The Observer. (La Grande, Or.) 1968-current, October 15, 2020, Image 9

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October 15, 2020
Good day to our valued subscriber Loyd Barker of Elgin
State race
Levy vie
for House
District 58
La Grande
By Alex Castle
East Oregonian
Candidates touch on
local Republican
involvement in
nonpartisan races
By Dick Mason
The Observer
Grande City Councilor Mary
Ann Miesner wants to help the
town’s businesses bounce back
and regain the momentum they
had before the COVID-19 pan-
demic hit. But for her to con-
tinue her work on that goal,
she will have
to prevail in
the November
Kristine Alf
Rippee also wants
to help businesses
and take on other
issues in place of
Miesner said
her experience
Alf Rippee would help her
achieve her goals
if voters grant her for another
term. She has served on the
council a total of 16 years in
two stints, from 2000 to early
2015 and from early 2016 to
the present.
“I want to do everything
I can to help,” said Miesner,
a computer instructor for the
Training and Employment
Consortium who also served
19 years on the La Grande
School Board.
The councilor also aims to
help the city tackle its housing
issues. She is particularly con-
cerned, in this regard, about
addressing the needs of the
homeless in La Grande.
“I want to explore all poli-
cies as we look at what we can
do to the best of our abilities
to help them as a community,”
Meisner said.
The councilor said the
city council now is reviewing
a recently completed city
housing study. She said she
believes the council should
take action to address the
See, Council/Page 5A
Sabrina Thompson/The Observer
Willow Elementary School in La Grande also serves as the offi ces for the La Grande School District.
The district is the largest in Union County and has an 80% completion rate for students, the same as the
state average.
Local schools solid
2019-20 report cards give high marks for completion, staff retention
By Sabrina Thompson
The Observer
— Most schools in
Union County scored
high grades for stu-
dents walking away with
diplomas, according to
the Oregon Department of
Education’s latest school
report cards. The depart-
ment’s most recent At-A-
Glance reports also high-
light the pitfalls small
districts face.
The reports provide a
quick overview for eval-
uating and measuring a
school’s and a school dis-
trict’s impact on its stu-
dents, according to the
Oregon Department of
Education website. The
department’s profi les look
at the number of students
enrolled and their demo-
graphics, including race
and economic status. The
profi les also report the
number of faculty and
teachers at schools, the
demographics of the staff
and contain graduation
and completion rates.
Due to the coronavirus
pandemic, the 2019-2020
report does not include
statewide assessments
data, class size data, ninth
grade on-track and atten-
dance data.
Completion data
Imbler and North
Powder school districts
each have a 95% grad-
uation rate, while Elgin
is furthest behind in the
county with a 75% com-
pletion rate. La Grande’s
rate is 80%, the same as
the state average.
The smaller the dis-
trict, the more only a
few students can affect
“We had two stu-
dents fall off the grid
after we were shut down
for COVID, and we
Alan Kenega/Contributed Graphic
Union County’s largest district is the La Grande
School District. La Grande is also the most ra-
See, Schools/Page 5A cially diverse district in the county.
PENDLETON — Echo farmer
Bobby Levy is the strong favorite
in the Republican stronghold of
Oregon’s House District 58 this
November, but she still has to beat
out Pendleton resident and Demo-
cratic challenger Nolan Bylenga.
Bylenga, 22, won the dis-
trict’s Democratic primary with
53% of the vote, while Levy ran
unopposed for the Republican
nomination after Rep. Greg Bar-
reto, R-Cove, opted not to run for
House District 58 hasn’t been
represented by a Democrat since
Bob Jenson fi rst ran as one in 1996.
Levy, 67, resides and works
on a farm in Echo in addition to
serving as president of the Eastern
Oregon Women’s Coalition, a non-
profi t she helped form that rep-
resents regional issues and works
to “bridge the urban-rural divide.”
Her public track record also
includes serving on the Oregon
Department of Fish and Wildlife
“I’ve already been advo-
cating for the things that are really
important to District 58 since
2006,” she said. “This is just a con-
tinuation of what I’ve always been
Levy had built a strong friend-
ship with Bob Jenson, the late and
longtime representative of House
District 58, before Barreto suc-
ceeded him in 2015. Jenson was
revered as a dynamic represen-
tative who identifi ed as a Demo-
cratic, Independent and Republican
and didn’t always capitulate to the
party line.
Through that relationship and
conversations she’s had with sit-
ting legislators, such as Sen. Bill
Hansell, R-Athena, and Rep. Greg
Smith, R-Heppner, both among the
many elected offi cials in the region
who have endorsed her, Levy said
See, District 58/Page 5A
Wallowa-Whitman might
boost some camping fees
Proposal would apply to
several forest trailheads
By Jayson Jacoby
Go to to
see a detailed list of the proposed
fees for area campgrounds.
Baker City Herald
Wallowa-Whitman National
Forest is proposing to increase
fees at 28 campgrounds and to
charge fees at 24 other recreation
sites, most of them also camp-
grounds, that are free now. The
changes could start next summer.
The forest is also proposing
to eliminate fees at two camp-
grounds and one trailhead.
Dispersed camping on the
forest — outside of designated
campgrounds — will remain free.
The Wallowa-Whitman
is soliciting comments from
the public about the proposal
through Nov. 15. The forest
hasn’t changed its recreation fee
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Crossword .... 3B
schedule since 2005.
The John Day-Snake River
Resource Advisory Committee,
a group of 15 residents of the
region that makes recommen-
dations about public land man-
agement to the Bureau of Land
Management and Forest Service,
will then review the proposed fee
changes, which could take effect
in the summer of 2021.
“Over the past 15 years, most
of the fees have stayed the same
across the national forest, and the
majority of our recreation sites
still do not require a fee,” Tom
Montoya, Wallowa-Whitman
supervisor, said in a press release.
“However, we need to keep in
Dear Abby .... 6B
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State .............. 7A
Lisa Britton/For EO Media Group
Two Color campground along Eagle Creek in the southern Wallowa
Mountains is among 24 campgrounds or trailheads on the Wal-
lowa-Whitman National Forest that could begin charging fees in 2021
under a proposal.
check with infl ation and main-
tain what we have for the benefi t
of the public. Fees are needed to
continue the services we deliver
at developed sites. The fees will
also be comparable with other
Full forecast on the back of B section
32 LOW
Mainly clear
Sunny and
similar sites that are adjacent to
the national forest.”
The Federal Lands Recre-
ation Enhancement Act allows
See, Camping/Page 5A
Issue 123
3 sections, 22 pages
La Grande, Oregon
Email story ideas
to news@lagrande
More contact info
on Page 4A.
Online at