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RECREATION CENTER: Nonprofit pursues partnership

ONTARIO — There is still hope for some kind of aquatic or recreational center in Ontario, and the City Council will be meeting with members of Four Rivers Healthy Community to hash out a pending partnership on the project.

“In November, we designated a community recreation center as a major project,” Casey Clark Ney, executive director of Four Rivers Healthy Community, said at the Council’s work session Thursday.

Clark Ney outlined the benefits of a recreation center to Ontario, highlighting such things as a reduction in teen pregnancy and providing a place for injury rehabilitation. She said the center would be a great service to youths, senior citizens and people with disabilities.

The organization presented a draft of a memorandum of understanding to the Council, outlining a partnership to “realize the vision for a community recreation center,” according to Clark Ney.

The City Council decided the best way to look at the memorandum of understanding was to create a committee, made up of three Council members and three representatives from Four Rivers Healthy Community.

Together, with the input of interim city manager Tori Barnett, the newly formed committee will be able to work through the document and outline the expectations from each of the two parties.

“With Four Rivers Healthy Community coming on board, it’s prompted me to think we might be able to get something done,” Councilor Norm Crume said. “Trying to do it on our own is a real struggle. I’m encouraged by the direction you’ve taken.”

Crume volunteered to be a representative of the Council on the new committee. Councilors Tessa Winebarger and Charlotte Fugate agreed to serve as well.

The group plans to meet next week to start going through the details of the potential partnership.

As they discussed the budding partnership, Loni Debban, executive director of Malheur Council on Aging, also threw in her support.

“We also, for seniors, want to put together a recreation center,” Debban said. “It’s something that we want to support.”

Verini suggested Debban meet with Clark Ney and Barnett “behind the scenes” and see in what ways Malheur Council on Aging can help with the project.

“I think our objectives are the same,” Verini said. “We need to sit down and hash it out sooner rather than later.”

Jessica Else is a news reporter at The Argus Observer. She can be reached at (541) 823-4822 or by emailing To comment on this story, go to

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