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Home arrow Opinion arrow MY VOICE

Memorable visits

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.

 

 

Ink in her soul

Dear Diary,

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.

 

Travel Matters β€” to local economy

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.”

 

Will cattle go the way of timber?

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.

 

Time for spring spruce-up

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 sinks.

 

Cattle are No. 1

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 forest products.

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.

 

Making a difference

Times are tough. It’s plain to see everyone is cutting costs and doing without some basic necessities. We hopefully look ahead to better times.

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.

 

Live in harmony with the seasons

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.
 

Window of opportunity

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 light.
 

Go Mountaineers!

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 herd.

 

Downtown renewal begins with pride

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.

 

Of arts and sciences

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.

 

BPA increase β€” bad timing

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:

 

Blue Mt. Forum bids adieu

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 Forum.

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 society.

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

Letters and Comments for March 6, 2009
 

Changing of the guard

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...

 

Ice rink and events center good for kids and the community

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 with friends?

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.

 

Cross-country journey Texas to Oregon trek covers a lot of ground

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.

 

Big Towers, Big Impact

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.

 

EOU enriches our community

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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