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The Observer paper 01/28/15

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Wallowa County officials: Be ready to evacuate

JOSEPH — The county has ordered residents of the Imnaha River corridor to be ready to evacuate from River Woods to Fence Creek. Resources, including air attack, are utterly tapped out in the Pacific Northwest Region and it is only early August.

EOCA objects to forest plan

ENTERPRISE — Representatives from the Eastern Oregon Counties Association voted Friday in John Day to object to the forest plan out for public comment until Aug. 15.

The draft document, known as The Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision, is a guide to managing the Umatilla, Wallowa-Whitman, Malheur and part of the Ochoco national forests.

Commission regulates east moraine homes

ENTERPRISE — Three homesites proposed for Wallowa Lake’s east moraine will have some constraints placed on them by the county. 

County Planning Director Harold Black reminded the planning commissioners that they are allowed to regulate the three proposed dwellings, but, in compliance with state law, cannot prohibit them from being built.

Gardens flourish in the hot temperatures

Folly Farm co-owner Cindy Edwards tends to the garden during her breaks from work. With the warmer weather, she said, her garden has flourished sooner than usual. Some of the fruits are tasting sweeter than normal. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
Gardeners are rejoicing at the abnormally warm weather Eastern Oregon has experienced this past month. Many vegetables and fruits are flourishing and the ramifications are more leafy greens.

BRIEFLY: Kassel charged with attempted murder

Kassel charged with attempted murder

Scott Allen Kassel, who is accused of assaulting his grandparents with a knife on July 25, is now being held on $5 million bond and faces an attempted murder charge.

Kassel was initially arraigned for $500,000 and multiple charges of first-degree assault, second-degree assault and third-degree assault. Kassel’s list of charges now include one charge of first-degree assault, two charges of second-degree assault, three charges of third-degree assault and four charges of fourth-degree assault.

Kassel was arraigned Friday in the Union County Circuit Court. 

Kassel’s next court appearance will be Aug. 19.

The two victims, Susan and Harry Frashier, both in their 70s, received multiple lacerations. Both were transported to the hospital. Harry Frashier was released by July 26 but Susan Frashier sustained more serious injuries. She was released from the hospital last week.


More fires sprout up

BAKER CITY — Fires broke out this weekend following lightning storms that streaked across Northeast Oregon.

More fires reported in Northeastern Oregon

ENTERPRISE — Three new fires were reported Friday on the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman national forests in Northeast Oregon.

BRIEFLY: OSP searching for illegal dumpers

OSP searching for illegal dumpers

The Oregon State Police is asking for the public’s help in locating a suspect or suspects in connection with an illegal dump site found on the 2158 Road approximately four miles south of the Spring Creek exit (Exit 248) on Interstate 84. Troopers believe the site is a recent dump.

The OSP’s Fish and Wildlife Division is searching for suspects as the illegal dump site is “not only an eyesore, but can cause potential hazards to people, wildlife and the environment,” said Senior Trooper Marcus McDowell.

Anyone with information about the illegal dump site or any other wildlife crime is asked to call McDowell at 541-531-5906.

Storm brings more wildfire

ENTERPRISE — Reports of wildfires continued into the evening, following thunderstorms that moved through Northeast Oregon Thursday afternoon.

Supporters: Justice center can be done

Shelter From the Storm Executive Director Teresa Crouser, left, and Fiscal Manager Laura Morgan listen Thursday night as town hall audience members ask questions. The shelter and concerned citizens propose construction of a multi-phased family justice center as an alternative to demolishing the Shelter From the Storm advocacy building in order to site a new courthouse. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
Concerned Union County residents are hoping to garner support for a family justice center following a town hall on the subject Thursday night.

Members of the ad hoc groups Concerned Community Members for a Family Justice Center and Save Our Shelter partnered with staff from Shelter From the Storm to propose the justice center, the co-location of a multi-disciplinary team of professionals who work together under one roof to provide coordinated services to victims of family violence.

District sets push for better attendance

Alarm clocks and the addition of two new positions may help the La Grande School District reach a noteworthy attendance objective during the upcoming school year.

Pendleton crime lab may be up for closure

The future of the Eastern Oregon crime lab is up in the air.

Employees at the Oregon State Police's Pendleton crime lab were told Wednesday that the OSP is considering all options for its forensic labs — including closing the Pendleton location.

China Cap Fire mapped at 195 acres Wednesday

The wind shifted on the Hurricane Creek Fire Thursday afternoon. (Katy Nesbitt/The Observer)
JOSEPH — The China Cap fire discovered July 29 in the Eagle Cap Wilderness was mapped at 195 acres Wednesday afternoon.

The fire is in rugged, steep country — too dangerous for ground crews. Nathan Goodrich, Wallowa-Whitman North Zone fire management officer, said McCall smokejumpers who jumped the fire Tuesday afternoon are directing helicopter drops and single engine air tanker retardant drops, taking weather observations and monitoring fire behavior.

China Cap Fire fought from the air, monitored from the ground

JOSEPH — Tuesday morning the Sled Springs helicopter rappel crew was headed to the Willamette National Forest when it spotted a five-acre fire burning on China Cap in the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

Nathan Goodrich, Wallowa-Whitman North Zone fire management officer said it was in a spot none of the lookouts could see. He thinks the fire may have started as long ago as July 22.

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.

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