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Breaking ground for education

Veronica Whitney
Special to the DailyThe new campus in Edwards is somewhat of a joint venture between CMC, the Eagle County School District and Eagle County.
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Eleven shovels dug simultaneously into the earth Friday at Berry Creek, where Colorado Mountain College celebrated breaking ground for its new campus in Edwards.

Holding the shovels were college, county and school officials, all partners in the $7 million project.

The college’s groundbreaking for its new Vail/Eagle Valley Campus was celebrated with a morning of coffee and speeches given by the three partners in the Berry Creek project, which includes the new CMC campus, recreational and soccer fields – already built – 282 affordable housing units and a new high school.



“We’re here not only for a groundbreaking, but for the sake of education,” said Peggy Curry, Vail/Eagle Valley campus dean. The new 30,525-square-foot new building, which will consolidate campuses now spread in Vail, Edwards and Eagle, will be ready in August 2004.

“Land is more precious than gold in Colorado, and it has been set apart by the school district and the county for the college. We’re very thankful,” Curry said.



Joint venture

The new campus in Edwards is somewhat of a joint venture between CMC, the Eagle County School District and Eagle County. The county and the district agreed to donate eight acres each for the new campus on the Berry Creek 5th filing in exchange for classes.

“This is living proof of what intergovernmental agreements can do,” said County Commissioner Michael Gallagher. “As we dig a hole this morning, it’s for a building, but this is a beginning of a vision.”



John Brendza, Eagle County School District’s new superintendent, said the new campus will become a role model for the future.

“This is very exciting,” said Brendza, who is replacing the retiring Mel Preusser. “We’ve been looking forward to this opportunity to work together with CMC from kindergarten to college. We’re planning to build a high school across the street. There are a lot of possibilities of cooperation.”

The college could partner with the school district in providing greater access to college level classes to qualified high school juniors and seniors.

Higher education for all

The college originally had $5.5 million budgeted for the building; its board of trustees ultimately authorized $7 million. The college decided to go ahead with the project in spite of cuts of $800,000 in state funding.

“Here today we’re symbolizing what we’re willing to do for people who we don’t even know and will attend these classes,” County Commissioner Arn Menconi said. “We want to make sure that children and adults in this county can have a higher education to make this a better place.”

Ben Stein, 26, of Vail, a full-time student at the college, said the accessibility of the new campus will improve practical, social and academic aspects for the students.

“I can assure you that not having to juggle between three campuses will be a great improvement,” said Stein, who has taken courses in all three of the college’s facilities in Eagle County.

The new campus in Edwards wraps up a 10-year, $50 million facilities program. The project, designed by DPA Architectural Group of Glenwood Springs, will be built by FCI Constructors of Grand Junction.

The exterior of the two-story building is designed with materials and colors that reflect both historical and current design style of the Edwards area.

“This is a monumental moment for us,” said Doris Dewton, CMC trustee for Eagle County. “We’re certain this will be a fully utilized building.

This project is the response to the community needs. We’re listening to you: we’re a community college.”

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.


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