Mesalands officials hoping for funds from state’s Higher Education Department

Thomas Garcia

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson recommended $1.25 million in capital funds from the New Mexico Higher Education Department for Mesalands Community College, college officials said.

Mesalands board of trustees was informed Tuesday night at its regular meeting that the college had received two separate recommendations from Richardson.

The recommendations made were for $750,000 for dorms and $500,000 for the wind turbine project, said college President Phillip O’Barry.

“To receive two separate amounts is terrific,” Barry said. “The college will benefit greatly from these recommendations.”

Barry said that the wind turbine purchased by the college was $600,000 over the state and federal allocations Mesalands had received. The money was taken from the colleges surplus funds, and the $500,000 will help to replenish that fund.

The college had only one manufacturer bid on its turbine request and by the time the turbine was constructed the costs of steel for the turbine, and concrete and rebar to construct the foundation had skyrocketed, Barry said.

“We are very thankful for the money,” Barry said. “There are so many unknown costs that we are finding as we go along with the operation of the turbine.”

In keeping with news about the turbine program, John Yearout, Mesalands Director of Public Relations, said that four newscasts aired on Jan. 23 from the turbine on the CNBC network generated numerous calls about the college’s wind energy program.

“In total, the college received 211 calls and requests for information packets about the wind energy program offered at Mesalands,” Yearout said.

Of the 211 calls, four resulted in students making a deposit to the college to enroll in the program, Yearout said.

“This great for the program,” Tracy Rascoe, Director of Wind Energy Training at Mesalands. “The national publicity has sparked interest in our program from around the nation.”

It was not all good news. Trustees were updated on the damage caused by a Feb. 6 fire and Feb. 8 rain by the Dean of Instructional Services, David Gallatin.

“The estimated cost of the damage done at the college from the roof fire and rain is $75,000,” Gallatin said.

Gallatin said that much of the damage and clean-up had been completed at the college. A crew of workman had replaced the roof tiles and insulation and used a special fan to draw the smoke out of the ventilation system.