Americans, area residents optimistic about new year

By Kelly Ducote, The Observer January 01, 2014 01:21 pm

With a countdown, 2013 retired to memories while Americans cheerfully celebrated the beginning of 2014.

“I’m totally optimistic,” said Sharon Porter, a La Grande musician and art enthusiast.  

And she isn’t alone. Americans are generally happy that 2013 is over, according to a recent Associated Press-Times Square poll. 

Porter recently closed her art gallery in downtown La Grande, but is looking forward to the flexibility retirement will bring.

“I’m retiring for real,” said Porter, who is looking forward to “good health, amazing friends and we’re in La Grande.”

She also plans to do a a lot of traveling and keep up the music in her life.

“More music and less stress,” Porter said. “A lot more ukeleles.”

For Ashley O’Toole, a La Grande property manager, 2013 was a big year. He went from two properties at the beginning of the year to 60.

“2013 was a very successful year for me,” he said. “I’m looking forward to keeping that momentum going.”

There’s a special moment planned for O’Toole’s 2014, too.

“I also have a wedding to look forward to, he said. “That’s kind of a big deal.”

According to the AP-Times Square Poll, most Americans prefer to spend New Year’s Eve with family, but James Contreras and Corey Woll had plans to spend it with friends.

Contreras, who moved back to La Grande in 2013, said the year was good, but he is excited for the next one. Woll, who got into a little trouble in 2013, said he is ready for a fresh start.

“I’m excited to get a job and get back on track,” Woll said.

For others, it’s the little things they are looking forward to.

Karen Wagner said she wants to live up to a challenge from her brother to bring a little goodness to the world in 2014.

“Where I see it I can do it,” said Wagner, who in 2013 took a job as director for Oregon Rural Action.

2013 was a challenge as she adjusted to a new job, but now that she’s ahead of the learning curve she’s ready to ride her bike more, recycle more and other small, but important things.

“It’s always refreshing to consciously put behind you what maybe didn’t work,” 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.