To the Editor:

On a couple of occasions I’ve had the opportunity to express my opinion on what could be termed “branding,” or marketing, Grant County communities as part of an endeavor to draw visitors, tourists, and outside dollars to local communities. On these occasion I have offered that, as a recent arrival, using the “Grant County” moniker does little to present an image that would entice visitors because it likely has little meaning and does not paint any compelling mental image. For example, if I were to use “Blue Mountains” or “John Day Headwaters,” it is likely that it could portray an image to a potential visitor based on their familiarity with mountains and rivers they have personally experienced or seen images of.

To a visitor, the moniker “Grant County” means little or even is negative based on my connotation of “county” with Johnson or Lincoln County wars, Orange County, or more recently, Multnomah County for example. From my formative experiences “county” connotes ne’er-do-wells, murders, and Deliverance banjos plinking.

Additionally, using “Grant County” builds walls with our neighbors, Harney, Baker, Malheur, and etc. who equally share in the geographic blessings of the Blue Mountains and John Day River. It doesn’t mean that Grant County would personally mean less, but hopefully serve to better communicate and entice those beyond local experience.

Nonetheless, in a year I will be returning to my wife and home in the Greater Yellowstone Area and our vacation spot near the Selway-Bitteroot mountains. Or should I say Gallatin and Idaho Counties?

Rob St. John

John Day

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