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Valentine's Day brings progress to the heart of Gold Hill

GOLD HILL ' The city's got a lot to celebrate when it holds a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Valentine's Day.

There's the &

36;2.3 million renovation of Highway 234 through town, completed last month, that brought with it new sidewalks, storm drains, lighting and landscaping.

There's the new 5,000-square-foot, &

36;946,000 library, with community room, children's garden and computer stations.

And there's a whole passel of new street names that'll make navigating Gold Hill a little bit easier.

The Oregon Department of Transportation's highway repaving project presented an opportunity to resolve a confusing situation in Gold Hill, explained Public Works Director Royal Gasso.

— There was a push for some time to change the name of city streets from a double-numbered grid, said Gasso. It was confusing for people doing deliveries and even emergency services.

East-west routes were numbered avenues; north-south routes were numbered streets. The city decided to change the numbered streets instead of the numbered avenues because most people have their addresses on the avenues, Gasso said.

Doing it that way only affected about 70 people, said Gasso. Most of the formerly numeric street names now reflect local historical figures. And the highway project paid for several of the new street signs, he said.

Gold Hill contributed &

36;300,000 to the development project for new lightingand landscaping.

We planted a variety of 23 new street trees, said Gasso. We hand-picked them from the (tree) farm.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. Monday near the bridge over the Rogue River.While the projects have improved the town's function and appearance, having Highway 234 under construction for 10 months took a toll on many local businesses.

Louis Smart owns Steamboat Coin Laundry and rents three adjacent business properties located midtown on Highway 234.

Smart says his renters were not as affected by the construction because of the nature of their businesses. But Smart's Laundromat lost up to 75 percent its income for several months.

We went from around &

36;700 to &

36;800 a week to down around &

36;200 to &

36;300 a week, said Smart. It was tough. And the snow didn't help.

But things are slowly getting back to normal, he said.

We back to around &

36;500 the past week or so, he said.

Smart said merchants are hoping the Valentine's Day ribbon-cutting celebration, set for 10 a.m. near the bridge over the Rogue River, will demonstrate the town is open for business and help them regain lost revenues.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony.

Street-name changes

OldNew

First StreetAmbrose Street

Second StreetBeeman Street

Third StreetChavner Street

Fourth StreetDardanelles Street

Fifth StreetEstremado Street

Sixth StreetFredenburg Street

Seventh StreetGustaf Street

Eighth StreetHays Street

Ninth StreetIdeal Street

Tenth StreetJacoby Street

Eleventh StreetKellogg Street

Twelfth StreetLafayette Street

Thirteenth StreetMarksbury Street

Fourteenth StreetNorris Street

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail .