GILLETTE — The University of Wyoming last week authorized a $2 million expansion and remodeling of the Watt Agricultural Building at a special board meeting in Gillette.. The building was purchased from Sheridan College with a $5.3 million appropriation from the 2012 Legislature.
According to a UW release, the project will strengthen UW's partnership with Sheridan College, enhance and consolidate UW's program in agriculture and horticulture, and provide a unified site for outreach instruction for UW students in Sheridan. The 17,000 square-foot facility will not be enough to bring together UW's programs of the Outreach School, Agricultural Experiment Station, UW Extension, Student Services and Manufacturing Works in Sheridan. Consequently some new outbuildings will be added.
The acquisition and remodel go along with the University of Wyoming's efforts to strengthen its presence in northern Wyoming. Malone Belton Abel, P.C. of Sheridan will design the renovations and construct the associated outbuildings, which will house UW's agricultural and outreach programs in the northern part of the state.
UW has had a budding relationship with Sheridan College's horticulture program lately, driving the need for new facilities. After students from the college complete their associate's degree, they now have an option to transition to a third year toward a bachelor's degree with credits applicable to UW. After the 2011 Legislature appropriated $350,000 to UW for a facility planning study, Sheridan College officials offered to sell the Watt Agricultural Building — resulting in the $5.3 million appropriation from the 2012 Legislature. The Watt Building is adjacent to Sheridan College's agriculture facilities, so the location will promote collaborations like these between UW and the college on agriculture and horticulture research and education programs.
Another factor in the project is an offer from Whitney Benefits, a nonprofit foundation in Sheridan, to lease the adjacent Adams Ranch, at little or no cost, to Sheridan College, which would then sublease it to UW to support the enhanced educational program. UW plans to integrate the Adams Ranch into its Sheridan Research & Extension Center and curriculum for third-year agricultural students.
The project should be complete by fall 2013.
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