The Odessa Record -

Harrington news

Revitalizing downtown buildings; opera house tour, precursor of Chamber


August 24, 2017


Harrington Public Development Authority met Tuesday at city hall with President Heather Slack at the helm and Jay Kane, Jay Gossett, Bunny Haugan, Jill Plaskon, Marge Womach and Peter Davenport in attendance. Tim Tipton was nominated and voted in as vice president; although unable to attend the meeting, he had agreed to accept the position.

Discussion was held on the advertising gimmick from the previous meeting, i.e. using an old truck frame offered by Jill Plaskon of the Studebaker Garage. The truck would need a bed and an angle-iron frame for a changeable sign to sit on the flat bed that would be visible to motorists driving by it. Various locations were suggested regarding placement for maximum visibility, but no decision was made.

Also discussed were plans for the vacant lot across from the Opera House which has been designated a small park for sitting in the downtown district. There was general agreement to help the City Council or the Chamber to have the area prepared for use before the Fall Festival. Nothing can be done until a tractor is taken in there and the area taken down about 8 to 12 inches. Then clean fill will need to be brought in. A few water lines will be needed to have water available and perhaps a sprinkling system if lawn is sown.

The current building situation in the Harrington business district was discussed. Two members of the PDA are currently improving newly purchased buildings and were able to emphasize the need to be realistic in one’s expectations for changing a vacant building into a functioning business. The initial investment into the property can easily result in at least that amount again to update and make the building usable. A third large payment will go into the requirements of an actual business, whether in supplies or equipment. Too many buildings in the downtown area are owned and used for storage rather than being available for business ventures. Vacant buildings require upkeep which some have not had in many years. Loose bricks, for example, are a hazard for which property owners are liable.

The consensus was that Harrington needs more community pride. The city government should enforce ordinances. An enforcement officer is needed. The present state of buildings in Harrington recalls former conditions at Sprague in which not only some major buildings were lost, but also the use of an entire city street while the clean-up occurred.

Inland Empire Tours

visit Opera House

Wednesday, Inland Empire Tours of Spokane brought a groups of 20 senior citizens which toured the Hutterite Colony near Marlin prior to coming to Harrington to tour the opera house and several residential yards. Arriving in Harrington just after 3 p.m., the group and their driver Dick Jensen, owner of Inland Empire Tours, spent time and money at the rummage sale and the Art Room where vintage jewelry was on sale by Carol and Cherie MacClellan. Most of the group chose to walk the opera house staircase, while a few opted to use the elevator. They asked many questions of Edwin Haugan about the grand old building and the process of its restoration. Interlude music was played by Linda Wagner on the grand piano. Following this tour, Haugan took them to the little museum area in the opera house of which he is the caretaker.

The group then viewed the mounted animal heads and hides on display in the Harrington Public Library. These animal trophies were collected by Louis Schultz from his many hunting escapades in Alaska, the Yukon, British Columbia, South Africa and the Pacific Northwest during the 1940s and 1950s.

Louis Schultz was born in 1893 in Canada and farmed near Harrington from his youth until his retirement in 1950. He and his wife Bertha raised three children. Bertha enjoyed shopping in Johannesburg, South Africa and touring in Gouther and Northern Rhodesia in 1950, while her husband was out in the jungle hunting. Louis died in 1972, and in 1974 his son Leonard donated some of his collection to the Harrington Library. Some of the trophies on display include the sable antelope, hyena, impala, gnu, wolf, wolverine, deer, grizzly, mountain goat, caribou, gazelle, oryx and luiker.

From the library the tour group went to view the yards of Beth and Crayton Oestreich and Edwin and Bunny Haugan with his vast array of dahlias.

Historic trivia

A group of Harrington citizens formed a new civic organization 55 years ago which they called the Harrington United Boosters (HUB). Those on the executive board were Don (Bud) Zicha, president, Paul Hanes, John Eckhart and Mrs. Kay Adams. This board then enlisted a group to serve as a steering committee to work toward the betterment of the community: Duane Timm, Walt Kupers, Cecil Birge, Bill Stafford, Scotty Watson, Chester Timm, Ron Gooley, Ray Everheart, Ralph Barbre, Verla Bly, Mynie Kloster, Bob Henderson and Midge Carstens. Committees were appointed for overseeing Finance, Publicity and Advertising, Business Stimulation, Recreation Improvement and Investigation and School Investigation. At their February meeting, “Already the wheels are beginning to turn—one can feel a sense of urgency—an air of expectancy in the aroused citizenry.”

At the suggestion of Mrs. Clare Houck, buttons and decals were ordered to be dispersed in order to have a constant reminder of the civic improvements and accomplishments that the group was striving for. In addition to being supportive of the proposed golf course, HUB was working with the city to have a; “Cleanup/Fix-up Week” from April 1 to 7 and working with the school to make the local gymnasium available to the public on Sunday afternoons. One of their themes was “we need to keep our dollars at home where they ultimately will support our community’s growth.”

HUB also worked in conjunction with the Lions Club in looking for workable projects. They actively sought out specific businesses which they attempted to bring into town, in particular, a local dentist and a beauty shop. The advertising committee looked for specific items to draw people to the town as the cooking facilities at the city park and its close proximity to the indoor public swimming pool.

They were keenly aware of the central location of Harrington in the county, “in the middle of a myriad of activities including hunting, fishing, recreation, wheat farming and cattle ranching.” But they also wanted more activities within the town to cause people to want to be positioned in Harrington while enjoying other parts of the county. Suggestions which they considered included a horse shoe game in two locations and a roller rink in a downtown building. One of their first projects was to give Memorial Hall a face lift.

HUB proved that to make a difference in the community there had to be constant contact between HUB and the other civic groups and there had to be constant communication about the activity and growth of the town. HUB was the forerunner of the present Chamber of Commerce.


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