LaVern Gertlar, who has lived in Boardman 11 years, enjoys the slower pace of life in the northern Morrow County town.

For decades, Gertlar drove from the suburbs of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle to get to work.

"I drove the freeways of southern California and Seattle, so when I got to Boardman and there were no traffic lights, I thought that was great," Gertlar said. "The only drawback is you don't have anywhere to buy socks."

Gertlar enthusiastically raves about the new senior center, which opened in June 2005.

The 5,000-square-foot building, which cost $600,000, is a substantial upgrade from the former facility.

"We had a real old manufactured home on the Port of Morrow property," Gertlar said. "It had no hot water and no kitchen. We had all potlucks and we had to carry our food in and bring our dirty dishes home."

He said LaVern Partlow, Delmer and Bobbi Hug, Pete Swentik and Gunnar Skoubo were instrumental in fundraising efforts to build the facility, including serving coffee at one of the rest areas west of town, conducting garage sales and obtaining grants.

"From the tippage fees, we got a generous donation from the county, the city of Boardman and Umatilla Electric Co-op gave us a good hunk of money," Gertlar said.

City Clerk Lila Killingbeck called Boardman an "oasis in the desert," saying the citizens contribute to the community's livability.

"It has a lot to do with the people who volunteer to help Boardman," she said.

In July 2006, the premier showing of "Higher Ground: Moving Boardman" documented how the town banded together to move the town about 1.5 miles southeast when the John Day Dam raised the Columbia River's water level. Some remnants of old building foundations still can be viewed at the marina.

Houses, businesses and schools had to move for the town to survive.

When a defective light fixture sparked an early morning fire on May 21, 2007, resulting in more than $3 million in damages at Sam Boardman Elementary School, the town again pitched in to help.

Principal Jacque Johnson said townspeople helped whenever possible. Additionally, Costco delivered 457 backpacks full of school supplies before school resumed Sept. 4.

Equipment the Boardman Rural Fire Protection District had obtained less than a year before the fire helped firefighters contain the blaze in a fairly short time.

The 3,000-gallon water tender and three interface engines have allowed the fire department to man satellite stations and provide equipment.

Assistant Chief Bill Ellis said that between the outlying stations and an agreement with Ione and Irrigon, virtually all of north Morrow County has fire protection.

"It has saved response time in being able to respond anywhere in our district," he said.

Diane Wolfe, executive director at the Boardman Chamber of Commerce, called the town a "safe community."

Wolfe moved from Montana nine months ago and enjoys the atmosphere.

"The big thing is the friendly people," she said.

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