The Town Hall scheduled for Thursday will give Malheur County residents a chance to dream about the future of the county and how Treasure Valley Community College can help achieve those dreams.
(BLM photo)

Dirk DeBoer pulled me aside recently at Nyssa’s annual chamber banquet.

He wanted to talk about Treasure Valley Community College and Thursday’s Town Hall.

DeBoer, a successful farmer and determined civic activist, was passionate. He said the community had to be thinking not about next year but 15 years down the road, even 25 years down the road.

“Where do we want to be then?” he asked.

His point was clear. You need to decide what you want your future to be and then plan how to get there. DeBoer wants local kids to have opportunity, whether it’s a shot at an affordable education or a chance at a career that affords family wages.

A smile crept across my face. I could have hugged him, but I restrained.

He put his finger on one reason the Malheur Enterprise has volunteered so much effort to conduct the Town Hall. The college, as I’ve noted before, is and needs to remain a vital part of framing Malheur County’s future.

But internal struggles have gotten too much time and too many headlines. Energy has been sapped that is sorely needed to consider DeBoer’s point: Where do we want this college to go?

This isn’t an idle question. Enrollment has been dropping. The reasons are complex, and you can learn more at Thursday’s Town Hall. Finances are uncertain. State money for community colleges has gone up and down over the years. And as DeBoer so well states, Malheur County now plays in a global marketplace. That requires a more expansive view of how the county – and the college – serves that market.

The most important word in the name of the college is “community.” This school was born from local ambitions, and serves local ambitions. Now, it’s time to engage the entire community to serve new ambitions. What are those ambitions? What are the economic hopes for Malheur County? How can Treasure Valley play a role in serving those hopes?

Who is going to answer those questions? You. That’s my hope, and the hope of many who have supported this Town Hall.

A public institution such as Treasure Valley needs to be guided by community sentiment. School officials can’t be expected to serve needs the community hasn’t spoken of. They can be only as ambitious as the people of the community want them to be. Modest ambition results in modest achievement. We can do better, I’m convinced.

Gathering in a Town Hall format opens the conversation to anyone with a thought about the future of the college. You don’t need to be expert in finances or even academic programs. You just have to care about making Malheur County stronger and pondering the ways Treasure Valley can help make that so.

Please, take a moment, join us Thursday, and be part of a community discussion where your voice is as important as any other.

FYI

What: Town Hall on TVCC future

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, March 16

Where: Four Rivers Cultural Center

Les Zaitz is editor and publisher of the Enterprise. Email: [email protected].