Bonamici holds town hall at Chemeketa
As McMinnville Mayor Rick Olson introduced her to the crowd gathered at Chemeketa Community College, he teased that she’d left the best for last on her most recent round of town halls, her third since her election to the seat last year.
“I understand the value of community colleges,” she said in her opening remarks. Noting she started at Lane Community College, prior to attending the University of Oregon and Oregon State University, she complimented the college on its handsome and spacious new McMinnville campus.
She said jobs and the economy have been the top concerns everywhere she’s gone, and she said she’s was working in D.C. to address them.
“My first job was in my mom’s small business,” she said. So she understands the issues faced both by those looking for work on the one hand and by those looking for good employees on the other.
Bonamici said her commitment to eduction is part of what will improve the economy. “Education is key to the quality of life in communities and to rebuilding our economy,” she said.
She pulled numbers out of a basket for the opportunity to ask questions, and vocal landfill opponent Ramsey McPhillips was the first to have his number drawn. Bonamici addressed him by name, indicating she was familiar with his concerns about the landfill and its impact on McMinnville.
McPhillips implored her to do what she could, in her capacity as a federal official, and to be “tenacious” in her conversations with the Environmental Protection Agency. Several others who were called to speak addressed similar concerns.
Another set of citizens spoke on behalf of J.W. Millegan’s Wallace Bridge equestrian center project, including Millegan himself.
He expressed his frustration in his dealings with the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service. He is trying to win agreement from the agency to relocate a federal conservation easement so he can fully realize his project, which he said would generate a lot of badly needed jobs.
“I’m asking NRCS to come to the table, and asking for your staff to be at the table with me,” he said. “This is an agency that is not following its own rules.
“I’m trying to get under the smoke screen. I need real help.”
Millegan is seeking to have the easement moved onto adjacent acreage that he maintains is more suitable anyway. That would facilitate his development of a major equestrian-oriented destination resort, Wallace Bridge, on property he’s optioned near the junction of Highways 18 and 22, just southwest of Willamina in Polk County.
The final question of the evening went to a young Boy Scout from Willamina’s Troop 215, the Dragon Patrol.
Oakley Binford told Bonamici his troop collected garbage in Sheridan for four hours and asked her for help in keeping the town cleaner. She suggested he approach the three county commissioners, all present, as well as Sheridan city officials.