When the Burns Chamber of Commerce contacted Meadows Outdoor Advertising in The Dalles about purchasing a billboard thanking the many law enforcement officers who worked with Harney County during the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, it got more than it asked for.
“We said yes, but we would do it free. We would do a couple, even,” said Chris Zukin, advertising general manager for the local company.
The result of that conversation was two billboards. One features a photo of 10 officers from various agencies standing in front of the Harney County Sheriff’s Office, with the words “Our Heroes — making Harney County proud.”
The officers provided support to the county sheriff throughout the standoff, and included deputies from sheriff office’s in Wasco and Hood River counties.
A second billboard, featuring a colorful songbird and a landscape photo, reads “We are Harney County — We have our own voice.”
The billboards were a collaboration, Zukin said. “They told us what they wanted to communicate, and we designed it for them.”
For Zukin, community support is an integral part of his work as an advertiser. “We are a corporate citizen of the community,” he explained. “We have been in The Dalles, and in Burns, for over 35 years. If we have the space, if there is a bona fide need, and they are a bona fide nonprofit, we will try to help.”
Both billboards were installed last Friday, and by Monday Zukin had received a host of emails saying “Thank you.”
Many were from Burns area residents, including the mayor of Burns. Others were from as far away as Florida and New York.
“People were very appreciative,” he said.
Zukin was not surprised that the message, “We have our own voice,” is resonating in the county.
“In a small town, when the message they are thinking is up on a billboard like that, it’s a very powerful combination,” he said.
Meadow Outdoor Advertising is a family owned and operated billboard company established in The Dalles in 1968. It is located at 1201 Bargeway Road in the Port of The Dalles Industrial Park. Although its primary market is Oregon, it also has billboards in Idaho, Washington, California, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. The billboards in the Burns area were installed by a Meadows crew working out of a small shop in La Grande.