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Summer Update and September Legislative Days
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Summer Update

       Aug 30, 2013

A Message From Representative Whitsett

The months of July and August have found this office very busy since the ending of the 77th Oregon legislative session on July 9, 2013. All legislators and most staff have left Salem and the Capitol, and are now officially in the “interim”, where we are in our local home districts once again.

Senator Whitsett and I returned to House District 56 and Senate District 28 in early July for meetings with many private citizens, including business owners, farmers and ranchers, civic clubs, the elderly, veterans and active military who are our district constituents.

We have also engaged in district informational meetings with Klamath Community College, Oregon Institute of Technology, Kingsley Field, some K-12 school and senior citizen center administrators, private natural resource companies, local public officials, and Oregon’s Secretary of State Kate Brown. We’ve participated in Legislative townhalls, historic dedications, county fairs, and even a film documentary on the Klamath River System!

A few of the major happenings in the last 6 weeks that are of major importance: 


KCC Expansion to Lakeview

July 15 – We participated in an afternoon program with new president Dr. Roberto Gutierez and selected KCC and community members to determine the direction that the college will take in the coming years. New offerings include the implementation of four-year agricultural degrees in conjunction with OSU, working with the local public school systems to provide advanced placement classes that will result in completion of the first year of college in high school. This will allow for a major reduction in tuition and room and board expenses when transferring out of the area to other universities.

    Klamath Community College and new President Dr. Gutierez
KCC has expanded to Lakeview, where a floor of the old Daly Middle School is being retrofitted to encompass part of the KCC campus, thus allowing students in Lakeview to live close at home and avoid the 90 mile drive to Klamath Falls.

New professional vocational offerings include commercial culinary and truck driving degrees, and for the first time on-line degrees, all in an effort to provide new employees for the immediate needs of industry and businesses in Klamath and around Oregon. Former KCC president, Gerald Hamilton, has recently been named to interim executive of Oregon's Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development by Governor Kitzhaber. This should retain a high profile at the state level for our local community college.


Appointment to Special University Governance Committee

On August 18th I was appointed to the eight member Special Legislative Committee on University Governance and Operations with Representatives Smith, Dembrow, Buckley, and Senators Girod, Hansell, Courtney and Devlin to make recommendations for the establishment of governing boards for the regional and technical universities in Oregon.
Read further details here.

This committee will make recommendations based on the recent passage of
Senate Bill 270. This includes:
  • Issues of administration within the state post-secondary education system with an emphasis on four-year public universities
  • Coordination of operations, academic programs, shared services and other elements of that system
  • Focusing on how best to coordinate academic services among the universities in order to increase student access, affordability and success
  • Consideration of the unique mission associated with each of Oregon’s seven public universities and how these missions can best be accomplished and sustained over the next 10 years
The special committee will convene in September to submit interim recommendations to the Governor and Legislative Assembly by January of 2014 for consideration during the 2014 regular session.

Lake County Legislative Townhall

On August 12th I held a Lakeview, Oregon Legislative Townhall. We had two of the Lake County Commissioners in attendance, Ken Kestner and Brad Winters as well as the city manager Ray Simms and Lakeview Schools superintendent Sean Gallagher. Members of the public were invited to participate in a roundtable discussion of the legislative session with Senator Whitsett and me and a two hour interactive discussion resulted.
Our in-district legislative assistant, Kelsey Ferry, has attended nearly all of Lake County’s Economic Development special meetings as well as the weekly Lake County Commission meetings since July 10th on behalf of myself and Senator Whitsett and the citizens of House District 56 and Senate District 28.


MC Ranch Dedication in Lakeview

After the townhall we attended the
MC Ranch Chuckwagon dedication and celebration with Kelsey and her father, Dr. Rodney Ferry, DVM of Lakeview.
The MC Ranch was one of the largest ranches in Oregon, covering over a million acres in two states and four counties and was founded by William (Bill Kitt) Kittredge in the early part of the last century. His nephew, D.L. Jack Nichol, and some of the last cowboys from the ranch made the dedication of a new building in Lakeview which will house the last chuckwagon and articles of saddlery. We had an authentic beef cowboy dinner served from the back of the chuckwagon before it was put into the museum and heard from a number of Hollywood dignitaries and authors during the dedication, including from Jack Nichol himself. The magazine “Ranch and Reata, the Journal of the American West” has an article on page 16 of v. 3.2 describing the ranch and the new museum. Additionally, the new website for the museum will be at www.mcranchchuckwagon.com

New Klamath County Chamber of Commerce Video

The Klamath County Chamber of Commerce has produced an outstanding tourism and business video with Wrinkledog Productions and Werner Reschke. Senator Whitsett recently attended the premiere of the Klamath Community promotional video and we would like to present it here for everyone to see and pass along to friends, acquaintances, potential businesses looking to relocate and future KCC and OIT students. The photography and videography is simply stunning and shows the true beauty and potential of the Klamath Basin and southern Oregon. 

A special thank you to Werner Reschke, Director Chip Massie at the Chamber, the Discover Klamath Tourism office
www.discoverklamath.com, Trey Senn at the Klamath County Economic Development Association and the many other local community members who participated in the production of this outstanding video.
Klamath County video by Wrinkledog Productions

Future E-Newsletter Topics

We have many more topics to discuss in future newsletters, including our August visit with Kingsley Field Base Commander Colonel Jeremy O. Baenen regarding our tour of Klamath County’s Air National Guard base and the only F-15 Fighter Pilot training facility in the US, the federal sequester and upcoming meetings with OIT regarding the special committee on university governance.

Legislative Days

I will return to Salem for Legislative Days in September and interim committee meetings, where I have been assigned to Energy and the Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources and Human Services and Housing.
  • Agriculture & Natural Resources - Tuesday, Sept 17, 2-5pm, Hearing Room D
  • Energy & Environment - Wednesday, Sept 18, 8-11am, Hearing Room E
  • Human Services & Housing - Tuesday, Sept 17, 8-11am, Hearing Room D
Best regards,

Representative Gail Whitsett
House District 56


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- Energy & Environment
- Human Services & Housing

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