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The Observer paper 10/05/15

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Easter egg hunts start today

With Easter well on its way, communities in Union and Wallowa counties are gearing up with Easter egg hunts:

La Grande City Council approves street vacation

The La Grande City Council voted to approve the street vacation of K Avenue and a portion of Fifth Street in tonight's city council meeting.

The art of home building

Elgin High School junior Will Mattson brings lumber for framing for a three-bedroom house he and other Elgin High School students are working on this spring during a construction class. The house will be finished in about two years. (Tim Mustoe/The Observer)
ELGIN — School bells do not ring in this classroom, but train whistles can be heard instead.

Presidential search gaining steam as July 1 deadline looms

The search for a new Eastern Oregon University president is picking up speed.

Shelter walls to come down

The site of the new courthouse, where the old Shelter From the Storm building sits empty, is fenced off. Construction crews will soon demolish the building and commence construction of the new Union County Courthouse. (Tim Mustoe/The Observer)
Barricades surround the old Shelter From the Storm building as its demolition draws near. While some are sorry to see the building be torn down, others look at it as a new day in what has been a long struggle for a new Union County Courthouse. 

BRIEFLY: Community Good Friday service set

On Good Friday at 7 p.m., Zion Lutheran Church in La Grande will host a community-wide ecumenical worship service sponsored by six congregations. The tone of the service will be meditative, with Scripture readings, hymns and anthems by a combined choir.

Fish & Wildlife Trooper in Baker City Detects Blaze, Rescues Elderly Woman


Shortly after noon Sunday, Oregon State Police Senior Trooper Brad Duncan of the Fish & Wildlife Division in Baker City, was patrolling in the town of Sumpter, southwest of Baker City, when he saw what appeared to be a vehicle on fire with three people standing nearby. 

Ready for a new direction: Funding cuts necessitate a new route for Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestra

Leandro Espinosa conducts the Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestra in McKenzie Theatre at Eastern Oregon University in November of last year. Espinosa has conducted the orchestra for 13 years. (Tim Mustoe/The Observer)
Shock and surprise. That was Leandro Espinosa’s initial reaction when he learned last June he was among two music professors whose positions had been cut at Eastern Oregon University.

Street vacation decision expected Wednesday night

The La Grande City Council will once again take up a request from Union County to vacate portions of streets on the county campus this week.

Sheriff’s office leads concealed carry class

Capt. Craig Ward taught the concealed handgun class with Sheriff’s Deputy J.B. Brock. Ward interjected with his own personal experiences as an officer throughout his career to help the class understand real-life scenarios. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
A group of citizens exercised their Second Amendment right this weekend and took the first steps toward getting a concealed handgun permit.

BRIEFLY: Help kids cope with divorce, separation

“Helping Children Cope with Divorce and Separation” will take place from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the Misener Conference Room of the Union County Courthouse Annex, 1001 Fourth St., La Grande. The class will be facilitated by Mary Lu Pierce and is sponsored by the Family Law Advisory Committee.

Cost to attend is $30 per person (cash or check only).

The fee may be waived by prior order of the court, or if attendance occurs prior to or within 45 days of filing for custody, dissolution, separation or modification. 

Support persons and community members may attend free of charge. The class is for adults only. Child care will not be provided. For more information call 541-962-9500, ext. 2228.

From the Press Room, episode 1

"From the Press Room"

Are you a local artist in Eastern Oregon? Would you like to promote your music? Contact Multimedia Editor Tim Mustoe at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it  to be a part of "From the Press Room," a new video series that spotlights local musicians.

Getting out of the rough

Union County Commissioner Jack Howard has been assigned to the county-owned Buffalo Peak Golf Course, a project he is taking to heart. Howard said he hopes to revamp the course to make it more attractive to local residents and tourists alike. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
Since its inception Buffalo Peak Golf Course has run a deficit.

Committee info added to county website

The Union County website was recently updated with information the community might find helpful, but it is still not enough for others.

Runner preparing for Boston Marathon

John Combe, of La Grande, gets ready for a training run Thursday. Combe is running the Boston Marathon next month to raise money for the Massage Therapy Foundation. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
John Combe almost cannot believe his good fortune.

LHS class of 1947 meets for lunch

The La Grande High School class of 1947 will meet for lunch at noon Monday at the Flying J Travel Plaza south of La Grande.

House approves SRS extension

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With a strong bipartisan vote, the U.S. House Thursday passed a two-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools program secured by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River. The extension, which was included in a bipartisan bill that reforms how doctors are paid under Medicare, provides needed funding for schools, roads, and law enforcement in rural forested communities. The measure passed by a vote of 392-37.

Speaking another language: Union Hotel owners plan to open Chinese immersion school

Charlie Morden and Ruth Rush, owners of the Union Hotel, plan to open a Chinese language immersion school as early as September of 2016. The school will be based in the third floor of the Union Hotel. (Tim Mustoe/The Observer)
UNION — The Union Hotel, which opened in 1921, is a local icon, owning the distinction of being one of the oldest hotels in Eastern Oregon.

Training will be intense for Guard unit

Two members of the 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry, Oregon Army National Guard sniper section practice a live fire exercise at the Orchard Combat Training Center in Idaho in this 2013 photo. (Pat Caldwell/For The Observer)
There isn’t much subtlety to the sprawling National Training Center.

Timber money on the way?

Retaining federal funding for Oregon’s rural communities took a couple steps forward Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

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