Sweet Home Center
Linn-Benton Community College made the decision to establish a center of education in Sweet Home in 1974, under President Ray Needham. The new facility was to serve the communities of Sweet Home, Holley, Foster and Cascadia. In 1971 LBCC had begun sharing a small office at 1240 10th Avenue with the Sweet Home-East Linn Chamber of Commerce. Each paid half the rent and utilities and the salary of Mona Waibel, who was half-time Chamber manager and half-time Sweet Home Center director. Mona held the center director position for 19 years.
Early offerings included high school equivalency, art courses, business education, welding and writing classes. Classroom space was not available at the 10th Avenue site, so most evening classes were held at Sweet Home High School, with day classes in local church facilities.
As adult education boomed in the 1970s, the center began looking for more space. The first negotiations for a building were made with the senior citizens. The seniors were remodeling a building on Long Street, and Dr. Dee Martin, director of Community Education, approached the seniors to allow LBCC and the chamber to share this facility. Before long it was apparent to all involved that the building would not be large enough to house all.
The next location considered was the center's location at 1314 Long Street. Merv Hanscam began remodeling of the former Weeks Chevrolet building at 1314 Long Street and offered to lease the college as much space as it needed. Contractor Joel Care created a classroom, storage space, restrooms, and and offices for LBCC and the Chamber.
Upon completion of the remodel in 1975, the two identities, LBCC and the chamber, held an open house for the entire community. A full-time LBCC secretary, Linda Blackford, was hired to assist Mona with whatever activities were presently underway, whether they were for the college or for the chamber.
The Sweet Home Center's program began to grow very quickly, and it soon became apparent that even more classrooms were needed. Two additional rooms were remodeled and added to the lease agreement.
In 1982, the Sweet Home Center began offering classes in the Brownsville/Central Linn area. Classes were held in the Brownsville Recreation Center, the Library, City Hall and Central Linn High School.
When the Sweet Home Chamber of Commerce moved to another location, LBCC incorporated that room into college use, as well as an additional classroom at the end of the building, making a total of five classrooms.
In 2003 construction began on a new 5,000-square-foot East Linn Extended Learning Center, which was built into Sweet Home High School as part of the school's voter-approved renovation. The $500,000 project was funded through the college's $19.1 million bond, and LBCC signed a 30-year lease with the school district. In addition to office space, the center includes a GED/math area, a testing center, an art room and computer lab, plus access to available high school classrooms. The formal dedication was held September 20, 2004.