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OSU-Cascades holds open house to tour landfill, mine remediation, progress on Student Success Center construction

(Update: Adding video of tour, comments by Sherm Bloomer, Linda Johnson)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon State University–Cascades invited community members to an unusual kind of "open house" tour on Tuesday afternoon, to explore the latest progress as once-unusable lands — a former landfill and pumice mine — near the center of Bend are being transformed into the next phase of the university campus.

The two-hour on-the-move event began with attendees gathering at the Charles McGrath Family Atrium in Edward J. Ray Hall.

They took part in guided van tours of land remediation work underway for the first eight-acre phase of OSU-Cascades’ future innovation district. This remediation effort, which takes place within the former demolition landfill area, has reached an important juncture, as excavation of construction and demolition waste related to this phase was recently completed.

Sherm Bloomer, chancellor and dean of OSU-Cascades, said: “So this is just the next phase of building a four-year university for Central Oregon.

"We came to the campus in 2001. In 2012, we had permission to open a four-year university. And in 2016, we opened Tykeson Hall. That was the first building on this site. And so, since then, we've built the dormitory and the dining hall, we've built Ray Hall, which is behind us here. And we started to work on remediating the site.

"The site was 128 acres, and of that, only 118 acres was usable. It was a pumice mine, and a demolition landfill that the county owned. So we came here really with the intention of turning this from something that was unusable to something that's an economic asset for the community, and Central Oregon.”

Visitors got to see the heavy equipment used at the site to move tons of fill and prepare it for sorting and recycling. They also joined a hard hat "sneak peek" tour of the Student Success Center and its mass timber structure, now under construction. The building is expected to open to students in winter 2025. 

Visitors viewed plans showing the future campus, and members of the campus planning and design teams were on hand to answer questions.

Linda Johnson, a former Bend city councilor who led the effort to bring OSU to Bend, said, “What I think is the most exciting for me is when I go to a store or a business or I meet someone at a party, and I find out that they've gotten a degree here at OSU. It just lights me up. I mean, it's just amazing to be present, and to that kind of excitement of people getting their education and making a career here.”

Community members interested in being involved in the future of OSU-Cascades also had a chance to meet with representatives from Now4 OSU-Cascades, which is part of the Beaver Caucus, a community advocacy group, to learn about ways to support OSU-Cascades.

The land remediation work now underway was funded by the Oregon Legislature, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and OSU. The Student Success Center was funded by the Oregon State Legislature and through student fees.

Article Topic Follows: Education

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Tracee Tuesday

Tracee Tuesday is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Tracee here.


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