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La Grande Observer Paper 08/20/14

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WURA signs MOU with parks, university

ELGIN — A proposal to build a trail along the Wallowa Union railway came one step closer to reality this week with the signing of an agreement that gives the go-ahead for a feasibility study.

Members of the Wallowa Union Railroad Authority unanimously voted to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and Eastern Oregon University.


Panel lays out $31.8M plan

The Long Term Facilities Planning Committee for the La Grande School District is proposing that Central Elementary School, which opened in 1954, be replaced because of the extensive renovation work it needs.

Proposal includes $14.6 million structure to replace aging Central Elementary

Central Elementary School opened in 1954, the same year the groundbreaking Nikon S2 camera hit the marketplace.

Sixty years later, Central Elementary looks picture perfect from a distance, but looks can be deceiving. 


Crosswalk concerns

Rebecca Ashley, left, a volunteer La Grande Middle School crossing guard, makes sure traffic is stopped while a student walks through the north crosswalk on Fourth Street. Parents of some middle school students, including Ashley, are worried that people are not paying enough attention as they drive through the crosswalk on Fourth Street. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)

Five near accidents since the beginning of the school year have parents concerned about traffic safety at La Grande Middle School

Absentminded, distracted and fast driving motorists have some La Grande Middle School parents concerned about the safety of their children.

Parents are worried that their children are at risk when crossing Fourth Street in front of LMS, before and after school. 


ODFW lays out new rules during meeting

More than 100 people pack Summerville church to talk wolf issues with state officials

SUMMERVILLE — More than 100 people showed up at the Summervillle Baptist Church Thursday night to hear Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials talk about new rules in the Oregon Wolf Management Plan, including provisions for shooting wolves caught in the act of harming livestock or working dogs.


10 Things to Know for Friday, Feb. 28

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:


Wallowa County Chamber warns of solicitor

The Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce is warning members to beware of a solicitor identifying their business as travelcouncil.com.

Vicki Searles, executive director of the Chamber, said in an email Thursday afternoon that members should ask a lot of questions about a business interested in selling ad spots for a Wallowa County or Northeast Oregon video.


Woman arrested for giving false report of assault

The Union County Sheriff's Office arrested a 21-year-old La Grande woman Thursday on a charge of initiating a false report of an assault in the Walmart parking lot.

Deputies arrested Josie Kern following an investigation of a reported assault, which law enforcement officials say didn't happen. 


Ann Rule lawsuit against Seattle Weekly tossed

SEATTLE — A judge has thrown out true-crime author Ann Rule's defamation lawsuit against a weekly Seattle newspaper, finding that an article accusing her of "sloppy storytelling" constitutes protected free speech.


Sage grouse proposal a privacy issue

Senators approved House Bill 4093 on Wednesday, 24-5, which aims to persuade landowners to participate in voluntary sage grouse conservation plans; in return, private information about the ranchers could not be disclosed. (courtesy photo)

SALEM — The state must avoid strict regulations that would come with designating the sage grouse an endangered species, an Oregon lawmaker told his colleagues Wednesday.



Committee proposes replacement of aging school

Central Elementary School's six-decade old building could be replaced in the near future.


10 Things to Know for Thursday, Feb. 27

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:


Wolf visits Mount Hood

Read more... 

A wandering wolf has at least dropped by for a visit to Mount Hood, another sign of the species' population recovery.

Wolf tracks were found on Mount Hood’s eastern slope in December, the first sign of the species’ presence in the Cascades since the famous male known as OR-7 roamed through Oregon in 2011.


Briefly: Power blinks out in Imbler area

Power blinks out in Imbler area 

IMBLER — Some 611 members in Imbler, Summerville and surrounding areas lost power at 3:30 a.m. Tuesday due to a damaged pole, Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative reported. The damaged pole had to be replaced before service could be restored at 9:10 a.m.


Weather closes Interstate 84

Dense fog and black ice causing numerous crashes resulted in Interstate 84 closures through Wednesday morning.

Beginning Monday night, crashes blocking the interstate led the Oregon Department of Transportation to close portions of I-84 off and on through Tuesday and into Wednesday.


City council bans marijuana dispensaries

BAKER CITY — A decision with statewide overtones arrived in an anticlimactic fashion Tuesday night when the Baker City Council passed a mandate to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.

The council approved Ordinance No. 3330 — Prohibiting the Establishment of Marijuana Facilities/Dispensaries within City Limits — on its third reading and by a unanimous vote.


Strope gets high marks in evaluation

City manager scores a 3.7 assessment from city councilors for 2013

The La Grande City Council and city staff gave City Manager Robert Strope a thumbs up on his 2013 evaluation.

City councilors met Monday night to go over the evaluations, which ranked the city manager on various aspects of the job between one and five, with five being a superior level of performance, three being fully competent and one meaning performance failed to meet expectations.  


State: La Grande air quality much improved

Woodstove curtailment program has had positive effect

Some good news came out of Tuesday’s hearing on revisions to the state’s smoke management plan: in La Grande, air quality is much improved. 


Social media becoming new tool for authorities

During a standoff north of La Grande on Leffel Road this weekend, Facebook gave law enforcement insight to what four children being held hostage were going through. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)

Law enforcement aided by Facebook in Leffel Road standoff

Likes, Tweets and pokes are enough to boggle the minds of those unfamiliar with social media.

The advent of social media, though, is an avenue some law enforcement officials say can be helpful. 


District names three finalists

Candidates for district’s superintendent position will be in Imbler Monday

The Imbler School District has narrowed its list of candidates for its superintendent position to three educators.

The finalists are Kenneth Cox, the superintendent of the Vernonia School District in Western Oregon, Beth Burton, the language arts and early college coordinator at Arlington High School, and James Baldwin, the superintendent of the Choteau (Mont.) Public Schools.


Ballot initiative worries local Liquor store owner

Goldie McCrae, left, checks out a customer Tuesday afternoon at La Grande Liquor. The store’s owner, Dee Myers, has concerns about proposed ballot initiatives that she says will negatively affect customers and non-consumers alike. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)

Dee Myers says initiatives proposed by grocers would only benefit large grocery stores

While a bill introduced by the Oregon Legislature is unlikely to put liquor on the shelves of grocery stores, a local liquor store owner is concerned a ballot initiative might.

The Legislature put a legislative effort a couple weeks ago to privatize liquor sales or implement a hybrid system on hold and instead opted to create a task force to look into the matter.

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