U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden conducted his annual Malheur County town hall meeting at the National Guard Armory and Recruiting Office in Ontario on Friday, June 23.
More than 50 citizens attended the meeting and brought up issues related to sustainable transportation, health insurance, immigration and labor, wildfires and tax laws.
Wyden brought up the importance of the Malheur community throughout the meeting and highlighted the important members of the community including Ontario Mayor Deborah Folden and Idaho state Sen. Abby Lee, who is also an associate vice president at Treasure Valley Community College.
During the meeting, Wyden repeatedly mentioned the Malheur Community for the Empowerment of Owyhee Act as a sign that “community is going to drive the future of the Owyhee.”
He said the idea for his legislation was brought to him by members of the Owyhee Basin Stewardship Coalition, including board chairman Steve Russell and vice chairman Mark MacKenzie.
“I had long been in favor of a community-favored approach,” Wyden said. With this bill, he said, “We are on our way to truly have something that is community driven.”
Wyden spoke about other initiatives he had been a part of in the Senate that will benefit the community, including expanding broadband access throughout Oregon and pushing for a trade agreement between the U.S. and Taiwan which he said would bring farming business in Malheur County.
Dana Young, president of Treasure Valley Community College, thanked Wyden for the $3 million federal grant to establish a new nursing center at the college and for his “continued support and advocacy towards education.”
Throughout the meeting, Wyden repeatedly emphasized the importance of community influence in creating laws that benefit citizens.
“I don’t have all the answers but this is the way we’re going to do it,” he said.
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