By Marlena Hartz: Freedom Newspapers
Higher education officials in eastern New Mexico expressed gratitude Tuesday for voters in the General Election who approved millions of dollars for higher education in the region.
With 70 percent of precincts reporting, unofficial election results showed 55 percent of New Mexico voters gave their approval of General Obligation Bond Proposition B.
As a result, brick-and-mortar improvements at Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, Clovis Community College in Clovis and Eastern New Mexico University in Portales will be funded.
Tucumcari voters approved the measure by 52 percent to 48 percent, or 105 votes.
“It’s a good message,” Mesalands President Phillip O. Barry said. “I’m pleased that Quay County voted for it. It will help the college, help the community and help us all economically in the future.”
Mesalands is slated to receive $1.5 million for the expansion of Building G (maintenance building) for a new student services center, offices, a new commons area and four classrooms.
“We see this as an investment in higher education that will benefit the entire eastern part of the state,” said ENMU President Steven Gamble as election results trickled in Tuesday.
His school will receive $4.5 million for the renovation of a music building, which was built in 1957. Classroom and practice facilities in the building will be renovated and the ENMU recital hall will be expanded, Gamble said.
Clovis Community College will receive $3 million for construction of an allied health building. The building will support nursing, radiology and emergency medical service programs, according to CCC officials.
“I feel very gratified for the support of the voters,” CCC President John Neibling said.
Neibling said the new building will allow medical programs at the college to expand and will support 30 more nursing graduates a year.
“It is local people,” he said late Tuesday night, “that will be taking advantage of those (medical) programs and staying in the community and serving in those fields.”
Generally, bond projects are finished within 18 months of obtaining funds, Neibling said.
The bond issue is placed on the ballot by the New Mexico State Legislature every two years.
In total, Bond B secured nearly $118 million for higher education throughout New Mexico.
Money for public libraries was also approved in Tuesday election. With 58 percent of precincts reporting, 56 percent of voters approved Bond C, the bond for libraries.