By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Whatchamacolumn: Coming full circle on facility consolidations

Serious discussions about possible consolidation and redevelopment of Yamhill County facilities mostly have fallen on semi-deaf ears among community leaders. That is, until county Commissioner Kit Johnston went full-public with his future vision.

Johnston’s campaign was well-reported in this week’s news story, now accompanied by a positive view in today’s editorial about the future of the Yamhill County Fairgrounds, including: “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.”


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

Here’s a published comment from 2018 by Jeff Knapp, outgoing CEO/President of Visit McMinnville (see news story today about his departure):

“There are big opportunities for our region to benefit year-round from group visits. How can the county leverage its festivals, conventions and sporting events to provide more jobs, fill more hotels and bring more dollars to our local businesses? How do we maximize the assets we currently have, if not create more? A 2017 report from Johnson Consulting shows our county fairgrounds could be a prime location to build out infrastructure to support this type of effort.”

A 2017 N-R article reported that Fair Board members had “considered selling the fairgrounds and trying to develop new facilities elsewhere.”

This column includes these observations in 2017: “Long-term planning for downtown development, including the nearby Granary District, is hampered by lack of knowledge about the potential for future movement of county service centers … county government services might be consolidated at the Lafayette Avenue fairgrounds site, coupled with development of new fairgrounds at a more accessible Highway 18 location.”

And we added, in 2019: “Yamhill County facilities — all non-taxpaying — block the orderly future expansion of McMinnville’s downtown commercial district; county employees and visitors dominate the city’s parking structure and nearby on-street parking; citizens drive downtown streets in circles looking for poorly marked locations of myriad county services.”

Back to 2017: “The first need simply is for leaders of Yamhill County and McMinnville to discuss their long-range development goals, and ask if they are moving toward an inevitable conflict of interests. And if so — if acknowledged — those leaders could begin to consider the diverse possibilities.”

A pandemic intervened and shut that topic down for a time. It’s great to see it rejuvenated by Commissioner Johnston and others who see the value as well as the challenges.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


Web Design and Web Development by Buildable