At its regular meeting Oct. 24 in Elgin, the Wallowa-Union Railroad Authority (WURA) received a preliminary report from its Futures committee regarding the committee's travel on behalf of WURA to the three other publicly-owned rural short line railroads in Oregon. They are in Tillamook, Lakeview and Prineville.
Speaking for the committee, chair Stephen Adams of rural Enterprise reported that all three members (Adams, Marc Stauffer of Elgin and Myron Kirkpatrick of Joseph), traveling with WURA consultant Edward Berntsen, had talked at length over five days with the managers and workers of all three lines. The committee received great cooperation and interest. Everyone, without exception, commended the counties for their foresight in saving the Elgin-Joseph rail line, saying "You did exactly the right thing," Adams said.
Those associated with the other short lines are well aware of the challenges WURA face and are fully ready to help with every aspect of getting things up and running. The committee also rode and walked the tracks of these different short lines.
The committee also met for several hours with the Rail Division of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and its five senior managers, and with Speaker Mark Simmons and his staff, all of which are another source of valuable help.
The committee is now awaiting a large number of supporting documents being forwarded by the cooperating railroads and has scheduled a special meeting for Friday, Nov. 1, to review these items and extensive notes.
After this meeting, the committee will present a detailed report and recommendations for action to WURA at its meeting on Nov. 14. This report will be available to the media, the Friends of the Joseph Branch, and the railroad's owners, the citizens of Wallowa and Union county.