UNION - Citizens of Union met with professional mediators twice last week in an effort to start working through conflicts that faced residents and the town government for much of the last year.

Dale Largent and Nancy Gilbertson, representatives of Resolutions, a mediation service in Bend, met with Union residents Tuesday for a discussion between the city council and Take Back our Town and Leadership (TOTAL).

On Wednesday, Largent presented Coping with Conflict, a three-hour training on the mediation process.

When Largent asked the group what came to mind when it thought of conflict, most of the answers he got reflected anger, stress and assumptions.

Largent said that factors in the success of mediation efforts depends on having the right people at the table and having everyone involved operating in good faith. Resolutions uses a process Largent called "principled negotiations," which addresses conflict in stages, from people, their interests, options and solutions.

Largent said the City Council and TOTAL are working on the basic people issues. If the process is followed, Largent said, finding mutually beneficial solutions often is easy.

The Union Horizons Team, a local development group, sponsored the mediation training. This group met again Thursday, and Mary Nixon reported it was pleased with the progress they've seen in the community. She said they decided to wait a few months before deciding whether to access further outside help.

Nixon, who works with Rural Development Initiatives, facilitates the Horizons Team meetings. Union Horizons is part of an area-wide community development effort with Elgin and Prairie City. Horizons is funded by the Northwest Area Foundation.

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