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Press Release



September 21, 2004

Board votes 4-2 to join county economic development partnership


After a lengthy discussion, members of the Board of Trustees voted 4-2 Monday night to join three other entities to provide economic development services within Cowley County.

Curt Freeland, city manager for Arkansas City, presented the Interlocal Cooperation Agreement that spells out the group’s purpose, governance, funding, and various other provisions. He attended the meeting to request financial support from the college.

The college will join the city of Arkansas City, the city of Winfield, and Cowley County as partners in the economic development plan. Each of the four entities will pay $30,000 to comprise the 2005 budget. Financial support proved to be a divisive issue at Monday’s Board meeting.

“It looks like there have been improvements made to the agreement,” Board Member LaDonna Lanning said. “But I truly do not feel we have the right to tax people to put into economic development. Our authority is education.

“I feel like yes, we need to be involved. We always have been. But I don’t feel it’s proper to provide dollars and cents for this.”

Lanning and Board Member Ron Godsey voted against the agreement.

“This is our latest effort to support existing employers and attract new ones, but to also grow entrepreneurs in the county,” Freeland said.

Dr. Pat McAtee, Cowley president, said, “What’s refreshing to me is that Cowley County is taking leadership in the effort, and that’s what’s been missing.”

The college supported the now-defunct Cowley County Economic Development Agency for three years, contributing $60,000 each year. The college stepped in when Cowley County pulled out of the CCEDA partnership, leaving the cities of Arkansas City and Winfield to support it financially.

Lanning questioned what the college got for its financial contribution during those three years.

“We gave $180,000 to CCEDA, for what?” she asked. “What did we get? I’m completely against our involvement this way.”

McAtee said the $30,000 would come from the college’s general fund.

Board Member Donna Avery said the college should be heavily involved in economic development.

“I think it is part of our mission to train,” Avery said. “We always have.”

McAtee said it boiled down to a philosophical issue.

“If there are more jobs, and the county grows, and there is more business and industry, that is supposed to create jobs, and they’ll pay more taxes,” he said.

Board Member Lee Gregg Jr. said the number of successes maybe weren’t as evident under CCEDA.

“This is a different situation,” he said. “We don’t have as much money going toward a director’s salary. We have 600 (high school) students graduating in Cowley County each year. I’d like to see them have the opportunity to come back here to find jobs. Right now, there are no jobs for them. I think a $30,000 investment is a small amount to try out for the 2005 budget. That’s half of what we paid in before.”

Board Member Mark Paton said, “I think it’s a good investment of our funds. I would have liked to have seen more successes with CCEDA. Economic development is a difficult business. If we’re not going to make the effort, we’re guaranteed to be a loser.”

The agreement runs through 2007. However, any parties may withdraw from the agreement by giving the other parties and the agency’s board of directors written notice. A financial obligation still would be required of parties that withdraw, depending on the date of withdrawal.

In other matters, the Board:

1) Saw McAtee present Lory Turney with a gift for being named September Student of the Month.

2) Heard a construction update from Vice President of Business Services Tony Crouch. Crouch said major changes were taking place at the site of the new Webb-Brown Instructional Center. He also gave Board members a tour of the renovated south lobby of W.S. Scott Auditorium following the meeting. The first event to be held in the building since construction began is scheduled for Sept. 29 when the Lady Tiger volleyball team hosts Highland at 6:30 p.m.

3) Approved the following personnel transactions: A letter of resignation from Mary Halsig, technology designer/trainer; employment of Thomas G. King, technology designer; Tara Jane Crippen, tool crib attendant at the Aviation Tech Center; Nicole S. Tharp, receptionist at the ATC; James Ryan Turner, assistant cross country/track and field coach; and Harold W. Anderson, Robert L. Mason, and Jon M. Pine, AMT instructional specialists at the ATC.

4) Approved a lease agreement of property at 242 Industrial Drive, Mulvane, for a three-year period at $1,000 per month for the purpose of expanding Industrial Technology Department programs to Mulvane. The Board discussed the matter during an executive session.