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The Observer Paper 12/17/14

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Home arrow Opinion arrow Our View arrow BUSINESSES CAN LEARN FROM CHICAGO PANIC



The panicked stampede in a Chicago nightclub this week that ended in the deaths of 21 people should be a wake-up call to all businesses that draw the public. Businesses should review their buildings' exits to make sure customers and employees have a clear path for escape if a disaster occurs.

The stampede began Monday night at Chicago's second-floor club, E2, when officers sprayed pepper fog to break up a fight. Gasping for air, patrons fled down a narrow stairway. Bodies were trampled and flattened against a glass door on the first floor. Some witnesses reported the door was blocked by the surge of bodies; others alleged security guards closed the door after the panic began.

Several questions have arisen about the tragedy. The club wasn't supposed to be open because it was in violation of city law. Greed appeared to be motivating the club owner. Also, why were officers using a pepper spray indoors? Whether it's pepper spray, a fire in the building or an earthquake, people tend to panic when they feel they are being threatened.

The club in Chicago should have been closed. But many businesses can learn something from the stampede. Businesses, particularly those that cater to large groups of people, should evaluate their exit systems to make sure that doors are not locked or blocked should an emergency occur.

Home dwellers, too, are wise to study doors and windows to ensure that family members have a clear path to the outside if a fire or some other catastrophe occurs.


Wallowa County officials are right on the money in trying to put together an incubator business park to give birth to new employment opportunities.

The county is looking at purchasing a parcel in Wallowa owned by Ron Goebel. It could be used to help new businesses get started or existing ones expand their operations.

The property includes a 9,000-square-foot building, where Kni-Co, a Wallowa manufacturer of camp stoves, already is planning to locate. More building space could be added later.

The incubator concept, used successfully elsewhere to spur new jobs but often not without a public subsidy, would provide entrepreneurs in the county with reduced rent to help them jump-start their businesses. Developing new jobs is important to Wallowa County, where unemployment has been high and people have moved away for better opportunities.

There's another bright prospect. Some of the emerging businesses might wish to use Wallowa and Union counties' newly established railroad service, helping the line survive.


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