14 to watch in 2014

By Observer staff January 01, 2014 10:27 am


While news is often unpredictable, we are confident that these will be 14 stories you will see in 2014.

Eastern Oregon University begins the new year with a new athletic director but a very familiar face. Women’s basketball coach Anji Weissenfluh served as the interim athletic director since July 1, 2012. After having the interim tag removed in October, Weissenfluh starts her first full year as athletic director overseeing the $13.1 million overhaul of Quinn Coliseum.


Main Street has a new face at the helm. Saira Siddiqui, the new La Grande Main Street coordinator, is tasked with finding ways to grow downtown.

Another new face is Union County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kristen Dollarhide, who took the reins as head of the Chamber in October and wants to spend 2014 immersing herself in the community.

Meanwhile, over at 1010 Adams Ave., Chantell Cosner continues to work on the much-talked about Liberty Theatre restoration project.

La Grande City Manager Robert Strope appears to have some tough budget decisions in 2014.

Also downtown, Annie Eskelin, the executive director at the Art Center at the Old Library, is working to jazz up the art center’s education program.

Carmen Gentry, the Union County manager for Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, is looking for solutions after the federal sequestration and numerous budget cuts hit the Union County Senior Center hard in 2013.

If Union County manufacturing is making a comeback after the Great Recession, Ward King, the chief operating officer at Outdoors RV, and Tom Insko, Boise Cascade’s Inland Region manager, are among those leading the charge.

Local law enforcement agencies may be facing tough needs, but La Grande Police Chief Brian Harvey and Union County Sheriff Boyd Rasmussen are looking on the bright side.

In education, EOU President Bob Davies will have a tough decision in the new year: what will the new governance structure at EOU look like?

La Grande School District Superintendent Larry Glaze is mulling whether the school district should put a levy on the November ballot. 

In an area like Northeast Oregon, the outdoors and the animals that inhabit them are important. Russ Morgan, the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife wolf coordinator, works to move the state’s wolf management plan toward its second phase, which means there will be more wolves in the state. Hanley Jenkins, the Union County planning director, will be dealing with the potential listing of the sage grouse by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an endangered species.

The new executive director of the Wallowa Land Trust, Kathleen Ackley, will spend much of 2014 working to elevate the visibility of the trust. 


Boyd Rasmussen, Union County Sheriff, and Brian Harvey, La Grande police chief 

By Kelly Ducote

Local law enforcement agencies may be facing tough needs, but La Grande Police Chief Brian Harvey and Union County Sheriff Boyd Rasmussen are looking on the bright side. In 2014, they are focusing on maintaining relationships and educating the public on their needs.

Since the La Grande City Council voted against purchasing the old Eagles Building for the LGPD, the department likely will stay put for a while. Chief Harvey says his department will work to maintain service at the status quo, but notes that “issues and case loads seem to be increasing.”

Sheriff Rasmussen has a similar issue in the jail. With it almost always full, they have to release people using their Matrix system.

“We’re doing our best to mitigate the risk. It’s a constant shuffle,” Rasmussen says. “At a certain point the people need to make a choice.”

The ideal choice for both Harvey and Rasmussen would be a new building large enough to house the sheriff’s office, police department and jail.

“At the end of the day, I think it’s ideal that we’re both under one roof,” Rasmussen said.

“The community is best served if we can stay together,” Harvey added.

The new year will be a year of educating the public of that need, Rasmussen said.

Chief Harvey said he also wants to focus on maintaining “invaluable” relationships with organizations like the Center for Human Development, Shelter From the Storm and Union County Safe Community Coalition, all of which help law enforcement with grants. Grant funding from the help of Shelter From the Storm is paying for a detective in the police department.

“That’s just priceless,” Harvey said. “You can’t put a price on that in terms of what it does for the community.”

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter @lgoDucote.


Hanley Jenkins, Union County planning director 

By Dick Mason

Most people relax during their noon hour.

Not Union County Planner Hanley Jenkins. Each work day at noon Jenkins runs two miles, lifts weights and has a quick meal. The routine is one Jenkins has followed for more than a decade.

“I’ve been doing it so long, I’m addicted to it,” Jenkins said.

The exercise regimen keeps Jenkins fit and helps him deal with the stress of his challenging job. 

The challenges Jenkins will face in 2014 will again be numerous. One of the most important issues Jenkins will be dealing with will involve the potential listing of the sage grouse by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an endangered species.

The State of Oregon is attempting to demonstrate to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that there is not a need to list the sage grouse as endangered, that the bird is already adequately protected. Gov. John Kitzhaber has created a statewide program, SageCon, which is attempting to demonstrate there is no need to list the sage grouse as endangered. 

Jenkins is assisting SageCon with this effort. He is helping to show how land-use controls now in place are protecting sage grouse habitat in Union, Baker, Malheur, Crook, Deschutes, Lake and Harney counties. Jenkins is part of a group that prepared a report on this in 2013 and submitted it to the state. SageCon is now evaluating the report and may ask Jenkins for additional information and insight in 2014.

Union County would be impacted in a big way if the sage grouse is listed because it has 30,000 acres of sage grouse habitat in its southern portion. 

“Listing of the sage grouse might limit livestock grazing and other kinds of land use including road and energy development projects,” Jenkins said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to decide in 2015 whether to list the sage grouse as endangered, Jenkins said.

Contact Dick Mason at 541-786-5386 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Dick on Twitter @lgoMason. 


Chantell Cosner, Liberty Theatre Foundation Board executive director

By Andrew Cutler

There are no obvious signs outside the old Liberty Theatre that tell of all the work being done on the inside to restore the old La Grande theater.

Chantell Cosner is confident 2014 will change that.

Cosner, the executive director of the Liberty Theatre Foundation Board, said this year could see the installation of a blade sign and canopy — much like the 1930s-era originals — mounted over the front entrance facing Adams Avenue.

“Right now, we are about half-funded for the canopy. We are about ready for another round of grants, so we’d like to start (installing) in the late spring when the weather is better to work with,” Cosner said. “It’s all largely dependent on grants coming in. We are hoping to become much more visual with the project.”

Cosner, who went to high school in Milton-Freewater and is a graduate of Eastern Oregon University, spent much of 2013 writing grants and seeking more funding to facilitate the Liberty Theatre restoration project, something she plans doing more of in the new year.

“The projects take time, the grant process is very slow. It takes about a month, give or take, to write a grant. You might not hear back for a couple months. Then you get a letter that says, ‘Yeah, good job’ or ‘Nope, try again,’” Cosner said. “It’s definitely not an overnight thing.”

The Liberty Theatre Foundation, a group seeking to restore the 475-seat show house, is working to transform the Liberty into a modern-day, regional center for the performing arts. The theater at 1010 Adams Ave. opened as the Orpheum in 1910, was renamed the Arcade in 1911 and became the Liberty in 1930. It closed in 1959. After the closure, the building was remodeled to accommodate retail businesses. The theater’s projection room, balcony, stage, some light fixtures and tiers for seats remain. Total theater restoration cost, estimated between $2 million and $3 million, will be paid for with grants and donations gathered up over the next several years. Grant-funded improvements since 2012 include re-pointing of exterior bricks, and construction of the 50-seat Stage Door Theater to the back of the building.

Cosner, who started as an intern with the foundation in February 2012 before being hired full-time as its executive director in August 2012, is excited about the future of the project. 

“We dream pretty big. We want to see touring musicians. We want to see touring theater. We want educational opportunities,” Cosner said. “We want to see a huge variety of stuff. Not just stuff for students. Not just stuff for the elderly or teenagers. We want to see something for everybody. That’s critical.”

 Contact Andrew Cutler at 541-963-3161 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Andrew on Twitter @lgoCutler.


Saira Siddiqui, La Grande Main Street coordinator 

By Kelly Ducote

Integration and collaboration is on the agenda for La Grande Main Street in 2014.

Main Street Coordinator Saira Siddiqui said that is what she is looking for as Main Street and other organizations look for ways to grow downtown.

“A really important thing is to get integrated with businesses and other nonprofits,” Siddiqui said.

As a new coordinator — she arrived in late October — Siddiqui helped La Grande’s annual Christmas parade continue by partnering with the Union County Chamber of Commerce. She hopes that marked just the beginning for collaborative projects.

“We’re trying to get downtown on the same page and work together on things,” Siddiqui said. “I want us to be a resource for projects people want to do downtown.”

Part of that means understanding what downtown La Grande’s needs are. Siddiqui is hoping that with the help of Eastern Oregon University, Main Street can better learn how to market its downtown.

“We would like to come up with a feasibility study for the market here,” Siddiqui said.

Such a study, the Main Street coordinator said, will help Main Street see what they are doing that is working, what is lacking and help them figure out what the most helpful marketing tools for downtown La Grande are. It would also help bridge the gap between downtown and EOU if EOU is involved with the study, Siddiqui said.

“What I’m trying to do is work with other groups and really integrate La Grande Main Street with them,” she said.

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter @lgoDucote.


Robert Strope, La Grande city manager 

By Kelly Ducote

Much is going right in the City of La Grande. New businesses have come in, and more are scheduled to arrive in 2014.

But for City Manager Robert Strope and the La Grande City Council, 2014 could prove to be a tough year fiscally.

“Our revenues are not growing at the same rate that costs are increasing,” Strope said.

While the threat of expenditures exceeding revenues is not imminent — city officials estimate it could be two to four years down the road — the city wants to do all that it can to avoid that. 

“We are trying to be proactive about that,” Strope said. “There’s going to be some tough decisions that have to be made.”

The forecast shows that the city’s general fund will fall below its minimum target balance in the next few years.

“What this means is we won’t be able to continue to provide the same level of service as we have in the past,” Strope said.

Strope and city councilors at their annual retreat in early 2014 will start prioritizing those tough decisions. Already the council has indicated they would like to discuss economic development, an especially important issue as the city council looks to reevaluate their own policies and consolidate policies the work being done by multiple agencies.

Despite the fiscal news, Strope said he is pleased with the urban renewal programs that have helped businesses in the Urban Renewal District.

“We’re doing a lot of positive things on the economic side,” Strope said. Now they just need a strategy to look further out and get on a sustainable track. “We’re trying to get beyond the next year or two.”

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter @lgoDucote.


Larry Glaze, La Grande School District superintendent 

By Dick Mason

La Grande School District Superintendent Larry Glaze owns a unique distinction. 

He is one of only two educators over the past three decades to have served as the principal of two schools at once in the La Grande School District. Glaze did so from 1986 to 1991 when he was the principal of the old Riveria Elementary and Willow Elementary when they had 220 and 190 students respectively.

Glaze, during this time, often felt like he had two jobs. The hard-working and award-winning educator may feel like this again in 2014.

The reason? 

Glaze may find himself helping lead a campaign for a maintenance and construction bond levy in 2014. The La Grande School Board is seriously considering seeking the bond levy because of the declining condition of the school district’s aging buildings. 

The need for the bond levy became clear in August when a report by the DLR Group of Portland, an architecture and design firm, submitted to the La Grande School District highlighted the dire straits the district’s buildings and facilities are in.

In a nutshell, the report said the district’s buildings need $14 million of work addressing major renovation, maintenance and security issues.

A committee of about 40 community and school district staff members was created in October to determine whether a bond levy is needed. The committee will make a recommendation to the school board on Feb. 26 on whether or not it should go for a bond levy and what a proposed bond levy should cover. 

Should La Grande seek a levy it will benefit from Glaze’s experience guiding levy campaigns in this and other school districts. He knows it can be demanding.

“At times it can seem like another job,” Glaze said.

Glaze said that if the board does decide to have the district go for a levy, the key to getting it passed will lie in communicating effectively with the public. A bond levy website would be established and community forums scheduled. The campaign would focus on interpersonal communication.

“Face-to-face communication always works best,” Glaze said. “We would want to do as much of that as we can.”

Contact Dick Mason at 541-786-5386 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Dick on Twitter @lgoMason.


Russ Morgan, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife wolf coordinator 

By Katy Nesbitt

For the last seven years, Russ Morgan has served as Oregon’s first dedicated wolf biologist. In 2015, the state may have the opportunity to move to Phase Two of the Oregon Wolf Conservation Management Plan and the possible delisting of wolves in Eastern Oregon.

Morgan describes the changes that lie ahead.

“Phase Two of the plan happens when the population reaches the objective of four breeding pairs in three consecutive years,” Morgan said. “That could not happen earlier than 2015, but we cannot yet predict when it will occur. There is no preparation specifically for Phase Two, other than the fact that it will undoubtedly mean more wolves in Oregon from where we are now, and we will have to consider how to best use management resources into the future.”

When it comes to delisting wolves, Morgan said the Oregon Wildlife Commission plays an important role.

“Delisting wolves in Oregon will be a public process, like all commission decisions,” Morgan said. “In our wolf plan, there are five criteria which must be met for delisting to occur. My role in this process will largely be to make sure the commission has all of the data and supporting information regarding wolves in Oregon. This is why we are so meticulous in data collection and monitoring of wolves. We understand that we really are the primary source of real Oregon wolf information.”

As for data of breeding pairs in Oregon, Morgan said there is more work to do.

“We have not yet completed our winter counts and may not until later in the winter. So we can’t report on the breeding pair status at this time,” he said. “Based on information we have so far, I suspect we will again have at least four breeding pairs, but I cannot be certain until our final counts are completed.”

Contact Katy Nesbitt at 541-786-4235 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Katy on Twitter @lgoNesbitt.


Carmen Gentry, Union County manager for Community Connection of Northeast Oregon 

By Kelly Ducote

The federal sequestration and numerous budget cuts have hit the Union County Senior Center hard.

But Carmen Gentry, the Union County manager for Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, which runs the center, is looking for the positive as 2014 rolls in.

The senior center is launching a senior meal sustainer program to help seniors who cannot afford the center’s suggested donation of $2.50 for a meal.

“Every donation is tax deductible and will help a low-income senior with a good hot meal, some fun socialization and the quality of life we all want when we get to be a senior,” she said.

Gentry said those willing to provide such monthly donations will help a lot. They expect another 2 percent cut at the start of the year, which makes money tight, especially since the center must rely heavily on the suggested $2.50 donation.

The senior meal program, Gentry said, is vital for local seniors because not only does it provide hot food, but it also provides socialization.

“It gives them that quality of life that some seniors just don’t have,” she said.

In 2013, the center fed an average of 72 people a day.

“It’s really a great improvement,” Gentry says, an improvement she attributes to live music by the BlueMountaineers, the Fine Tunes, Terry Lamont and other musicians who play at the Union County Senior Center.

“We just try to build activities that will bring them in the door,” Gentry said. “I think it’s going to be a really good year.”

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter @lgoDucote. 



Ward King, Outdoors RV, and Tom Insko, Boise Cascade 

 By Bill Ratutenstrauch

If Union County manufacturing is making a comeback after the Great Recession — and it looks like it is — Ward King and Tom Insko are two men leading the charge.

King, the chief operating officer at Outdoors RV, has watched his company grow from a start-up in 2009 to a busy, bustling plant that employs more than 200 people. Insko, Boise Cascade’s Inland Region manager, is presiding over a robust recovery in the local wood products industry, and an increase in hiring for the mills.

The recreational vehicle industry has been an economic mainstay in Union County for decades, but suffered when the national economy crashed in 2008. Fleetwood RV, an anchor employer in the county, shut down its La Grande plant, while Northwood Manufacturing, owned by Ron Nash, held grimly on.

Though demand for luxury items like RVs was down, insiders knew the condition wasn’t permanent. Looking toward the future, an out-of-town RV maker made a bid on the Fleetwood plant; Nash stepped up and made a better one.

“When I saw there was a bid on the plant, I took it to Ron, and he said there was no way he wanted someone to move into his backyard,” King said.

King said times were hard in 2008-2009, but history has shown the RV business to be cyclical. What goes down, must come up.

“Typically, the RV industry leads the way into a recession, but it also leads the way out,” King said.

Insko, Boise’s Inland Region manager since 2005, had plenty of reason to be worried.

“That combination of factors made it hard for us hard to run at the levels we were historically used to,” Insko said.

Historically in Union County, Boise has operated a plywood plant and stud mill in Elgin, a particleboard plant near Island City and a sawmill in La Grande.

The La Grande sawmill shut completely down in April 2009, and during the same period, work at the particleboard plant was cut back. If there was a bright spot, it was the Elgin operation, which was selling product to a big national retailer.

“The Elgin facility weathered that storm better than the other plants, and that’s primarily because of our relationship with Home Depot,” Insko said. “In our plywood business, we came out of the recession more quickly.”

Though there was some talk about more curtailments and closures, Boise Cascade executives in the end decided that the economy would rebound. In a restructuring of the Inland Region, the company acquired the Kinzua mill in Pilot Rock, another lumber facility in Arden, Wash., and the Homedale Beam Plant in Homedale, Idaho.

And in La Grande, Boise reopened the sawmill it shut down earlier, re-naming it the Mt. Emily Lumber Company.

“Even through the downturn, we were always looking at the long term. The downturn allowed us to acquire facilities,” Insko said.

He added that as the economy has improved, so has the outlook for reliable timber supplies.

“We’ve purchased a lot of fire salvage out of southern Idaho, and we’re cautiously optimistic we’ll see more out of the national forests. There’s enough confidence to invest the time and money,” he said. 


Bob Davies, EOU president 

By Dick Mason

Early this winter, Eastern Oregon University President Bob Davies will make what may turn out to be the most important decision in his school’s 85-year history.

Davies will determine the recommendation he will make to the state regarding how the La Grande university will be governed 1-1/2 years from now.

Two basic, but intriguing options are on the table for Eastern. Davies is considering recommending that EOU be governed by its own board or a consortium board overseeing between two and four other universities in the Oregon University System. Regardless of what option is selected, Eastern, which has been governed by the State Board of Higher Education since it opened in 1929, will feel an enormous impact.

“The university has very seldom seen a change like this,” Davies said. 

Davies is faced with a difficult choice following the Legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 270 in 2013, which is changing the governance structure for all state universities. 

It authorized Oregon State University, the University of Oregon and Portland State University to break from the Oregon State Board of Higher Education and operate independently while being governed by their own institutional boards. These boards have the autonomy to hire and fire university presidents, set tuition, approve budgets and approve new programs. 

SB 270 also opened the door to the possibility of EOU, Southern Oregon University, Oregon Institute of Technology and Western Oregon University having their own institutional boards or being run by boards overseeing various combinations of the four universities. 

Should the recommendation Davies makes be approved by the state, Eastern will begin operating under the new form of governance July 1, 2015. 

The advantage of having an institutional board, Davies said, is that Eastern would have a big measure of autonomy, allowing it to have control of its mission and vision.

A major drawback of having an institutional board is that Eastern would not have much leverage when competing against any of the three largest universities for funding or program support from the state.

The big plus of having a consortium board is that Eastern would have more leverage because it would be part of a group representing more students.

Davies is considering all these factors and more as he prepares to make his recommendation. 

“We have to plan for what is needed now and 10 to 15 years from now,” Davies said.

Contact Dick Mason at 541-786-5386 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Dick on Twitter @lgoMason. 



Annie Eskelin, Art Center at the Old Library executive director

By Jeff Petersen

Being a mixed media artist herself, Annie Eskelin knows that the Art Center at the Old Library is a work in progress.

The executive director of the Art Center since August 2012, Eskelin works with a mix of the old and the new to hopefully create something special. 

The old is the 1913 Carnegie Library. The building where the Art Center has been headquartered for the past five years is in desperate need of a $38,000 roof. A Wildhorse grant of $10,000 will help with the efforts, with other grants and fundraising making up the difference.

The new is the ever-expanding classes. The art center serves about 2,500 people annually with classes in the visual arts, dance and much more — to enhance the engaging and enriching arts experiences available to the local community, Eskelin said.

Memberships, too, are expected to grow. The Art Center currently has 70 dues-paying members, and is hoping to expand that list to at least 300 in the future.

To help pay the bills, the Art Center has on the horizon two major fundraisers for 2014 — the African Music and Dance Party March 7 and the annual fundraiser dinner May 3.

Also on the horizon is bringing back the Children’s Theater in June for a performance of “Rapunzel.” The show offers auditions on a Monday for local talent in grades five through 12 and a full professional show on the following Saturday.

The Art Center will also host ArtsEast’s Artists of Eastern Oregon show next summer.

Collaboration with other art centers in the area, including those in Pendleton and Baker City, also located in old Carnegie libraries, should make art opportunities available to more adults and children, Eskelin said. Due to restricted funding to schools, the art centers play an ever more important role in offering expanded cultural opportunities, she said.

Among the developments in 2014 is a partnership with La Grande Market Place. The site has three gallery spaces, of which Art Center will manage two, one primarily ceramics, the other art.

The Art Center is also aiming to get on the National Registry of Historic Places, following the model of the equally old Enterprise library, which made the list on Sept. 30, 2013. Being on the register will open up additional funding opportunities, Eskelin said.

The Art Center in addition plans more collaboration with ArtsEast.

“We both do similar things, and our minds, hands and eyes are working toward the same goals,” Eskelin said. “Working together, we can enhance the art opportunities for the local area.”

Contact Jeff Petersen at 541-963-3161 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Jeff on Twitter @lagrandenewsGo.


Kristen Dollarhide, Union County Chamber of Commerce executive director 

By Kelly Ducote

In her first full year as CEO of the Union County Chamber of Commerce, Kristen Dollarhide has high hopes.

She took the reins as head of the chamber in October and wants to spend 2014 immersing herself in the community. But that isn’t the only goal for the new year.

“I am striving for a 10-percent increase in membership,” she said, noting that the chamber has just over 300 members that represent nearly every community in the county.

To gain members, Dollarhide said, the chamber may need to evaluate the changing times but also show businesses how the chamber can highlight and promote its members.

“I like to say, ‘It’s not who you know. It’s who knows you,’” she said. “We’ll share who they are.”

And she would like to visit each member this year to get in tune with the businesses.

“The businesses want to know exactly what they’re getting out of their dues,” she said. “We would love to promote businesses more. We want to make sure we’re supporting our members in any way we can.”

Also in the next year, the chamber director wants to see how the public can be more involved with chamber committees, especially the sports and recreation committee.

“Those (committees) can be such a huge part of the community,” she said.

And like many other organizations facing limited resources, reaching out also means partnering up.

“I think it’s a great time to collaborate. We’re all looking for positive changes,” Dollarhide said of the organizations focused on improving La Grande and Union County.

“Together I think that’s achievable.” 



Kathleen Ackley, Wallowa Land Trust executive director 

By Katy Nesbitt

ENTERPRISE — Kathleen Ackley came to Wallowa County this fall to serve as executive director of the Wallowa Land Trust. Her extensive background in conservation and love 

for the rural West spurred her to come take the helm of a small, but mighty organization.

“(The new year) will be a big year for the trust. Until recently, the organization has been run by a hard-working team of volunteers and one part-time staff person,” Ackley said. “For these folks, getting the trust to a point where it is a sustainable, thriving organization has been a herculean effort.”

Ackley said her first task will be to elevate the visibility of the trust. 

“When people think about how unique our county is, about the natural beauty, the rural lifestyle, thriving farms and ranches, opportunities to play outside, I want them to know that Wallowa Land Trust plays a vital role in sustaining all of that,” Ackley said.

One of the reasons the trust came to life 10 years ago was an overwhelming desire to protect the Wallowa Lake moraines. Ackley said she is focused on continuing that goal.

“In 2011, the single largest landowner on the east moraine, the Yanke Family Trust, voiced their interest in selling their land,” she said. “As a result, the Wallowa Lake Moraines Partnership was formed together with Wallowa Resources, Wallowa County, Oregon State Parks and our trust to permanently conserve the east moraine emphasizing local involvement and public access while balancing good land stewardship with habitat protection.”

Another goal on Ackley’s horizon is applying for accreditation with the national Land Trust Accreditation

“During this time we will be fine-tuning our policies and strengthening the organization’s internal structure,” Ackley said. “And while this may not seem like the most exciting of efforts, it will ensure that Wallowa Land Trust is positioned for long-term success and that we can keep the promise of protecting and stewarding land in perpetuity.” 




Anji Weissenfluh, Eastern Oregon University athletic director 

By Paul Harder

Anji Weissenfluh never planned to be sitting where she is today. Well, that’s not entirely true; it depends on the day. Weissenfluh splits her time between two offices.

The Eastern Oregon University women’s basketball coach will start the new year serving as the full-time athletic director, her first without the interim tag.

Weissenfluh graduated from EOU in 1994 with a physical education degree. That allowed her to spend a lot of time with Peggy Anderson, the athletic director at the time. Anderson also taught physical education courses. And Weissenfluh learned a lot from the former athletic director Rob Cashell.

“After I coached softball and basketball, I said I would never do two roles again,” Weissenfluh said. “I was a little worried about the time commitment. I didn’t want to take the job and not do it well. Thankfully, I had two great people to learn from.”

Weissenfluh is no stranger to the athletics department at EOU, serving as head softball coach from 1994 to 2005. In her 11 seasons at the helm, her team won more than 250 games. She then added women’s basketball coach to her resume in 2000, splitting duties between basketball and softball until 2005. She is now the winningest basketball head coach in the program’s history, entering the season with 163 wins.

But now the focus shifts back to a dual role.

It’s simple to pinpoint the biggest change to the athletics department in 2014 — the completion to the renovation of Quinn Coliseum. 

The $13.1 million facelift, scheduled to be completed in the summer, will not only be used to make the work environment better for all the coaches at the school, but will be a selling point for prospective student athletes.   

“It’s going to be an amazing venue,” Weissenfluh said. “Not only will it make the day-to-day tasks easier, but it will be a venue the whole school is proud of. Student-athletes will be drawn to it. It’s going to be huge for our recruiting and retaining those athletes.” 

So what’s else is in store for 2014? Weissenfluh said the sky’s the limit.

“We have high expectations of our student-athletes and our coaches,” Weissenfluh said. “We’re on the right path, and I’m excited to see what all the new year brings. We want to exceed our own expectations.”

Contact Paul Harder at 541-975-3342 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Paul on Twitter @lgoHarder.