WEST JEFFERSON — The West Jefferson Board of Aldermen committed $50,000 to the the planned expansion of the Wilkes Community College Ashe Campus at its June 3 meeting.
The aldermen were first approached by the college at their May 6 meeting, opting to table a decision until they had figured out their upcoming fiscal year budget.
Mayor Dale Baldwin was open to the idea, noting the amount of money was insignificant to the total cost of the project, but saying it sends a positive message of support.
Unlike Baldwin, Alderman Calvin Green was vocally opposed to the contribution, saying $50,000 isn’t much money to the college, but it is a hefty sum to the town.
“I just don’t think our citizens need to be paying for that,” Green said.
Green pointed to the $7.4 million WCC received from the Ashe County Board of Commissioners, saying that since the town and its people pay county taxes, they’ve already donated enough. He added it would make more sense for GE to donate since they benefit more from the college than the town does.
Alderman Stephen Shoemaker was in-favor of the commitment, agreeing with the message it would send.
“I think it’s as much about showing good faith to that college and it’s going to grow and benefit everybody,” Shoemaker said. “It’s a good deal. We got all of our high school students over there and we support them. I respect Calvin’s viewpoint wholeheartedly, but I just think everything we can do for education, and to support these kids, I’m for it.”
Green still didn’t budge, saying it could open the door for more schools receiving county funds to come to the town for a donation while sticking to the idea of paying the college twice.
“We pay county taxes, we’ve already paid our share. I’m not asking some little 60-year-old man who lives up here, who already pays us $300 a year and pays the county $300 a year, for something like this. Not me,” Green said.
Ultimately, Green was out-voted 3-1 and the town agreed to make the donation. The plan is for the donation to be made during the next three years.