July 14, 2003 11:00 pm

La Grande's downtown rolled out the red carpet on Friday and Saturday. The downtown's Crazy Days event has become more than a sale. The event has become a community celebration.

The La Grande Downtown Merchants Association, under the guidance of Doug Campbell and an active board of directors, has come up with an event that combines numerous aspects of life in La Grande. Non-profit groups are represented. Musical groups take part. Merchants have a chance to show what they have to offer.

And with Adams Avenue being closed down during Crazy Days, the event has become a downtown festival.

Crazy Days in La Grande drew hundreds of people to downtown. In many communities, Crazy Days is only a retail sales display. La Grande's downtown merchants have strived to make their Crazy Days more than a promotion, and from all appearances they have succeeded. Hopefully merchants' sales were as rewarding as the event itself.

An event as large as La Grande's Crazy Days wouldn't be possible without a core group of volunteers. Campbell, who with his wife, Carol, owns McGlasson's Stationery, has been the mover in resurrecting Crazy Days and in pulling merchants together to bring attention to downtown. Every successful event needs a driving force, and for the downtown, Campbell is that force.

Congratulations, downtown merchants, on a great event. The community appreciates your efforts.

Spendy improvements

Joseph residents are going through what most towns have been experiencing in recent years. Keeping up with water system improvements isn't easy, and customers are having to pay the costs.

La Grande, Cove, North Powder, Union and numerous towns all across the state and the nation are finding that water and sewer system upgrades don't come cheaply. The result for consumers is that their city utility bills keep climbing.

Last week The Observer ran a story about the cost of city services in Joseph. The water bill was jumping from $13 a month to $20, and although the base amount for water consumption was increased, the cost of additional water beyond the minimum increased, too. In La Grande, residents pay about $40 a month for city water and sewer service.

Citizens of Joseph, you're not alone. Repaying loans for water system upgrades takes revenue, and in the case of municipalities, the low-interest loans are available because there is a built-in clientele.

The fact is that water system improvements aren't a luxury. They are a necessity.

There's no way to avoid them.