>La Grande Observer | Union and Wallowa Counties' News Leader

Observer news NE Oregon Classifieds Web
web powered by Web Search Powered by Google

Follow LaGrandeObserver.com

La Grande Observer print edition

view all La Grande Observer print publications »

La Grande Observer Daily Paper 07/25/14

The LaGrande Observer is now online in a Replica E-edition form and publishes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Current subscribers have full access to the E-edition.

View Paper

If you are not a current subscriber, subscribe today for immediate access.


Recent article comments

Powered by Disqus

Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow QUESTIONS SWIRL OVER RAIL LINE PURCHASE


By Alice Perry Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Error in judgment or smart decision?

Questions about the wisdom of purchasing a short-line railroad have swirled throughout Union and Wallowa counties since the two public entities began negotiations with Idaho Northern & Pacific more than a year ago.

Those closest to the decision believe the purchase was necessary to save the rails and the right of way under them — the infrastructure.

Others, some who have worked for railroad companies, worry that the high cost of running a railroad may affect the counties' ability to deliver basic services, such as roads and law enforcement, or drive the counties into bankruptcy.

The Union County commissioners have said they will not use general fund money — raised through property taxes — to support the railroad in any way. Commissioner Steve McClure, the commissioners' liaison to the railroad, has said he fears the infrastructure — the rails and the property owned by the line — would not have been preserved had the counties not agreed to buy the line.

"We know you can't make a good business case, but it's vital to maintain that infrastructure," McClure said. "Once it's gone, it's gone."

Leaders in Wallowa County — and in Elgin — have been looking for a way to save the railroad for several years, but neither Wallowa County nor the city of Elgin has sufficient value to receive a loan.

For a long time, Elgin leaders, including City Administrator Joe Garlitz, have said they believe an opportunity for rail excursions will encourage more tourists to visit the north end of the Grande Ronde Valley, and a number of Wallowa County people, including Enterprise Mayor Susan Roberts, have said a viable railroad operation would help the county's economy.

Wallowa County Commission Chairman Mike Hayward said several months ago, "People keep asking, ‘Why don't you do something about the railroad?' "

The two counties did something. They asked the 2001 Legislature for $2 million to help buy the line and the state Economic and Community Development Department for another $4.5 million in loans to help close the deal. Both agreed.

"I wouldn't have moved forward to buy the railroad without the state support," McClure said.

A former railroad railmaster, George Altenburg of Cove, believes the potential costs of operation and maintenance of the railroad could be disastrous for both counties.

"If there is any money to be made, do you think Union Pacific would have sold it?" Altenburg said.

Some opponents, including Altenburg, have said the public money would be better spent on schools or law enforcement, but the money that will go to the railroad purchase comes from lottery funds earmarked for economic development.

"We've taken some criticism for buying this railroad," McClure said recently, "but can you imagine how much more criticism we'd get if we let it go?"

blog comments powered by Disqus
Local / Sports / Business / State / National / Obituaries / Public Notices
Editorials / Letters / Guest Columns / Columnists
Outdoors / Ag / Spiritual / Go Magazine / Portraits
View all classifieds / Jobs / Autos / Real Estate / Rentals / Place an Ad
The Observer
About / Contact / Commercial Printing / Subscriptions / Terms of Use / Site Map
Also Online
Photo Reprints / Slideshows / Weather and Valley Cam / /index.php?option=com_rss&feed=RSS2.0&no_html=1">RSS Feed ?> RSS Feed

Follow La Grande Observer headlines on Follow La Grande Observer headlines on Twitter

© Copyright 2001 - 2014 Western Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. By Using this site you agree to our Terms of Use

LaGrandeObserver.com works best with the latest versions of Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer or Apple Safari

cialis generico costo vendita viagra online italia prix du cialis avec ordonnance viagra rezept bekommen comprare viagra in internet viagra kopia billig kamagra cialis 12 preis acquisto bviagra bin bitalia viagra senza ricetta forum potenzmittel levitra kaufen viagra vervangers acheter viagra a paris sildenafil preis achat kamagra osta viagraa cialis naturale in farmacia aquisto levitra precio viagra en farmacia españa sildenafil donne köpa viagra på apoteket billig levitra viagra bestellen ohne rezept viagra cialis acheter cialis original livraison rapide cialis rotterdam donde comprar cialis seguro vardenafil mg online comprar viagra de manera fiable tadalafil argentina