Umatilla and Morrow County voters voted down a $28.1 million bond for new programs and renovations at Blue Mountain Community College.

The bond failed in Umatilla County by a margin of 58 to 42 percent according to unofficial results. Support for the measure was stronger in Morrow County which voted narrowly to pass the measure, with a tally of 965 in favor and 923 opposed. But it wasn’t enough to push the measure into the positive column.

BMCC President Camille Preus couldn’t hide her shock at the measure’s demise.

“We’re really disappointed,” Preus said. “We expected it to be close.”

The college would have used bond proceeds to renovate four out of five BMCC campuses — Pendleton, Hermiston, Milton-Freewater and Boardman. Early on, consultants had determined that Baker voters would likely vote down the measure, which would be a new tax for Baker citizens, rather than an extension of an existing one as it was for Morrow and Umatilla County residents. In surveys, Umatilla and Morrow County voters indicated they would likely pass the measure.

The bond would have updated aging air handling units, refurbish electrical, natural gas, water and energy management systems and upgrade existing technology and computer infrastructure.

A trio of programs would have taken root - an animal sciences center in Pendleton, a Precision Irrigation Center in Hermiston and an Industrial Processes Workforce and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Center in Boardman. Preus said regional employers had requested the programs as incubators for the local work force.

“These new programs are a no-brainer for our region,” Preus has told a pre-election gathering in Pendleton of the American Association of University Women.

She said the injection of funds would have moved the college forward.

“We just need to regroup and determine how BMCC should proceed,” Preus said. “We’re dedicated to serving the citizens of Umatilla and Morrow Counties.”

The 15-year bond would have replaced another that retires in 2014 and cost property owners 31 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

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Contact Kathy Aney at kaney@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0810.

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