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Last Thursday evening as black and gold balloons floated up in to threatening skies Debbie Scannell, Coordinator at the Forks Extension site, welcomed dignitaries and west end residents to the grand opening of the Peninsula College Forks extension site. The event which was held outdoors drew several hundred people.
Scannell credited Peninsula College President Dr. Luke Robins with having the vision two years ago for this new facility.
For his part Robins said he hoped the 4 million dollar facility would lead to greater economic development in the West End.
Congressman Derek Kilmer made a few jokes about congress and the Forks weather and on a serious note said, “Investing in education matters.” He also touched on the recent losses of jobs in our area.
The Ashue brothers of the Hoh Tribe each spoke and presented Dr. Robins with a Hoh flag.
Chas Woodruff along with Cynthia Lyons and Rio Jaime of the Quileute Tribe also present Dr. Robins with a flag and a large photo from one of the Tribal Journeys.
Woodruff thanked the college for making an investment in the community, saying, “This facility is opening the door for us out here.”
Forks Mayor Bryon Monohon thanked the community and all concerned and Forks City attorney Rod Fleck spoke of his own experience at a community college and his experience with Peninsula College and how its presence in the community has evolved from being scattered classrooms where ever available to the new state of the art facility that is now being offered.
The most heartfelt speakers were the Velazquez family, Manuela, Sandra, Elana, and Francisca, told of their family arriving in Forks in 1979, unable to speak English, their mother working at a job in a local mill, only to lose it because of the spotted owl listing. The fact that Manuela was able to get a GED at the college led to greater things for the entire family, and all have made use of the Forks facility over the years to make their lives better and it continues now to the next generation.
After the ribbon cutting a barbecue catered by Self’s Catering was enjoyed by many as well as music by Therapy Session and tours of the facility.
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