Chemeketa Community College officially celebrated becoming Oregon’s second multi-campus community college with a ribbon cutting event at the Yamhill Valley campus in McMinnville Feb. 21.
“This is a place and a moment we’ve been awaiting for a long time,” said Ron Pittman, Yamhill County’s representative on Chemeketa’s Board of Education. “It’s been a dream to have a better location, and now a full campus here in McMinnville. It’s really wonderful to be able to come to completion and especially to have a building that’s this beautiful.”
Pittman, who is the board’s chairman this year, officially cut the ribbon provided by the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce.
In 2008, voters approved a bond levee for several new construction project at multiple Chemeketa locations. A combination of $14.3 million from this bond, $6.2 million in construction funds allocated by the state Legislature and $1 million in auxiliary services funding went into the construction of the new Yamhill facilities. Work began at the former Tanger Outlet Mall location on Norton Road with a wine-pouring event in May 2010 and classes began in the new facilities during the 2011 fall term.
“We started this journey about 2007, and now we’re living it…it’s a courageous moment, it’s a historic moment, it really speaks to the generosity of this community to believe in the competence of Chemeketa to say yes to us,” Chemeketa president Cheryl Roberts said at the ceremony.
The new facilities boast features such as library services, study areas, computer labs and food services.
The college also worked with McMinnville Water & Light staff on finding energy-saving opportunities in the new construction. Those efforts are expected to save 500,000 kilowatt hours of energy consumption per year – enough to power almost 30 average homes.
The ceremony was also the official debut installation of nearly 50 pieces of art produced entirely by Yamhill Valley-area artists on display throughout the facilities. Many of the artists attended the ceremony to discuss their work.
Several technical education options are offered only at Yamhill Valley, including hospitality & tourism management, speech language pathology and the only hemodialysis technician program in the state of Oregon.
Hemodialysis student Penny McCloskey stepped out of class to tell those in attendance about the new facilities.
“It’s really awesome, and the whole clinic over there is really fabulous,” McCloskey said. “It’s really teaching me a lot.”
McCloskey plans to complete her nursing degree, then take her over parents’ five-resident foster care facility for elderly women and be able to run in-home dialysis care.
The expansion of the former McMinnville center into the Yamhill Valley campus now means Chemeketa students in Yamhill County can fulfill all the requirements to receive an Associate’s degree without having to take some of those courses at Chemeketa’s Salem campus.
That ability to get a degree entirely in McMinnville was reiterated by the new campus president, Patrick Lanning.
“For the students who grew up and want to learn and work here in Yamhill County, this is a really, really wonderful opportunity,” Lanning said.