It's budget time for Delta County Economic Development's public partners, and time for appeals to the school district and municipalities within Delta County to maintain their contributions to the economic development group in 2013.
As the largest employer in Delta County, the school district has a big stake in the county's economic future, board member Tom Huerkamp stressed at a recent school board meeting.
In addition, DCED has made it a priority to enhance Delta-Montrose Technical College, which is operated by the school district.
Currently enrollment at DMTC is just slightly above the 2011-2012 mark of 343 full-time equivalents (FTEs).
"We want to make it a destination school," Huerkamp said. Associate degrees are one possibility; housing is another, particularly if the U.S. Forest Service gets the go-ahead to build a new supervisor's office on property adjacent to the technical college. The Forest Service needs law enforcement officers and it needs diesel mechanics, training which can be provided by the technical college.
Huerkamp also discussed a soils health grant DCED is administering. If an application to expand that grant is successful, individuals will be needed to monitor soil health and gather data.
Technical college director John Jones said that will give DMTC the opportunity to revitalize the school's horticulture program. Classes previously focused on landscaping, an industry that died along with construction in 2008-09. But DMTC still has authorization to offer those types of classes, and Sheryl Williams, program coordinator, is still with DMTC although she is currently working in a different role.
With that foundation and a slight change in focus, DMTC could offer soils and plant science classes. The students could help implement the soils health grant while gaining credits to be used either to obtain a bachelor's degree at CMU or CSU, or to land a job in the growing fields of organic farming and sustainable agriculture.
DMTC shares DCED's goal of bringing in students from outside the area, and of one day providing housing for those students. If the soils health grant is expanded and the U.S. Forest Service moves forward with construction, DMTC could see movement accelerate in that direction.
"We're very excited about the partnership with DCED," Jones said. "Schools like ours are oftentimes part of an economic engine. We are a training facility as well as an educational institution so it makes sense to be connected with an economic development group."
Superintendent Caryn Gibson is currently filling Mike McMillan's unexpired term on the DCED board, and the school district has budgeted a $2,500 contribution, with another $2,500 earmarked as stimulus.blog comments powered by Disqus