State Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, was hoping for a gift in what lawmakers sometimes call a Christmas tree bill a last-minute catch-all of special funding and projects.
So Krieger started leaving reminder notes at 6 a.m. every day for the last two weeks of the legislative session on the door of Ways and Means Co-Chair Ben Westlund.
Meanwhile, State Sen. Ken Messerle, R-Coos Bay, was talking with Ways and Means Co-Chair Lenn Hannon, who sat behind Messerle on the Senate floor, and calling Westlund's office.
Last Thursday, around midnight, Westlund let Krieger know there would be a million-dollar line item in the Christmas tree to help Southwestern Oregon Community College build a new center in Brookings.
I was so excited when I got back home around 2 or so, I had to call (Southwestern President) Steve Kridelbaugh, Krieger said Tuesday. I told him, Youll never guess what.
Kridelbaugh was so excited he called to wake up Associate Dean Peggy Goergen, who has been searching for ways to stretch less than $1 million into buying a site and a 15,000-square-foot building for Brookings.
This gives us enough to look at more than a bare-bones building, Goergen said Monday as the three announced the legislative gift.
Officially, the million dollars is a budget note to HB 5014, the Emergency Fund Reconciliation Bill. It was one of the bills in the veto-proof agreement between legislators and Gov. John Kitzhaber that helped break the deadlock and end the 2001 legislative session over the weekend, according to Krieger.
Messerle and Kridelbaugh have been working on this kind of help ever since Curry County annexed into the Southwestern district in 1997. Every community college annexation since then has gotten special state aid.
I was telling (Westlund and Hannon) this was a fairness issue and Southwestern really needed some funds to get the building going, Messerle said. Yes, the whole process works on relationships, but we worked hard on justifying it as well.
You have got to know the right people, Krieger said of getting something in the bill, noting that each of the 90 legislators and hundreds of lobbyists all hope for something special. You have to show that you will work on other peoples legislation.
The freshman legislator was pleased that his efforts paid off for his district. This is something substantive for the community for a long time, he said. This provides education for our young people who want to stay in our community, and for others a change in careers can start this way.
For seniors in the district, Krieger noted it means not having the burden of additional property taxes to pay for the facility.
Kridelbaugh called it yoemans work on the part of the two legislators, noting he has been working with legislators to find equity for the Curry annexation for five years.
The new $1 million adds to a fund of about $900,000 already earmarked for the project from when Curry County did join the district. Officials have been unable to find both a piece of property and a building plan that could fit within that budget.
Voters in the Southwestern district turned down two bond issue proposals last year, both of which included funds for the building in Brookings.
This million dollars puts us over the hill, Kridelbaugh said. If we get land, we could have a building done in six or seven months.
The college has been using the former community library as its Brookings Center, with three classroom spaces and a computer lab, augmented by class space elsewhere in the community.
In winter term, the college served the equivalent of 70 full-time students in Brookings, and had a total of 1,481 individuals involved in classes over the past year.