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Minnesota West repairs hinge on bonding bill

WORTHINGTON -- If Gov. Tim Pawlenty's 2006 bonding list is adopted by the Legislature, Minnesota West Community and Technical College could be taking on water.

Minnesota West's $1.8 million request for repair and maintenance work was approved by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System (MnSCU) as part of a $110 million state package, but the governor has agreed to only $20 million of that set-aside. Suddenly, West's plan to use $1.1 million for roof replacement at its Pipestone campus is in jeopardy.

"Well, you know what -- plastic buckets are cheap. You can always get by. You just never know what damage you're doing to the infrastructure if you let water leak through the roof," Minnesota West President Ronald Wood said with a pained smile.

MnSCU's request included money necessary for repairing a leaky Pipestone roof as well as the replacement of heating and ventilation units. Another $700,000 was approved for ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) compliance -- much that would be spent on the Fine Arts building and the fieldhouse on the Worthington campus.

Also in the MnSCU budget was $475,000 for Granite Falls lab renovation and $180,000 for demolition of obsolete facilities and retro-fitting at the Canby campus. While the Granite Falls money was protected by Pawlenty, the Canby money was not.

Wood said he has "a great deal of faith in our legislators down here," but he is disappointed that the governor's office doesn't see repair and replacement funding as crucial.

"Probably my major concern is that the non-glamorous part was cut over 80 percent," Wood said. "They're crucial to maintaining the assets of the building inventory. For us, that money is absolutely crucial. We have a leaky roof in Pipestone and we need that roof money."

If Minnesota West's full funding doesn't come through, Wood said the college will work with MnSCU to determine how to spend what's left over. MnSCU could decide to give West most, if not all, of the money it needs to complete the repair work if it agrees on its importance to the two-year institution. Or it might decide to withhold most, or all, of the $360,000 it would receive under the governor's plan.

It's either all or nothing when it comes to repairing roofs, Wood declared.

"You can't do one-tenth of a roof. You just can't do it," he said. "And ironically, that's probably our last roof to replace. If we replaced that, we'd probably be good for another 20 years."

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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