Home Opinion Editorials SUCCESS OF RAILROAD REQUIRES HARD WORK
SUCCESS OF RAILROAD REQUIRES HARD WORK
Wallowa and Union counties have moved onto the right track by purchasing the Elgin-to-Joseph rail line from Idaho Northern and Pacific. What's needed now is a lot of hard work and planning to make the railroad successful.
The counties received major assistance from the state in closing the deal, which will prevent the 61 miles of rails from being torn up for salvage, as Idaho Northern had planned. The Oregon Legislature last year authorized the $2 million down payment for the line. The Oregon Economic and Community Development Department will loan up to $5 million to the counties for 25 years for the remaining payment.
The purchase is good news for both counties. Removing the rails would have eliminated the prospect of train service from Elgin in Union County to the communities of Wallowa County. One can only imagine the staggering, multi-million-dollar amount that would be required if the rails were ever to be restored in the future. Tearing out the railroad did not make good economic sense.
THE GOOD NEWS about the state's loan is that no interest or principal payment is due for more than three years. That will give the two-county railroad authority some time to get the resources lined up to meet the obligation. Our congressional delegation should step up and find some federal funds to help the counties purchase the line.
Meanwhile, rail service to Wallowa Forest Products in Wallowa is expected to begin within a month, the first time in eight years that a freight train has made its way up the branch. Efforts must be made to discover other sources of revenue for the Elgin-to-Joseph line, including the wonderful possibility of a tourist train through the scenic river canyon.
A whole new era has dawned on rail service for Wallowa County. With prudent management and wise decision-making, the railroad could be a good investment for years to come.
THEY DID IT
Many people might sit around, waiting for the government, a service organization or someone else to come along and do it.
THAT'S NOT the case with Lisa Steele, Sharon Sharp or Cyndy Guthrie who worked hard this past weekend to improve their community's welcome sign on North Powder's west side. Steele was joined by her sons, Dylan, 7, and Zach, 5, and Sharp got help from her sons, Allen, 12, and Cole, 7, in working with Guthrie early Sunday to plant a flower garden near the sign.
But that's not all. The families agreed to keep the garden weeded and watered through the summer. Aided by a SOLV grant, the Steeles, Sharps and Guthrie showed the rest of us in Northeast Oregon what volunteer efforts can do for the good of a community.