OTE - Oregon Travel Experience

May 2011- Celebrating Community Issue

Posted on: September 23rd, 2011 by Madeline MacGregor in Newsletter, Places to Stop | No Comments

Travel Plaza Customer Spotlight: Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

May is here, and in Woodburn there is a sea of color—row upon row of tulips in bloom. The weather is finally cooperating after a long wet spring and the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival is in full swing. Trolleys are fired up, food vendors are busy grilling homemade sausages and curly fries, and the cow trains are full. If you’ve never seen a cow train, maybe it’s time you schedule a visit to the festival for next year: children line up for rides through the fields in cars shaped like happy Holstein cows; bouncing over dirt tracks, their laughter is contagious.

Families are accommodated everywhere; in the food service area, play boxes filled with toy trucks and tractors entertain toddlers while their parents grab a bite to eat. Brightly painted picnic tables dot the grounds with spectacular views of Mt Hood. For the elderly or those unable to walk the half-mile or so out to the tulips, trolleys zip in and out of the festival promenade in a continuous flow.

Local economic development doesn’t end with tulips

The Iverson family has been in the tulip business for almost 40 years. Much of the product grown at the Woodburn farm is sold locally at Fred Meyer and Trader Joes. Locally produced products mean fresher flowers for the consumer as well as strength for the local economic infrastructure.

Susie Schriever, the farm’s event coordinator, explained to TIC how the tulips are hand cut in the fields, transported back to the sheds, and then washed, bundled, and packaged. Wooden Shoe keeps a close eye on the quality of their tulips from the time they leave the farm’s refrigerated packing house until they reach the retail venue. The farm also means local jobs for local people; Wooden Shoe employs both seasonal and year-round staff.

Farm production and activities do not end with tulips. Earlier in the season, daffodils were in bloom, and both tulip and daffodil bulbs are available from the farm’s online store. In the fall, Wooden Shoe will host its second annual pumpkin festival, so if you missed this year’s flower fest, there’s another chance to enjoy the farm’s hospitality.

The fall 2011 pumpkin festival will feature giant corn and hay mazes, pumpkin patches, and another chance to ride the famous cow train. Hay rides, pumpkin cannons, and old-fashioned games are all a part of the scheduled activities. For the adults, wine and locally crafted microbrews will be available and the family can learn how to plant tulip bulbs.

How Wooden Shoe draws visitors from the Woodburn Company Stores Travel Plaza

Just 27 miles south of Portland, Oregon, Woodburn Company Stores is a major attraction for visitors from out-of-state and Oregonians alike. Woodburn Company Stores host 4.4 million shoppers per year and is a major contributor to the region’s economic vitality.

Within the outlet mall, a traveler information kiosk displays a series of colorful backlit panels showcasing local attractions and visitor services. Area flower farms like Wooden Shoe, wineries, museums, and travel-related agencies all benefit from kiosk exposure.

Susie Iverson says that Wooden Shoe’s Travel Plaza backlit panel absolutely drives visitors to the farm. Her personal conversations with travelers stopping at the Woodburn outlet demonstrate that backlit panels work for local businesses.

“I was at this spring’s Governor’s Tourism Conference and a man came up to our booth. He wanted to let me know that he and his wife had learned about our farm while shopping at Woodburn Company Stores. They stopped at the outlet’s travel plaza to look over the local attractions, saw the poster for the farm, and picked up a brochure. They ended up spending half their day at Wooden Shoe and were very happy to have discovered us. I know the display works!”

Customers like Susie realize that travel plazas encourage visitors to explore the jewels of Oregon’s independent businesses. The Woodburn Company Stores Travel Plaza is a direct partnership between the Woodburn Chamber of Commerce, the Oregon Travel Information Council, and Woodburn Company Stores.

For more information on how a backlit display panel can enhance your business, contact TIC’s Sales Director Harry Falisec, 1-800-574-9397.

New Oregon Regional Historic Marker Slated for Dedication in Yachats

On Friday May 27, 2011, at 1:00 p.m., the latest in Oregon’s regional historical marker series will be dedicated at Yachats State Park. Interpretive regional markers describe how the land has been influenced by human activity over time. The regional marker series is managed by the Oregon Travel Information Council and if sponsorship is found, all seven regions in the state will be represented. Last year the first in the series, the Umpqua Valley regional marker, was installed in Roseburg.

The new marker represents the Oregon Coast region and was sponsored by the City of Yachats. The marker notes the region provided resources for human societies for thousands of years. For all of Oregon’s history, Indian tribes and bands stretched along the coast Salmon River, Siletz, Yaquina, Alsea, Siuslaw, Lower Umpqua, and the Coos. The tribal names remain prominently applied to the rivers and estuaries.

Regional historical markers educate both out-of-state visitors and Oregonians alike, since they colorfully depict nuggets of information that might otherwise be overlooked. Marker materials also incorporate important natural resources such as the state’s native Port Orford cedar.

Join us in the celebration and dedication ceremony; plan a family trip to Yachats and explore the rich history of the Oregon Coast. For more information, contact TIC’s Community Assets Officer Annie von Domitz, 503-373-0864.

Rest Area Legends and Tales: Shasta the cat reunited with family after six months in the Boardman rest area

In the fall of 2010, Diane Kerhulas-Hoeger and her family (including Diane’s three cats) stopped at the Boardman rest area in the middle of a long distance move. The family had been on the road since leaving Hood River and needed a break before resuming their trip to Diane’s new home in Spokane, Washington.

As the family got out of the truck to stretch their legs, Diane’s son made sure his mother’s personal belongings were well secured and the load tight. When he picked up one of the pet carriers holding Shasta and Sierra, the floor dropped out and sent the two kitties scurrying for cover. Sierra ran for the men’s restroom where a friendly occupant picked her up and returned her to Diane. Shasta however, darted underneath a storage shed directly alongside a dog-walk, prompting disastrous results.

After two long hours trying to capture Shasta, Diane made an extremely difficult decision to leave her favorite cat behind. Shasta was responsible for bringing her disabled mistress much emotional solace and when the family resumed their road trip, Diane was devastated.

When she arrived at her new home in Spokane, Diane called the Travel Information Council (TIC) main office and talked with the helpful receptionists. She was referred to TIC Boardman rest area supervisor Donnie Huberd, who helped Diane devise a plan to capture the runaway Shasta.

Huberd set live animal traps borrowed from local animal control officers, but as Diane says, “Shasta was too much of a diva for that!” Huberd sent Diane frequent email updates on Shasta’s condition. For five months, Huberd also set food out so Shasta would remain in the rest area until her mistress could return.

“Donnie gave me hope during a rough winter,” said Diane, “I know Shasta would not have survived without him since she was a short haired apartment cat.” Diane notes that Huberd’s contributions were from the heart as well as from his own pocket. “Numerous times I would offer to pay him for cat food, but he refused to accept a dime.”

This year in March, Diane made the much anticipated trip back to Boardman to try and reunite with Shasta. Although Huberd said Shasta had moved from her original hiding place, he was still feeding her and told Diane her exact location. “There she was, sitting on top of a dumpster, looking right at me,” Diane said. “She had been dumpster diving but came right up and I grabbed her tight.”

Shasta was placed into a more secure cat carrier for the trip to her new home with her mom. Diane said she will never forget how much support that TIC employees gave her during the long rescue effort. “They were always so patient and kind—always! They never got upset with me for bugging them for months!”

The TIC is grateful that Diane’s story had a happy ending. As part of their focus on Oregon’s motoring public, TIC employees embody the spirit of the agency motto “We go the extra mile so you don’t have to.” For Diane and Shasta, it was an affirmation of the good things that can happen when people care about one another’s well-being, as well as their furry companions.

Baldock Paving Project: Hiring local

If you’re a regular motorist on Oregon highways, you know all about the Willamette Valley corridor’s famous ruts! Our wonderful Oregon wet winters and green springs, plus studded snow tires, make for track-like peaks and valleys on I-5 from Salem to Portland. If you stop with any frequency in the rainy season at the Baldock rest area near Wilsonville, chances are you’ve experienced puddles deep enough to wear Wellies. Deep ruts in both the car-park and freight truck areas have serious ankle-twisting potential and TIC is almost finished with resurfacing both the north and south Baldock rest areas.TIC Chief Operations Officer Mike Barnes has acted as lead contact for the construction project.

Barnes said the off and on ramps to the Baldock rest areas are filled with pot holes and in the car-park there are depressions up to five inches deep. “These were becoming a public hazard,” said Barnes, “and we needed to devise a repair plan that would last longer than two or three weeks.” Barnes noted that patching and caulking holes is no longer a viable long-term solution.

Since the resurfacing project required a complicated shaving away at old asphalt and installing steel rebar with a concrete surface, knowledgeable engineers and construction specialists at ODOT helped Barnes and his staff draft the construction plans.

As part of TIC’s vision and mission to be connect travelers with great services, serving the needs of the local business community runs hand in hand with hiring local contractors to perform rest area improvements, such as the Baldock resurfacing project.

Barnes helped implement the local contractor bidding program for Baldock and the resurfacing proposal was sent out to five local contracting businesses within the northern I-5 corridor. The bids were evaluated by a “best value” scoring system. The most weight in points was given for location and lowest price. A local Canby business, K&L Industries, was awarded the contract based on the new scoring system

K & L Industries has been family owned and operated since 1984.Their full service asphalt paving company services are available to the northern Willamette Valley, Portland Metro, and southwestern Washington. When the company first opened, their work was limited to paved residential driveways and asphalt driveway approaches. Today, their grading and paving services cover large and small lots, housing developments, street improvements, and trench patching.

The company is focused on their mission to help both homeowners and the State of Oregon and states the following on their web site: “We remember our beginnings and will always take care of the customer who has the small job too. We understand that what may seem small to a large contractor is a big job for the homeowner.”

K&L Industries is a prime example of local economic development at its best—and in the case of the Baldock resurfacing contract you might even say “it’s where the rubber hits the road.”

The Santiam Rest Area: Local heroes deliver service north of Albany

The most exciting job in the world is not so exciting if it doesn’t ignite your inner spirit. Santiam rest area supervisors Greg Adams and Nancy Rold combine their everyday duties with unbridled enthusiasm and create extraordinary service results.

At TIC managed rest areas, supervisor teams meet and greet motorists, help with stalled vehicles, and monitor the grounds and facilities for cleanliness. Supervisors also need the ability to think critically and think fast, since unexpected challenges are the norm.

From motorists out of gas to flat tires, Adams and Rold help travelers get back on the road with minimum fuss. Adams is committed to making sure travelers receive the help they need. “I just love to see how happy people are for the little things we can do for them help-wise, like oil, water in the radiator, fuses and the like,” he says. “Women traveling alone are especially thankful—they’ll even call their husbands and tell them how relieved they are that we’ve been there to help get them back on the road.”

Although prepared for the occasional motorist running short on fuel, rest area supervisors have been trained to identify those who might take advantage of high gasoline prices to scam a gallon from kind-hearted supervisors. Yet supervisors are still human beings who retain their sense of justice. “It’s the way you treat people,” says Rold. “Whether it’s a panhandler or someone in genuine need, I’m nice, but I will enforce the rules.”

Greg Adams has found lost wallets, keys, and eyeglasses—all everyday items, yet essential to their owners. “One gal was on her way up to Salem and lost her wallet and all the information she needed for an out-of-country trip. If that wallet had not been discovered promptly by a rest area supervisor, she might have had really big problems trying to get a new passport in time,” Adams says.

For Nancy Rold, pets are a great segue into conversations with travelers. “Animals are my thing, so when I see a dog in a car, I go right up and say hi. It’s a good ice breaker with their owners.” Rold has seen every type of animal come through the Santiam, including ferrets and hooded hawks. She manages to form lasting relationships with the motoring public and their pets. “I have one lady truck driver who comes through every two weeks with her dogs in the cab, and we have ourselves a good hug and a chat,” says Rold.

Both Adams and Rold help pets out with essential items like food or water bowls. “I’m prepared with fresh water, just in case someone forgets to bring it along,” says Adams, and Rold buys treats for visiting dogs with money from her own pocket. “Of course I always ask an owner’s permission first before I give them out,” Rold adds.

If grandma was coming to visit

Adams and Rold know the traveling public want a safe, clean environment at rest areas and they ensure motorists will receive both at the Santiam. “I’m always telling Frankie, our custodian, to remember ‘what if’ your grandma was going to use that restroom,” chuckles Adams.

Frankie Evans is a contract custodian from Clean Innovations who agrees with the grandma law. “We’re always talking about the golden rule here,” says Evans. “I’m entirely comfortable that when I leave at the end of my shift that the restrooms are clean and well-stocked. I know my own family could visit and not be embarrassed.”

Rold wants the public to know Oregon State Police patrol the Santiam on a regular basis, day and night, and make their presence known every few hours. TIC rest area supervisors work staggered shifts and during off-hours, take turns being on call.

The bottom line for both Rold and Adams is to provide the best public service they can. “All we want is to take pride and ownership in what we do,” says Adams. “I care about helping people and whatever it takes, I’ll do it.”

Rold adds, “TIC lets us think outside the box and come up with creative ways to be part of the team. It’s not about numbers—it’s all about how can we make a day better for both the public and ourselves. If we come to work feeling good, we’ll pass it on to our customers.”

As part of their personal plans to carry out pride and ownership in TIC’s mission, Rold and Adams want to beautify the rest area for visitors. Tourists from out-of-state often form their first impressions of Oregon in rest areas, so landscape plantings become a simple but dramatic statement. Rold and Adams envision a year-long array of flowering bulbs and early annuals, all purchased from local Oregon nurseries.

Adams and Rold both possess an entrepreneurial spirit representing the true Oregon experience. If you find yourself on the I-5 corridor in need a safety break, stop by the Santiam, north or south, and treat yourself to a chat with Greg and Nancy. Oh… and don’t forget, grandma is welcome too!

Council to Hold Public Hearing

It’s time for the next Oregon Travel Information Council meeting.

On June 2, 2011, the Oregon Travel Information Council (TIC) will hold a public hearing on the agency’s draft budget proposal. The hearing will be held during the regular quarterly council meeting from 10:00 a.m. to noon at the agency’s headquarters in Salem, 1500 Liberty St SE.

The council will review, amend, and approve the TIC 2011-2013 Biennium Budget during the session. A public comment period is scheduled as part of the agenda.

For a copy of the 2011-2013 Biennium Budget or for more information, contact Tracie Gibson at 503-373-0155.


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