Transportation and Tourism Task Force Moves Ahead
On March 7, 2007, The Transportation/Tourism Task Force met in Ashland for its Spring Quarterly meeting at the Ashland Windmill Inn. This group of approximately 35 members representing transportation, tourism, and economic development organizations from both public and private sectors, was formally endorsed as an Oregon Task Force via an Executive Order by Governor Ted Kulongoski last October. The Travel Information Council acts as staff and facilitating agency for the Task Force’s work.
Acting for Chair Mike Nelson who was unable to attend, Vice Chair Mike Burrill (Chair of the Oregon Department of Aviation, from Medford) led the meeting. Burrill, Ashland Mayor John Morrison, and Mary Pat Parker of the Ashland Visitors Bureau welcomed Task Force members to the region.
The Task Force has prioritized several projects for immediate focus, and agenda items included updates on each of them:
The Siskiyou Welcome Center
Private hospitality industry organizations and public agencies as well as local officials are anxious to see completion of a new Welcome Center, which has been operating in temporary quarters for 11 years. Art Anderson and Tim Fletcher of the regional ODOT office led discussions after presenting an optimum timeline and details of the planned Request for Proposal (RFP), which will be published as soon as funding sources have been solidified. Dialogue centered around providing upgraded quality facilities that would reflect both Oregon and the local region, along with important safety and maintenance considerations. There was a general feeling that this Welcome Center could be a template for future Centers in the state.ODOT has identified a shortfall in available funds. A $3 to 5 million deficit due to inflation (original costs were estimated ten years ago) and increased design costs, according to Anderson. A Siskiyou Funding sub-committee has now been appointed to research and recommend funding sources.
Lane County Travel Plaza/Visitor Center
Reporting for Kari Westlund (Executive Director, Convention and Visitors Association of Lane County Oregon/CVALCO), Sharyl Parker (Industry Development Manager, TIC, and Task Force Coordinator) noted that the CVALCO Board of Directors has placed creation of this Center as a top priority. While the current Rest Areas both North and South of Eugene/Springfield are being considered, discussions are also taking place with several local private developers for a facility on private land near Interstate 5.
Other presentations at the Task Force meeting included:
A presentation by Marina Cresswell of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department on the planned Welcome Center at Crissey Field in Brookings, which is a partnership between OPRD, Oregon Tourism Commission, and TIC.
A discussion on Rest Area safety issues, led by Sgt. Jeff Fitzgerald of the local office of Oregon State Police.
David Cox, Director of the Oregon Office of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), gave a full presentation on the history of Oregon’s rest areas and visitor facilities, and challenged the group to upgrade to not only compete with pride against other states’ impressive facilities, but also create a unique “Oregon experience”. Cox also described the new federal OASIS program. At Cox’s suggestion, a sub-committee to create a Rest Area Strategic Plan was appointed.
At the Governor’s request, local transportation/task force meetings will be held around the state to foster communication. The first of these regional meetings was held for the Southern Oregon area following this state Task Force meeting. The Task Force will meet next in June in Eastern Oregon.
Welcome Center Conference a Success!
The Oregon Travel Information Council recently held its fourth annual Welcome Center Training Conference. Hosted by the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Oregon Visitor Association, over 60 front-line visitor center staff from all over Oregon were treated to great hospitality, great networking, and great opportunity for learning.
The purpose of the annual Welcome Center Training Conference is to provide visitor center managers and front line staff with an opportunity to sharpen their customer service skills and expand their knowledge about visitor services. Each year, the conference is held in a different region of the state, giving conference delegates a chance to learn about a new area. In addition, the conference provides information from experts in tourism and travel. This year’s panel of expert presenters included speakers from Travel Oregon, State Parks, Oregon Department of Transportation, Army Corp of Engineers, US Forest Service, BLM and the National Parks Service. Each presented information about the year ahead for their respective agencies and how visitors could be impacted. In addition, each of Oregon’s seven Tourism Regions presented updates on new events and developments in the coming year.
Attendees were treated to some of the best food and wine in Southern Oregon, where taken on guided tours to wineries, the Grants Pass Bear Barns, Ashland’s Art Galleries, and a fantastic dinner at Harry and David’s. Evaluations revealed the 2007 Welcome Center Training Conference was a total success! TIC extends a big THANK YOU to SOVA, the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, our conference sponsors, and attendees for making this Training Conference so successful.
Tollgate Maples Latest Heritage Tree Inductees
Near the town of Rhododendron, two big leaf maple trees stand on each side of the replica tollgate that marks the western-most and last tollgate operated on the Barlow Road – the branch of the Oregon Trail that crossed Mt. Hood. The original tollgate was in operation on this site from 1879 until 1915, and the tollgate maples are believed to have been planted in the 1880’s by Daniel Parker who was the tollgate keeper at the time.
The Tollgate Maples will be formally inducted into the Oregon Heritage Tree Program on April 4, 2007 at 11:00 a.m. The ceremony will be held at the tollgate historic site in the highway way-side for the Pioneer Bridle Trailhead on US Highway 26 located 1/2 mile east of Rhododendron. Parking will be available in the day use area of Tollgate Campground located between Rhododendron and the tollgate wayside.
Speaking at the dedication event will be Gary Larsen, Forest Supervisor of the Mt. Hood National Forest, Lloyd Musser of the Mt. Hood Cultural Center, Cheryl Gribskov, Executive Director of the Oregon Travel Information Council, and Doug Grafe of the Oregon Heritage Tree Committee.
Historical Marker News
The Oregon Historical Marker Committee is pleased to introduce our newest committee member, Richard Matthews. Dick currently serves as the Director of Facilities for the Oregon Historical Society. He has an extensive background working with non-profit and historical organizations, including Development Coordinator for World Affairs Council of Oregon, Assistant Director for the Historic Preservation League of Oregon, and Administrator for the Washington County Museum. Dick has a M.A. in United States History, with a secondary focus in Public Administration from Portland State University, and a B.Sc. in Modern European History from Portland State University. Dick is an expert in military history and is currently working on a book about Camp Adair, located near Corvallis, Oregon. He is pictured here with his some of personal collection of French militaria. We are excited to have Dick on board!
Heritage Tree Spring Newsletter
This newsletter has been archived. You can read or download the pdf.