Bond would build new agricultural center, improve child care, repair aging buildings
The Linn-Benton Community College Board of Education will ask voters to consider a $16 million general obligation bond in the upcoming May election. According to a press release issued through the school, the funds would pay for a new agricultural center and childcare facility renovations.
The board unanimously voted on Feb. 16 to put the bond issue on the ballot.
If passed, the bond would pay for construction of a new agricultural center, LBCC officials said, would provide expanded animal science and crop and soil production training, and would lead to critical repairs needed for aging facilities.
“LBCC is committed to meeting the unique needs of rural families in Oregon with the kind of instruction that will keep family farms and growing companies flourishing and contributing to our local economy,” said Lisa Avery, LBCC president. “We view this bond as an opportunity to take a critical step forward in investing in education that is open to all and provides real futures for generations to come.”
A new center would provide LBCC with the ability to offer a new applied associate’s degree in veterinary technology, in partnership with the Oregon State University School of Veterinary Medicine, as well as other applied learning degrees that college officials said would address a current gap in agricultural education.
In addition, the center would allow the college to host events for community groups including 4-H, FFA and equine classes, and local competitions and events.
“Currently the college is forced to turn students away from its successful agriculture and animal science programs due to limited space,” LBCC said in the release. “There is also no central place to train students or room to adapt to the changing needs of area farmers, including lack of room to offer crop and soil production technology and training. Students must now use neighboring farms and outside facilities to gain hands-on experience.”
The bond, if passed, would also allow LBCC to renovate its child-care center located at the main campus in Albany, helping to improve early learning opportunities for kids and getting parents back to work, the release states.
According to LBCC, “This would not only provide much-needed child-care services for students and employees, but also allow the college to use the child-care center as a ‘lab’ that provides hands-on learning spaces for early childhood education students — a role in high employment demand in our current economy.”
In addition, the bond measure would allow LBCC to make needed, large-scale repairs including increasing accessibility for people with disabilities, addressing safety hazards and deferred maintenance, and make upgrades to outdated boilers and HVAC systems.
The work would include updating and expanding the Learning and Career Center located at the LBCC Benton Center in Corvallis which provides space for tutoring, testing and career counseling. Officials said it would also allow the center to serve more students without increasing staffing, as well as to provide updated meeting rooms used by community partners such as the Small Business Development Center and the Parenting Success Network.
“With these repairs in place, LBCC’s buildings would be able to function and educate future generations for decades to come,” the release states.
If approved, the bond would cost taxpayers approximately 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed tax value and include built-in accountability steps such as independent auditing to ensure dollars are spent wisely and efficiently, LBCC said.
The bond would also open a matching appropriation from the state of Oregon in the amount of $8 million in additional support for the agricultural center, providing a total of $24 million in support to the community through LBCC projects.
In addition, the bond would also make the college eligible for future state and federal child-care grants.
“Passing this bond ensures state matching funds are spent right here in our community, creating employment opportunities and improving the livelihoods of Linn and Benton residents,” said Kristin Adams, chair of the LBCC Board of Directors and Sweet Home representative. “Students will receive the best instruction and latest equipment available in the field, resulting in good-paying jobs that are vital to our local industries, including veterinary technicians, crop production, farm management, horse breeding and livestock production.
“Just as we have done in manufacturing and healthcare, we are excited to continue the tradition of creating direct employment pathways that meet the needs of our employers,” she added.