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July 1, 2006 Ashland man to head heritage commission George Kramer has a long history of championing the past By Buffy Pollock For the Tidings Already known for his efforts to preserve historic buildings around the Rogue Valley, Ashl

Ashland man to head heritage commission

George Kramer has a long history of championing the past

For the Tidings

Already known for his efforts to preserve historic buildings around the Rogue Valley, Ashland consultant George Kramer will soon take the reins of a statewide commission geared at securing, sustaining and enhancing heritage-related programs.

Kramer, 47, is the new chairman of the Oregon Heritage Commission, established by the Legislature in 1995 to award grants to heritage programs and coordinate the state’s upcoming sesquicentennial celebration. He was first appointed as a member by Gov. John Kitzhaber in 1999.

Roger Roper, assistant director for Oregon Heritage Programs, said Kramer was known for his dedication.

“George is a great guy, so obviously we’re really happy he’s the chair,” Roper said. “I think he’s got a lot of knowledge, he’s got good connections and I think it’s healthy that he represents the Oregon that’s not clustered right around Portland.”

Kramer said he would focus on raising the profile of heritage issues statewide.

“For good or ill they voted me as the incoming chair,” Kramer said. “I’ll mostly just keep things going. We have a pretty successful program and I look to encourage that.”

Kramer said that with so many agencies facing budget cuts statewide, grants awarded by the commission had become more important. In coming years he’ll work on increasing funding and raising the profile of heritage issues statewide, he said.

Kramer has had a hand in many historic restoration projects around Southern Oregon and written countless nominations for the National Register of Historic Places. He assisted with the remodeling of the Hubbard’s Ace Hardware building, consulted with builders of the new First Presbyterian Church in historic Jacksonville, and assisted in the Medford Urban Renewal Agency’s facade improvement program. He’s helped cities develop historic design standards, heritage education programs and financial incentives to guide downtown revitalization.

Southern Oregon Historical Society Executive Director John Enders said Kramer’s appointment was “well deserved.”

“It’s a real honor for George to be elected I don’t think there’s a historic preservation group in the area that’s been active for the past 10 years that hasn’t benefitted from George’s expertise and involvement,” Enders said.

“I think he’ll do a great job and I think he’ll bring more recognition to Southern Oregon. He’s got a lot of energy.”

Kramer agreed that Southern Oregon would not be overlooked during his tenure.

“A lot of things tend to get sort of focused on bigger cities and I hope my chairmanship will serve to bring increased awareness to Southern Oregon,” Kramer said. The commission’s vice chairman, Donald Ivy, is from the Southern Oregon coast.

“ having two Southern Oregonians, we’ll have the commission’s attention at least,” Kramer said.

For more information on the Oregon Heritage Commission, see http:www.oregon.gov/OPRD/HCD/ on the Web.

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