Jun 152011

By Sam Conner–

The staff of the City of Winslow and many local business people and community members have been working to support the oriented strand board (OSB) proposals submitted to the U.S. Forest Service and other governmental agencies which would thin the forests and use the material removed from them to make useful building materials. Should the project be approved, Winslow would obtain a new business that would add a number of much needed jobs.

Winslow City Manager Jim Ferguson said last week that the OSB project remains one of the city’s greatest hopes and concerns. He noted that it could not be known how much having such a plan in existence would have eased the fire situation which has been wreaking havoc in Arizona. He did opine, though, that it would have helped considerably, and will help in the future if such a plant can be built, become operational and make thinning the forest a profitable endeavor instead of an expense.

He said it should be obvious that there is a need and it is unfortunate that such an obvious solution has not been put into existence. This is not a new procedure. Countries in Europe have been thinning their forests and making building materials such as OSB from the material removed for as long as a decade and in many cases, several decades.

Ferguson also said that it is now known that the company proposing to build a private prison in or near Winslow was on the short list for that project. He said that means that the company met the minimum requirements and would be considered if other factors were favorable. He indicated that some changes had been made by the Department of Corrections and that they were needed. The decisions as to where to build and how large a prison to build are not likely to be made until September, but he sees Winslow as among the likely places to be selected.

The city is struggling with budget concerns, as are most rural communities, according to Ferguson. He said that there have been difficult periods to deal with before, but this one has been longer and more difficult than most. The city council will be dealing with budget issues in the very near future and may have some difficult issues to face.