Hood River Community Education’s programs range from youth basketball to backcountry hiking, and for years its direction by a staff of two people has all happened from a small second story office in Hood River.
As of Jan. 8, the 45-year-old program operates from above the pool at the Hood River Aquatic Center, 17th and May streets. Director John Rust and his secretary, Katina Berg, moved to the pool from the long-time office at Coe Primary, which is now under extensive remodeling. Rust said the move is permanent.
They share office space with Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District Director Mark Hancock, through a use agreement. Community Ed is a community-funded arm of Hood River County School District, and its mailing address remains at the School District Office, 1011 Eugene St., Hood River.
Contacting Community Ed
Offices: Hood River Aquatic Center, 1601 May St.
Mailing address: 1011 Eugene St., Hood River, OR 97031
The arrangement presents a couple of logistical challenges, one being that most of their storage is now in school district space in Odell.
The other change, which can affect program users directly, is the limitation of the new office space: they are accessible only through the pool locker rooms, yet for code reasons, only staff are allowed upstairs. That means anyone coming to speak in person to Community Education must be met by Rust or — usually, Berg — in the pool lobby.
“It can be tiring some days. We have a lot of busy days,” ranging from six to 15 people coming to the office.
“They buzz us, and Katina gets to go downstairs and greet them,” Rust said. Berg added, “Depending on what people might need, it could mean a couple more trips up and down.
“Eventually, we’ll have a laptop I can take with me,” she said. “But for now, we go down and see what they need, come back up, and go back down.”
“There’s pros and cons,” Rust said. “The cons are we don’t have as much interface with the public, and we are in the people business.” Laughing, he added, “The pros include we get a lot more work done.”
Otherwise, life goes on as usual for Berg and Rust, who are busy now getting the youth hoops program going for another year (competition started last weekend) and preparing for the typically busy summers, including, youth camps and other outdoor programs, and the slate of Movies in the Park (July-August) and Families in the Park concerts (August).
Benefits of the new space include upgraded technology for both Community Ed and Parks and Recreation. As part of the tech upgrade in summer 2017, Internet and other functions were upgraded at the Community Ed office at the pool.
“It’s working seamlessly, and Park and Rec’s system was not as fast, so they benefit from the better connection, thanks to the tech department that made this possible,” Rust said.
Rust said the access might be slightly easier than at Coe, as the pool does have an ADA ramp, which will be among the improvements at Coe; when complete, school district offices will move there from the building next door, and the current district building will become the high school alternative school.
“It’s a big concern, the access, still a small portion of the population that doesn’t do computers, and they need access,” Berg said.
At yet, there is no sign at the pool facility indicating Community Ed is located there. In the planning are a lobby bulletin board and other physical symbols, including a drop box for payments, Berg noted. Other tweaks at the new aquatic center location will happen gradually.
“We talked about doing business here awhile, see what the challenges are, but eventually we plan to get a signboard or other presence (in the lobby),” Rust said. “You want to know what the challenges are and what people need before you respond, to make sure you do it right.”
As the program enters its 45th year, “we’re probably stronger than ever,” he said, with new programs under Community Ed’s umbrella including four pre-school sites and the youth water polo program.
“We couldn’t do it without the community,” Rust said. “Come see us. We don’t mind coming downstairs.”