RICHLAND — There is something about Eagle Valley that keeps bringing people back.
My great-great-grandparents, Dogan and Eliza (Gover) Saunders,
settled here in the 1880s. My great-grandparents, Samuel Q. and
LouDella, married here in the 1890s. My grandparents, though they
eventually moved to the “big city’’ of
La Grande for better educational opportunities for their kids, kept going back and are buried here.
Sitting in my car in front of The Observer office today, lying in
wait for Editor/Publisher Ted Kramer’s arrival back from lunch, I had a
thrill from long ago.
An old man was shuffling his way towards the box in front of the
newspaper office to get his daily news in print. As he did so, an
employee of The Observer approached from another direction with an
armload of the day’s papers to make them available to the public as
they inserted their coins in the box.
“The paper has gone to press,” I thought.
This is National Travel & Tourism Week. Communities all across
America are using the designation to call attention to the importance
of tourism in local, state and national economies.
National Travel and Tourism Week was established in 1983 when the
U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution designating the week to be
celebrated in May 1984. In a White House ceremony, President Ronald
Reagan signed a presidential proclamation urging citizens to observe
the week with “the appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
According to Peter Barry’s response to the “Cattle are No. 1” column
by OCA President Bill Moore, Oregon cattle ranchers took $664 million
to the bank last year. This is a sad testimony to what has happened to
Oregon’s No.1 Industry of Yesteryear — timber.
This industry was the “Big Mama” of Oregon natural resource
industries. It provided thousands of good-paying jobs and allowed for a
thriving consumer economy. Using the Endangered Species Act, the
spotted owl was used as a tool to begin the massive shut-down of
Oregon’s economic foundation. This owl is now copulating with the
barred owl, having lots of little sub-species and enjoys more habitat
than any owl ever knew. We are still waiting for that “better Earth” we
were promised if the owl was saved.
As many of you may have noticed in a recent Observer article, Grande
Ronde Valley Habitat for Humanity Inc. is in the middle of a
home-building project here in La Grande, right now, thanks to all of
the community’s support. One of the new ways that your local Habitat
affiliate generates revenue is by operating a thrift store we call
“Restore ... The Store that Builds Homes.’’
Our Restore is located in the old Dome Plumbing property, 2304 East
R Ave., which is behind Wendy’s and McDonald’s restaurants. It is
stocked with new and used building materials, some major appliances and
For the sixth consecutive year, Oregon’s farmers and ranchers have
experienced positive sales growth, grossing an estimated $4.9 billion
in 2008 — the largest total in the state’s history, according to a
report just released by Oregon State University.
Cattle are Oregon’s No. 1 agricultural commodity with $664 million
in sales, surpassing nursery crops (when excluding greenhouse crops)
for the first time in recent history and ahead of dairy, wheat and farm
The 1,900-member Oregon Cattlemen’s Association is proud of what our
cattle industry has accomplished, but we have lots of challenging
issues ahead of us to work on in 2009.
Times are tough. It’s plain to see everyone is cutting costs and
doing without some basic necessities. We hopefully look ahead to better
Regardless of those cost-saving measures, citizens of Union County
remain generous to a fault when it comes to others in need. Recently,
Soroptimist International of
La Grande hosted a reception to distribute the net proceeds from our
21st annual Festival of Trees to 12 extremely appreciative local
agencies and organizations. The festival, a mainstay in our valley’s
holiday events, garnered close to $20,000 to award in grants.
We in Eastern Oregon experience a long, drawn out early spring. It’s
frustrating. One day, 50 degrees. The next we wake up to new snow. The
daffodils poke their little green shoots up, growing a millimeter a
day, and we wonder if spring will overcome winter. Spring is a time of
new growth and rebirth, and it does always prevail over winter.
The controversy surrounding the production of “Picasso at the Lapin
Agile” has created a window of opportunity for community growth and
understanding. Presently, though, there seems to be more heat than
Having just returned from Branson, Mo., and the NAIA Division II
Men’s National Basketball Tournament, I would like to pass on a few
observations. My wife, Kay, and I were accompanied by former Eastern
Oregon College all-conference basketball player and Northeast Oregon
educator Mike Moor and his wife, Linda.
I was intrigued by the host school, College of the Ozark’s mission
to serve the needs for a higher education for the students of the Ozark
Mountain Region. It is one of six colleges nationally that was formed
to serve low-income regions. Ninety percent of the students receive
Federal Student Assistance dollars and in turn are required to work 15
hours per week to pay for their tuition.
Also, if a student elects to work 40 hours per week in the summer
their room and board is furnished. The students do the maintenance and
landscape work, provide security, do laundry and custodial work,
operate an on-campus hotel convention center and even maintain a dairy
Whether we realize it or not we are constantly evaluating our
surroundings. We assess everything we do, everywhere we go or everyone
we encounter as positive, negative or a neutral forgettable and toss it
into a bin in our mind.
An example of the latter occurred just recently when we were
returning from Portland. Having wondered what was on top of the great
cliffs in the Columbia Gorge and seeing a sign for a winery at milepost
123 (Phillipi Canyon) pulled us off the interstate for an adventure. We
drove up a dirt road about six miles until we came to a small house
with several outbuildings. That was Wheatridge in the Nook Winery and
it was closed. The experience was immediately tossed into the
forgettable category, not because it was unpleasant but because it did
not provide enough to make us want to return.
To the citizens of La Grande:
It has come to my attention that there is a controversy regarding my
play, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” which was to be produced at your
local high school.
First let me compliment Mr. Kevin Cahill, the teacher who selected
the play, on his excellent taste! The play has been performed, without
incident, all over the world by professional and amateur companies,
including many high schools.
There is little doubt that the current economic climate in Eastern
Oregon and the nation has resulted in significant stress on individuals
and businesses alike. Recent news from the Bonneville Power
Administration is likely to only add to that stress.
On Feb. 10, BPA announced an initial wholesale rate increase on the
power it sells to members like Oregon Trail Electric Consumers
Cooperative. That proposed increase of 9.4 percent will have a
significant impact on OTECC if it is passed, but the problem for OTECC
and OTECC’s members is that the proposed rate increase may be justified
from a business perspective, but the timing is horrendous.
BPA identified four specific reasons for the initial rate increase proposal. These reasons include:
Sir Brian Urquhart, former Undersecretary of the United Nations, spoke
in La Grande in April 1997 on the topic, “The United Nations: Past,
Present and Future” at the first event sponsored by Blue Mountain
He was followed in August by state Sen. David Nelson and Rep. Mark
Simmons discussing “Reflections on the 1997 Legislative Session.’’ In
November of that year, Wayne Inman, retired Portland police officer and
retired Sheriff of Yellowstone County, Montana, who had been featured
in a documentary, “Not in Our Town,’’ spoke about racism in American
The first year’s programs had been planned by a local group that met
for the first time on Feb. 6, 1997, at the home of Gary and Kate
Hathaway to form an organization whose purpose was “to bring to this
region informed and distinguished speakers to promote diversity and
substance in public discourse.”
Letters and Comments for March 6, 2009
On behalf of all Eastern Oregon University students, faculty, alumni
and staff, I would like to humbly thank this wonderful community for
its support. As we prepare for Eastern’s next president to be named, I
reflect on all this community has helped us accomplish.
Our challenges have been great, and the ways in which La Grande,
Union County and the Eastern Oregon community has responded to assist
us are many.
Financial giving to the EOU Foundation for increased scholarship
opportunities has made a difference in whether some students attended
at all, or were able to stay once admitted and enrolled — thank you...
As we watch the excitement building on television about the 2010
Olympics, hear that inspiring music theme and realize it is only an
eight- or nine-hour drive from La Grande to Vancouver, B.C., isn’t it
fun to envision yourself or your kids getting out on a rink and skating
to cool music or your kids picking up a hockey stick and scrimmaging
Don’t you wish you or your kids could take part in some of the activities you see?
Maybe we have a future Olympian in our town, but without a skating
rink no one would ever know. It’s time to change that and try to build
an ice rink and events center.
Similar to how studies show most accidents occur close to home, the most dangerous part of a 2,700-mile journey is the last 30 miles.
That’s the biggest thing I’ll take from my journey here from Texas, although there are plenty others to choose from.
I have been involved in a citizens group in Baker City that is
concerned about a proposal from Idaho Power to run 500kV electrical
lines from Boardman to Hemingway, Idaho.
Oregon will have 250 of the 298-mile run. Eighty-eight percent of
the project will be on private lands. The proposed routes were
determined by a committee consisting only of Idaho residents. None of
the four Oregon counties affected (Umatilla, Union, Baker and Malheur)
were consulted or will benefit from the additional power.
This promises to be a year filled with good fortune and strength.
How do I know? Well, during January, Dale and I took part in two
activities that were supposed to assure us of this. Happily for us they
both included food and friends.
On New Year’s Day we visited the home of friends, Graham and
Barbara, where luck came in a bowl of cornbread and black-eyed peas
smothered with pot liquor (liquid from cooking the beans). This
traditional southern custom is one Barbara and Graham brought to La
Grande when they moved here from Mississippi.
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