County claims Crater Lake
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, OR
October 16, 2003
By BROOK REINHARD
Step aside Medford, the so-called “Gateway to Crater Lake.”
That lake is ours.
And now it’s official, since Klamath County on Wednesday adopted the slogan “Home of Crater Lake.”
The county board of commissioners unanimously approved the slogan during their regular weekly meeting, although not without some quarreling over who gets credit for the idea.
In a fight that could mirror the next election, Klamath County Commissioner Steve West took on a Klamath County Chamber of Commerce representative to argue over who thought of the slogan first.
Joe Spendolini of the Klamath County Chamber Ambassadors appeared before the board to lobby for the slogan, but he got an earful from West.
A two-term commissioner, West will face opponents Willy Thornton and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Stephanie Bailey in the a race for the Republican nomination next May, assuming West runs for a third term. He has indicated he will likely run again.
“I think you have a good idea,” West told Spendolini while the commissioner gave a presentation on Klamath County’s use of Crater Lake, “but it’s important to realize it’s not a new idea.”
West faced criticism from many local businesses and residents for his work as the liaison to the county’s tourism department. He relinquished his tourism duties in April, and the most recent committee charged with developing a tourism solution had strong representation from the Chamber of Commerce.
West went on to show the Spendolini, the Ambassadors’ co-chairman, how to find out about Crater Lake by typing “Klamath County, Oregon” into Internet search engines.
Those searches pull up sites on Klamath County tourism and Klamath County government.
By contrast, West said, little mention of Oregon’s only national park can be found on the Chamber of Commerce Web site.
“Unfortunately, Crater Lake is mentioned only once in the last paragraph (of the Web site) and there’s no mention of Klamath County,” he said.
Spendolini said he was disappointed by West’s actions, and felt the commissioner was taking something that should have been a group effort and turning it into a way to “degrade the chamber.”
“I came before the county as a citizen of this county,” said Spendolini, referring to a commissioner meeting when he and a half-dozen other green-vested ambassadors asked the county to consider adopting “Home of Crater Lake” as a county slogan. “The last thing I wanted was to get the Chamber of Commerce slammed by the county.”
Spendolini added later that West typed the wrong words into the search engines.
“His research was flawed. When you’re doing a search on the Internet and you plug in ‘Crater Lake,’ Klamath County does not appear that often,” he said.
West said after the meeting he was only trying to set the record straight and show that while a chamber representative was asking for county action, the group had done little to promote the landmark.
“There’s an old saying that you ought to make sure your own house is in order before rearranging other people’s furniture,” he said.
West said Wednesday afternoon that he did not criticize the proposal as a political maneuver targeting Bailey, who has been director of the chamber since 2000.
Bailey said she didn’t know why West made his comments.
“I can’t read his mind but I think it’s unfortunate,” she said. “It was something where a really great, positive statement got spoiled. It’s not a chamber idea Š the idea came straight from Joe.”
After approving the new slogan, the commissioners agreed to appoint a committee to study designs for a new county emblem incorporating Crater Lake. Commissioner John Elliott will chair the committee, and is inviting any interested parties to submit ideas.
“I’m not going to make it a formal type committee,” Elliott said. “I want as many people who want to be involved to be heard.”
Reporter Brook Reinhard covers local government. He can be reached at 885-4415 or (800) 275-0982, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.