The following editorial about the value of Colorado Mountain College’s new academic center to the community of Steamboat Springs appeared in last weekend’s Steamboat Pilot.

Thursday’s grand opening of Colorado Mountain College’s spectacular new academic center overlooking Steamboat Springs is an achievement that stands to benefit the community for decades to come.

The 60,000-square-foot building with an $18 million price tag is a crowning accomplishment for a CMC system that has aggressively expanded its reach in the past two years. Last year’s introduction of new four-year degree programs in business administration and sustainability studies gave students a low-cost option for earning bachelor’s degrees at a college that traditionally could award only associate degrees.

The college also has forged and grown powerful relationships with local public school districts that allow high schoolers to concurrently earn transferable college credits while completing their high school diploma requirements.

But perhaps nothing speaks to CMC’s growth as a viable post-secondary option than its new facility off Bob Adams Drive in downtown Steamboat. Thursday’s celebration took place 50 years after Lucile Bogue founded Yampa Valley College, the predecessor of CMC’s Alpine Campus in Steamboat.

Bogue, who died in 2005, surely would be proud of the progress represented by CMC’s state-of-the-art academic center, which features a 290-seat auditorium, a fitness center, a business enterprise center, classrooms, offices and a dining hall with panoramic views of Mount Werner and Emerald Mountain.

Although it was completed on time, the building process wasn’t without hurdles. CMC and city of Steamboat Springs officials struggled to agree on the location of a secondary access road to the college and whether the college would remain subject to the provisions of an intergovernmental agreement dating to 1997. And when the two sides finally settled on the Crawford Avenue spur, it upset nearby homeowners whose properties would be impacted by the new road. The resulting project also forced the realignment of 12th Street.

All that seemed forgotten Thursday, when CMC dignitaries, original Yampa Valley College alumni and other distinguished guests celebrated a new chapter in the life of the “Miracle on the Mountain,” as Bogue called the college in her book of the same name. It took significant fundraising efforts — some of which are ongoing — to help complete the new building, and many local organizations, businesses and individuals generously gave to the project.

Everyone involved in the project is deserving of praise. When CMC students begin fall classes this week, they’ll do so on a college campus that significantly is improved from what existed just several months ago. We look forward to continued growth from our local college and the opportunities it provides all residents.

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