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Federal bill will boost projects for TVCC, food hub, irrigation district in Malheur County

A massive federal budget bill expected to be approved by Congress in days contains money for three big projects in Malheur County.

Treasure Valley Community College is in line to get $3 million to help build a new building to house its nursing program.

The Oregon Food Bank’s Ontario operation will get $3.6 million towards a new community food hub.

And the Owyhee Irrigation District will get $3 million to pipe a mile of what’s called the Kingman lateral, providing irrigation water to about 6,500 acres.

Word of the awards was announced this week by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley.

TVCC will use its appropriation to fund the school’s Nursing and Allied Health Professions Center construction costs.
In addition to expanding the school’s nursing program, Cathy Yasuda, executive director of the TVCC Foundation, said the project would have a long-term economic impact on building a skilled workforce in the area.
Abby Lee, TVCC associate vice president of communications, said the college put in the funding request in late July.
Lee said the total cost of the project is about $11 million. So far, the college has just under $5 million from the state and must come up with matching funds by early next winter.
Lee said the $3 million in federal funding counts toward those matching funds to the state. The “public phase” of the fundraising efforts to raise the rest of the funds for the project kick off in January, Lee said.  
“We have lots of events planned for the community and look forward to finalizing the campaign,” Yasuda said. 

The money going to the Oregon Food Bank will fund a new resource and a Community Food Center in Ontario, according to Lindsay Grosvenor, strategic partnerships program manager for the food bank in Ontario.

She said in an email that the food center will be located on the campus of River Bend Place, an affordable housing complex that opened earlier this year in what was once a nursing home in Ontario.

The food hub is a project of the Western Treasure Valley Food Systems Partnership.

“The partnership is entering its second year of the planning process and will be hosting a series of focus groups and interviewing community leaders over the next several months,” Grosvenor said. “They hope to have a summary of their key findings, recommendations and next steps for the community food center project by October 2023. The timeline for breaking ground on the Ontario Community Food Center project will depend on securing additional funds deemed necessary for project completion.” 

Merkley’s announcement included remarks from the Owyhee Irrigation District in Nyssa about an irrigation project in the Adrian area.

“The Owyhee Irrigation District is excited and deeply grateful for the support shown by Senators Merkley and Wyden for this project. Piping the first mile of the Kingman lateral will save money and stabilize the embankment, ensuring irrigation delivery to 6,500 acres,” said Clancy Flynn, district general manager.

Merkley sits on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and included more than 100 Oregon projects in a $1.7 trillion federal budget bill.

Merkley said in a briefing with reporters on Wednesday, Dec. 21, that the legislation includes $230 million for 145 Oregon projects. He said he and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden assembled the projects after asking communities about their needs. He said Democrats in Oregon’s House delegation also have projects listed.

“The whole point of this is for communities to decide what is most important to them,” Merkley told reporters.

U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, was the only member of the state delegation with no projects listed. A spokesman for Bentz in Washington, D.C., did not respond to an email request for comment.

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