College asking why not on wind center funding

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

Mesalands Community College President Phillip Barry said he agrees when state goverment officials say renewable energy resources are important and deserving of state support.

With that in mind, Barry was at a loss explaining why the college got no “traction” regarding funding requests for a wind research training center at the college.

In Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting at the MCC Dinosaur Museum, Barry reported on activity from the recent 30-day state legislative session. Through Rep. Brian K. Moore, R-Clayton, Mesalands had a pair of capital outlay requests — $12.5 million for the center and $2.5 million for a wind turbine — worth $15 million.

However, only $50,000 got through both houses on capital outlay appropriations, and that amount was later vetoed by Gov. Bill Richardson.

Barry echoed the sentiments of MCC Public Relations Director John Yearout, who said last week the governor probably vetoed the amount because it wasn’t a significant amount for the type of project MCC intended.

Barry said he plans to meet in April with Ned Farquhar, Richardson’s energy and environmental policy advisor, to see what MCC needs to do differently to get state support for a wind energy training center.

Barring anything unusual, Barry said the college would try again for funding in the 2007 Legislature. However, he’s worried that other states will have made moves regarding wind power education by then.

“We’re a little bit concerned,” Barry said, “that we’ll be behind the curve in New Mexico if we wait until next year.”

Barry did have positive news regarding legislation later in the meeting. He brought up Senate Bill 301, which would authorize $1.5 million for a master plan for the college as part of a general obligation bond.

The master plan would be part of a $112 million package that would go toward various improvements at colleges. Other items in the package include $4.5 million for music building renovations at Eastern New Mexico University and $3.5 million for an allied health center at Clovis Community College.

The package will be on the ballot in November, along with other G.O. bond packages for senior centers ($22.5 million) and library acquisitions ($9.1 million).

Barry said he was happy to see MCC get that amount, as the first request was $1.2 million and MCC was taken off of the package at one point.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting:

• Small Business Development Center Director David Buchen delivered a program interview. Buchen said that in 2005, the SBDC had 472 attendees for various training programs throughout the year.

Buchen said that co-sponsoring college credit programs put more of the training on instructors, and allowed the SBDC to focus more on promoting the programs.

“That partnership helps us out a lot,” Buchen said.

• The board heard a report from Phi Theta Kappa Advisor Philip Kaatz on the Feb. 13 New Mexico Association of Community Colleges All-State Academic Team legislative reception. Each college in New Mexico can choose two representatives for the team, Kaatz said, and MCC was represented by Kyla Bell and Eva Sliger. Sliger was selected as one of 17 first-team members.

• The board approved the contract of new Success Center Coach Robert Gomez.

• Barry told the board about correspondence with Howard Shanks of Ames, Iowa. Shanks is looking for a museum to house his collection of samples from the Carboniferous Period. Barry said two representatives of the college will travel to meet Shanks in Ames to look at his collection and make arrangements to take the items to the MCC Dinosaur Museum if possible.

• The board rescheduled the Aug. 8 meeting to Aug. 7.