Umatilla County commissioners and members of the Umatilla County Fair board toured the building at 645 W. Orchard Ave., in Hermiston and they seemed to like what they saw.
The fair and the county are thinking about acquiring the property.
No specific deals have been discussed, but Commissioner Dennis Doherty has expressed interest in the property, which includes the building and about 60 parking spaces. The building, known as the Broun building, is owned by Good Shepherd Medical Services Corp. It sits between the fairgrounds and the "old hospital" property the Hermiston School District will use to build a replacement for West Park Elementary.
Doherty also said he had discussed with the school board the possibility of squaring off the property on the south end by getting a strip of the old hospital property.
Good Shepherd President Dennis Burke and Chief Operating Officer David Hughes led the tour at the Broun building, guiding the commissioners and fair board members through the large main central area - originally meant for a multi-use reception area but currently used for physical rehabilitation equipment - and the surrounding offices.
"This will work well for the needs expected for the fair," Burke said, noting there's space for the fair board, the rodeo board or other entities that work with the fair.
Originally the building housed six office suites, but Dr. Ben Booher combined two suites into one. Three office areas are occupied by Dr. James Fulper, nurse practitioner Jennifer Armstrong and chiropractor Shannon McKinney, and one sits empty. Each suite supported a reception desk and/or waiting area and two to four small exam rooms, some with sinks and some without. The building takes up a little less than 8,300 square feet.
"The outside doesn't do justice to the inside," noted Fair Board Chairman Dan Dorran.
"It's a way nicer facility than I had thought," said fair board member Jill Perrine.
"It's got some advantages we can use," Dorran agreed. "It has a lot of options."
He pointed out the possibility of sharing a parking lot with the school district.
Commissioner Larry Givens noted the large central area could be used for a conference room, for seminars or for the fair board itself or community groups to meet in.
If the fair board decided to acquire the property, it could relocate its office, Perrine brainstormed.
Doherty, walking outside later, pointed out how, because the property lies adjacent to the fair grounds, it could better use the space between the Broun building and the fair property.
"The old office building is serviceable," Doherty said, "but we need that ground for higher purposes."
Doherty said they need to discuss with the city to make sure they would be putting the building to appropriate uses. More importantly, the county and fair board need to be able to pay for it.
"The funding sources need to fall in place before we get serious," Doherty said.