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The Observer paper 01/30/15

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PGG makes deal to sell retail stores

Pendleton Grain Growers says it plans to sell its AG Supply retail stores in Hermiston, Island City, left, and Joseph.
Pendleton Grain Growers has entered into negotiations to sell the AG Supply retail stores in Joseph, Island City and Hermiston. 

The three stores will not be closing. It will continue to be business as usual, Maddee Moore, a spokesperson for PGG, said. 

Oregon to clarify insurance rules on autism treatment

SALEM — The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Insurance Division announced Thursday it will begin drafting a bulletin to clarify insurers' responsibility to cover Applied Behavior Analysis therapy as a treatment for autism. 

EOU to play men's soccer next fall

Eastern Oregon University announced in a Thursday press conference that it will launch it's mens soccer program to play in fall 2014.

"I'm very happy about this," said Jay Kenton, interim EOU president. "We're here for the long run."

A mosquito sample has tested positive for West Nile virus

Union County Vector Control announced Thursday that a positive test for West Nile virus has been confirmed this week on mosquitoes collected in North Powder.

PGG exits retail, automotive businesses

PENDLETON — Pendleton Grain Growers, Inc. announced Thursday it has entered into negotiations to sell the AG Supply retail stores located in Joseph, Hermiston and Island City. The cooperative did not receive offers on the remaining three stores or the Pendleton Automotive Service Center. 

La Grande Planning Commission approves marijuana dispensary regulations

La Grande Planning Commissioners approved the medical marijuana dispensary regulations at Wednesday night's hearing.

Cool weather helps firefighters manage blazes across the Wallowa-Whitman

ENTERPRISE — Cool weather over the next few days should help firefighters get a handle on the numerous fires across Northeast Oregon.

Today “heavy rain” is predicted for Enterprise and Joseph with a high of only 82 degrees. The National Weather Service predicts temperatures in the 70s for Thursday and Friday with a chance of thunderstorms.

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest brought in a long-term assessment team to evaluate probabilities of fire movements in the wilderness areas, given predicted weather. A press release said this will help forest managers anticipate and be prepared for possible fire growth over the next few weeks.

Smoke conditions bring negative health effects

Skies around La Grande were hazy from wildfires Monday. (Kelly Ducote/The Observer)
Skies around La Grande are clearer today than they have been, but people are still encouraged to monitor the air quality and take caution if conditions worsen.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality on Monday urged residents in Union and Wallowa counties to take measures to protect themselves against unhealthy smoke in the air.

Time for some quiet? Resident thinks bond may work to establish a quiet zone for noisy trains

City Manager Robert Strope said in 2008 a city committee found that implementing a quiet zone would cost the city as much as $750,000 per intersection. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
It was an issue discussed at length by the City of La Grande five years ago.

But the trains have kept rolling, and their whistles keep blowing, much to the dismay of La Grande resident Barney Kuensting.

Island City mayor receives noteworthy honor

Sharon Crampton, administrative assistant, and Island City Mayor Dale De Long discuss business at city hall on Tuesday. De Long received the Mayor’s Leadership Award last weekend. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
Dale De Long is concluding his 24-year tenure as mayor of Island City on top.

De Long was saluted as one of Oregon’s best mayors on Saturday in Pendleton, receiving the prestigious Mayor’s Leadership Award. The award was presented at the Oregon Mayors Association Summer Conference. 

BRIEFLY: DHS adds new town hall meeting

DHS adds new town hall meeting 

PENDLETON — The Oregon Department of Human Services has added a new town hall meeting with DHS Director Erinn Kelley-Siel from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday at the Vert Club Room, 345 S.W. Fourth St., Pendleton. 

People are invited to provide input and feedback to the DHS on its priorities and strategic direction for 2015-17 and beyond in the following areas: child welfare, aging and people with disabilities, intellectual/developmental disability services, self-sufficiency, vocational rehabilitation, DHS agency operations and other human services issues.

Lightning sparks 51 new wildfires in Oregon

GRANTS PASS — Lightning has ignited 51 new wildfires in Oregon, and storms are forecast to continue through Wednesday.

Sheriff's office contract OK'd during public hearing

No one objected to renewing the Sheriff's contract at Monday night's public hearing in Elgin.

While some councilors and participators said they wished Elgin had their own police department again, the fact remained that the money wasn't in the budget and the liabilities would not be worth taking on a police department of their own.

The Elgin City Council and many of those in attendance commended the deputies responsible for patrolling Elgin and said the town is safer because of them.

The Sheriff's contract is for three years. The city council will decide whether to renew the contract in a future meeting.

Wildfire smoke brings unhealthy air to Enterprise and other communities in Wallawa, Union counties

Air quality in and around Enterprise is unhealthy due to smoke impacts from nearby wildfires, including fires burning in Oregon and western Idaho. The DEQ urges people with asthma and other respiratory conditions to take precautions to protect themselves as long as air quality remains unhealthy.

Air quality is expected to remain poor throughout north and eastern Oregon for the next few days, not only in Enterprise but also in La Grande, Baker City and Pendleton. 

Walden hopeful for fire bill’s passage

As fires continue burning thousands of acres across Oregon, Rep. Greg Walden is optimistic that Congress can pass a bipartisan bill to help save money and restructure the way the U.S. funds firefighting efforts.

Protecting Wallowa Lake’s East Moraine

Several years ago, a conversation began among private landowners, Wallowa County and local organizations about how best to protect the east moraine of Wallowa Lake, above, from further development. (Leon Wurdinger photo)
ENTERPRISE — More than 15,000 years ago, a glacier created a bowl-shaped geographic feature unlike any other in Oregon. Wallowa Lake and its moraines are so precious the county details their protection in its land use plan.

BRIEFLY: LMS, LHS offer back-to-school information

Middle school students who are new to La Grande School District and have not pre-registered may register from 9 a.m. to noon or 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday.  No appointment is necessary.

The first day of school for sixth grade middle school students begins at 9:20 a.m. Aug. 25. All students attend school from 8:20 a.m. to 3 p.m. beginning Aug. 26.

High school students who are new to La Grande School District and have not pre-registered may register and meet with a school counselor from 8 a.m. to noon, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday. No appointment is necessary.

High school students who have pre-registered, including incoming freshmen, need to come on the following days to pick up class schedules, have school pictures taken, get their student identification and pay fees.

Pre-registered students should have received a student information form by mail. The form needs to be returned with a parent/guardian signature to receive the class schedule.

Seniors: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Thursday

Juniors: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday

Sophomores: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Friday

Freshmen: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday

The first day of school for high school freshmen and new students begins at 9:20 a.m. Aug. 25. All students attend school from 8:20 a.m. to
3:10 p.m. beginning Aug. 26.

For more information, call the La Grande Middle School Counseling Office at 541-663-3428 or the La Grande High School Counseling Office at 541-663-3310.

Regional office names new special assistant for accelerated restoration

PORTLAND — The Pacific Northwest Region of the USDA Forest Service announced today Wallowa-Whitman Forest Supervisor John Laurence will leave his position this fall to take on new responsibilities at the Regional Office in Portland.

Counties take stand against Forest Plan

County commissioners in Northeast Oregon will make their final plea to the U.S. Forest Service, asking them to abandon proposed alternatives for the Forest Plan Revision and start over.

Union County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to amend its draft comments to send to the Forest Service ahead of its Aug. 15 public comment deadline.

Fair attendance dips from last year’s total

Scorching heat at the start of the fair and thunderstorms later last week may have deterred would-be fair-goers this year.

Union County Fair Manager Nan Bigej said attendance for the 2014 fair came in at 15,250, shy of last year’s 18,100 visitors.

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