La Pine is Growing Fast

La Pine is a small city nestled in the heart of Oregon with a population of around 2,500 people, and growing fast. 

La Pine’s population increased 25% between 2019 and 2021, the sharpest increase in population since 2010. Housing in the community is keeping up, with available units rising close to the same percentage as the population during the same time period. 

Ann Gawith, the executive director for the Lapine Visiting center, Chamber Of Commerce, as well as the president of Frontier days. When I discussed how businesses in Lapine, and how those businesses are able to engage with the youth community she explained that, 

“It may not be what you expect,” Gawith said.

Gawith said that businesses are still taking a toll from Covid.

“Most businesses here are mom and pop stores so when they want to hire they really expect that person to work,” Gawith said, which is the case for employers. These new generations may always change, adapt to technology more efficiently and have a different ideology.

“It can be possible that it’s hard to hire new young employees due to no experience, and lots of training. Big businesses may have an easier time while smaller businesses have a harder time to take on that task,” Gawith said.

This town is known for being a commuter city, and always will be. But it is also a vibrant community that is home to a number of popular festivals and recreational sports activities along with a high school that serves as a hub for community activities and events. 

“As time goes on, it’s becoming more and more of a struggle to involve the youth community at the festivals,” Gawith said.

After having their carnival rides close down a few years ago, most youth members do not decide to participate in the festivals. How else can they engage with different aspects of the community?

La Pine Mayor Daniel Richer recently discussed the city’s efforts to fund festivals, recreational sports, and ways youth are engaging with the community. 

“We are always looking for creative ways to bring events and activities to our community,” Richer said. “Sponsorships and grants are an important part of that. But we also rely on the support of local businesses and the generosity of our citizens. Without their help, we wouldn’t be able to offer the same level of festivities.” In addition to providing fun and engagement for the community, Richer also emphasized the importance of offering good jobs to the youth.

“We also offer good jobs to the youth but for now it is limited,” Richer said. “Small businesses make good first job opportunities, and as far as trade jobs, La Pine has lots of them, such as electrical and heating. We encourage the youth of La Pine to hopefully come back and build this community together.”

One of the most popular festivals in La Pine is the annual Frontier Days Festival, which attracts visitors from all over the state. The festival features live music, food vendors and activities for the whole family. Another notable event is the Newberry Event Music & Arts Festival, which brings national music acts to perform on an outdoor stage. 

The city of La Pine dedicates time and money to host the festivals.

“La Pine has always been a commuter city, and not only do they provide entertainment and recreation for our residents, but they also help to bring people to La Pine, boost our local economy and engage the youth,” Richer said. “The future of La Pine depends on the youth generation, and they have a direct correlation to the impact of La Pine.”

To that end, there are other efforts to engage youth. La Pine is home to a number of recreational sports teams and clubs. The La Pine Little League, for example, provides a great opportunity for young people to get involved in baseball and softball. There are also clubs for soccer, basketball and other sports.

Bend-La Pine Schools is dedicated to providing a well-rounded education for its students, and that includes offering a variety of sports and extracurricular activities. One of the most popular programs at La Pine High School is the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) program, which provides students with the opportunity to learn about leadership, teamwork and discipline.

The district’s sports program is also an important part of the student experience. From football and soccer to tennis and cross country, there is a sport for every season to enjoy. The district’s teams have a long history of success, and many students go on to compete at the state and national level.

Senior Wyatt Montgomery, a cross country runner in the fall, basketball player during the winter, and a part of the La Pine track team during the school year, also believes that sports can help La Pine thrive.

“I think that the sports definitely give the community something to come together around, and that as an athlete it is great to see people from the community come out and support us,” Montgomery said.

Not only do these programs provide physical activity and recreation for students, they also help to promote engagement and a sense of community. 

As La Pine continues to grow and thrive, it is important that the citizens of the community get involved and help to shape its future. Many residents volunteer their time and resources to support the city and its events, which helps to foster a sense of community and pride.

La Pine is a city that is full of life and excitement, thanks in part to the efforts of its residents and businesses to support festivals, recreational sports and other activities. The youth can stay and thrive in this forever growing community and seek new opportunities just around the corner.