Casper Equine facility sees movement
Casper – During an April 17 meeting of the Casper College Board of Trustees, Trustee Susan Miller provided an update on Casper College’s Ranch facility, noting that funding was appropriated by the 64th Wyoming Legislature to begin work on an Ag and Equine Center at The Ranch Campus.
Chris Lorenzen, Casper College communications director, summarized, “Trustee Miller gave a very general description of the progress at The Ranch during the meeting.”
“Trustee Miller said they have made the decision to move forward with the Equine Practice Arena, and the Board is working with the state to make sure all of their questions are answered,” Lorenzen said. “Trustee Miller expressed that Casper College and the Board of Trustees are very appreciative of the Wyoming Legislature for their support.”
In HB 194, the 64th Legislature of the State of Wyoming allocated funding for the Casper College Ag and Equine Center. The capital construction funding bill appropriated a total of $4 million for the facility, $2 million of which comes from the general fund and $2 million to be matched by Casper College.
Heath Hornecker, Casper College Agriculture Department head, commented, “The Legislature is going to give us $750,000 toward that match based on the purchase of The Ranch facility, so the college has to match an additional $1.25 million.”
Footnoted in the bill was a requirement stating other funds must be expended in their entirety before money can be provided by the General Fund.
An additional footnote in the bill requires the construction of the Ag and Equine Center be completed before construction can begin in Casper College’s Visual Arts building.
Lorenzen added, “Once again, the Trustees and Casper College are so appreciative of the Legislature for their support with this project.”
Casper Legislators Tom Walters, Bill Landen and Drew Perkins, among others, were instrumental in securing funding for the facility, commented Hornecker.
“An Ag and Equine Center at The Ranch provides a two-fold benefit,” according to Hornecker.
First, he cited benefit for the rodeo team, while also providing for student safety.
Currently, the rodeo team practices at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds, which means they have to haul rodeo stock to and from the facility each day. An arena at the Ranch would decrease the number of miles students and faculty put on transporting livestock, decreasing the chance for an accident.
“The arena would save students from having to travel so much for practice,” Hornecker commented. “Everything would be right there.”
Kelly Burch, retired Casper College professor, added that such a facility will increase recruiting ability as it relates to rodeo.
“Casper College has simply not kept pace with the competition in terms of facilities,” he said. “Despite the fact that Casper College resides smack dab in the middle of the Cowboy State where rodeo is the designated sport, Casper College still remains the only institution in the Central Rocky Mountain Region without their own indoor practice facilities.”
Burch further noted, as a result of the state of facilities, recruiting has become particularly challenging. When young cowboys and cowgirls are deciding where to go to school, the facilities available often become the deciding factor.
Additionally, Hornecker noted that the facility may provide additional opportunity for coursework within the ag department.
“We may be able to expand our class offerings and supplement our already existing arena,” he said. “The addition of the Ag and Equine Center is needed and provides opportunities for Casper College.”
Looking forward on the completion of an Ag and Equine Center at Casper College’s Ranch, stakeholders have been told that the college will begin the process to obtain a Conditional Use Permit for The Ranch with Natrona County in May.
Additionally, current plans are to complete construction on the Ag and Equine Center by fall of 2019.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.