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'Ag center' doesn't do justice to CWC building plan, says college leadership

Dec 3, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Select groups of community members were invited to a series of meetings over the past month to discuss plans for a new agriculture and animal science center at Central Wyoming College in Riverton.

One big take-away from the meetings: Don't call it an agriculture and animal science center.

"(That name) does not adequately cover the scope of what we are trying to achieve," CWC president Brad Tyndall said in a memo to the CWC Board of Trustees this month.

During the focus group sessions, Tyndall said people with ties to local agriculture and equine industries both felt the name signified that their areas had "been cut out of the vision and plans" for the facility.

Others assumed that, based on the name, there would be no community access or events there.

"To dispel these erroneous messages, we have more carefully started using (different) descriptor language," Tyndall wrote.

For now, the center will be referred to as the Ag, Animal Science, Equine and Community Complex, he said.

Feedback

The nine community sessions were held between Oct. 30 and Nov. 13, and each lasted up to two hours.

"It was a heavy lift," Tyndall said. "We (got) a lot of really good information."

During each meeting, attendees were asked about their priorities and ideas for academic programming, physical space and community events that could take place at the new facility and on the surrounding property, according to a memo from institutional effectiveness director Louisa Hunkerstorm.

"People provided all sorts of great ideas, and many expressed interest in continuing to be involved with future planning," she wrote.

Facilitator Mary Martin from the University of Wyoming Extension facilitated each session and will synthesize the information into a final report, Hunkerstorm added.

Economic development

Now that the forums have been completed, Hunkerstorm said CWC will request a grant to commission an economic development plan focused on agriculture and equine industries in Fremont County.

"The economic development plan will incorporate the information gathered in the focus groups and will also plan for the future of these industries in our area more generally," Hunkerstorm wrote.

The document will help CWC make further plans for the new facility, but it also will aid in acquiring future funding and grants.

She also anticipates the economic development plan will be useful to community partners looking to develop their own agriculture- and equine-related projects in Fremont County.

Design

A previous design study indicates the new center, located on college-owned land directly north of the Riverton campus, will cover almost 87,950 square feet of building space, plus 19,250 square feet outdoors in addition to parking and loading areas.

Two indoor arenas are planned, including one for Western riding and rodeo and another for English riding, both equipped with seating for spectators. In between and around the indoor arenas are classrooms, offices, restrooms, locker rooms, an agriculture lab, a student lounge, an animal health unit and a maintenance shop.

An outdoor arena will be to the northwest of the main building, with a large parking lot to the north that can accommodate shipping and receiving of livestock.

Thirty horse loafing sheds with runs will be on the southwest portion of the property, with a smaller parking lot for trailers and animal loading and unloading.

For security and animal control, a continuous, four-rail steel fence will surround the entire facility.

Instruction

The same design document notes that the space CWC currently uses on Gasser Road limits program offerings which could be expanded now that the college has updated its equine science program to better enable students to achieve four-year degrees in partnership with the University of Wyoming.

For example, the document says multiple instructors use one small, indoor arena at the current property, and classroom sizes are restrictive as well, forcing students and teachers to use space in other buildings on and off campus.

Administrators have said courses including therapeutic riding, equine massage therapy and training technology could be added to the class roster once the new facility is complete.

Funding

The Wyoming Legislature approved a bill this year allowing CWC to move forward with the project using private funding. The state will match CWC's contribution, but only after the college has spent its half of the $10.5 million cost.

Willie Noseep, CWC's vice president for administrative services, said the college is raising its portion of the money through a capital campaign, grants and, eventually, through the sale of the current equine center.

on Gasser Road.

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