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Publishing a  2018-19 operating budget with the same proposed tax rate as the previous year was approved by the Cloud County Community College board of trustees during its regular meeting Tuesday night in the President’s Addition.

The budget proposes an operational mill levy for 2018-19 of 25.805 and a capital outlay tax rate of 3.96 mills.

Setting the public hearing on the proposed budget for August 13 at 5 p.m. in the room 257 of the President’s Addition as approved by the board.

Also approved by the board was authorization of increased revenue from property taxes.

Amber Knoettgen, vice president for Administrative Services, informed the trustees that preliminary assessed valuation of the county is $110,820,129, up from approximately $104 million.

“Based on our assessed valuation of $110,820,000, we could receive a potential float, or increased revenue of $168,000 to our operational levy, or our general fund, and $28,568 to our capital outlay fund,” Knoettgen said.

The board of trustees took action on two items pertaining to the construction of the college’s Sun Power Solar Farm.

Accepting a grant of $150,000 from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation for construction of the solar farm was approved.

The board also approved purchasing photovoltaic solar panels for the farm from Hood Heating Air Plumbing Electric, Inc. at cost of $200,688.02.

The college made an initial investment of $50,000 for the farm, which is part of the college’s new solar energy technology training program.

A USDA Rural Business Development Grant of $100,883 was received by the college for construction of the solar farm.

With the addition of the $150,000 from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, the college now has $300,883 in total funding for the Sun Power Solar Farm which will be used to train students in the Renewable Energy Technology program to become solar designers, installers and operation technicians.

The Renewable Energy Technology program had a ground breaking ceremony last week for the solar farm, which will be located near the college’s wind turbines.

Power generated by the solar farm, which will include about 600 solar panels, will generate clean electrical energy for the college.

Dr. Todd Leif, Division Dean of Science, Math and Technical Programs, said that the initial $50,000 investment made by the college for the solar farm should be made up in 1.35 years.

The college could save as much as $37,000 per year on its electric bill with installation of the solar farm.

Once the grant funding was in place, the college sent out bid invitations to several suppliers for the purchase of the photovoltaic solar panels.

Leif said the college wanted to select the supplier that offered the most energy output for the purchase price allotted in the budget, and that was the bid submitted by Hood Heating at a cost of $1 per DC watt.

“So that is the cheapest energy we can make,” Leif said.

Also during the meeting, the board approved purchasing a new mechanical systems trainer for the Renewable Energy Program from Innovative Education Systems at a cost of $38,945.81.

Leif said with the increased enrollment in the wind energy program and the addition of the solar energy program, the college has increased the size of its mechanical systems classes and another trainer is needed.

The college has received a $25,000 Perkins grant for the purchase of the trainer, and will submit to the Cloud County commission for the remainder to be paid from the Meridian Way Wind Farm Grant funds.

The board approved the purchase of 115 desktop computers from Dell in the amount of $67,388.85 and authorized payment out of the technology fees.

Included in the consent items approved by the board was the retirement of Bruce Graham, Renewable Energy Program chair, effective August 1.

Graham has worked at the college since January 1, 2007 and built the wind energy program.

Michael “Kit” Thompson has been named as the new Renewable Energy Program chair.

Hirings approved by the board include Charles Long, head men’s and women’s soccer coach; Violette Kjeldgaard, English, speech and theatre instructor; Taryn Cipra, TriO Academic Specialist; and Amy Kearn, instructor in visual communications.

Long comes to Cloud County from the University of the Virgin Islands where he was hired to build the  NAIA men’s and women’s soccer programs. He was the head men’s and women’s coach at Garden City Community College from 2013-2017.

Kjeldgaard, Glendale, Calif., was an acting, theatre and voice and dictation instructor at San Bernardino Community College District Education Institution from 2015-2018.

Cipra, Junction City, was instructor and faculty academic advisor at the Cloud County Geary County Campus.

Kearn, Bonita Springs, Fla., was the director of marketing for LW Marketing & Consulting from 2016-2018.

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