By Jessica LeDuc
Blade staff writer
The wind turbine pieces that have adorned the property of Cloud County Community College will finally be removed after action taken Tuesday night by the board of trustees.
The board approved the sale of the remaining Zond 750 wind turbine parts for $90,000 to the White Earth Reservation Tribal Council, Minnesota.
The Zond wind turbine was donated to the college by Westar Energy in 2008, but was never erected because of the cost and size. In September 2011, the board approved the sale of the turbine to Heron Wind Manufacturing for $275,000. Bob Maxson, vice president for administrative services, told the board that Heron had paid $175,000, but then payments stopped.
"We still have some of the turbine parts and a security agreement on those remaining parts," Maxson said. "Heron couldn't get them without paying."
Maxson said he and college President Danette Toone met with members of the tribal council last week to negotiate the purchase of the remaining turbine pieces.
"We reached what we think is a win-win compromise related to the amount owed to the college," he said.
The tribal council offered to pay $90,000 for the parts, and will also load and remove them. Board member Tom Tuggle asked why the college should take less than what it is owed for the parts.
Toone said the tribe had originally offered $80,000, but agreed on the $90,000 price.
"If we could have gotten the $100,000, we would have," Toone said. "I'm comfortable with the price."
The board approved the sale to the White Earth Reservation, and the release of the security agreement with Heron, upon receipt of the $90,000 payment.
On a 4-2 vote, the board also approved a 2.9-percent increase for housing rates for the 2013-2014 school year. New rates will range from $3,235 per semester for the diamond level of housing to $2,230 for the bronze level.
Maxson said the rate increase was necessary to offset the projected increase in utilities, food and student programming, as well as to maintain housing profitability.
"Residence life continues to be a very strong auxiliary service," Maxson said. "We need to be sure we're affordable, but still providing resources for the college."
Board member Dave Clemons said he hated to see the college price itself out of business by increasing the rates for student housing.
"I wonder if maybe in March when we look at the food service contract, we can look at that in a way that maybe we don't have to raise these rates," he said. "We're looking for a better deal with food service, and it sounds like maybe that's a possibility. I wouldn't like to get in a hurry over raising rates if maybe we can help ourselves in some other way and not have to do that."
Tuggle said he agreed with Clemons, and with the college already having one of the higher tuition rates in the state, he would like to forgo the housing rate hike.
On a 4-2 vote, with Tuggle and Clemons voting against it, the board approved the average 2.9-percent housing increase.
Neil Phillips, with Jarrad, Gilmore and Phillips, P.A., said that there were no problems with the college audit. Phillips said there were no significant deficiencies or material weaknesses to report with respect to the college's finances.
"Overall, it was a positive audit," he said.
In personnel matters, the board accepted a request from Barbara Stevens to participate in early retirement, effective May 17, 2013. Stevens has been an art instructor at the college since 2000. The board authorized the administration to fill the position.
Maxson reported that the search committee for a new executive director of the college Foundation had received five applications. The committee plans to advertise the position again, in hopes of receiving more applications, and interviews should take place after the first of the year.
Joel Figgs, vice president for enrollment management and student services, reported that enrollment numbers for the spring semester are down. He said 1,098 students have enrolled so far, as opposed to 1,167 at this time last year. Figgs said his staff is working to keep enrollment moving forward, and noted that a number of enrollments will happen between now and the start of the spring semester.