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NWC officials clarify scope of carillon project

Although Northwest College leaders approved a plan to spend up to $280,000 to rehabilitate the carillon, the work ‘won’t cost that much,’ says NWC President Stefani Hicswa. The project would also include improvements to the mall around the tower. Although Northwest College leaders approved a plan to spend up to $280,000 to rehabilitate the carillon, the work ‘won’t cost that much,’ says NWC President Stefani Hicswa. The project would also include improvements to the mall around the tower. Tribune photo by Don Cogger

Funding includes work on the mall, surrounding area

Northwest College officials are clarifying the details of a maintenance project that had the community buzzing.

At last month’s meeting of NWC’s board of trustees, trustees Dusty Spomer and Bob Newsome expressed concern about the dollar amount attached to a project to fix up the college’s iconic carillon tower. Among the college’s major maintenance list of 11 projects submitted for state funding, the State of Wyoming approved $280,000 to make repairs to the tower — in addition to $60,000 already approved to evaluate the engineering deficiencies of the 30-year-old tower.

However, college leaders clarified at last week’s board meeting that the money would be spent on more than just the tower itself — and said they expect to spend less than the amount that’s been approved.

NWC President Stefani Hicswa said the college will get better cost estimates as the process goes through.

“It’s important for the board to know that [$280,000] was what was approved by the state to spend up to. As we’ve discovered since the last meeting, this project is likely to come under that total amount,” Hicswa explained to trustees last week. “And also, in looking at what that total amount included, it did include [work] on the mall area as well, so that [work] to the sidewalks and the landscaping helps explain that total dollar amount.”

VP of Administrative Services and Finance Lisa Watson told the Tribune that the engineering report has yet to be completed. In an email, Watson said the point of the initial $60,000 project was to allow up to $20,000 for full engineering and design work and up to $40,000 for structural rehabilitation.

“The scope of the project still needs to be evaluated in order to determine the condition of the electronics, surrounding irrigation and concrete pavers,” Watson explained. “Additionally, potential improvements to the mall (settling bricks, cracked pavement, cracked planters, lighting and irrigation/sprinkling relocation) were considered as it relates to the original $280,000 estimate. I think this is where some of the confusion lies. An actual engineering/architectural cost estimate for the complete replacement of the carillon has not been procured.”

In a later interview, Hicswa said the funding OK’d by the state was meant to cover the “worst-case scenario” and predicted that the work on the carillon “won’t cost that much.”

“We’re looking at ways to reduce costs,” she said. “The cost also included the mall improvements, so I think that is key to help the public understand.”

Money left over once the project is completed will be given back to the state or applied to other major maintenance projects, depending on if any of those projects go over budget.

“We would just have to make a request from the state for permission to use any leftover funds, should that be the case,” Hicswa said.

As for the criticism the college has received since last month’s meeting regarding the project, Hicswa said she understands where it comes from, and hopes the update will add a little perspective to the project.

“The criticism we’ve heard is if we’re going to be wasting money on the tower, we shouldn’t be fundraising for these big building projects,” she said, referring to a possible new student center and renovated performing arts building. “That’s fair; we knew that was coming. Hopefully the scope of the project is a little more clear.”

NWC Board of Trustees member Luke Anderson, chair of the college’s facilities committee, gave an update on upcoming maintenance projects at last week’s board meeting.

Beyond the carillon, the board discussed proposed work on Cody Hall, dirt work and landscaping work at Ashley Hall and other projects that fall under the category of major maintenance.

“We have a pretty good idea going forward, and I think by the next board meeting we should have some recommendations for the board,” Anderson told the trustees.

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