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The new Gila County Community College is inching closer to an agreement with another community college district. Such an agreement will re-open the doors of the Payson and Globe campuses and the Hayden/Winkelman and San Carlos education centers.

"We are closer and closer every day to an agreement," Gila County Provost Barbara Ganz said. While she declined to identify the front-runner she said, "one district has put an enormous amount of time and work into helping us do this."

Ganz expects a final decision to be made, ratified and announced sometime this month, and reiterated her confidence that a fall semester will still happen, although probably later than normal.

"It most likely will not start until after Labor Day," she said.

In the meantime, she urged people with questions or concerns to call the Payson campus at 468-8039 or go to the district's new website at www.gilaccc.org.

"The reason people couldn't find us is that (Eastern Arizona College) turned off all the phones and would not allow a message on the old EAC number to be forwarded to the new number," Ganz said.

Negotiations with the community college districts in contention reported to be Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties are being conducted by a four-member committee headed by Ganz. Other members of her committee are Steve Besich, county administrator; John Nelson, county finance director; and Lionel "Marty" Martinez, assistant to Supervisor Ron Christensen.

Gila County parted ways with EAC in July when the board of supervisors voted unanimously not to approve a new one-year contract. Gila County had been contracting with EAC, which is located in Graham County, to operate the Payson and Globe campuses because it does not meet state requirements to form a regular community college district of its own. The county has title to both campuses.

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