Government, like people, should try to 'Shop Local'
There’s an old Southern saying, “Dance with the one that brung ya.” And despite the fractured grammar, it makes a powerful statement about integrity, character and loyalty.
The point is, abandoning longtime loyal friends for flashy new out-of-towners is folly. It has a way of coming back to haunt you, often at the most inconvenient times.
And McMinnville has few truer friends than Washington Roofing — Ray Washington, Harold Washington and Eric Wolff, who have owned the company by turns since Ray founded it in the family barn in 1968.
We raise the point because the McMinnville School Board has managed, despite the best of intentions, to bar McMinnville’s leading roofer from future district roofing projects. Taking its direction from a Roseburg architect, it has limited local work to four of Portland Metro outfits.
To give the board its due, it was trying to protect tax money by having a consultant conduct an assessment and develop a coordinated plan of attack. And its choice combines school board service with special expertise in school roofing.
But a first alarm should have sounded when the architect insisted on a single style — modified built-up-roofing or BUR — under the auspices of one of just two major American suppliers. A second alarm should have sounded when the only institutional roofer in town indicated he was not certified in the style because he felt there were better options.
Washington Roofing has donated the materials and labor for every roof on every Habitat for Humanity house in McMinnville — more than 45 of them. In recent years, it has been throwing in gutters as well.
The company has been Linfield College’s roofer of choice for 40 years. And it has installed the majority of the region’s commercial, industrial and institutional roofs.
Longtime owner Harold Washington has been a leader, volunteer and financial supporter of a broad array of community and civic programs, and Wolff, his son-in-law and successor, is blazing his own trail of civic engagement.
The company has spurred the local economy by four times moving to larger quarters in new locations, revitalizing a series of local properties, and developing a new southern gateway for the city. When McMinnville’s historic Cozine House desperately needed a new roof, Washington Roofing and First Federal teamed up to provide one, at no cost to the community.
If anything, Washington Roofing should enjoy favored status for local school roofing. At a minimum, it should get a fair shot.
If the district has any sense, it will move to rectify its roof specifications before going to voters with a bond issue seeking millions for — among other things — new school roofs.
Fortunately, there is time. No major roof projects are on the near-term horizon, the board has a mechanism for reviewing its pre-qualification list annually, and the district is targeting 2016 for its bond attempt.
The issue goes beyond Washington Roofing. Government bodies that depend on local property taxes should make every effort to support local commercial ventures. As we’ve said so many times in so many ways, “Shop Local.”