Construction at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center has finally gone vertical.

The metal skeleton of the prefabricated event center and exhibition hall can now be seen from Southeast Airport Road, providing a visible marker of things to come.

John Frew, president and CEO of project manager Frew Development Group, was on site for a visit Tuesday. He called the beginning of vertical construction an important milestone, but said there was a huge amount of ground-level work done already to prepare the site.

“There is so much underground here that you don’t see,” he said.

That work included bringing water and sewer to the site and construction of a “very expensive and very time-consuming” lift station, reaching 35 feet underground to distribute utilities over the site.

He said Frew Development Group is currently looking over two “pretty good bids” for construction of the livestock barns and will bring a recommendation to the EOTEC board soon.

The event center currently being erected by G2 Construction will include a 12,000-square-foot exhibition hall, three meeting rooms, a board room, offices and a commercial kitchen. Heather Cannell, business manager for EOTEC, said the building will be an integral part of the Umatilla County Fair, hosting 4-H entries, horticulture, open class and other exhibits all in one place.

At its last meeting, the EOTEC board discussed the possibility of postponing the Umatilla County Fair and Farm-City Pro Rodeo’s move to the EOTEC grounds until 2017. Chairman Ed Brookshier said he would like to see the board sit down with stakeholders and come up with some answers by the end of September.

On Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. the EOTEC board and stakeholders will meet at Stetson’s Steakhouse in Hermiston for a work session to discuss the status of construction.

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Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.

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