The Daily Evergreen

Letter to freshmen: An international welcome

Mayor hopes all feel welcome in Pullman’s diverse population

GLENN JOHNSON, Pullman mayor

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Welcome to Pullman and Washington State University. And for those of you who already call Pullman home, welcome back!  In a just a few weeks that “welcome” will be expressed in many languages in addition to English!

As you entered Pullman along Davis Way, you saw construction underway where a drive-in coffee shop was once located and in your grandparents’ time, Burgerville. It’s finally happening! That spot is home to our new Welcome Wayside.Welcome to Pullman and Washington State University. And for those of you who already call Pullman home, welcome back!  In a just a few weeks that “welcome” will be expressed in many languages in addition to English!

Back in 2012, I was approached by WSU architectural students Amanda Kennedy, Sara Strouse, and Adam Lawler. They wanted to hold a contest among their fellow students so the city could benefit. When my wife Kathy and I were visiting the Mediterranean and got into Croatia, I saw a billboard in that war-torn country that really impressed me. Here was a sign with the word welcome in a multitude of languages.

Our Pullman public school students speak more than sixty different languages. Schweitzer Engineering Labs (SEL), our largest private employer, does business in more than 150 countries. And we have a robust WSU international program under the leadership of vice president Asif Chaudhry.  Why shouldn’t we take pride in the diversity in our college town of close to 34,000 residents?  Even the Pullman City Council in June, 2017, adopted a resolution reaffirming our commitment to being a welcoming city.

The WSU School of Architecture and Construction Management students eventually did hold a contest. Professor Gregory Kessler and I donated prize money to make the competition worthwhile.  Guidelines required the welcome sign include a number of languages and students were encouraged to make the site a great photo opportunity. The drawings were presented to the Pullman City Council and the winning team consisted of fourth-year architecture students Herman Sin, Hong Kong international student Kevin Win and Byron Martz.  By now I’m sure they’re all successful architects.

We tried to build the Welcome Wayside soon after 2012 but the first engineering estimate and later bids far exceeded our budget. However, it remained one of our city goals. The plans sat for a couple of years and then one of our outstanding city professional engineers, Ruth Younce, worked on the design to make it financially manageable. She spent considerable time double and triple-checking the various languages.  With the new estimate, I was able to get financial support for the project from the city, the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, SEL, WSU and its international programs, Dabco and Avista Utilities.  The Wayside should be ready to welcome you by the second home football game on Sept. 15.

Another point of welcome to our area is the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport.  Crews have moved hills (in the Midwest they would call them mountains) to widen, extend the length and change the alignment of the runway. One of the most important components is the instrument approach to the airport at the west end closest to WSU. That means when we’re up and running on October 10, 2019, we’ll have the same approach minimums that Spokane and Seattle enjoy.  The weather cancellations that we have experienced should become a thing of past, with few exceptions. And yes, the airport board is now planning a new terminal.

Thanks for being Cougs. You can find me at City Hall or by email at [email protected]  When the football or men’s basketball teams are playing at home, I’m on the public address mic. This year will be my 39th year as Voice of the Cougs.

Go Cougs!

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Letter to freshmen: An international welcome