College Likely To Acquire Buildings

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Gila Community College will likely take ownership of its buildings soon, but the board tabled the measure Friday to ensure all liabilities are covered.

“We’re taking on a tremendous liability and I’m prepared to do that,” said board member Larry Stephenson. However, he advocated a systematic approach as opposed to a “knee jerk reaction” emanating from the county’s urging the college to take its buildings.

As GCC works toward gaining full accreditation, owning its buildings will give the school legitimacy, officials say. The college is also seeking stimulus funds to build two lecture halls, one each for Globe and Payson, and a nursing facility for Payson. The land needs to be in GCC’s name to build on it, officials said.

The county owns GCC’s buildings, and it has paid for the insurance through a multi-county pool. However, college officials said Friday that the county doesn’t want the responsibility anymore.

Originally, the college wasn’t sure it could afford to insure the buildings. However, GCC’s dean discovered that the school’s contract with Eastern Arizona College also accounts for insurance.

“During this period, we were double covered,” said board member Bob Ashford.

Senior Dean Stephen Cullen said that the school will likely be able to afford insurance in a few years when full-accreditation becomes possible.

Because Gila County’s population and assessed property valuations fall below state-set thresholds, it is not permitted to run its own college. GCC operates under the auspices of EAC. The board wanted to ensure that the insurance covered “slip and fall” injuries as well as building issues.

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