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Improved Jackson campus housing options proving difficult for CWC; gift hoped for

Oct 11, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Central Wyoming College wants to improve housing options for students on the Jackson campus, but school administrators said the effort may take some time.

"It's not looking great now," CWC president Joanne McFarland said during a September meeting of the CWC Board of Trustees. "We're not anywhere close to coming to the board (with a recommendation). Currently the numbers don't work out."

Ron Granger, CWC's vice president for administrative services, said he was presented with a lease option for new apartments being built in Jackson, but local housing restrictions soured the deal for CWC.

"If we (rent the) apartments, we have to rent them to CWC and sublet them to our students," Granger said. "And the housing authority only allows us to sublet a certain amount. ... We can't get the good mixture where we're not losing money."

He said he would continue negotiations on the lease, but he acknowledged that Jackson can be a "tough place" when it comes to housing.

"But we're not going to give up on it," Granger said. "We're just going to keep working on it."

Gift

Trustee Scott Phister asked about the potential for donations to aid in the Jackson-area housing search.

"It seems nearly impossible unless there's a gift somewhere," he said. "We can't subsidize housing for students very easily."

McFarland agreed that the cost of land, which is limited in the Jackson area, can be prohibitive.

"Our best bet would be some use of public land," she said.

CWC already is speaking with the state's Construction Management division about options in the Jackson area, McFarland said. She also presented letters to the board from Teton County's representatives in the Wyoming Legislature, who expressed their support of the school's work in Jackson.

But McFarland said the state isn't likely to look at the housing project until it has considered CWC's current proposal for the Jackson area. The Wyoming Community College Commission in July recommended that the state fund two capital construction projects for CWC, including one at the school's Jackson outreach center.

The $11.78 million project would create a commercial learning kitchen for the school's culinary arts program and pay for nursing and science labs, as well as classrooms and academic and student support space.

A request for housing wasn't included in the proposal.

"The Legislature won't fund us on doing any kind of housing," Granger said in June. "When and if we decide to do housing, we'll go to them and ask for approval to do that."

McFarland said the Legislature will consider the initial proposal in 2014.

"We're hopeful that the Jackson campus will receive level-two planning funding and will move forward," she said. "Then gradually that housing project will come up, and we'll take it forward in future years -- unless we find another way to meet those needs before then."

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