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CWC details need for better Jackson setup

Jan 8, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Nursing and culinary arts facilities both fall short at the satellite campus.

The Central Wyoming College Board of Trustees has approved a master plan amendment outlining the need for more facilities at CWC's Jackson campus.

During the meeting, board members heard from faculty members who talked about the current state of instruction at the outreach center, which uses space in the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts.

That facility was not designed with nursing instruction in mind, according to CWC director of nursing Kathy Wells, who described the science lab situation in Jackson as "dismal."

"We borrow space from (Jackson Hole) High School, which means we're excluded from offering any science classes until after the high school schedule has been completed," Wells said.

"We basically have zero control over that schedule. ... We're holding (students) up on completing their degree because we can't offer the courses they need in the sequence they need."

The master plan addendum includes specifications for science-based instructional space that would be owned and controlled by CWC.

Culinary arts

Organizers of CWC's culinary arts program also have struggled to find workable teaching space in Jackson. For five years, students used the kitchen at the local Four Seasons Resort, but culinary and hospitality director Amy Madera said that partnership was discontinued because of a change in leadership at the business.

"We were asked to look for other opportunities," Madera said. "We weren't bringing enough to the table. As much as I tried, it wasn't mutual."

She said Four Seasons managers worried about liability issues related to student workers, many of whom brought backpacks to class or failed to wear the "proper uniform."

"Some students might have an earring, and that was unacceptable to employees," Madera said. "Now we're at the Elks Lodge."

Though she would like to keep working at the Four Seasons, Madera said the space there wasn't ideal for the culinary arts program.

"It looked great on paper, but they were closed for (part) of the semester," Madera said. "And students never saw the service the Four Seasons provides. We were invited to go in through the loading dock to the kitchen, not to see public spaces. We were exclusively in the back of the house."

CWC president Jo Anne McFarland said the Elks area does not qualify as a commercial teaching kitchen, either.

"The Elks Lodge was very kind to allow us to be there, but when all the students spent several hours making wonderful cakes, they fell because the oven simply doesn't work," McFarland said. "Those are pretty major problems in that field."

She appreciates the generosity of Jackson's kitchen community, but McFarland said the college needs its own teaching space for culinary students.

"We now have a culinary arts program on the springboard to really, really great things," McFarland said. "I really think that we've come of age, and it's time really for us to have the appropriate space."

Plans for student housing also are part of the amendment, which was created with input from Jackson-area community leaders, business owners and educators as well as CWC faculty and staff. The cost for construction could reach $9.5 million for academic programs and $3.5 million for housing.

The amendment will double as a level-one planning study or "statement of needs" that can be used as the basis for level-two funding from the state. Level-two money would be used to further develop the plan in preparation for level three, when full design and construction could take place. Administrators will continue looking at options for land acquisition, with the potential for partnerships with private or government entities in Teton County.

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