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It's past time for a new museum


   
   Publisher
   The effort to build a new Jefferson County Museum deserves cheers and support.
   Having our museum in a top floor of a building that borders on condemnation is less than optimal. The old city hall building is a classic which, hopefully, will never be taken down, but while its service as a county museum is quaint, it's very impractical.
   Central Oregon draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, and highways 97 and 26 bring many of them through Madras. A top-quality museum would be a tremendous economic asset to the Madras-Jefferson County area, and a bold sign to visitors and potential relocators that we take pride in our community.
   Central Oregon most certainly has a robust century ahead of it, and Jefferson County has a vibrant future. It's high time we find a quality home to keep and showcase its past.
   Good luck on the museum effort. The entire county ought to get behind the project and help make it a reality, soon.
   For the past decade, we shared our state representative with Redmond and the north Deschutes County area. Driving the district used to take an afternoon. Now you'll have to book a room somewhere as it stretches from The Dalles to John Day, from the timberland of Camp Sherman to hinterlands of Wheeler County.
   That's nothing compared to our senate district, which went from a concise Central Oregon area to take in a geographical expanse that runs the length of the entire state. Presently served by Sen. Steve Harper, District 30 runs from the California border to the Columbia River.
   After a season of political gamesmanship from both parties, redistricting 2001 style becomes official Dec. 15.
   Speaking of official, one becomes officially old when their state rep is younger than they are, and House District 59 has a lot of old folks. Greg Smith, a 31-year-old from Heppner, is our new man on the job.
   He appears to have plenty of energy and drive to do well. He received some very high marks during his freshman season in Salem. On Monday, he stopped in Madras for a hastily arranged visit at the chamber office, during which he said all the right things. Topping the list of things he said was that he didn't want to talk as much as listen at this point, to find out what Jefferson County wants in its legislator.
   Smith appears to be from the line of pragmatic, effective Eastern Oregon legislators that have served very well in Salem over the last quarter century -- people like Timms, Nelson, Clarno, Lunquist and Westlund.
   The redistricting should be relatively painless for Jefferson County. We're going from one hard-charging moderate Republican to another. Those that have the biggest reason to gripe are some of the legislators themselves. Some were "redistricted" right out of their homes.
   Heppner, Smith's hometown, was cut out of the district he serves. In order to remain representative of the district, he has to move. He says that's no problem, though. A economic adviser, Smith says he can work anywhere there's a phone line. His choice: Fossil.
   Anyone who feels the beauty and draw of Fossil, the capital of Wheeler County, can't be all bad.