Voices Swart

Don Swart


JOSEPH — A Wallowa County native, Don Swart Jr., was a longtime veteran at the Chieftain.

“I am a native. That gives me special rights,” he joked. “These people who’ve been here 25, 30, 40 years, they don’t make decisions; I do.”

Now retired, he worked as a house painter after 35 years at the Chieftain. His family owned the paper for decades at its former location at 106 NW 1st St., where he operated the presses and took some sports photographs.

“My dad, my grandad and my older brother, Rick, were in trouble all the time for the things they wrote, so I wanted nothing to do with the writing.”

Swart’s wife works at Safeway. They raised four sons, who have all moved away. They have 11 grandchildren.

After 62 years here, Swart has some strong views on living in Wallowa County.

What’s your favorite thing about Wallowa County?

I like the remoteness; I feel safe here. I think we’re a lot safer here in Northeastern Oregon than just about anywhere in the world right now. I think property values are going to go through the roof, with all this virus stuff. People are finding out they can work from home, so why should you be in Chicago or Seattle when you can be in Joseph or Imnaha making the same amount of money.

Did you make a New Year’s resolution?

Not exactly. I always work at being as healthy as I can.

What’s your hope for 2021?

That we get COVID under control.

Do you plan to get the vaccine against COVID-19 or are you hesitant as some people are?

I suppose my wife won’t give me a choice. I’d rather wait until they have it in a nasal spray. I don’t like needles.

What are your thoughts on the inauguration that happened today?

I was glad to see there weren’t any more terrorist attacks like there was about two weeks ago. We’re Americans. We should have a little better sense that there are options other than attacking government buildings.

What’s your advice for people who are thinking about moving here?

You’d better hurry up and get here because you’re not going to be able to find anyplace (to live). … All the property around here is snapped up as fast as it goes on the market. That and don’t let me catch you in my fishing hole.

— By Bill Bradshaw, Wallowa County Chieftain

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