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The Observer 02/05/16

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Backyard chicken-raising proposal fails to get off ground

People who want the right to keep and raise chickens and rabbits in the La Grande city limits will have to wait awhile, according to a decision made Wednesday night by the city council.

After two hours of testimony and debate, the council voted not to include a livestock ordinance in a list of amendments to the city’s land development code.

The decision means people in most zones won’t be allowed to keep chickens and rabbits on their property as proposed.


Friendship and caring keep High Wallowa Red Hats vibrant

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Queen Mother Ida Hillock leads games after the monthly Red Hat luncheon. - Observer photos/GARY FLETCHER
ENTERPRISE — “We’re all about fun and friendship after 50, and we do good things,” said Ida Hillock of Enterprise about the High Wallowa Red Hats #33321, which she started May 13, 2004.

She had gone to the Union Craft Show. She saw ladies wearing red hats who were having a ball.

She inquired about the Red Hat Society, and when she returned home she began calling friends. She had five prospective members in 10 minutes, she said.


Public notice for the day of June 4, 2009

Public notice for the day of June 4, 2009


On the road for health care reform

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LA GRANDE STOP: Kathie McClure of Atlanta is driving this purple bus throughout the country promoting health care reform. McClure spoke at a rally Tuesday night in La Grande. The Observer/DICK MASON
Kathie McClure of Atlanta is in the third month of a one-woman crusade across the United States in a small converted purple school bus.

McClure travels solo. But loneliness is never a companion on her campaign trail.

She has too much company — the countless people who embrace and encourage her at each stop. These individuals share a bond — heartbreaking frustration with America’s health care system.


Grant gives ‘huge’ boost to ESD after-school programs

It is the first financial news giving local educators reason to smile in many, many months.

The Union-Baker Education Service District has landed a five-year federal grant for academic after-school programs in Union and Baker counties. The ESD will receive $440,000 each year for three years, $330,000 the fourth year and $220,000 the fifth year providing funding is approved beyond the first year by Congress.

“This is huge,’’ said Eric Blackford, the Union-Baker ESD’s first-year curriculum instruction and school improvement director.


Chickens back on council agenda

A controversial land development code amendment that would allow La Grande residents to keep chickens and rabbits on their property is in for another airing during Wednesday’s regular city council meeting.

Currently, the use is prohibited in the city limits, except in the hillside development and rural residential zones. But citizens and Oregon Rural Action have lobbied hard for the amendment.


Police plan barbecue event Wednesday

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McGruff the Crime Dog will be at Wednesday’s barbecue. Observer/CHRIS BAXTER
Here’s a chance for kids from 9 to 90 to take a bite out of some barbecue, and a bite out of crime, too.

Wednesday the La Grande Police Department’s Special Assignment and Tactics team is hosting a barbecue fundraiser at Grande Ronde Retirement Residence, 1809 Gekeler Lane.

The emphasis will be on good food and fun, as the SAT team continues its campaign to raise money for a much-needed crisis negotiation phone.


Superintendent tells LHS grads 'attitude is everything'

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SKY’S THE LIMIT: Members of La Grande High School’s class of 2009 celebrate following the conclusion of Saturday’s graduation ceremony. The Observer/DICK MASON
Graduating La Grande High School seniors and their parents were commended Saturday for overlooking the advice of a television icon.

Co-valedictorian Erich Mielke, speaking with sincerity and a touch of comedic timing, dispensed the praise at Saturday’s graduation ceremony.

“I’d like to quote the words of one of the wisest men I know: Homer Simpson. He said, talking to his children, ‘Kids, you tried your best, and you failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.’”


Today marks Observer’s final Saturday edition

Dear Observer readers:


Well, the time has come. Today marks the final Saturday edition of The Observer.

Beginning Monday, The Observer is moving to a five-day-a-week publication schedule, Monday through Friday.

The special features of Saturday’s paper — from Portraits and Milestones to Spiritual Life and menus — will be distributed throughout the week...


Students earn college credit while still in high school

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Maureen Phillips, an OIT communications professor, talks with Union High School students, from left, Alex Palmer, Caleb Harmon and Shanna Riomondo. All three students have taken OIT classes this year at UHS as part of Oregon Tech’s Advance Credit Program. The Observer/DICK MASON
UNION — Students at Union High School are never three places at once while in class.

Still, students are earning credit from three schools.

The reason is education innovation — UHS is a multi-university high school.


Four-day week isn’t district’s panacea, Glaze says

A growing push appears to be under way to have the La Grande School District switch to a four-day week as a cost-saving move.

La Grande School District Superintendent Larry Glaze is not behind the push. The superintendent views a four-day week as the “least desirable cost-cutting option.’’

One reason is that the cost savings would likely be much less than originally thought. It was earlier announced that the district could save about $640,000 a year by switching to a four-day week. Closer examination of the four-day week issue indicates the savings could be as small as $150,000 a year, Glaze said.


No tax collector?

The Union County Budget Committee gave tentative approval to a $26 million county budget for 2009-10 Wednesday night, though a few department heads walked away disappointed.

After extensive haggling, the committee, consisting of the board of commissioners and three appointed members, turned down special funding requests from the district attorney and assessor. Their requested line items were not inserted into the budget proposal drafted by Budget Officer Shelley Burgess.

Assessor Linda Hill was one of several department heads appearing before the committee to argue for more money than was allotted in the budget proposed by Burgess. Hill was asking for a stipend of $8,600 for acting as the county tax collector.


La Grande-based organization helps families in Ghana become self-sufficient

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These are members of some of the families in Northern Ghana being assisted by Sabu Help. - Submitted photo
Most people in Northeast Oregon could not find the exact locations of the African villages of Biu and Tompola on a map.

Many Northeast Oregonians, though, are finding within themselves reason to reach out to the people of Biu and Tompola in Northern Ghana in a significant way.


District urged to maintain sports funding

The La Grande School District is being urged to do everything it can to maintain funding for athletics, even if it means switching to a four-day week.

“I think it would be a disaster if there are no sports,’’ Kevin Tracy told the La Grande School District Budget Committee Wednesday night.


County jobless rate falls to 13 percent

Here’s a little good news for people concerned about the local economy: Union County unemployment inched downward in April.

According to the latest numbers from the Oregon Employment Department, the county’s non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate for April came in at 13 percent, down more than a point from March’s 14.1 percent.

Jason Yohannan, the department’s regional economist, agreed that the drop is good news but said that under non-recessionary circumstances, it would have been better.


EOU men's basketball head coach Ryan Looney hired by Seattle Pacific University

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SEATTLE BOUND: EOU's Ryan Looney is headed to Seattle Pacific University after being hired by the NCAA Div. 2 school Tuesday. - Observer file photo
In Ryan Looney’s first year as the Eastern Oregon University men’s basketball head coach in 2004 the team went 4-22. Four years later he guided the Mountaineers to the national quarterfinals with a 25-8 record.

Little did he or the team know, that was the last time they would all be together.


Trash, vandalism plague Fox Hill lands

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shot full of holes: This bullet-riddled stop sign at a gravel pit shows the careless attitude of many people who practice their shooting skills along Fox Hill Road. - The Observer/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH
Up on Mount Emily, along Fox Hill and Robbs Hill roads, there’s a whole lot of indiscriminate shooting going on. And trespassing. And vandalism. And illegal dumping. And poaching.

Stopping those things, or at least bringing them under control, is Steve West’s major passion these days. Abuses are rampant, and West, one of a group of landowners who have grown tired of it, is speaking out.


Students celebrate Enterprises 120th birthday

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Using wool from her own sheep, Vicki Neveau demonstrates how to spin wool into yarn to make sweaters and socks. Members of the community demonstrated hide-tanning, spinning, quilting, bread making, butter making, Dutch oven cooking and horse shoeing. A collection of pioneer antiques were also displayed for the students. Submitted photo
ENTERPRISE — Enterprise Elementary School students celebrated the City of Enterprise’s 120th birthday May 14.

Students came to school dressed in pioneer clothing to get in the mood.

Many girls sported decorated bonnets and many boys wore beards to remind everyone of the county’s beard-growing contest that has started and will be judged this summer.


Wallowa Valley Festival of Arts unfolds for 27th time

JOSEPH — For the 27th time spring will be ushered in to the far northeast corner of Oregon by the Wallowa Valley Festival of Arts June 5-7.

More than 120 artists from as far away as Georgia, California, Oklahoma and Paris, France, are participating in the show this year, said Mike Koloski, festival director.

The festival includes a three- day juried show, a gala Friday night opening, art demonstrations, workshops, art auctions and sales, “plein air” and quick draw competitions. Live music and hors d’oeuvres contribute to the festival experience.


Rail car storage agreement meets resistance

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Dave and Kathy Ferguson's house in Joseph is flanked by a line of stored rail cars. Observer photo/GARY FLETCHER
JOSEPH
— “It looks like we live in a ghetto,” Kathy Ferguson said looking out the window of her new house in Joseph toward the Wallowa Mountains.

What she is talking about is the graffiti-strewn rail cars that were recently parked some 90 feet behind the house.

“There’s no way that anyone will buy the house, because of what’s going on,” said her husband, Dave Ferguson. He explained that they are in the business of building, occupying and selling homes, and now that business has come to a halt.


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