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As It Was-Project Juniper Fails to Revive Klamath County’s Sick Economy

In 1988, the Klamath Falls Herald and News broke the story on an economic development scheme that became known as Project Juniper.  Its backers proposed using private funds to build a huge “world class international aviation and international trade facility.”

At the time, Klamath County, along with much of rural Oregon, was suffering from the economy’s move away from timber.  As mills closed, Klamath unemployment in those years was usually running at least a couple of percentage points higher than the state’s, which in turn was higher than the country’s.

When the Project Juniper proponents said it would open thousands of jobs, they created excitement, hope and investments.  The Klamath Falls City Council gave the backers three years to get it done at the Klamath Falls municipal airport.

Three years later, the project died amid unfulfilled obligations, missed deadlines, and awash in lawsuits, anger and accusations against the project and its leader, Jack Kelly.  Local investors, including one group that invested $2.6 million, pushed the project into involuntary bankruptcy. 

The former airport manager who had a position with the project, Phil Rand, provided the eulogy, saying, “It’s all over and done with — gone.”

Sources:  Green, Nick. "Project Juniper: Time Runs Out." Herald and News, 30 June 1991 [Klamath Falls, Ore.], p. 25.

Oregon Regional Economic Analysis Project, oregon.reaproject.org/data-tables/selected-indicators/tools/410035/.

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Pat Bushey wrapped up a 53-year professional, small-town newspaper career in 2018, after 47 years at the Klamath Falls Herald and News — 17 as managing editor. He also worked at the Tri-City (Wash.) Herald and the Walla Walla (Wash.) Union-Bulletin, where he spent a summer filling in as sports editor. Before that, he was sports editor at Everett (Wash.) High School and Washington State University. Bushey wrote many of the Herald and News editorials during his tenure, and almost all of those appearing in recent years.