Democratic U.S Rep. Suzanne Bonamici made a three-point stop in St. Helens this past week. The congresswoman toured Legacy Health Clinic, the City of St. Helens’ waterfront redevelopment site, and St. Helens Middle School, where she was slated to be met by State Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie).
Bonamici chose to visit Legacy’s new clinic on South Columbia River Highway to learn more about how the 20,500 square foot facility will serve the community. Opened this past summer, relocated facility is designed to bring essential services together under one roof. It provides services in the areas of primary care, urgent care, imaging services like 3-D mammography, and laboratory services.
“I know access to health care is important to the people I’m honored to represent, but particularly in rural communities,” Bonamici said. “Access to healthcare has been a challenge here … with this brand new, big space here there’s a lot of potential for people to get the healthcare they need right in Columbia County without having to commute to the metro region.”
At the second stop, the congresswoman expected a briefing on waterfront development efforts by the City of St. Helens, which recently applied for an $11.1 million U.S. Department of Transportation BUILD (Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development) grant that Bonamici advocated in favor of approving. She said investing in infrastructure benefits economic development in the city as well as creating health and recreation opportunities for the community.
The BUILD grant would finance most of the $12.6 million total project cost, according to previous reporting on the project. A 2018 grant application was rejected in December of this past year. The project area is a 22-acre site that was formerly the location of Veneer Mill and Boise White Paper, LLC. The goals are improving access to the waterfront, connecting the transportation system, and inviting private investment and economic development while preserving cultural resources and history.
Bonamici, who serves on the education committee, capped off her tour with St. Helens Middle School, a new campus with some aspects still being finished. She said visiting schools is important for her to see how policies are working firsthand and hear from educators, administrators and often enlightening students. Bonamici stressed the importance of investing in K-12 schools to prepare students for the future.
“One of the things we talked about here today was the workforce and getting people who are healthcare providers to be in rural areas,” Bonamici said. “It’s a really good thing to get people who grew up in rural areas to see that in their future. These kids today we visit in middle school, they might be a doctor here someday, and it’s great to have them see that potential.”