It isn’t about environmentalists. It is about ecology but only as it
serves economics. Both terms have the same root, the Greek word oikos,
which means home. Before we can manage our home (economics) we need to
understand it (ecology).
Forest stands cascade off of Mount Emily, fingering down through
shaded draws and eventually merging to form the forests that cover the
benches above the Grande Ronde Valley. Those benches were originally
covered with old-growth Ponderosa pine. The Union County Museum hosts
photos that show log decks in Imbler from the turn of the last century.
Those decks are filled with giant Ponderosa logs that were most likely
taken from the immediate vicinity of Mount Emily.
Dear Neighbors of Union County,
I encourage the taxpaying citizens of Union County to continue to
question your Union County commissioners about the benefits of the
proposed wind farm(s). Maybe they’ll be wonderful, with all the
benefits promised. And maybe they won’t.
Take it from us in your sister county of Wallowa: two of your
commissioners have been very effective in decisions ruining our rural
beauty. The hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of parked rail cars we
look at 24/7 from Joseph to Minam are a manifestation of a failed
business plan. While the original mutual county effort to save the
rails was noble and with hope, the continuation of this plan beyond
anything but paying down the debt we took on in 1999 is akin to keeping
clipper ships alive in the face of steam.
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Treasury awarded $546 million to
Iberdrola from the stimulus program. Per the CEO of Iberdrola, the
offshore parent company of Horizon and the developer of Antelope Ridge,
they expect to receive another $470 million in 2010.
Horizon’s Elkhorn Wind Farm in 2007 and 2008 received $11 million
each year in tax credits from the state of Oregon. In addition, Union
County gave Horizon a property tax deduction of $331,680 each year for
2008 and 2009 which will continue for the next 10 years. The federal
government also allowed in 2008 and 2009, a Production Tax Credit of
$5,518,500 each year wherein it will continue for 10 years which will
amount to $55,188,000. If you add up these numbers, it amounts to in
excess of $81 million over 10 years, which are political giveaways at
taxpayers’ expense. Just imagine what kind of jobs that could be
created with this kind of money being addressed to private sector and
Citizens of Union County have a proposal for a wind energy
generation facility to be constructed on the southern end of the
valley, in close proximity to Hot Lake and the city of Union.
Preliminary documents portray a project we feel is fiscally wasteful,
aesthetically grotesque and environmentally damaging, and as a result
we feel a need to highlight some issues.
Local budgets are lean yet our county commissioners are willing to
forgive millions of dollars in revenue by allowing development under a
Strategic Investment Program. Federal stimulus money, a large
percentage that will be going out of country, is mainly responsible for
the project development. Once constructed state tax dollars will be
subsidizing the project at an approximate rate of $23.34/MWH.
I read with great interest The Observer’s front page article on Feb. 11,
“La Grande District Option Levy...,” to see if there would be a line item for payment to Imbler Charter School District (ICSD) of $136,749.25, the payment for the education of 12 La Grande students with individual education plans, or IEPs, for the 2008-2009 school year.
As longtime residents of La Grande and the Grande Ronde Valley, we
are disheartened to see the City of La Grande considering cuts to
essential services and facilities that enhance the quality of life when
an option with less overall impact still remains.
It is easy to target fire, safety and emergency services as well as
the library and pool because they are the services most visible and
utilized by community members and those which evoke an emotional
response from people. The dissolution of the city’s Urban Renewal
District is one option that has not been “put on the table” by the La
Grande City Council.
Fire, police and ambulance services should not be cut except under
the most dire circumstances, as these essential services are a core
part of the community infrastructure.
A travesty of justice was handed the Elgin Museum and Historical Society at the Elgin City Council meeting Jan. 12.
After 10 years of operating in the former police department in the
Elgin Opera House building, the city council voted to vacate the museum
from these premises for expansion of the current opera house lessee’s
theater business. In October, the city council voted to remove the
museum from the upstairs former library of the opera house, which it
had occupied for the past seven years.
Museum board members approached the city council on Aug. 13, 2002,
asking permission to expand the museum to the second floor of the opera
house (the former library). Following is a quote from the city council
minutes: “The consensus of the council was in favor of this request.”
Letters and Comments for January 22, 2010
Editor’s note: Leslie Graham’s fourth-grade class at Central School
visits Ladd Marsh several times a year to learn about wetlands.
Students were shocked when they read about recent vandalism at Ladd
Marsh, Graham said. They decided to write letters to the editor to let
everyone know their view about the vandalism. Four of the letters
Grande Ronde Valley Habitat for Humanity Inc. is seeking applications from families that wish to build a home in Elgin.
If your present living arrangements are inadequate and your family
income is below the mean for Union County, you may be selected to
partner with Habitat to build a home that would carry an interest-free
loan. Your family would be expected to commit 500 hours of time toward
the build. Your time plus the efforts of many volunteers and donated
materials make this an outstanding value for you and the community.
Applications may be obtained by calling 541-963-3879. The deadline for
applications is Jan. 15.
Each Thanksgiving, I reflect on the age-old question of what I am
thankful for. It’s difficult to go beyond the traditional, surface
items such as family and good health. With effort, I realize it is the
more specific and smaller kindnesses that I appreciate most, like an
employer and acquaintance that arrived at a moment’s notice to relocate
me when I was in a dangerous, domestic violence situation.
They didn’t ask questions, they just came. Someone showed up with a
mattress when he discovered that I was sleeping on the floor with only
a blanket. A landlord lowered the rent, eliminated the deposit and
worked to find me a place on the same day I fled, and another who
didn’t evict me when the rent was late. The pixie who left occasional
$20 bills in my mailbox and a dentist who made a house call after he
removed my wisdom teeth; who showed up with a bag of groceries from
time to time just because he “saw this stuff and thought you might be
able to use it.’’
Bravo to Joe Davis, Dennis Wilkinson and other residents of Union
County for voicing their concerns about the proposed Antelope Ridge
Wake up, Union County! Horizon Wind is proposing to erect up to 182
windmills atop Craig Mountain. That’s three times the number of
turbines that now dot the once pristine landscape near Telocaset.
The new windmills, according to Project Manager Valerie Franklin,
would tower at least 365 feet into the air, some over 500 feet. That is
higher than a football field is long — twice the height of those in
Telocaset. That means no matter how hard Horizon Wind tries otherwise,
the windmills will be both visible and offensive from just about
anywhere in the Grande Ronde Valley.
With the recent wolf activity in Northeast Oregon, we have heard
repeated calls from the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, and some
ranchers, for the authority to shoot wolves. Ironically, it’s the
cattlemen’s association itself that has blocked such a measure taking
When the Oregon Wolf Plan was drafted in 2005, conservation groups,
including Hells Canyon Preservation Council and Defenders of Wildlife,
agreed to give ranchers the authority to shoot wolves caught in the act
of attacking their livestock. Since giving this authority to ranchers
would weaken Endangered Species Act standards, it required legislative
approval. Yet every time it has come up for approval in the Oregon
Legislature, the Cattlemen have assured the death of the legislation by
pushing for even broader authority to shoot wolves.
Scottish author Samuel Smiles once said, “We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he that never made a mistake never made a discovery.” So true!
Michael Jordan, recently inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame, was cut from his high school basketball team. Albert Einstein discovered the theory of relativity yet flunked his university entrance exam. We often become stronger through adversity.
My friends and I have stayed in Union on several occasions and have
undeniably had quite enjoyable experiences. The historic Union Hotel is
one of my personal favorites with its theme rooms, whispers of the
possibilities of ghostly encounters, fabulous cuisine and the
delightful gentleman owners. The other business owners and residents of
the community have always been pleasant and cordial.
So recently, when attending the motorcycle rally in Joseph, the
choice of accommodations was clear. To stay in Union. That apparently
was a mistake, as two of my dear friends had an unfortunate and quite
honestly archaic reception at one of the Union eateries.
The dedicated staff at the city of La Grande has been very busy over
the past several months with initiatives that will provide almost $2
million in benefit to our citizens with almost $1.4 million coming from
successful grant applications.
I wanted to take a few minutes to acknowledge those involved and to
let everyone know what they can expect to see in the way of
improvements. What follows is a list of major grant projects or
purchases that are planned for construction or have been completed.
The city received a grant from the Oregon Economic & Community
Development Department (now known as Business Oregon) in early July in
the amount of $7,143 for downtown historic building renovations. La
Grande received the funds due to our active participation as a selected
Oregon Main Street community.
John Deal has printed two editorials containing false information,
thus we felt it was important that the general public be properly
informed. The district has been diligent about making the 2009/10
budget cuts and resulting adopted budget transparent to all, thus we
are providing the following information.
While building the budget for 2009/10 the district made it very
clear that it intended to fund a position to support plant and
operations, the position now held by Jim MacKay. This intent was
discussed in an Observer article dated April 10, 2009, and titled
“School district faces mammoth budget cuts.” Within this article, it
was stated that the “La Grande High School athletic director position
will be cut to half time. LHS’s athletic director will remain a
full-time employee, though, for he will assume about half of the
present plant operations director’s responsibilities”.
Oregon producers, businesses and consumers are at the forefront of
Oregon’s fresh, wholesome, vibrant local food system. As a small,
direct market farmer, I am concerned that a “one size fits all”
approach to federal oversight of even the smallest of direct market
farms and processors will have a chilling effect on local food
producers and processors.
HR 2749, which recently passed the House of Representatives and now
moves to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions,
is a well-meaning attempt to address food safety concerns, but it
treats the long supply chains of the industrialized food system the
same as the small producer selling directly to consumers.
In the Aug. 14 Community Comment “Difficult Decision to Quit
Coaching,’’ Jim MacKay states that I have misled the public and smeared
his name. It seems to me that I did not mention his name in my Aug. 12
letter, “For the Greater Good,” nor did I smear anything other than to
shed light on a school district raise that was not made privy to the
My letter had nothing to do with MacKay’s untarnished fatherhood and
basketball coaching history. It was about school board budget
transparency and money being allocated to what was perceived by Jim to
be a “cushy” job, though he denies having a conversation with me.
While looking forward to attending my 58th class reunion Saturday in La Grande it occurred to me that it might be fun to think about writing a treatise on “When Did I Get Old?”
I’m sure that in our memories we still see the young, vital and energetic students we were when we marched forward to receive our high school diplomas. We’ll be thinking about when we marched in the band, played in the orchestra, sang in the chorus or were members of the Honor Society, Quill & Scroll or perhaps the pep club. None of us will ever forget the drama club under the direction of Mrs. Ragsdale or the orchestra with Mr. Weigel.
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