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Few parents would argue that the safety of their children is a top priority. And that's why the 2003 Union County Safety Fun Fair, held earlier this week at the Blue Mountain Conference Center, was so important.

It's a tribute to the organizers that many agencies and organizations joined forces to put on the safety fair to benefit the children of the county.

It's also a tribute to schools in the area that they sent their children, from kindergarten through the second-grade, to the fair.

Among the participants were the La Grande Fire Department which emphasized fire safety, the Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (electrical safety), the Union County Sheriff's Marine Patrol (water safety), the Mid Columbia Bus Company (bus safety), the Blue Mountain Humane Association (dog safety), and the La Grande Police Department (bicycle safety).

But that's not all. Smokey the Bear, MacGruff the Crime Dog, Louie the Lightning Bug, ODOT crash dummies, an Oregon State Police patrol car and a railroad safety video also captured the youngsters' attention.

The safety fair, put together by Union County's Safe Communities Coalition, is a great idea, bringing vital life-saving information to young children. Who knows how many kids will be kept from injury as a result of attending the fair? It's an event that is well worth repeating.

Nell lived well

Some people might call it luck — the fact that La Grande native Nell Steffen lived 109 years. And maybe luck has something to do with her longevity. But the character of Steffen, who died Tuesday at a La Grande adult foster care home, also played a huge role in turning her life into something that was extraordinary.

Nell, born Jan. 23, 1894, to Robert and Bertha Brainerd Lloyd in La Grande, was known by friends and family for her resiliency, her commitment to people, her strong moral values and her faith in God.

Nell rolled with the punches as she faced illness and other problems. She took the good with the bad, not allowing herself to wallow in self-pity. She had a way of taking life's struggles and making something positive of them. She lived for the present and did not dwell on the past. Her interests in gardening, quilts and even the Portland Trail Blazers kept her mind active.

She kept her focus on her friends, many of whom she found at her church, First Presbyterian. She was unselfish. She'd accept gifts from friends, but always sought to give something back to others — even if it was something as simple as an apple or tomato.

Nell Steffen, our area's oldest resident, set a fine example. She had a full 109 years, finding inspiration in her friendships and the core values that gave her life meaning.


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