September 12, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

A group of bicyclists wholl ride through Union County Saturday are riding the line from Washington to Utah to raise money for United Way.

The Oregon cyclists were organized by Williams Gas Pipeline and are part of more than 200 cyclists, employees of the giant pipeline company, who are riding throughout the nation to raise money for local United Ways.

Dawn Roe, executive director of United Way of Union County, said the best part of the ride is that new money donated in Union County will be matched, dollar for dollar, by Williams to give to Union County agencies. New money comes from donors who have not given in the past, as well as donations that are increased by a specific amount.

The cyclists began the ride Tuesday in Bellingham, Wash., and will enter Union County Saturday over Tollgate, going through Elgin and Imbler, arriving in La Grande between 2 and 3 p.m. From La Grande, they will ride through Union and North Powder, en route to Boise, where they will spend the night.

People can pledge any amount they wish, Roe said. To take advantage of the matching funds, pledges must be turned in by Sept. 28 and donations made by March 31. To pledge, call Roe at 963-0306.

Williams Pipeline, based in Tulsa, Okla., is an international corporation that began in 1916 and has grown to become one of the largest builders and operators of pipelines in the world. Williams does business in the United State s and in more than 20 other countries.

Its great that a huge company will help the local United Ways, said Ted Kramer, president of the Union County United Way. It shows that United Way is truly a community-by-community appeal. This is a chance for local people to double the impact of their donations.

Riding the line is one of three special events scheduled this fall to benefit the United Way agencies. A golf scramble, Tee Off for United Way, has been organized by The Observer for Sept. 21 at Buffalo Peak Golf Course in Union. A hotdog feed will take place Oct. 13 at Shopn Kart.

The annual United Way campaign began Sept. 6 with a goal of $112,000. Volunteers will visit Union County businesses, schools and municipalities seeking pledges and donations to 12 county charitable organizations.

The United Way agencies are Shelter From the Storm, Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASA, the American Red Cross, the Silver Sage Girl Scout Council, Elgin Food Bank, Union County Search and Rescue, the Kids Club day care center, the Blue Mountain Council of Boy Scouts of America, the Salvation Army, Mount Emily Safe Center, Neighbor to Neighbor, and the Health Network for Rural Schools.