The Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center board said goodbye to its chair Friday during its last meeting of 2015.

Ed Brookshier said serving on the board has been a “true honor and pleasure,” even though the task has not been easy.

“I hope to be able to continue to help in any way I can,” he said.

Brookshier is being replaced by Hermiston City Manager Byron Smith after the city council demanded that Smith be put on the board as a condition of the $600,000 the city recently agreed to contribute toward construction.

Vice chair Dan Dorran thanked Brookshier, noting that he had been meeting with people “no less than five times a week” about EOTEC business in recent months.

“It’s an amazing amount of time people don’t understand that goes into this, and it’s all volunteer,” he said.

The board had plenty of business to get to Friday. Rob Dreier, project manager for Frew Development Group, said the event center/exhibitor hall is on schedule to be completed by March 2016. He suggested the board begin laying out policies and procedures for operating the building so that the EOTEC authority could “take off running” with hosting events in the building as soon as it opens in March.

He also asked for the board to make a decision between using natural gas or propane to heat the building and the rest of the site. Natural gas would cost about $56,000 to put in, he said, compared to $23,000 for propane. But in the long run natural gas is more efficient, its price doesn’t fluctuate as greatly and it doesn’t take up the space that a fenced-in collection of propane tanks would.

The board unanimously agreed on natural gas after the discussion.

They also approved EOTEC’s annual audit by Barnett & Moro, which found no structural weaknesses or other issues with EOTEC’s bookkeeping that needed to be fixed.

The board approved an agreement with LRS Architects to create a three-dimensional model of the project to show potential investors during the fundraising committee’s four-month campaign to raise $2 million for construction by April 1, 2016.

Dorran said the fundraising committee was on a “very aggressive schedule” that works out to raising about $200,000 a week. Since EOTEC will host the fair, rodeo and other events to the benefit of the entire county he said the committee is planning to look beyond Hermiston to the rest of Umatilla County, as well as eastern Morrow County and across the river into Washington for possible donors.

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

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