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The Observer 02/08/16

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Milestone Moment

Alex Fuentes peers out of the Northeast Oregon Public Transit trolly on Thursday afternoon as it travels across town. Sometime late next week, the 300,000th rider is expected to board a bus on NOPT’s 14-mile La Grande-Island City fixed route. The service began in 2005. (Tim Mustoe/The Observer)
A decade ago, Frank Thomas had many reasons to doubt that this day would ever come.

A day in which he would be contemplating the celebration of a once unfathomable number.

Sometime late next week, the 300,000th rider is expected to board a bus on Northeast Oregon Public Transit’s 14-mile 
La Grande-Island City fixed route. A celebration will ensue and prizes will be awarded.

Fire destroys EHS football, track structure

The field house at the Enterprise football field was completely destroyed by a fire Thursday, as was all of the football and track equipment inside. An electrical arc is believed to be the cause of the fire. (Madison Falk Photography)
ENTERPRISE — A fire Thursday morning destroyed a structure holding football and track equipment at the Enterprise High School football field. 

County to move forward with opt-out ordinance

The Union County Commissioners will have the first reading of an ordinance to completely opt out of the sale and production of medical and recreational marijuana at its Oct. 21 meeting.

BRIEFLY: Events planned to benefit Al Peterson

Al “Alfie” Peterson, longtime caretaker at the La Grande Mavericks, has recently experienced some health issues, and the Mavericks and many of Alfie’s friends have organized events and a GoFundMe account to help with medical expenses.

The first event begins at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Mavericks Club House, and will include a finger food potluck (bring your own beer), games, storytelling and bidding on silent auction items.

A day of benefit roping is planned for Sunday at the Mavericks Grounds. Roping sign-up is from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., with the roping to follow at 11 a.m. At 2 p.m. there will be a live auction, the announcement of winners of the silent auction and a no-charge potluck. Tri-tip and table service will be provided; participants are asked to bring a salad or dessert if possible. The roping will resume after the potluck. 

For more information and to view auction items in advance, go to the Alfie Peterson Appreciation Day Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AlfiePetersonDay.

The La Grande Mavericks and Union County Fair have agreed to open the big gate between the two organizations on Saturday morning, and the fairgrounds horse stalls will be available to roping participants for use at no charge. The fairgrounds request that horses not be left tied to trailers to avoid pawing and damage to the grounds. Tying inside of the fair arena is allowed.

Those who wish to make monetary donations through GoFundeMe may do so at this site as well as send Alfie a message. Go to www.gofundme.com/9m597wkg.

Ranchers get added prison stretch

An Eastern Oregon rancher and his adult son on Wednesday finally got the prison sentences they deserve — according to the law — for deliberately setting fires that spread from their property onto federal land.

La Grande City Council votes to opt out of sale and production of marijuana

La Grande City Council voted 5 to 1, with Gary Lillard voting against and Mayor Steve Clements absent, to opt out of the sale and production of medical and recreational marijuana at tonight's meeting.

Forest Service proposes large timber sale in Elkhorns

The East Face project, which is designed to reduce the risk of large wildfires, includes almost 50,000 acres of public land, mostly Forest Service with about 1,700 acres of BLM ground.


A promising start for full-day kindergarten

Paraprofessional Valerie Colwell leads Greenwood Elementary School kindergarten students, from left, Carter Pennington, Jocelyn VanVleet and Cain Jorgenson, in a math instructional session Tuesday. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
School buses transporting La Grande School District kindergarten students are now running less frequently, but the school district’s kindergarten program is revved and rolling like never before.

CASA looking for a few good volunteers

Mary Collard, left, Kathy Warren and Union County Judge Russ West work together in the CASA organization, advocating for children in juvenile dependency cases. Their goal is to have every child in the court system to have a CASA volunteer by the end of 2015 in Union County. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
While the position does not get paid, being a Court Appointed Special Advocates volunteer is a rewarding experience and the Union County organization needs more people to step up and help.

Union County Commissioners to have first reading of opt out ordinance

The Union County Commissioners will have their first reading of an ordinance that will opt out of the sale and production of medical and recreational marijuana at their Oct. 21 meeting.

Burnout set to protect cabins from Grizzly fires

The 80,911-acre Grizzly Bear Complex fires burning in Wallowa County and Southeast Washington are not dead, but they do not have as much life as they will soon appear to.

BRIEFLY: Senior meal in Cove scheduled Oct. 16

COVE — The Cove senior dinner on Oct. 16 at the Cove Baptist Church will feature chicken enchiladas, Spanish rice and refried beans. Cookies and ice cream will be served for dessert.  Coffee and tea are offered starting at noon, with lunch following at 12:30 p.m. There is a $5 charge per meal. 

RSVP with Imie Bristow at 541-568-4545 by Monday.

Fire danger remains high for deer season

Rifle deer season began over the weekend, and forest managers are reminding hunters the fire danger remains high throughout northeast Oregon and southeast Washington.

Police release victim's name in fatal crash

Police have identified the victim of Monday's fatal crash on Highway 82 as 18-year-old Jason Tyler Parsons of Elgin.

Two Baker City youths charged with wildlife offenses

Farmland to industry

Union County Commissioner Mark Davidson, left, speaks with Dan Stark, executive director of the Union County Economic Development Corp. about Baum Industrial Park, which is set to get more than $1 million. (Tim Mustoe/The Observer)
A 60-acre parcel of tilled farmland may often go unnoticed by drivers traveling along Highway 82 just outside Island City.

Still dancing the night away

Creston and Dovey Shaw, both 93, dance at the Union County Senior Center Sept. 26. The couple rarely miss a Saturday night dance at the senior center, dancing almost continuously for 90 minutes, before taking a break for dinner and then another hour of dancing. “We just enjoy dancing. We don’t do it any better than anyone else, but we have a lot of fun,” Creston said. (Cherise Kaechele/ The Observer)
Creston and Dovey Shaw, both 93, stopped making windsurfing trips last spring, but there is still no stopping them on the dance floor.

BRIEFLY: Small fire reported in Long Branch Bar

The La Grande Fire Department, La Grande Rural Fire and La Grande Police Department responded to a small grease fire that began at approximately 7:05 a.m. Saturday at the Long Branch in La Grande, according to La Grande firefighter Merle Laci.

Employees of the bar were already waiting outside by the time the fire department arrived on scene, Laci said.

“I couldn’t really see anything (outside) — there was no smoke,” he said. “I was able to look inside the front door. There appeared to be a fire in the grill area.”

The fire department was able to quickly extinguish the fire, which likely started because of grease buildup, he said. There doesn’t appear to be any damage to the building, and the fire department checked Red Cross Drug, next door to Long Branch, to make sure the fire did not travel to adjacent buildings.

Highway collision results in fatality

ISLAND CITY — A head-on collision between a semi truck and a passenger vehicle claimed the life of one person this morning on Highway 82 just west of Booth Lane.

List of organizations and resources to go toward Umpqua Community College

For anyone who wants to help the Umpqua Community College and the town of Roseburg, here is a list of organizations and other suggestions according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office: 

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