Vale city assistant Katelyn Strawn unpacks boxes of supplies transported from the old city hall to the city's new digs in the former Umpqua Bank building. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

VALE – Change can be a slow process.

A good example is Vale City Hall.

Built in 1938, the structure across from the Malheur County Courthouse served Vale for 80 years.

In July, the Vale City Council signed off on a plan to buy the former Umpqua Bank building to replace city hall and Friday city staff were busy moving into their new digs.

“It’s great to have all this space. Everybody will be easily accessible,” said Katelyn Strawn, Vale city administrative assistant.

Strawn was unpacking boxes Friday morning as she talked about the advantages of the new building, including a drive-up window.

“That will allow us to better serve the city better,” Strawn said.

Katy Lamb, interim city manager, said another advantage to the new building is no stairs.

“The elderly, or anyone with hip problems, they have no steps to climb. That is a huge benefit,” said Lamb.

Assessed at $576,090, the city agreed to buy the building – at 150 Longfellow St. N. - for $450,000, borrowing the money through a loan to be repaid over 30 years at 3.87% interest.

The former Umpqua Bank building at 150 Longfellow St. N. is the new site of Vale City Hall. (The Enterprise/File)

Vale City Councilor Christine Phillips said the new city hall will be “great for the future of Vale.”

“It will be a good, long-term investment for the city,” said Phillips.

Vale Mayor Mike McLaughlin said the new building will also provide office space for the Malheur County Municipal Judge Margie Mahony. State Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, also is renting an office in the new building, said McLaughlin.

The future of the old city hall may hinges on a proposed pact between the Malheur County District Attorney Dave Goldthorpe and city officials.

Lamb said the district attorney’s office is already renting – for $350 a month – the former city council chambers and one office at the old city hall.

Easy access - especially for seniors and people with disabilities - is one of the attributes city officials pointed out as key to the new city hall. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

The city council reviewed a long-term rent agreement with the county this week.

The extra space for the district attorney’s office is needed because of Covid social distancing requirements for grand juries, said Dave Goldthorpe, Malheur County district attorney.

McLaughlin said the new city hall will furnish the city with the ability to provide better service to Vale residents.

“We are really excited about the upgrade. The HVAC system is very new and the property gives us so much more room,” said McLaughlin.

The new city hall opened Monday.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at pat@malheurenterprise.com or 542235-1003.

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