HOW DID THE “WELCOME TO LANGLOIS” SIGN COMMITTEE COME TO BE?
In the early part of 2014, a local resident contacted the Oregon Department of Transportation to request that the 40 mile per hour speed through Langlois be reduced. Langlois, although a small community, is comprised of multiple businesses, a church, a library and perhaps even more importantly, a school. This school hosts very young children for pre-school, sometimes kindergarten and first grade. The membership is fluid, depending upon the ages and number of children in the area at the time of a new school year. Children come not only from Langlois, but also from surrounding communities. The school children take field trips which place them along highway 101. Therefore, a safe speed limit is of a real concern. There are no cross walks since the closure several years ago of the 2 public Langlois schools.
ODOT conducted a study to monitor the speed of cars approaching, as well as driving through Langlois. Their response was to move the 40 mile per hour speed sign on the South side closer into the town proper, thereby completely doing the more than opposite of what had been anticipated and hoped. This placed the Langlois Library within the 55 mile an hour speed limit. The library hosts multiple age groups by both vehicle and foot traffic. This change also had an impact upon traffic coming from and turning into Floras Creek Road. Without Highway 101 traffic being able to see the upcoming 40 mile per hour speed sign, there was no lessening of their speed. Floras Creek Road sees both personal vehicle and commercial truck traffic. No one in Langlois was apprised of this change before it happened. The knowledge of same only became known as residents came into town and thought the South sign had come down, somehow inadvertently?
Once the residents of Langlois realized that the sign had actually been moved by ODOT, they saw this change as extremely negative and caused many to contact ODOT both by telephone and email to express their discontent. The result of this very active interaction was a meeting on May 1, 2014 at the Langlois Library between ODOT officials and residents of Langlois. Although the exact number of residents in attendance is unknown, what is known is that the library was overflowing with people, very vocal people. The residents were very articulate in their verbal expressions and made ODOT aware of their concerns. The interaction was at times very spirited. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say “extremely spirited”.
ODOT listened and understood. They explained the procedure setup within their system to respond to requests for speed limit alterations. They agreed to confer back at their office to see what rules were in place to allow for placing the 40 mile per hour speed sign back to its original location and to come back in a few weeks to review and see what can be done going forward. The result was to leave the 40 mile per hour newly located sign but to also place another 40 miles hour per hour sign in the original site. They also returned May 22, 2014 to further discuss options and differences relative to unincorporated communities. They indicated that later in the year they would do another study of traffic through Langlois. Residents offered the advisability of doing the study during the busy RV home and motorcycle traffic.
One of the topics brought up by the ODOT officials was the lack of a “Road Culture” for Langlois. What did that mean? How were we to exhibit a Langlois “Road Culture”? WELCOME TO LANGLOIS SIGNS COMING INTO TOWN WOULD ACCOMPLISH THIS AIM. Immediately residents volunteered to work toward this goal and hence was born the “Welcome to Langlois” sign committee. There was a sign up sheet at the Langlois Library for volunteers. The first meeting resulted in publicity in the form of multiple signs displayed requesting ideas from the residents. This project was seen as one to be a community effort. A month was allowed for people to respond. The second meeting reviewed the suggestions and committee members voiced their own thoughts. A decision was made. Ultimately, it was decided to not have any type of logo. All of the sign space would be allocated to the words “Welcome to World Famous Langlois Est. 1881” and be designed in an historical shape with a portion of the top rounded with the “Welcome” curving up toward this area. The final sign size selected was 6 feet high and 8 feet wide. This size selection was made only after taking a 4 feet by 5 feet “mock up” of the anticipated sign design to the South side of town to see what size was required for it to be easily seen by on-coming traffic. A visit to the North side of town was made to see to its exact placement and to be sure also of the selected size. There was discussion about the optimal degree for each sign's placement, that which would be most visual to drivers.
The sign committee members were very active at multiple tasks including the raising of funds with which to actually provide signs. Donation cans were made up and placed not only in Langlois but also in Bandon and in Port Orford. A fund raiser music night was arranged at the old Cheese Factory and was very successful. Business owners were made aware that money donations would be welcome. Friends, no longer physically living in Langlois, heard of the project and sent checks. Visitors to Langlois even donated money. The effort to raise funds to provide for the signs was varied and had very positive results.
In order to potentially apply for grants in the future, work was done by multiple committee members to develop a mission statement. The final draft was discussed as a group and the following adopted: “The Welcome to Langlois Sign Committee supports and enhances the sense of community, public safety and heritage of Langlois, and promotes economic growth through tourism while respecting the small town character.”
How did the actual wording of the sign evolve? Well, already out on the world wide web there were references to items within Langlois as “world famous”. We have visitors from multiples places in the world who come to Langlois for wind surfing at Floras Lake, We have one of the original buildings that housed the famous Langlois Blue Vein Cheese Factory. Once the sign committee meetings began, we also found that Curry County is world wide known within the wool industry as having the most dense wool after cleaning, of any in the world. And, of course, we have the “world famous” Langlois hotdog with its homemade mustard. Is there a little bit of “tongue in cheek” going on here? Well, maybe. But, people who pass through Langlois will see the words “World Famous”, wonder about it, hopefully ease up on the gas petal and very likely go to their computers to see what all the fuss is about. Now, that is a ROAD CULTURE.
As soon as the ideas began to fly about a sign, people also began to say “we need a Langlois web site” to show who we are and to explain ourselves. There already was action being taken on a Langlois brochure, which would be used to advise visitors of all available activities within the community. The sign committee endorsed both of these 2 additional activities and included them as being within the scope of its work. And as in all things associated with the world wide web, the types of information that can go up on our web site has grown and grown. This will expand our new ROAD CULTURE.
The sign committee's activities made us more visual to the county. This resulted in multiple instances of interaction with multiple individuals from both Curry County and the Oregon Department of Transportation. David Brock-Smith requested that he attend one of our meetings. Because we are, indeed, part of Curry County, we agreed. The net result has been a combination of the required funds for the signs. The county agreed to cover the cost of a 4 feet by 4 feet sign, which is the maximum size that they can accommodate “in house”, with the sign committee covering the excess to have the two Langlois signs built by a commercial sign company. The difference in the cost for the larger 6 inch X 6 inch posts was also covered by the sign committee. The county agreed to do the installation of the 2 signs. As the county was to participate to this degree, they indicated that they wanted to include a 4 inch X 4 inch attachment to our Langlois sign showing the Curry County logo.
The Curry County Road Master, Doug Robbins, and his Road Crew, with the assistance of people and equipment from Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative, Inc., installed both the North and the South signs on April 23, 2015.
The sign committee is grateful for the help given by the road crew and the Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative, Inc. people.
Another positive result of our Langlois sign project has been to make the county aware that there are other unincorporated towns that could benefit by “Welcome” signs. Curry County officials indicated that those towns would be offered 4 feet by 4 feet signs to be constructed by the county, with the cost being the county's responsibility.
The sign committee expresses thanks to the Friends of the Langlois Library for handling the money we collected, both the input and output.
Submitted by Catherine Kadlubowski