Community college overwhelmingly passes, bonds and other requests see mixed results

591be39dccefa.imageBy Kendra Evensen, kevensen@journalnet.com

Eastern Idaho will be getting a community college thanks to voters in Bonneville County.

They overwhelmingly approved the college with a vote of 10,213 for and only 4,086 against on Tuesday. The measure needed a super-majority to pass, which it earned with a 71.42 percent approval rate.

The decision will pave the way to converting Eastern Idaho Technical College into a community college. The Idaho Legislature has already pledged $5 million to help with start-up costs.

The community college issue has drawn both support and criticisms in recent months.

Opponents have argued that there are already plenty of educational opportunities in East Idaho with Idaho State University, Brigham Young University-Idaho, Eastern Idaho Technical College and other programs available. They also voiced concerns that the community college would lead to increased taxes and more government.

But supporters have said the community college will strengthen the economy, help local people get an education at a lower tuition cost, and fill a need in the market for more educated and skilled workers.

Idaho State University released the following statement following the election on Tuesday night:

“Idaho State University acknowledges the importance of postsecondary education in Idaho Falls, and we look forward to closely collaborating with the new community college to jointly advance higher education opportunities. ISU will continue to serve the community of Idaho Falls through our existing campus and the future polytechnic institute.”

Bond elections throughout East Idaho saw mixed results on Tuesday night, with two passing and one failing.

Voters approved Power County Hospital District’s request for a $14.95 million bond on Tuesday. Seventy percent of voters (774) supported the request while only 30 percent (335) voted against it.

The bond will allow the hospital district to construct more patient and resident rooms, support areas, administrative space and a physical therapy building. It will also allow for other interior and exterior improvements.

Voters also approved Soda Springs School District’s request for a $6.5 million bond to upgrade Tigert Middle School. There were 537 votes cast in favor of the bond and only 216 cast against it.

Blackfoot’s request for a $5 million bond to renovate the local indoor swimming pool narrowly failed on Tuesday. While 572 people voted for the changes and only 311 voted against them, the request failed to garner the required supermajority it needed to pass.

Only 64.78 percent voted for the bond; it needed 66.67 percent.

In another vote in Bingham County, voters chose to keep Atomic City a city.

Atomic City sought to disincorporate for financial reasons. However, 14 people voted against the change and only 10 voted for it.