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Colleges in mix

WILLMAR -- The prospects for a bonding are unclear at best, but about half of Gov. Mark Dayton's plan would fund projects at state-run colleges and universities -- including a major project at Ridgewater College.

The governor's plan includes $14.3 million to complete the second phase of a capital improvement project. Funding for the first phase was approved in the 2008 bonding bill, but former Gov. Tim Pawlenty used his line-item veto a year ago to remove funding for the second phase.

The expansion, demolition and remodeling project would improve facilities for the campus's agriculture and veterinary technology programs. Ridgewater has the largest two-year agriculture program in the state.

The project was also intended to give the campus a more cohesive layout.

The Willmar campus used to have two separate schools, a community college and a technical college. They were merged in the 1990s, but there is still some duplicated space.

In the second phase the college will renovate space, redesign the student services area and create a new campus entrance with a reconfigured drive and parking lot. The second phase also includes demolition of buildings that are old or in poor condition.

In all, the college plans to demolish 23,000 square feet of outdated buildings; remodel 77,000 square feet of existing space; and build 9,500 square feet of new facilities.

The project would leave the campus with fewer square feet of space but a more efficient layout.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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