The recent tour of Joseph by Oregon Business magazine moved two Joseph city councilors to decide to "put their heads together" to beef up the city's website with helpful information for magazine readers and people who might consider relocating their businesses to Joseph.
"The council needs to be a little more proactive," said councilor Dennis Sand at the Oct. 4 council meeting. He said that information such as industrial site availability and contact numbers ought to be easily available. Fellow council member Teresa Sajonia agreed to work with Sands to compile the information.
In the wake of disagreement over the terms of a five-year service contract, the Wallowa Lake Rural Fire District has renewed its contract for fire coverage with the Joseph Fire Department for one year. According to a Sept. 24 letter from rural fire district board president Charles Havens, which was read at the meeting, the district members "have some concerns" and expressed the desire to "continue discussion with the city throughout the year to iron out details."
At the council meeting in September, Joseph fire chief Kevin Warnock had said that negotiations over terms of a new contract evolved into an unacceptable counteroffer written by lawyer Dale Mammon, a member of the rural fire district board. At that time, the council recommended the one-year contract extension, with the suggestion that disagreements could be worked out before it expires.
Councilor Jim Zacharias was elected by fellow council members to chair last week's meeting in the absence of mayor Peggy Kite-Martin and council chairperson Pam Latta.
At two short public hearings at last week's meeting, the Joseph council unanimously approved two conditional use permits with no public opposition.
Crystal Locke requested a home occupation permit at 701 S. Lake St. for her message therapy business, which she said has been sited at five different locations in Wallowa County in the past seven years.
"I went to most of my neighbors and they all signed off on it," Locke said, noting that there would be no signs needed as she had an established clientele.
She said basically there would be four clients four days a week between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. while her children were at school.
In response to a question, Locke said she had investigated potential sites in the commercial zone in both Joseph and Enterprise, but none of them were suited to her needs.
Written testimony of support was entered into the record from the Joseph Chamber business committee, Henry and Judy Kinsley, Stuart Jones and Catherine Matthias, Cindy Aschenbrenner, James and Ethel Chandler, and Bill Finney and Heather Tyreman.
At the second CUP hearing, Sharon and Ray Wilson applied for a permit for residential use for their house and basement saddle shop in the commercial zone.
The Wilsons are moving to rural Joseph and selling the property to his daughter and son-in-law, Sherrie and Tim Purdy of Philomath, who would like to divide it into two rental units.
"We didn't think it would be easy to rent commercially, but it will make very nice apartments and there is a need here for residential housing," Sherrie Purdy explained.
A letter was read into the record from Wallowa County Health Care District Memorial Hospital CEO Dave Harman about the difficulty of finding suitable rental space for new employees.
Realtor Claresse O'Connor noted that the property location is three blocks off Main Street, which makes it hard to rent for a business.
The vote to approve the permit was unanimous, with Zacharias suggesting that the new owners consider applying for a re-zone from commercial to R-1 residential in the future.
In other business, the council unanimously approved city recorder Noma McDaniel's suggestion that seasonal Main Street landscape maintenance man Duane Karlen be offered the job again next year with a raise.
The council also approved her request to close city hall on Monday, Dec. 24, the day before Christmas.