Midland College Branch Asking Pecos County for Help in Funding

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

FORT STOCKTON - The Midland College branch in Fort Stockton in danger of closing their doors. Now they're reaching out to the community so the center can stay afloat.

The Williams Regional Technical Training Center in Pecos County has been around for years but that could change if they don't get the funding they need.

Now the future of that center will be in voters' hands.

"It's just going to be hard for us to maintain our presence as a college in Pecos County without some help from the local taxpayers," Midland College President, Steve Thomas, said.

That's the problem the WRTTC is facing.

The center has been a part of Fort Stockton since 1996 and is run by the city, the county and the school, but recent state budget cuts are affecting everyone.

"We just don't have the money so it's really becoming a matter of what can we afford to do in the future," Thomas said.

Just in the last year, the center created a $500,000 deficit for Midland College.

Now the school is asking the community to give their two cents, literally.

"There is a law that allows us the ability to call an election and if it passes, we can put in a tax that is county wide," Pecos County Judge, Joe Shuster, said.

Now the tax will be on the November ballot.

With nearly 350 students enrolling each semester, President Thomas and Judge Shuster said the center is a huge asset to Fort Stockton.

"It gives our kids and other adults the opportunity to get secondary education at a higher level," Shuster said.

"We're providing workforce training," Thomas said. "We're providing career and technical training. We're providing the kinds of things that local employers need."

The tax can't go any higher than a nickel, but if it doesn't get enough votes, certain programs and even jobs could be cut. Both men hope it doesn't get to that point.

"Education is the key to success," Shuster said. "We look to keep our community as educated as possible."

"It's going to be really a great value and a great return on investment," Thomas said. "I think we can convince the voters that it's the right thing to do."

Thomas said they plan on holding meetings with several of the surrounding communities to let them know more about the tax and how it will help.