Voters say yes

Second time around is a charm for Iowa Central

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Mary Kenny, at left, signs in to vote Tuesday afternoon at Cooper Elementary School. Precinct Election Worker Michele Sells, at right checks her in.

Area voters easily approved a $25.5 million general obligation bond issue for Iowa Central Community College Tuesday, with 67.5 percent of them voting yes.

To pass, the bond issue had to be approved by at least 60 percent of those who cast ballots.

“This really sets Iowa Central apart and moves us forward,” college President Dan Kinney said Tuesday night.

The bond issue money will pay for a variety of building improvements and new construction at the college’s campuses in Eagle Grove, Fort Dodge, Storm Lake and Webster City. But from the time the proposed bond issue was announced in November 2017, Kinney argued that it was really about much more than bricks and mortar. He said the bond issue is really about keeping young people in the area by investing in education, and he repeated that theme Tuesday night.

“It’s really for the growth and the future of our region,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Precinct Election Worker Bruce McCullough helps Mary Kenny place her ballot into the box Tuesday afternoon after she voted at Cooper Elementary School.

The referendum results Tuesday were significantly different from those of a Dec. 5, 2016, referendum during which the college asked the voters to approve a $29.5 million general obligation bond issue. That effort failed by a slim margin, with a 58.6 percent yes vote.

“We got the word out there so much better than we did the last time,” Kinney said.

“First and foremost, we’ve got to thank the public for supporting Iowa Central Community College,” he added.

He also thanked Albert Habhab, a former Fort Dodge mayor and former chief judge of the Iowa Court of Appeals, who led the committee that worked to win support for the bond issue. Kinney thanked the college’s Board of Trustees, foundation board, faculty and staff for their support.

The biggest single portion of the bond money, $6 million, will be spent to build the Greehey Family Student Success Center on the Fort Dodge campus. It will house veterans services, enrollment services, student advising, financial aid, counseling, health care, career services, distance learning and the early intervention support program. Currently, those services are scattered in different buildings across the campus.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Tyran Peterman, 10, catches up on her reading Tuesday afternoon as her dad, Corey Peterman, at left, casts his ballot at Cooper Elementary School. The pair were multitasking, also attending parent teacher conferences while they were there.

Bill Greehey, a Fort Dodge Senior High graduate who was the chief executive officer of Valero Energy Corp., donated $3 million for the center in June 2017.

“I think it’s tremendous,” Greehey said of the referendum results during a phone interview Tuesday night.

“A junior college is a great asset to the city,” he added. “It’s a great, great school and I’m excited for the students.”

The bond money will also be used for these projects:

• Improvements at Decker Auditorium on the Fort Dodge campus — $3 million

• Safety improvements at all campuses — $3 million

• Upgrades to the Science Building — $3 million

• New industrial training facility in Storm Lake — $2.5 million

• Creation of new career academies — $2 million

• New biofuels testing lab — $2 million

• Remodeling the Student Services Building — $2 million

• Upgrading the Applied Science and Technology Building –$1 million

• Repairing the Liberal Arts Building — $500,000

• Upgrading the Webster City campus — $500,000

“We’re going to get rolling on these projects, big time,” Kinney said.

He said college officials will begin working with architects to finalize the projects. At the same time, they will work with financial consultants to enter the bond market and actually borrow the money.

That debt will be paid off with property tax money. Retiring the debt will cost the owner of a house with an assessed value of $100,000 just $12 a year, according to Kinney.

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