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Butte Falls will get water bottling site

Lumber company offers land

BUTTE FALLS ­ A Southern Oregon timber company has offered this hamletnearly four acres for the community's long-planned water bottling plant.

We want to be good corporate citizens, explained Steve Swanson,general manager of Superior Lumber Co. in Glendale.

We're now a major land owner in the area, he added. Theproperty we're giving Butte Falls adjoins the city.

The gesture is intended to create goodwill as well as jobs, he said.

It has already spread goodwill, and there is no doubt building the plantwill lead to employment for this former timber town with high unemployment,said Butte Falls Mayor Sara Beck.

We have a long ways to go before we get the plant, but this isa great step for us, Beck said of the parcel situated on the southedge of town and downstream from its water source at nearby Ginger Spring.

This land is our No. — choice, Beck said. Water canbe piped right to it. And it will be easy access for travelers to stop andvisit.

Since the timber industry began its downturn a decade ago, city officialshave talked about building a plant to bottle water from the crystal-clearsprings.

The plan is to use the one commodity the town has in abundance ­clean drinking water ­ to make money and create jobs, which are twoitems in short supply. The tentative name for the bottled water is GingerSprings Water.

Finding funding and a site for the plant have been the two main obstacles,officials said.

We're prepared to give Butte Falls the land now, Swansonsaid. We just want the city to come back to us with a proposal, tomake sure the transfer can take place.

Last fall, Superior and three other Southern Oregon lumber companiesformed a coalition to buy 170,000 acres of timberland once owned by MedfordCorp. The other companies are C&D Lumber Co. of Riddle, Sun Studs ofRoseburg and Rough & Ready Lumber Co. of Cave Junction.

Four years ago, Butte Falls voters approved a charter amendment to permitwater sales of city water outside town limits. Voters gave the city theright to sell surplus drinking water as a money-making business.

The city also plans to upgrade its aging water system that leaks about70,000 gallons each day. Water saved from plugging the leaks would be enoughfor the plant, Beck said.

City officials are considering ways to replace an old water storage anddistribution system and fire hydrants.

Our water bottling plant has been a dream of ours for a long time,Beck said. The concept is that a company would come in and run it.The town would get a percentage of the profits.

Getting land for the plant is a major step toward realizing the community'sdream, she said.

This is really a good neighbor thing by the lumber company forthe town, she said.