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Rotary makes and meets 10-year promise to OC

POULSBO — A promise made 10 years ago was fulfilled last week when the Poulsbo/North Kitsap Rotary handed Olympic College representatives a check for $100,000.

The money was a pledge the civic organization made in 1993 when the idea of a branch OC campus in Poulsbo was just a glint in many people’s eyes. Rotarian Jack Webb recalled that at the time of the decision to raise the money, the local Rotary had just 70 members. Even so, he said members felt strongly enough about the cause to give it a shot. At one meeting, then Rotary President Conrad Green asked those in attendance to stand if they supported making the pledge to OC.

“The room stood up almost in unison,” Webb remembered. “The important thing is that day we stood up for Olympic College and we have been doing so ever since.”

At its Aug. 15 meeting, the Rotary presented OC Vice President of Administration Mike Connolly with the donation check, as well as a display check signed by all 10 past presidents who have held office during the pledge period. The money is designated to be used for distance and e-learning and other high tech capabilities.

Webb, who served on the campus citizens advisory committee when it was formed in 1994, said it’s been a long and difficult road getting to this point in many aspects. Several times in the last 10 years, local elected officials and community members had to appeal to the state government to keep the allocated money from dropping out from under organizers.

“I’ve never been part of a project that has died and been resurrected so many times,” said Poulsbo City Councilman and Rotarian Ed Stern.

Stern added that the Rotary’s $100,000 pledge and lobbying from members were some of the driving forces that kept the campus alive.

“I can’t give enough credit to the Rotary club for making that commitment...” Stern said. “It’s so gratifying, on behalf of the city, to see that kind of a project that will add so much to our future as a community.”

Stern also said Sen. Betty Sheldon, who was unable to attend Friday, was one person who deserved a great deal of credit for making the campus a reality.

The recent $100,000 donation is the largest monetary pledge the Poulsbo Rotary club has ever donated to one cause. Webb said it took members the entire 10 years to save the amount and he was gratified to see the gift actually take place.

“I’m so proud we stood by it,” Webb said of the pledge. “I’m just delighted we were able to make that commitment. This campus is really going to serve this community for a long time to come.”

Connolly reciprocated the kindness of the service club’s gesture Friday by inviting Rotarians to tour the Poulsbo OC site, which is located in the northwest corner of the Olhava property off State Highway 305. “I was pleased with what I saw,” said Webb following the tour. He said he wasn’t surprised, having followed all of the conceptual drawings and models, however, he was happy to see the campus look exactly like it was planned. “It’s going to be a great asset to the community.”

Connolly said the building is speeding right along and could be done by Sept. 15, provided that the utilities have reached the site by then. First Western Developments, which is in charge of the Olhava development, is responsible for building infrastructure on the 216-acre property including utilities to the campus.

The Poulsbo OC branch will be serving students in January 2004.

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