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Iowa Western to buy space in Missouri Valley, Harlan, expand career-technical programs

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Iowa Western Community College will purchase space in buildings in Missouri Valley and Harlan to expand its career-technical programs in southwest Iowa.

The college’s Board of Trustees approved the purchase of part of the Trivium Life Services (formerly Crossroads of Western Iowa) building at 115 S. Harrison St. in Missouri Valley at a cost of $285,000. The space will house a career academy for the Missouri Valley, West Harrison, Logan-Magnolia and Tri-Center Community School Districts. A hallway will separate its section of the facility from Trivium’s, Iowa Western President Daniel Kinney said during Monday’s board meeting.

The college will pay $90,000 in earnest money and have 90 days to inspect the property more closely and seek resolution of any problems that are uncovered, Kinney said.

Plans are to offer welding, electrical, construction and agriculture classes in the facility.

In Harlan, the college will purchase the rest of its Shelby County Center building from the City of Harlan for $1, Kinney said. If the college didn’t need the facility at some point in the future, it, in turn, would sell it back to the city for $1. Currently, the college owns the south half and the city owns the north half, where it has some of its offices. The city would continue to operate its Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development offices there.

“We need to build some relationships with them,” he said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for us. I think we can take this to the next level.”

The Harlan City Council plans to consider the proposal this week, Kinney said.

Plans are for the college to offer electromechanical training for local companies and automotive/diesel, industrial technology, health care and trades instruction for students in the facility.

“People are pretty excited about it,” said Trustee Randy Pash, who represents District 9, which includes Harlan Community School District, as well as Avoca-Hancock-Shelby-Tennant-Walnut, Elk Horn-Kimballton, Tri-Center and part of Irwin-Kirkman-Manilla Community School Districts.

One hundred fifty-two high school students attended Iowa Western’s Summer Early Start program this year on the college’s main campus and at satellite centers, according to Tom Gilmore, dean of high school partnerships. They studied automotive, diesel and electrical technology; nursing; computer science; engineering; and science.

The program is free to the students, Gilmore said. The state reimburses the college enough to break even. It’s an important program, because high schools don’t always have teachers qualified to teach dual-credit classes, he told the board.

Board Vice President John Marshall asked whether the college’s Early Childhood Center had a program to help people become certified childcare providers. He said there is a big community need for childcare.

The college has a noncredit program that helps prepare students for that but doesn’t include certification, said Matt Mancuso, executive director of economic and workforce development.

Becoming state-certified partly depends on the facility, Kinney said. He added that the college had tried to get Last Dollar Scholarship funding for the childcare program, but it did not qualify because childcare doesn’t pay a living wage.

The Pottawattamie County Community Foundation is trying to get donations to help expand childcare in the community, Marshall said.

“I think this is important enough we should push to find a way to do this,” he said.

In two curriculum changes, the college will redesign the graphic design program and bring it back as an associate degree program, said Jennifer Kruger, interim vice president of academic affairs. It will also replace the current theater transfer program with a musical theater transfer program.

In other business, the board:

Approved a proposal to lease a mini-bus from the Iowa Western Foundation, which would purchase a 2020 Freightliner Defender at a cost of $160,460. “Athletics are needing one,” said Eddie Holtz, vice president of management services.

Approved a proposal to borrow $800,000 from the foundation to help fund renovation of the baseball-softball complex. The college has contracted with Triple Crown to host two baseball camps a year for the next 10 years, which will provide revenue to pay back the loan, Holtz said.

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