Commentary, In the community

COMMENTARY: It’s time to save Vale’s murals, and here’s why

They are a determined bunch, these people who gathered recently to consider the future of Vale’s murals.

Over an hour on a recent evening, about 30 people kicked around ideas. Bottom line: They must be saved.

Now, it’s time for the community to rally to this cause. Here’s why.

The history-themed murals were intended to boost Vale’s economy, drawing in visitors to linger longer in town.

Those at the recent meeting told about the community excitement as the murals went up. The painting of the murals became spectator events. People from Vale watched and helped as they could. Passersby stopped too, curious about the hubbub.

The 32 murals grace buildings all through Vale.

Some are in wonderful condition.

Others are sorely in need of restoration before they turn into an eyesore.

The task of shepherding care of these artistic wonders has been in the hands of the Vale Heritage Reflections Mural Society. Once a robust organization, membership and finances have dwindled. The handful of volunteers are exhausted by the duty.

They need help, and they should get it.

Vale, it’s time to unite and gather behind something positive that will benefit the entire town.


The murals represent a huge investment. As with a house, such investments should be safeguarded and preserved.

They are part of the historic draw of Vale, which was an important stop on the Oregon Trail. That connection to history, which proves profitable in many other communities, has not been well developed in Vale.

By restoring the murals and stepping up recognition of the Oregon Trail elements, Vale can be more than a place to stop for a tank of gas or a burger to go. People – tourists with money – love history. Let’s give them something to love.

Those at the meeting had lots of ideas of how to make that happen.

Hay rides to haul visitors from mural to mural with a history talk was one.

Another idea was to have some sort of tour that ends with a big dinner at a park. Who knows? Maybe those dressed in period costumes could be the servers and historians could be after-dinner speakers. This could even be one of those farm-to-table events getting so popular.

With today’s technology, audio devices could be embedded at each mural, playing a recording when visitors press a button or wave a cell phone.

Simple marketing would help. A better, more visible map someplace so people could find them all. Brochures with photos of each mural and a bit of the history of that mural would help -– and could be available in every business and office in Vale.

Ideas, frankly, are easy to come by. Acting on those ideas, that’s the challenge.

But it’s one that Vale should rise and meet.

This is something that everyone in Vale could get behind and own a piece of. And every individual could share in the pride of rescuing these assets and literally putting Vale more prominently on the map.

But this will take a sense the community wants to go this direction. This is not a task that ought to be left to a few devoted volunteers.

Here’s what should happen next.

The mural society is holding another meeting for the community. This one will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19, at the Vale Senior Citizen Center.

The place should be packed.

Those who were at the last meeting should each bring along one more person.

The owner of all buildings now hosting murals should be there.

Local organizations should be represented, from the Vale Community Coalition to the Vale Lions to local school groups. Kids, after all, have a stake in the fate of Vale.

And since Vale is the county seat, the county commissioners should show some pride in that seat and join in the meeting as well.

From there, those attending should settle on a collective plan.

Vale has so much more it can offer – and so much more it can profit from. 

This is the moment, this is the opportunity, for the community to act in concert to boost the fortunes and the spirts of the town.

Contact Editor Les Zaitz: [email protected].

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