By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
County commissioners have joined other local governing entities in supporting concerns over a proposed merger between Dodge City Community College and Fort Hays State University.
Monday, the commission approved sending a letter to Governor Sam Brownback regarding the merger.
Commissioner Jim Rice, who made the motion to approve the letter, said officials with both DCCC and FHSU needed to have more involvement from locals, including leaders from Seward County Community College/Area Technical School, when putting the wheels in motion on the merger.
“It kind of disturbs me that they made all these big plans up there and never considered what would happen to the college here,” he said. “They never did come out here and work with (SCCC/ATS President) Dr. (Duane) Dunn.”
Rice said he heard from a Ford County commissioner last week who seemed a little concerned about who may end up paying for the merger in the long run.
“He was kind of concerned that Ford County might end up paying for it,” he said.
Rice said he had no problem with the letter.
“I think we send it, and I think we also need to submit it to the Ford County commissioners,” he said.
The commission voted 4-0, with C.J. Wettstein absent, to send a copy of the letter to Brownback and the Ford County Commission.
The primary concern addressed in the letter was that a technical institute created by the merger would have a detrimental impact on not only SCCC/ATS, but also local industry and economic vitality.
The letter also suggested a vetting take place between the college’s board of trustees and members of both the Kansas Board of Regents and the Kansas Postsecondary Technical Education Authority.
The vetting, according to the letter, would likewise include a tour of the Liberal community and the SCCC/ATS campus.
“We believe it is important that members of the Board of Regents and other public policy leaders visit our community and the college to realize the investments already in place for technical education, obtain data related to employer engagement and industry training initiatives and the involvement of industry in the development of curriculum and partnerships which strengthen our communities,” the letter read.