LA GRANDE — The Union County Board of Commissioners is a step closer to submitting a short major project list to state Rep. Bobby Levy, R-Echo.
The board of commissioners on Wednesday, Sept. 8, reviewed a list of five projects they may ask Levy to push to get state funding for during the 2022 Legislative Session.
The commissioners each discussed their lists of three projects they would like Levy to seek funding for. Because some projects were duplicated on lists, the end result is that five, the total number of projects listed, are under consideration. Levy earlier asked the Union County Board of Commissioners for a list of projects it would like for her to consider seeking funding for.
The board of commissioners will decide at its Sept. 15 meeting what step to take next. The commissioners have several options, including submitting all five project requests to Levy and asking her to select one to campaign for, or giving her a prioritized list and asking her to pick one based on its standing and what she believes her chances of succeeding in getting funding for it are.
The projects the commissioners are considering include:
• The creation of a child care center that would be designed to help working parents in Union County and address a shortage of day care centers, according to Union County Commissioner Donna Beverage.
• The building of a new justice center. It was added to the list at the encouragement of Union County Sheriff Cody Bowen. The sheriff told the commissioners the justice center is needed for a number of reasons, including a shortage of jail space. Bowen said he would like such a center to have room for a mental health facility. He said this would allow law enforcement officers in some instances to take people who are experiencing a mental health crisis to a place they could receive help rather than to jail.
• Renovation and expansion of the La Grande/Union County Airport, including increasing fuel storage capacity, adding a multiuse hangar for equipment, maintenance work and space to better protect helicopters. Airport work could also include adding hangars for the public. Commissioner Paul Anderes said there is presently a waiting list of 20 people who want hangar space at the airport.
• Upgrade work at the Union County Fairgrounds. Funds could be used for steps like badly needed water and sewer system upgrades, Anderes said.
• The creation of a truck route that would allow truck drivers to circumvent the portion of McAlister Road that runs through a residential and school zone in Island City. The project might involve enlarging part of Pierce Road so that it could accommodate heavy truck traffic. Beverage said the route would improve access to Baum Industrial Park and the La Grande/Union County Airport.