Officials: Vote for Bond C will bring much needed renovations

Joshua Lucero: PNT correspondent

The passing of higher education Bond C would mean $9 million dollars in renovations to Eastern New Mexico University's Jack Williamson Liberal Arts Building. Officials say this is the largest classroom building on campus.

A vote for the higher education Bond C would mean costly but needed renovations to the facilities of Eastern New Mexico University, Clovis Community College and other institutions across the state, according to officials.

According to the G.O. Bond for Education Committee, the passing of this bond in the Nov. 6 election will fund about $119 million in projects statewide for colleges and universities.

Bond C would ensure $9 million for ENMU, $800,000 for CCC and $1 million for Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari.

"The state has invested billions in the facilities at universities," said ENMU President Steven Gamble. "It only makes sense that we put money into the maintenance and repair of those facilities. That's the purpose of the (general obligation) bond."

Gamble stressed that this bond will provide these funds with no tax increase required.

"The way we can do this and not raise any taxes is through the GO bond," Gamble said. "Eastern has $9 million that it will receive when the bond passes. This will enable us to completely renovate our largest classroom building on campus. It will help create jobs in Curry and Roosevelt counties and throughout the state."

According to Gerald Burke, chairman of the G.O. Bond for Education Committee, this bond will replace former Bond B, at the cost of $6 per year per taxpayer based on information given by the state's Department of Finance and Administration.

"There's approximately $4 billion dollars worth of buildings," Burke said. "The G.O. bond is the only source to upgrade those facilities. It's desperately needed."

ENMU's Vice President of Business Affairs Scott Smart said $9 million will go to renovation the Jack Williamson Liberal Arts Building, a building that is heavily used because all math and English courses are held there.

Smart said they had renovated other buildings on campus including the science, music and arts and anthropology buildings with former general obligation bonds.

"We're blessed, the general obligation program is just a wonderful tool for providing funds for campus buildings," Smart said.

Smart added that the bonds are the school's only funding stream to fund such projects and it results in keeping lower tuition and fees.

He hopes to prevent a repeat of two years ago when the bond failed in 2010 because this year they may not be so lucky.

In 2010, Smart said they funded their project out of pocket but this year, they do not have the funding to complete their project.

"If it doesn't happen, we would simply have to wait until the next bond election," Smart said.

CCC President Becky Rowley says they need the $800,000 they have on Bond C to renovate the school's old allied health space where the nursing program used to be.

Rowley said they received a federal grant about two weeks ago for $2.5 million to start up a physical therapy assistant program and revamp other allied health programs.

"We need the space to put it in, to have a nice lab and nice classroom space," Rowley said.

If Bond C doesn't pass, Rowley said it would be disappointing.

"We're going to go ahead with the program but the facilities won't be as modern for the students," she said. "The grant only pays for equipment and personnel."

She feels providing an up-to-date learning environment is important for students.

"Passing this bond really is important for the future of CCC and ENMU and it allows us to remain competitive and give our students a first class environment," Rowley said. "A good learning environment is critical to success."

Kimberly Hanna, director of Public Relations at Mesalands, said the bond will provide funding for roof repair and replacements of outdated air conditioning and heating systems.

QCS photo: Jerrene Bradley

Mesalands Community College welcome back barbecue

"We continue to grow, we definitely need to keep up the bonds for our students," Hanna said. "It will also help us meet the needs of our Quay County community."

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