by Victor Lopez
BIG SPRING--The last big bond to pass in Big Spring was 20 years ago which was $9 million for street repairs. On Thursday, with renovation and construction projects going on all over town, officials are spending a lot more than that.
"We're excited about what is happening and what's in the future for our community. It's been a busy end of 2008 and a very busy beginning for 2009. A lot of these projects will be wrapping up this year," Assistant City Manager, Todd Darden, said.
The renovation of the Settles Hotel is coming along. The hopes are to have it ready for its 80th anniversary in 2010. According to Darden, there's more to it than that, "We feel like it will spur others that own property in the downtown area to revitalize their property."
One of the largest bonds approved by voters was for renovations and construction on the Howard College campus. School officials say the work being done will add to the atmosphere, to not only keep current students on campus, but bring new students in, as well.
"I think the improvements we're making on campus will change the look and feel of the campus and I believe that will help recruitment and will help retention," Howard College Executive Vice President, Terry Hansen, said.
The almost $22 million bond will bring much needed upgrades all across the Howard College campus, the most important being sewer and water lines and the student union building, which houses the kitchen and cafeteria. Hensen says they're trying to reach a balance between infrastructure and cosmetic repairs, "There will be some things that you can see, as far as the improvements to the campus. But, we're spending a lot of money in areas that you won't see."
Not all the projects were approved by voters. Some were unexepected, like Kid'sZone. It was torched by vandals late last year. Now, it's 95% complete and open to the public.
Regardless of why they're being done, city officials say these changes are setting the course for the future of Big Spring, "This is going to get us by for the next 25 - 30 years," Darden said.
According to Hansen, the same holds true for Howard College, "We're trying to lay a foundation to improve and establish a base that this campus can grow on for the next 30-40 years."