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The Observer paper 02/12/16

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Visiting Eastern Oregon

Eastern Oregon University Outdoor Program Coordinator Michael Hatch, far right, and EOU student Megan Volk prepare Chinese exchange students for rock climbing at the climbing wall Monday. The students had time to climb to the top of the climbing wall as well as other activities at EOU. (Tim Mustoe/The Observer)
A group of 16- and 17-year-old high school students from China is getting an up close and personal experience of Eastern Oregon this month through an exchange program with their high school in Shiquan, China, and the Grant Union and Baker City school districts.

Island City well drilling project underway

Riverside Inc.’s Jeff Hash, left, inspects the machinery of a well being drilled near the Island City Cemetery as Kieran Riley collects sediment samples. (Tim Mustoe/The Observer)
ISLAND CITY — Well drillers expect the unexpected — and for good reason.

Union County Fairgrounds have improved look

John Howard, right, working with his brother, Greg, reviews plans for finishing the interior work of his company’s new booth at the Union County Fair on Monday. (Dick Mason/The Observer)
A Fourth of July wedding and the start of a promising program that someday might impress a filmmaker — both are responsible for a brighter and improved Union County Fairgrounds. It is a look that people are appreciating as they begin taking in the Union County Fair, which opened this morning and runs through Saturday.

BRIEFLY: Climate change focus of Thursday event

“Beavers, Wolves, Fire and Logging: Preparing for Climate Change with New Partners and New Strategies” is the title of the next Heart of the Blues presentation set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Cook Memorial Library in La Grande.

Join hydrologist Suzanne Fouty for a look at the role beavers play in transforming landscapes from water-poor to water-rich, and the critical contribution of wolves, fire and logging in restoring health to the landscape. The talk will explore the connections, challenges and opportunities these partners and strategies present using water as a guide and measure of success. This free event is offered by the Blue Mountains Conservancy.

New Mexico man arrested after high speed chase

An Albuquerque, New Mexico, man was arrested by Oregon State Police late this morning in north Baker County after a high speed chase that reportedly reached speeds of up to 125 mph.

Local sheriff's offices received suspicious mail

UPDATE (11:25 a.m.): In a statement released Tuesday morning by the FBI, the agency says it, the Oregon State Police and U.S. Postal Inspection Service are working with affected Oregon counties to determine the origina and nature of a series of suspicious letters that began arriving in the mail Monday. 

"To date, field testing by hazardous materials crews has shown NO toxic substance of any letter or in any envelope," the release states.

According to the FBI, there is no evidence of a visible powder to be found in any of the envelopes/letters.

The FBI  says there are approximately 20 known letters, all addressed to Oregon sheriffs or their offices. Law enforcement is collecting the letters and transporting them all to the FBI and/or the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory for analysis.

No further information has been released. 

La Grande City Council to begin discussion on pre-sale ordinance

The La Grande City Council held a work session Monday night to talk about allowing the medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana beginning Oct. 1. 

A busy hub of activity

Neptune, a tanker plane company out of Montana, is using the La Grande/Union County airport to refuel its planes and reload more retardant to fight the Blue Creek Fire as well as the other fires in the area. (Tim Mustoe/The Observer)
While the Blue Creek Fire is not directly impacting Union County, it’s still very much affecting the area. The La Grande/Union County Airport is a huge asset to the crews currently fighting the blaze that’s about 85 miles away.

Summerville bullfighter goes pro at rodeo

Bullfighters often try to get close enough to the bull to touch his head. Here, Summerville’s Sean Peterson reaches out to put his hand on the bull’s horn. (Stephanie Blacker photo)
Unless a spectator really looks for them or knows a lot about the sport of rodeo, bullfighters may go unnoticed. 

La Grande Main Street names new director

For the first time since it was created in 2009, La Grande Main Street will soon have a salaried director.

BRIEFLY: LHS class of 1975 schedules reunion

Members of the La Grande High School class of 1975 are reminded of the class reunion planned for this weekend. The event begins at 5 p.m. Friday with a meet and greet at Riverside Park. Bring dinner, drinks and lawn chairs. Volleyball, horseshoes and miniature golf will be available. Classmates will gather at 2 p.m. Saturday for a tour of LHS. A social hour at Bud Jackson’s begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. and live music by Standard Deviation from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. A Sunday potluck brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Riverside Park concludes the weekend.

For more information, contact Sheral Morrison Curtiss at 541-786-4587 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Classmates may also connect via Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/LGHSCLASS75REUNION/.

Man arrested after driving police Humvee

An Enterprise man was arrested early Sunday morning after he allegedly illegally entered and then drove a marked Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle. 

ODF Fire update for July 25

Lulay Field Fire 

Oh, deer: Union residents want to address city’s nuisance deer problem

Residents of Union go about their daily routines as deer walk through town Tuesday. (Tim Mustoe/The Observer)
UNION — Eight decades ago, deer in the Union city limits was something of a novelty. 

Commissioners: Eight years not long enough

The responsibility of a commissioner can weigh heavily on the person who holds the position. The learning curve and the relationships needing to be built take time and effort — something that cannot be done in eight years if term limits are enacted, according to Union County Commissioners Mark Davidson and Steve McClure. 

City to tackle pot ‘opt out’ options

The La Grande City Council will hold a work session Monday to discuss the new legislation signed by Gov. Kate Brown that allows counties that voted 55 percent or more against Measure 91 to opt out of dispensaries and the production of recreational and medical marijuana.

BRIEFLY: Children get dirty, learn about science

The City of La Grande Parks and Recreation is offering two science classes for kids next week.

“Mad Scientist” will feature a new and exciting science topic each day, such as discovering how to send secret messages using special codes or creating exciting chemical reactions. Discover that science can be cool and a little wacky too. Class is from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. July 27-30 and is for ages 6 and older. Cost is $30.

Participants in “Grossology” will explore the ooey, gooey and gross things about science, experimenting with everyday ingredients to make them fizz, splatter and pop. 

The Mad Science staff will lead kids on a hands-on journey learning about slime, creepy crawlers, super sticky stuff and more. Kids should wear old clothes. Class is from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. July 
27-30 and is for ages 5 and older. Cost is $25.

Both classes will be held at the Rotary Pavilion in Pioneer Park. For more information or to register, go to www.lagrandeparks.org or call 541-962-1352.

Firefighters battle tough terrain and dry fuel conditions

A wildfire has started from a lightning strike on Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands near the Oregon/Washington border in Northern Wallowa County, including Nez Perce Precious Lands, according to a press release from ODF.

Family, police stumped in disappearance

Police and family continue to search for clues in the disappearance of Neli-Cristina Rogers, who has been missing since June 19. (Rogers family photo)
More than a month after the disappearance of Neli-Cristina Rogers, family and local law enforcement are no closer to explaining what happened to the 27-year-old.

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