January 17, 2002 11:00 pm

The Observer is embarking on a year-long effort to gather feedback from readers about the newspaper. Over the course of the next few weeks The Observer will be putting together a reader panel made up of 20 to 30 people from throughout Union and Wallowa counties. The panel will meet quarterly throughout the year to provide input on everything from news coverage to advertising to delivery. We need a broad cross-section of people who would like to serve on the panel.

The panel of volunteers will meet with The Observers management team and other employees over the course of the year. Tentatively, the first meeting will take place in late February. The first meeting will be a chance for panel members to offer comments about The Observer and to ask questions about the newspaper. Observer staffers will be there to listen and to answer questions.

A committee of Observer employees will select people for the committee, with the goal of diversity men and women, old and young, blue collar and professional. Were soliciting for volunteers. From those we hope to fill the committee. So far only four names have been submitted, only one of them from Wallowa County. If we dont hear from enough people to fill the committee, well start making calls and asking people to be a part of the process.

The only thing in it for readers is knowing they are contributing to helping make The Observer a better newspaper. Its important for us to have a dialogue with readers, and the roundtable discussion is one way to do that.

If youre interested, please send us your name, age, address, occupation and length of time in the area. Letters can be mailed or dropped off at The Observer, 1406 Fifth St., or e-mailed to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Do respond. We hope to form the committee in early February.


A major irritant of living in the Grande Ronde Valley is the wind. And it seems that the area has received more than its share this winter, especially out of Ladd Canyon. Huge gusts and long windy nights were standard fare in December.

Residents know the feeling. Car doors blow shut, hats blow over the fence and people are almost tossed to the ground on their way from the driveway to the porch.

However inhospitable it appears, wind can be turned into something friendlier when it is harnessed to produce energy. Area residents can learn about tax credits, energy credits, loan programs and other incentives for wind-turbine projects at a Jan. 31 workshop at the Ag Service Center in Island City. Call 963-1010 for details.

The $10 workshop fee may seem like a small price to pay if the hostile wind can be turned into a helpful friend.