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Two Yavapai College officials said they would be happy to meet with the Sedona Red Rock News to discuss our readers’ concerns but have yet to follow through with that pledge.Yavapai College

The League of Women Voters Greater Verde Valley hosted a forum on Thursday, March 20, with Yavapai College Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services Clint Ewell and District Governing Board Spokesman Herald Harrington.

We sent reporter Corwin Gibson to cover the event. I joined him to see what Yavapai College had to offer in defense of its plan to spend $103 million on capital improvements in Prescott and Prescott Valley while giving the Verde Valley just over $2 million over the next 10 years, despite the fact Verde Valley taxpayers contribute about $12.2 million per year in property taxes.

The packed room included numerous community leaders and current and former instructors at the college. Sedona Mayor Rob Adams and City Councilwomen Barbara Litrell and Jessica Williamson all asked questions challenging the college’s 10-year plan.

I hoped that as the head of finance, Ewell could illuminate how Sedona taxpayers were getting a return on our contribution. I was hoping for line-by-line lists of expenditures to demonstrate that the Sedona and Clarkdale campuses were receiving some portion of what we taxpayers give the college.

Alas, the presentation lacked any hard numbers. However, while the college will be closing the Sedona Film School and moving many programs to Prescott, the Clarkdale campus will be getting a new greenhouse for an as-yet non-existent agricultural program. The Clarkdale campus also gets two new parking lots, perfect for all the Verde Valley students who won’t use them because they’ll have to drive over to Prescott for classes.

Harrington said the reason the Sedona Center for Arts and Technology is on the chopping block to be sold is due to property issues. The college owns the building and 5 feet around it, but does not own the parking lot students use, nor does it have complete legal access to State Route 89A.

Now, that is a legitimate concern. The property map of the site places the college’s building in an island surrounded by another owner’s land. Harrington said the college was in negotiation with the property owner about a possible land swap to justify continued use of the property. If negotiations fail, Harrington said the college will sell the building.

Don’t hold your breath. The land is owned by the same firm that holds the defunct and dilapidated Sedona Cultural Park, in escrow now for 10 years.

Toward the end of the questioning, the forum’s moderator asked college officials if they would be willing to meet with  the Sedona Red Rock News. Harrington and Ewell both said they would be happy to meet with the newspaper.

Then LWV member Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer handed the microphone to me in the audience. I stood and asked any representative from Yavapai College, including College President Penny Wills, who was in the audience, to meet with me and my editorial staff to discuss the finances and enrollment numbers with hard data. After the meeting, I spoke with Ewell and he gave me his word that he would set up a meeting soon.

As of Tuesday, March 25, no college official has called nor emailed to set up a meeting.

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