Thursday, January 31, 2008

1953 planning commissioner calls Ontario “slower than molasses”

The Jan. 29, 1953 issue of The Argus-Observer described how an honor caught one civic leader off guard the same week others were complaining of the city’s reluctance to finance needed public works.

John Caldwell, who operated a title and abstract company, was named Ontario’s “Man of the Year” during a Chamber of Commerce dinner Monday at the Moore Hotel, while Caldwell relaxed at home.

Caldwell, cited for his successful push for passage of a local school bond, was caught by surprise.

“The ticket committee had failed to induce him to buy a ticket and attend the banquet,” the Argus-Observer reported. “The committee which chose him for the distinction had some difficulty getting him to respond to the request to come downtown. Caldwell was at home relaxing comfortably in his favorite chair and slippers when the summons came.”

But the business of the city went on, however haltingly, as local businessman Joe Saito took over as president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees).

The next day, at the city planning commission meeting, a member of the commission complained that the town “was slower than molasses in January” as he urged the city council to “go ahead and bond the city” to install manholes and lateral lines needed to put the already completed sewer line into service.

The additional work was expected to cost $80,000 to $90,000.

Planning commissioner R. W. Jones, who owned a laundry and dry cleaning business, argued that good streets benefit everyone in town, not just those who live or have businesses along those streets, concluding that everyone should help pay for such a project.

City officials were worrying about related costs with the state ordering the city to build a $175,000 sewage treatment plant to stop the practice of dumping raw sewage into the Snake River.

Fred Huling Sr., president of the planning commission, said the city should “shoot the works for anything that makes sense,” noting that the increase in property taxes for both projects could cost him $15 a year in taxes on his own home.

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