BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College honors the class of 2019, Saturday. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) will deliver the commencement address. COCC Director of Student Life Andrew Davis says Wyden is the first Democratic politician to speak at graduation, "Commencement is really, totally apolitical. It's about the graduates, and it's about what's next for them. And for us, we've had politicians speak at commencement before, it's just about somebody who's got a powerful message that they can deliver." Davis tells KBND Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) and former State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) have spoken at past graduations.
Senator Wyden says, "I was asked a number of months ago to be the commencement speaker at Central Oregon Community college, and I'm really looking forward to it." He adds, "The college does so many things well and, in that sense, mirrors the community. And, I'm going to make this a speech that really makes that case." About 700 students are in COCC's class of 2019, although Davis says only about 300 will take part in Saturday's ceremony. It starts at 10 a.m. at Mazama Field, and is open to the public.
Also Saturday, Wyden will hold his 29th town hall of 2019, in Prineville. "I think there are going to be a host of issues that come up," says Wyden. "I expect to talk a lot about recreation, we have our R&R bill - 'Recreation not Redtape.' I think we'll be talking about essential services, such as schools, and roads, and law enforcement. I also expect, in Central Oregon, there will be a lot of questions about holding down health care costs." He also wants to talk about the Secure Rural Schools program that's brought millions in funding to Central Oregon. It's expired, and he's working to replace it with the Forest Management for Rural Stability Plan, "I think it will provide stable increasing in reliable funds for county services in Central Oregon." The town hall takes place at Crook County Middle School and begins at 1:30 p.m., Saturday.
OSU Cascades will graduate 331 students on Sunday. It's the largest graduating class in the history of the Bend campus, and is distinguished by record diversity and first-generation grads.