Stops 17 and 18 included visits to Ontario, Baker City
John Day, OR—On Wednesday, July 19, Governor Tina Kotek and First Lady Aimee Kotek Wilson visited communities in Malheur and Baker counties on stops 17 and 18 of the One Oregon Listening Tour.
They made the most of their stops, participating in more than six meetings over the course of the day with local elected officials, community members, and business leaders.
“Over half a year into the tour, I’ve learned firsthand the value of being on the ground, in community and listening. The state can’t solve problems it doesn’t understand,” Governor Kotek said. “But it’s not enough to listen. It’s no secret this part of Oregon hasn’t felt heard. It’s my job to take back the wisdom that I gain here and make adjustments. State government needs to work in every part of Oregon and take the unique needs of every community into account. I’d like to thank Oregonians for being frank and sharing what makes their communities wonderful despite the challenges.”
The Governor and First Lady started the day with a working breakfast at the Plaza Inn in Ontario with local mayors, city councilors, and Malheur County Judge Dan Joyce.
“It’s so important for our Governor to be out and about in Malheur County, talking to people, shaking hands with strangers, and going where the locals go,” Judge Joyce said. “This is an important part of the state that often feels left out. This visit was a step in the right direction to getting the Willamette Valley and Eastern Oregon on the same page.”
Following breakfast, the Governor and the First Lady participated in a conversation with representatives from Euvalcree and IRCO Ontario about the housing, education, and resource navigation challenges that refugees and immigrants face in rural eastern Oregon.
Next the Governor participated in a roundtable conversation at Treasure Valley Community College with the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board. The board was created by a bill Governor Kotek and then-State Representative Cliff Bentz co-chief sponsored in 2017. The conversation highlighted the programs the Board is spearheading to address the unique challenges faced by communities along the border with Idaho.
They then headed to Baker County for a conversation with local health leaders over lunch at New Directions Northwest in Baker City to discuss behavioral health services in the area. The meeting also included representatives from St. Alphonsus to discuss their recent decision to eliminate maternity services at the local hospital.
Following lunch, the Governor and the First Lady visited the Powder River Correctional Facility (PRCF). Program-eligible individuals preparing for transition from prison back into their communities are sent to PRCF for alcohol and drug treatment. They met with PRCF staff for a discussion of their current workplace needs, as well as the success of their treatment services.
The Governor and the First Lady then traveled to the Baker Technical Institute to learn more about their workforce development program and visited their heavy highway construction land lab, which is a Future Ready Oregon Project. They both did a test run on the institute’s heavy equipment simulator and toured other career preparation classrooms.
“One of the best things we can do for Oregon’s prosperity is ensure that we have a diverse trained, and ready workforce that will strengthen and innovate our state’s infrastructure. That’s what we do here at Baker Technical Institute, and we’re growing our reach year by year,” said Doug Dalton, President of Baker Technical Institute. “We applaud her effort to learn about workforce challenges in rural Oregon.”
They made a pit stop at Betty’s Books in downtown Baker City before dinner with local LGBTQ+ leaders in Baker City. They were up bright and early the following morning for breakfast at Sweet Wife Bakery with owner Jenny Moew, a former professional WNBA and Oregon Ducks basketball player. Suffice it to say, from the courts to the kitchen,Mowe knows how to slam dunk.