December 04, 2001 11:00 pm

The Observer offers its congratulations to Safeway on the opening of its giant new food and drug store in La Grande.

The store is a welcome addition to the city, and particularly to the east end of Adams Avenue, which definitely needed a cosmetic lift. For years the site at Adams and Willow looked like something out of a war zone. The parcel was home to the abandoned, dilapidated Oregon Department of Transportation shop buildings.

The area definitely needed sprucing up, and demolition of the buildings in preparation for Safeways 55,255-square-foot store was a wonderful first step.

Safeways super store gives the east-side retail area a definite lift, possibly pointing the way for more commercial development there in coming years.

The new $5 million store also is making a nice addition to La Grandes job base. Safeway has hired 60 new employees, including people who will run the Starbucks outlet in the store and 13 who will operate the gas pumps on the west side of the property.

Those who might think La Grande is being overrun with grocery and pharmacy outlets should remember that Safeway is not a new store in the community by any means. The company has sold groceries in La Grande for 71 years.

In selecting the East Adams site, Safeway showed it was committed to staying near La Grandes downtown shopping area rather than relocating to the Island City strip. The decision reaffirms the importance of a healthy downtown with retailers anchoring the growth that the core area needs. Having strong anchors on the east side will mean increased traffic to all the businesses. This means other retailers will look favorably on this east-side renaissance.

The community can be grateful that Safeway has shown confidence in La Grande by making a sizable investment in its future.


Give a lot of credit to good science and the latest DNA testing techniques that have tied a suspect to Seattles Green River killings.

Truck painter Gary Ridgway is being held in connection with the death of four women in the Green River killings of the early 80s. Ridgway of Auburn, Wash., was arrested Friday after a saliva sample taken by court order in 1987 linked him through DNA to the deaths of the four women, who are among 49 whose deaths or disappearances are tied to the so-called Green River killer.

Why wasnt Ridgway arrested many years ago? Detectives did not have the hard evidence that was needed to make a case against him. Recent advancements in DNA technology helped to tie the suspect to the four victims.

This is another example of how scientific research benefits mankind. Some long-grieving families may finally find closure in the Green River cases. And that will be because scientists stayed on task, making DNA testing techniques even more effective and reliable in criminal cases.