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Bond Referendum To Address Needed Improvements

By Staff | Jan 28, 2016

REFERENDUM DISCUSSION - Iowa Lakes Community College President Valerie Newhouse, right, discusses the college’s upcoming bond referendum with Board of Trustees Vice President Pat Kibbie during a public open house Monday at the Emmetsburg campus. The referendum vote will take place Tuesday, Feb. 2. - Dan Voigt photo

When an institution celebrates 50 years of service to residents, it’s a milestone to be admired. For Iowa Lakes Community College, those 50 years of service have touched countless lives through classroom education, programs and special events at its five campuses in the area.

Over 50 years, facilities for the college have grown to serve the needs of the public in Palo Alto, Emmet, Kossuth, Clay and Dickinson Counties as well as the surrounding areas. But, over time, improvements and upgrades need to be made to physical facilities as well as course offerings.

For that reason, the Trustees of Iowa Lakes Community College voted last October to go to the voters of Merged Area Three with a bond referendum totaling $16 million for improvements to the college’s five campus locations.

“We’re going to the patrons of Iowa Lakes and asking them to support this referendum,” noted Iowa Lakes President Valerie Newhouse. “This is the first time in our 50 year history that Iowa Lakes has gone to the voters to ask them to consider bond financing and we hope they will continue to show their support of what Iowa Lakes does for the area.”

The referendum, which is set for Tuesday, Feb. 2, will ask the voters of Merged Area Three to approve a 15-year General Obligation Bond in the amount of $16 million, for an average per-year cost to a taxpayer of $11.70 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

Merged Area Three includes parts of Buena Vista, Cherokee, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Hancock, Humboldt, Kossuth, O’Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Pocahontas and Winnebago Counties.

In Palo Alto County, the polls will be open next Tuesday, February 2, 2016 from 7:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M.

Voters in the Emmetsburg Community School District vote at the Election Center in Emmetsburg. Voters living in the Graettinger-Terril Community School District votes at the Graettinger Public Library.

Voters who live in the Ruthven-Ayrshire Community School District vote at the Ruthven Social Center and voters living in the West Bend-Mallard Community School District will cast their votes at the West Bend Public Library

“Education today is so much different than it was in 1966 when Iowa Lakes first started offering classes,”?Newhouse said. “Our facility needs have evolved along with the times, and through this referendum, we will be able to provide crucial improvements to support our programs at all five of our campus locations.”

Each of the college’s five attendance centers has improvements proposed to better serve students and educational programs.

The Emmetsburg campus plan calls for an addition for Student Services to create a one-stop area, along with renovations to the college’s dining service area, the college’s business, financial aid and admissions offices and parking facilities. Also included in the proposal are drainage improvements to the college property, and a building security upgrade program.

All told, the proposed improvements to the Emmetsburg campus are estimated at $6,215,021, with work projected to start in May of 2016 and be completed in December of 2017.

At the Estherville campus, a Fine Arts addition is proposed to provide a performance venue for the fine arts programs, as well as classroom space for digital media and theatre arts. Also planned is a building security upgrade. The total estimated cost is $6,852,147. The project would start in March of 2017 and be completed in August of 2018.

The Algona campus plan calls for renovations to the Student Advising/Success Center, as well as renovation of existing space into a Student Center, the addition of a Small Business/Entrepreneurial center, which is receiving partial funding from an outside entrepreneur.

Drainage work on the college grounds and a building security upgrade are also included in the plans, which have an estimated cost of $1,836,400. Timeline for the work at Algona would take place from April of 2017 to December of 2017.

The college’s Spencer campus, located in the former Gateway North mall, was purchased in 2005. The main focus of the bond for the Spencer center is the replacement of the roof of the facility, some 101,000 square feet in size. In addition, plans call for a renovation of the exterior of the facility, along with building security upgrades. The total estimated cost of this project is $2,599,944. Work is projected to take place in the Summer of 2017.

At the Spirit Lake campus, the primary project calls for a renovation of the north end of the facility for non-credit technical and industrial education class spaces. Also included in the plan are building security upgrades, with a total project estimated cost of $772,005. Work on the Spirit Lake center would take place during the Summer and Fall of 2016.

Overall, the total cost for planned renovations and improvements at the five attendance centers comes to $18, 275,517.

“While we are asking the voters to approve a referendum of $16 million, the remaining funds for the improvements will be covered by the college’s existing facility funds,”?Newhouse said. “We are also very fortunate that at Algona, a private individual is partnering with the college to assist in the creation of the Entrepreneurial center.”

Since its’ inception in 1966, Iowa lakes Community College has played in integral role in the growth of the area.

The direct impact on Palo Alto County from the Emmetsburg campus during Fiscal Year 2015 is most obvious, as a total of 3,372 students were enrolled in for-credit courses.

Of that number, 2,210 were residents of the five county (Palo Alto, Clay, Emmet, Dickinson and Kossuth) area. Going further, 392 of those students were Palo Alto County residents.