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La Grande Observer 03/02/15

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Barreto, educators talk troublesome issues

State Rep. Greg Barreto, right, and La Grande School District Superintendent Larry Glaze listen to input from educators and school board members at Willow Elementary Tuesday. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
State Rep. Greg Barreto, R-Cove, told a group of 
La Grande School District educators and representatives Tuesday he will work to reduce the layers of bureaucracy and overregulation they say are gumming up the wheels of the educational process.

BRIEFLY: Hells Canyon Road to reopen Friday

OXBOW — Idaho Power Co. plans to re-open Hells Canyon Road at 9 a.m. Friday, after partial removal of a rock slide that blocked the road north of Hells Canyon Park last week.

A single lane will be open, with flaggers on hand to guide vehicles through the slide area, Brad Bowlin, Idaho Power Co. spokesman, said in a press release. Travelers should expect delays and are urged to use extreme caution in the canyon, especially in the slide area, he said.

No one was injured in the slide, which happened Jan. 20 about three miles north of Hells Canyon Park on the Idaho side of the Snake River.

The slide was about 60 yards long and included numerous large boulders. Crews worked through the weekend to clear the road. Some of the boulders on the road were so large, they had to be blasted to make them small enough to remove, Bowlin said.

Hells Canyon Road will re-open Friday

Idaho Power plans to re-open Hells Canyon Road on Friday by 9 a.m.

ODFW moves to Phase II of its wolf plan

ENTERPRISE — Oregon is moving to Phase II of its wolf recovery plan after wildlife biologists documented six breeding pairs in 2014, a big step toward delisting the species from the state’s endangered species list on the east side of the state.

Forest Service issues final policy

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Forest Service on Tuesday released its final policy for managing snowmobile and other “over-snow” vehicle use on national forests and grasslands. As directed by court order, the policy requires that roads, trails and areas where over-snow vehicle use can occur be specifically designated by local Forest Service mangers. Previously, managers had the discretion to decide whether to designate specific areas for over-snow vehicle use.


Oregon State Police troopers are asking for the public's help locating the driver of a semi-truck they believe may have been rear ended on I-5 shortly before1 a.m. near milepost 253. 

Searching for solutions to restore old structure

Much of the district’s old gym building has been well maintained, but this has not prevented time from taking its toll. (Dick Mason/The Observer)
It is a forgotten, fun and tumble-filled chapter from the Cove School District’s past. 

Food bank closes doors at church location

Cole Burge and Morgan Stuart help give out boxes for patrons at the Union Food Bank on Saturday. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
It was a mix of emotions at the Union Food Bank on Saturday. 

Officer cleared of wrongdoing

PENDLETON — The wife of an Eastern Oregon businessman shot and killed by a small-town police officer has lost a federal civil rights lawsuit that sought $10.5 million in compensation.

BRIEFLY: Let bingo shake off the winter blahs

ENTERPRISE — The community is invited to join the fun at a series of Bingo Nights this winter at Cloverleaf Hall, located at the Wallowa County Fairgrounds, to be held the second and fourth Wednesday during January, February and March. Sponsored by the fair board members, this is a fundraiser for Wallowa County Fairground improvements. Play bingo between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Jan. 28, Feb. 11 and 25, and March 11 and 25. 

Call Sondra Lozier at 541-426-3229 for more information.

Willow Elementary institutes lockout after suicidal subject incident this morning

A lockout was conducted at Willow Elementary School today from about 8 a.m. to noon.

Forest restoration

State Foresters Jana Peterson, far left, and Jamie Knight, left, discuss stand improvement options with landowner Tim Fisher. Last year the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service chose several sites around the country to improve forest health along private/public land boundaries. In Oregon, the east face of the Elkhorns was chosen as a pilot. (Katy Nesbitt/The Observer)
Last year the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service chose several sites around the country to improve forest health along private/public land boundaries. In Oregon, the east face of the Elkhorns was chosen as a pilot.

East Face vegetation management proposal released for comment

BAKER CITY — The public is invited to submit comments on the East Face Vegetation Management Project Proposed Action  through Feb. 13. 

BRIEFLY: LHS Class of 1947 meets Monday

The La Grande High School Class of 1947 will meet at 1 p.m. Monday at the Flying J Travel Plaza.

Suicidal man barricades himself in motel room

Police draw their weapons during a situation Friday morning at the Orchard Motel on Adams Avenue in La Grande. (Tim Mustoe/The Observer)
The 27-year-old man who barricaded himself inside the Orchard Motel has killed himself. 

Rock Slide Blocks Road to Hells Canyon Dam

It could be up to a week before vehicles can be allowed north of Hells Canyon Park. Idaho Power crews are removing a 60-yard-long section of boulders and rock, and clearing additional unstable material from the cliff above the road.
OXBOW, Oregon, January 22, 2015 — The only road to Hells Canyon Dam could be closed for up to a week due to a large rock slide that completely blocked the road about three miles north of Hells Canyon Park Wednesday afternoon.

Taking no chances

Students walk out one of the many outer doorways of La Grande High School on Friday. Even though the school has many points of entry, Principal Brett Baxter said the school was locked down within five to 10 minutes. (Tim Mustoe/The Observer)
La Grande High School Principal Brett Baxter did not fear the worst while reaching for his ringing cellphone, but he suspected that an urgent message awaited him.

Baxter was right.

Man claims he was injured in bar attack

Jerry Keagle sustained facial injuries Saturday night in what could have been an assault outside Bud Jackson’s. (Courtesy photo)
A La Grande woman is looking for answers after her husband sustained injuries outside a bar Saturday night.

Mitchell set to head west

Dale Mammen, left, chair of the Liberty Theatre Foundation, and La Grande Community and Economic Development Director Charlie Mitchell look around inside the old theater. Mitchell is set to take a new job next month but hopes to be back for the first show at the Liberty. (Tim Mustoe/The Observer)
Charlie Mitchell arrived in 
La Grande in October 2008 after the city council decided to hire someone to work on economic development.

BRIEFLY: Elgin chip seal assessment bills paid

ELGIN — The outstanding chip seal accounts in Elgin have all been collected and the property owners have paid their dues. 

Approximately 30 past due accounts on a chip seal assessment from as far back as 1997 were brought to the Elgin City Council’s attention in July. 

The council voted to send out letters warning of the past due accounts and at one point discussed putting liens on the homes of those who had not paid. 

An estimated $35,000 was due from these past due accounts. The council gave homeowners 30 days to respond. 

At last week’s city council meeting, Brock Eckstein said the homeowners have paid their bills.

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