Western Oregon University is back in session this week with New Student Week. Classes start full time on Monday.

While we’re nowhere near as large as Oregon State University, our roads will feel the congestion of students arriving for the first time away from home, or coming back to finish classes.

We are proud to be a part of the WOU community. In fact, the Itemizer-Observer has four WOU alumni working in our office, and we’ve enjoyed hosting interns from Western when available.

So many great leaders have come to our towns because of Western, from mayors to volunteers. They come for WOU and stay for the Polk County community.

In Monmouth particularly, students are a boost to the economy. But make no mistake, WOU is a boon to the economy countywide.

To welcome new students, the Itemizer-Observer published its inaugural New Student Guide, a digital special section available to everyone, but particularly useful to those on campus with stories that new students may find useful (polkio.com/wou-guide).

Having not one, but two colleges in our county benefits everyone, including working adults who are seeking to further their skills and education. Chemeketa Community College has a campus right here in Dallas and offers a variety of classes — including a wine tasting course!

Take the opportunity to welcome new students on campus for both schools. Let’s help them feel welcome — who knows? They could be our future mayors and commissioners.

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