Years of use

Since 1995, 114,682 students have walked the Iowa Central Community College campuses

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen The steps on the Iowa Central Community College parking ramps are suffering serious corrosion from exposure to the elements and the salt used to thaw snow and ice. The steps on the Iowa Central Community College parking ramps are suffering serious corrosion from exposure to the elements and the salt used to thaw snow and ice.

When Iowa Central Community College welcomed its first students in 1966, the community college system that exists in the state today was a new concept.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of students have strolled across the Fort Dodge campus. The latest figures available from the college show that 114,682 students have attended it since 1995.

Last year, the college enrollment totaled 5,489 students, with 1,213 of them living in campus housing.

The college’s leaders are now asking the voters in Buena Vista, Calhoun, Greene, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Sac, Webster and Wright counties to approve a $25.5 million bond issue on Feb. 6 to ensure that the school has safe, modern facilities to serve thousands of future students.

But college President Dan Kinney said the proposed bond issue is also about the future of all of the nine counties in the area Iowa Central serves.

“To invest in our communities and have them keep growing, we need to invest in education,” he said.

He said about 70 percent of jobs in rural America require a two-year degree or certificate training program.

“Who’s going to deliver those programs? Iowa Central Community College,” Kinney said.

The proposed bond issue debt would be paid off with property tax revenue. Kinney said the bond issue would cost the average homeowner an additional $1 per month.

That’s a bargain, he said.

“What can you buy in a convenience store for $1?” he asked.

To pass, the bond issue must be approved by 60 percent of the people who cast ballots.

If the bond issue is approved, it will be used for a variety of infrastructure projects, including fixing up some of the buildings that the very first Iowa Central graduates attended class in.

The college does not get any money from the state for these types of projects.

Here is a summary of the projects to be paid for with the proposed bond issue.

Decker Auditorium – $3 million

This auditorium on the Fort Dodge campus, which is the site of events for both the college and the community, was built in 1976. Electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning improvements are planned.

Safety Improvements – $3 million

This money will be spent to upgrade the video surveillance system in all buildings of the Eagle Grove, Fort Dodge, Storm Lake and Webster City campuses.

It will also be used to install remote access control locks for exterior doors and to update locks on interior doors.

Science Building – $3 million

The Science Building is one of the original buildings on the campus and it now needs multiple repairs.

Career Academies – $2 million

These facilities will improve partnerships with area high schools.

New Biofuels Testing Lab – $2 million

The college has a biofuels testing lab in the Bioscience and Health Sciences Building where ethanol and biodiesel samples for Iowa and 39 other states are tested. The lab also performs tests for six foreign countries. Kinney said the lab has outgrown its current space. Construction of a new lab in the industrial park west of Fort Dodge called Iowa’s Crossroads of Global Innovation is proposed.

Remodeling the Student Services Building – $2 million

This project will create 10 additional classrooms.

Storm Lake Center – $2.5 million

A new industrial training facility would be built in Storm Lake.

Applied Science and Technology Building – $1 million

This is another one of the oldest buildings on the Fort Dodge campus. It needs electrical system improvements to handle today’s computers and robotics.

Liberal Arts Building – $500,000

This is another of the original buildings on the Fort Dodge campus. New windows, roof repairs and electrical upgrades are planned.

Webster City Center – $500,000

New windows, a new roof and electrical upgrades are planned.