The steady drumbeat of bad — not to mention fake — news can often seem overpowering. But if you are looking for a story that highlights the best of our community look no further than the generosity of three local construction firms.
R.D. Mac-La Grande Ready Mix Inc. and Mike Becker General Contractor offered to build a new gravel parking lot for Island City Elementary school for free. Work on the lot began earlier this month. Yet the owner of R.D. Mac, Jay Collman, decided to go a step further. He offered to pave the parking lot, again for free. When a portion of the nearby sidewalk was damaged during the initial construction, R.D. Mac brought in a local contractor, James Challis, of James Challis Construction Inc., to replace the sidewalk, again, for free. Then Challis agreed to replace not only the damaged portion of the sidewalk but the entire, 300-foot pathway. Again for free.
To put this all into perspective, if the La Grande School District installed a paved 40-vehicle parking lot it would cost between $80,000 and $110,000. The sidewalk costs? Anywhere from $5,000 to $12,000.
Much can be said about this kind of assistance by three local firms, but the key theme from the episode is that the owners and workers of these companies deserve a big thank you from the community. It is that simple. None of these firms were in any way obligated to lift a finger. Collman didn’t have to volunteer his time or his employees. But he did. The same goes for Becker and Challis. These local businessmen, who all have children or grandchildren who attend Island City Elementary pushed it to the school district to figure out. Yet they didn’t. Their efforts showcase what is best about our community, our county, our valley.
Too often we get caught up in the discontent so rife in our nation now. We choose sides, defend our philosophies as if lives depend on them and paste labels on people and cultures. So, it is easy to forget that there are great people with good ideals who are successful right here in our community. These businessmen saw a need and pondered how to fix it and then acted. Surely, they could substitute this effort of goodwill for making more money. No one would blame them. They decided to do something that enhances the community. They decided to give back to Island City and the school district. All three of these men and their employees deserve thanks for their efforts. Obviously, they didn’t do what they did for public gratitude. No, they did it for a simpler reason: To help their fellow citizens.