Saturday, May 6, 2023

Tillamook County Pioneer

Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden supported funding requests for dozens of local projects across Oregon last year, however no project receiving Congressionally Directed Funding had more local support or will have more local impact than the Nehalem Bay Health Center and Pharmacy project in north Tillamook County.

The $3 million appropriation, championed by Merkley and supported by Wyden, will be used for the construction of the proposed new health center and was included in one of the last pieces of legislation passed by Congress in late December 2022. The congressional funds contribute to the total cost of the project.

In announcing support for the Oregon projects – the Health District project was among the most significant on the Oregon coast – Merkley said “No one knows the unique needs of communities across Oregon like the folks living and working in them … Community-initiated projects are an incredible example of this, because these local and regional projects were generated at the ground level by folks who are working to make their communities better.”

To be considered for federal funding, local sponsors must demonstrate that they are addressing significant community needs and have broad community support. The application from the Nehalem Bay Health District included letters of support from the cities of Wheeler, Nehalem and Manzanita, the Tillamook County Commission, the Neahkahnie School District, Care Tillamook and the Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay.

In a letter of support to Merkley and Wyden last year, for example, Tillamook County Commissioners David Yamamoto, Mary Faith Bell and Erin Skaar wrote: “We are encouraged that the [health] district’s plans are based on a comprehensive strategic plan developed with extensive community input. That plan identified clearly that enhanced primary health care services are a critical need in the community.”

“The community support the Health District received from other units of government and non-profit organizations was critical to securing the federal funding,” said Health District president Marc C. Johnson.

Johnson noted that mayors and city council members in all the communities within the Health District have unanimously endorsed the May 16 bond measure that will provide additional funding, supplementing the $3 million, needed in order to build the new Health Center and Pharmacy.

The Health District is asking voters to support the May 16 bond measure that will support the construction of the new health center, as well as renovation and modernization of the Nehalem Valley Care Center, the skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in Wheeler which is owned by the Health District, and site preparation for workforce housing for health care and other essential workers in the community.