Report praises WSCC, YMCA wellness center

A proposed health and wellness center owned by Washington State Community College and run by the Marietta Family YMCA should “meet the health and wellness needs of WSCC and the YMCA for at least the next 20 years,” according to an overview of the project.

Washington State President Bradley Ebersole told the college’s board of trustees Monday that the school applied for 80 percent of the total project cost, which is still being determined, through a state community project funding grant.

“I’m really reticent to build up any false sense of hope, but there’s a sense of excitement about it,” he said. “I think it would be a tremendous asset to the community.”

Ebersole said the opportunity to apply for the state community project funds came about quickly. He got the informal go-ahead from board Chairman Larry Holdren and Vice Chairman Davis Powers last month. An attempt to discuss the project with the full board last week was unsuccessful since only Holdren and one other member were able to attend.

However, Ebersole noted that if the project was selected for funding, a memorandum of understanding would be needed between the college and the Y.

“The details, the hard details of that, would come before the board,” he said.

Board members expressed no objections to the arrangement.

“(A new) Y’s been talked about for 15 years,” trustee John Lehman said after the meeting, adding that he supports the project.

A health and wellness center is included in Washington State’s long-term capital plans, and the Y’s Seventh Street facility is aging and in need of an update or replacement. Y executive director Suzy Zumwalde said it’s too early to say whether the project, if approved, would be that replacement.

“I think everyone agrees that the Y needs to do something,” she said when contacted after the meeting. “It’s an opportunity that we didn’t want to not try.”

Ebersole said he and Zumwalde will be hashing out a strategy for supplying the portion of the project funds not covered by the grant soon.

In other business:

The board voted 6-0, with three members absent, to extend Ebersole’s contract through June 30, 2016. The year was added to make Ebersole eligible for the same 2 percent raise other employees are in line to receive. The president’s current annual salary is $150,000.

The board unanimously approved two one-year certificate programs – Police Officer Basic Academy (P.O.B.A.) and pharmacy technician.

Most of the classes for the P.O.B.A. certificate fall under the associate degree in criminal justice program. But that full degree is not required to get a job as a police officer.

“Primarily, the students that come only want to take P.O.B.A., and that has impacted our completion and retention” statistics, said John Burdette, the college’s public safety academy coordinator.

Adding some English classes to the P.O.B.A. load, makes it a 30-hour program that’s eligible for financial aid. The class meets the students’ demand while helping the college fulfill the completion requirements that figure more prominently into the state funding formula for higher education.

The pharmacy technician program meets a similar need, said Dixie Vaughan, dean of health sciences.

“This just makes all the sense in the world,” Lehman said.