By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Willamina bond campaign shaping up

Co-chair Ron Smith suggested the theme that was approved by the bond committee that met last Tuesday night in the school library.

Dean of Students Bart Baldwin, the other co-chair, said he’s excited about the progress of the campaign so far. With four months to go, it’s already making good progress, he said.

The school board has not officially approved an amount or cost per thousand yet, but indications are pointing to around $4.8 million, with a cost per $1,000 of assessed valuation running $1 or less. The deadline for the district to submit a ballot title and summary to the Polk and Yamhill County clerks offices is Sept. 5, so details need to be finalized by then.

“Response I have received from people has been favorable,” Baldwin said. “This is something that is attainable. Our challenge is to find people who want to get after this, people who are willing to chase after it.”

He was referencing individuals who will join committee members in helping pass the bond.

“People have had questions,” Baldwin said. “That’s great. I know there are concerns and issues out there.”

The money would be used for:

n Replacement of a pair of old classroom modulars with two new, double-classroom modulars on the Oaken Hills Drive campus, serving grades 5-6. They should last 20 to 25 years, replacing deteriorating modulars built in 1978.

n Construction of an ag and woodworking shop featuring two classrooms, serving students in grades 7-12.

n Repair of the track, completion of the baseball/softball complex and relocation of the football stadium to the campus, complete with a covered grandstand and lights. The baseball, football and softball fields will be natural grass with quality drainage systems. A concession stand, restrooms and sidewalks are included in this phase of the project.

A Little League field is also part of the plan. The Tri-Cities Little League organization has given the district $25,000 to develop a field.

The high school is currently playing baseball, football and softball games on the old school site, which was purchased by Sheridan businessman Dick Paay.

The district wants new facilities developed on the Oaken Hills campus as soon as possible to avoid having to lease facilities back. When the leases kick in, it will cost the district about $2,400 a year to use the baseball and softball fields and $2,000 a year to use the football field.

The track on the Oaken Hills campus is about 30 years old and badly deteriorated. Moles have chewed through it in a number of places.

The surface is dangerous for runners and walkers, and the high school has not hosted a track meet since 2004. It holds its home meets at Sheridan.

Furthermore, the district continues to pay liability insurance and some utility costs for the old high school facility, and must continue to pay until the district has completely vacated the premises.

Smith said he thinks it is important the district make it clear to patrons how their money is going to be spent. To that degree, educational needs will be addressed before anything related to athletics.

“I want it to be cut and dried with regard to what we’re going to do with people’s money,” he said.

The Strong Schools — Strong Community Bond Committee will next meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 9.

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