Ag Advancement Center eyed


After positive feedback from an informational meeting in September and a $2,500 donation from last week’s Wine, Food & Spirits Festival, an Ag Advancement Center at Miles Community College is now in the preliminary planning stage.

Agriculture instructor Kimberly Gibbs and MCC Interim President Lisa Watson outlined the plan at Monday’s monthly meeting of the MCC Board of Trustees. A preliminary floor plan from Stevenson Design of Miles City was also unveiled.

“Two plans have been discussed, with one estimated to cost $2.5 million, and a larger one estimated at $3 million,” Watson said. “The larger one is the one we received the most feedback on, just for what the extra space would be able to provide, both educationally and for the community.”

The MCC Ag Advancement Center would be a learning center that would provide an opportunity to increase enrollments in the Agriculture and Equine programs, as well as serve as the epicenter of learning for those students. Currently students do not have a dedicated learning space, and find themselves scattered across the campus.

“We’re at the point now where we’re discussing funding options and fundraising opportunities,” Watson said. “We’ve heard a possible two-year time frame, but I would love for it to be shorter than that, honestly.”

The Ag Advancement Center, if built, would be located at the MCC West End Campus, near the fairgrounds, which currently houses a geothermal greenhouse, stalls, outdoor arena and corrals. The center would include three classrooms, a 100x200-foot arena, bathroom facilities, seating and event services.

Another important element of the center would be as a venue for community events. Watson said the facility would be a regional draw to Miles City, and would benefit the community’s hotels, restaurants, shopping facilities and other services as people travel to the area for different events.

“I think the center would provide programmatic opportunities, not only from just a traditional event standpoint,” she said. “There could be different programs that the college could bring in for the community that they would want, a place to hold non-degree classes open to the public, just different opportunities for classes that are different from traditional classes. And the size would make it a good venue for different groups like 4-H who may need a place to host an event. To manage it for both the community and the college is important.”

Also on the agenda of Monday’s meeting was Watson’s President’s Report, including a tribute to MCC employee Gary Geiger, who passed away Nov. 8. “Services were held Nov. 13 and many employees took time to attend the funeral and support his family,” Watson said. 

“Gary worked at MCC for almost a decade as day custodian, and was getting ready to retire in May 2014. He had made many close friends while working at the college and was an excellent painter. He will be missed.”

In Human Resources, campus visits from the three finalists for MCC’s President are complete and recommendations have been made to the Board of Trustees.

“The board went into executive session Monday night to review the candidates and to determine a front-runner,” Watson said. “The college will be working on making an announcement as soon as one is available. I’m assuming they have a name in mind, and now the negotiations begin.”

Jared Boles, part-time library assistant, resigned effective November 21.