Welcome to Hermiston in 2018

Staff photo by Jade McDowell. The Harkenrider Center on Sept. 4, 2018.

Dear Hermiston residents of 2068,

If you are reading this, it means the city of Hermiston’s plan to create a time capsule to be opened 50 years from now has worked and you have unpacked a variety of artifacts to get a glimpse of life in Hermiston in 2018.

I have a feeling there won’t be much actual paper involved in making a newspaper in 2068, so enjoy this relic of the past.

As I write, Hermiston’s population hovers just below the 18,000 mark and is growing quickly thanks to new jobs in sectors such as food processing (Lamb Weston is working on a $250 million expansion of its Hermiston French fry facility) and data centers.

Amazon isn’t fond of us mentioning the data centers belong to them, but if you are still using Amazon.com for your shopping in 2068 you might find it interesting to note this area’s role in the business. You may also find it interesting to know that packages from Amazon and other retailers are being delivered to homes by human beings unloading packages from trucks that they drive from house to house. We envision a future where flying drones deliver the packages, or at least self-driving vehicles, but watching 1960s-era science fiction about the early 2000s has taught me that the future is rarely what we imagine.

Speaking of retail, I won’t hazard a guess about what fashion looks like in 2068, but here in the early 2000s we are experiencing a trend toward a more casual look, as young tech entrepreneurs show up to work in jeans instead of suits and people wear flip-flops instead of high heels to tour the White House. Just know that your mother’s ripped jeans in her high school yearbook were the height of fashion, not an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.

Also know that if in 2068 women’s pockets are as large as men’s, feminism has soared to heights that we in 2018 can only dream of.

Hermiston currently has one high school, two middle schools and five elementary schools but all of those schools are getting crowded and the Hermiston School District hopes to convince voters to agree to fund additional schools or expansion of the current schools soon. Earlier this year the district held graduation outside of Hermiston for the first time, up in the Tri-Cities, which caused some consternation. Hermiston is also playing sports against Tri-Cities teams for the first time after switching to a Washington sports conference. The school won its first football game against Pasco on Friday, but America is slowly realizing that a sport that encourages people to get hit in the head frequently is bad for its players, so I am not sure high school students will still be playing football in 2068.

If I, a 29-year-old, can’t keep up with all the social media platforms the kids these days are using then I doubt they will mean much to you either. Same goes for all the slang. Just know that the sentence “Fam, Emma is salty about being curved by Liam for being too thirsty, and now she’s low key throwing shade at his new bae Olivia, and that’s the tea,” makes sense in 2018. To some, anyway.

Speaking of things that are popular, perhaps the easiest way to see what Hermiston residents are talking about in 2018 is to read Whats Happening Hermiston, a Facebook group where residents can post questions and comments. People like to complain about other drivers (again, fingers crossed that self-driving cars become popular quickly now that they’ve been invented) debate the quality of service at Taco Bell, point out loose dogs running around town and to ask when the outdoor sporting goods store Ranch & Home will open. We’ve been told “soon” for over a year now, but maybe by 2068 it really will be open.

Looking at politics, you should know that Donald Trump is president. There’s too much there to unpack in a single column, but just know that people have a lot of opinions about it.

Meanwhile on the local level, the big debates in the city have included a kerfuffle about moving the farmer’s market (which turned out to be a big success) and discussions about whether Hermiston should allow more food trucks in town (the city council voted yes). Hermiston completed a new set of fair and rodeo grounds, called the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center, last year on what is, for now, the south edge of town. The city also opened up a decorative “festival street” on Northeast Second Street and is dedicating a new senior center this week. Next, the city is looking into the possibility of building an indoor pool.

Differing sides may have their disagreements about what is best for Hermiston, but we all hope that 50 years from now the city is thriving (and that the Cascadia earthquake still hasn’t happened). We’re doing our best, what happens next is up to you.


Jade McDowell is a reporter for the Hermiston Herald and East Oregonian.

News Editor

Hermiston Herald news editor and reporter covering city government and economic development in Hermiston, Umatilla, Stanfield and Echo.

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