Big Bend project at top of priority list

Rated first among construction projects for community-technical colleges

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Gail Hamburg

MOSES LAKE - If the Washington Legislature provides the funding, Big Bend Community College could start planning for a new professional-technical education center as early as next spring.

College officials submitted a proposal for the project at the end of February, and it was ranked first on the priority list for community and technical college capital projects. The list was released Monday.

"It is the best news we could have received before the next legislative session," BBCC President Terry Leas said.

The BBCC proposal was one of 19 submitted to state officials, and one of 10 that was recommended for funding. Gail Hamburg, the college's vice-president for financial and administrative services, prepared the proposal.

The college has programs in welding, aviation maintenance, industrial systems and automotive technology. Currently they are housed in buildings constructed as part of Larson Air Force Base, closed in the mid 1960s. "The current facilities weren't designed for education and training and are substandard and too small," college spokesperson Doug Sly said.

The project list will be included in the funding request submitted to the 2015 Legislature by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. If legislators decide to fund any capital projects, the money would be included in the 2015-17 budget.

Currently, college officials think the project would be completed sometime in late 2018 or early 2019, Sly said.

The new building would help the college address training needs for the county's manufacturing sector, which accounts for about 15.5 percent of non-farm employment in the college's service area, Sly said.

Leas said an updated education center would be designed to work with the Columbia Basin Skills Center, located on Yonezawa Boulevard and serving a consortium of 12 high schools in Grant and Adams counties.

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