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The Observer paper 07/01/15

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Ice jam flooding possible

The national weather service out of Pendleton has issued a possible ice jam flooding along some rivers and streams this week.

Block party rings in the new year

La Grande had its very own New York City moment Wednesday night when a 4-by-8 inch, 40-pound ball dropped from a flagpole atop the Phoenix Building to welcome the new year.

Newsmakers in the new year

Welcome to a new year in Northeast Oregon.

There is no doubt that when one looks back at 2014, it was a year full of important events in the Grande Ronde Valley and, really, around the state of Oregon. 

BRIEFLY: Dementia support group meets

The Wildflower Lodge Dementia Support Group will meet from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday at Wildflower Lodge, 508 16th St., La Grande. The topic of discussion will be the challenging behaviors associated with dementia and learning their triggers. Free lunch is provided. For more information or to RSVP, call 541-663-1200.

Ready to Come home

Bruce Kevan is making significant progress while recovering at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. The Central Elementary School principal may return to La Grande in late January. (Courtesy photos)
“Every day he gets stronger,” said Kevan’s wife, Karen.

Stockgrowers seek heifer donations for scholarship

The Wallowa County Stockgrowers are asking ranchers to donate heifer calves for their scholarship program. (Katy Nesbitt/The Observer)
ENTERPRISE — A program to help get kids started in the livestock business is looking to expand during a healthy beef market.

Cattlemen warily keep eye on wolves

In recent years Oregon has made an effort to reintroduce wolves to its fertile lands. It is to be expected that carnivores will hunt for food.

BRIEFLY: Christmas tree recycling held Saturday

Boy Scout Troop 511 and the La Grande High School swim team will be servicing three recycling locations in La Grande Saturday. Trees may be dropped off in the Walmart parking lot from 
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. or in the LHS parking lot and Safeway parking lot from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The recycling fee is $5 per tree if dropped off; pick-up may be arranged for $6. Any tree with tinsel on it will be charged an additional $6. 

For pick-up by Troop 511, call 541-975-2000. For pick-up by the swim team, call 541-910-3383.

Downtown La Grande ready to drop ball

New Year’s Eve Block Party organizer Ashley O’Toole, right, throws a rope to La Grande firefighters, who put the 4-foot 8-inch light-up ball on the flagpole of the Phoenix Building. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
The La Grande Fire Department took a weekly training exercise downtown over the weekend.

Snow makes for tough conditions

Jennifer Smith and her son, Shane, enjoy sledding down Eighth Street near the campus of Eastern Oregon University. (Tim Mustoe/The Observer)
Union County became a winter wonderland and Interstate 84 became as slippery as a skating rink this weekend after a series of snowstorms hit the region.

Safe ride program gets revelers home safe

The Safe Ride Home program is set to roll again for New Year’s Eve in La Grande and Island City. The free service is run by Kevin Loveland, left, who receives major assistance from director Jerry Gibson, also a driver. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
Fifteen years ago Kevin Loveland thought this week would never come.

BRIEFLY: Downtown plowing to begin early Tuesday

The City of La Grande Public Works Department began plowing and removing snow on arterial and collector streets this morning. City staff ask residents to park off the streets to allow for plowing in a thorough and efficient manner.

According to a release from the city, crews will begin plowing and removing snow downtown at 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Once crews complete the downtown area, they will again plow hills in the area.

Some owners make changes

The window at El Erradero to be replaced where the burglars broke and entered in October. The restaurant’s owner Roberto Arceo jokingly said they don’t want to fix the window if the burglars decide to break in again. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
It’s been a couple of months since the first round of burglaries in October occurred when 14 businesses were broken into. 

A unique tradition

Eastern Oregon University student Yurika Masuda of Japan poses for a photo on Christmas Eve while preparing to make Japanese noodles in La Grande. The person on the laptop screen is Yuki Sakuraeayashi, who is in Japan. Masuda was communicating with Sakuraeayashi via Skype in Japan where it was already Christmas. (Courtesy photo)
Shoko Iramina and Yurika Masuda, a pair of Eastern Oregon University students from Japan, celebrated Christmas in La Grande on Thursday — not by eating fruitcake but by dining on fried chicken.

County preps to handle potential Ebola patients

ENTERPRISE — In the wake of a disease that’s killed thousands in mere months, Wallowa County agencies are developing their process to handle a potential Ebola infection.

BRIEFLY: Community invited to Senior Center dance

The Union County Senior Center in La Grande will host a community dance from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Entry at the door is $3, $5 for couples. Live music will be provided by the Blue Mountaineers.

Spreading some holiday cheer


A gulf of many generations existed between the Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church children’s choir and its audience at Grande Ronde Retirement Residence Monday afternoon. 

County, shelter reach a deal

Union County and Shelter From the Storm have reached a settlement agreement, both parties announced Monday.

BRIEFLY: New Year’s Eve Block Party planned

La Grande Main Street Downtown is hosting the first annual New Year’s Eve Block Party and Ball Drop to say farewell to 2014 and usher in 2015.

This family-friendly event will be held at the corner of Depot Street and Adams Avenue, beginning at 9:30 p.m. and continuing until around 12:30 a.m. A six-foot lit-up ball will be dropped from the Phoenix Building at midnight to celebrate the New Year.

John J. Howard and Associates are sponsoring a warming tent where hot chocolate and 2015 party favors will be available for attendees, and LGMSD will oversee burn barrels and outdoor heaters for participants to stay warm while celebrating. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.

The Union County Chamber of Commerce is organizing a town-wide scavenger hunt activity, and Loveland Funeral Chapel will provide a safe ride program for anyone in need throughout the night. For more information, go to www.lagrandemainstreet.org.

Winter weather on its way for the holiday

Trucks fill the fuel stalls at Flying J Travel Plaza outside La Grande on Tuesday. (Cherise Kaechele)
There’s no need to dream here in the Grande Ronde Valley. It’s looking like much of the area will have a white Christmas.

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