Joseph’s new streets are amazing

Paul Wahl/Chieftain Potholes like this one on First Street in Joseph photographed this past spring have disappeared from the landscape.

Occasionally, we receive feedback that we should stop picking on the Joseph City Council. I always hasten to point out that when there is good news in Joseph, we report that as well.

Always have, always will.

A couple weeks back I turned onto one of Joseph’s side streets anticipating the usual teeth-crunching bone-jarring ride through the pot holes. To my delight, the pot holes were gone. Disappeared.

In their place were glorious stretches of black top. I knew some work on the roads had been planned this summer, but I wasn’t prepared for how much paving and patching has been completed.

According to Mayor Dennis Sands, the city has paved seven blocks on Lake street and one block on First. Those eight blocks cost $100,000 and were paid for with a grant from ODOT.

Another 10 blocks on East Street, from the Imnaha Highway south to the Lake Highway, were also resurfaced at a cost of around $125,000. That was paid out of the city’s street fund.

Dennis said the city had a carryover in that account due to not having paved the previous two years. The paving was done by Hampton Paving of La Grande, the lowest bidder for the projects.

In addition, the Joseph city crew put down nearly 30 tons of hot mix to fill potholes on other streets.

And that’s not all. Dennis says the city will have a large paving project in 2019, paid for with the monthly street fee being assessed since July. The city anticipates all remaining streets that need to be resurfaced will be done in next year’s project.

Several of my acquaintances in Joseph have commented about how wonderful it is to have drivable roads again.

Jean Falbo shared this story.

“I went to a town hall meeting with Sen. Wyden a couple years ago, and Dennis told us that he and the senator had ridden the tram up Mt. Howard. He said they could see the pot holes clear from the top of the mountain.”

Jean says she thought that was actually a bit understated.

“Living on East Street, I was sure that it was zoned industrial –– you know all those open pit mines and all,” she added.

Congratulations to Joseph on a job well done. It’s a tremendous improvement.

WHILE WE are on the topic of good news, be sure to read our story on the improvements planned for Wallowa Lake State Park elsewhere in this edition.

While not everything in the plan may be built tomorrow or even next year, it’s exciting to see the possibilities for what I believe is Oregon’s most exquisite state park.

Combine the improvements to enhance the visitor experience in the park with natural beauty and the friendly folks in Wallowa County, and you have a sure-fire winner.

I’ve been covering governmental strategic planning for nearly four decades. In my earlier years, it was frustrating to sit through months –– sometimes years –– of planning only to have a document that sat on a shelf and collected dust.

Then I had the opportunity to see one county government adopt the planning concepts into its zoning ordinance and the light went on.

I have since become a champion of strategic planning. The Wallowa Lake Park plan is one of the best documents of its type I have seen.

Be sure to come out for the public hearing and see the full scope of what’s in store. You will be inspired.

ONE MORE bit of good news. Four individuals have stepped forward to run for the Wallowa County Commission seat previously won by Bruce Dunn.

Choices are what make elections so important in our way of doing things. The amount of discussion about county issues generated by four candidates will benefit everyone for years to come.

Notice I didn’t say “the amount of agreement.” Agreement is not prerequisite to discussion. Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce will have its candidate forum Oct. 10. Mark it on your calendar.


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