New I-5 welcome center on the drawing board

New I-5 welcome center on the drawing board

Welcomecenter.jpg Welcome to Oregon.

ASHLAND — Frankly, it’s embarrassing. For the last two years, Oregon’s welcome center for visitors driving north on I-5 has been housed in a lackluster outbuilding, tucked uncermoniously in the parking lot of the Econolodge at Exit 19.

Mary Arnstad, a tourism industry veteran and consultant, cringes every time she drives by. “There’s not even a flag flying out front,” she complains.

Arnstad has made it her mission to help the state erect a southern gateway that’s a little more, well, welcoming.

Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon, says a new welcome center is in the works. “It’s a front-burner issue,” he says. The Travel and Touism Task Force, appointed by Gov. Ted Kulongoski, has made the Siskiyou Welcome Center one of its top priorities. Phew.

— Christina Williams

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