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The Observer Paper 12/22/14

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LIVE STREAM: Watch the La Grande Town Hall meeting

A town hall about Shelter From the Storm and its future will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday. If you can't make it, catch the town hall in its entirety here. Streaming is being done by Brent Clapp Media Services.

We also want to hear from you, so feel free to leave your comments during the town hall down below. 

Camp host enjoying Morgan Lake

Bill Theissen is set up to be the Morgan Lake camp host through the end of September. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
Bill Theissen, 65, has done a lot in his life.

He fought in Vietnam, has traveled the country and enjoys time with his grandkids.

This summer, though, he is slowing down to enjoy the pace of life at Morgan Lake.

Vaughan wakes from coma

It will be a long road to recovery, but Joseph Vaughan, 23, of Elgin surprised the medical staff at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, Wash., when he woke up from a chemically-induced coma after three weeks and began walking with the aid of a walker and physical therapists at his side.

Overstocked forests: Private, state and federal land managers discuss how to treat area around Antho

La Grande District Ranger Bill Gamble introduces a large group of stakeholders to the East Face Project that will reduce the risk of stand-replacing fire, while improving habitat for wildlife and protecting watersheds necessary for agriculture and recreation. (Katy Nesbitt/The Observer)
ANTHONY LAKE — Getting forests healthy is a mission of the federal and state governments and private landowners. The East Face project near Anthony Lake will treat overstocked forest while keeping stakeholder interests in mind.

BRIEFLY: Bicyclist struck by car Tuesday morning

Bicyclist struck by car Tuesday morning 

A 72-year-old Elgin man was struck by a car Tuesday morning while riding his bicycle on Highway 82.

The name of the victim is not being released until family has been notified, according to police. His condition and the extent of his injuries is not being released at this time.

The man was riding his bicycle southbound on the northbound shoulder near Philberg Road at approximately 7:30 a.m. Witnesses said that the bicyclist swerved into the northbound traffic and the man was struck by an Elgin woman.

The bicyclist suffered undisclosed injuries and was taken by La Grande Fire Department ambulance to the Grande Ronde Hospital.

The motorist was uninjured, and her vehicle sustained minor damage.

New fires burning in Eagle Cap Wilderness

The China Cap Fire burning southwest of Joseph grew to 300 acres Tuesday afternoon and is being fought by McCall smoke jumpers, single engine air tankers and helicopters. (US Forest Service photo)
JOSEPH — Eight smoke jumpers landed on the China Cap fire in the Eagle Cap wilderness late Tuesday morning. By nightfall it had grown to 300 acres.

The jumpers are being assisted by single-engine air tankers and helicopters dropping retardant and water on the blaze. The fire is burning in heavy subalpine fir in steep terrain, making firefighting from the ground difficult.

Elgin City Council agrees to pay for equipment, with stipulations

The Elgin City Council voted Monday to pay for the equipment purchased for the Elgin Opera House air conditioning unit to buy the city council and the opera house board some time to work out finances.

"We do support the opera house, but we need to worry about the taxpayers," said Councilman Allan Duffy during Monday's special session.

Report: cause of death was drowning following crash

ENTERPRISE — Two people were killed and three injured in a vehicle crash Thursday on Crow Creek Road northwest of Enterprise.

A report from Wallowa County District Attorney Mona Williams said the cause of death of Sean Alan Dean, 21 and Barry Lee Anderson, 23, was drowning after a pickup truck driven by Dean crashed into a power pole and landed in Prairie Creek. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene.


Opera House takes one step toward finishing project

The Elgin City Council voted to pay for the equipment purchased for the Elgin Opera House air conditioning unit to buy the city council and the opera house board some time to work out finances. 

Police say truck involved in fatal crash struck elk

Investigators from the Oregon State Police said today that the driver of a pickup truck that crashed on Interstate 84 near Baker City Saturday night, leading to the death of one passenger, struck an elk, causing the driver to lose control.

Briggs: We need new voting system

UNION — Union City Councilor Sue Briggs wants her community to capitalize on its growing number of dedicated volunteers. 

Medical marijuana dispensary waits for approval from state

Green Apothecary is now in the hands of the state, as owners await permit approval. 

Shelter group to host meeting

Shelter From the Storm advocates are hoping to open a community dialogue this week with a town hall meeting.

Help wanted signs remain out for many companies

Chris Baxter/The Observer Boise Cascade millwrights Dave Fuzi, right, and James Cox adjust the height of a motor in preparation for replacing a sanding head on the No. 2 sander at the Island City particle board plant.

The numbers paint a perplexing picture.

At 6.6 percent, the unemployment rate in Union County is dramatically better than it was at the height of the Great Recession, but it is still 2.1 percent higher than it was just before the economic downturn hit.

BRIEFLY: Extension office closed for 3 days

Oregon State University’s Union County Extension Office will be closed Wednesday through Friday so employees can work at the Union County Fair. Benny Beaver will be meeting and greeting people at the fair on Wednesday afternoon and riding the 4-H Ambassadors Float in the fair parade at 7 p.m. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer gardening questions, and daily gift bags will be given away.


For more information, call 541-963-1010.

‘Typical’ storm proves costly

Touched off by what seemed like a typical summer storm, the Buzzard Complex Fire has ballooned into the nation’s largest blaze after consuming more than 600 square miles of rangeland.

The storm system that would trigger havoc and spark some of the largest wildfires of the 2014 season began innocently enough as a typical summer low pressure system off the Pacific coast.

New features highlight Union County Fair

Melody Mai, a member of the Union County Fair Board, examines a bench next to a new mural at the fairgrounds.

Many people in Northeast Oregon spent the weekend relaxing in the sun.

Single vehicle accident kills 1, sends three others to hospital

 A single vehicle crash Saturday night that resulted in one death remains under investigation.

BRIEFLY: Blue Mountaineers play at dance

Blue Mountaineers play at dance 

A community dance will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Union County Senior Center in 

La Grande. The Blue Mountaineers will provide the music. The event is open to all ages and will include door prizes and a finger-food potluck. Cost is $3, $5 for couples; kids younger than 12 get in free. 


Air support key to fighting fire in canyon country

Hannah Page of the Mesa Verde Helitack flew in the crew’s Bell 206 Long Ranger from Colorado to Joseph. The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is using the crew to fly in crews and supplies to remote areas since lightning-caused fires began to erupt across the region last week. (Katy Nesbitt/The Observer)
JOSEPH — From the peaks of the Eagle Caps to the canyons of the Grande Ronde, Imnaha and Snake rivers, Wallowa County has an infinite amount of inaccessible country. Air support from helicopters is essential in getting water to those hard to reach places and transporting crews and gear safely.

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