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Ground bust make for historic week

Things seems to go in streaks. When it rains it pours, when it’s dry, it’s the Sahara.

As far as positive change for the community of Madras, this week it’s raining buckets. Not one but two groundbreakings, one Thursday, one Friday, signal the start to projects that will have significant positive impact to our hometown.

On Thursday, the 509-J School District is celebrating the ground busting for construction of the performing arts center and new football field/athletic facility. Approved by voters in 2012 as part of the $26.7 million bond levy, the PAC and the sports facility will, once completed in 2014, become showpieces of the district and its high school campus.

The start of the project is certainly worth celebrating. While the nice athletic facility will be a modernization and upgrade over the near-50-year-old stadium, the auditorium will be a brand new element to the district’s educational palate. The district will soon have a quality forum for the presentation of music, theater and various arts, something it’s never had. When completed, MHS will cease being the largest school in Central Oregon without a PAC, and will instead be the caretakers of the newest such auditorium.

Primarily, the auditorium will enrich the students’ experience, enhance what the school district can provide. But it will also be a communitywide venue, an auditorium the district can rent out for events. Hopefully, the performing arts center will host music, dance, theater, concerts and performances of all kinds for many years.

On Friday, the groundbreaking moves north, to the Madras Municipal Airport, for the official kickoff to the new Erickson Aircraft Collection Facility.

Erickson Aero Tanker, which retrofits jetliners into modern wildland firefighting crafts, took over the former Butler hangar last year. This week, work will start on a Erickson’s second hangar, a 64,000-square-foot expanse, part of which will hold a museum.

It’s apropos that the groundbreaking is taking place the week of the Airshow of the Cascades. This year’s show received a giant boost when, in July, it was announced that several of Erickson’s historic, World War II-era planes would be flown in from the Tillamook Naval Air Station Museum for the show. As has been well shouted by now, Erickson will be moving his collection from the museum on the Coast to Madras when the new hangar is completed, creating a Madras air museum. The show displays will be a tease of what’s to come, and stay.

The museum will benefit Madras daily as a tourist draw and great reason to visit. The museum and the air show — which has evolved into the largest annual event in Madras, the town’s signature event — will likely have a symbiotic relationship into the future, each benefiting the other.

This week is reminiscent to the late-1990s, early ’00s, when major construction and retail projects were consistently breaking ground in Madras. It’s been a cold last five years or so, but with the school district’s projects and the Erickson developments at the airport, it seems like it’s warming up.

These two groundbreakings, a day apart, should be marked as historic moments in the town’s history. The two projects will bring us entertainment and economic infusion for decades to come — a heck of a one-two punch.




Local Weather

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Madras

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Humidity: 84%

Wind: 3 mph

  • 22 Jul 2014

    Mostly Cloudy 78°F 57°F

  • 23 Jul 2014

    Scattered Thunderstorms 68°F 45°F