September 24, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

BAKER CITY The annual shareholders meeting of Oregon Trail Financial Corporation, the holding company of Pioneer Bank, has been postponed from Friday to Oct. 12.

A notice of the rescheduled meeting date will be mailed to all shareholders of record as of Aug. 16, President and Chief Executive Officer Berniel L. Maughan announced. The meeting will be held in Baker City.

Oregon Trail Chairman Stephen R. Whittemore of La Grande said, The tragic events in New York City have caused serious disruption to the communications to the companys beneficial shareholders whose shares are held in street name with their brokerage firm.

Such shareholders, about 75 percent of the total, must receive their proxy materials through third parties, primarily brokers in New York, and such materials have been significantly delayed, Whittemore said.

Cross-country mail also has been affected, he said.

Because of the critical importance of this years meeting, the board wants to ensure that every shareholder has an opportunity to receive and carefully consider the materials sent by the company and its dissident shareholder, and to register their vote at the meeting, Whittemore said.

The bank announced that U.S. District Court Magistrate John Jelderks dismissed Stilwell Associates lawsuit against Edward Elms, an OTFC board member. The lawsuit alleged that Elms should be removed from the board. The judge ruled the harm alleged by Stilwell was speculative. The bank agreed to dismiss its counterclaims alleging false and misleading statements in Joseph Stilwells documents sent to stockholders.

Last week Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Janice Wilson dismissed a lawsuit brought by Stilwell, a shareholder, attempting to have Charles Rouse removed from the board.

The dismissal of the two Stilwell lawsuits underscores the frivolous nature of both suits, Whittemore said.

Regrettably, the company was forced to incur more than $200,000 in costs to successfully defend these directors from Stilwells meritless suits.