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Central Wyoming College releases Jackson campus plans

Central Wyoming College releases Jackson campus plans

A rendering of the proposed Jackson Campus

As voting nears for their $10 million request to taxpayers as one of 15 specific purpose excise tax items on this fall’s ballot, Central Wyoming College officials have released initial plans for a 21,000-square-foot building on its own Jackson campus.

“The cool thing about this project is that after all these years, they’re going to get a home,” Sen. Mike Gierau said Tuesday. “I think that’s super important. This isn’t something for other communities. It’s for that gal who makes beds in a hotel and wants to be a nurse and now can go and improve her own lot in life.

“To have an opportunity for kids to stay home and work, and better themselves, this is important and it’s a big deal.”

The campus along High School Road just west of Jackson Hole High School was sketched by Denver designers Anderson Mason Dale Architects.

Gierau and Rep. Andy Schwartz secured $10.3 million from the state Strategic Investments and Projects account earlier this year. CWC now leases space from the Center for the Arts in Jackson and has been working toward building a permanent Jackson campus for almost a decade.

We have to put up our part. We have to show that we have local funding. ”

CWC won a SPET election in 2017 that provided $3.82 million in tax money to buy a building site on Veronica Lane in West Jackson that ultimately was deemed too small with too little parking for a community college campus. They sold that site after finding a more suitable location in South Park.

The campus price tag is about $20 million.

Gierau reported on Tuesday that along with the state funding, CWC has applied for $12 million through the American Rescue Plan, also known as the COVID-19 stimulus package.

He said that CWC is in the final stages of possible approval for the federal funding among other top contenders in Wyoming.

If CWC secures the $12.4 million federal grant, SPET funding would still be needed to complete the Jackson campus, college President Brad Tyndall said, due to state requirements for local funding.

Community colleges in Wyoming differ from universities in their funding models, Tyndall said. Bound by the rules of the Community College Commission and state construction commission, CWC can secure half its funding through the state. The other half must come through local funding.

“We have to put up our part,” Tyndall said. “We have to show that we have local funding.”

If the federal funds are secured, then $10.3 million approved through the state’s general fund could be used to fund other needed projects in Wyoming that are not eligible for federal money, Gierau said.

This summer Teton County commissioners approved placing the CWC project on the SPET ballot.

SPET is an optional, voter-approved 1% sales tax paid by visitors and residents on most goods and services. In the county’s words, “the funds allow local government and public entities to construct community facilities, infrastructure or amenities that would otherwise require other sources of revenue such as bonds or increased property tax.”

CWC-Jackson Director Susan Durfee said Monday that if the SPET is approved, building could start as early as spring 2023. She said that educational facilities cannot start a project without complete funding.

The space will provide space for nursing and culinary programs. Tyndall said that having their own water and gas sources will also allow for more sophisticated science labs.

CWC anticipates that the new space will add two more professors to the Jackson campus.

Tyndall said the plans for the building were awarded to the Denver architecture firm after extensive committee meetings with state officials.

CWC hopes to build on 2 acres of land just off High School Road. The purchase of the ground from Leeks Canyon Ranch LLC, through which Elizabeth and Kelly Lockhart run the Lockhart Cattle Company ranch, needs a zone change from suburban zoning to public-semi-public through Teton County.