Weatherford Democrat

March 22, 2014

Distributor taps into economic abatement agreement

WC trustees OK partnering with city in economic development deal for company; also tuition increase


Weatherford Democrat

— By SALLY SEXTON

Weatherford College trustees Thursday voted to approve a potential partnership with the City of Weatherford for a new industrial development project.

Trustees gave the go-ahead to approve participation in a partial tax abatement agreement for a new business located on a property located off B.B. Fielder Road in Weatherford. The 40-acre property would be the home of the KEG 1 O’Neal warehousing, according to City of Weatherford Director of Development Dennis Clayton.

“This is about a $12 million project which would create around 100 jobs,” Clayton said.

Board president Frank Martin said the process would create an opportunity for part-time jobs for WC students.

“I believe [KEG 1 representatives] have already met with our career center, and they told us they would consider hiring our drivers as well,” Martin said.

WC President Kevin Eaton said the company had been in talks with the  City of Weatherford since 2008, the year city voters approved the open sale of alcohol.

Trustees voted for a 50 percent tax abatement over a five-year period, which could generate around $5,000 annually for the college.

The Weatherford College board also voted to adopt an increase in tuition fees for the 2014-15 school year.

Last month, Andra Cantrell, vice president of financial and administrative affairs, presented recommendations, including a $4 increase per semester hour for students in-district, a $6 increase for out-of-district students and a $3 increase for out-of-state students. Other increases included $20 per credit hour of associate degree nursing, occupational therapy assistant, physical therapy assistant, radiological technology, respiratory care, diagnostic medical sonography and vocational nursing programs.

“We don’t want to scare off students, but [with the increase] we still cost a third less of a university,” Eaton said

Cantrell added that the majority of students involved were already getting financial aid, which would cover the additional costs.

Trustees heard from Richard Bowers, vice president of instruction and student services, on the possibility of reinstating the Emergency Medical Services Professions program deactivated two years ago by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board due to a low completion rate.

“They have reversed that decision and we have changed the curriculum to meet a 60-hour maximum per semester, as opposed to a former 72 hours,” Bowers told the board. “If students complete their first three semesters, they are issued a certificate. If they complete that fourth semester, they will get their Associate of Applied Science degree.”

He said 15 students are certified but waiting to see if they can obtain the degree.

Differences between being certified and having the degree include potential increases in pay as well as more opportunities for promotions. Bowers said the facilities and faculty are already in place to reactivate the program.

Trustees voted to approve the reinstatement, and the decision will go to the THECB for final approval.

In other action, the board approved an increase in transfer rates to auxiliary funds to offset expenditures related to athletics, student activities and the newspaper/annual.

Trustees approved in increase from 20 cents to $8.15 toward the athletic program and from 25 cents to 30 cents for student activities. The 15-cent rate for the newspaper/annual will remain the same.