Western Technical College has a new asset to attract students to its Sparta campus.
The Monroe County Board of Supervisors voted Aug. 24 to sell the Angelo Dam to WTC for $1.
WTC plans to build a hydro-electric plant at the dam, which will power the Sparta WTC campus.
"It's part of the Vision 2020 plan to invest in energy, energy efficiency and energy management in a different way," said WTC President Lee Rasch.
"There are three other higher educational institutions in the country that we are aware of that own a dam," he added. "So we really feel we have a very unique position in providing education and training using this partnership."
Rasch said owning the dam would allow the college to give its students an opportunity to practice what they are being taught.
"What we are doing is creating the work experience opportunities that we think are going to make our graduates far more marketable," Rasch said.
Supervisor Brian Buswell was completely for the dam being sold to WTC.
"We're going to have all the recreational benefits and none of the responsibility," he said. Buswell said the dam currently costs the county $2,000 a year to maintain, but would start costing more in the near future.
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"There is going to be further maintenance in the coming years, and that number is going to be rising up to $8,000 to $9,000," Buswell said.
"Sometime down the road, that dam is going to need major renovations," he added.
Major repairs done to the dam in 1998 cost the county approximately $750,000.
WTC estimated that future repairs to the dam would cost between $2 to $3 million.
Buswell's enthusiasm for selling the dam was met with some concern and opposition.
Supervisor Larry McTaggart pointed out the $90,000 in revenue that WTC would be making each year owning the dam.
Buswell said he didn't think it was right for the county to take any money away from WTC in the sale. He said that it would just be taking money away from education.
"Quite frankly, I hope WTC makes a ton of money so they can invest it in their community," Buswell said.
Other county board supervisors were concerned that the county would still be liable if something went wrong with the dam.
"Personally I'm all for getting rid of the dam," said Supervisor Bob Retzlaff.
However, Retzlaff wanted to make sure that any issues regarding the dam would not come back to Monroe County following the sale.
"I don't want to see this reverting back to us," he said. "I want to make sure when this is gone, this is gone."
Supervisor Christopher King stated that he couldn't see how the county would be held responsible for issues regarding the dam.
"I don't see how the county could be more subject to liability for something that it no longer owns," King said.
"I really think that WTC coming forward for Monroe County is really a gift from God," Buswell said. "It's clearly in the best interest of Monroe County, in our children and for them, WTC, (to sell)."
The board voted 16-6 to sell the dam to WTC at which point Chairman Rick Irwin told Rasch and WTC Vice President of Finance and Operations Michael Pieper "Gentlemen, you have a dam."