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La Grande Observer Daily Paper 08/28/15

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Grande Ronde Hospital takes over operations of health clinics

The Grande Ronde Hospital announced today it's taking over the Elgin and Union health clinics' operations to help the two health clinics focus more on its patients and less on the administration requirements of running the clinic. 

Dog days of summer

One of J.D. Platt’s 11 dogs is Holiday, a border collie. One of several tricks Holiday performs at Platt’s show is Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk. (Cherise Kaechele/The Observer)
Memories of Michael Jackson are being rekindled at this week’s Union County Fair by a surprising source — a 12-year-old border collie.

Officials: Don’t leave pets alone in hot vehicles

Michael O’Connor’s German shepherd Angel, a rescue dog from Tennessee, patiently waits for her master’s return from JaxDog Cafe in La Grande on a recent afternoon. O’Connor says Angel is his “closest companion,” and he takes her everywhere he travels. (Tim Mustoe/The Observer)
Temperatures in the Grande Ronde Valley are expected to creep back up close to triple digits this weekend. 
Along with the heat is the concern of leaving animals inside vehicles without their owners — and without air conditioning.

Drought declaration may help local farmers

Gov. Kate Brown signed a drought declaration for Union County earlier this month, which means farmers in the area can now access relief funds for crop loss.

BRIEFLY: General Dischord performs concerts

General Dischord, a small group made up from within the 234th Army Band of the Oregon National Guard based in Clackamas, will give a series of free concerts in the local area next week. The group is composed of nine woodwind players and a French horn, based on the instrumentation of a traditional woodwind quintet. The concerts are at 7 p.m. Monday at the Elgin Opera House; at noon Tuesday at the Summit Grill at the top of the Wallowa Lake Tramway; at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Wallowa County Courthouse gazebo in Enterprise for a children’s concert as part of the culminating event in the public library summer reading program; and at 
5:30 p.m. Thursday, again in Enterprise for the Courthouse Concert Series at the farmers market.

ODF Fire Update for July 30

This is the Oregon Department of Forestry fire update for Thursday, July 30, 2015.

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.

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