April 11, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

JOSEPH Joseph has received another award for its Downtown Revitalization Project.

The presentation of the Volunteer Tourism Achievement Award was made at the annual Governors conference on Tourism in Ontario.

Sara Miller, economic development specialist of the Northeast Economic Development District accepted the award on behalf of the city.

Miller presented the plaque to the local Economic Improvement District board and the Joseph City Council at its special meeting Tuesday night.

At the conference, Oregon Tourism Commission Development Manager Mandi Cole noted that project volunteers had gathered more than $300,000 in local contributions to leverage a $3.5 million investment of state and federal grants in a town of just 1,000 residents.

Faced with the unique challenges of trying to diversify its economy during a period of high unemployment, Joseph relied on dedicated volunteers to contribute creative ideas and countless hours to the project.

With funds from a myriad of public granting agencies, good city staff work and lots of elbow grease, from volunteers, the City of Joseph made something wonderful happen, Cole said.

With improved sidewalks, new landscaping and lighting, and an artwalk featuring bronze sculptures for which the town is famous, the Joseph Downtown Revitalization Project truly was a labor of love, as well as a positive tourism development project.

The project involved thousands of hours of volunteer time in addition to donations of services, equipment and materials. EID members taxed themselves and met weekly for three years.

All the flowers and the buried utility lines are probably the favorite parts of the project to Gail Walters, owner of Old Town Cafe.

People sit in the cafe and look out at Mount Chief Joseph without wires getting in the way. Theres a lot of pride in this community and it shows, she said.

The project was designed to build on the assets of an historic downtown, a growing art industry, world class scenery and outdoor recreation, while improving the downtown areas appearance, accessibility and safety.

The project received the Organizational Achievement Award from the Oregon Downtown Development Association last year.