By Victor Lopez
ODESSA--Ector County voters showed their overwhelming support for the Odessa College bond. That's money that will bring construction, renovation and demolition all across campus.
With $68.5 million to spend, officials now face the task of taking the next steps. They addressed that issue on Wednesday.
Chief of Staff Tanya Hughes statement was greeted with applause, "I would like to start this press conference with one word, bond!"
Staff, employees, board members and supporters were all on hand in the Saulsbury Conference Center to hear where the $68.5 million proposal goes from here, now that it has voters' blessings.
According to Virginia Chisum, Vice President of Business Affairs, "We've had some rough times, now that the state continues to cut community college funding, even though we know that community colleges are the best way, the most affordable way for the citizens of Texas."
The OC campus hasn't seen any activity of this sort in 35 years. The buildings are old and due to lack of space, college level classes are being taught in portable buildings.
"The kind at the elementary schools. We're teaching college classes in portable buildings. It's time to update this institution, not only for now but for the future," Hughes explained.
The first signs of construction will be seen on campus as early as next Spring. But first comes finalizing the master plan, designing the buildings and getting the architects and contractors.
"We plan to use as many local contractors as possible during all phases of the construction and renovations," Chisum said.
The three year plan includes building new buildings, renovating several and demolishing some all together.
The old gym is among the oldest building on campus. It's also on the list to be demolished. It gets a lot of use, even today.
Board member Bruce Shearer says getting rid of the old to make room for the new is just a way to keep up with modern technology, "Right now, we have 30 and 40 year old classrooms trying to teach 2010 classes. Everything is technology now. We don't have the infrastructure for that technology."
The majority of the construction will be done in the summer months so as to inconvenience the students as little as possible.
The final bond amount was less than what board members originally were hoping to ask for. But in the end, when all is said and done, the improvements to the College will keep OC in competition with everyone else.
"I venture to say, we're going to be one of the top ten colleges in the United States," Shearer added.