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NICC vote results still unofficial

SHELDON, Iowa -- Numbers don't get much closer than this. Northwest Iowa Community College (NICC) needs a 60 percent majority to pass a $13.4 million bond, and the current unofficial vote tally stands at 59.87 percent "yes" votes.

According to a spokesperson in the Sioux County, Iowa, Auditor's Office, there could still be absentee and provisional ballots that have not been counted. Each county will canvass results early next week.

"It is possible that the numbers are not the final tallies," the spokesperson stated. "They could lose by a larger margin, or they could actually pass."

According to NICC President Bill Giddings, getting that percentage above 60 would equate to 15 more "yes" votes.

"We're holding onto a small glimmer of a shred of hope that those absentee ballots will come in," Giddings said. "By the end of the week, they should know if there are any changes in the numbers."

Absentee ballots had to be postmarked by April 4, so some of the "yes" votes NICC needs could still be in the mail.

One or two counties have discussed doing a hand count, Giddings said, so with possible ballots still coming in and a recount, there is still a chance the bond issue could pass.

"The county auditors' offices are being very cooperative and supportive," Giddings stated. "We're remaining hopeful."

Counties included in the voting are Cherokee, Lyon, O'Brien, Osceola and Sioux.

The vote on Tuesday was the second time the 15-year $13.4 million general obligation bond issue has shown up on a ballot.

Constituents in September 2010 voted 57.4 percent to pass the bond -- not enough to get the college above the 60 percent mark.

If approved, the annual cost of the bond to property owners would be 34 cents per $1,000 in taxable valuation.

Nearly a quarter of the bond, if approved, would be used to make energy conservation and efficiency changes in four of the campus' oldest structures.

Career and technical upgrades, at a cost of $7.25 million, would include a new heavy equipment building, diesel and welding lab relocation, high voltage, grid and turbine technology and a remodel for growth in Building D.

Technology information infrastructure and program simulations, along with improved delivery of courses to area high schools, would cost approximately $3 million.