SHERIDAN — It was a game of names at Wednesday night’s meeting of the Northern Wyoming Community College District Board of Trustees as buildings were named in honor of benefactors and leaders were assigned to projects.
But first, the meeting began by making quick work of the 2014-2015 budget. No public comments were made during the hearing, which was followed by an immediate unanimous approval of the budget by the board.
As previously reported, a $27.3 million operating budget was presented that is $2.1 million up from 2013-2014.
There was an increase of $1.4 million in state appropriation funds received and 2-3 percent raises were included for select employees.
As the meeting rolled on the official names of new and renovated buildings on campus were selected.
After the largest gift from an individual in the history of Sheridan College, $4 million, came from Jacomien and Forrest E. Mars Jr. of Big Horn for the creation of a new agriculture center, the board approved the recommendation to name the center the Mars Agriculture Center.
The college library in the newly renovated Griffith Memorial Building will be restored to its original name of the Mary Brown Kooi Library after unanimous approval as well.
Kooi was the wife of Peter Kooi — the operator of Kooi Mine just north of Sheridan in the early 1900s — and she was best known for her endowment of the library which she started and continued to grow through the years including providing furnishings for the library room in what was then Stolt Hall.
Trustee Bruce Hoffman eagerly offered the motion to accept the recommendation saying, “I would like to make that motion because I was here with Mrs. Kooi and I knew her very well and it is much deserved.”
In an addition to the agenda, Board Chair Kati Sherwood named Trustee Jerry Iekel and Treasurer Robert Leibrich to the Mars Agricultural Steering Committee to pick the architect for the project and head up other decisions regarding the building.
Trustee Walt Wragge announced the naming of the architect and the Construction Manager at Risk company selected by the North Whitney Steering Committee consisting of himself and Trustee Norleen Healy.
After day-long interviews of three firms for each position held at the college on Monday, KWN Construction of Sheridan was named the CMAR and CTA Architects & Engineers out of Billings, Montana, received the architect contract.
Both firms are also those currently working on the Thorne Rider student center project.
Studio B Architects out of Aspen, Colorado, will also join the North Whitney project as acoustic experts for the state-of-the-art recital hall to be included in the new performing arts wing.
Kaiser and Company was approved to manage the financial services for these upcoming projects and Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer of NWCCD Cheryl Heath provided an explanation on how the process of paying for the projects will work.
“Colleges can’t just go to a bank and take out a loan,” Heath said. “We haven’t done this type of transaction since 2008 and we have many new board members so we had a meeting Monday to understand the transaction.”
After a vote in the last general election shot down a bond request for taxpayers to fund a project, Heath said the proposed arrangement was the only remaining way to fund the project.
Whitney Benefits gave a gift of $31.3 million to Sheridan College which will be paid to them over the period of 15 years and is enough to cover the $25.3 million in construction costs as well as interest on the loan.
Whitney will pay this money to SC, which will in turn pay the Northern Wyoming Community College Building Authority, a nonprofit organization that will serve as the borrowing entity. The building authority will then pay the bond holders.
Kaiser and Company is an investment banking firm that will be tasked with selling the bonds and getting the best rate possible for them.
In other news, the board approved the request to submit an application to add an HVAC Certification Program to the college’s offerings.