VISITORS OFFICE, MUSEUM LINK COULD WORK WELL

January 14, 2003 11:00 pm

The move of the La Grande-Union County Visitors and Conventions Bureau to the old fire hall at Washington Avenue and Elm Street is a mixed bag, but it could work out well.

The visitors bureau and Union County Chamber of Commerce will be housed in the same building as La Grande's proposed fire museum.

The museum, featuring vintage fire engines and other fire house displays, promises to be a nice tourist draw. By having the visitors bureau in the same building as the museum, tourism workers can handle ticket admission sales to the attraction.

It should work well to have the visitors office associated directly with what could turn out to be a highly popular tourist stop. The museum, as proprietor of the building, will receive rental income from the visitors bureau and chamber that it can turn into making its displays even better.

The negative side of the move is that the chamber and visitors bureau are giving up a prime location on West Adams Avenue. People arriving in La Grande from the west Interstate 84 entrance can find the tourism office fairly easy. The agencies are located in the former Ron's Box Store building across from the old Safeway site.

The museum and visitors bureau will need to come up with some effective ways to direct tourists to the fire hall. A sign at the entrances to town advising people of the museum and visitors office would be needed, as would some visible signs on Adams Avenue showing visitors where to turn. The city should work with the visitors bureau and museum to provide some dedicated parking spaces for visitors, including adequate spaces for RVs.

A separate visitors information center in its own building on Adams Avenue or Island Avenue would be ideal. The new location could work well, however, as long as people going to the museum and visitors bureau office can easily find their way.

SIGNS OF GOOD HEALTH

The Tobacco Education and Prevention Program hopes that the 100 metal signs being placed on school property in Union County will cause kids to think twice before trying cigarettes.

The signs do not preach to kids. They simply advise the public that "all school buildings and grounds are designated as tobacco-free zones."

Those putting up the signs are hopeful that kids will pick up the message that smoking is not cool, and that cigarettes and other tobacco should be avoided.

Signs are helpful in conveying messages. But they'll never take the place of parents and other adults teaching children by spoken word and example that starting to smoke is a really bad idea.