The Hermiston City Council will make official its support of Blue Mountain Community College’s capital improvement bond measure at its Sept. 9 meeting.
Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann said he will sign a proclamation officially endorsing the bond measure at the next city council meeting. The mayor’s announcement came this week after the council heard a presentation on the capital improvement projects to be undertaken if the bond measure passes in November.
BMCC President Cam Preus and Casey Beard, BMCC’s director of grants, gave the council an overview of three new workforce development centers to be built in Pendleton, Hermiston and Boardman if the $28.1 million bond measure is passed.
One of the centers, a Precision Irrigated Agriculture Center, would be built in Hermiston south of the Eastern Oregon Higher Education Center. In Pendleton, the college would build an Applied Animal Science Education Center. The third center, an Industrial Processes Workforce & STEM Training Center would be constructed in Boardman.
The measure would cost taxpayers 31 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The bond measure would be a renewal of an already existing measure that is due to expire next year and would not be a new tax.
The centers will serve as a training ground for students interested in good-paying, high-tech ag jobs, said Beard. Fred Ziari, owner of the global ag consulting company IRZ Consulting based in Hermiston, said high-tech, ag-related jobs are available, but the region lacks a qualified workforce to fill them. The proposed BMCC centers, he said, would provide skilled employees for an ag industry that is increasingly relying on an educated workforce.
Drotzmann said he fully supports the bond measure because he believes it will be beneficial to the local economy.