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Local group strives to change the way people think about

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GRASSROOTS Union’s big bash slated Saturday MIKE SHEARER Correspondent

UNION — “From the duck races down the creek to the Main Street dance, Grassroots is a festival that no one should miss,” says 2011 Eastern Oregon Livestock Show Queen Celena Hefner. Ask a couple dozen Union residents what this Grassroots Festival is all about, and you’ll get at least as many different answers. It is excitement. It is fun. It is tradition. It is enough VFW barbecue pork ribs to get you through the day. It is enough country music to get you through the night. It may be just enough silliness Observer file photo to get you KEEPING A STEADY through the EYE on the horns, cowgirl whole winter. It Mary Brookleigh of Union is Union pride. does her best at roping The annual one ornery hay bale steer blow-out will during activities at a previ- last all day ous Grassroots Festival. Saturday with Main Street as its core but with tentacles to every corner of the city with a city-wide yard sale. No, it’s not like Founder’s Day on “The Simpsons,” and it’s only a little like New Orleans’ Mardi Gras. It is a celebration of the uniqueness that is Union. Union residents are known frankly as being a bit feisty. For example, just drive down Main and pass a sign on the left using words like “swindle” deploring the potential wind farm nearby. Drive a little farther and see on your right a sign that says, “Support Antelope Wind Farm.” If ever a city needed a day when its residents put aside their differences to celebrate what they have in common, it is Union. Jerry Matthews, co-organizer of the Remember When Car Show that plays a big part in Grassroots, said, “The community has often been divided on issues and has not worked together.” But, he adds, the festival “gives the business community and the public an opportunity to work together to accomplish a positive goal.” And it’s a goal that draws out all of its residents and even beckons former residents to a homecoming. It also opens its arms to all of its neighbors. Donna Beverage, one of the festival organizers, says, “We invite the whole valley to come and celebrate with us on Saturday, Aug. 13.” City Councilor Don Voetberg said, “It’s an opportunity for everyone who resides in Union to have a way to show surrounding areas what Union is all about.” City Councilor Sue Briggs is one of about 30 people who was there at the start of Grassroots in 2000. It was more localized then, she said. See FESTIVAL, 5A


LISA MCMAHAN | The Observer

SWEEPING FOR SALMONIDS and other fish, ODFW Fish Biologist Nadine Craft and Bureau of Reclamation student interns James Agren and Tessa Hanson use electroshock to temporarily stun, capture and record the fish in a portion of Catherine Creek. This section of the river is undergoing restoration to decrease the risk of erosion that harms farmland and fish, including several endangered species.

Cutting-edge stream restoration Project on Lower Catherine Creek aims to improve fish habitat LISA MCMAHAN The Observer

Improvement Project is funded by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and sponsored by the Union Soil and Water Conservation District, District Manager Craig Schellsmidt said. The initial construction targets banks on both sides of Lower Catherine Creek around Rivermile 37, just off Miller Lane. It’s also a cooperative effort

This month, Lower Catherine Creek is getting an upgrade that will benefit fish and farmland, hopefully prompting other streamside landowners to seek out river restoration on their own properties. The Catherine Creek Water Quality and Fish Habitat

City poised to award contract for rebuilding Riverside pavilion BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH The Observer

Before too long, a new Riverside Park pavilion will begin to rise on the site of the one that burned down last February. During its regular session Wednesday, the city council will award a contract for rebuilding the beloved structure, which was used for countless picnics, club meetings and community gatherings throughout its 97-year life. Aug. 4, two bids sent in answer to a request for proposals were opened. During Wednesday’s meeting, the council will either award the bid outright, or authorize City Manager Robert Strope to




ing beds, posing serious challenges to adult female Chinooks. “This is prime migratory, spawning and rearing habitat for endangered spring and summer Chinook,” Schellsmidt said. “It’s all being driven by fish recovery.” Catherine Creek needs help protecting its endangered species, he said. See RESTORATION, 3A

Moffit Brothers and Mike Becker, the two contractors answering the city’s request for proposals, respectively bid $569,252 and $620,560 for the project. execute all documents associated with the awarding of the bid. After the bid award is finalized, construction will begin. According to city staff reports, the pavilion was insured, but the policy was for “functional replacement” only. Since the fire, a community-wide effort has been under way to design and build a new pavilion that meets modern needs. With added grant funds



between landowners — Steve Lindley owns land on one side of the river, and the pasture on the other side belongs to John Sheehy. Improving fish habitat is the driving motive behind the project, and cutting down on erosion is one way to help. When soil falls off the banks into the stream, it tends to fill up redds, or Chinook salmon spawn-



and donations from the community, the city plans to build a pavilion with updated features, including an improved kitchen area. Off-site storage facilities will be built as well. The construction project as bid includes the base pavilion and the kitchen as it was before the fire. The kitchen improvements were included in the bids as a separate item. Moffit Brothers and Mike Becker, the two contractors answering the city’s request for proposals, respectively bid $569,252 and $620,560 for the project, including the updated kitchen. The bids, according to staff reports, include a credit amount for lumber donated by Boise Cascade.

US stocks rise after big fall NEW YORK (AP) — Bargain hunters helped push the Dow back above 11,000 Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 218 points, or 2 percent, to 11,028 in early afternoon trading. On Monday, the Dow had its worst day since 2008, plunging 634.76 points as fear coursed through global markets. "Stocks were cheap heading into the decline, and they just became cheaper," said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist for Wells Fargo Funds Management, which has $228 billion in assets under management. Stock indexes have mostly declined for the last two weeks. "As a long-term investor, that's what I like to see." Industries that fell the hardest on Monday were up the most on Tuesday.


HOW TO REACH US 541-963-3161 Two sections, 14 pages La Grande, Oregon

See DOW, 5A


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Observer 3 A

Fish moved before project gets under way

LISA MCMAHAN | The Observer

S I X T O E I G H T S T R U C T U R E S will be placed in Catherine Creek around Rivermile 37 using rocks and 20- to 30-foot logs, many with root wads attached. The area of the river under construction runs between Steve Lindley and John Sheehy’s properties, and Lindley’s own contracting company will place the logs in the river to improve stream complexity and reduce erosion to pastured land. Union Soil and Water Conservation District is sponsoring the project and hopes this section of the stream will serve as a model for other landowners looking to restore the river adjacent to their property.

of that woody area.” Although the estimated timeframe for this stretch of Catherine Creek to be restored is two to three weeks, the entire process — which includes obtaining permits, doing design work, evaluation and gaining funding — took much longer. “It’s usually about a two-year process from beginning to end,” Schellsmidt said. The Upper Grande Ronde/Catherine Creek Tributary Assessment, a hydrologic, geomorphic and physical habitat study, was conducted along 42 miles of the rivers. The assessment was the joint effort

of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Union Soil and Water Conservation District, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Grande Ronde Model Watershed. Anderson-Perry did the design work as well as hydrologic and geomorphic studies, Schellsmidt said. Lindley’s own company, Lindley Contracting, is carrying out the construction portion of the project. “It’s interesting to be the landowner and the contractor,” Lindley said. Schellsmidt credits Lindley and Sheehy for their initiative in

contacting the Union Soil and Water Conservation District. “We’re helpless without willing landowners,” Schellsmidt said. THE PROJECT WILL SERVE as a model to other landowners interested in restoring their portion of land along Catherine Creek. Next, construction will move downstream to the river between John Hefner’s property and Trudy Yeargain’s property. “The idea is not to fix a little place here, a little place here, a little place here,” Schellsmidt said. “It’s to fix the whole river.” Without a cooperative effort

mitted weapons, firearms, or dangerous animals. Ordered to submit to random blood, breath, saliva, and urine tests, undergo alcohol and substance abuse evaluation and possible treatment, become gainfully employed, permit searches and inspections, participate in mental health evaluation and recommended treatment, write letters of apology; to pay fines (suspended), offense sur-

charge, supervision fee, restitution, assessments.

animals. Ordered to submit to random breath and urine tests, undergo alcohol and substance abuse evaluation and possible treatment, become gainfully employed, permit searches and inspections, participate in mental health evaluation and recommended treatment, provide thumbprint and blood or buccal sample; to pay fine (sus-

La Grande and died March 27 of leukemia.

Union Chamber of Commerce meets Thursday evening

Individuals, COURT RECORDS groups donate Union County Circuit Court Criminal Dispositions


Douglas Wayne Piggott, 28: Convicted June 27, after entering guilty pleas of burglary and criminal mischief. A charge of possession of a burglary tool or theft device was dismissed. Sentence: jail, probation, 80 hours of community service, not allowed contact with victims, not per-

In addition to insurance money for functional replacement of the structure, the city likely will receive a $133,000 Local Government Grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. Other funding includes a $10,000 grant from the Wildhorse Foundation, and significant donations from the La Grande Soroptimists, Anderson-Perry Associates and Boise Cascade. Numerous other groups and individuals have donated to the project as well. Wednesday’s city council meeting gets under way 6 p.m. in council chambers at city hall, 1000 Adams Ave. Other items on the agenda include a financial assistance program for sewer fees, an appointment of a member to the La Grande Main Street Organization Committee and appointment of a citizen to the city’s Arts Commission. Prior to the start of the meeting, La Grande Fire Department personnel plan a demonstration of their new Jaws of Life tool. The demonstration will take place at 5:30 p.m. behind city hall. A city Urban Renewal Agency meeting is scheduled following the city council session. The agency will consider accepting Urban Renewal Advisory Commission recommendations on funding for the Union County Economic Development Corp., and also a funding request from Thomas and Janice Kohr, who plan to build a storage facility at 1407 Monroe Ave. The UCEDC is asking for $7,500 in addition to annual funding. The additional funds would be used for a business recruitment program and marketing of the La Grande Business and Technology Park. The Kohrs are seeking $70,000 to help with their $380,000 storage facility project. The city funds would be used for sidewalk replacement, lot paving and landscaping.

pended), assessments (some suspended).

Keep a level head in an up-and-down market.

BRIEFLY Send us your favorite hunt, fish photos UNION COUNTY

The Observer invites readers to submit their favorite hunting and fishing photos for its 2011 hunting edition by Friday. On Aug. 19 and 26, The Observer will publish the photos plus descriptions of them. Send photos along with the name of the hunter or fisherman, where and when the animal or fish was taken, measurements, any interesting or unusual details about the hunt or fishing trip, plus contact information. Photos may be mailed or brought to The Observer at 1406 Fifth St., or emailed to Photos brought to the office will be returned.

Yard sale helps family purchase headstone LA GRANDE

The family of Kendal Warnock-Reagan is raising funds to purchase a headstone for her by organizing a yard sale Friday and Saturday at 1713 Washington Ave. The sale will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Donations of items in resellable, good condition may be dropped off at the address or call Mandi at 541-786-8674 or Diane at 541-786-2917. Kendal, 24, lived in

Elgin City Council meets at community center tonight ELGIN

The Elgin City Council will meet at 7 tonight at the community center, not Elgin city hall. The wrong location was given in a briefly Monday. A public comment period will be provided.

Senior Inc. to conduct fundraiser before lunch Wednesday LA GRANDE

Senior Inc. is organizing a cupcake/cookie walk fundraiser before lunch Wednesday at the Union County Senior Center. The fundraiser should begin at 11:15 a.m.


The city of Union Chamber of Commerce meets at 6 p.m. Thursday at LG Brewskis. Businesses are urged to participate, and community members are welcome to attend to get involved promoting Union.

Cove Community Association discusses Cherry Fair Thursday

Gary F Anger, AAMS®

Dottie Brown and Co. performs Wednesday

Financial Advisor .

1910 Adams Ave P O Box 880 La Grande, OR 97850 541-963-0519


Dottie Brown and Co. will perform from 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday at Union County Senior Center. To get your non-profit event in any day’s paper, call before 3 p.m. the previous day.

Member SIPC

Making You Beautiful Since 2007


The next Cove Community Association meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at Kimsey Commons on Church Street. Discussion in preparation of the Cherry Fair will continue. The public is welcome to attend.

Grande Ronde Med Spa 1613 Fifth Street Phone 541.963.3772

Next railroad veterans and employees meeting is in September LA GRANDE

The August meeting for National Association Railroad Veterans and Employees, set for Wednesday, has been canceled. The regular meeting schedule will resume September: 10:30 a.m. the second Wednesday of every month at Cook Memorial Library.

Dr. Eli Mayes, our associate of 2-1/2 years, and Dr. Patrick Nearing, have formed a new partnership. Our new name is Nearing Mayes, LLC and we are still located at 1614 5th Street in La Grande. Dr. Mayes has become a familiar face in our family dental practice. Both dentists love doing dentistry and love being of service to their patients. Patients of every age feel well cared for here. Our patients have come to know that both dentists are quite proficient in all aspects of general dentistry. Each doctor has his own areas of expertise. One of Dr. Mayes areas is 3rd molar (wisdom teeth) removal and offers sedation for this. He can also provide anti-anxiety medications for other procedures as well. Dr. Nearing’s areas of expertise are cosmetic dentistry, implant restorations, and root canals. We have a great new website at and invite you to look it over and give us your feedback. If you have questions, need more information, or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at 541-963-8585.

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Angelic Leigh Raney, 39: Convicted June 9, after entering guilty plea of unlawful possession of methamphetamine. Sentence: jail, probation, not allowed contact with co-defendant, not permitted weapons, firearms, or dangerous

from organizations and landowners, problems are simply shifted downstream. “My hope is that we’ll have an open door policy,” Lindley said of plans to let others see the changes made to Lower Catherine Creek at his property’s edge. “This is kind of cutting-edge stream restoration science for this valley.” Union Soil and Water Conservation District acts as a conduit for interested landowners. There are several funding sources available for future projects, Schellsmidt said. For more information, contact Schellsmidt at 541-963-1313.



CAPTAIN AMERICA: The First Avenger


“The Grande Ronde River system is one of the few river systems in the Northwest that is losing species,” Schellsmidt said. “We’re using this (project) as what landowners can do to bring back endangered species to Catherine Creek.” The restoration project broke ground last week — but not before they got the fish out. “The first step is to get the fish out of the work area so we’re not killing any more fish,” Schellsmidt said. To get fish out of harm’s way for the restoration project, the portion of the stream adjacent to the construction zone was isolated. ODFW Fish Biologist Nadine Craft and student interns from the Bureau of Reclamation swept the area using electroshock to temporarily stun the fish in the blockedoff area. The fish were captured, measured and recorded before they were released into the main channel. ODFW conducted a Chinook winter habitat study the last two winters. The results showed significant numbers of smolts and juveniles present in Catherine

Creek. “This is an important area,” Craft said. “It helps get the project more funding and approval.” The project aims to slope back Catherine Creek’s banks, some of which loom vertically above the stream, to a 3:1 ratio. Lindley Contracting will place wood and boulders in the river to prevent erosion and other problems that come along with high water events. Twenty- to 30foot logs, many with root wads still attached, will combine to form six to eight structures that will be placed in the river. This will improve stream complexity and help dissipate energy that carves out banks, damaging pastures. “This also acts as flood control in a lot of ways,” Schellsmidt said of the project. ONE OF THE FINAL STEPS of the process is planting vegetation — willows, alders, grasses and sedges — to the banks. The plants will allow overgrowth, and those that eventually fall in the river will create additional fish habitat. “The more wood, the better,” Craft said, pointing to the area in which she captured fish. “All the fish were being brought out



Cutting-edge stream restoration: Project on Lower Catherine Creek aims to improve fish habitat  
Cutting-edge stream restoration: Project on Lower Catherine Creek aims to improve fish habitat  

Story and photos by Lisa McMahan. Lower Catherine Creek gets an upgrade that will benefit fish and farmland, hopefully prompting other stre...