Good news abounded at last week's Cherokee Western Iowa Tech Community College's semi-annual Advisory Board meeting when WITCC President Dr. Bob Dunker acknowledged that the college's proposed Wind Energy Program and wind turbine would be located in Cherokee.
A major thrust by a special local wind energy committee - Cherokee Wind, LLC - led by Mark Buschkamp, Director of the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) and the Cherokee Industrial Corporation (CIC); WITCC; and Darla Struck, Director of the Cherokee WITCC Campus and Northern Service Area, the Wind Energy Program and planned erection of a functioning wind turbine in Cherokee has steadily been gaining ground as options and avenues are explored and pursued by Buschkamp and the local committee.
Dr. Dunker told Advisory Board members last week that the Wind Energy Program and turbine were approved for Cherokee on a unanimous vote of the WITCC Board of Directors.
"We'll move the Wind Program and lab to Cherokee when the turbine is built," said Dunker.
Buschkamp outlined the progress to date by Cherokee Wind, LLC, citing the community support being rallied on a regular basis, the possible sites for the turbine being evaluated, and that the turbine would not only serve as a work station/lab for students, but would also serve to provide electrical power for the WITCC campus and/or other facilities.
Buschkamp said the committee is reaching out for and exploring any and all possible state or federal grants or special funding concerning renewable energy projects, and will continue to do so.
If the entire project comes to fruition, a WInd Energy Program laboratory would be constructed on the Cherokee WITCC campus, and housing would have to be determined for the influx of students.
Dunker reiterated WITCC's mission by telling the Board that the college's focus "Is providing quality education and to enhance the communities we serve and evolve into a regional attraction. People come to college because they have a dream and we want to make those dreams materialize."
Dr. Terry Murrell, WITCC Executive Vice President, also addressed the Advisory Board, sharing information on the many new programs the college has begun. Murrell said the programs are being well-received by students and asked the Board members for their suggestions for future programs WITCC might offer.
Janet Gill, WITCC Dean of Enrollment, informed the Board of the record school enrollment at WITCC in Sioux City this school year, numbers increased by 10 percent over the previous record. Gill also lauded the Cherokee Campus for its 30-percent enrollment hike over last year, and WITCC's 14-percent hike in credit hours.
Darla Struck, Director of the Cherokee Campus and Northern Services Area, advised the Board on the recent installation of the weather station on campus that allows the college to monitor the weather 24-7 with state of the art instrumentation. She also spoke of the recent Student Support Services Grant in Cherokee, and the college's GED services.
Dunker explained that the new weather station also serves as a precursor to establishing the wind energy program and wind turbine here.
Dunker told the Board that WITCC is also beginning to become aware of and focusing on the many opportunities for grant programs now existing for National Endowment For The Arts, some of which would lend themselves quite well to the WITCC Conference Center in Cherokee, and the college's new Performance Arts Center in Sioux City.