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Joseph raises a Christmas tree once again

By Steve Tool

Wallowa county Chieftain

Published on December 6, 2016 10:04AM

Last changed on December 6, 2016 2:58PM

Joseph Councilor Tyler Evans stands atop a forklift platform donated by mill owner Jim Zacharias to help steady the raising of the official Joseph Christmas tree on Nov. 19. The city hadn’t had a tree in about a decade.

Courtesy of Lem McBurney

Joseph Councilor Tyler Evans stands atop a forklift platform donated by mill owner Jim Zacharias to help steady the raising of the official Joseph Christmas tree on Nov. 19. The city hadn’t had a tree in about a decade.


No one knows how long it’s been since the city of Joseph had its own official Christmas tree, but the most knowledgeable guesses point to more than a decade ago.

The drought is over. A tree of grand proportions now sits in the center of the space at the gift shop complex at 203 N. Main St.

After the City Council’s Nov. 3 meeting, several citizens nominated Councilor Tyler Evans as head of the tree committee. Evans immediately went to work to secure a tree for the town, and before long he had negotiated with the Lions Club to cut a tree from the Ferguson Ridge ski area

On Nov. 19, Evans enlisted the aid of Joseph citizen Lem BcBurney and his daughter Lauren, 9, to cut a 27-foot tree, which took it to its new home in Joseph. Upon arrival, several other residents, including Raider Heck and John Dundas, jumped in to help, while mill owner/logger Jim Zacharias offered the use of a forklift.

Evans said the tree needed extra wires to keep it from blowing down in a windstorm. Once such a system was devised, Northwest Fence Company owner Harold Hartley opened his store after hours to supply the necessary gear.

As the makeshift crew tried standing up the tree a stiff wind began to blow, and it became questionable whether enough manpower was available for the job. Just then, in a kind of Christmas miracle, four Silverton high school seniors — Ethan Crofts, Cole Visser, Wade Luthi and Barrett Misenheimer — in the area for a camping trip noticed the scene and stopped for two hours to help secure the tree in place.

Lem McBurney was impressed by the selfless gesture and said the tree may not have gone up without them.

“It’s the only time I’ve been around four teenage boys for such a long period and not once did a cellphone or Ipad come out. They were so helpful, like they belong here,” McBurney said.

After the tree was secured, Embers Brewhouse treated the crew to pizza and beverages.

The following day the tree was decorated with ornaments from McBurney’s and Evans’ attics and help from children Annie and Maggie Miller and Charlie Evans — with the aid of a man lift donated by Enterprise Electric.

Just as the tree was getting its last ornament, the Silverton youths drove by on their way home and honked their horn in approval while the crew members waved in return.

That’s how you grow a Christmas tree in Joseph.



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