Mourning the loss of a dear old friend

By Observer editorial February 15, 2011 03:06 pm
The news reverberated around town as if a well-known public figure had died. Word that the  pavilion at Riverside Park had burned to the ground early Saturday morning hit area residents as if they’d lost a valued and trusted old friend.

And in many ways, we had. Anyone with ties to La Grande — and Union County, actually — had some kind of memory related to that grand old building. We all went there for wedding receptions, for anniversaries, for birthdays, for picnics, for work-related gatherings, for reunions and of course for the Soroptimist Breakfast held the first weekend of June every year. Losing the pavilion, which was the signature to La Grande’s favorite park, really is like losing a friend.

The building dated back to 1914. Multiple generations celebrated events in the pavilion. The building belied its age. It has probably been more popular in recent years than ever, with nearly every summer weekend booked with events.

The building was insured, and the city will surely rebuild due to the pavilion’s popularity. But it’s unlikely that the insurance coverage will provide for the kind of building that was constructed in 1913-14, what with those huge timbers and a design reminiscent of that era. Unless, of course, the community is willing to chip in. The sentiments expressed by almost everyone since Saturday gives a good indication that there will be a lot of support for making sure the rebuilt pavilion is a close replica to the original.

La Grande and the surrounding area has lost an old friend. But with the right kind of effort and a caring community, we can resurrect that Grand Ol’ Pavilion.

Setting a frequency limit on Community Comments

Community Comment guest columns have become a popular way for people to express their views. But because The Observer allows 800 words, or about 30 inches of type, for Community Comments, as compared to 300 words for letters, the number we can fit in is much more limited.

Ever since the wind farm debate began a couple of years ago, a high percentage of Community Comments have pertained to that issue — to the point that we’ve heard comments from readers that they are tired of them. But rather than cut off wind farm Community Comments completely, The Observer has decided to impose a limit on the number individuals can submit over a period of time — one every three months. As with our letters policy, which limits letter writers to one every two weeks, the limit is intended to keep frequent writers from dominating the discussion.

We encourage people to continue submitting their viewpoints, and to first consider a letter to the editor. Keeping one’s point short and to the point is by far the most effective way to express an opinion. (This piece, by the way, is 217 words; the top editorial is 274 words.) Those who want to expound on an issue can consider a Community Comment column, but they will be limited to no more than one every three months.