The Observer. (La Grande, Or.) 1968-current, June 10, 2021, THURSDAY EDITION, Image 9

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June 10, 2021
Joseph Canyon and Dry Creek fi res dying down
Cooler weather and precipitation aid
in mopping up nearly 10,000 acres
For the Observer
early beginning of Ore-
gon’s wildfi re season was
brief, but spectacular. Just
one day after the Inter-
agency Team 7 overhead
team assumed command of
the Joseph Canyon and Dry
Creek fi res, crews and air
support are being released.
The release of the Type
1 helicopters and most of
the crews was announced
at Team 7’s Tuesday, June
8, planning meeting at Wal-
lowa County Fairgrounds’
Cloverleaf Hall, Enterprise,
indicating the fi re was
winding down.
The Joseph Canyon Fire
was 60% contained as of
June 9. The latest mapping
of the fi re revealed it burned
much more than previously
measured — 7,610 acres,
primarily on private and
Nez Perce Tribe land. Two
hotshot crews worked along
the eastern fl ank of the fi re
while the western edge of
the fi re moved toward mon-
itoring status. The eastern
and northwestern fl anks of
the fi re are contained. The
southern edge of the fi re
continues to be a challenge
due to the rugged terrain.
The Dry Creek Fire,
a 1,564-acre fi re burning
on the Wallowa-Whitman
National Forest, was 60%
contained as of June 9.
The two fi res in the far
Northeastern corner of Wal-
lowa County were sparked
by lightning in the early
morning of June 4. Due to
the rugged, remote, steep
terrain and dry fuels cre-
ating severe fi re behavior
the fi re was battled by heli-
copters and air tankers sup-
ported by smokejumpers,
helicopter rappel fi refi ghters
and elite ground crews
Alex Wittwer/The Observer
Livestock show
selects queen
Alex Wittwer/The Observer
Kachira Phillips will spend next
year as ‘ambassador’ for EOLS
Daughter speeds through high school
so she can graduate with her mom
The Observer
A GRANDE — Katelyn
Nason was ending her eighth
grade year in the La Grande
School District in April of
2018 when her mother Elysa
received a message that
changed the trajectory of her life.
Elysa Nason learned that she
had been admitted into the Oregon
Health & Science University School
of Nursing, La Grande Campus. The
mother of fi ve told her family she
planned to graduate with a degree in
nursing in three years.
Two weeks later Katelyn made
a decision which will forever touch
her mom. The teenager decided to
hit the academic fast track and grad-
See, Fire/Page 5A
Kachira Phillips tearfully receives her crown and becomes the
2021 Eastern Oregon Livestock Show Queen on Tuesday, June 8.
Katelyn and Elysa Nason pause for a photo at Eastern Oregon University on Thursday, June 3, 2021. The mother and daughter duo
graduate this year.
called hotshots fl own into
the fi re.
High winds ham-
pered air attacks on June
5 and spread the fi res far
from their ignition points.
By June 6 temperatures
decreased and the humidity
came up, aiding eff orts to
cool down hot spots and
along the perimeter
uate from La Grande High School in
three years so she could receive her
diploma about the same time as her
“She said ‘Mom, I’m graduating
with you,’ ‘’ Elysa Nason said.
Katelyn made her decision as a
gesture of gratitude.
“I wanted to honor my mom,’’
Katelyn Nason said.
Katelyn, burning midnight oil
by the gallon, began traveling in the
fast lane of LHS’s commencement
highway. The student, after having
her plan approved by school offi cials,
began taking class loads which would
cause some lesser students to buckle.
“There were a lot of long days
and nights,’’ said Katelyn, who took
classes online via the La Grande
School District’s Learning Academy
and on her high school’s campus.
Some encouraged her to ease up
on her throttle and burn a little less
rubber on her way to LHS’s com-
mencement stage.
“I said, ‘I don’t care, I’m going to
do it,’’’ Katelyn said.
Buoyed by determination and
family support she completed four
years of class work in three and
on Saturday, June 5, received her
diploma at LHS’s commencement.
“I am so proud of her,’’ Elysa said.
Three days from now Elysa will
fulfi ll her end of the heartfelt moth-
er-daughter pact when she will
receive her nursing degree from
See, Grads/Page 5A
‘There’s a disincentive to work’
Eastern Oregon
lawmakers want to
end supplemental
EO Media Group
SALEM — Eastern
Oregon lawmakers are
calling for the state to end
supplemental unemploy-
ment benefi ts to help out-
of-work Oregonians endure
the pandemic, saying the
programs have spurred a
workforce shortage that is
hurting regional business
sioners from
14 Eastern
Oregon coun-
ties, as well
as three state
tives and one
senator, signed a letter and
sent it Monday, June 7, to
Gov. Kate Brown’s offi ce,
asserting “unemployment
recipients, especially those
See, Work/Page 5A
Business & Ag.......1B
Dear Abby .............8B
Opinion ..................4A
Classifieds ..............4B
Horoscope .............4B
Sports .....................8A
Comics ....................7B
Lottery ....................2A
Crossword .............4B
Obituaries ..............3A
The Observer
UNION — Kachira
Phillips was crowned the
2021 Eastern Oregon Live-
stock Show Queen on
Tuesday, June 8.
Phillips, 21, of North
Powder, grew up going to
the livestock show every
year. After months of pro-
moting her campaign
on social media, posting
fl iers, mailing posters and
advertising on radio sta-
tions, Phillips said she is
ecstatic for the chance to
be an ambassador for her
“Representing this area
is representing my home,”
she said. “I’ve lived here
all 21 years of my life, and
there’s no other place I’d
rather be.”
As queen, Phillips’
responsibilities include
attending other rodeos
in the region and acting
as an ambassador for the
livestock show. She will
interact with other rodeo
queens and advocate for
EOLS by taking part in
parades and speaking at
other community and pro-
motional events.
This was Phillips’
second campaign for
queen in two years — both
her and runner-up Mak-
enzie Polfer competed
last year until COVID-19
forced the rodeo to be
Candidates are judged
based on three categories
— speeches, horseman-
ship and rodeo ticket sales.
Being a fourth-genera-
tion horse fanatic, Phillips
said she believes rodeos
Full forecast on the back of B section
Sudoku ...................7B
46 LOW
Weather .................8B
Cloudy and cool
are vital to keeping com-
munities close-knit and
“I am a thorough
believer that agriculture
is good in many many
ways,” Phillips said. “I
like knowing where my
food comes from, I think
it’s good to be in touch
with the land and nature.
Rodeos are really full of
heritage and culture and
that’s why I love it so
Eastern Oregon Live-
stock Show President Dave
Billings said that Phil-
lips will be a major asset
for the rodeo show in the
coming year.
“She’ll do great. She’s
a good person and I look
forward to seeing her rep-
resent us this coming
year,” he said.
Phillips is no stranger
to rodeo royalty. In 2015,
she helped fundraise for
the Haines Stampede
Rodeo, where she would
be a princess the following
year. In 2017, she served as
the Baker County Fair and
Panhandle Rodeo Queen,
followed by her 2018 role
of princess. In 2019, Phil-
lips was named Grande
Ronde Rodeo Queen.
“I’m feeling proud. She
puts her mind to some-
thing and you don’t dare
tell her no,” Phillips’
father, Bradley Phillips,
said. “She’s got several
years of experience, she
knows what she’s doing,
I have faith and confi -
dence that she’s going to
do great.”
See, Queen/Page 5A
Issue 67
3 sections, 24 pages
La Grande, Oregon
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