One of the problems of working with editors is that they are utterly unreasonable when it comes to “having it their own way.” This is as opposed to the far more reasonable “having it MY way” that I prefer. However, one does not bite the hand that controls the stove that heats the gruel that feeds the columnist, so I will not be doing a column this time on liquor law changes, nor the reader-requested pedestrians one. I will also avoid a column discussing historically ignorant columnists who whine about Hitler hating a nation that wouldn’t be founded until years after his death. Loyal readers will just have to live with the mysteries for months to come. Feel free to write and complain — my editor loves letters like that.

And gnus remain off the table. Which is good, since they’re even larger than dogs.

So what do all these rules of “what shalt I not write” bring to mind? School, of course.

The city’s annual department head/City Council year-in-review meeting was last Saturday, and, after the meeting closed, I spent a couple minutes chatting with one of the newer councilors, John Kirwan, in regard to Oregon higher education. Mr. Kirwan is a native Oregonian (and why is someone born in Oregon a native Oregonian, but as someone born in America I am not a native American? The Canadian appellation of “First American” is much more accurate ... but I digress), and I asked him why Oregon’s state university did not have a system of branch campuses similar to my native Pennsylvania. Although there are apparently some, they are nowhere near as widespread as they are in Pennsylvania.

Which is too bad, because — and this goes back to last year’s column on “what Hermiston needs” — a truly state-based college, with courses designed both to lead to a four-year degree and to support the local higher education needs, would be an excellent thing to have. It keeps costs lower for parents of more limited means, since students can live at home, and helps ensure more dedication on the part of those students due to the lower stress levels and greater parental supervision. It also keeps students more attached to their hometown during some decidedly formative years.

Furthermore, and perhaps in conjunction with the Experiment Station, it would provide a ready base for students from the main campus to spend an in-state “semester abroad,” learning both hands on skills in local areas such as agriculture and providing them with a view of a part of the world that is not urbanized, mechanized and tied together with subsidized mass transit. It would also help provide a pool of trained students who already are accustomed to local conditions and could work in tandem with other large area employers who need college-level technical skills to, again, train up a population that is from the area and wouldn’t mind staying here.

Finally, although I understand that there is a tie-in between a lot of colleges and the state school, allowing students to graduate from the state school after starting their education at a different one, even in my hometown there was both the local community college and the branch campus of Penn State coexisting peacefully together and both serving as valuable assets in the educational ecosystem. Still, though ... Oregon State University, Hermiston Campus. Doesn’t that just have a nice sound to it?

But that’s the opinion of an opinionated guy. Let’s hear your opinions! Letters to the editor or by email to Names of the terminally shy will be withheld on request.

— Thomas Creasing is a Hermiston resident and Herald columnist

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