The energy for revitalization in Wallowa City has ebbed since Garrett Lowe was forced to retire from his positions as council member and booster for the Wallowa Home Town Project.
Although Gary Hulse stepped into Lowe’s position on the council and Mary Hawkins has taken on the role as organizer for the various Wallowa Home Town projects, the approaching winter seems to be signaling a switch from doing to regrouping.
“I have a few things on my to do list,” Hawkins said. “We’re going to finish the city sign across from the Little Bear (café), and then we need to communicate about other projects.”
One part of the revitalization effort, the presence of the excursion train for short trips out of the city, never materialized. The excursion train never made it to Wallowa for the month of August due to extremely high fire danger.
“For sure we’ll try again next year,” said Janet Dodson, marketing and media contact for Friends of the Joseph Branch. “It’s been a good season aside from August. The Wine and Cheese trip Sept. 30 sold out, and we have the train robbery on the seventh and 14th of October and our last ride Oct. 21.”
The issue of renewing the five-year lease of Back Achers (second hand, recycled and wholesale goods) in the business incubator building on the site of the old finger-joint mill in Wallowa also remains unresolved.
Ben and JoAnn Deal, owners of Back Achers, wanted to renew the lease but the original paperwork has disappeared from city files and copies from USDA offices in Pendleton have still not arrived.
The city has until February to resolve the issue, according to City Recorder Carol Long.
Work on the Wallowa History Center, however, has continued.
“We got our grant from Wildhorse for $16,000 for electrical and water upgrades,” said Mary Ann Burrows, director of the center.
More work parties at the former Forest Service location are being planned and continuing upgrades are planned through the winter.