HERMISTON, Ore. (AP) — City officials are working to put Hermiston on the map, and now it's on the road signs too.
The Oregon Department of Transportation gave the city a visibility boost last week when it installed four signs on Interstate 84 between The Dalles and Hermiston letting motorists know how many miles they have left until they reach the largest city in Eastern Oregon.
"We're thrilled to do this," ODOT spokesman Dave Thompson said.
He said it was unusual for the department to add a city that was not directly on the interstate, but city officials were persistent in their argument that Hermiston deserved a place on the signs.
Previously the only warning motorists had that they were approaching Hermiston was two miles away from the turnoff. Now they will have a heads-up at mileposts 111, 125, 138 and 149. Thompson said the city paid for the new signs and ODOT provided the labor.
Mark Morgan, assistant city manager, said for years ODOT has justified not having Hermiston on the interstate signs because it is not directly on the freeway. But in light of Hermiston's growth, ODOT eventually saw the city as a "valid addition" to its mileage signs.
"We're really glad ODOT has finally seen the importance of Hermiston as a regional employer and economic center for Eastern Oregon," he said.
The effort to give more motorists a chance to plan a stop in Hermiston ties into an overall strategy of promoting the idea that Hermiston is a great place not only to go, but also to grow. That strategy includes Hermiston's new brand, unveiled in August, which is brought to life by a text-only logo that reads "Hermiston: You can GROW here."
Businesses, civic organizations and other groups are encouraged to use the logo along with a library of royalty-free professional photographs showing everything from growing children to growing fruit in Hermiston. The image library and other professional artwork were made available to the public this week.
Morgan said the city is still spreading the word about the logo to businesses and associations, letting them know that they can use it in their marketing, but some groups are already using it. He said the most recent group to contact him about pairing the logo with their own was the Rotary Club.
"It's not meant to replace anyone's logo, just to show that they're associated with Hermiston," he said.
Information from: East Oregonian, http://www.eastoregonian.info