CNCC's $21.3M on schedule

— The check is in the mail for Colorado Northwestern Community College.

On Thursday, Gov. Bill Ritter's office announced the successful sale of about $230 million in certificates of participation for a program funneling federal mineral lease revenue into college campus construction projects across the state.

The announcement means the Craig campus board won't have to dip into its building fund to get the academic building through its design phase.

More than $21 million of that money will be coming to CNCC for the design of its academic building, which is scheduled to open at a new Craig campus in 2011.

"Everything's still on track," CNCC President John Boyd said. "We're in good shape."

In an e-mail Monday, Boyd had said the $21.3 million earmarked for CNCC may not be available Nov. 1 as initially planned because of the recent credit crunch.

He estimated the funds may not have been released until January. Had that scenario played out, the CNCC Craig campus board would have had to chip in $193,653. That sum would have covered about half of the cost incurred by designing the academic building.

But the recent certificate of participation sale means CNCC will receive its portion of the $230 million by early November.

Certificates of participation act like lease purchases and allow governing bodies to issue funds without taxpayer votes.

State Rep. Al White, R-Hayden, called Boyd to give him the news.

White, who is running for re-election, supported state measures that designated federal mineral lease dollars for new CNCC construction.

Boyd was "very pleased" to receive the news, he said.

The college president's sentiments were echoed by White.

White's first response to the news that the certificates of participation had been sold was, "Yahoo."

White wasn't sure when the certificates would be sold given the current economy. When White received word from Ritter's office that the sale had happened, he made sure CNCC's $21.3 million project still was on the list.

The funds were made available by legislation Ritter signed in May. In a news release announcing the CNCC as one of the recipients of the fund, White said he was committed to seeing some of the federal mineral lease dollars benefit Western Slope college campuses.

"I'm just glad that CNCC and Craig are going to see this exciting new building erected, and I think it will be good for the whole region," he said.

Although the funds are scheduled to come through as planned, the academic building project may still be scaled down, possibly from $25 million to about $23 million.

About $2 million allotted for the project from the state's Joint Budget Committee still is on hold because of the current economic situation. In addition, building costs could increase before the academic building is completed.

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