The ENMU-Ruidoso Advisory Board is asking voters in Ruidoso and Ruidoso Downs to authorize up to $3 million in general obligation bonds for renovating the college’s existing facility at 709 Mechem Dr., expanding the building’s capacity for new workforce degree and certificate programs as requested by local residents.In July, the Advisory Board affirmed its decision to move forward with a bond referendum after hearing from its Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) composed of area residents, employers, and government officials.
Formed at the request of college President Dr. D. Ryan Carstens, the CAC had met with college officials throughout the summer to review the college’s current academic and physical plant situation and review the college’s proposed plans for the future.
The CAC gave the college a unanimous ‘Yes’ and encouraged the board to proceed with plans for a bond referendum on Nov. 5.
“The key to economic development and a strong economy is a strong workforce,” a spokesperson for the CAC told the board. “The economy in Lincoln County is growing and community members and businesses are saying a skilled workforce is critical if they are going to grow or expand.”
The bond, if passed, will provide ENMU-Ruidoso with the classrooms and equipment required to provide specific training and program certificates that address the skilled workforce needs the community is calling for.
ENMU-Ruidoso has never before sought a bond referendum to renovate its educational facilities located at 709 Mechem Dr. Previous renovations were accomplished with state and local funds. However, in 2018, the New Mexico higher education capital outlay committee advised the college to seek funds from local voters before requesting more state funds for growth.
Using state and local funds, the college is now renovating the adjacent building at 729 Mechem Dr. with new classrooms and technology.
Then, if voters in Ruidoso and Ruidoso Downs approve the bond request on Nov. 5, the college will sell bonds to revitalize its older existing facility into a dynamic workforce center that will include synergetic space for the New Mexico Workforce Connections Center and classrooms designed for specific industry and workforce programs.
According to the college’s Academic Plan, new programs include hotel, restaurant and tourism, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and culinary arts.
Such programs grow the trade-sector industry base, provide job opportunities for local residents, and provide skilled workers needed for existing and future businesses.
“These are important factors in attracting new businesses and creating new jobs here,” the CAC said. “The Citizens Advisory Committee believes that, if implemented, these plans will make ENMU-Ruidoso a cornerstone of economic vitality for growing the community.
“An investment in workforce programs and services will bring a range of returns (monetary and non-monetary) that benefit both the person investing in the education and the community,” the citizens’ group noted. “And keeping more local students in the community for their education increases the likelihood these students will become our future business owners, managers, leaders and elected officials.”
The CAC recommendation to support the referendum was unanimous. One member abstained. Members included Dr. George Bickert, Zach Cook, Lynn Crawford, Tim Dodge, Dallas Draper, Jason Edmister, Clara Farah, Darren Hooker, Tim Keithley, Debi Lee, Judy Miller, Jimmy Romero, and Cody Thetford.
According to Dr. Carstens, if approved by voters on Nov. 5, the maximum tax impact for the owner of a home valued for taxes at $150,000 would be about $5 per month.
Along with workforce programs, these renovations will provide:
• Space for workforce readiness training for dual credit students
• Computer and learning labs
• Seminar-style technology classrooms that allow students to pursue advanced degrees at other universities without leaving the community
• Food court, spaces for student gathering, study, and activities.
• Expanded space for college, community, and arts events
• Expanded capacity to train more nurses, first responders, and local trades workers
• Facilities that encourage local students to remain “home” to continue their education
For the exact wording of General Bond Question (as it will appear on the ballot) and more information, visit the Higher Elevations FAQ page