December 14, 2003 11:00 pm

Tearing down house mistake

To the Editor:

Well, it's happened again. One of Union County's historical landmarks was torn down earlier this month. I'm referring to the Charles Goodnough house in Island City.

For those of you who don't know anything about Charles Goodnough, I suggest you read the several different books on the history of Union County that are available. You will find his name mentioned over and over.

Goodnough came to Union County in the fall of 1862 and quickly began to buy land, build buildings and develop businesses. He was a pioneer merchant at Island City, having a general merchandise store. He was also involved with the M&M Company, Pioneer Flouring Mill, local banks and the sugar factory, just to name a few, besides having businesses in Elgin and Wallowa.

Although quite the shrewd businessman, he was not above helping people get through bad times. All of this is mentioned in the Union County history books.

Now, getting back to the house. Charles married his second wife on Jan. 14, 1886, in Union County and the house was probably built sometime shortly after that. The only picture of it that I know of was taken sometime before 1898.

Granted, the house was not taken care of and was in bad shape, but to tear it down? It should have been restored. Those involved and the powers that be that didn't save this house should hang their heads in shame.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised because here in Union County it seems the norm to tear our landmarks down. The courthouse, Sacajawea Hotel and Foley Hotel are some that should have been saved. If you want to see really beautiful buildings and old homes I suggest you go to Baker City. They saved theirs.

Robert C. Bull

La Grande

Sorweide will be missed

To the Editor:

I would like to borrow some space on your editorial page to say goodbye to a friend and co-worker.

Chuck Sorweide was a friend. I first met him a few years back; I worked with Chuck in fire prevention and as an EMT. When I think of Chuck I see a big smile, something positive being said, and no matter where we ran into each other he always spoke, "Hey Deb, how's it going?"

It saddened my heart when I heard about his cancer. It gladdened my heart that God did not let him suffer too long and took him quickly. My thoughts and prayers go out to Chuck's family and the La Grande Fire Department. A good person has been lost to us, but he would want us to mourn today and go on with our work tomorrow. That is what we must do, continue to serve in the fire and EMS service.

I won't forget Chuck Sorweide and the friendliness he shared and the love for the service he had. Those of you in La Grande, stop by your fire hall, say "hi" to the guys, let them know you are thinking of them. They are a pretty cool bunch of professionals and I sure appreciate and respect them.

Deb Hull

Union Volunteer Fire and Ambulance


Two views of a city

To the Editor:

After reading William Green's Nov. 13 letter, I was compelled to share my opinion on the subject of what a horrible place La Grande is to live.

Let me start by sharing a story.

A man was driving through a rural Eastern Oregon town when he saw an elderly gentleman sitting on a bench sipping coffee outside the local cafe. The stranger approached the old man and asked, "What kind of town is this? Would it be a good place to settle in retirement?"

The old man asked in reply, "What was the town you came from like"?

The stranger said, "It is a horrible place, the people are rude, traffic is bad, there's no good stores to shop, no good food, just a plain bad place to live."

The old man replied, "Well, that's about what you're likely to find here."

The stranger stormed back to his car and sped away.

A short time later another fellow from out of town pulled up and asked the old man the same question about his town. The old man once again replied with the question: "What was the town you came from like?"

The second stranger replied with a smile, "It is a wonderful little town, people are friendly, the streets and sidewalks are well kept, stores are few but I find what I need."

The old man said, "Well that's about what you're likely to find here."

It is unfortunate that some people cannot or will not find the good in a place as wonderful as La Grande.

I came here because of the mountains, forests, wildlife, clean air and open spaces. The university, loggers, ranchers and farmers combine to give this community a desirable flavor that you do not find in larger metropolitan areas.

So, Mr. Green, before you think of trying to make La Grande like a "larger West Coast city" please talk to some long-time residents of the quaint little town of Bend.

Mark Penninger, nine-year resident

La Grande

Much can be accomplished

To the Editor:

With my highest regards I'd like to thank those in the city of Union who lent their gracious support.

It was broad-based and sincere, and shows the feeling of community that makes Union such a fine place to live. It also tells me I can count my work here as a success.

I'm now free to assist those in our community toward their goals for civic improvement. With their strength and courage I expect much can be accomplished.

Dean Muchow,

former police chief


Tourists seek larger attractions

To the Editor:

The premise brought forth by Michael Brosseau in his Nov. 5 letter to the editor does not ring true.

Tourists just don't go traveling to visit small stores. Properly advertised, they come for attractions like the Cove Swimming Pool, Wallowa Lake and the chair lift, the world- famous bronze factory and art galleries of Joseph, and to hunt and fish. When it is better known, they will come to our supper train.

Every city has its small stores: Portland, Chicago, Boise, even a tourist town like San Diego has its Broadway and North Park.

Our community leaders have not protected the small business community in that they have failed to provide an adequate parking plan to accommodate existing small business. In fact to the contrary they replaced the 10-year, hole-in-the-ground at great civic expense with apartments over a store. Where will these people park? If there is a parking plan on Adams, it is not enforced regularly.

I for one, because of physical restrictions, do not like the maze of a box store layout but it is better than walking two or three blocks down Adams. Mr. Brosseau's analysis is far from correct.

David S. Arnott


Police officers honest bunch

To the Editor:

Several days ago The Observer printed a news article regarding the resignation of my deputy in the district attorney's office. The reporter quoted me accurately but my statement was poorly thought out, a case of running the mouth engine before the brain was in gear.

In trying to be fair and to quiet rumors that had been circulating I made a statement that appeared critical of police organizations. Let me correct that impression.

In the years I've served as both prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, I've never known a police officer to willfully lie to me. Any other impression that I gave in my statement was wrong, and I apologize to the people I may have injured.

Our public safety officers serve the community in a job that is difficult, dangerous and not well rewarded. They are usually called upon under the worst of conditions and they perform for us admirably. They deserve and get my thanks and respect.

Martin J. Birnbaum

Union County District Attorney

La Grande

Ivins columns repulsive

To the Editor:

I hope I'm not the only reader of The Observer's opinion page who is totally repulsed by the venomous columns of Molly Ivins.

Yea, I know, your policy is to have some balance on your editorial page, but this woman's diatribes go beyond sarcasm and criticism into what many liberals call hate speech.

She is to the war on terrorism the equivalent of Jane Fonda during Vietnam.

She seems out of place in your newspaper where the majority of your readers can be described as mainstream America. I realize I'm not being forced to read her column, but I resent whatever miniscule amount of my subscription fee goes to pay for her syndicated column. She should be writing for a French newspaper where anti-Americanism is almost a religion.

If I want to be continually disturbed by anti-Bush rhetoric I might as well go back to subscribing to The Oregonian.

E.H. VanBlaricom


Privileged to fly flag

To the Editor:

To those who do not understand why some of us fly our country's flag: I fly the American flag because I'm proud to be an American. I'm proud of our military personnel who are willing to die for our country.

While I do not always agree with our government as to why and how things are done, I feel privileged that I can fly my flag and vote for who or what I believe in, that you can complain about what others do, and that all of us have the right to be able to walk our streets without fear of reprisals.

If we do not agree with how things are done, we can try to change them by making certain we always express our beliefs by exercising our right to vote.

Dru Huck

La Grande

Don't try to change our town

To the Editor:

In regards to the newcomer's letter to The Observer of Nov. 13 asking if La Grande and Union County were actually in the 21st century, who seemed to have problems with the radio, gas prices and local services.

I have been in this area for a couple of years. Coming from a large West Coast metropolitan area, I find La Grande refreshing. Yes, I left behind radio stations; and most of them played noise pollution rather than music.

We had cheaper gas, but I had to pump it myself, with the rain dripping down my neck, and I wasted most of the money saved by sitting in rush-hour traffic trying to get to work.

I no longer have to wait in a doctor's office for up to three hours when I have an appointment. When the power goes out here, it is fixed within a few hours.

There you lock your car even when you were running in to pay a bill. There, a response from 911 for a police officer when your car has been broken into is, "We'll have an officer phone you later to take a report from you." They don't even come. Just phone in the crime.

Here in La Grande the education system is as up to date as any. The utilities, police and fire protection are as modern as anywhere. They may not have the large city budgets, but they make up for that by spending wisely.

And the people still care about one another, treat each other with respect and courtesy. I sincerely hope that La Grande stays in the past in those areas.

If you miss the amenities of metropolitan living, move back, but don't try to change our town to fit your big city ideas.

Paul Caverly

La Grande