Community leaders work together to extoll benefits of community college

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Members of the State Board of Community Colleges and Occupational Education (SBCCOE), Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) faculty and council members and community leaders met at CNCC-Rangely Wednesday night to collaborate and reinforce the advantages of CNCC becoming a member of the Colorado Community College and Occupational Education System (CCCOES).

With positive feelings abound, CNCC President Robert A. Anderson graciously welcomed colleagues to CNCC-Rangely.

Russell George, R-Rifle, speaker of the Colorado House, who plays an instrumental role in the legislature in favor of the CCCOES, was on hand to discuss his feelings towards CNCC.

From a political standpoint, George feels at times Colorado wants to split into two states, the west and east, instead of combining efforts into one. He feels the state should be looking at ways to tie together, not pull apart. Bringing CNCC into the CCCOES helps in that cause.

"A couple years ago, when Northwestern Junior College came into the system we got a pretty good lock-in on the eastern side and then we finished the tie-in now with CNCC being the anchor on the west side," George said. "That adds strength to the system."

George feels very good about the addition to the system.

"It is really wonderful to sit here and listen to my friends work through all the positives," George said. "They are genuine and real. It's just really special indeed to be a part of something in government that is that right and that successful. I feel very good about it."

SBCCOE Chairman Elwood Gillis stressed the importance of becoming a part of the state system.

"It is extremely important for us to be here," Gillis said. "We now have a good representation statewide and are providing a critical link between community and colleges."

Gillis also commented that along with being a part of CCCOES, CNCC will receive more funding for certain programs. But along with the added funding may come more rules and regulations. Some programs may require more maintenance and personnel, but without the extra funds. The funding will come with requirements but CNCC "will survive and prosper" and CCCOES will help CNCC, according to Gillis.

The CNCC Advisory Council and board members agree that CNCC saw the financial benefits of becoming part of the largest and fastest growing higher education system in the state. On July 1, CNCC became a part of this system. Board members feel CNCC will represent the state system well and the classes CNCC offers will offer depth to CCCOES.

Craig City Manager Jim Ferree explained the relationship between Craig and CNCC as a partnership. A recent $560,000 grant was given to the City of Craig for renovation of the Center of Craig. According to Ferree, CNCC has agreed to be a major tenant of the facility.

"That lease agreement will help the City of Craig continue to operate that facility," Ferree said. "It is a vital piece that the college became involved in the renovation."

Ferree and CNCC-Craig Vice President Dr. Dean Hollenbeck are on a committee to help Craig undergo an industry analysis.

"The industry analysis will evaluate our assets and liabilities to try and determine what kind of industries could be attracted to the Yampa Valley, Craig in particular, and obviously I think the college is going to remain one of our major assets. Higher education is extremely important to the community," Ferree said.

Colorado Community College and Occupational Education System governs 14 colleges and oversees local district community colleges, area vocational schools and career and technical education programs in over 150 secondary school districts. Full-time enrollment in the system colleges for the 1998-99 fiscal year was 37,069. In total, the system has programming for 236,102 students across Colorado.

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