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Air Service to Return and a Big Project for Sky Lakes OHSU

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Air Service to Return, and a Big Project for Sky Lakes, OHSU

Hospital news | Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Contact: Thomas Hottman

A couple of good pieces of news have been announced in recent weeks that deserve some more attention. One is the announcement that the Transportation Security Administration is coming back to Klamath Falls, which also means commercial passenger service is also returning, probably by October. The other is that partnership has been formed by Sky Lakes Medical Center, and Oregon Health & Science University that would ultimately result in a $50 million project to serve health and educational needs.

The struggle with the TSA has been going on for months ever since the TSA said it wasn't going to come back to Klamath Falls even if it had an airline serving it — which Klamath Falls had lined up with PenAir. It was a kick in the teeth not just to Klamath Falls but to rural America and a number of other airports that deserve better.

That's especially true in Oregon's 2nd Congressional District, which includes more than half the state's land area. It's a district of small towns and isolated communities and is represented by Rep. Greg Walden, who rounded up support from other members of Congress. That includes Oregon's two U. S. senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

Who better than a group of West Coast members of Congress such as Walden would know the problems faced by small towns and air service? The 2nd District's perating airports are few and far between. Members of Congress know the problem because they do a lot of traveling from Washington, D. C. to the West. Walden says he's held more than 35 town hall meetings in past 15 months, plus other events.

Re-establishment of the air service later this year should help in the area's economic development, and serves the needs of the Air National Guard and its members at Kingsley Field. It means flights re-established out of Klamath Falls to Portland, and fewer auto trips over the Cascades to Medford to catch a plane. Walden and the senators deserve our thanks.

As for part two of the good news...

Sky Lakes and OHSU have had a long history of cooperation in such health areas as developing training programs — and turning out medical personnel with a specific goal of serving rural areas. It took another step forward April 21 with the announcement of a cooperative venture and fundraising campaign that includes $15 million already pledged by Sky Lakes and $5 million from OHSU. The goal is begin construction of the new 88,000 square-foot building on the medical center's west side by 2018.

Included would be space for training for OHSU's Family Practice Residency Program and its Campus for Rural Health. It would also unify the medical center's scattered clinics. Oregon Tech also may also have a role in the project and developing new programs at the school.

Two pieces of good news that could help bring in more jobs: A pleasant aside a county roiling in political conflict and the fight over recreational marijuana.

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