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Proposal: revisit a successful plan for progress

Three speak of a time of unity


Three local leaders recalled a time when the community was more united than it currently is, and called for revisiting a list of goals drawn up in the 1980s that remains relevant today.

Jim Keene, David Schmidt and Mary Jane Bailey attended last Thursday’s chamber of commerce meeting to remind people of the effort that helped spawn many initiatives we see as realities today, including the laser light show, the formation of a park district, building ball fields at North Dam Park, and constructing entrance signs to the “Grand Coulee Dam” community.

Project REV, meant to “rev” up the local economy, was a study, a recognition, of what it would take for the community to thrive as it entered a downturn after the completion of the construction of the Third Powerhouse at Grand Coulee Dam.

Spearheaded by the Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce, the action-oriented plan listed goals that groups from municipalities to service organizations teamed up to accomplish.

Many were accomplished, some not. But one of the most important results was a sense of community unity, the three said, which encouraged more cooperation for local progress and also led to good results in dealing with federal and state resources.

They offered printed handouts of a Star newspaper retrospective article from 1989, and a letter from Gov. Booth Gardner to Tom Foley, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, on behalf of securing funding for the laser light show.

“We need to start thinking in terms of what Project REV was about,” Schmidt said. “It was about unifying the community and forming a single economic force.”

The resulting trend toward unity led towns and cities to cooperate on projects not necessarily within their own borders, because people recognized that bettering the community at large benefited each town within it.

The landscaped area around the haystack rock at the Four Corners junction of highways 155 and 174 was a result of the towns all pitching in to put a better face on the area. It had been dirt and sagebrush before.

“That wasn’t done just by Grand Coulee people,” Keene said. “It was done by the whole community.”

The printed Project REV plan, an inch-thick book, is still relevant and could be a good guide to further progress, they said.

Bailey, now retired from real estate; Keene, former Grand Coulee Dam School District superintendent returned here after retirement; and Schmidt, retired as president of the Coulee Dam Federal Credit Union; offered themselves as resources should the community wish to take up the REV plan again or move forward in other ways.

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