After nearly 24 years of commitment to Kamiah’s Planning and Zoning Commission, Ralph Braden is moving on to other interests in his life and hopes to have more time for his other community projects.
A humble sort, Braden isn’t interested in accolades for his efforts, he is merely satisfied to be involved and help out where he can.
Braden and his wife Tina moved to Kamiah in 1974 and both worked for the Forest Service. “At that time they [Forest Service] encouraged their employees to get
involved with the community and the first thing I did was to join the Lion’s Club so I could meet people,” said Braden.
“I didn’t feel like it was my responsibility because I worked there, I felt that because I lived here I wanted to do what I could for the community. As far as Planning and Zoning, I was an engineer with the Forest Service and had some talents or knowledge that could be used on the board,” added Braden, who let it be known that he was interested in being on the P&Z commission. “They didn’t recruit me, I asked to be on it.”
While the modern conveniences of using technology has made obvious advances with many aspects of getting things done in the 21st century, there are still some things that just take time. “It takes a long time from the start of a project to see it through to the end,” said Braden. “Changing ordinances takes the most time, sometimes three to four years.”
When Braden was first appointed to the commission, there were nine members. “The meetings took longer back then; it was more social compared to now. I think the current members are more educated and more involved with the community,” added Braden.
“I think our commission right now is better organized. Rather than five people working on one project, each person takes the lead on a project and does the research and reports back so we can all discuss it. It’s speeded up our process of getting things done.”
Braden and his wife were instrumental in creating a better mapping system for Kamiah that is still in use today. “We had access to certain programs at the Forest Service and they were supportive of the communities and we used the program called AutoCAD to come up with a new city map with all the streets. It took a while, we had to proof it first but it was handy for everyone to use. They had bits and pieces pasted together [before] and at least we got one together that was uniform. It was just a tool to help us in our planning.”
The couple have remained involved in many local events and activities including the yearly Crab Feed and the EFO (Emergency Food Outreach program). “There’s a lot of satisfaction in that,” said Braden with a smile.
Working as a team has kept them very busy during their 29 years of marriage and Braden gives a lot of the credit to his wife. “She has been really supportive; she’s done a lot of typing for Planning and Zoning.”
Tina has implemented her typing skills for a variety of tasks that come up with Planning and Zoning and kept things running smoothly.
“I feel like it’s a privilege to serve on P&Z and I think the other members do too,” said Braden. “It’s not like a social event, you’re there to help your community.”
With more time on his hands, Braden is looking forward to enjoying some of his hobbies. “I like to garden, we raise a big garden and like to can. We’ve got over 400 jars so far this year with 29 gallons of fresh salsa,” said Braden. “I like to make it and people enjoy it.”
“When I got on Planning and Zoning 18 years ago, Ralph was the chairman,” said Kamiah Mayor Dale Schneider. “He did a fantastic job; he was very dedicated to what he did for the city. He plants a big garden in the summer and if you can, get a big jar of salsa from him, it’s the best in the West! My only complaint with him this year is that I didn’t get a bottle of salsa,” added Schneider with a chuckle.