March 06, 2002 11:00 pm

By T.L. Petersen

Observer Staff Writer

When the Imbler-Elgin Philadelphia Trip students meet these days, they dont discuss what happened to their funds in February.

Instead, leader Georgia McKee says, We leave that part out of it and discuss the trip.

This week what was happening on the law-enforcement front trying to find the funds that were stolen or embezzled, allegedly by suspect Leann Thompson of Elgin wasnt the big news.

The big news was that the eighth-grade trip participants will be allowed to go on one of the limited tours of the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. They are waiting to hear about tours of the White House and the Capitol Building.

Students also will be visiting historic sites in Philadelphia and New York on their trip during the week of April 7.

It looks like were going to make it, McKee said of the last-minute fund-raising efforts to recoup the lost funds.

The Philly group has until March 15 to make its next major payment on the trip.

Still short thousands of dollars, McKee said that businesses and individuals have been wonderful in helping rescue the trip, making donations and assisting with


McKee said she doesnt have any solid figures yet on how much money is missing from trip funds the matter is being pursued by accountants and investigators but she does know that if the students are able to reach their goal and make the trip, any funds beyond what are needed will be refunded to those making the


The group will make its final trip payment during the week of the trip itself.

Recent efforts have included Powerhouse Automotive extending its coupon special, donating $5 from every regularly priced oil change through March to the students. Other businesses also have pledged a portion of proceeds from sales.

The Imbler-Elgin group is continuing to work on fund-raisers, including bottle drives, which McKee said have had a wonderful response. Last weekends bake sale also went well.

The final word yes, they will go hasnt been written yet, McKee warns. But until the day that the final check cannot be written, the group of students will be looking ahead to boarding the plane.

To have pop cans and bottles picked up this weekend in the La Grande area call 534-5373.

To make donations to the Elgin-Imbler Philly Trip Fund call 963-2860 or 963-4630, or contact Susie Marshall at Pioneer Bank.

Reach T.L. Petersen at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it