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Sometimes businesses close. But some do it with more consideration

It's unfortunate that Jetcraft Boats felt compelled to shut down its Medford production plant. What's even more unfortunate is the way the company went about it.

The Canadian owners, Harbercraft Eagle, blamed eight months of operating losses ' something no company can withstand for long.

We understand the realities of the marketplace and the necessity to make tough decisions. What we can't understand is why Harbercraft officials felt it necessary to keep their workers in the dark.

While Jetcraft employees were attending a company picnic at Emigrant Lake on Saturday, crews were dismantling the East Vilas Road plant and removing inventory. The firm's 45 employees had to show up for work at 6 a.m. Monday to learn they were all out of a job.

Even the toughest of business conditions can't excuse that kind of treatment.

Because the firm had fewer than 50 employees, it was not required to give advance notice of the plant closure under U.S. Department of Labor regulations. The fact that the company was within the law is no justification for casting off 45 people with no warning whatsoever, but it does suggest there is good reason for the law. Perhaps the law needs some adjusting.

Equally troubling is the fact that Jetcraft had borrowed money from Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc., which operates a revolving loan portfolio designed to encourage businesses to locate here and remain here.

The outstanding loan apparently predates the current ownership, and we have no reason to believe the debt won't be honored. But SOREDI was just as surprised by the shutdown as the workers were.

The SOREDI official who oversees the loan program said this was the first time such a thing had happened in the program's six years.

Let's hope it's the last.

Not bad after all

All things considered, the new sign advertising Callahans Siskiyou Lodge near the Siskiyou Summit doesn't look all that bad.

Judging by the fanfare that preceded it ' a full-fledged dispute with the county and a First Amendment court case ' the 18-by-28-foot illuminated advertising device would arrive on the scene like Panzer tank, despoiling everything before it.

The 504-square-foot sign, installed July 22, is 85 feet above the ground, high enough that it is visible to travelers on nearby Interstate 5. That, of course, was the idea: to advertise the longtime Siskiyou eatery.

The pale green sign says Callahans / Restaurant & Lodging / Fireplaces Hot Tubs. A drawing in the middle of the sign shows the lodge. Some might even call the sign attractive.

In the battle over installation of the sign, the county argued that the sign posed a traffic hazard and destroyed the area's aesthetic value. The owners, Ron and Donna Bergquist, contended that the county's restrictions violated their freedom of speech.

In March, a U.S. District Court judge ruled the county's sign ordinance unconstitutional, paving the way for installation of the new sign. Plans are under way to tear down a large existing billboard near the freeway that served in the interim.

The new sign is less than half the size of the billboard that touched off the battle. And it's far from the largest freeway sign in the state, or even the county.

So, the moral of this story may be that just because it's advertising doesn't mean it has to be unattractive.