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Community collaboration

Gov. John Kitzhaber, center, listens as Boise Cascade employees explain how the particleboard plant takes in material at one of its dump sites. Kitzhaber was in La Grande over the weekend to meet with civic leaders and tour the facility. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
Gov. John Kitzhaber, center, listens as Boise Cascade employees explain how the particleboard plant takes in material at one of its dump sites. Kitzhaber was in La Grande over the weekend to meet with civic leaders and tour the facility. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
 

Kitzhaber hears from civic leaders, tours Boise Cascade particleboard plant in Saturday visit

Gov. John Kitzhaber believes collaborative work on national forests — and on other fronts — will soon start reaping benefits.

In a Saturday visit to Union County, Kitzhaber told Union County Commissioner Mark Davidson to “Just hang in there a little bit longer.” 

Davidson told the governor that the collaborative process has been “painfully slow.”

“We’ve been working three years and we haven’t cut a log yet,” he said.

Davidson noted that there does seem to be progress, especially with a broad engagement in the collaboratives.

“It does seem like there is some movement,” he said.

Kitzhaber said the initial part of the collaborative process is for rebuilding trust between interested parties.

“We want a regional forest service that really gets this,” Kitzhaber said.

The governor also heard from Joseph Mayor Dennis Sands, who said the Regional Solutions format has helped connect cities with other organizations like Eastern Oregon University.

“I like it from the standpoint it’s all local and then it moves upstream to Salem,” he said. “These are really important projects.”

Steve Phillips of the Malheur ESD said he was unsure of how the system would work at first.

“I like this whole system that stacks and we’re all working together. It flows for me,” he said. “Those early learning experts we never knew before, they’re rubbing elbows with the kindergarten teachers.”

Phillips explained they are exploring a project that would allow high school students to enroll in Treasure Valley Community College classes that are not filled near the start of session.

The morning meeting among regional civic leaders was followed in the afternoon with a tour of Boise Cascade’s particleboard plant, where the governor presented staff members with a check for $166,000 for employee training that allowed the company to add about 70 jobs over the past year.

For the full story, see Monday's issue of The Observer

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