By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer
Higher education officials in eastern New Mexico expressed gratitude Tuesday for voters in the General Election who approved millions of dollars for higher education in the region.
With 70 percent of precincts reporting, unofficial election results showed 55 percent of New Mexico voters gave their approval of General Obligation Bond Proposition B.
As a result, brick-and-mortar improvements at Clovis Community College in Clovis, Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, and Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari will be funded.
“We see this as an investment in higher education that will benefit the entire eastern part of the state,” said ENMU President Steven Gamble as election results trickled in Tuesday and supporters of Bond B slivered ahead of opposers.
Over 10 years, New Mexico property owners will give $9 million for renovations at the three institutions.
Of the $9 million, $3 million will go to construction of an allied health building at CCC. The building will support nursing, radiology and emergency medical service programs, according to CCC officials.
“I feel very gratified for the support of the voters,” CCC President John Neibling said.
Neibling said the new building will allow medical programs at the college to expand and will support 30 more nursing graduates a year.
“It is local people,” he said late Tuesday night, “that will be taking advantage of those (medical) programs and staying in the community and serving in those fields.”
Another $4.5 million will go to the renovation of ENMU’s music building, which was built in 1957. Classroom and practice facilities in the building will be renovated and the ENMU recital hall will be expanded, according to ENMU President Steven Gamble.
The Bond also secures $1.5 million for expansion of a Mesalands maintenance building. The expansion will provide a new home for Student Services, a new commons area, offices and four classrooms, according to information provided by Mesalands.
“It will help the college, help the community and help us economically in the future,” Mesalands President Phillip O. Barry said.
Generally, bond projects are finished within 18 months of obtaining funds, Neibling said.
The bond issue is placed on the ballot by the New Mexico State Legislature every two years.
In total, Bond B secured nearly $118 million for higher education throughout New Mexico.
Money for public libraries was also approved in Tuesday’s election. With 58 percent of precincts reporting, 56 percent of voters approved Bond C for libraries.
Locally, $60,000 will go for purchases at the CCC library and $115,000 will go for purchases at the ENMU library, according to CCC and ENMU officials.