September 04, 2001 11:00 pm

By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

ENTERPRISE Labor Day weekend was a holiday for many, but it kept police busy in Wallowa County.

7 a.m. Saturday, Four Elgin men escaped with minor injuries but knocked out the power to local residences when their new car was totalled as it sheared off a new power pole four miles north of Enterprise on Highway 3.

Joseph Aaron Dempsey, 21, is facing a careless driving charge. Dempsey, Samuel A. Devin, 23, Paul Thomas Tate III, 23, and Brion Kelly Chandler, 24, were taken by ambulance to Wallowa Memorial Hospital, where they were treated and released.

Enterprise Police and Fire Departments were first on the scene to deal with hot wires sparking in the highway. Wallowa County Sheriffs Office also assisted.

10:30 p.m. Saturday, An explosion was heard by two employees at Wallowa Forest Products and several citizens in Wallowa four miles away.

Three hours later, part of a mailbox and mail were found on Highway 82.

It belonged to John and Amy Johnson, who were out of town.

Monday evening the Johnsons found mailbox parts in their pasture, said Wallowa County Sheriff Deputy John Campbell.

Nothing was found of the explosive device, said Campbell, who will take the mailbox to the Oregon State Police Crime Lab in Pendleton to be analyzed.

The Postmaster Generals office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have been notified.

This is a huge public safety concern, Campbell said.

2:20 p.m. Sunday, Campbell and Oregon State Police trooper Greg Retherford said they had seen nothing like the one-inch sapling that caught on a nerf bar step and kept a 1999 Dodge extended cab pickup from going 1,500 feet off Gumboot Grade. The pickup dangled 60 feet over the embankment at milepost 16 of U.S. Forest Service Wallowa Mountain Loop Road 39.

Heather Reuben, 28, of Baker City failed to negotiate the hairpin curve posted at 15 mph at the cut through the red banks, police said. None of the four occupants was injured.

7 a.m. Monday, Perry E. Britton, 43, of Lostine was allegedly involved in a domestic dispute at his home with his estranged wife, Joee D. Anderson, who called 911 from another residence. Officers said she had no apparent physical injuries, but she said that Britton had threatened to kill her and police if she reported the incident.

Campbell and Retherford responded to Brittons residence just east of Lostine on Highway 82. Britton was driving his pickup down his lane toward the highway. Implementing high risk situation tactics, with guns drawn, the officers ordered him out of the pickup. He got out of the vehicle with hands behind his head and sat in the road in passive resistance, asking the police to come to him, officers said, rather than following their commands to walk backward to them.

Following procedures, the officers remained 30 feet away in protected positions.

The standoff ended at 8:35 a.m. after newly appointed State Police Outpost Commander Sgt. Randy Palmer arrived, approached Britton and arrested him.

Britton was charged with domestic menacing and interfering with making a report because he reportedly disabled his telephone. He was taken to the Umatilla County jail.

7:05 p.m. Monday, Betty Galbraith, 60, of Wilson Lane, Joseph, thought she put her car in park. When she got out to check the irrigation water, the car backed up. Galbraith was knocked down by the door and the front wheel ran over her midsection.

Her car was found in a ditch 540 feet away, officers said. She was in satisfactory condition at Grande Ronde Hospital.

In the Enterprise area Monday, 90 bales of hay were stolen, items were stolen from two vehicles and a house was reported burglarized.

Wallowa County Sheriff Fred Steen said that both the numbers of calls for service and the number of cases investigated this year are up significantly from last year.