La Grande Crowd

Spectators brave the cold and fog to watch La Grande take on The Dalles during the OSAA Class 4A semifinal game in Hermiston on Nov. 23, 2019. La Grande defeated The Dalles 68-0 to advance to the state championships.

A tip of the hat to Hermiston School District, which has once again helped bring several thousand tourists to Umatilla County to use the district’s athletic facilities.

Last weekend, the district played host to 110 AAU basketball tournament teams and three high school football playoffs between out-of-town schools. This weekend more football teams return for Oregon School Activities Association state championship games.

The crowded streets, stores, and restaurants may seem like an inconvenience to local residents, but they represent a shot in the arm for businesses. The school district has estimated in the past that each visitor represents an average of $100 spent locally on meals, snacks, gas, hotel rooms and more. And a study conducted by EcoNorthwest estimated use the of school district’s athletic facilities generated $7.8 million in economic impact in 2014.

In recognition of the community’s contributions to its facilities, from taxpayer-supported bonds to donations for Kennison Field, Hermiston School District makes its facilities available for free or at cost to not-for-profit events that include Hermiston students. That foresight has helped boost Hermiston’s profile and its economy.

A tip of the hat to volunteers who helped with community Thanksgiving meals in Pendleton and Hermiston.

Instead of using their day off to sit in front of the television in a pleasant haze of turkey-induced drowsiness, many people stepped up to make a nice Thanksgiving meal possible for those who otherwise wouldn’t have one.

Their hard work shows what true gratitude looks like, and they gave others something to be thankful for in the process.

A tip of the hat to the Hermiston Seventh-day Adventist Church and Umatilla Electric Cooperative for helping make Hermiston’s annual tree-lighting festival and light show possible.

The church donated the roughly 45-foot tree, which needed to be removed to make way for the church’s new building under construction, and UEC provided a crew and multiple trucks to make the difficult relocation process possible.

A tip of the hat to Al Sells, who left a legacy of giving.

Next week, the Echo Toy Run will continue in Sells’ honor after he died in a motorcycle crash in August. The Stanfield man spent 16 years leading the event, in which bikers from around the region gather to transport donated toys and stuffed animals from Echo to Good Shepherd Medical Center.

Kelly Sanders, vice president of human resources for Good Shepherd, said Sells was “always the first to arrive and last to leave and seemed to do it all out of the kindness of his heart.”

The fact that Sells’ friends and family quickly decided to rally together and continue the event in his memory shows how influential one person can be.

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