Meslands growing in all directions

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

Mesalands Community College is getting bigger, thanks to two recent developments that mean expansion, innovation and economic growth for the community, according to college Public Relations Director John Yearout.

First up is a massive grant — $63,000 — that was awarded to Mesalands for its North American Wind Research and Training Center (NAWRTC).

Proposed months ago, the NAWRTC has been steadily gathering support throughout the state, has a complete feasibility study and had already received $200,000 by September, according to college President Phillip Barry.

The most recent funds are from the New Mexico Energy Mineral and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) Clean Energy Grant Program and will go toward preliminary research and making preparations for the installation of the giant wind turbine near campus.

In other words, they have to figure out where to put the thing.

It’s not only a question of size, but zoning laws and permits needed. Another issue is ownership of the turbine, which will be located west of 11th Street on college property and the best time to shut it down for student training purposes.
These are some of the things that will be figured out with the EMNRD grant, a college news release said.

“This project meets several of your department’s (EMNRD) goals … including expanding wind energy production, creating educational opportunities for students on the benefits of wind energy, creating awareness around energy conservation and energy efficiency, and creating employment with renewable energy installations,” Barry wrote in a letter to EMNRD that helped nab the grant.

The turbine itself will cost $1.4 million, with the total program, including the 70,000-square-foot wind center and faculty to teach the wind programs, amassing a bill of about $9.5 million, Barry said.

Of course, that’s just a drop in the bucket considering the benefit that will be blown back into the community, Yearout said.

“We are excited about the expansion projects going on at the college,” he said, “and the positive economic impact they will have on the surrounding community.”

A second project on Mesalands’ agenda is the remodeling of Building A and the construction of its new building trades facility. The work will be performed by the Clovis firm Wilson and Wilson General Contractors, who beat out their competition by bidding low at $1,862.330, according to a release from the college.

Again, grants will be used in part to fund the project, these from the Statewide Government Obligation (GO) Bond initiatives and $370,000 received from Gov. Bill Richardson’s initiative to expand career training across the state, the release said, adding an additional $74,000 will be used toward the project from the college’s surplus funds.

The new addition to Building A, to be located on its west wing, will create a room big enough for 120 people, a new fitness center with lockers, more classrooms and enlarged restrooms, according to the release. The enclosed parking facility currently in that space will be moved, as will the automotive technology facility to make room for the expansion. To round out the project, roof repairs will also be done on Building C, the release said.

“We are excited about this new addition to the college facilities, and the improvements it will bring about,” Barry said.

Wilson and Wilson project Superintendent Charles Pender said the work will start as soon as they get the building permit from the state and he expects to hire several local workers during the project.

“We will start demolition as soon as the day after the permit is issued,” Pender said.