Shelter retains legal counsel

April 02, 2014 09:40 am

Director fears doors may close, commissioner says county is doing everything possible

Shelter From the Storm has retained legal counsel amid concerns the nonprofit’s operations may be interrupted as the new Union County courthouse is built.

Shelter From the Storm Executive Director Teresa Crouser says the shelter has a genuine fear that the nonprofit may have to close its doors.

“There is nothing proposed for us,” she said. “The county is not prepared to help us financially to move into a location.”

Following a meeting last week with Union County Commissioner Bill Rosholt, Crouser said she isn’t confident their operations will be able to continue uninterrupted.

The situation stems from a March decision by the Union County Board of Commissioners to site the new courthouse on the current footprint of Shelter From the Storm, meaning the shelter building will be demolished.

Crouser said one of her biggest concerns is the cost and logistics of moving.

“If we found a location, it would need to be remodeled because the building that we’re in was designed for our purposes,” she said. “As a nonprofit, we’re limited in funding. We’re primarily grant funded and grant writing takes time.”

Rosholt said he doesn’t think there will be an interruption in the Shelter’s services.

“I think the most important thing is the fact that we know how important Shelter From the Storm is to the community, and we certainly want to see a seamless transition, that all the services continue,” Rosholt said. “We have offered to help them find a location.”

The commissioner said the county also hopes to be able to provide some financial support for the interim, although a dollar amount has not been determined. Once the new courthouse is completed, the county has offered Shelter From the Storm space in the Joseph Building free of charge.

Crouser, however, says the building would need to be remodeled to suit their needs and that the county hasn’t offered financial support for that.

Rosholt said he remains optimistic that the county can work with the Shelter and added that it will be able to stay in its current location through Sept. 1, three months longer than was originally proposed.

By October, the county must have a contractor selected to move forward with the project. 

Between now and then, they must also work out details with the City of La Grande to meet parking needs. 

County and court officials say if they fail to meet the October deadline, they run the risk of losing the $2 million allocated by the state for the project. 

“There’s not more money out there,” Rosholt said.

The county had gone to the state several times requesting larger sums of money and was denied, until last summer when the Legislature approved the $2 million allocation.

Rosholt said the decision to site the courthouse on the Shelter From the Storm footprint was a difficult one.

“There’s a lot of attachment to that building as far as they’re concerned, and I understand that,” he said. “Obviously, our finances are limited, but we will do anything we can do make the transition seamless and help them any way we can.”

Crouser, too, remains optimistic.

“We’re still ever hopeful that we can find another way to do this, that the county can find another way to do this,” she said.

The director noted, however, that legal counsel is on hand if the parties cannot reach an agreement.

“If we are forced to file suit … there may be a cease and desist order,” Crouser 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.