17 Jun 2008, 11:32pm
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Rural Oregon economy focus of special congress

Illinois Valley News, June 18, 2023 [here]

Rural leaders from across Oregon met Friday, June 13 in Cascade Locks in Columbia River Gorge to plan a different kind of two-day rural conference.

Citizens representing the Oregon coast, S.W. Oregon, north-central Oregon, N.E. Oregon and S.E. Oregon met together for the first time after months of communicating by phone and e-mail. They committed to presenting a thoroughly thought-out and developed Oregon Rural Congress in Cascade Locks on Aug. 21 and 22.

The goal of the Congress is to develop a new way of doing business and functioning in rural Oregon.

“Many of us in rural Oregon have realized that rural communities and interests from across the state must unite and work together,” said Union County Commissioner Colleen MacLeod. “The 2008 Session and Special Session told us that not to do so is no longer an option.”

This first Congress will address five fundamental areas of importance from the perspective of each of eight loosely designated regions of the state. Onno Husing, administrator of the Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association said, “We have to get beyond the one-size-fits-all mentality and respect our differences, or we will never solve the increasing problems rural Oregon has. We have to face facts and find ways to change old systems that no longer work.”

Steve Grasty, a Harney County judge, said, “Rural Oregon must be organized if we are to improve the social, economic and environmental challenges in our communities. These challenges have come forward from years of well intentioned but misguided decisions.”

The planning group discussed the structure of the two-day Congress and the creation of a report. “Unlike the ill-fated report of the Office of Rural Policy the planning group will see that the work of the Congress receives wide distribution,” it was stated.

A final planning meeting will be held in S.W. Oregon on July 24. The location will be announced.

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