Mike Musia of Mike’s Garage in Joseph can’t really make comparisons between his life outside and inside Wallowa County because he’s been here pretty much all his life. His father purchased the Main Street automotive shop in the early ‘80s while Musia was in Joseph High and attending Blue Mountain College to study automotive mechanics.
Mike built a wildland firefighting business after a summer fighting fires where he saw a need for more water tenders. Mike then met his wife Anne in Joseph and married in 1994. They have two children, now attending school at Joseph Charter School.
Mike likes to serve. He worked for Joseph Volunteer Fire Department for 24 years and has been volunteering with Wallowa County Search and Rescue for the last three. In addition to his mechanic business, Musia continues to run his fire equipment during wildfire season, and he donates some of that equipment at Mountain High Broncs and Bulls and Hells Canyon Mule Days.
He also volunteers his tow truck to clear cars off Main Street in Joseph during Chief Joseph days, free of charge.
Q. Why did you decide to remain in Wallowa County?
A. When dad passed away at a young age in 1997, I knew I had to make a choice about what I was going to do. I had the business with the wildland firefighting equipment that I really liked, but I took some time to think about it, and I decided the county needs the garage. So, I decided to put a lot of my focus on that. Since then I’ve completely upgraded the tow trucks and made other changes. My goal was to employ several other people in my businesses, and I employ Kyle Alexander as a tow truck driver and several people in “Contract Water Wagons” during fire season.
Q. What is it about Wallowa County that keeps you here?
A. It’s a combination of the people –– I really like the people here –– and the area. I like the area: I love spring, I love summers, I love the changing of the Tamarack trees, I like to snowmobile ... I like it all. So, both loving the area and I feel needed in Wallowa County. Besides liking the friendliness of the people, I like providing a service that people need.
Q. What do you see for Wallowa County in the future?
A. Wallowa County has always been a disadvantaged county in some ways. It’s beautiful, here but we’re not natural resource-based like we were when we were logging. We don’t have much to draw business from outside. So, I hope we find a way to develop tourism without losing what makes this county great. I want my kids to have a choice as to what they do when they grow up. I don’t want them to have to leave the county if they want to stay.