JOSEPH – Two small manufacturing businesses have been expressing interest in possibly relocating to Joseph in the future, but according to mayor Dennis Sands, any move is still a ways down the road.

“I’d say in a ten-step process, they would be at step three,” Sands said. “It’s still about determining an actual site and determining whether it’s feasible for them.”

Sands said that he wasn’t willing yet to talk about exactly what kind of manufacturers they are, but said that one could employ 40 people and the other five.

“I’d say it’s more than a nibble. They’ve visited here and would be a good fit for Wallowa County. … I’m hopeful within a year they’ll be a lot further along, but you have to be realistic about this kind of thing,” Sands said, noting that similar possibilities in the past have failed to materialize.

The possible industrial business relocation came up at the Joseph City Council’s Thursday, Feb. 7, meeting, when a goal-setting session was top on the agenda.

Improving the city’s basic infrastructure – water, sewer and streets – was the top priority of the Joseph City Council going into the future, with economic development – and job creation – second on the list.

A more proactive approach toward maintenance and equipment replacement for the city’s infrastructure, before problems develop if possible, led the goal list at end of the discussion. Recent maintenance issues with the city’s sewer lagoons include a paddle gear and mechanism damaged because of the recent cold weather, and a needed valve replacement in the 20-year-old water filtration plant.

The need to start planning to repave some of the city’s pot-holed streets, at a minimum of about $15,000 a block, was discussed, and included as part of the highest priority.

The recent inquiries mentioned by Sands by the small manufacturers highlighted the need to expand infrastructure into designated industrial-zoned property off Russell Lane. Sands said he is exploring possible state grant money that may be available for that type of expansion.

Improvements to the city park, especially improving the play equipment, ended up next on Joseph’s priority list.

Business license updates and updating city ordinances were among other council suggestions for future goals. “Updating ordinance is an endless task,” mayor Dennis Sands noted.

In other business, the council accepted the resignation of councilor Candi Staigle, who has moved out of the city. Any Joseph resident who would like to be considered to fill the remainder of Staigle’s term, which expires at the end of 2014, is asked to apply at city hall.

Residents who are interested in serving on the city of Joseph budget committee are also asked to submit their names at city hall before the next council meeting on March 7.

Wallowa County Sheriff Steve Rogers was at the meeting to warn the public about a telephone scam that victimized at least one county resident. In it the caller calls with the good news that you have won a new car; all you have to do is send $200 (or some other amount of money) to process the paperwork.

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