DAVE HAVILAND THE DAILY WORLD 
The current Hillier Union Building on the Grays Harbor College Campus as seen from the Gene Schermer Instructional Building. The new union building will be built north of the current building (to the right in the photo) overlooking Lake Swano.

DAVE HAVILAND THE DAILY WORLD The current Hillier Union Building on the Grays Harbor College Campus as seen from the Gene Schermer Instructional Building. The new union building will be built north of the current building (to the right in the photo) overlooking Lake Swano.

GHC student union building and Y child care in state budget

The recently passed state capital budget includes more than $700,000 for local child care and more than $47 million to construct a new student union building on the Grays Harbor College campus.

It also includes more than $2 million for an early learning facility and affordable housing project in Raymond.

Union building

“I am very excited for the college and the community,” said interim Grays Harbor College President Ed Brewster of the $47,726,000 budget item. “We will have a new building replacing our 63-year old-student union building. The facility will provide much needed modern functional space for all of the college student service functions, a new cafeteria, instructional space for culinary arts and flexible space for several small group classes or larger conference type gatherings.”

The new three-story, 70,000 square foot building will be built on the north end of campus above Lake Swano. It will replace the current Hillier Union Building, built in the 1950s, which will be torn down after the new union building is completed. The state funding is enough to pay for construction, and Brewster will put the project out for bid this summer.

“Thank you to our local legislators for their advocacy to include our project in the state capital budget for the coming biennium,” said Brewster.

YMCA early learning

YMCA of Grays Harbor will receive $721,000 for its early learning facility project for licensed child care from the capital budget.

YMCA Executive Director and CEO Franzine Potts said the amount would, “based on our estimated budget gap,” fully fund its expanded child care facility in the adjacent former Crown Drug building, purchased in 2020. “We are going out to bid in the next month,” she said.

With child care needs growing locally, and statewide, the Y has been working with legislators to fund the expansion of its early learning capacity for several years. The Y previously secured $800,000 from the 2020 state capital budget, another $208,000 in a Grays Harbor Community Foundation grant, about $135,000 in private donations, and a COVID-specific $100,000 renovation grant for the HVAC system.

The new facility could be up and running at the beginning of 2022. It would employ 10-12 staff and support up to 80 children. Potts said their current program, which serves kids age 3-12 years old, has been running at close to its 80 child capacity for close to a year.

Renovations will include a play area, an expanded entryway, and will be done to preserve the historic storefront. The 4,900 square foot building is on the Hoquiam historic registry. The glass storefront will be incorporated into the design, and the Crown Drug signage will also be used.

“I’d like to send a thank you especially to those representatives and senators in our district that worked so hard to ensure we would be able to do this,” said Potts.

Willapa Center

In Raymond, a project to create affordable housing and a child care facility on the site of the old Willapa Hotel — which burned down in November 1988, leaving 80 people homeless — was awarded $318,000 for the early learning facility and a little more than $1.8 million from the state housing trust fund in the 2021 capital budget.

The funding will make up for a budget shortfall in the project, which will be known as the Willapa Center, that has delayed it for a year or so. The three-story building will house a day care facility on its ground floor and include 30 apartments.

Ocean Shores communications tower

The City of Ocean Shores and the county recently decided to upgrade emergency communications equipment on the city’s tower, located in the public works yard. However, the 1983 tower had been weakened by years of exposure to the salt air, despite regular maintenance, and new equipment could not be installed until it was replaced.

The cost of replacement with a higher tower to accommodate the new emergency communications equipment provided by the county will run about $200,000. The city asked the Legislature for $75,000 to go toward that cost, and was awarded $77,000 in the 2021 capital budget.