County repaid for Crater Lake license loan
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, OR
January 07, 2003
By LEE JUILLERAT
Chuck Lundy, Crater Lake National Park’s superintendent, shows off his special park license plate. More than 22,500 of the plates have been sold since late last August.
Popularity of the Crater Lake centennial license plates is proving to be good news for Klamath County.
Chuck Lundy, Crater Lake National Park’s superintendent, handed over a $156,635.55 check to Klamath County Commissioners this morning, a repayment plus 4 percent interest, for a $150,000 loan from the county that made issuance of the license plates possible.
“We do want to get your new year started in a financially eventful way,” said Lundy while presenting the check.
Last year, the county loaned $150,000 to the National Park Service Foundation, which in turn loaned the money to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Although the Oregon Legislature in 2002 approved a bill creating the license plates, uncertain funding for designing and producing the plates probably would have prevented them from being ready until 2004.
With the help of a loan from Klamath County, the plates were made available during last August’s Centennial celebration at the park.
Lundy said 22,500 of the plates, which feature an image of Wizard Island and the lake, had been sold as of Monday. The sales have generated $450,000.
Profits from the plates will be used to help fund a planned Crater Lake Science and Learning Center. Two of the park’s historic buildings will be converted, one to the center, the other to a dormitory that can house teachers, students and researchers.
Lundy said National Park Service architects are working on engineering plans. The project will be put out for bid late this year with construction expected during the 2004 construction season.
Lundy singled out Commissioner Steve West for playing a pivotal role in lining up support, especially from Sen. Jason Atkinson of Jacksonville. When it appeared the necessary money to design and produce the plates would not be available in time for the centennial, “The county commissioners came to the rescue.”
“Contrary to popular belief,” quipped West, “this was not a second mortgage on the park.”
West said “it took a lot of convincing” to pass legislation allowing the plates and then working with state agencies to have them produced. He also praised Mary Rasmussen, a park employee, for promoting the idea of creating a special license plate.
Crater Lake license plates are available through DMV (Driver & Motor Vehicle Services) offices in Klamath Falls, Lakeview and elsewhere throughout the state. The one-time $20 fee goes to the park to help finance park programs, with the science and learning center the designated project.
Regional Editor Lee Juillerat covers Lake, Siskiyou, Modoc and northern Klamath counties. He can be reached at 885-4421, (800) 275-0982, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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