The Amdor Years (1980-1987): Maintenance



By 1980 the millpond, "a continual maintenance problem," [170] needed rebuilding because of the water motion and an increased geese population. A bentonite clay seal was placed on the bottom of the pond to hold the water and river rock was used to rebuild the banks. Superintendent Amdor remembers a particularly enthusiastic visitor, who, in spite of the sludge and dying fish, "rolled up his pants . . . mud up to the middle of his thighs--he was out there looking at the fish." [171]

The park became wheelchair-accessible in 1981. A ramp was built from the parking lot to the sidewalk, the restrooms were rehabilitated, and the picnic tables were also made wheelchair-accessible. [172]

Stabilizing the Great Grave was one of the most important cultural resource and long-term maintenance projects completed in 1983. The project began after Dr. Norman Weiss of Columbia University recommended methods for cleaning, stabilization, and long-term preservation. [173] Amdor recorded the event in the 1983 Annual Report:

Stabilization consisted of removing the cracked marble slab . . . removing the original brick and mortar foundation wall and replacing it with a concrete wall. The metal casket was removed temporarily and stored while work proceeded. A concrete cap was placed over the crypt and the marble slab placed on it. This provides support to the entire underside of the slab. [174]

The Great Grave stabilization is a long-term project designed to protect and preserve this important cultural resource for years. [175]

Ever since 1950, when Robert Weldon first planted rye grass, the park's grassland acreage has concerned administrators. Grassland management began anew when park administrators requested Dr. Gerald Wright of the University of Idaho's Cooperative Park Studies Unit to study the grazing conditions on the park's south pasture. An Agriculture Use Plan for this acreage was developed after consultation with the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the County Extension Office, and the mission staff. [176] A plan for revegetating the park's remaining acreage was developed in 1984 by Cathy Gilbert of the Regional Office and in 1985 by Dr. Jim Romo and Dr. William Krueger of the Cooperative Park Studies Unit at Oregon State University. Amdor explained their prescription in the 1985 Annual Report:

They divided the Park into five areas, and provided revegetation prescriptions for each area. The first phase, involving the north and part of the west side of the Park, proceeded smoothly in 1985. It involved the use of prescribed fire, herbicides, and livestock grazing to eliminate noxious weeds and prepare for revegetation in fall, 1986. [177]

Unfortunately, the results were not as expected so preliminary ground preparations continued in 1986 with results anticipated in 1987. Thus, an idea that first began with a few clumps of rye grass under Robert Weldon's guidance culminated in a project designed to revegetate the entire park with native growth, predominantly rye grass. This is a long-term management solution to a long-term maintenance problem.

In 1984, the maintenance staff demolished the audiovisual room ceiling and Jim Corn of Jims Building Service contracted to install a new audiovisual room ceiling and ductwork. [178] That same year, a contract was given to Pacific Power and Light Co. to lower the overhead powerlines, [179] which were placed underground by 1985.

Superintendent Amdor also takes great pride in making the residence "more liveable," realigning the mission fences, improving the park's main entrance, and purchasing computers for administrative work. [180] While this brief mention of maintenance does not do justice to the number of improvements enacted in these seven years, it is evident that maintenance was high priority and achieved success. In fact, in 1983, Whitman Mission was chosen to perform a maintenance pilot study for the Pacific Northwest Region. The results of the study and its significance to Whitman Mission follow.


Last updated: March 1, 2015

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