We all have hopes for the future. Dreams. In a more practical sense, let’s call them goals. They’re partial to personal achievement; say, a better life for a family, a better future with more earning potential.
Sheridan has been fortunate to have a mostly unified vision for the future of this community. Quality of life, economic development and stellar educational opportunities have typically topped the list.
On Tuesday, residents of Sheridan County will take their commitment to the future to the polls. While absentee and early voting has been ongoing for some time, Tuesday marks the big day that will determine the future of the technical education center at Sheridan College.
The special election asks voters whether they support the $15.85 million bond initiative over an estimated 16 years to expand and renovate the facility that houses diesel mechanics, welding and machine tool technology students. It’s where developing a trade, becoming a craftsman (or, craftswoman) has a genesis.
The existing facility is too small.
It is outdated — nearly 40 years old. In the realm of technology, 40-year-old items are dinosaurs. (Think rotary dial telephone.)
According to state projections, over the next 10 years 1,359 workers will be needed just to replace employees retiring from diesel, welding, construction and machine tool trades.
What do you want the future of Sheridan to be? If the answer is more job opportunities for our citizens, regardless of age, local economic development and with that, an increased quality of life, we believe it is a “yes” vote.
Each year, Sheridan College turns away students for the programs the tech center would support. No student should be denied access to the programs offered due to a lack of space.
Many have asked why they should support an initiative that will not benefit them directly. Isn’t that why students pay tuition?
Tuition costs would skyrocket for students if colleges — large and small — were expected to pay for expansions, upgrades, new buildings and new curriculum in order to keep pace with today’s world. Community colleges are open enrollment. They are meant to be places for any who seek it to find education in order to reach those goals. Community colleges are meant to be affordable.
More than $48 million in improvements have been funded at Sheridan College since 1976. Of that amount, two-thirds came from private donors and local foundations. The college has also received funding from the state.
Sheridan College is special in that its curriculum is diverse — its commitment to Sheridan’s social fabric is historic and appreciated. There is a sense of pride in Sheridan about its college and its offerings to students of any age.
Wyoming — and its Legislature — will be watching Sheridan County Tuesday to determine the level of support the community has for its college. If Sheridan County citizens support what the college is endeavoring, it is more likely the Legislature will do so as well. Let’s look to our future.