January 07, 2002 11:00 pm

Fleetwood Industries has a lot to be proud of about its Union County operation. The recreational vehicle manufacturer is bucking national and state economic trends of companies downsizing operations. The company is in the process of adding 100 employees at its Island City plant. Fleetwood is banking on new products and a renewed commitment to quality to give it a boost in the RV market. Our area stands to gain if the company is successful.

To help celebrate Fleetwoods commitment to its future, the Union County commissioners last week worked with Fleetwood to bring a group of local citizens to the plant to learn more about the company. About 30 people heard about Fleetwoods strategies, toured the plant and walked through finished products. Company officials made it clear that they are happy to be in Union County, and theyre very pleased about the work force that is available. The Fleetwood appreciation event was a good idea, and county commissioner John Howard said he hopes to expand it to other businesses.

The Fleetwood story is a bright spot in what is generally gloomy economic times for the state and the nation. Fleetwoods commitment to breaking through and beating the recession is proof that things may not be as bad as

national media reports have made it seem. Locally, Fleetwood is one of several bright spots on the economic horizon. Eastern Oregon University is moving ahead with its new $33.5 million science center, which will make room for more students and staff. Two mills are operating again in Wallowa County. Boise Cascade, which has beat trends in the wood products industry over the past decade, has recently had its Northeast Oregon forests certified, which should bring expanded opportunities for products. The City of La Grande has commenced on the building of its long-awaited new fire hall. And ODS Health Plans is looking at expanding its La Grande operation.

All of these opportunities, combined with landing some of the economic development prospects that are taking a look at the area, might even work toward helping reverse the areas most distressing problem of declining enrollment in schools.

Celebrating Fleetwood in this time of economic uncertainty makes sense. Union County does have much that it can be proud of.


Eastern Oregon Universitys womens basketball team is on a tear. Its still early in the season and the conference schedule has barely begun, but the Lady Mountaineers are the surprise of the season. They are 10-1 so far, 3-0 in the Cascade Collegiate Conference. Theyve won 10 games in a row.

What a start to the season and a turnaround from previous years. Our hats are off to the Lady Mountaineers!