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Congressman hears from residents about lack of medical professionals, education, water worries.

DESIREE BERGSTROM/MADRAS PIONEER - U.S. Rep. Greg Walden made a stop at the Culver Fire Hall on July 3, for a town hall meeting. He spent the time before and after the meeting talking with Jefferson County residents, including Dave and Shirleen Green (pictured). During the town hall, many topics were covered, from health care to concerns about education, as well as vaccinations.Fire trucks were pulled out of the Culver fire hall on July 3, and replaced by chairs, a microphone and many Jefferson County citizens for a town hall meeting with U.S. Rep. Greg Walden.

The meeting was well-attended and more chairs had to be added in the small space of the fire hall to accommodate the many attendees. To begin the meeting, local Veterans of Foreign Wars members presented the colors, after which, the representative gave a short presentation about what he has been working on, before opening the floor up to the community's questions.

Walden fielded questions on a variety of issues, including healthcare, education and a concern from a local farmer about the lack of irrigation water in Jefferson County, as well as concerns about vaccine requirements.

Stephanie Garber, the Culver School District superintendent, was in attendance and when her number was drawn out of the tickets for the opportunity to speak, she began by thanking Walden.

"I just want to thank you and your team for supporting the Student Success Act." She went on to say that the schools, looking forward, will be able to provide services to students outside of academics because of better funding that is a direct result of the act, and added that thanks to the act they will now be able to have three counselors.

The congressman asked Garber to speak for a moment on career or technical education before she left the microphone. Garber said that the model that schools traditionally use right now doesn't serve the students and helping students leave high school with specialized skills better serves them going out into the world.

She mentioned Culver's transition to a STEM district and how they are currently working with Blue Mountain Community College to try to implement a program in which students from Culver High School will graduate with an associate's degree in an additional agriculture program.

Gary Reed, of Madras, presented a concern to Walden about a shortage of doctors, adding that the problem needs to be addressed on a bipartisan level.

Walden responded by agreeing with what Reed had to say.

He said there are programs that do loan forgiveness for those studying to become a doctor, and then those in the program are sent out to serve in underserved areas.

But, Walden said that something they should be focusing on is recruiting students out of rural communities to study medicine, adding that those are the kids more prone to go back and practice there.


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