September 17, 2003 11:00 pm

Remember Newlins correctly

To the Editor:

Some errors have a life of their own.

The Observer's article Aug. 21 about the new location of Foley Station says the building was built for the Newland family. The correct name is Newlin. The same error occurs in the book written by Richard Hermens and John Turner "La Grande 1885-1985."

On Page 34 there is a picture of a building called Newland Drug. Close examination of the large vertical sign on the front reveals the words "Newlin Drug Co." at the top of the sign.

I have no knowledge of the Newlin family but it does seem right that they should be remembered correctly.

Glen McKenzie


Mary symbolized purity

To the Editor:

In the Aug. 20 editorial comment in The Observer, "City's prominent lady," it is stated that the temperance statue is not historically significant.

In 1904, when the statue was erected, La Grande was a much livelier town than it is today. In addition to 20 saloons, there were six major bordellos, along with pool halls, gambling facilities, a brewery and other diversions.

Some entrepreneurs combined several of these amenities in one operation. Nearly all were on Jefferson Avenue and on Depot and Fir streets. The Cast Iron Mary statue symbolized purity, abstinence from strong drink, and public service. I am not aware of any other public drinking fountains in the city at that time.

Cast Iron Mary formed an opening move in the local prohibition campaign and remained a symbol of the movement. In 1914, when Adams Avenue was paved, she was moved from the intersection of Adams and Elm to Fourth and Depot. In 1916 Oregon went dry, anticipating the national prohibition that took effect in 1920 as the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.

Saloons were closed and some later reopened as lunch counters. The brewery died. The number of bordellos declined. Alcohol continued to circulate, but only as moonshine peddled by bootleggers, one of whom destroyed Mary accidentally with his automobile in 1922.

Repeal of prohibition arrived in 1933 but there was no return to earlier conditions. Even by 1946, there were but a half-dozen taverns downtown and only one, The Lottes, was still on Jefferson in its original site.

In addition to her symbolism, Mary was La Grande's first and for a long time its only public work of art. She was graceful and beautiful and there are many community members who have mourned her loss.

The present statue reflects this community's respect and affection for its colorful past.

Jack Evans

La Grande

Big fish survive

To the Editor:

Please do not think that I am opposed to change and growth. I am, however, opposed to change and growth when it is only for the good of one, and many lose.

Mike Becker was able to sell water rights to a large organization, and the decision to allow the sale was made not by a single person who lived in our valley, except Mr. Becker.

We did not irrigate a single drop this year on our land, there was not enough water, and how are the fish going to live? How are we and the many other small farmers on the Little Creek irrigation ditch going to survive? We could put in a well, but we don't happen to have $30,000 to $50,000 to purchase one. Only the big fish will survive.

So, what about the Wal-Mart super store? Who profits again? The difference between the Wal-Mart store and the Little Creek Irrigation Ditch is that, La Grande and Island City, you have the power to stop it.

This area saw what just the opening of our current Wal-Mart did to area business. So now a super store and for what, to save five cents a pound on bananas? Five cents on a gallon of gas? So we can all wear the exact same clothing and shoes?

Our farm will not survive without water; La Grande and Island City business will not survive without money. When the big fish moves in, believe me he will use all the water.

Joann Waite


Consider consumers

To the Editor:

The Observer appears to be spearheading the opposition to the development of a Wal-Mart super store, emphasizing ways and means to stop the proposed development. The David vs. Goliath aspect of the editorials excludes any objective analysis of future development.

The Observer presents itself as the protector of local business but has never done an analysis of the retail situation.

I admire the recent remodeling of downtown storefronts, but the occupants are mostly financial institutions and lawyers; retail business in this area has declined. The proposed development of the former Bohnenkamp site includes residential space. The ODS and library building will result in the vacation of previously occupied buildings, and adds very little to retail activity.

With some notable exceptions, the consumer aspect of new development has been ignored. Some professionals have given limited employment opportunity and limited choice at the retail level as reasons for leaving this area.

The Wal-Mart development may actually stimulate local growth. Population retention, potential student jobs, and the willingness of other businesses to come to La Grande may positively influence population projections.

This brings us to the requested extension of the urban growth boundary. It should be given careful consideration. Zoning is not an exact science. Predictions and preconceived notions may not always relate to the dynamics of development. No one suggests that we should ignore potential traffic problems; however, we should consider the possibility of growth.

We could use zoning as an argument to keep out a business or we can negotiate. This does not mean that La Grande has to agree to everything that Wal-Mart wants, but that we strive to reach a positive compromise. No one can ignore the consumer's perspective and expect to survive.

Johannes M. Spronk

La Grande

Oppose state park fee

To the Editor:

I hope that you will support the effort to oppose the fee being proposed for access to the south end of Wallowa Lake.

This will happen unless enough people register their complaints before and at the meeting to be held in Enterprise Sept. 24 by the state Parks Department.

The stress of added boat launching at the north end of the lake as well as the increased traffic hazard would be unacceptable. Joseph's water supply intake also would incur increased risk.

I do not believe the Parks Department has the right to make a toll road through the park to the south end of the lake since this has been a public access road since pioneer times.

At the time the park was developed, many assurances were given that the public would have the use of the day-use area that they had always enjoyed.

Would you like a charge put on the beach at the coast? Well, Wallowa Lake is the beach for us.

Edna Roundy