Another great story about a natural gas utility doing great work in their community. This time it’s NW Natural. The small city of Vernonia, Oregon was hit in December 2007 with a 500-year flood of historic proportions. This would have been bad enough in itself but the city was still recovering from a similar flood that occurred in 1996 that decimated the region.
The flooding from Rock Creek and the Nehalem River left much of the city’s public infrastructure and property damaged or destroyed. Half of the district’s 2,200 homes suffered damage, 800 of which were substantially damaged. More than 100 homes were deemed to be beyond repair. The elementary school, middle school and high school were left uninhabitable after five feet of water poured into the buildings.
But instead of giving up, the people of Vernonia devised a plan to rebuild those schools that are so essential to every community. They call this plan the CATALYST plan.
The plans diverse group of community leaders selected a site and developed the master plan for the new campus. In November 2009, the community approved a $13 million bond – the down payment toward the $37 million price tag to rebuild three schools. NW Natural has already stepped up with a significant contribution and is encouraging others to do the same.
You can get the full scoop over at Oregon Solutions but here are some details on the plans for the schools.
- Carefully located in a central, accessible and safe location high above the flood plain;
- Built for current classroom capacity and at least 30 years of projected population growth;
- The first LEED Platinum-certified public K-12 building in the country which will lower operating costs considerably in the long term;
- Designed with “green” environmental features and indoor/outdoor spaces that provide powerful learning opportunities and curricula that link to emerging Oregon economic opportunities;
- A unique-to-Oregon integrated K-12 model; and
- A case study in investing in schools as a means to stimulate rural economic development and recovery.
Here’s a video snippet on the project. If you’re working on this, let us know in the comments.