OTE - Oregon Travel Experience

2014 OTE Winter E-newsletter

Posted on: December 29th, 2014 by Madeline MacGregor in News & Press, Newsletter | No Comments

Clackamas County Tourism pilot project at French Prairie Rest Area 

Oregon Travel Experience and Clackamas County Tourism will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony at the northbound I-5 French Prairie Rest Area in January 2015 (time and date to be announced). The ceremony will celebrate the installation of a new digital travel information kiosk.  New opportunities for our Highway Business Sign customers are available at the refurbished kiosk. Read the full story, other news, and link to the Heritage Program Snapshot in this quarter’s digital newsletter.



2014 Heritage Program Snapshot

In case you missed the year’s Heritage Program events, we’ve created an online image gallery retrospective.

The Salemtowne Volunteers received special recognition at the Oregon Heritage Commission Awards Banquet while our program committees unveiled remarkable new trees and interpretive markers honoring our state’s cultural and historical roots.

Catch the online gallery on our website.

New Heritage Tree Award

There’s a new award in town! And, it will be presented to a passionate advocate whose life work intersects with Oregon’s historic trees.

The first annual Maynard C. Drawson Award (to be presented in April 2015) is still open and accepting nominations until January 30, 2015.

Learn more about the nomination guidelines on our website.

Heritage Trees 2015

Two Oregon trees have been accepted into the Oregon Heritage Tree Class of 2015:

  • The T.J. Howell Brewer Spruce (near Cave Junction), named after Thomas Jefferson Howell, one of Oregon’s earliest pioneer botanists
  • The Coquille Myrtle Grove (in Coos County)—an Oregon State Park with trees reaching 90-feet in height

Dedications will be held for the Class of 2015 during Oregon Arbor Week. OTE will set a date and time early next year.

More information on the Oregon Heritage Tree Program may be found on our website.

Historical Markers

The Oregon Historical Marker Committee will install two new markers in 2015:

  • The View-Master marker honors the iconic childhood toy’s inventors and their historic meeting at the Oregon Caves
  • The Joel Perkins marker honors a notable Oregonian and will be installed in Lafayette next April

For more information on upcoming marker dedication dates and the Oregon Historical MarkerProgram, visit our website.

Recycle Project

The Santiam Rest Area (located on I-5 north of Albany) is a small jewel of land sprinkled with trees, flowers and grassy plains.

How does OTE keep this public space pristine? Much of the effort comes from the traveling public—they deposit pop cans, water bottles and plastic into the rest area’s recycling containers.

However, even best practices can be challenging if the containers are not adequate.

Learn how Josh Flores, Santiam’sRest Area Specialist solved a major recycling headache.

Holiday Employee Blog “Why Highway Signs Matter”

On a recent Turkey Day road trip to visit relatives, I discovered that once you cross the Southern Oregon and California border, finding essential services such as gas, food, lodging or food becomes much more difficult.

About the only way to determine where a business is located outside Oregon is to keep your eyes trained on the horizon skimming for a sky-bound neon sign.

Even then it’s a major miracle if the exit is the right one to steer you to coffee salvation.

Read the full blog post.

Thank You Sign Customers!

We would like to extend our heartiest “Thank You!” to our highway business sign customers for weighing in on the new fee schedule and for taking the time to voice your support and concerns.

The Oregon Travel Information Council voted to adopt the new sign fee schedule at their December 2014 meeting and used your feedback to help them make their informed decision.

Sign Program Manager Diane Cheyne was instrumental in designing the revised schedule that establishes a more equitable and fair approach on how to assess fees. The revised fee structure uses traffic count data, roadway type, and customer status (non-profit or for-profit) to categorize permit fees.

For more information about the adopted revisions, link to theHighway Business Sign FAQs.


To the New Year and Beyond

This year has been a busy one for everyone. From tourism and transportation collaborations to ensuring OTE sign customers receive top-notch care, we find ourselves sprinting towards the close of the calendar year.

We hope that you will remain connected with us moving forward. OTE’s Strategic Plan is primed to help Oregon implement new and innovative public services. Through strong partnerships and interagency action, motorists across the state will experience a high level of integrated features at our rest area locations.

Our program staff continue to establish performance metrics and discover methods to expand our services.

The Oregon Travel Information Council approved a new and improved fee structure matrix that provides for a more equitable permit structure for the Highway Business Sign Program.

The Heritage Tree and Historical Marker Programs continue to astonish and please travelers and families—and bring together communities and coalitions. (See our updates in the left-hand column.)

Our rest area coalitions will help to identify shifting priorities and solidify plans to improve communications between OTE and our strategic partners.

OTE’s 2015 – 2016 budget preparation is underway and we’ve received positive marks from our independent reviewers at Moss-Adams for last year’s accounting efforts.

Although there have been transitions in leadership, our core team has persevered and remained true to the guidance of the Oregon Travel Information Council mission and responsibility.

Everyone at OTE wishes you a a prosperous, safe, and absolutely fantastic New Year.

Clackamas County Kiosk Pilot Project

14French Prairie Nbound Kiosk Project 654Oregon Travel Experience and Clackamas County Tourism will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony at the northbound I-5 French Prairie Rest Area in January 2015 (time and date to be announced).

The ceremony will celebrate the installation of a new digital travel information kiosk. The public and interested partners will be able to view demonstrations on the new responsive touch screen e-concierge.

Clackamas County and OTE created plans for refurbishing an elderly travel information structure and utilized the original footprint from the 1960s era building. Materials were sourced within the region—Douglas fir, basalt, and a natural color palette compliment French Prairie’s park-like setting.

The purpose behind the project is to improve and support local economic infrastructure and to direct both Oregonians and travelers towards Clackamas County businesses and attractions.

What makes this location unique

14French Prairie Nbound Vending Project 707Annie Von Domitz, OTE’s Chief Community Assets Officer, helped lead the cooperative kiosk venture and she explains why French Prairie was selected.

“Clackamas County Tourism expressed a desire to help OTE improve their travel information portal at one our busiest rest areas,” said Von Domitz.

The interactive kiosk is stationed in a prime location to attract over one-million travelers who stop at northbound French Prairie each year.

14French Prairie Nbound Vending Project 731“The new kiosk, which is also owned and maintained by Clackamas County, contains much more dynamic and in-depth travel information,” added Von Domitz. “There are several language options, a digital ‘selfie’ station, and a way to print maps and take them with you. It greatly expands what was available within rest areas previously.”

Opportunities for local businesses

The refurbished kiosk will provide new opportunities for nearby businesses or highway business sign customers to connect with motorists and vacationers.

14French Prairie Nbound Vending Project 745“We’re excited about the kiosk’s new look and feel,” said Maddie MacGregor, OTE’s Integrated Marketing and Communications leader.

“There’s plenty of enhanced space for brochures, travel and tourism magazines, and re-styled display panels,” MacGregor noted. “If local businesses are interested in improving their visibility, the new displays are an awesome way to get noticed without breaking the PR bank.”

“Our partners in tourism will have the opportunity to direct many of the approximately one-million rest area users to great cuisine, hotels and fun—and everything in-between,” MacGregor said.

For more information on how your business may obtain a display permit for the new kiosk, contact Maddie MacGregor at 503-373-0090 or send an email query.

OTE Celebrates 

camOTE employees gathered together in the spirit of the season to celebrate the end of the year and enjoy a bit of camaraderie.

Cameron Sulak (pictured left at our annual holiday party) is one of our hardworking field operations employees. “Cam” will celebrate two years with OTE in January 2015 as a Sign Operations Technician.

Cam and the rest of the sign crew are responsible for clambering up tall ladders, hoisting up 5-foot wide steel logos and digging holes to install new signs. They perform these tasks as traffic whizzes by at 60 miles per hour and do so with extreme caution and safety. OTE’s sign operations crew maintain and clean approximately 5,000 signs across the state.

Calling All Non-Profits

new_coffee copyDid you know that OTE allows for non-profit  entities to serve fresh hot coffee in many of its rest area locations? OTE and the Oregon Department of Transportation are co-administrators in the state’s official Free Coffee Program—helping drivers rest and refresh.

Local non-profit volunteers who staff the program use motorist donations to help fund their charitable projects and scholarships.

For more information about the service, service locations and how to become involved, visit the Free Coffee Program information page on our website.

The Seasonal Road

Along many an Oregon byway, motorists are treated to ever-shifting seasons and landscapes. The image below was snapped by an OTE staff member on her afternoon commute in the Willamette Valley.

Willamette Valley view by Madeline MacGregor

Many of Oregon’s rest areas offer equally spectacular views—from pathways along the Columbia River to the gentle sheep-filled slopes of Lane County.

Make sure to pause, refresh and gain new appreciation for the beauty experienced on your daily commute. Be sure to share your road images with us—and we’ll post to our Facebook page and website.

Facebook    Twitter  Share with us and connect on Facebook and Twitter.

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