Session at high school auditorium provides an opportunity for senator to meet with the public, engage students

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden will hold a town hall this coming Tuesday afternoon at Crook County High School as a way to not only hear concerns of the locals but reach out to local youth as well.

CCHS Principal Michelle Jonas said hosting a town hall is a great experience for CCHS.

"This provides our students with an opportunity to meet with their government representatives and to hear what issues our community members deem important," she said.

The Wyden town hall begins at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21 in the CCHS auditorium. It will conclude at 2 p.m. CCHS students and members of the public are welcome to attend.

"We try often to get the town halls into high schools so students can have a chance to see democracy in action," explained Hank Stern, Wyden's spokesman. "At the same time, just given the interest in town halls so far this year in other venues in Oregon, we're trying to find large venues to hold these town halls so that everybody can attend."

Stern said the town hall topics will be driven by the crowd. Wyden, a Democrat, will commence with brief introductory remarks and then turn it over to audience questions.

"In the interest of fairness to people because, while he is there for 90 minutes, there are so many questions you can get to, it's a lottery system," Stern explained.

Students and adults who would like to ask a question during the forum will receive a ticket stub when they enter. Random ticket numbers will be drawn during the session, and those whose numbers are called will be able to ask their questions.

"What Senator Wyden talked about a lot, is he does 'Listening to the Future Visits' when he goes to high schools," Stern said. "With a town hall like this, it's a chance to both achieve the goal of getting folks in the community to come to a town hall and then at the same time, listen to the future, which obviously are these teenagers who will be attending."

Jonas said a first-hand experience like this is invaluable.

"It is vital that our students, as future voters in Crook County, have the chance to learn about government outside the classroom and to learn to be part of the government process," she said.

Wyden said in a news release, "It's clear from my first town halls of 2017 so far that Oregonians are coming out in record numbers with real concerns. I look forward to continuing the conversation in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties about how to preserve and protect the Oregon way focusing on solutions."

He also plans to host a town hall meeting for Deschutes County residents beginning at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20 at Sisters High School auditorium, 1700 McKinney Butte Road, in Sisters.

He'll also visit Jefferson County at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22 at the Madras Performing Arts Center, 412 SE Buff St., in Madras.

In fulfillment of Wyden's pledge to hold annual town halls in each of Oregon's 36 counties, these upcoming public community meetings will increase the number of town halls to 797 that he has held since his election to the Senate in 1996.

Jonas said some students will be present, but mainly the public will attend the town hall. She also noted that parking will be limited because school will be in session during the event.

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