Founded in 1865, Weston, Oregon is a small rural community located in Eastern Oregon. Once a thriving community, it was in hot competition to be the county seat and was the site of the State Normal School, now known as Eastern Oregon University in LaGrande. At one time, Weston Brick Company operated at the present site of Smiths Frozen Foods where bricks were manufactured by the millions and shipped out for construction of buildings and railroad tunnels. The railroad ran through the community and a stage coach stopped in Weston for passengers.
Once a thriving town of thousands, with a water fountain in the middle of Main Street (we still have the fountain, but it was moved to a small pocket park off Main Street!) and successful businesses lining both sides of Main Street, Weston is now designated as a distressed rural area of merely 620 people. Its main industry is food processing, but the majority of the workers live elsewhere as housing is limited. Highway 204 once ran through the heart of the town but now bypasses the community north of Main Street, just off Highway 11. Traffic on Highway 11 never see the community as it is situated in a small valley along Pine Creek about two miles off the road.
In essence, what was once a thriving community has become a dormant community and the best kept secret in Northeastern Oregon. We have a lot to offer in our Commercial Historic District (listed on the National Register of Historic Places), our history, our farm lands, the view of the Walla Walla Valley from Weston Mountain, the recreation areas in the Tollgate area and simply the friendliness of the citizens who call Weston home. But we are in a crisis situation! We need help!
The City of Weston has a few paid staff which includes city hall, the police department and public works. The remainder of the work is done by volunteers who serve on the city council, planning commission and Weston Community Development Committee. Being a small community with a limited economic base, the residents have come to realize that if the city is to survive, we must begin looking at developing our economic base and revitalizing the community.
To start that process, the city council created a committee called the Weston Community Development Committee to begin work on the revitalization of Weston. The first meeting was held in June 2000, and since that time, this very diverse and enthusiastic group has come up with some great ideas of what they would like to see Weston become. This group of 17 people represent various sectors of the community from small business, industrial, private citizens and organizations. And they recognize that their participation will be for a very long period of time; not just one or two years but for however long it takes to get the job done.
The group has targeted their efforts for the downtown area first. That is our primary goal. But there is much to be done! And there comes the rub. Who are we? Where do we want to go? Where do we want to be in five years? And how are we going to get there?
Weston is ready and willing to do whatever it takes to get us back on the road to a viable community!