February 20, 2002 11:00 pm

The Union County Chamber of Commerce is showing more inclination of living up to its name and its goal to be a voice for all of Union County and not just La Grande. The chamber is recognizing more people from outside La Grande.

At its annual banquet Tuesday the chamber honored a Cove resident, a Cove businesswoman, an Imbler teacher and a

La Grande woman. Its good to see that the chamber has expanded its service area and its recognition of citizens to beyond the city limits of La Grande.

Gary Hansen of Cove and Carlene Crampton of La Grande, both of them volunteers extraordinaire, were named man and woman of the year. Tina Hurst of Cove, owner of Janus Industries and Artesian Blue Water, was named businessperson of the year. Sandy Mills, who teaches fourth grade at Imbler, was named educator of the year. The four represent a good cross-section of the county.

Through much of its history the chambers primary focus has been on La Grande, which is natural since most businesses are situated in the community and half the countys population is here. But over the past few years the chamber has made an effort to reach out to the other communities and has gone through several name changes that reflect that transition. Involvement in the chamber by people from throughout the county and the willingness of the chamber to look outside the city limits for its award honorees shows that the chamber is living up to its name.

The chamber can and should serve as a driving force for helping build a cohesive Union County. A countywide chamber makes sense provided it lives up to its mission. The Union County Chamber of Commerce is making an effort to do just that.


The Union County Chamber of Commerces annual banquet is one of the largest events in the county. About 500 people attend the event at the Blue Mountain Conference Center each year. The banquet provides an opportunity for the changing of the guard among chamber officers and directors, as well as an opportunity to recognize significant citizen involvement in the communities. Tickets for the event usually go fast.

This years banquet was a grand affair in terms of the program, the food and the festive tables decorated by local businesses. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., was the keynote speaker, followed by presentation of annual awards.

The only things that put a damper on the evening were the lack of lighting on the speaker and award recipients, and the way the tables were jammed together leaving little room for people to view the tables prior to dinner, for servers to get up and down the aisles or for the banquetgoers to get in and out of their chairs. Some adjustments, such as setting up fewer tables, are necessary.