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Central Washington University and the city of Ellensburg had joint meeting Nov. 18. This is a meeting that usually happens twice a year where the Ellensburg City Council and the CWU President’s Cabinet discuss topics of importance and/or affect both parties.

The meeting started with the council talking about the city’s Inclusion and Diversity Initiative. Council Member Nancy Lillquist reported the initiative was “moving right along” and is entering the final stages. They will submit a report to city council Dec. 7.

“I really from the bottom of my heart want to thank the council for taking leadership on this,” CWU President Jim Gaudino said. “It’s inevitable that Central is going to diversify, and our success is tied directly to you and there is no question about that. Thank you for taking this, and quite honestly at least in my values, it makes Ellensburg a better place to live.”

Chief of staff Linda Schactler then updated the city on the university’s progress in the search for a new president. President Gaudino announced in February he will step down July 31, 2021, which prompted the search for his replacement.

While the search started with 80 applicants from across the globe, the university has narrowed down the potential candidates to one. Schactler said they are working on the contract for the mystery candidate, and they hope to announce who it is publicly in the next few weeks.

Construction work

Ellensburg Stormwater Manager Jon Morrow discussed the city’s plans to renovate University Way coming into and leaving Ellensburg. Morrow said the goal of this project is to collect stormwater runoff so it wont run into Mercer and Reecer Creek.

The project will repave the road and add a walkway for pedestrians. Trees in a small ditch will line the road, and the ditch will filter and carry away stormwater runoff. Morrow said they hope to start the project in spring 2021. This will be funded through the Gateway Grant, named so because it’s the gateway road into Ellensburg.

CWU is planning a project that will connect Purser Hall with Nicholson Pavilion. Gaudino said this is a number one priority for the university, as there hasn’t been a renovation to the building since 1959.

COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic was briefly discussed in the meeting. CWU students are going to be tested for the virus when returning for winter quarter in January. When students returned to CWU in the fall, the local coronavirus cases shot up, making it an issue for the entire community.

Ellensburg Mayor Bruce Tabb said the city would like to support the service industry which will be hit hard financially with the new state lockdown.

“There is not a lot of wiggle room right now for a restaurant or hospitality,” Tabb said. “Nor are there resources.”

Tabb said the city is advocating to support these local business. Gaudino asked Tabb to tell the university if there was anyway CWU could help support these businesses.

“Students, faculty, staff. We all live here, it’s a service to us,” Gaudino said. “If we could help advocate that, do not hesitate.”

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