speaker at board meeting
Ann Foxworthy Lewellen, former superintendent/president of Allan Hancock College, speaks at Tuesday’s meeting in favor of a November bond measure to complete the fine arts complex. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Voters will have to wait a few more days to see if there will be a bond measure in the November election after the Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees failed to garner enough votes Tuesday night to approve the ballot item.

The board voted 3-1 Tuesday to put the bond measure on the November ballot, with Dan Hilker voting against the proposal.

Because board member Larry Lahr missed Tuesday’s meeting due to illness, the item failed to garner the needed votes for the bond measure to move forward.

After the item failed to pass, President Hilda Zacarias suggested holding a special meeting when Lahr can attend to reconsider the item, getting support from her colleagues.

“And we will do that,” she said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Hancock officials said a special meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday in Building B’s boardroom.

On Tuesday night, Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers said the district would seek a $75 million bond measure, although the true amount would be a net $41 million since the college would cancel $34 million unspent from Measure I.

Funding from the bond measure would allow the college to finish building its fine arts complex along with several other projects.  

The fine arts building has a $10-million gift from Patty Boyd and $24 million in state funding, with the district required to come up the $14 million left for the fine arts building.

The proposed fine arts complex calls for a 68,000-square-foot, two-story building that includes a recital hall, and space to house the college’s art, dance, drama, film, graphics, music, photography, multimedia arts and communication programs. 

Currently, the college’s fine arts department is housed in five buildings in Santa Maria, with many built 50 years ago.

speaker at board meeting

Santa Maria community leader Jim Glines, a supporter of Bulldog athletics programs and facilities, speaks at out in favor of a proposed bond measure for Allan Hancock College this fall. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Walthers said community members polled for support the college and responses appeared to favor the bond measure.

Several supporters of the community college that spans the Santa Maria, Lompoc, Santa Ynez and Cuyama valleys spoke in favor of the bond.

Santa Ynez Valley resident Ann Foxworthy Lewellen, former superintendent/president from 1992 to 2005, said she had not attended the Hancock board meetings since her retirement, until Tuesday.

“So you know I’m here tonight because I think the bond measure is important and I think there’s still work to be done,” she said, speaking specifically about the need for a fine arts complex and upgraded equipment for PCPA to use at the Solvang Festival Theater.

Lompoc Valley businessman Steve Pepe said Hancock College is the only option for many local youth since it’s affordable and close to home. 

He also noted the economic boost provided by Measure I which added the Public Safety Training Center to the Lompoc Valley Center.

“With Kevin Walthers, Allan Hancock has a proven leader and he will be a good steward of the bond 2018 funds. I urge you to vote to place the bond issue on the November ballot to provide funding for the continued improvement of the college,” Pepe said. 

Santa Maria resident Jim Glines said athletic facilities on the campus also need improvements, recalling the campus lost out on hosting a playoff game due to inadequate facilities. 

“This bond issue will help us address those problems that I believe have been overlooked for too long,” Glines said. 

Lee-Volker Cox, incoming president for the Allan Hancock College Foundation, noted Measure I, which was passed in 2006, transformed Hancock College’s Santa Maria and Lompoc campuses.

“To create an exceptional learning environment, tuition must be affordable and facilities must meet the need of today’s and tomorrow’s students and local employers who will be employing those students,” Cox said. 

He urged the board to be visionaries, adding students needed modern facilities that provide life-changing skills and education.

“The future of the Central Coast and northern Santa Barbara County are depending on them and they are depending on you,” he added. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.