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Signs of spring and renewal: businesses rebuild

A year and half after the devastating Almeda fire swept from Ashland to Medford, destroying swaths of Talent and Phoenix along the way, rebuilt businesses are beginning to rise from the ashes, just as spring brings new growth and warmer weather.

On the spot where a Burger King restaurant burned down on the outskirts of Ashland, a new Dairy Queen will take its place. And north of Phoenix, D&S Harley-Davidson, a family-owned fixture of the local business community, plans to open its new showroom and service department before Memorial Day. The motorcycle dealership has been operating from temporary space in south Medford since the fire.

Both of those projects, as well as 15 others for which permits have been issued in Talent and Phoenix, are a testament to the tenacity and dedication of the business owners, determined to start anew after the losses of Sept. 8, 2020.

Jason Federico, who owns two Dairy Queens in Grants Pass and one in Medford, acknowledges he’s taking a risk by opening a new one off Valley View Road, but he told the Mail Tribune it’s a commitment he and his wife want to make to rebuilding the community.

Another food-service business, Puck’s Donuts, a familiar landmark on Main Street in Phoenix, is on it way back as well, complete with the large pink box of donuts that survived the flames.

Garrison’s Furniture will rebuild, as will several self-storage facilities, Rogue Valley Baptist Church and the Oak Valley Subdivision clubhouse in Talent.

Rebuilt housing is coming along as well. All construction projects are being plagued by supply chain issues that cause delays while contractors wait for back-ordered equipment such as heating and air conditioning units. That’s frustrating, but it will pass.

In the meantime, celebrate the rebirth taking place along Highway 99, and show your support for the commitment of those undertaking the rebuilding process by patronizing the businesses as they reopen.

Residents of the Rogue Valley have always supported their neighbors who experience hardship, and we are confident that community spirit will continue as the rebuilding proceeds.