Remembering LB’s Roots

Russell Tripp

For many, LBCC has been a landmark on Southwest Pacific Boulevard for most of their lives and has “always been there” for anybody born after the late 1970’s.

LBCC was built from the ground up with the sole purpose to educate. The home office of the school was originally at the old Capital Business College building on the corner of First and Ellsworth.

LBCC was created due to the lack of nearby accessible education services between Salem and Eugene. The only post- secondary school at the time between the two was OSU. Members of the Linn County Chamber of Commerce initiated creating the community college. As with most ventures, the organization ran into some roadblocks.

“We were working, mainly, to get a community college going. When we applied in Salem to the state education department, they said, ‘it doesn’t make any sense. You’re too small, unless you include Benton county,’” said Russell Tripp, a former and original member of the LBCC board of education. “Benton county didn’t want in. At the time, they thought we would be competitive with OSU. Over the period of a couple years, Corvallis people were convinced that a community college would be an asset, instead of a problem, so they came around, and they’ve been some of our biggest supporters”.

Once the school was approved, however, the biggest challenge was where to put it. There were those who fought for a Lebanon location, and those for an Albany location.

“It was interesting. Albany offered the current site the school is located on through the chamber of commerce, who raised the committee that had an option on the land to buy it if the college ended up there. Lebanon offered a site, too. It was kind of crazy, because on the board, we had a man from south Benton County out towards Monroe, and he was voting for Lebanon, and Dan Ashton from Sweet Home said Albany made more sense, and he was criticized by the Lebanon people for not going in their direction. So it was quite a fight, but it ended up alright,” said Tripp.

The issue of where to put the school has long been at rest, and now there are auxiliary branches of LBCC in Sweet Home, Lebanon, and Corvallis.

“There was an enormous amount of chaos, but we were somehow dealing with it amazingly well,” said Bob Ross, LBCC’s Biology instructor since day one of the school’s founding.

The layout of the school has been a topic of conversation amongst students for a long time. “Why are there so many breeze ways, or wind tunnels,” is one of the questions asked most regarding the school’s design.

“We thought it was best to have a solid building. If you’ve ever been to Umpqua Community College, they have beautiful little buildings, and they’re all scattered around. So kids were having to put their coats on to travel between buildings during storms. We thought it would be better to have the facilities enclosed to keep the kids dry. It did create a bit of a wind tunnel effect, which at the time, we didn’t think too much about that. It was about keeping the kids dry,” said Tripp.

According to Tripp, LBCC is a school built by community members to help students succeed and to give instructors what they need to teach the best they can.

“The college has fostered personal and professional growth and development among its leaders, staff and teachers, as well as the development of a wonderful professional community that is focused on helping students to strive to reach their fullest potential as well,” said Ross.

The original LBCC board of education members were Dan L. Ashton representing Sweet Home, Russell W. Tripp representing Albany, Ken J. Purdy representing Scio, Glen Huston representing Lebanon, Robert I. Hadland representing Shedd, and Herbert Hammond and Loren J. Smith representing Corvallis.

Russell W. Tripp, 91, is the last surviving member of the original board, and Biology Instructor Bob Ross is in his 50th year teaching at LBCC.

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