Community College pitches bond proposal

BREAKING NEWS: GABA cancels 2015 Fun-O-Rama  And, see why Mt. Hood Community College leaders say the programs at the Gresham-based school benefit outer East Portland residents …

GABA President David Panichello of OptiCon Inc. welcomes members and guests to the meeting, now being held at Kings Omelets Restaurant in Gateway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Although the meeting location had changed, about twenty members and guests attended the March 12 gathering of the Gateway Area Business Association (GABA).

After GABA President David Panichello welcomed attendees to their new venue – Kings Omelets Restaurant – he led off the self-introductions.

Fred Sanchez announces that the storied 2015 Fun-O-Rama Parade, typically held in May, has been cancelled.

GABA Past President Fred Sanchez of Realty Brokers announced that there will be no 2015 Fun-O-Rama Parade, Community Fair, or Carnival, typically held in May.

Sanchez offered no explanation for why this event – looked forward to by many folks in the area – would not take place. “Instead,” he said, “we will concentrate our efforts on a ‘First Responder Tribute’, GABA Citizen of the Year Award Announcement, and Community Fair, on September 10.”

Panichello then introduced the meeting’s guest speaker, Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) President Dr. Debra Derr, PhD.

Paul Wild, from Business & Industry Workforce Training at Mt. Hood Community College, introduces himself at the GABA meeting.

The tenth president of MHCC, Derr took charge of the community college in April of 2013, and started looking for ways to improve its services, she said.

One of these outreach efforts, in recent months, was have the school conduct a survey among students, community members, and other interested parties. “About 200 people responded to the questionnaire, asking questions to help identify our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.”

Mt. Hood Community College isn’t limited to just serving people in Gresham, assures President Dr. Debra Derr, PhD.

What is important for her administration to convey, Derr said, “is that we don’t just serve Gresham. What we do is not all about Gresham.”

The school has identified three distinct markets: Learners, Community, and Partnerships.

“When it comes to ‘learners’, the average age of the students is about 20 years old,” Derr informed. “But our fastest-growing category of students is over 30 years of age.

“So, yes, we do serve those younger students – but when we think about who we serve, we just think of ‘learners’,” Derr explained. “We also serve business, industry, and our community, as well as partners. We serve anyone who considers entering into a relationship with the college.”

Some students come to study with them, although they live outside their district, Derr remarked. “They say they come because they want to be part of our college. And, by the way, every resident of outer East Portland is in our service area.”

Dr. Derr tells of the school’s mission and vision.

Some of the common themes discovered in the survey’s responses are, Derr said, “‘We want you to inspire us, be relevant, and be responsive to our needs’.

“We’re about ‘Transforming Lives and Building Communities’,” added Derr. “And, that’s also our mission and mission statement. This goes along with our Vision Statement: ‘A nationally recognized institution, the choice for life-long education, and a leader in the state-of-the-art learning environments and innovation’.”

Dr. Derr appeals to GABA members to support the school’s upcoming bond issue, and to consider applying for a position on their school’s Board.

As MHCC celebrates fifty years of service to the community next year, Derr said, the administration is now hoping to pass a bond issue to raise funds. “One of our Co-Chairs is Fred Sanchez. We’re looking forward to the vision that he has for this effort.”

For more information about Mt. Hood Community College, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

GABA next meets on the second Thursday of the month; their next meeting is scheduled for April 9. Come at 11:30 p.m. for networking and to order lunch; the meeting ends promptly at 1:00 p.m. And don’t forget that they’re now meeting at Kings Omelets Restaurant, 10711 NE Halsey Street, 97220.

For more information, see the GABA website: CLICK HERE.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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