Hispanic Advisory Committee - Minutes

Tue., Mar. 21, 2017

Chairman Jose Garcia called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm. Committee members present were Mark Gomolski and Roy Nayar Barron. Jesus Rose and Hector Ramirez were excused. Council Representatives Manuel Gutierrez was present, as well as City Representative Lilly Alarcon-Strong. The Pledge of Allegiance was given.


Jose moved and Roy seconded to approve the minutes of the February meeting. Motion carried unanimously.

Hermiston School District

Maria Duron from the Hermiston School District gave a brief presentation regarding the proposed May 16, 2017 School Bond. Maria stated in 2008 the School District went out for a $69 million bond. This bond replaced Armand Larive Middle School, Sunset and West Park Elementary Schools and made improvements to the track and football field. Not only did these new schools create a bigger facility for children but also improved safety and security for students and staff at these locations. But safety continues to be a concern at older elementary schools. The Hermiston Police Department conducted an independent safety audit and concluded Rocky Heights and Highland Hills Elementary Schools do not meet current safety standards due to their design, age and safety alert systems.

Maria stated since the last school bond passed in 2008, the School District has grown by over 600 students and Hermiston continues to grow above and beyond Portland State University’s highest projections. Hermiston High School is fast approaching its maximum capacity of 1,600 students and Hermiston is the 2nd fastest growing School District in Oregon.

Maria played a short video for the Committee regarding the proposed school bond.

Maria stated without the passage of this new bond, the community can expect to see about 56 modular buildings throughout the district compared to about 8 if the school bond passes; right now, the School District has 34 modular buildings.

Maria stated the Facilities Master Planning Committee reviewed a comprehensive list of all items that need attention which totaled over $130 million and were able to narrow down and prioritize that amount to the proposed bond of $104 million and the list to:

  • Replace Rocky Heights Elementary School at a cost of $20,150,000
  • Build a new elementary school on district-owned property on Theater Lane at a cost of $22,050,000
  • Expand Hermiston High School and make Fairground improvements at $28,525,000
  • Address deferred maintenance and failing heating and cooling systems at Sandstone Middle School at $2,558,000
  • Replace Highland Hills Elementary School at $20,150,000

Maria displayed a graph to the Council showing that the $104 million bond would initially cost property owners about $.90 per $1,000.

Councilor Gutierrez stated he no longer has children in the school system; but, when his children were attending school, someone along the way made a big impact in their lives and two of them became teachers. Councilor Gutierrez stated he is grateful for the positive influence that those teachers gave to his children and will always vote in favor of any bond that improves the lives of children.

Roy agreed and stated his family, along with many others, move to Hermiston to take advantage of the school system, extracurricular school activities, sports, and so much more. Roy stated he is very grateful for the move to Hermiston and hopes the school bond will pass.

Jose stated the school bond is a great investment in the lives of children and for the community.

Mark Gomolski asked why the school district doesn’t build more class rooms in the proposed new facilities as it would make the most financial sense to build them now as it is inevitable that they will be filled up sooner rather than later instead of adding modular buildings or asking to pass another bond in another 7 years.

The audience agreed.

Maria stated most constituents do not like to pay for empty classrooms and cannot see past the fact that these classrooms would not be empty for long.  

Maria stated she will also be promoting the School District Bond on the Spanish radio station and asked that everyone vote YES on Measure 30-125.

BMCC Agriculture Project

Alex from BMCC presented the Committee with information regarding the Precision Irrigation Ag Program. Alex stated this program creates new opportunities for seasonal low wage workers who are interested in advancing in their work or who are no longer able to do physical labor. Employees can participate in part of the program that will help them earn $30,000 to $40,000 per year; or get certified with the two-year program that will help earn up to $65,000 per year; both will help make them annual employees.

Alex has been speaking with workers and employers to encourage them to join the program so workers can get certified and help make them more valuable to employers. The program is based in Hermiston but can hold classes on the farm and will cover: Irrigation, Data and Business aspects of agriculture. Certification in irrigation is highly desired by employers. With all the new technology many things are being done by smart phones, drones, gps, etc. This all helps grow more food, feed more people, and help people get better jobs.

Roy stated the technology being introduced peoples farmers and people work more efficiently. Work smarter not harder.

Columbia Latino Alliance

Natalie Contreras from Columbia Latino Alliance stated the non-profit helps support the Hispanic population succeed, but specifically focuses on adults and parents so they can continue school and help their children with homework, etc. Columbia Latino Alliance has provided computer classes at BMCC that showed adults how to make email accounts, fb accounts, and basic word documents. The computer classes also helped build their self-esteem as they were doing things that they never thought they could. Columbia Latino Alliance also held classes on how to start a business and connect with other opportunities.

Natalie stated Columbia Latino Alliance is a slow moving organization because everyone is a volunteer and the program needs funding in order to continue to offer these classes and other opportunities. Columbia Latino Alliance frequently participates in community events to do outreach and asked that the Committee and audience also help spread the word about who they are, what they do, and what they offer, and to like them on fb for more information and updates on upcoming  happenings.

Mark Gomolski stated he will also reach out to his contacts to see if they can work with Columbia Latino Alliance.

Spring Diversity Conference

Jose encouraged the Committee and audience to attend the Spring Diversity Conference at EOTEC on April 10th, 2017 from 8:30am to 4:30pm.

Hispanic Grief Support Group

Jose stated he will be presenting more information regarding this topic at the next meeting.

Moda and the Trail Blazers Assist Program for Sunset Park

Lilly stated the City of Hermiston won the $20,000 Moda and Trail Blazers Assist Program for new park equipment at Sunset Park. The City won with 19,519 votes; Portland came in second with 15,424 votes; and Tillamook with 1,610 votes. Previously, the most votes ever cast, for a win, were under 4,000. So, for Hermiston to get more than 4 times that amount of votes, and win over Portland with such a population difference is wonderfully impressive. Lilly congratulated the Parks and Recreation Department and thanked everyone for voting.

Closing Comments


Members of the public asked why a representative from the Police Department no longer attends the meetings.

Lilly stated Officer Sandoval is now working patrol and the new officer is away at training.

Committee Comments

Manuel stated Catholic Charities will be presenting information at the next meeting in April.

Mark Gomolski stated Sheriff Rowan will also be presenting in April as well.

Next Scheduled Meeting

The next scheduled meeting will be Monday, April 17th at 7:00 pm.

Meeting Adjourned at 8:46pm.

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