By editorial board • 

No reason the county can't look long-term

Last week, the Yamhill County Budget Committee slashed $615,000 from the allocation for Health & Human Services Director Lindsey Manfrin, with whom two commissioners have clashed frequently. It refused to give Manfrin a chance to share her thoughts, but said it hoped grants could be secured to make up some of the difference.

Then the committee eliminated the job of the person charged with securing such grants — Carrie Martin, with whom the same two commissioners have also clashed frequently. Its stated intent was freeing up funds to hire another deputy for County Administrator Ken Huffer, who recommended Martin be retained instead.

Members said drastic action was necessary because the county’s fiscal outlook was so bleak. One reason for that, of course, was the board of commissioners’ stealth move last May to grant Hampton Lumber a tax break of $14 million to $16 million for a new mill it had already committed to build sans subsidy.

No, it makes no sense to us either. We had to look elsewhere for that.

Fortunately, we found it in a talk the county’s newest commissioner, Kit Johnston, gave the same week at a Corporate Coffee gathering at Linfield.

Johnston laid out a long-term vision for the county’s cramped and dilapidated fairgrounds, woefully underdeveloped and underfunded park system and inefficient hodge-podge of office niches spread haphazardly through a historic residential neighborhood. And in that, we found him echoing advice we’ve been sharing editorially for at least 20 years.

Cities, school districts and other types of local taxing districts typically seem to do a better job than counties in looking, thinking and acting long term. But we don’t see any reason it needs to be that way, and neither, it would appear, does the board’s latest and least-flamboyant addition, now in his second year.

Johnston has been quietly working behind the scenes on potential replacement of the county’s current 30-acre fairgrounds site with a new site of 70 to 100 acres in a less urbanized setting. He made the idea a key component of his campaign, so his continued interest comes as no surprise.

He has also emerged as the driving force in development of a master plan for the county’s long-neglected park system. Among ideas he mentioned at Linfield were development of a boat launch on 94 county-owned acres out by the old Whiteson Landfill site and upgrades at the existing Dayton Landing launch site.

Finally, he joined in the call for finding ways to consolidate the county’s scattered collection of courthouse-area offices in a more compact and efficient facility of some kind. He said selling off some of the county’s existing buildings could help raise needed funds.

Johnston’s fairgrounds, parks and office space ideas have one very important thing in common, besides their long-term, forward-looking nature: They not only promise to deliver dynamic new opportunities for the county, but also for the larger community it serves.

A new fairgrounds site with more space, better access and updated facilities would greatly expand the range and quality of the events it could host. Think Deschutes County’s wildly successful new fairgrounds facility in Redmond, only on a smaller scale.

Meanwhile, the existing fairgrounds site is ideally situated for some sort of mix of commercial, industrial and residential redevelopment

Just about any form of action anywhere in its park system would enhance the county’s threadbare menu of recreational opportunities. And outdoor recreation has a large reservoir of untapped economic potential, as ventures elsewhere have repeatedly demonstrated.

Consolidation of county offices would eliminate transportation, communication, maintenance and obsolescence challenges that are as costly over the long run as they are efficiency-hampering in the short run. In the bargain, consolidation would expand McMinnville’s affordable housing stock in a close-in neighborhood where it is badly needed and highly desirable.

Our political leaders are forever touting win-win ideas. Well, here are some good ones we could and should all be chewing on.



3 reasons you should NOT vote for Lindsay:
1. Lindsay's campaign is funded by the George Family, owners of one of the largest hazelnut processing companies in the country. Nothing wrong with that. Where it becomes very, very wrong is when she represents only the big money that helped get her get elected and blatantly ignores the wishes of the citizen majority.
2. Here's one example of how Lindsay serves her wealthy farmer campaign supporters and ignores pure and simple betterment for citizens: In 2020 Lindsay killed the Yamhelas Westsider Trail, even though construction had already begun and it meant returning hefty private donations and a $1.5 million grant to the state. She killed it because her farmer supporters are against having regular people (ugh!) sully "their" lovely county. She killed it even though an online petition in June of 2021 gathered more than 3,200 signatures in favor of the trail.
3. Lindsay appointed six candidates with jaw-dropping conflicts of and lack of qualifications to the county parks advisory board. One of them is her husband. One of them is Celine McCarthy. McCarthy and her husband, Greg, who was convicted in federal court last year of financial fraud, were among the largest campaign finance donors to Lindsay.
4. There are many more examples of this politician's wily undertakings. You'll find them in Mac's News-Register newspaper. Keep informed. Everybody rise up and vote for Bubba King.

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