November 29, 2001 11:00 pm

Its hard to believe that Northeast Oregon was basking in warm, sunny fall days just two months ago. Wednesdays snow and wind storm was an abrupt way of saying, Welcome to winter.

With the ice and snow of the season comes a reminder to motorists. Be alert on roads and streets and particularly patient with other drivers.

During snow and ice conditions, plan on spending a little more time on the road to get to your destination. Even if you are able to maintain normal street or road speed, the driver in front of you may have a different idea. Some motorists in La Grande were seen chugging along Wednesday at 10 mph on streets that would normally handle traffic at more than twice that speed

Dont shake your fist, blast your horn or try to pass the slow driver. Take a deep breath and consider that the two or three extra minutes that you will take to get to a meeting or an appointment are no big deal. A day has 1,440 minutes in it, and losing a few of them during travel does not amount to much.

Remember to stay a safe distance behind the car you are following. Your vehicle might need more than twice the stopping distance when ice is present on the road. Dont put yourself in a position in which your vehicle begins to slide sideways because you had to slam on the brakes

Finally, dont become over-confident with your winter treads or studded tires. All-weather tires and studs provide greater traction and safety on snow and ice than standard highway tires, but they are not foolproof. Motorists equipped with such devices must still exercise great caution when faced with winter driving conditions.

The bottom line is to slow down to protect yourself, your passengers and the people around you.

Enjoy sights, lights of holiday in Cove

As road conditions improve, take a drive out to Cove and enjoy the holiday atmosphere that residents of the small community are putting together.

New to Cove streets this year are green-and-white banners celebrating the Christmas season. Cheri Doren, a Cove business operator, spearheaded the project to create and hang 10 banners in the downtown area.

Wait a few days before traveling to Cove and youll enjoy all the colorful outdoor lights and displays set up by residents of the hillside community.

Its always enjoyable to see all the lights and sights of Christmas throughout the Grande Ronde Valley. Cove is just one community where local residents go out of their way to spread holiday cheer.