Chemistry instructor Nick Hamel has got a stockpile of ideas
just waiting for the money to make them happen.
"There's nothing I would say is really high-tech in here," says
Hamel, opening the door to his 1982 chemistry lab in the Pauling
Center at Clackamas Community College's Oregon City campus.
The chemistry instructor, who started at the college in 1999,
has dealt with out-of-date and unsafe equipment for years. The
hoods where six people are forced to stand shoulder-to-shoulder as
they conduct experiments on Bunsen burners; the eye-level shelf
that does nothing but get in the way of his students' learning; and
the emergency shower with no drain sitting in the corner next to
the refrigerator - these are just some of things he would like to
"It's not updating for the sake of updating," Hamel says of the
college's $90 million bond request to taxpayers this Nov. 4.
Ballots arriving to Clackamas County residents - excluding those
outside the college's special district in the Lake Oswego, Boring,
Damascus and Sandy school districts - will list it as Measure
Hamel just might get his chance this go-around. After voters
defeated a more ambitious 2011 bond request, CCC officials spent
two years in a information-gathering project called Imagine
Clackamas. More than 1,500 people in the CCC community responded to
an online survey; 750 high school students and others participated
in face-to-face surveys and more than 100 business professionals
took part in focus groups.
The resounding message the CCC board heard?
"Keep it cheap," says Gregory Chaimov, a Milwaukie attorney and
They listened. This year's bond request keeps the tax rate at
its current 19 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or
about $38 a year for the average household.
Clackamas County Business Alliance Executive Director Burton
Weast says that thoroughly impressed his board, which voted
unanimously to support the measure.
"We're businesses, so we're all about the services - which we're
very happy with - and the cost - which we're very happy with,"
The measure faces no organized opposition and enjoys broad
support from the community, including the Board of County
The only dark note in the symphony seems to be that the $111.8
million in revenue that the college hopes to get in November is far
distant of the $155.2 million it says it needs to maintain its
A 2013 Facility Condition Assessment put in perspective the
magnitude of the projects the college is facing, such as $14.1
million to resurface its parking lots and $9.6 million to upgrade
its heating and cooling systems.
"You have to balance competing priorities," said Jim Huckestein,
CCC's vice president of College Services.
Chaimov says the board is tied to public opinion. "We try to be
responsive to what the folks want us to do," Chaimov says. "If
there's a clamoring in the community in eight years for something
different, we'd probably work pretty hard to make that happen."
The funding will focus on three main projects.
First, a new 53,000-square-foot Industrial Technical Center that
would dramatically upgrade and replace the college's facilities for
automotive, manufacturing, welding and renewable energy
CCC President Joanne Truesdell says she wants the college poised
to offer cutting-edge instruction for the growing electric car
manufacturers. "We can't even entertain those conversations -
they're very interested - with the type of facilities we have now,"
Touring around the machine shop, the college president says the
high-tech machines employees are expected to master now - such as a
multi-axis milling machine or a computer-aided design system - were
inconceivable when that building was built in 1970.
"It doesn't support anything you could imagine today," Truesdell
says. CCC has a partnership with Gosiger machine tool designers to
keep a sort of working showroom of its latest equipment.
The second project is a total tear-down and replacement of a
61-year-old building on the Harmony Community Campus. The former
middle school is falling apart, with myriad maintenance issues such
as rot and wear. The proposed 43,850-square-foot facility would
expand classroom space and allow the college to offer full two-year
degrees at each of its three campuses.
Truesdell says the additional space is needed to be able to
offer required classes more consistently, particularly for those
who are using the college to transfer to a four-year
CCC students "do well upon transfer," Truesdell says. "We could
The final project the bond would fund is a new
18,355-square-foot science lab facility, Hamel's dream. The
addition would expand DeJardin Hall with five state-of-the-art
facilities for chemistry, biology and microbiology instruction.
"This has come around in the past," says Hamel, "and, by golly,
I'd like to see it come to fruition."