Oregon Coast Community College Gets New Home, At Last

NEWPORT Ore.

Oregon Coast Community College has been without a home for 20 years.

Administrators rent office and classroom space wherever they can find it between Yachats and Lincoln City. English teacher Sharon Beardsley’s classroom for the past 15 years has been at a former Newport bar. Genevieve Gray, 19, takes math and business classes at an old fire hall.

“Sometimes you don’t really feel like you’re going to school,” Gray said. “You feel like you’re going to the old fire station.”

After two failed attempts, the college finally persuaded Lincoln County taxpayers to float a $23.5 million bond that will pay for campuses in Newport, Waldport and Lincoln City.

The $16.5-million centerpiece is set for Newport. The campus will be on a 25-acre parcel that’s a half-mile from Highway 101 and safely out of the tsunami inundation zone.

Voters established the Lincoln County Community College Service District in 1987. With the narrow passage of a measure to create a three-year serial property tax to pay for operations, the college board used part of its $1.1 million budget to lease the Henderson Furniture Building, which had once housed Wrangler’s Saloon and Jake’s High Tide in Newport.

Two years later, the college was already in jeopardy. Voters shot down the renewal of the serial levy in 1989, and twice more in 1990. By that summer, the three-year-old school was preparing to close.

Voters changed their minds and signed off on a permanent tax in 1992, but it would take another dozen years for them to agree to a campus plan.

“Sometimes it just takes awhile to get it right,” said Patrick O’Connor, the college president.

Construction on the main campus is scheduled to be finished in 2009.

O’Connor, for one, can’t wait. “This is embarrassing to admit, but I’ve had people come by (the current office) and say ‘Excuse me, can you tell me where the real community college is?'”

Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

–Associated Press

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