April 12, 2001 11:00 pm

Senators studded tire

fee idea must be iced

State Sen. Gary George, R-Newberg, wants everyone in Oregon who uses studded snow tires in the winter to be required to pay a fee. He reasons that the studded tires are causing more than $11 million each year in damage requiring repair. It is obvious from Georges comments, he never has lived in a snow zone.

George, who is in his second term, represents constituents in Yamhill, Polk and Lincoln counties and has limited experience with snow. He doesnt understand the problems it causes in much of Oregon.

George, elected twice by thin margins, has a way of not seeing the big picture, and once he gets a picture is unwilling to see anyone elses view.

This past week George threatened corporate officials of Les Schwab Tire Co. when they shared in a Senate hearing that studded snow tires are valuable for safety. In fact George said as far as he was concerned his Schwab account was closed. We say, so what! His threat should have little effect on the major Northwest tire chain.

Les Schwab has been an important part of the Northwest and has done far more in the communities they serve than George will ever do.

We have to wonder why the senator isnt focusing his attention on one issue that is far more important to his constituents than studded tires. There is a great need to improve road safety along Highways 99W and 18, which run through Georges district. What is George doing about this issue? Too many people have died along these highways while George has been in office. What has he done to improve the situation?

We are relieved that Georges push against those Oregonians who need to drive with studded snow tires isnt going anywhere during this session. We hope that legislative leaders remain strong about this issue. Vigilance is important when dealing with someone who wants so little good for people living in the snow zones of Oregon.

Deserving award

Hats off to the arts and recreation community of Joseph for receiving the Volunteer Tourism Achievement Award in recognition of the great job the city did in improving its downtown area.

The award, presented at the Governors Conference on Tourism in Ontario, recognizes the efforts Joseph residents made to raise more than $300,000 in local contributions to leverage $3.5 million in state and federal money for the project. Thats a mighty accomplishment for a small town.

Area residents who have not had a chance to check out Josephs new look should do so soon. The community on the north shore of Wallowa Lake has always been a fun place to visit. The community has put on its best dress, and visitors to our area this summer should be encouraged to make their way up Highway 82 to see it all.