The Prairie Creek Center on the corner of River and Litch St. in Enterprise was dedicated at an open house held Monday in the remodeled and expanded "one stop" center for Wallowa County residents who need a helping hand.

The building, which was first constructed to house state social service agencies by owner Don Foster about 25 years ago and expanded in 1991, was remodeled and expanded again in the past year. The Department of Human Resources Community Human Services (which includes the Self-Sufficiency, Seniors and People with Disabilities, Child Welfare and Vocational Rehabilitation programs) has been joined by the Oregon Employment Department and Training and Employment Consortium. A total of 17 persons are now employed at the center.

The building was almost doubled in size in the latest expansion, and now features a large conference room which is available for community use. The conference room was dedicated to the late Children Services worker Lois Harvey during Monday's open house.

Wallowa County Commissioner Ben Boswell, who was involved in promoting the "one stop" concept in Wallowa County, gave a short speech.

He noted that a dedication ceremony was appropriate because, " a lot of people with a lot of dedication work here." He acknowledged county accountant Gail Tally, who was present at the open house, for coming up with the name Prairie Creek Center.

Boswell said that the whole idea behind the center was to make it easier for people who need services to find them, and said it was an outgrowth of a state facility assessment team study about how to integrate services. "We highjacked the process," he said, noting that Wallowa County has a long history of the kind of working together the state is now promoting.

He said that physical "one-stop" is connected on-line to a virtual one-stop that includes such entities as Blue Mountain Community College, Eastern Oregon University, Wallowa Valley Mental Health, the county health department and the county library.

In naming the building, Boswell said many suggestions came in referring to the facility as a help center. "Our goal is self-sufficient, productive citizens in Wallowa County, but from time to time some individuals need to find services to help them be self-sufficient , productive citizens. That is our role in the community."

Boswell noted that there is a shortage of "Help Wanted" signs in the county, but he'd managed to round up a number of them and suggested that agreeable individuals seeking help have them autographed by everyone from whom they receive services in the center.

Todd Siex, state area service delivery manager, formally dedicated the new conference room to Lois Harvey by reading a summary of Harvey's contributions in a statement prepared by her family.

The statement read as follows,"Lois Fay Harvey was the divorced mother of seven children when she went to work for the Department of Human Resources in John Day in 1969. The office moved to Canyon City and that's where she took on two part-time jobs, one in the newly formed Children's Services. In 1971 she moved her family to Enterprise, where she became a part of the Childrens Services Department and of the Wallowa County community.

"She made her clients and other workers part of her family. She empathized with her clients because she had been in their position and enjoyed being able to help.

"Lois made Christmas time for all people of Wallowa County. She involved everyone she met in making the Elks Christmas Basket Program work. ... She especially felt the children should know the magic of Christmas. She inspired others to see that the magic continues.

"She retired from Services for Children and Families in 1996, and lost her battle with cancer in September, 1997. Lois Harvey's legacy lives on in her friends and family, who continue to serve Wallowa County."

Special guests at the well-attended open house included Bob Nelson, manager for the Employment Department; Terri Simonis, TEC director; and Libby Goben, area project manager for senior services; and building owners, Don and Loretta Foster.

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