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Seven named to FAC board

By Benny Westcott
Of The New Era/Lebanon Local

A seven-member advisory committee that will have oversight over an upcoming Managed Outreach and Community Resource Facility for the homeless was chosen Aug. 15 at the Community Health Committee’s meeting at City Hall.

The homeless facility will be run by the Lebanon-based Family Assistance and Resource Center (FAC). The facility is currently being prepped on an FAC-owned parcel of land east of Bi-Mart.

Health Committee members that approved the seven-member board were Lisa and Jim Gourley, Larry Horton, and Bob Dalton.

The board, chosen by FAC, consists of Sweet Home City Councilor Angelita Sanchez, Sweet Home Police Capt. Jason Ogden, Rural Voices of Oregon Owner Scott McKee, Adam Reel (who is representing Sweet Home homeless clients), Ridgeway Health CEO Sam Milstein, Cascade Timber Consulting Land Survey Crew Chief Rob Keene, and community member Ken Bronson.

“This is a solid group,” Lisa Gourley said of the board.

The committee will be facilitated by Horton, who also gave an update on the status of the upcoming facility at the meeting.

“I remember when we were hoping to have this thing operational by July, and now I’m hoping that we get it operational by the time winter gets here,” he said. “It’s a lot of work.”

He did note that the city has been “absolutely marvelous in partnering with FAC and getting things done.”

He said that electricity, sewers, and water service have all been put on the site by the city.

Horton explained that before any work was done on the site, “It was a mess. There were old trees, branches, blackberry bushes, and concrete. It had been used as a dumping ground basically. The city staff members did an excellent job of getting it graded down.”

“Now it’s a matter of the fencing,” he said. “But apparently there’s a shortage of fencing everywhere. So finding fencing is almost impossible.”

The initial plan to transport the old Sweet Home City Hall Annex to the FAC property to serve as a community center has also hit some roadblocks.

“We originally thought that we were going to be able to get it moved pretty easily for next to nothing as far as the cost,” Horton said. “But they went over to start tearing it apart and found out that it isn’t a mobile unit. There’s not tires underneath it. So the unit has to be picked up and put on a truck with a real long bed and has to have a special kind of permit. It’s going to be a mess to get it moved.”

He said that FAC Program Manager Brock Byers is trying to determine the cost of what it would take to move the annex.

“If it becomes too cost prohibitive, we may have to come up with another alternative,” Horton said.

Will Coltrin’s advanced construction class at Sweet Home High School constructed 30 hut units for the site last school year. Eight of the huts are fully completed with everything but the insulation and cover.

“The other 22 are in a stack waiting to be transported over there and they’ll be assembled over there,” Horton said.

“The high school did an exceptionally good job of building those things,” Horton said. “And if you look at how the end product is looking, they look really good. I applaud Will Coltrin for the great job that he did with the students at the school. Those 30 huts, I’m really pleased with them.” But he added “I just wish they were together and on the site and ready to be used. Hopefully within the next month, that will happen.”

“I’d like for the kids to come over and help put them together on the site,” Horton said. “I think they would really enjoy that.”

Horton noted that approximately 1,000 yards of gravel will be put down on the site. The plan is to put all 30 huts and a multi-use facility on the blacktop.

“It’s a real advantage that we won’t be fighting mud when the rain comes,” he said. “It will be very nice for the people that are using it.”

He said that two large event tents purchased by FAC are on the site to store materials in a “semi-safe” location. He noted that the tents will later be used by clients for recreation or as an eating area.

FAC has additionally purchased two bathroom units that have toilets and showers that will be going in the facility. Horton said that a shower trailer is being worked on as well. “Hopefully it will be done within the next month, and ready to hook it up,” he said.

The next Community Health Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.