Corvallis Business: OSU Grows, ROCKit Comes to Town, Dairy Pollutant Petition Fails by Funding, Update to Rock Creek Forest Watershed, Open House for Trash Talks, & Chamber Events

Our Little University Has Grown Up: Oregon State University has hit a new high with 35,239 enrolled students across their five in-person locations and e-campus this fall. This is a 3.3% increase – meaning 1,131 added students – from last year.  

In a press release, OSU President Jayathi Murthy said, “Record enrollments among students of color and first-year students and increasing numbers of non-resident students are evidence that Oregon State is increasingly seen as a destination for an inclusive and excellent education and a gateway to success in graduate school, life and career after graduation.” 

OSU students come from all 50 states and 107 countries, not to mention the 17,610 Oregonian students from all 36 Oregon counties. National trends have shown a decrease in college enrollment overall – with 1.1% fewer students in 2022, 2.1% fewer students in 2021, and 3.4% fewer students in 2020, meaning OSU is bucking the trend with continued increases which are primarily due to a robust online education system which accounts for 10,679 of the total enrollment.  

Other groups of students to take note of are OSU veteran students – there is an increase of 5.4%; first generation university students – an increase of 11.5%; and international students – an increase of 7.7%.  

Benton County Teams With ROCKit: Thanks to grant funding, Benton County, the City of Corvallis, Community Services Consortium, and others are coming together to bring the area the Resource Organizer for Communities Kit (ROCKit) program. This program will assist with the development of resources to connect those in need with housing and services.  

ROCKit is a program which takes a community through a 90-day process of asset mapping of community resources. These maps allow the area to see those assets available that will offer the community a more complete list of specific, actionable items which will make measuring the process more doable.  

The number of houseless individuals in Benton County has increased by more than 95% since 2015. Add to that, our county has the highest level of income inequality in the state with 40% of all renters paying over half of their monthly salary on rent. And only 14 affordable rentals are available for every 100 Benton County families within the extremely-low income bracket. 

In a press release, Benton County Commissioner, Nancy Wyse said, “Tackling this project is an important step toward developing local solutions. Working with ROCKit gives us an opportunity to leverage our community’s resources and attributes.” 

The collaboration with ROCKit will build off of what has been accomplished to date by the Homes, Opportunity, Planning, and Equity (HOPE) Board.  

“We don’t need data to see that homelessness is a problem in our community,” said Dina Eldridge, Housing Services Manager of Community Services Consortium. “We need data to help us solve it.”  

Dairy Pollutant Petition Fails: Many in the Willamette Valley have stepped up their worries about the pollution coming out of dairy farms. Not only is there an odor issue, but dairies are tied to pollutants such as ammonia, particulate matter, and greenhouse gasses – pollutants that have documented effects on human health. However, the state office charged with regulating these issues has come out recently saying they simply don’t have the funding to keep up with it.  

A petition was brought to the state to establish a program for air quality permits which would affect dairies with more than 700 adult cows specifically, but would also monitor emissions from any dairy in case they are creating more pollution than they should be.  

The Environmental Quality Commission – the Department of Environmental Quality’s  (DEQ) rulemaking board – is a five-member panel of folks appointed by the governor to four-year terms. The current team is chaired by Kathleen George, vice-chaired by Sam Baraso, with Molly Kile, Greg Addington, and Amy Schlusser making up the rest of the panel.   

In their meeting to discuss the dairy farm emissions petition, DEQ Interim Director Leah Feldon said that there were no resources available for a program like this. Baraso, Schlusser, and Kile voiced their concerns about the problem, then voted against the petition with Addington.  

Rock Creek Forest Watershed: A meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 15, in both the Madison Ave. Meeting Room, located at 500 SW Madison Ave., Corvallis, and virtually at this meeting link, to discuss the Rock Creek Watershed Forest Stewardship Update.   

Trash Talks Open House: On Thursday, November 17, all are welcome to come to the Trash Talks Open House from 3:00-7:30 p.m. at the Benton County Kalapuya Building, located at 4500 SW Research Way, Corvallis. This event will allow the public to talk to members of the subcommittees within these talks about what they are working on and how they are managing. There will also be an overall talk about how things are panning out to date.   

Chamber Events: Coming this week from the Chamber of Commerce…   

Tuesday, Nov. 15, join Lumina Hospice & Palliative Care for a lunch time virtual meeting running from 12 – 1 p.m. The subject for this meeting is “Supporting the Needs of Veterans.” You can register for the event here  

On Thursday, Nov. 17, come celebrate art, food, and shopping in the Third Thursday event. Between 4 and 8 p.m., come on downtown for this new monthly celebration of community – a collaboration between Corvallis Arts Walk and the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s Economic Vitality Team and Food Action Team. Find more details here 

In the mood for a little wine? On Friday, November 18, pop over to Cardwell Hill Cellars for a vertical tasting just in time to buy your Thanksgiving wines. The winery is located at 24241 Cardwell Hill Dr. in Philomath. Reserve your tasteful slot by calling Katrina at 541-929-9463.  

Here’s another great way to have fun while doing good. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is having their Hometown Barn Bash fundraiser on Friday, Nov. 18, from 6 – 9 p.m. Find out the details here.  

By Sally K Lehman 

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