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The Observer paper 01/30/15

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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.

Grant to fund park upgrades

The playground at Pioneer Park will get an upgrade thanks to a $40,000 grant. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
La Grande kids will soon be playing on a new playground at Pioneer Park.

Man held on $500,000 bail for alleged assault on grandparents

Scott Allen Kassel, 25, is being held at the Union County Jail on $500,000 bail on multiple charges of first-degree assault against his grandparents.


2 dead, 3 injured in crash northwest of Enterprise

UPDATE — 7:45 a.m.: Two people are dead and three hospitalized following a vehicle crash last night on Crow Creek Road northwest of Enterprise.

A release from the Sheriff’s Office said at approximately 9:20 p.m. Thursday night, the Wallowa County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene of a crashed motor vehicle. Two of the occupants were pronounced dead at the scene and three were flown to Wallowa Memorial Hospital. One person was later flown to a Boise hospital.

No names have been released at this time. The Sheriff’s Office said the case is under investigation.

Police continue to investigate death of worker

Police contine to investigate the death of a road construction worker.

Two assaulted Wednesday afternoon

Two people were assaulted with a knife yesterday at Hot Lake Lane.

The Union County Sheriff's Office responded to an assault in progress at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. The suspect, Scotty Allen Kassel, 25, was taken without incident.

Behind the scenes: Councilors, residents get chance to tour La Grande Public Works facilities

Read more... Upon waking up, many La Grande residents may head to the bathroom or grab a glass of water from the tap.

Probably not on their minds, though, is where that water comes from and where the water goes after it’s used.

BRIEFLY: Fire nearly destroys house in Union

Fire nearly destroys house in Union

UNION — A house in Union was fully engulfed in flames last night, said Union Rural Fire Protection District volunteer Tony Davis.

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