joe Bell planning cross-country walk to honor son, Jadin, and promote anti-bullying programs, message
by DICK MASON / The Observer
Jadin Bell was a young man who never forgot his family and friends.
Soon, his father, Joe Bell, of La Grande, will make a cross-country trek to make sure that Jadin’s tragic but compelling story is never forgotten.
Joe Bell is preparing to begin a two-year, 5,000-mile walk across the United States to promote an anti-bullying program in remembrance of his son. Jadin Bell, a gay La Grande High School sophomore, died Feb. 3 from injuries suffered from a suicide attempt on Jan. 19. Jadin’s family and friends believe that he was driven to suicide by bullying.
Oregon’s top general said link between citizen-soldiers, communities more important now than ever before
by PAT CALDWELL / for The Observer
BAKER CITY — The future success of Eastern Oregon’s biggest citizen-soldier unit will hinge on fortifying the existing bond with area communities, a top Guard general said during a visit last week.
Brig. Gen. Eric Bush, the commander of the Oregon Guard’s 82nd Brigade, concluded a two-day tour of the Baker City and Ontario armories last week, and said the link between area citizen-soldiers and their communities is more important now than ever before.
The 82nd Brigade, with its headquarters in Clackamas, manages a number of Guard units across the state, including Eastern Oregon’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment. The 3rd Battalion consists of Guard units from Hood River, Woodburn, The Dalles, Hermiston, Pendleton, La Grande, Baker City and Ontario.
Bush, who works as the police chief for the city of Prineville in his full-time job, said the presence of a Guard unit in a rural community pays dividends.
“I’ve seen over the years what a positive impact a Guard unit can have on a community,” he said.
Bush toured the Baker City armory and emphasized the array of resources the local Guard outfit can furnish to area officials.
Bruce Coutant shows the similarities of a French horn and the alphorns he makes. (KATY NESBITT/The Observer)
At his workshop in the Lostine Canyon, horn player, carpenter tackles the complex process of making instrument synonymous with Swiss mountain dwellers
by KATY NESBITT / The Observer
If the Eagle Cap Mountains are considered Oregon’s Little Alps, then where better for alphorns to be built than Wallowa County.
Beginning in medieval times, alphorns were played by shepherds in the Alps, primarily Switzerland and France, to send messages to the people in the valley. Likewise, valley dwellers would play tunes as messages for the shepherds.
Two people were injured in a two-vehicle accident Sunday morning on the western edge of Union County.
The accident occurred at about 10 a.m. in the westbound lane of Interstate 84 about a mile west of the Union-Umatilla county line.
A La Grande Fire and Ambulance crew transported the two injured individuals to Grande Ronde Hospital.
Richard Higgdon, the La Grande man injured Friday evening in an accident on Island Avenue, is still listed in critical condition at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise.
Higgdon, 48, was hurt when hit by a motor vehicle near the intersection of Island Avenue and Interstate 84 at about 7:45 p.m. Higgdon was standing in the right-hand lane of traffic when he was hit. He was transported by air ambulance to St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.
NORTH POWDER — A quick response by the North Powder Rural Fire District held damage to a minimum in a Sunday morning fire in a double-wide mobile home just north of town.
Fire Chief Sam Martin said the fire was caused by an overheated wood stove that ignited the wall and the siding of the home on property owned by Ken Holman on Oregon Trail Highway about a mile north of North Powder.
The Red Cross was called to provide emergency housing for the tenants, a family of two adults and three children. Their names were not available in time for this story. The Red Cross also provided food, comfort kits and information on mental and physical health services, according to Dennis Kelly, an after-hours Public Affairs volunteer.
Martin said 10 North Powder firefighters responded to the fire at 11:47 a.m. They worked at the scene for about an hour.
The house sustained only minor damage thanks to the response of firefighters who arrived just seven minutes after they were called and were able to douse the fire quickly despite the high winds, the fire chief said.
“Most of the time doublewides burn really quick,” Martin said. “We’re really happy with the way things went. It could have been a complete loss.”
None of the family’s belongings was lost in the fire and there were no injuries, he said.
Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church members applaud pope’s humility
by Dick Mason/The Observer
Less than a week has passed since Pope Francis was elected the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church but some La Grande-area Catholics speak like they already feel a connection with him.
“He is not pretentious at all. It is like dealing with an uncle or a relative you have great respect for. He is someone you are very comfortable with,” said Jim Wimer, a member of Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church in La Grande.
Carol Wimer seconded her husband’s opinion Sunday morning during a coffee following Mass at Our Lady of the Valley. Carol said she is impressed with Pope Francis’s humility.
“He is very down to earth, he is a people’s pope,” she said.