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Decades of practice pay off

Martin Birnbaum wraps copper foil around a piece of glass in preparation for soldering at his home workshop in La Grande. (KELLY BLACK photo)

Local men have spent years working on perfecting the craft of building stained glass

Back in the 1970s, Monday nights found a group of men in the basement workshop of a local funeral home watching “Monday Night Football” with announcers Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford and working on stained glass.

Wildland fire started by illegal fireworks

Crews from Oregon Department of Forestry, La Grande Rural Fire Protection District and City of La Grande responded to a wildfire near Fox Hill Road Saturday night. The cause of the fire was illegal fireworks being set off in the area.

Woman missing on Snake River

A 60-year-old woman is missing and is presumed to have drowned on the Snake River.

BRIEFLY: Brennan biographer appears in Joseph

JOSEPH — The Josephy Center will host Carl Rollyson, who is working on a biography of long-time Wallowa County rancher and Hollywood actor Walter Brennan, at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Rollyson has biographies of Marilyn Monroe, Norman Mailer, and Dana Andrews to his credit, and teaches the craft at a New York university. 

Flaggers face long shifts, difficult travelers

Nita Thomas watches as traffic passes on Highway 30 near Gangloff Park Thursday. Hundreds of drivers are turned around from trying to use the westbound Exit 259 on-ramp each day by the flaggers, who are stationed around the clock. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)

Difficulties with drivers prompts ODOT to contract for flaggers to monitor on-ramp 

About halfway through the construction season, flaggers monitoring the closed Exit 259 on-ramp say travelers continue to try to negotiate onto the closed road.

Hundreds of drivers are turned around each day by the flaggers, who are stationed around the clock at Gangloff Park.

Fire devastates Mt. Glen Road house

A fire destroys a house at 62208 Mt. Glen Road early Sunday morning. A man was in the house at the time but escaped safely. (JIM VOELZ photo)

No injuries in early Sunday morning blaze, fire officials said

A fire destroyed a small one-story house just north of La Grande early Sunday morning.

The blaze broke out at about 3 a.m. at 62208 Mt. Glen Road near Blackhawk Trail Lane. A man was in the house at the time but escaped safely.

BRIEFLY: Parks’ kids classes coming next week

Parks’ kids classes coming next week 

The following classes will be offered by the City of La Grande Parks and Recreation next week. 

District, UCSO finalize SRO deal

Cody Bowen

Cody Bowen will serve as resource officer in school district in 2014-15

The La Grande School District will soon have a new set of eyes, giving students, teachers and staff a new reason to feel more secure.

Union County Sheriff’s Deputy Cody Bowen will serve as the district’s resource officer in 2014-15. Bowen has been a deputy with the sheriff’s office for 3-1/2 years. He is a familiar face in local schools because he works with students in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program. 

Lightning storm sparks small wildfire

Lightning lights up the sky northeast of La Grande Wednesday night. Officials with the Oregon Department of Forestry said about 400 strikes were recorded between Wolf Creek Reservoir and La Grande. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)

Hundreds of lightning strikes result in a wildfire, leave some without power 

Dozens of lightning strikes Wednesday night prompted Union County residents to grab their cameras while others later dealt with a wildfire near North Powder.

About 400 lightning strikes were recorded between Wolf Creek Reservoir and La Grande during the storms, said Joe Hessel, a forester with the Oregon Department of Forestry. One strike resulted in a small wildfire about 6 miles northwest of North Powder. 

Going back home

A 1969 Young Crusader fire truck retired by the Cove Rural Fire Department was returned to the East Coast department that originally owned it.

Cove Rural Fire District returns classic fire truck to its original department in Virginia Beach, Va.

The throaty sound of the engine evokes memories of the past.

“It has a 671 Detroit Diesel. When you hear the sound, it is like yesterday,” said Keith White, a retired captain at the Virginia Beach Fire Department.

Elgin man remains in critical condition

Joseph Vaughan in induced coma in Walla Walla, Wash., hospital

ELGIN — A 23-year-old Elgin man remains in serious condition at a Tri-Cities, Wash., hospital following a June 21 accident on Highway 82.

Joseph Vaughan was transported by Life Flight to the Kadlec Medical Center following the early morning accident involving his Chevy pickup and a Rogator field sprayer driven by Earnie Parsons, also of Elgin. 

Driver arrested after collision with parked police car

A 25-year-old Ontario man was arrested Thursday night by Oregon State Police for driving under the influence and other charges after he collided with a parked Ontario police car that was blocking an intersection where firefighters were handling a fire-related call. 

BRIEFLY: June was third wettest on record in La Grande

June was third wettest on record in La Grande 

This was the third wettest June on record for La Grande. The wettest was 3.59 inches in 1993. 

Wildcat Creek repairs out for public comment

BAKER CITY — A draft environmental assessment was released Monday addressing the repair of Wildcat Road, eight miles south of Troy.

In early March, heavy rains swelled the Grande Ronde River and its tributaries. Portions of the Wildcat Road were completely taken out two miles upstream from the Wildcat Bridge. The draft said approximately 1,000 feet of the Wallupa/Wildcat Creek Road east of the town of Promise were affected. 

Instability sends gas prices up

Oregonians paying more for gas than most other American drivers

U.S. drivers will pay more for gas over the Fourth of July holiday than they have since 2008 because of instability in Iraq, AAA reports.

The average price of gas in Oregon is $3.98 a gallon, the highest price this year, compared to the national average of $3.67 a gallon. 

Fourth fundraiser

Members of the La Grande High School band return to the Walmart parking lot for their annual fireworks sale, a fundraising event for the coming school year’s band activities. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)

La Grande High School band uses funds to pay for annual tour

The fireworks tent outside Walmart is empty except for a few students and their parents when another parent in a minivan pulls up with ice cream.

“Who had a cone?” one dad asks. 

Funding available for wolf deterrents

Union County has been awarded $5,000 for a wolf depredation compensation grant from the Oregon Department of Agriculture. The funding will be utilized for the implementation of livestock management activities, including nonlethal wolf deterrence techniques, to prevent interactions between wolves and livestock or working dogs.

BRIEFLY: Senior center offers entertainment

Senior center offers entertainment 

The Union County Senior Center in La Grande hosts live music at 11 a.m. weekdays. Musicians include Terry LaMont, the Blue Mountaineers and Fine Tunes. All are welcome to come enjoy the free music. 

County, SOS won’t meet

Lawsuit precludes commissioners from discussing matter

Save Our Shelter members will not be meeting with the Union County commissioners any time soon. At least not until a lawsuit between Shelter From the Storm and the county is resolved.

Union County Administrator Shelley Burgess said she responded to a letter from the group Thursday morning informing them that they would not be able to meet per the county’s legal counsel advice. 

Oregon’s first lady champions prosperity

Oregon's First Lady, Cylvia Hayes delivers her keynote address at this weekend's SolWest Fair at the Union County Fairgrounds. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)

Cylvia Hayes speaks out against state poverty

Cylvia Hayes, Oregon’s first lady, has an agenda and it is anything but hidden.

Hayes made this point in illuminating and articulate fashion during her keynote address Saturday afternoon at the SolWest Fair at the Union County Fairgrounds. 

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