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The Observer welcomes letters to the editor. Letters are limited to 350 words and must be signed and carry the author’s address and phone number (for verification purposes only).

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My Voice

My Voice columns should be 500 words. Submissions should include a portrait-type photograph of the author. Authors also should include their full name, age, occupation and relevant organizational memberships.

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Send columns to La Grande Observer, 1406 5th St., La Grande, Ore., 97850, fax them to 541-963-7804 or email them to acutler@lagrandeobserver.com .

McCracken: City and county funds funneled into a do-nothing organization

To the Editor:

Dan Stark resigned as director of Union County Economic Development Corportation (“UCEDC exec. director resigns,” The Observer, Sept. 1). UCEDC’s administrative assistant is gone (“UCEDC quiet about case,” The Observer, Aug. 11). Then Mark Davidson, president of UCEDC’s board, excluded the Observer from a recent UCEDC meeting (“Observer barred from UCEDC meeting,” The Observer, Sept. 1).

What might citizens learn? That city and county funds have been funneled into a do-nothing organization that has allowed embezzlement to go quietly unchallenged. Is Stark double-dipping until a new director is found? Why replace the administrative assistant before hiring a new director? Does Davidson plan to hire the assistant of his choice and then become the next director? The time is ripe for a complete transformation in economic development.

Unless personnel, board members and practices change, county and city funding for UCEDC should simply be terminated. Economic development might then be transferred to existing organizations or another organization formatted that celebrates transparency and citizen involvement. When communities set economic goals and initiate activities to achieve them, the process becomes dynamic.

Broad-based economic development should grow from community discussion to share ideas and set goals. Currently, community support is hard to assess. We need to determine our vision, set goals and begin raising money locally.

We have many nascent cultural and outdoor prospects that would flourish with good leadership to encourage
energetic community support. What value do we place on renovating the Liberty Theater, encouraging bicycle tourism, promoting Shakespeare performances, providing venues for the film festival and our award-winning dancers, progressing on Rails and Trails or changing MERA management? These endeavors each have the potential to become economic drivers. Our unique strengths have been overlooked in favor of pie in the sky preparations to attract outside businesses.

Let’s put the Union County Good Old Boys out to pasture and together revitalize Union County.

Mary McCracken

Island City