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The Observer paper 11/21/14

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Home arrow Opinion arrow MY VOICE

Thanks for the little things (and the not-so-little)

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.’’

Visible from the valley

Bravo to Joe Davis, Dennis Wilkinson and other residents of Union County for voicing their concerns about the proposed Antelope Ridge Wind Farm.

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.

Oregon Wolf Plan is sound

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 effect.

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.

High marks LHS students score well on college readiness test

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.


‘Do not judge’

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.

Grants to provide boost

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.

Setting the record straight - District was clear about funding maintenance position

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”.

Stand up for local foods

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.


Issues are budget, transparency

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 taxpayers.

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.

Father Time catching up 58 years and counting for LHS Class of ’51

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.

Opening old wounds in Elgin

Editor’s note: Janet Scoubes and Evelyn Spikes, both of Elgin, jointly wrote this column.


This morning between five and five-thirty, I wrapped up in a blanket and went outside to listen to all the morning sounds: osprey, doves, robins, wrens and the traffic coming down Fishtrap into Elgin. In the peacefulness of this space, I was on my second cup of coffee when I started revising this piece — one I began writing earlier — about the recent murders near Elgin


Difficult decision to quit coaching

This letter is in response to the Opinion letter in the Aug. 12 Observer by John Deal. While everyone deserves to have an opinion on anything they want, Mr. Deal chooses to mislead the public and to smear my name in the process. Until that letter came out I had never heard of John Deal let alone known him well enough to have that kind of conversation with him.

It is important that the public be made aware of the misleading statements. First, the district has been forward and upfront with the public about all cuts made. Had he or anyone else contacted me a very different picture would be seen than the one that he painted.

A community effort

Fundraising to acquire enough money to run sports and activities at La Grande Middle School and La Grande High School for the coming school year is a sign of the challenging economic times we live in. Most of us agree that sports give our youth opportunities to learn things like sacrifice, teamwork, hard physical and mental effort, tenacity and a cooperative yet competitive attitude. All of these are very important qualities for life success.

Investigating a murder; investigators must be careful how much they reveal

Editor’s note: The following was written Thursday night in response to an Observer editorial and submitted Friday morning before Friday’s significant turn of events in the Elgin murder case.

Thursday’s Observer editorial surprised and disappointed me. Surprised, because newspaper editorials are supposed to be objective and factual. This one was neither. It disappointed me, because Observer editorials almost always are.

This community is understandably upset and concerned by the recent discovery of human remains in and around a pond near Elgin. Those of us involved with the Major Crime Team are, too. The paper got pretty strident in taking us to task for not releasing very much information. Let me try to explain why we haven’t.

‘Understated and elegant’ Getting to know Jeannette Baum

A grand lady passed away this week. Jeannette Baum was 89 years old when she died Tuesday. Though I didn’t know her long, I was very fond of her. I’ve been thinking about her a lot this week and how fortunate I am to have known her. Even if it was just a little.

Several people here at work have expressed their sorrow at the passing of this gracious lady. She certainly was a class act. The kind you don’t see much any more.

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