April 02, 2001 11:00 pm

What does Union County have in common with Sherman, Grant, Lake, Coos and Wallowa counties? Not much, except for the fact that the six counties had less than a 5 percent population growth between 1990 and 2000 the lowest growth rates among Oregons 36 counties. Although some people in Union County are perfectly content with a static growth rate, it doesnt bode well for the future.

Union Countys official U.S. Census population in 1990 was 23,598. The 2000 census put us at 24,530 an increase of 932 people or 3.95 percent. Only Lake, at 3.28 percent, Grant, 1.04, and Sherman, 0.83, were lower. Coos, at 4.16 percent, and Wallowa, at 4.56, were the only other counties that saw less than 5 percent growth over the 10-year span.

Even Harney County saw 7.78 percent growth. Baker saw 9.3 percent.

At the top of the chart was Deschutes County, at 53.91 percent. Morrow County was second at 44.20 percent and Washington County was third at 42.94 percent.

Union County has seen its largest school district fall from the 4A to the 3A classification. It has seen its small towns struggle to find ways to survive. It sees retail businesses come and go. And it sees its young people forced to leave after high school or college in order to find family-wage jobs. Lack of growth isnt the cause of these realities, but it is an indicator that something is amiss.

Union County was slow to catch on to the fact that economic diversification and growth are essential ingredients to economic health. Strides are being made to eradicate the complacency and no-growth attitude that conspired to make the county one of the slowest growing counties in Oregon in the 1990s. Efforts to recruit new business and help existing business expand must continue to be a priority.

We can maintain our quality of life and accommodate growth. For the sake of our kids future, we have to.


Feeling a little tired? Sleepy maybe? If so, youre not alone. Most of us are sleep deprived, according to a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation.

Almost two-thirds of Americans are not getting the recommended eight hours of sleep a night. Were working more and sleeping less. The average work week for most folks is 46 hours and 38 percent of the people surveyed said they work 60 hours or more a week. Forty percent of those surveyed said they get sleepy on the job and their work suffers at least a few days a month.

The foundation didnt suggest anything that could be done to reduce the work week and get more sleep. But it doesnt take a sleep expert to realize that if we want to improve our effectiveness on the job we have to improve our relaxation efforts when were off the job.