SHERIDAN — The Northern Wyoming Community College District board dismissed a motion to sell the Spear-O Mountain Campus at its Thursday night meeting.
After approximately a 30-minute executive session, Trustee Gary Koltiska made a motion for the board to list the property for sale no later than July 1.
The motion was not seconded by other board members and failed as a result.
Koltiska stated the motion was made due to “money loss.”
Board chair Norleen Healy said board members had reservations concerning the timeline proposed to sell the campus.
“The board recognizes that we have to look at budget issues for all the programs at the college very carefully, and we feel like we need more time to address it before we make any decision on programs or entities,” Healy said.
Healy did not specify when the board might revisit the motion and thanked Koltiska for “bringing the issue to attention.”
“My sense is that it was the rushed nature of the dates on the motion,” Healy said. “We are in full operation this summer still; we have programs already scheduled, and we have classes going on up there. The sense just seemed to me that the board needed more time to investigate.”
The campus has three workshops, three mountain lectures and a number of retreats slated for the 2017 season.
Koltiska floated the idea of selling the mountain facility several times before his election in 2016. During the NWCCD’s candidate forum in October, he said the campus should be sold to combat budget reductions.
“When we need to pinch pennies, isn’t it better to get rid of something like that than to get rid of programs that are truly educating our students?” Koltiska said at the forum.
President Dr. Paul Young said the college district recently received preliminary modelings for recapture/redistribution funds for Wyoming community colleges.
Young said impacts on the college should be minimal for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
“We should be at the same number we were a year ago,” Young said. “Of course, these numbers can change again.”
The NWCCD operates the Spear-O Mountain Campus under a special use educational permit with the Bighorn National Forest. The facility is typically open from June to September each year.
The ranch is located 29 miles southwest of Sheridan in the Bighorn Mountains near the Johnson County Line.
Spear-O-Wigwam ranch was established in 1923 and hosted several artists throughout its history, including Ernest Hemingway. The college took ownership of the campus in 2011.
Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Heath said since its purchase, Spear-O costs an average of $250,000 per year to operate. This includes capital improvements.
UPDATED: 11 a.m. May 19, 2017