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La Grande Observer 04/24/15

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Home arrow Opinion arrow MY VOICE

One size does not fit all

The start of any school year brings with it a fair amount of emotion. Believe me, it’s not just the students who wake up on that first day of school to a mixture of excitement and apprehension. 

For me, the honor of beginning the new school year as superintendent of La Grande Public Schools is especially rewarding. This community has been my home for a long time and the challenges and opportunities in our school system are well known to me. That’s where the excitement and challenge come together.

A downtown gem

One of the true gems in the La Grande downtown is the F. Maxine and Thomas W. Cook Memorial Library. I would encourage everyone to take time to stop in and see what we have to offer.

We have fresh, up-to-date collections of books, audio books, video/DVD formats for children and adults, and 125 subscriptions to magazines and newspapers. The Colleen F. Johnson Community Room is available for a variety of uses and is an ideal location for meetings and activities at no cost.

Enjoy LG this weekend

Wondering how to close out a summer season of record high gas prices? How about a last “staycation”?  Why not stay home, enjoy the beauty of the Grande Ronde Valley and all of the delights of the brand new Crossing the Blues Festival in downtown La Grande.

 The first Crossing the Blues Festival, set for Friday and Saturday, promises to keep everyone entertained, fed and watered. The festival kicks off Friday evening with a repeat of the Third Thursday Art Walk beginning at 5:30 p.m. featuring many local galleries and artists including The Potter’s House, Back to Nature Gallery and the Mitre’s Touch. Satellite Gallery will premiere the Visual Arts Invitational featuring 24 regional artists.

Politicians cater to power, not citizens

While we endure the “dog days” of August in our air conditioned homes and vehicles, I sometimes think back to our Continental Congress who endured the hot, humid stuffiness of five months to hammer out our Constitution and Bill of Rights at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It brings a literal meaning to the term “heated arguments” when you consider how uncomfortable they must have been long before the days of air conditioning.

We tend to think that our freedoms were secured by the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July in 1776. Not so. The newly founded colonies had to fight a long, bloody war before they finally met and adopted our form of government 11 years later on Sept. 17, 1787.

Parks and streets - Time for some fresh ideas in La Grande

The Observer’s thinking about parks needs some updating. It’s about as old as I am!

Most of the issues confronting our city need some fresh ideas on how to address them. It is good to hear that a Street Advisory Committee will make recommendations on sidewalks and streets; this suggests the possibility for varied ideas on new funding mechanisms.

Keep Mt. Emily a working forest

We are voting yes on the proposed 3,669-acre Mount Emily Recreation Area, which is a yes vote for local control, for sustainable and managed natural resource production, for economic development and for keeping land open for the public for recreation.

Without a viable wood products industry in Union County, every economic and aesthetic aspect of our community suffers — housing prices, goods and services, recreation, quality of life, etc. Today more than ever, the viability of the wood products industry in Union County depends on sustainable production from private timberlands. By far the largest percentage of logs purchased by Boise Cascade comes from private timberlands — less than 10 percent comes from public lands.

Mt. Emily: Too many ‘ifs’

There has been so much newspaper coverage of the proposed purchase of the Mount Emily property being considered by the Union County commissioners that it would seem no opposition prevails. Wrong! There are a great number of citizens of our county who do not favor such an endeavor on the part of Union County officials.

In simple and direct language, there are a number of reasons why there is opposition to involving the county in this supposedly beneficial endeavor:

An outpouring of love

For a number of years George was concerned that when he died no one would come to his funeral. On Thursday morning, April 30, it looked like he needn’t have worried.

The sea of faces that surrounded the family in love and concern as we left the First Christian Church sanctuary was a never-to-be forgotten tribute to the man who loved everyone on a one-to-one basis without anger or rancor.

Had I not known and loved George on such a personal level, I may have been amazed at such an outpouring of love by the whole community and from afar

Mt. Emily Rec Area - Information about proposed purchase, management

The Union County Board of Commissioners is asking Union County voters whether they support pursuing the purchase of 3,669 acres commonly referred to as the Mount Emily Recreation Area (MERA). As part of the continuing effort to explain the proposed purchase, the following information is provided to educate county voters on what the purchase includes and how the property is proposed to be managed if purchased.

Farm bill feeds hungry

Lines stretched longer this holiday season. We don't mean in shopping areas, we mean at our local food pantries. With less food available and so many people needing help, it was a tough holiday for many Oregonians.

Meanwhile, the farm bill — a bill that would make a big difference for those struggling to put food on the table — is slowly making its way through the U.S. Congress. The farm bill reauthorizes two vital nutrition programs for hungry Americans: The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Food Stamp Program.

Time flies during the holidays

I just mailed off my sister's Christmas presents yesterday. I know, its mid-January and I should be slightly red-faced to admit that I am this late. It may be more embarrassing to admit that I still had wrapping paper lying about to help me accomplish this task. Tardy or not, it was a very rewarding experience.

To be truthful, my sister was traveling during the holidays and there was a real possibility of gifts missing her in transit. Therefore, I claim a sliver of justification in missing the mark by nearly a month.

School board sets priorities

Members of the La Grande School Board are elected to represent the community as a whole. It seems prudent that a summary of our activities (since last June) be presented every so often.

A lot of hard work goes into the making of a successful school district, and even though we struggle each month with an abundance of needs and a dearth of funds, the board is excited about the future. Many wonderful things are happening in our district.

Our goals, as stated below, drive and shape our desire to prepare our district for the 21st century with strong fiscal management, uniquely designed facilities tailored to provide the best learning environment for our students, and support for innovative curriculum development and teaching that will continue to help each of our students gain the tools to succeed.

Stakes high for railroad

The article in the Jan. 2 Observer on progress towards a new business plan for the Wallowa Union Railroad Authority was encouraging. We wish them well with this new plan. For the public to understand what is at stake, the full picture needs to be clarified, to include the downside potential caused by their critical cash flow and debt burden problems.

The loan contract with the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department (OECDD) that allowed Union and Wallowa counties to buy the railroad is for $11.7 million (interest and principle), to be paid over a 22-year period. Each annual payment is $441,368. The increased debt load for moving the first annual payment back from 2006 to 2007 is not included in these figures.

Be skeptical of campaign news

The 2008 presidential race has officially begun. Media bloviators were already drawing conclusions after the Iowa caucuses, conclusions these principled professionals would stick with until the next commercial break. New Hampshire saw John McCain's comeback and Hillary Clinton's brush with tears. The biggest surprise so far may be the winners in Iowa — an African American on the Democratic side, and for the Republicans a former governor/ordained minister whose campaign has one lone corporate friend: Wal-Mart. Welcome to the year of "change.''

Bowing out

Anyone following local politics for the past few years has undoubtedly put together the obvious — Dennis Wilkinson and his sidekick John Lamoreau want to control the county. What they can't control, they do their best to harass and destroy.

Anyone who has experienced the scorched-earth tactics of these individuals can attest to the venom they put into play. Wilkinson, under a flimsy government watchdog banner, marches about declaring fraud, waste and conspiracy. Lamoreau marches about town declaring the county inept so that he can plan, with Mr. Wilkinson's continued assistance, another run at county commissioner.

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